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N5000 stipends: Kogi on the verge of disbursement, says coordinator

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N5000 stipends: Kogi on the verge of disbursement, says coordinator
By John Akubo, Lokoja

News of the commencement of payment of N5, 000 monthly stipends promised to the poorest of the poor by the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration, almost two years after it won election, was received in Kogi State with mixed feelings.

This was because, even though Kogi was mentioned among the beneficiary nine states in the first batch, there was no sign that such disbursement was ongoing. Many never believed such a thing existed, while some saw it as propaganda. But The Guardian was at the office of the Special Adviser to Governor Yahaya Bello on Multilateral Projects Mr. Adoga Ibrahim and met with the head of the state cash transfer unit, which is under the national cash transfer office, Razak Falilat Yinka, who disclosed that disbursement was set to commence as soon as they get the alert before weekend.

According to her: “The Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) programme is an initiative of the present administration meant to tackle poverty at the grassroots for the poorest of the poor. “Poverty has various levels and degrees and when you see people that are poor, you know that some are poorer than others.”

She explained that compilation of beneficiaries was done via a Community Based Targeting (CBT) through the Youth Employment and Social Support Operations (YESSO), a World Bank-funded and supported office.

The coordinator pointed out that the operation deployed officers to communities, where they worked with the people to make the selection of the poorest of the poor possible.

She said the register was developed and sent to the World Bank, which screened it and affirmed that it was okay before they started using it. “So, we are fetching our beneficiaries from the social register that has been developed by the State Coordinating Office (SCO). It wasn’t our own selection and we did not stay in Lokoja to select beneficiaries; they (World Bank and its staff) actually went to the communities for the selection,” she emphasised.

Mrs. Yinka indicated that the state government was working in 12 local councils where the programme has been graduated in two phases of six local councils. “The SCO had completed the first six local councils early last year, while the second batch of another six was completed by the end of last year,” she explained.

According to her, for the first batch of six local councils, they have carried out adequate sensitisation and completed enrolment, while still working on the second batch.
“So, in Kogi, we have 12 local government areas that will benefit. In the first phase, we have about 6, 536 intended beneficiaries for the first six local government areas, while in the second round of six local government areas, we have a little above 5, 800 intended beneficiaries.

“We have completed the enrolment in Ofu, Ijumu and Olamaboro local councils, which fall into the second phase. “We are starting with Okene, Kabba Bunu and Adavi as part of the second phase.”

She listed the first round of local councils to include Yagba West, Okehi, Lokoja, Dekina, Ajaokuta and Ibaji. The coordinator explained further that they are already on the CBT process for the third phase of another six local councils, adding that when that is completed and the World Bank approves the register, they would have 18 local councils covered.

She noted: “I am sure we would work on the remaining three local governments areas. The process will cover the entire state, but they are just handling them in batches.

“For the first batch, we are expecting their alert any moment from now.”She noted that Kogi is in the second batch and the national coordinator has assured them that they are working on their alert, insisting that it is not propaganda, as being speculated by some people.
She said sustainability of the programme depends on the federal government, which came up with the initiative. On how the beneficiaries would get their dues, she said there are many payment options adopted by their banker in the state, Stanbic IBTC.

She explained: “The money is meant for people in the rural areas, so you don’t expect a beneficiary to come all the way from Ibaji or Insanlu to Lokoja just to collect N5000.

“There are agents that will pay them by the time they send alert to them, which means they have gotten the N5000. These agents are the ones that will go down to the communities to pay them.

“For example, our agent was in the office yesterday (Thursday) to discuss the schedule for payment, which is just to know the local government area and community to start with.”

She indicated that for those that have bank accounts, they would just link their BVN with the new programme, so that they could withdraw the money at their own leisure.

She added that in order not to stress such beneficiaries, the banks have also appointed agents that would make their payments.Mrs. Yinka indicated that there is a mechanism put in place in all the communities to redress grievances for people that may have complaints against a particular household that is not supposed to benefit or those whose paymaster did not pay or those whose money is not complete.

She stated: “In all the local government areas that we are working on, we have local facilitators who work for us with offices at the local government secretariat.”

The coordinate said the programme is for two years for a household, adding that government was giving out the money for a household to be able feed and send their children to school.

“In Kogi, our own is targeted at education and productivity. We call it the supply site. This N5000 is not supposed to be used for feeding. Somebody who is poor may not be able to buy school sandal of N500, and that is what we are targeting.

“The woman, who is the caregiver, collects the N5000 from the bank and brings it home to serve everybody in the house, for instance, to buy school uniform or sandals and supposed to make a little saving by going into little contributions of say N200 weekly.

“They should form cooperative groups and do this little contributions, which they can use to improve their living. “When they do this, after two years, they should have exited the scheme.”

