The Kogi State Government says it has started registration of the poor and vulnerable economically impacted by COVID-19 pandemic for them to be able to access the emergency Social Interventions’ Support.

The state Commissioner for Finance, Budget and Economic Planning, Asiru Idris, who disclosed this in Lokoja, advised Kogi indigenes to take advantage and get themselves registered.

The commissioner added that the government would sensitise the people toward the success of the programme.

He advised the concerned citizens to respond to messages on their phones and get registered in view of the numerous advantages embedded in it.

Mr Idris emphasised that the programme known as ”Rapid Response Register” (RRR), was designed as a shock response framework by the National Social Safety Net Programme (NASSP) in collaboration with the World Bank to cushion the effect of COVID-19 pandemic.

He added that the RRR would provide emergency social interventions to poor and vulnerable households in challenging circumstances such as natural disaster, epidemic, pandemic, economic downturn among others.

“The RRR is, therefore, a Subset of the National Social Register (NSR) and State Social Register (SSR) but only deployed for emergency circumstances and interventions.

“The Kogi Government under the leadership of Alhaji Yahaya Bello, in collaboration with Federal Government efforts, has designed to target and capture the urban and semi-urban areas in Kogi State that are economically impacted by COVID-19 pandemic.

”This is because the COVID-19 pandemic has pushed people deeper into poverty and vulnerability.

“In Nigeria at large and Kogi in particular, the economic impact of the pandemic has been felt mostly by urban and semi-urban dwellers, many of whom lost jobs, businesses and consequently incomes.

“Although Kogi remains the safest state so far, the global economic downturn, due the pandemic, has brought enormous hardship on our people.

“In response to these economic shocks, the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development in partnership with the World Bank is building the RRR as an intervention to identify and document the urban and semi-urban poor, who have lost their income and consequently become poorer because of COVID-19.

“The Register is being built in Kogi to target those in the category of non-traditional poor people in urban and high-density locations or slums, where the pandemic has affected economic life.

“Individuals and households in the RRR will be paid a monthly stipend for at least six months under an expanded Cash Transfer Programme (CCT) of the Federal Government. This will boost their consumption and help to build resilience.

“To identify those made poorer in urban and semi urban areas for registration, geographical satellite remote sensing technology to locate urban poor wards and high-density settlements is deployed to Kogi.

“Targeting and enrolment of affected individuals will be done, using cellphone short messaging service (SMS) technology that allows residents of identified communities to register to be assisted by following simple steps via USSD codes.

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“‘This technological approach is integrated with the National Living Standard Survey assessments and will be complemented by existing databases of NGOs, local self-help-support groups and neighborhood structures in the communities,” he said.

He further explained that Mobile phone numbers of applicants, validated and deemed eligible for assistance, would be linked to digitized bank accounts to receive N5,000 monthly stipend.

He added: “The RRR will also serve as a database to deliver social assistance and emergency response during future emergencies or disasters. The register targets a total of 20 million Nigerians.

“The Kogi government is using this medium to sensitise her citizens to respond promptly to messages on their phone and get registered.

“His Excellency, Alhaji Yahaya Bello, has directed this sensitisation and wishes all Kogites to respond to the messages on their phones and get registered accordingly as the benefits are enormous”.

Earlier, Noah Alilu, the coordinator, Kogi State Operation Coordinating Unit (SOCU), Social Safety Net (SSN) office, commended the governor for his commitment to providing succour to the poor and the vulnerable households in the state.

Mr Alilu said the governor had ensured uninterrupted payment of the 10 per cent counterpart fund to the World Bank which had ensured that over 90,000 enrolled poor and vulnerable households benefitted from the social intervention programme.

Kogi and Cross Rivers are the two states in Nigeria that are officially skeptical about COVID-19 and have refused to cooperate with federal agencies in the fight against the disease.

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