The National Economic Council (NEC) has unanimously resolved to overhaul the national social register employed by the Buhari administration to implement conditional cash transfers, citing concerns about its credibility. As a result, states have been instructed to generate their own registers for cash transfers. The meeting also addressed the impact of the recent petrol subsidy removal, announcing the distribution of 252,000 metric tons of grains to states at subsidized rates to alleviate hardships.
During the meeting, Governor Chukwuma Soludo of Anambra State expressed doubts about the integrity of the current social register, which poses difficulties in identifying the actual beneficiaries in villages, especially since the poorest segment of the population, being mostly unbanked, lacks digital connectivity. He emphasized the need for states to create comprehensive registers specifically targeting vulnerable individuals and utilizing both formal and informal means for enumeration.
Furthermore, the council discussed cost of governance issues, emphasizing the importance of living within the means of the people they govern. Each tier of government was encouraged to address this concern individually, and the possibility of negotiating a new minimum wage was also mentioned as a longer-term consideration.
As part of the palliative measures, the council proposed cash transfers for the poorest citizens, implementation of a cash award policy for public servants (subject to fiscal capacity and time-limited to six months initially), payment of outstanding liabilities such as pensions and allowances, and the support of Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs). Additionally, the government intends to promote energy transition and explore the establishment of electric automobile plants.
Regarding the states’ readiness to create their own registers for cash transfers, Kebbi State indicated a two-week timeframe, while other states are still working on their plans and will implement the reforms once the governors resume from their respective engagements.
The Lagos State government acknowledged the need for a comprehensive data register that accurately captures the state’s residents. Ebonyi State promised to engage relevant stakeholders in the process of generating a register to ensure the federal government’s palliatives reach all deserving citizens.
It is essential to address the current flaws in the social register to create a more credible system that effectively targets and supports vulnerable individuals across the nation.