How Cash Transfer beneficiaries amass wealth in Kwara through savings, cooperative practices – National Accord

In Shao town, lives Comfort Obalowu, a 45-year-old widow, who owns and operates a cassava processing factory.

Obalowu, a mother of six children, lost her husband some years ago, the development that puts solitarily on her shoulders – parental responsibilities.

She has her factory in the heart of the town, where traders within and outside the community come to buy garri in their numbers.

Garri, the creamy granular flour is derived from processing of freshly harvested cassava, is a staple in the home of average Nigerians.

According to Obalowu, this business is lucrative enough, earning a living for her and the children.

Shao is relatively a big settlement in Moro Local Government Area of Kwara North Senatorial District. It is about 14 kilometres away from Ilorin, the capital city of Kwara, and 15 kilometres to Malete, site of the state’s only owned university.

Obalowu did not achieve this milestone by a magic. She started as a petty trader in garri business, before opportunity to expand smiled on her six years ago, courtesy of the funding window offered by the National Cash Transfer (NCT).

“I was into the business before the programme, but only used to buy the commodity in small quantity and resell to consumers at home. This was earning a little, and we used it to augment the feeding at home.

“But when my husband died, the proceeds were no longer enough to take care of the family. We could not afford many things again; feeding became difficult, not to talk of children’s school fees.

“This was the situation until 2016, when I was luckily selected a beneficiary of the cash transfer programme,” the woman said.

NCT is a Household Uplifting Programme (HUP) of the Federal Government; and a component of the National Social Safety Nets Project (NASSP), being supported by the World Bank, to provide financial support to targeted poor and vulnerable Nigerian households.

This support, Dr Aminah Yahaya, Head of the NCT Unit in Kwara, said was aimed to improving household consumption, increase utilisation of health and nutrition services, improve school enrolment and attendance.

According to her, NCT also aims to improve environmental sanitation and management, and encourage household financial and asset acquisition as well as to engage beneficiaries in sustainable livelihood.

“To achieve these, about 2 million poor and vulnerable households in the country receive N5,000 stipend each, every month. The stipend is, nonetheless, paid bimonthly of N10,000. Out of the 2 million beneficiaries nationally, 34,000 are from Kwara.”

Yahaya explained that the social investment programme was meant to respond to deficiencies in capacity and lack of investment in human capital, especially amongst the poorest citizens.