Thousands of lives are being touched with the social investment programme which targets the vulnerable and the poor, Kwara State Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq asserted on Tuesday, as he launched an automated command centre for the social safety net of the administration.
AbdulRazaq said the programme has proven to be impactful for petty traders and vulnerable groups, hailing President Muhammadu Buhari for initiating the safety net programme from which Kwara State had borrowed a leaf and is now occupying a choice place in national rating and among development agencies.
The Governor said every beneficiary of the programme — which is currently the largest social safety net by any state government in the country — has a unique identity which is verifiable.
“We are making real impact with the programme. You can imagine a woman with a net worth of N2000 and you are giving her N10,000 to scale up her business. Most of our people in the hinterlands could not get credit facilities. So, they are happy getting the money to support themselves,” AbdulRazaq told newsmen in Ilorin, the state capital.
“In cities, you can think that N10,000 is too small but when you go to the hinterlands, you will see how it changes lives. N10,000 means a lot of money in our villages and among the poor. So, I thank President Muhammadu Buhari for introducing social investment programmes. It is a safety net. A lot of people are benefitting from the safety net we are replicating in Kwara.
“We are here again to launch the KWASSIP command centre. Before the election when I heard about the federal government’s social investment programmes, I followed the Vice President to launch the programme in Kwara and we went to the market and I could see the real impact.
“The World Bank has also adopted the programme under its CARES programme. This is being replicated in other countries. We all saw the impact of the programme during Covid-19 lockdown. Imagine there is no such programme.”
AbdulRazaq promised to make available more resources to expand the programme.
“This programme is not open to abuses. It is well documented. The next administration can come and interrogate it. You can talk to any of the beneficiary and track them. We are also mindful that we do not politicise the programme because whoever benefits is from this state and we are also complimenting the effort of the federal government,” he said.
Chief Operating Officer of the Bank of Industry (BOI)’s Growth Platform Uzoma Nwagba commended Kwara State Government for its commitment to transparency which he said differentiates Kwara from others doing the same.
“Kwara approach is one built on transparency. It is not lack of people who need this intervention and it is not lack of ideas and how it can be done; what is unique is the political will, honesty and sincerity that you want the money to get to the hands of the people fully. It is also good that the state embraces technology to drive the process instead of filling papers,” Nwagba said.
“I am extremely proud of what the state government has done. I am extremely proud about the vision of Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq which made this to happen. We have seen tens of thousands of people who have benefitted from KWASSIP. These are people who ordinarily wouldn’t have such opportunities. Money is one thing but more importantly they now have things like identity such BVN by virtue of being captured. So, they can now get a wallet to transact with.”
For his part, the Acting General Manager of KWASSIP Mohammed Brimah said: “We have four programmes under KWASSIP. They are Owo Isowo (TraderMoni), Owo Arugbo (Conditional Cash Transfer), Ounje Ofe (School Feeding Programme) which is about to kick off, and K-Power which is modelled after N-Power. This is focusing on digital training for beneficiaries.
“For Owo Arugbo, the target is 10,000 beneficiaries across the state. In all wards across the state there are beneficiaries. Each gets N6000 over two months because we disbursed in a cycle. That is six times in a year.
“And for Owo Isowo, we are targeting 30,000 beneficiaries for the programme. We also involved transporters during the lockdown and we were able to give about 11,000 transporters interest-free loan. Now, we are focusing on petty traders and we are currently on about 20,000 and about 10,000 more to go. Our agents are on the fields in various local government areas of the state.”
Babaloja General of Kwara State Marketers Association Alhaji Abdullahi Saad said the “experience has been fantastic. We are having a good experience with KWASSIP especially that all their activities are transparent. I am lucky to be in the food security dialogue committee comprising some states, and other states are ready to copy what we do with Owo Arugbo in Kwara State.”