A management information specialist in the unit, Olabanji Alabi, said Kogi has a poverty map that is World Bank approved, adding that the state YESSO goes round the local government areas, according to the poverty map.
“That is why you see that the first six local government areas selected are the poorest, followed by the next most vulnerable.“That is how it is being done,” he disclosed.

The gender and safeguard officer, Bridget Okpanachi James, explained that each local government area has 30 communities and each community has not more than 40 households as beneficiaries.

http://m.guardian.ng/saturday-magazine/cover/kogi-on-the-verge-of-disbursement-says-coordinator/

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FG declares its readiness to deploy 5G network after precautionary measures

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FG declares its readiness to deploy 5G network after precautionary measures

By Aminci Audu

The minister of communications and Digital Economy Isah Ali Pantami has declared that Nigeria is ready for 5th Generation Network (5G) as long as the major challenges are taken care of.

Pantami spoke yesterday, at a one day investigative hearing on the present status of 5G network organised by the joint Senate committee on communication, sScience and Technology, ICT and Cybercrime and Primary Healthcare and Communicable Diseases.

The minister in his presentation allayed the fear among Nigerians over the planned deployment of the network saying the Federal Government has taken all necessary precautions by investigating through research and trial on all issues raised.

He said “The position is that we are almost at the final stage. So now, Nigeria is ready for 5G as long as we address the major challenges.”

“We have not gotten there, wether we will deploy 5G but we are on track conducting research, investigations, engaging stakeholders and definitely if all issues are addressed, the executive will support the deployment of 5G in Nigeria.”

He noted that so far no negative impacts has been established from the research and trial carried both locally and at the international level. 

On the speculation that the 5G network escalated the COVID-19 he said there is no link between 5G and COVID-19.
“And there is no relationship between 5G and any desease. The only issue being raised usually is about radiation.  But people don’t realise that the radiation of 4G is more harmful than that of 5G. 
“The radiation of microwave oven at home is more harmful than that of the 5G. The radiation of even the smart phone itself is even more harmful that that of 5G

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SELF backs Sylva over choice of Saipem on Bonny NLNG Train 7 contract

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SELF backs Sylva over choice of Saipem on Bonny NLNG Train 7 contract

The South-south Emerging Leaders Forum (SELF) has faulted allegations of wrong doing leveled against the Minister of State for Petroleum Chief Timipre Sylva over the choice of Saipem, an Italian firm to handle the Bonny NLNG Train 7 contract.

SELF in a statement argued that the deal also endorsed by the Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Local Content Board Engr. Simbi Wabote was in the best interest of the country.

SELF position was in response to an online publication which accused the duo of bribe taking running into millions of naira in the deal.

SELF warned the publisher of the medium , Mr Jackson Ude, to desist from blackmailing leaders of the South-south extraction in a bid to score political goals.

Urging the Publisher of the online medium to show proof his allegation, SELF noted: “We strongly condemn the allegation leveled by Pointblanknews.com and its sponsors, this is highly condemnable and viewed as a sponsored plot to instigate hate against the Minister and derail his concentrations.

“This is ridiculous and belittling of Jackson Ude, the face behind this blackmail for being petty to the ground level for publishing tissues of lies about the persons of Timipre Sylva and Simbi Wabote.

“Nigerians should not believe this and throw it into the dust bin. It’s incumbent on all well-meaning Nigerians to support the positive drive of Minister and collaborate with him, towards the actualization of the onerous task at stake.

“Although Jackson Ude and his medium Pointblanknews.com are criminally known for thriving in the business of blackmail, especially against the officeholders from the Niger Delta region. But this forum will henceforth resist this criminality by deploying all known instrumental of law to fight the faces behind these tissues of lies.

“This Forum is using this medium to warn the likes of Jackson Ude to stay away from Nigeria and the South-south most especially if they are not ready to turn a new leaf because the business of blackmail has long become outdated and unpopular.”

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Great relief as Kidnapped Punch reporter, Nnodim regains freedom

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Great relief as Kidnapped Punch reporter, Nnodim regains freedom


It was a great relief for journalists, family members, friends and well wishers when the news filtered in that the Punch Newspapers reporter, Victor Okechukwu Nnodim who was kidnapped from his residence in Kubwa, Bwari Area Council on Thursday has regained freedom.

He was released almost 48hours hours after his abduction alongside two other neighbours who were also abducted.
It was gathered early hours of Sunday that he has been released and in high spirits.

The media world was jolted by the news of his abduction, as many turned prayer warriors supplicating for his freedom without any harm

His abductors, NationaUpdate learnt later communicated with his elder sister who resides in Lagos demanding for N10 million.

At the time of this report it could not be ascertained if ransom was paid before he regained freedom, but colleagues made efforts to contributed money towards his release, when it became obvious that the kidnappers were bent on collecting ransom.

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