Third-party monitors (TPM) have pointed out that the rejection of the verification of beneficiaries on the National Social Register (NSR) within the implementation of the National Social Safety Net Program (NASSP) by the administration of President Bola Tinubu was a wrong move.
Speaking on behalf of NASSP TPMs in Abuja on Monday, Dr. Walter Ugwuocha presented the results of the TPM conducted by civil society organisations (CSOs).
Ugwuocha explained the use of electronic-based Open Data Kit (ODK) and GPS coordinates to interview and verify sampled beneficiaries. The process involved scanning barcodes embedded with household information to validate beneficiaries, ensuring accuracy and adherence to international standards.
According to the TPM findings, 1,112,723 beneficiaries (98.5 per cent of sampled beneficiaries) were verified and received cash transfers. The data also highlighted reasons for non-payment to some beneficiaries, attributed to logistics challenges faced by programme implementers. The compliance with guidelines for identifying poor and vulnerable households was found to be at 90 per cent, indicating successful community sensitisation and engagement.
However, Ugwuocha expressed concern and surprise regarding the announcement by the National Economic Council to jettison the National Social Register, emphasising its importance as a dependable tool for delivering social assistance programs. He urged a reconsideration of the decision, considering the significant resources invested by development partners, including the World Bank, in supporting the development of the NSR.
He further called on the National Economic Council to engage with and leverage the National Social Register to effectively implement social assistance programmes and uplift millions out of poverty. The NSR is viewed as a key instrument in the government’s efforts to address poverty in the country.
TPM plays a vital role in promoting Social Accountability (SA) and Citizen Engagement (CE) within government or donor-funded programmes. In Nigeria, the implementation of NASSP, supported by the World Bank, included TPM at federal, state, and community levels. The aim of NASSP TPM is to objectively and independently assess payments to beneficiaries, evaluate their awareness, perception, and satisfaction with the programme and check transparency and compliance with established guidelines.
It is essential to foster two-way interaction between citizens and the government/donor within the principles of citizen engagement, ensuring citizens have a say in the programme and confirming their awareness, comfort and satisfaction with the activities targeted at them.