How to Get Covid-19 Relief Cash from Nigeria Government


The COVID-19 pandemic has greatly impacted communities and economies around the world. Nigeria has not been spared from the health and economic effects of this crisis. To help citizens dealing with loss of income and other challenges, the Nigerian government has announced various relief programs that provide cash payments directly to households.

Background on Nigeria’s COVID-19 Response

To understand the relief programs, it is important to know the broader context of Nigeria’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Some of the key developments include:

  • Lockdown: In late March 2020, the federal government imposed restrictions on movement in key states like Lagos, Ogun, and Abuja to curb the spread of the virus. This lockdown lasted for over five weeks.
  • Fiscal Stimulus: The government announced a N500 billion (~$1.3 billion) stimulus package in March to support healthcare facilities, companies, and individuals. Part of this package included cash transfers to vulnerable households.
  • Economic Sustainability Plan: In June 2020, President Buhari launched a N2.3 trillion (~$6 billion) plan to support local economies and create jobs. The plan contains welfare programs for the poor and unemployed.
  • Second Wave: Starting in December 2020, Nigeria experienced a second wave of infections, which further strained livelihoods. This increased the demand for emergency cash assistance.
  • Vaccine Rollout: Vaccination of Nigerians started in early March 2021, with about 4 million doses delivered via the COVAX facility. The pace has increased steadily since then.

This overview provides the necessary context to understand why and how the government designed various cash relief initiatives during the pandemic period. Now we will delve deeper into the specific programs.

Federal Government Cash Transfer Programs

At the federal level, two major cash relief schemes were launched to provide financial assistance to vulnerable Nigerian households.

Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) Program

The CCT program is not new, as it has been in operation since 2016. However, during the Covid-19 pandemic, its scope was expanded to include more beneficiaries in need.

  • Eligibility: Poor households with monthly income below N5,000 (~$12), pregnant women, or caregivers to children aged 0-15 years.
  • Benefits: N5,000 monthly transferred to qualified households via bank accounts.
  • Application: Done via local government focal persons or by registering biometrically at enrollment centers.
  • Funding: Over N500 million (~$1.2 million) has been distributed to impact over 1 million households as of June 2020. The target is to enroll 1 million new households by 2023.

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Special Public Works Program

This is a newer initiative specifically launched in response to Covid-19 hardships.

  • Eligibility: Unemployed able-bodied Nigerians between 18-49 years, with a preference for rural population.
  • Benefits: Selected applicants will perform public works as an equivalent of the stipend they receive. Payment is N20,000 monthly for three months.
  • Registration: Online pre-selection process followed by physical enrollment at local government area offices.
  • Scope: Aims to provide 774,000 temporary jobs to 774,000 Nigerians across the 774 local government areas.

These two national schemes remain the largest cash relief programs in Nigeria so far. State governments have also rolled out their cash transfers which we will outline next.

State Government Cash Transfer Initiatives

State governments play a complementary role by implementing localized welfare interventions. Several states launched or expanded existing cash assistance schemes to help residents impacted by COVID-19. Here are some examples:

Lagos State Cash Transfer

  • Eligibility: Low-income households earning less than N100,000 (~$250) per month. Priority for the vulnerable – elderly, PWDs, street vendors.
  • Benefits: N20,000 one-time payments are distributed via bank verification numbers registered with the government.
  • Scope: Over 90,000 households have received cash as part of the Lagos Food Basket Relief Scheme.

Kaduna State Cash Transfer

  • Eligibility: Households located in densely populated areas hard-hit by lockdown, especially daily income earners.
  • Benefits: N30,000 cash will be distributed to 93,000 households identified by community leaders as vulnerable.
  • Funding: Part of N2.5 billion was allocated for the COVID-19 pandemic response by the state government.

Plateau State Cash Transfer

  • Eligibility: Urban poor, commercial tricycle operators, vulnerable groups.
  • Benefits: N10,000 each distributed to over 6,000 beneficiaries in Jos North LGA as phase 1. More phases are planned to cover the full state.

Several other states like Kano, Edo, Rivers, etc have either implemented their cash programs or have allocations in progress. The application criteria may differ between states but the objective remains to provide temporary relief.

Application Process

Now that the available options at federal and state levels have been explained let us look at the standardized steps to apply for cash transfers:

Identify Eligible Program

Check your location, livelihood status, and household income to determine which scheme(s) you qualify for. For example, the urban poor in Kano may apply for both federal CCT and Kano state programs.

Review Eligibility Criteria

Ensure you satisfy requirements like age, income threshold, address proof, etc. mentioned for the program. Read guidelines on respective government websites.

Prepare Required Documents

Have ready documents like BVN, means of identification, birth certificates, and household roster as specified. This simplifies the verification process.

Apply via Preferred Mode

Apply through available options like online registration portals, enrollment at local LGA centers, and contacting nominated focal persons for the program.

Await Selection Announcement

Selected applicants will be informed about further steps like account validation, enrollment biometrics via SMS, and published lists at LGAs.

Collect Payment

For bank transfers, link BVN to your preferred bank account. For cash disbursement, attend scheduled payment venues with proof of identity.

Following due process is key to avoiding delays or rejections. Rejected applicants can apply for reconsideration through proper channels if they satisfy the criteria.

Payment Processing and Monitoring

Once applications are approved, the next important phase is the successful distribution of funds to citizens. Let us review how this is being carried out:

  • Bank Transfers: National Social Investment Programs like CCT use direct bank transfers via linked BVNs. This is faster but excludes the unbanked.
  • Cash Disbursement: Many state programs opt for organized cash outs at scheduled centers to reduce crowding. Identity verification and queues are managed to avoid delays or the spread of infection.
  • Monitoring and Reconciliation: Designated agents independently verify disbursement accuracy by cross-checking recipient data with biometric devices. Any discrepancies are rectified.
  • Feedback Mechanisms: Toll-free lines and portals allow beneficiaries to report issues regarding their application status and payment receipt or lodge complaints. These are addressed promptly.

Proper coordination amongst stakeholder ministries, training of field staff, and use of technology have helped streamline the process so relief reaches citizens when needed the most.

Common Questions and Answers

Now that the key details around Nigeria’s cash transfer programs in response to Covid-19 have been described let’s address some frequently asked questions:

1. What documents are required for the CCT program?

For the CCT program, you need your valid means of ID (voter’s card, driver’s license, or international passport), birth certificates of household members below age 15, and BVN-linked bank account details.

2. Can unemployed graduates apply for the N-Power program instead of CCT?

No, the N-Power program is different from cash transfer schemes. It is a skills development and placement initiative for youth. Only those meeting criteria of income threshold and vulnerability can apply for CCT or state cash assistance programs.

3. Can individuals get cash under more than one program at the same time?

No, to ensure transparency and efficiency, applicants can only benefit from one cash relief program at a time based on their eligibility. However, they can apply to different schemes run by federal and state governments to maximize the chances of selection.

4. What should someone do if they have not received the approved payment yet?

First, check the application and payment status through available feedback channels. If it shows as approved but unpaid, lodge a complaint with details. Officials will investigate any legitimate issues and release pending dues. One should not lose hope and keep following up patiently.

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