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World Bank Clarifies Position On Social Register Compilation

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Following the controversy recently thrown up on the compilation and authenticity of the National Social Register used by ex-President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration for its Conditional Cash Transfer, the World Bank has come out clear, saying it is an aggregate of all state social registries from states and FCT.

According to an online news platform, this is contrary to reports that emanated from the last National Economic Council meeting suggesting that the Register is a top-down database from the Federal Government and questioning its credibility.

The online news platform said World Bank officials in Nigeria over the weekend expressed surprise at the information released to the public as an outcome of the NEC as disclosed by Governor Charles Soludo of Anambra State.

It noted that a presentation to the National Economic Council last Thursday by the Nigeria Country Director of the World Bank, Mr. Shubham Chaudhuri, which was exclusively obtained, indicated that in developing what became the National Social Register, each state governor through their budget and planning ministries built up the registries and merely forwarded same to the Federal Government, which then adopted it for its National Social Investment Programmes, particularly the Conditional Cash Transfers.

In the presentation of the World Bank last week to NEC, the Country Director stated that in the development of the State Registers, there were three stages: geographical selection, community-based selection, and Enumeration/Data Processing & Storage.

Under geographical selection LGAs, Wards Communities were prioritised based on levels of poverty and vulnerability.

According to Chaudhuri’s presentation, “two approaches were employed: using poverty headcount and using high-resolution poverty maps based on satellite imagery. A multi-sectoral team at the LGA level was involved in the ranking exercise.”

He added that there was a Community-Based Targeting team comprising of state and LGA officials and households were visited by these officials and digital identification information was collected where available.

Furthermore, when done, the data is stored “in the State Social Registry Database supported through a management information system managed by a State Operations Coordinating Office,” set up by the state governors themselves.

In fact, the World Bank and FG sources also revealed that the bank was fully involved in the process of developing the Registers State by State and also funded the enumerators who were appointed by the state governors. The whole process started during the Jonathan Administration when 8 States were already developing the Register with the technical assistance of the World Bank, and the rest of the States came on board during the Buhari Administration.

World Bank sources further asserted that several of the States have also been using the Registries for different State-based schemes and local initiatives since, wondering how the same NEC to whom the Country Director made the 25 slides presentation concluded that the National Social Register lacked integrity.

“As we speak several state governments are using the Registries up till now,” World Bank, FG NSIP, and knowledgeable sources disclosed last night.

The sources explained that “prior to June 2015, the development of the Social Register was a contractual process that involved the direct engagement of the States Governments with the World Bank.”

It was added that “when the new Buhari Administration then adopted the idea as part of its National Social Investment Programme, the World Bank working with the State and Federal Governments, provided the Guidelines utilised in making the Register a National database. The World Bank’s guidelines firmly provided a community-based approach, in accordance with international best practices.”

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