The Federal Government has earmarked N66bn to further boost its four social welfare programmes namely Home Grown School Feeding, N-Power, Conditional Cash Transfer and Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme.
The Special Adviser to the President on National Social Investment, Mrs. Maryam Uwais, gave this hint on Monday during the commencement of a retreat at Tinapa Business and Resort Centre in Calabar, Cross River State.
She said an additional N80bn would further be appropriated soon for the interest-free loans as part of the four programmes which the National Social Investment Office domiciled in the Office of the Vice-President would be releasing to registered cooperative bodies in the country.
Uwais said that much of the money has not been released yet and that they have asked Bank of Industries to administer it for easy recovery of any due loan from defaulters.
She said, “The Federal Government has earmarked N66bn to further boost its four social welfare programmes. An additional N80bn will further be appropriated very soon for interest-free loans as part of the four programmes.
“The government has deliberately voted this huge sum as a way of supporting the determination to ameliorate the biting poverty level of Nigerians and to encourage young Nigerians to learn as many trades as they want. We would encourage that these programmes should be publicised for Nigerians to come out to benefit from it.”
The Special Adviser said all that was needed was for women and young people, including the unskilled and unemployed persons, to join cooperative organisations, adding that they might not be able to attend to individuals.
Uwais said the groups would also need to be registered agents in order to help manage the appropriated funds.
“This will be easier for them to reach out even though in different states they have appointed focal persons who are to coordinate the cooperatives,” she added.
Uwais commended Cross River State for administering the four programmes, adding that six local government areas in the state have benefitted from the CCT while six more would soon be added.
“At least 4,500 graduates from Cross River State are participating in the N-Power programme with majority of them working as teachers in schools and others as agriculture extension workers. The remaining numbers are functioning as environmental worker force and they are all doing very well and the state is being supportive which is quite commendable,” Uwais stated.
In his remarks, Governor Ben Ayade, who was represented by his deputy, Prof. Ivara Esu, expressed happiness over the determination of the Federal Government to release funds.
He said it was increasingly becoming difficult for the state to intervene in social welfare programmes.
Ayade assured that the state would extend necessary cooperation to the federal agencies to ease work in order to reach out to the citizens. PUNCH