Ensuring Households are out of the Poverty Hole - the MANTRA experience.

In 2018 the Switzerland government repatriated $234million of the Abacha loot back to the country for the Nigeria government to invest it into a national social investment program. The Federal Government announced to Nigerians that the recovered loot would be used to support the poorest of the poor through the Conditional Cash Transfer Programme, previously repatriated funds have ended up being re-looted, how can we ensure this money wouldn’t be re-looted by government officials?

In ensuring that fund gets to the poorest of the poor households, SERDEC joined the Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice ANEEJ to launch the Monitoring of Recovered Assets in Nigeria through Transparency and Accountability (MANTRA) Project.

MANTRA: The Monitoring of Asset Recovery in Nigeria through Transparency and Accountability project strengthens the capacity of civil society organizations to monitor the use of repatriated loot, embark on advocacy to improve the policy framework for the effective utilization and management of looted assets and mobilize citizens through a behavioural change approach to combat corruption. MANTRA spotlights the disbursement process to beneficiary households by conducting beneficiary surveys of households enrolled within the states, identifying corruption risk gaps and collecting feedback on the beneficiary perception of the cash transfer and disbursement process.

Between 2018-2019 the MANTRA project deployed over 1456 monitors to 73998 households in rural communities using a data quality assessment methodology to spot check on the conditional cash transfer to beneficiaries, The deployment of monitors has ensured the transparent disbursement of funds to the poorest of the poor households across the country bringing about social investment for the poor and vulnerable in track toward lifting them out of poverty and achieving the SDGs.

Corruption breeds poverty, insecurity, bad leadership, Citizens have a collective responsibility to hold themselves and leaders accountable, lets join hands together to reject immoral behaviour and social vices that promotes corruption, from religious leaders to traditional leaders, from students to lecturers, from doctors to nurses, from parents to children, from security personnel to business community, every citizen can fight it with discipline, integrity and by doing the right thing.

Stop Justifying Corrupt Behavior, Let’s Unite Against Corruption.

Why are we doing this?

  • Poverty is one of the major causes of death in Nigeria, In 2016 Nigeria was referred to as the Poverty Capital of the world, with over 20million People living below the poverty line.
  • Most of this poverty is caused by corruption, money meant for development is stolen and illicitly flown out of the country by government officials.

What are we doing to hold the government accountable and end Poverty!

Our Activities:

Training / Deployment of MANTRA Monitors.

SERDEC deployed 200 monitors to 700 communities reaching out to 5,000 households between 2018  and 2020 to collect data on the disbursement of the conditional cash transfer program in Kogi State. During the monitoring exercise, questionnaires were administered to the beneficiary household to collect data on the gaps and how to improve the process of conditional cash transfer in Nigeria.The Conditional Cash transfer program is expected to support households to be self-sustainable through providing entrepreneurial training, supporting rural cooperative societies and providing income for women to be able to support their families.

Corruption Rally / Launching of #CorruptionNotMyDNA Campaign
As part of celebration of the International Day of Anti-Corruption, we launched our #CorruptionNotMyDNA Campaign with a rally that brought together anti-corruption activist and stakeholders as part of effort to raise awareness of the impact of corruption. Corruption undermines the achievement of sustainable development and citizens must stand up to hold leaders accountable by engaging, participating and demand transparency in the use of public resource management.

Advocacy Meeting / Courtesy Visit to the Conditional Cash Transfer Office, Lokoja Kogi State

With the wrapping up of the payment process across the state, the SERDEC-MANTRA Monitoring Team led by the Executive Director, SERDEC Mr. Tijani Abdulkareem paid an advocacy visit to the Kogi state CCT focal Person Mrs. Falilat Abdulrazaq to share field experience and present issues observed during the process of monitoring as it borders on payment process and procedure, logistic arrangement and administrative concern. The objective of the meeting is to seek clarity on some of these issues observed and collate data on beneficiaries that have been paid within the state.

