Politicians Are Hijacking President Buhari's N5000 Stipends For The Poor?Top politicians and their cronies are reportedly hijacking the N5000 monthly stipend introduced by the president Muhammadu Buhari led administration for the most indigent Nigerians, the Punch is reporting.
The Presidency had two weeks ago announced the payment of the stipends to the poor through the Conditional Cash Transfer of its Social Investment Programmes.
The first batch of the programme was intended to reach 1 million Nigerians from nine states. Beneficiaries from three of the states have already started collecting the stipend.
Under the arrangement, Borno, Kwara and Bauchi states had started paying the money, while beneficiaries in Cross River, Niger, Kogi, Oyo, Ogun and Ekiti states would follow later..
However Punch reports that its investigations in Borno, Kwara and Bauchi showed that top politicians were the ones choosing people to benefit from the scheme.
The investigation also found that, contrary to widespread belief that the N5,000 will be shared per person, the stipend was given to a household.
In Kwara, government had said 10,700 ‘households’ were currently benefitting from the first phase of the programme in the state. However, the two factional Chairmen of the Peoples Democratic Party in the state, Mr. Iyiola Oyedepo and Mr. Sunday Fagbemi, said they were not aware that anybody or any of their party members had got the stipends.
Fagbemi said, “I have not heard of a single fellow from PDP that benefitted from such. The scheme should be for everybody.”
In Borno, top politicians, including a prominent member of the Senate and a highly placed presidency official from the state, disagreed openly over the beneficiary list.
Few persons were said to have collected the stipend shortly before payment was suspended following a ‘fight’ between the two politicians.
A top government official, on condition of anonymity, said, “It was the pressure mounted on the state government by the two political gladiators that made us settle for manual registration.”
The payment of the N5,000 monthly stipend had yet to commence in Bauchi State, contrary to the presidency’s claims.
The Special Assistant to the Bauchi State Governor on Development Partners and Non-Governmental Organisations, Manu Soro, however, said his office had received confirmation from the Federal Government that the money had been disbursed to the state accounts.
“We have received confirmation from the office of the Social Safety Net that payment has been effected by the Federal Government to the Interbank settlement system for onward transmission to the government-approved bank, which is Guaranty Trust Bank.
However, a stalwart of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party in Bauchi State, Yusuf Alkaleri, said PDP members were not considered for the scheme.
He said the members were shocked to hear that the list had already been drawn.
He said, “To be very honest with you, no PDP member who is poor and vulnerable has been captured to benefit from this scheme.
“All we know is that a list was drawn and taken to President Buhari and he approved it. We didn’t know when they drew the list because it was done secretly. We don’t even know how it was drawn. They’ve made it an APC affair.”
As of Friday morning, over 700 of the 3,600 beneficiaries on the list had received the N5,000 monthly stipend in Ekiti State, according to the Special Assistant to Governor Ayodele Fayose on New Media and Public Communications, Mr. Lere Olayinka.
But the state Commissioner for Information, Youths and Sports, Mr. Lanre Ogunsuyi, faulted the list being used by the Federal Government to pay the money, and insisted that it was different from that compiled two years ago by the World Bank.
Besides, he said, anyone operating a bank account should not be categorised as a poor person which the scheme was meant for.
“It is highly politicised by the federal agencies handling it. The first set of states that qualified did so because they have a social register. But in the case of Ekiti, they jettisoned the social register. They are compiling their own list in the air.”
The Presidency insisted, however, that the disbursement of the fund was not designed to benefit only members of the ruling All Progressives Congress.