GEEP 2.0 : Unbundling the poverty trap- Danliti Goga
GEEP 2.0 BY Danliti Goga
Governments all over the world must come to terms with the popularity of criticism whether warranted or not and the mockery of praise as sycophancy.
This is now a queer feature of opposition politics in democratic settings which encroaches on the credibility of the most acceptable system of government.
In Nigeria, the establishment of a federal ministry dedicated to the delivery of humanitarian relief as part of an innovative multi-faceted social investment programme after decades of uncoordinated adhoc interventions deserved all-around applause.
But opposition politics dictates uncompromising disparagement of every policy and programme of the incumbent administration, especially popular ones like dedicating a ministry to job creation, youth empowerment and poverty alleviation.
So it came to pass that the creation of humanitarian affairs ministry faced a barrage of contrived media criticism fired by partisan antagonists hurling allegations without substantiation to exploit the pre-existing distrust of government.
What has outlived and overshadowed negative propaganda however is the straight-faced deflection of the diatribe by the pioneer minister, Saadiya Umar Farouq’s consistent reference to verifiable performance indicators, as well as the implementation role of state governments and partnership with security and anti-corruption agencies.
More than this, reports confirm that the new ministry has effectively taken over and streamlined the poverty alleviation, disaster management and social development programmes of the Federal Government, refocusing and reinvigorating them to align with the Buhari administration’s revolutionary mission of lifting 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in the next ten years with impressive alacrity and outcomes.
Schemes such as N-POWER (now expanded), National Home-Grown School Feeding Programme (NHGSFP), Conditional Cash Transfer Programme (CCT) and the Grant for Rural Women programme have all become sensational successes across the country, with the rapidly rising number of beneficiaries.
In a smart response that further boosted job creation and transparency ratings, Minister Saadiya Umar Faruq launched a project monitoring initiative engaging 5,000 youths across the nation, armed with digital devices linked to the ministry headquarters, to ensure strict compliance with terms and conditions of programmes covered (and the performance of the monitors), detect and report irregularities automatically. This is zero-tolerance to non-performance!
Latest reports show that the Ministry has come up with GEEP 2.0, a revamped and restructured version of the Government Enterprise Empowerment Programme(GEEP) which is scheduled for launch soon to give special consideration to farmers, youth and women, leveraging on its three loan products – the popular Market Moni, Trader Moni and Farmer Moni – to support small and medium-sized businesses. The new programme effectively expands its scope while unbundling the constituency of underprivileged and most vulnerable people by targeting particular segments. The collateral and interest-free loans will promote the development of business and financial management skills among beneficiaries.
Thus under GEEP 2.0 Trader Moni’s youth-based focus will give special attention to empowering underprivileged and marginalized youths who lack access to education, orphans, disabled and abandoned out-of-school children. Farmer Moni now promotes agro-entrepreneurship by supporting farmers engaged in crop cultivation, livestock, poultry and fisheries and Market Moni gives marginalized women such as widows, divorcees, women in IDPs, women heads of families and other women with entrepreneurial skills.
To enhance smooth implementation and facilitate sensitization, mobilization and participation of the intended beneficiaries of GEEP 2.0, the Humanitarian Affairs Ministry has retained the partnership of the National Orientation Agency (NOA) to deploy personnel who will serve as desk officers in all 774 local government areas and the FCT and supervise the registration process.
Already training sessions have been organized by the Ministry to acquaint the desk officers with their duties. States and local governments are also integrated into the implementation of the programme for the purpose of providing personnel to function as focal persons at their respective levels.
Minister Saadiya Umar Faruq who flagged off the training session recently again upheld the ministry’s commitment to ensuring transparency and accountability in the implementation of its programmes by demanding an undertaking on probity from all those involved in administering the programme which is an additional measure to insulate the programme from malpractices that can thwart the achievement of its objectives.
The engagement of security and anti-graft agencies is already built into all programmes for optimum performance of the National Social Invest Programme (NSIP).
The successful revitalization and restructuring of GEEP which had provided incremental loans of between ten thousand and 300,000 naira to 2.3 million beneficiaries in the last four years indicate steady progress of the NSIP of the Buhari Administration thereby justifying the decision to consolidate its various components and prioritize their implementation towards the desired greater positive impact on the targeted categories of underprivileged and vulnerable citizens with a dedicated federal ministry.
GEEP 2.0 is therefore yet another initiative for job creation, poverty alleviation, youth and empowerment, entrepreneurial skills acquisition as well as giving the disabled succour and a new lease on life which other revamped and expanded arms of the NSIP, namely N-POWER, National Home-Grown School Feeding Programme (NHGSFP), Conditional Cash Transfer Programme (CCT) and the Grant for Rural Women programme have been delivering under the diligent supervision of Minister Saadiya Umar Faruq. The mission of the Buhari Administration to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in the next ten years is not far-fetched after all but a monumental move in giving millions of marginalized citizens a novel sense of belonging to a country that cares for them for the first time in a long while.
Goga writes from Kano