The federal government through the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development has embarked on the disbursement of monthly stipends using debit cards to 15,562 poor and vulnerable persons in Osun State.
At Boripe Local Government Secretariat, 187 vulnerable persons were issued debit cards for the payment of their monthly stipends on Tuesday.
The Osun coordinator of Household Uplifting Programme-Conditional Cash Transfer (HUP-CCT), Iyabo Ayofe, explained that the FG has digitalized the payment system.
Mrs Ayofe told the beneficiaries that their stipends (money) would be paid or loaded on the debit cards henceforth, stating that they can always withdraw their money from any Point of Sales (POS) machine or Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) at any time.
She said that the debit card has now erased the “cash by hand” mode of payment and that anytime the beneficiaries are notified of payment, they could go to the ATM or use the POS closer to them to collect their money.
“The cards being issued to beneficiaries today are pre-loaded with N30,000 for the payment of the backlog of 2020 stipends.
“About 4,000 of the beneficiaries, however, would have more than N30,000 loaded on their cards because this category of beneficiaries have additional health expenses and dependents like pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers and those with children from zero to five years.
“This digitalization mode of payment makes payment easy, eliminates attack on beneficiaries by criminals and makes it easier for beneficiaries to withdraw their money wherever they are, at any point in time,” she said.
The coordinator, however, said the distribution of the debit cards to beneficiaries would only cover eight local government areas (as the pilot phase) but would be extended to the remaining 22 local government areas and area offices subsequently.
Mrs Ayofe said the Household Uplifting Programme/Conditional Cash Transfer is part of the president’s promise to pull 100 million poor and vulnerable Nigerians out of poverty.
Also speaking, Osun Focal Person on National Social Investment Programme and the Senior Special Adviser to the Osun governor on Social Investment Programme, Lukman Bello, said the HUP-CCT’s new digitalised method of payment is far better than the old “cash by hand” system because it eliminates insecurity.
He advised beneficiaries to always keep the PIN of their debit cards secured.
He said the FG was paying the poor and vulnerable people in the state the stipends bi-monthly from January to June 2020 but had to suspend the payment because of the Coronavirus outbreak.
“What we are owing beneficiaries is about 14 months stipends, but what we are paying now is the six months backlog of last year July to December.
“After the end of the payment exercise in the next three to four months, the stipend payment will continue seamlessly,” he said.
Two of the beneficiaries from Boripe Local Government, Isiah Olaitan and Muyilatu Oyewole, said the money had helped them to sustain themselves and also help their business grow.