Thousands of poor families from Abia State are set to join their counterparts nationwide to benefit from the $322 million Abacha Loot, which the federal government promised to share to poor families under its Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) social investment programme, following the establishment of an office to serve as the Cash Transfer Unit (CTU) by the state government.
CCT is a social investment programme of the federal government tailored towards alleviating poverty in the communities and rural areas and is targeted at the poor and vulnerable.
A combined team of officials from the World Bank and the National Social Safety-Nets Coordinating Office (NASSCO), which visited Abia last week to access the State’s readiness to implement the CCT, certified Abia ready to begin implementation of the programme after inspecting CTU which has been fully furnished.
Abia State Focal Person on Social Investment, Mr. Chinenye Nwaogu, who received the team led by an official of the National Cash Transfer Office (NCTO) explained to the team that Abia has provided and equipped the CTU for the success of the CCT, adding that Governor Okezie Ikpeazu was poised to attract programmes that would boost the welfare of Abians.
The team also met with the Commissioner for Poverty Reduction, Chief Young Onyike, and Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Rev Earnest Onyeukwu, to brief them on the programme.
The team leader, Mrs Juaro, form NCTO, charged the staff recruited for the compilation of the National Social Intervention Register from which beneficiaries would be drawn, to be diligent and efficient in the discharge of their duties.
NASSCO, had in March this years, set up the Abia State Operations Coordinating Unit with the recruitment and training of 119 community development officers who were exposed to a four-day training on Community-Based Targeting and Identification/Enumeration of the Poor and Vulnerable.
NASSCO National Coordinator, Mr Apera Iorwa, said at the occasion that NASSCO was in Abia as part of the quest to raise NSR on the poor and vulnerable households to develop a national database for planning and development.
Iorwa had announced that six local government areas, namely Isiala Ngwa North, Isiala Ngwa South, Ohafia, Ugwunagbo, Umunneochi and Ukwa East, drawn from the three senatorial districts of the state were selected for the pilot scheme.
Abia’s certification to begin the implementation of the programme is coming on the heels of a recent announcement by the Federal Government that it would commence disbursement of the recovered $322 million Abacha loot CCT to 302,000 poor households in 19 states this month.
The states listed as having been qualified to benefit included Niger, Kogi, Ekiti, Osun, Oyo, Kwara, and Cross River. Others were Bauchi, Gombe, Jigawa, Benue, Taraba and Adamawa. The rest are Kano, Katsina, Kaduna, Plateau, Nasarrawa, Anambra as well as Internally Displaced Camps (IDPs) in Borno.
NASSCO explained that the benefiting households would receive N5,000 monthly and are derived from the NSR that the 19 states are already on.
The programme is also designed to train beneficiaries on livelihood skills, social skills and other programmes that would change their lives completely, NASSCO added, saying that by this month, there would be a social register for all the states of the federation from which about 302,000 poor homes across the 19 states would be mined by the NCTO to begin to receive the Abacha loot.
Efforts to get the Focal Person and the Commissioner for Poverty Reduction to throw more light on efforts made and being made by the state to ensure that many Abians would benefit from the CCT did not yield positive result.
The Focal Persons, Mr Nwaogu neither picked calls put across to him nor responded to text message sent to him.
However, the Commissioner responded to a text message sent to him thus: “My brother you got all you questions and request wrong. There is nothing like sharing of Abacha loot going on anywhere in Nigeria to the best of my knowledge. On the social investment programme, if you ask me what Abia state Government has done to attract the programme to our ministry, I shall inform you. Thanks.
When a call was put through to him for further clarification, he said “but have you read the text message I gave you, that is my answer to your questions.”