NSPF says National Social Register is a National asset
By: Femi Mustapha
A group under the auspices of the National Social Protection Forum (NSPF) has expressed dismay over reports emanating from the last National Economic Council meeting (NEC) suggesting that the National Social Register (NSR) is a top-down database from the Federal Government and lacks credibility.
The National Coordinator of the group, Dr. Taiwo Benson, stated this in a statement made available to the media in Kaduna on Tuesday, 31st July 2023.
The group, which is a coalition of civil society organizations, also expressed astonishment over claims that the register did not capture the reality of how the national social register was developed and compiled.
The Coalition said civil society organizations working on social protection in Nigeria independently monitored the different stages of the development of the NSR and cash transfer program as Third-Party Monitors (TPM) with support from the World Bank and Save the Children/FCDO. They categorically stated that the register was developed and compiled using transparent and participatory processes, which involved multi-sectoral stakeholders.
The Stakeholders, the group explained, were led by staff from the local government areas (LGA) and state ministries of budget and planning in each of the 36 states and the FCT in line with global best practices.
The Coalition reminds NEC that from 2016, each State Governor in the country signed memorandums of understanding (MOUs) culminating in the establishment of the State Operations Coordinating Unit (SOCU) and State Cash Transfer Unit (SCTU) under the State Ministries of Planning and State Ministries of Women Affairs, respectively.
“Civil servants from relevant ministries are seconded as staff to SOCU and SCTU. Staff from SOCU coordinate the development and compilation of names of poor and vulnerable households from the LGA-level guidance on methodology and process provided by the National Social Safety Net Coordination Office (NASSCO) and the World Bank.
“In the identification of poor and vulnerable households, the starting point is the Nigeria Living Standards Survey (NLSS) conducted by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).
“The NLSS contains comprehensive socio-economic and demographic data and is used by the state teams to identify the LGAs with high incidences of poverty in each state.
“It is obvious that the development and compilation of the NSR is a bottom-to-top database rather than top-bottom as insinuated by the State Governors.
“There are 15,730,004 households in the NSR as of 30th June 2023; this consists of 62,819,214 individuals in over 8,000 Federal electoral wards, 764 LGAs, and almost 177,421 communities across all the States of the Federation & the FCT.
“It is important to mention that 4 million PVHHs and 9 million individuals on the NSR have bank accounts while electronic wallets are operated for some households to enable them to receive cash transfers from various programs that have adopted the NSR for various reasons.
“NASSCO, with support from the World Bank, engaged 19 civil society organizations as independent State Third-Party Monitors from October 2019 to June 2022 in 36 states and the FCT to monitor the beneficiaries of the cash transfer programs.
“TPM employed technology to verify the process and beneficiaries on the NSR using GPS coordinates and barcodes for data validation. The data verification was household-based and GPS tagged for accuracy and adherence to international standards.
“It is instructive to mention that the NSR has been applauded internationally because of the integrity and credibility of the data; several countries have visited Nigeria to study the development processes of the register yet what has obtained international recognition has been castigated by state governors for reasons still not so clear.
“To underscore the integrity and credibility the national social register enjoys, several of the States and development partners have also been using the registries for different state-sponsored schemes and local initiatives to reduce poverty among poor and vulnerable households.
“National Cash Transfer Program: is a federal government initiative which involves giving a Bi-monthly cash transfer of 10,000 more per PVHHs (5000 Naira per month per PVHHs) currently paying about 2,000,000 households mined from the social register.
“It is our studied opinion that there is no perfect social register anywhere in the world. However, the NSR is authentic, methodologically developed, and enjoys a high level of credibility as it is developed with the combined efforts of community members, LGA, and State Governments Staff.
“It is a flexible register that needs to be improved upon and is open to accommodate new challenges. Like all databases, the NSR surely will have room for improvement, including the need for regular reviews and updates.
“But to the jettison the NSR because of the need to control the cash transfer by State Governors is gravely unfair to the process that led to the NSR and the stakeholders that put it together.”