The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Ibrahim Ali-Pantami, has disclosed that through data mining process facilitated by SIM cards’ registration, the Federal Government was able to identify persons who direly need palliatives during the Coronavirus lockdown period in the country.
Mr Pantami, who made this known while fielding questions during an online interview session, added that the government had been providing necessary cash assistance, food items and other relief materials to poor Nigerians whose monthly top-up is less than N300.
“Through data mining, we have discovered those that need urgent intervention when it comes to feeding, and also meeting other basic necessities of life,” he added.
“Sometimes, our officials directly distribute food packages to their homes. And one of the most effective ways we used to identify very poor persons is by looking at how much they top-up their mobile lines every month.
“There are those whose monthly top-up is less than 1 dollar, or let me say, N300. And with this, we were able to categorize their poverty level, see what they need, and how government can assist them.”
In a related development, the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadiya Umar-Farouq has said that poor urban dwellers with an account balance of N5,000 or less will be among the beneficiaries of the expanded Conditional Cash Transfer scheme.
Speaking with the State House correspondents in Abuja, the minister stated that the prospective beneficiaries would be part of the additional one million households approved by President Muhammadu Buhari.
She said: “You are also aware that Mr President in his broadcast (on April 13) has directed that we expand the beneficiaries of the Conditional Cash Transfer by one million.
“In this regard, we are going to focus more on the urban poor. These are people who depend on the informal sector to earn their livelihood – They are daily wage earners and these are people we are really going to focus more on as well as people living with disabilities,’’ she said.
The minister further explained that apart from the National Social Register, the Bank Verification Numbers, BVN, and previous record of purchase of recharge card by mobile phone owners would form parts of criteria in identifying the beneficiaries of the cash transfer.
“We are also using the mobile network, people that top up their phones with maybe N100, N200. These are the people we consider to be poor and vulnerable,’’ she added.