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Imperatives of monitoring social investment programme

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Middle; The Honourable Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Hajiya Sadiya Umar Farouq, Right; Deputy Governor of Imo State, Prof. Placid Njoku during cash payment of N20,000 to one of the beneficiaries of the Conditional Cash Transfer Programme in Imo State at Iho, Ikeduru Local Government Area on the 8th of April, 2020. PHOTO: FMIC.GOV.NG

Ask Nigerians, no one is at a loss on the good intentions of governments, past or current, in the commitment towards delivering on policies developed to better impact the lives of citizens and enhance livelihood. Every plan is as good as implemented to design. Often, good policies end or fail at the implementation stage; not because they are impracticable but due to the inability of managers to track their progress and get feedbacks on their sustainability.

The assessment of course is not for glorification or to deodorize such efforts but also to help understand the strength or deficiencies of plans and programmes, for possible fine-tuning, improvement and support which are often geared towards broader coverage and policy efficiency.

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Towards this end, the ingenious and similarly audacious determination of   President Muhammadu Buhari’s government to pull 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in 10 years continues to dominate public discourse with pessimists considering this too daring, impossible and non-realistic. Aside from other  programmes of the Buhari administration to lessen extreme poverty among the poor through micro-credits, the government in rolling out the National Social Investment Programme, NSIP, understands the necessity of producing results by frequently interrogating and tracking the workability and challenges being faced through frequent updates and reliable feedbacks for effective implementation.

The National Social Investment Programme is targeted at reducing poverty among the downtrodden and is designed to promote sectorial linkages and synergies in ensuring partnerships with critical stakeholders, as well as the buy-in and ownership of states and local governments. It comprises the National Home-Grown School Feeding Programme, Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme, N-Power and the Conditional Cash Transfer Programmes as main components. All these programmes have become familiar in almost every Nigerian home.

The Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development which is saddled with the supervision of the NSIP realised the importance of deploying proportional monitoring tools through which the laudable interventionist packages could be assisted to deliver on their mandate. While addressing trained independent monitors at the flag-off for the distribution of engagement letters and devices to successful monitors recently in Abuja, Alhaji Bashir Nura Alkali, the permanent secretary, underscored the importance of raising these monitors in a bid to achieve intended results.

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“In a bid to achieve the set goals and objectives of each of these programmes, the ministry believes that adequate monitoring is important. The engagement of independent monitors for NSIP therefore is one of the strategies to ensure these programmes achieve desired results. While the engagement of independent monitors is not new, we at the ministry have reviewed the modalities and designed a more robust and proactive strategy to monitor the programmes,” Alkali told his audience.

He also disclosed that the monitors have been mandated to assess beneficiaries of these programmes within their locality in schools, households, and market clusters on a routine basis. They are equipped with the standardised reporting tool in hard copy as well as electronically, to help in measuring the impact of various programmes.

The monitors were introduced to the Social Investment Management Information System application operable on their tablets by which they are expected to return data-backed, trustworthy feedback for valuation for policy adjustment and necessary decision-making engagements where possible. With an economy that is recovering from the recession after the impacts of COVID-19 as well as multiplier consequences of global economic downturn, the massive funding of social investments brings a refreshing hope for the most vulnerable among the Nigerian people, especially the aged, children, unengaged youths and women.

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However, the success or otherwise of the NSIP rests on all stakeholders to collaborate with the Federal Government in its quest to ensure fair monitoring of these programmes by enlisting the support of beneficiaries themselves across all segments. Needless to mention the impartiality of the monitors themselves who must rise above board to report flawless data in the interest of continuity and further expansion of these programmes to the benefit of the people.

It is also quite important that state and local governments are fully mobilised to cooperate with the Federal Government by ensuring that these programmes are effectively monitored across the country.

Similarly, all stakeholders, particularly the state focal persons and officials of the National Orientation Agency which were involved from the inception of this programme for training the independent monitors, must collaborate continuously to engender and deepen citizen awareness and support for the scheme if the results desired at the inception of this laudable scheme must come to reality.

Experience teaches that the critical missing link in most government policies and programmes are proper monitoring and evaluation, this is why the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Hajia Sadiya Umar Farouq must be applauded for coming up with a monitoring template aimed at supporting the NSIP to deliver according to the president’s mandate.

Manga wrote via proedgecomng@gmail.com

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