Nigeria has begun handing out four months’ worth of welfare payments upfront in three areas of the oil-rich country that have been placed into lockdown to stop the spread of coronavirus.

Beneficiaries of the social security scheme, introduced by President Muhammadu Buhari two years ago, usually receive a monthly payment of $13 (£10).

But to better help the “poor and vulnerable” cope with the new restrictions, a lump sum of $52 is being made.

It will also mean that the recipients will not need to come and collect for the next three months.

On Sunday, President Buhari announced a lockdown in the capital, Abuja, and the states of Lagos and Ogun, affecting 25 million people with a ban on travel and the closure of businesses.

These regions have recorded more than two-thirds of coronavirus cases in Nigeria.

Africa’s most-populous nation currently has 140 active cases of Covid-19, the respiratory illness caused by the virus.

The lump sum welfare distribution was kicked off by Humanitarian Affairs Minister Sadiya Farouk, who handed out cash to some households in Kwali, on the outskirts of Abuja, on Wednesda

Those supported by the welfare scheme, supervised by the World Bank, are registered by local communities and government agencies.

These are often the old and vulnerable, living mostly in the rural areas.

It is estimated that nearly half of all Nigerians live on less than $2 a day.

(BBC)

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