The Social Welfare Benefits Programme which was flagged off on Tuesday by the Hope Uzodinma administration has been described as a fraudulent method of hijackingthe details on the voter’s cards of Imo people for the purpose of rigging the November, 11, governorship election.

Lancelot Obiaku, a Journalist and Public Affairs commentator who disclosed this yesterday, advised Imolites to ignore the programme which he said is a booby trap aimed at defrauding and hoodwinking them. He wondered why the only condition for eligibility to enrole is possession of a valid voter card

He stated, ‘’ An announcement from the government of Imo State says it will roll out a Social Welfare Benefits Programme beginning from Tuesday, May 16, 2023, at all polling units in the State, with a target to enroll every adult indigene of the State into its “database platform.” The government says it will issue a ‘unique’ Imo State Social Benefits Number (IMSSBN) to every enrolled individual. Some persons acting as an extension of the government’s mouthpiece have called it Imo State Social Security Number. No matter the nomenclature, the programme has come with a striking alert from various quarters for an intention of fraud.

“In an official circular sent to functionaries of the government but which has found its way to the public domain, Uzodimma’s government said in capital letters that the only and exclusive requirement for enrollment into the welfare programme is a valid voters card. The inconsistencies in the release are copious, raising many eyebrows. Many have wondered why the government chose the ownership and possession of a voter card as the criterion to enroll citizens into a welfare programme, not minding that not all adult citizens have the card, and voting, principally, is a matter of choice. 

“What the Imo State government is saying is that it is the possession of a voter card that confers the right of citizenship of the State to the Imo people, and this includes access to rights and privileges attached to the same under the law. As strange as it sounds, it represents, without any doubt, another illegality about to be perpetrated by a government that came into power through the back door and has since been committed to destroying everything that dignifies Imo as a State.

“Analysts have stated that the IMSSBN programme or whatever it has been called as a scheme tainted with fraud given its process and nature. Available reports suggest that it is targeted at luring unsuspecting low-income citizens with empty promises to steal their details for various forms of electoral malpractice in the upcoming governorship election. Some of these will include compromising the BVAS accreditation at polling units to swing results in favour of the APC. The truth is that citizens of the State do not need any special number to get benefits from a government that should serve them. It has been argued, and rightly too, that the National Identification Number (NIN) which is a well-organized scheme can serve the purpose of identification of every Imo indigene.

“Further, emerging reports are that agents of the State government have started going from house to house in various communities deceiving villagers, especially women, to part with their voter cards and information with the promise that the Federal Government require it to pay them a welfare package.

“Apart from hijacking voters’ information and using it to manipulate election results, there is the risk that this jaundiced scheme by the Uzodimma administration could also expose vital details of individuals including the Bank Verification Number (BVN) and bank details and make them susceptible to attacks by internet fraudsters and cyber criminals. Imo citizens should beware of it before it is too late. A government that cannot pay salaries, pensions and gratuity cannot claim to have any special package for the citizenry. 

“A government that cares about the welfare of the people will construct good roads, build functional hospitals, and make access to quality healthcare and education affordable. It will focus on reducing youth unemployment and creating an environment that will allow small, medium and large-scale enterprises to thrive. And while Uzodimma’s administration is doing little or nothing in these aspects, any other social welfare scheme in any guise is a coated deceit conceived to serve selfish purposes. Imo people must shine their eyes’’.