The Federal Government says more than N900 million have been disbursed in Borno to mitigate COVID-19 impact under the country’s Action Recovery and Economic Stimulus NG-CARES program.
The Minister of State for Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mr Clem Agba, disclosed this during the Ministerial Town Hall Meeting for stakeholders in Borno and Yobe States in Maiduguri.
Agba, who was represented by Mr Abdulkareem Obaji, the National Coordinator of NG-CARES, said that the program was a 750 million USD World Bank assisted Multi-Sectoral Program, launched by President Muhammadu Buhari in July 2020.
He explained that it is an initiative of the State Governments with support of the Federal Government within the framework of the Economic Sustainability Plan (ESP).
He said that each state was eligible to draw-down 20 million USD, ex-ante and FCT 15 million USD within the two-year span of this emergency intervention.
He explained that It was designed to provide immediate relief to Poor and Vulnerable Individuals and Households, Small-holder Farmers, and Micro and Small Enterprises (MSEs) that were adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
NG-CARES is implemented at the States and FCT under the World Bank Program for Results (PforR) funding instrument, along 11 Disbursement Linked Indicators and three Results Areas, including Increasing Social Transfers, Basic Services, and Livelihood support to Poor and Vulnerable Households.
Others included Increasing Food Security and Safe Functioning of Food Supply chains; Facilitating Recovery and Enhancing Capabilities of MSEs.
“The Town Hall meeting is initiated by my Ministry to promote open and transparent governance where citizens’ participatory engagement is further strengthened within the framework of President Buhari’s Government of social accountability.
“Distinguished participants, one of President Buhari’s strategies is to intermittently meet with, and engage stakeholders as part of Government’s accountability to the citizens. The purpose basically is to hear, first-hand, views of our people on government policies and programmes and to feel the pulse of nation.
“This interaction is even more imperative given the fact that NG-CARES Program draws some of its beneficiaries from the National Social Register.
“It is important to enquire from you how effective is this approach as we seek the consolidation of the National Social Register as a major source of credible data for social protection intervention in the country,” he said.
He lauded the visionary leadership of Buhari for providing the guiding vision and directing mandate to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty within the period of 10 years.
According to him, the program has so far impacted on 2 million direct beneficiaries in the 36 states and the FCT.
“This is based on the report of the first round of assessment of the Program implementation conducted by an Independent Verification Agent.
“The Federal Government once again wishes to restate its commitment to restoring the livelihoods of poor and vulnerable Nigerians, maintain food security and facilitate the recovery of MSEs.
Madam Lami Audu, a beneficiary, lauded the program, saying the interventions have impacted meaningfully on vulnerable households in the state.
Audu, who works in a primary healthcare facility in Maiduguri metropolist, said Solar Energy facility was provided in the hospital through the program to improve healthcare services for more than 200 people patronizing the hospital on daily basis.
Another beneficiary, Malam Muhammed Mustapha, from Bama Local Government Area, said he was supported with funding to improve on his cap knitting business which has gained remarkable improvement.
Mustapha, who lamented that he was a victim of the Boko Haram insurgency, noted that the intervention has impacted on his life positively.
On his part, Mr Guza Bukar, a village head, said that he was provided with water pump and other farm inputs to improve on his farming activities.
Malam Ya’u Abdulrazaaq, another beneficiary, said that his community benefited from boreholes which is addressing scarcity of water.