Verdict: It’s a scam
Background: A viral WhatsApp message had asked the public to apply to be part of the proposed cash transfer of N8,000 by the Nigerian Government. This message has appeared on Facebook.
The message, while informing the public that Federal Government had approved the funds for 12 million households, also gave the impression that (every) individual was eligible for the funds. See the screenshot below:
Messages like this are quite not uncommon particularly when they have to do with information about public policies and programmes.
Following the pains that greeted the removal of fuel subsidy by President Tinubu on May 29, he announced the proposed conditional cash transfer window of the sum of N8,000 per month to 12 million poor and low-income households. This is expected to run for a period of six months with a multiplier effect on about 60 million individuals.
The National Cash Transfer Project, which is being largely run from a loan facility from the World Bank, is one of the programmes being implemented by the Government of Nigeria under the National Social Safety Nets Project (NASSP) to support vulnerable Nigerians.
Following this announcement, the proposal has been received with mixed feelings from one section of the Nigerian public hailing it, with most people questioning the rationale behind borrowing for consumption, even when many believe the proposed cash is too meagre to cushion the effect of the fuel subsidy removal.
With the barrage of negative criticisms against the cash transfer proposal, the federal government has directed an immediate review of the project.
But is the call for registration legitimate in the first place? We verify.
We tried to verify the source of the message and then made a click on the URL attached to it. This immediately led us to a different website rather than the website of the National Social Safety Nets Coordinating Office (NASSCO) which is statutorily empowered to facilitate such registration by building a National Social Register (NSR) and co-ordinate, refine and integrate the social safety-net programs. This was the first red flag.
See the screenshot of the fake website below:
When we further subjected the website to scrutiny, using Scamadviser, an online verification platform for ascertaining the legitimacy of a website, the results show the website was suspicious.
Screenshot from Scamadviser’s result
Conclusion: Findings show that the viral WhatsApp message asking the public to register for the proposed N8000 conditional cash transfer by the federal government was from a suspicious website. Hence the message was a scam.
The Explainer: What to know about National Social Register
Recently, a viral message on WhatsApp asked the public to register for the proposed #8,000 cash transfer to about 12 million poor households to cushion the effect of the fuel subsidy removal. Quite a few unsuspecting Nigerians without media literacy would have fallen for the message.
Again, a large number of Nigerians have questioned the credibility and reliability of the methodologies adopted in building the much-touted National Social Register, yet, some have spoken in favour of its merit. For media literacy around the issue, it is imperative to make do with the available pieces of public information that have explained the making of the current National Social Register.
Social Safety projects have existed in Nigeria for decades including the National Directorate of Employment (NDE) established in 1987 under the Ibrahim Babangida regime, the National Poverty Eradication Programme (NAPEP) under the Olusegun Obasanjo presidency, and the Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme (SURE-P) initiated by the government of President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan. These programmes were expected to improve the living standard of the most vulnerable population among Nigerians.
The National Social Safety Nets Coordinating Office (NASSCO) was established in 2016 by the Federal Government under president Buhari, alongside the World Bank, to strengthen the social safety nets and social protection system in Nigeria to help end extreme poverty and promote shared prosperity. It is also to facilitate and support State Operations Coordinating Units (SOCUs) to conduct the identification and registration of Poor and Vulnerable Households (PVHHs)
Currently, data from the National Social Safety Net Coordinating Office (NASSCO) shows that there are 15,374,523 poor and vulnerable households, translating to 61,594,500 individuals, including 135,613 communities, 8,000 wards and 742 LGs in its database.
In its latest report (June 2023), The World Bank had advised the Nigerian Government, following the gains and pains trailing the removal of oil subsidy, to expand its social protection program to include more vulnerable. According to the Bretton Woods institution, The Government can leverage the public trust and support garnered through the early rollout of cash transfers and build on the registries or the payment systems to provide targeted support to many more households not covered by the program.
What is the National Social Register (NSR)?
- The National Social Register is a repository of information about potential beneficiaries for multiple social assistance programs. One key feature is that the beneficiaries share a common population of interest but with different eligibility approaches.
What are the Eligibility Criteria?
- There are four eligibility approaches adopted to strengthen the integrity and reliability of the NSR. These include Geographic, Community Ranking, Community Based Targeting (CBT), and Proxy Mean Testing (PMT).
- Geographic targeting is achieved by targeting the LGAs in a participating state by their poverty status.
- Using the community ranking, the most deprived communities and households are targeted, using the availability or otherwise of some basic amenities and infrastructures.
- The community-based ranking approach is mostly facilitated by the Community–Based Targeting Team (CBTT) which comprises Targeting Officers and Enumerators. While the Targeting Officers identify the most vulnerable members in the community, the Enumerators are responsible for data capturing of the identified persons.
- By Proxy Mean Testing (PMT), a person is eligible to be on the register when their poverty status is ranked to feature between one to six deciles. A decile is a statistical term that divides the data into ten defined intervals. It divides data into smaller parts that are easier to measure, analyse and understand.
- In the light of the above, the viral WhatsApp message asking people to register for the proposed 18,000 cash transfer by the Federal government has been established to be fraudulent. This is because every individual eligible for the cash transfer is and must be captured by the National Social Safety Nets Coordinating Office (NASSCO).
- The NASSCO National Co-ordinator once stated that “each of those individuals has about 138 indicators attributed to them, from biodata to vocation, educational qualification, access to social amenities in the community, access to roads to the communities, access to drinking water” among others.
- Rather than using a suspicious website to register, NASSCO disclosed that satellite imagery and big data and SMS Blast are used for mapping urban slums.
In conclusion, while SMS Blast, satellite imagery and Big data are used to solicit registration in the urban areas, Geographic Mapping,, Community Ranking, Community Based Targeting (CBT), and Proxy Mean Testing (PMT) are part of the criteria for individual’s inclusion in the National Social Register before being eligible to the National Cash Transfer.