Media Engagement
In driving our CorruptionNotMyDNA Campaign we embarked on several media engagements. We produced the #CorruptionNotMyDNA Documentary Video which is titled: Pulling Household out of the Poverty Hole, the MANTRA experience. The objective of the video is to sensitize citizens and raise awareness on the effect and impact on corruption. The documentary video provided listeners with information.

Production of Short Video Documentary on the effect of Corruption:
The short documentary video presents discussion on accountability; the intervention raises awareness on the role of citizens in holding leaders and citizens accountable in the management of recovered assets and public funds.

SERDEC, ANEEJ MANTRA PROJECT donates COVID-19 Preventive Materials to Kogi State Conditional Cash Transfer Office:
In response to efforts at preventing the spread of COVID-19 among Beneficiaries of the National Conditional Cash Transfer programme, SERDEC-ANEEJ-MANTRA Project has presented COVID-19 Preventive Materials to the Kogi State Conditional Cash Transfer Office in Lokoja, Kogi State.
Making the presentation, the Executive Director Socio-Economic Research and Development Centre (SERDEC) Mr. Tijani Abdulkareem explained that the elderly and vulnerable beneficiaries are more likely to be exposed to COVID-19 if measures are not put in place to protect them during the payment process to households, He noted that the MANTRA Project which is supported by UKAID is aimed at ensuring that the poorest of the poor households captured under the social investment program are been paid while holding government officials accountable throughout the disbursement process.

Receiving the items at the NCTO Kogi State Office, The State Coordinator Mrs Rashidat Abdulrazaq expresses appreciation for the support and thanked the organization for the partnership in ensuring that the vulnerable groups are put into consideration. She also expressed gratitude for the constant monitoring of the payment processes and procedures by SERDEC, which she noted, had encouraged the NCTO to be more effective in ensuring accountability in service delivery.
Mr. Tijani further appeal to the NCTO Officials to raise more awareness on COVID-19 among the beneficiaries, stressing that most of the beneficiaries from the rural communities are still ignorant of the threat of the epidemic, He concluded that more sensitization is critical to minimizing the social and economic impact of the virus in rural communities.

The unprecedented impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic has destroyed global gains in ending poverty, set back development targets and crippled rural economics. Integrating Healthcare Security as Priority for Vulnerable groups of Conditional Cash Transfer Program amidst COVID-19 is fundamental toward achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

In understanding the impact of the outbreak of COVID-19 on Vulnerable households of Nigeria’s Conditional Cash Transfer, SERDEC ANEEJ-MANTRA project conducted a 2-day Focused Group Discussion that attracted 20 participants drawn from CCT-Household Beneficiaries, Civil Society, Media and Community Based Organization to discuss on the Effect of COVID-19 on the CCT-Beneficiaries. The FGD session is aimed at reinforcing the case for a fundamental health safety reform for social protection system in Nigeria.

SERDEC Organizes Townhall Meeting for Conditional Cash Transfer Beneficiaries on Grievance Redress Mechanism.
Grievance redress mechanisms (GRMs) are instruments, methods and processes put in place toward resolving a grievance during the cause of implementing the conditional cash transfer. It is designed to improve project outcomes by creating public awareness about the project and its objectives, deterring fraud and corruption, mitigating socio-economic and risks and providing the NCTO with practical suggestions and feedback during programme implementation.

In building the capacity of beneficiaries to hold the NCTO accountable, SERDEC organized a townhall meeting to provide a platform for information sharing about the project implementation, provide avenue to audit compliance from a citizen perspective, and resolving grievances and disputes at the lowest level.

The townhall meeting is expected to facilitate effective communication between the project and affected persons Helps to win the trust and confidence of community members in the project and creates productive relationships between the parties Ensures equitable and fair distribution of benefits, costs, and risks Mitigates and prevents adverse impacts of the project on communities.

The will Increase beneficiary’s resistance to corruption (unauthorized deductions, threats, victimization, Review and re-emphasize the effectiveness of the Grievance Redress Mechanism in place at the Community, LGA and State Level and Generate issues from Beneficiaries for interface with the States and LGA offices on GRM for resolution.