The National Economic Council, consisting of 36 state governors and Vice President Kashim Shettima, has devised a strategy for state governments to implement cash transfer programs using state-generated social registers. This approach is believed to accurately identify vulnerable Nigerians who would benefit from cash transfers or palliative measures. The decision comes in the wake of the government’s plan to introduce intervention measures to alleviate the hardships faced by Nigerians following the removal of the controversial fuel subsidy.
During their last meeting, the NEC established a sub-committee tasked with formulating plans to mitigate the harsh economic conditions resulting from the fuel subsidy removal and the unification of exchange rates. Governor Dapo Abiodun of Ogun State stated that the enumeration of beneficiaries should be carried out by the states to ensure the integrity of the social register. The aim is to enhance the reliability of the National Social Register and ensure that resources reach the intended recipients.
The adoption of state-generated cash registers implies the rejection of the existing National Social Register, which, as of 2023, has already identified over 61 million vulnerable Nigerians eligible for various government social programs. Anambra State Governor, Prof. Charles Soludo, expressed concerns about the integrity of the National Social Register compiled by the Buhari administration. To address this, he suggested that delivering national or federal programs should involve the collaboration of local governments and states, utilizing their formats and mechanisms to generate a credible register.
The proposed cash transfer program would not have a uniform figure, as each state’s capacity will determine the amount distributed. Additionally, the NEC recommended implementing a six-month cash award policy for all public servants, with funds being tax-exempt. The surplus funds available to states, local governments, and the federal government could also contribute to supporting the cash transfer initiatives.
Furthermore, the Council backed the planned distribution of grains and fertilizers, with the Federal Government distributing 252,000 metric tons of grains at a subsidized rate. The Federal Inland Revenue Service presented its progress to the Council, having exceeded its half-year target, and it plans to generate N25tn in 2024.
The Council proposed an immediate implementation of energy transition plants, converting mass transit buses to Compressed Natural Gas, with a long-term vision of establishing electric automobile plants. They emphasized the need for all tiers of government to be responsive to people’s suffering, address the rising cost of governance, and strike a balance between investment and consumption.