Following a series of mismanagement, stakeholders in Nigeria have urged the World Bank to condition the release of a massive fund, through a social welfare program to help the country’s least advantaged citizens with the implementation of a digital addressing and ID verification system. Bisi Adegbuyi, founder and chairman of GAIN, recently wrote to Shubham Chaudhuri, World Bank’s country director in Nigeria, requesting that the World Bank provide transparency assurances before releasing cash to the Nigerian government. A month after President-elect Bola Ahmed Tinubu assumes office in June, the Bank will disburse an $800 million palliative loan to help impoverished Nigerians deal with the impact of the government’s decision to end fuel subsidies in the nation.
Stakeholders are already worried about the social intervention project’s implementation in order to ensure transparency and efficacy. According to the information provided on the GAIN website, the Grassroot Addressing Identity Network Limited (GAIN) is an option in this regard because it would provide a verified digital identity system as well as a standard digital address; this will be accomplished through supporting grassroots-based activities geared towards achieving sustainable development. Other African digital ID providers, such as the popular VerifyMe Nigeria, offer similar services.
Thorough accountability is needed to enhance fund transparency.
Adegbuyi asserts in his letter that a system in which designated recipients are assigned duly verified digital addresses, as well as means of identification, will significantly improve the openness of the distribution and management of the funds by facilitating immediate feedback from recipients. The letter also warned that the World Bank should not repeat the mistake it made in 2016 when a $500 million social intervention programme reportedly had a transparency crises because recipients could not be adequately identified.
More so, he mentioned that in 2019, Nigeria’s First Lady, Aisha Buhari said the programme failed because the money wasn’t distributed to everyone who needed it. In addition, he mentioned that their Digital Addressing and Identity Verification systems software, which was recognized in 2018 by the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), a subsidiary of the International Telecommunications Union, a specialized arm of the United Nations (UN), can aid in providing an end-to-end tracking tool for the initiative, increasing its openness and accountability.
The WB support would be in the form of cash transfers.
According to National Social Safety Nets Coordinating Office (NASSCO), the funding from the World Bank is anticipated to be disbursed to about 10 million low-income families to help them lessen the effects of several financial downturns the nation is currently experiencing. The help will come in the form of cash transfers. Joe Abuku, the communications boss for NASSCO, also affirmed that the programme would be based on the National Social Register (NSR), which contains a record of 61 million poor Nigerians from roughly 15 million homes.
Abuku added that as of 30 March, there were 61,593,733 people listed in the database across 755 local government areas in the 36 states of the nation. The NSR is one of the most reliable ways for the government to directly target segments of the population that are most likely to experience the immediate effects of subsidy removal. According to him, individuals listed in the database have benefited from various social services provided by domestic and international organizations in the past.
50 million poor Nigerians would benefit from this World Bank assistance.
Moreover, Zainab Ahmed, who is the Finance Minister for Nigeria, had earlier this month stated that as many as 50 million struggling and poor Nigerians would greatly benefit from this World Bank assistance. However, as of the moment, the Biometric Update’s inquiry by email to the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) for more clarity on whether or not the National Social Register (NSR) database is connected with the NIN database has not yet received a response.