The presidency has reacted to a backlash by members of the senate committee on appropriation on the federal government’s social investment programmes.
In a statement by the Senior Special Assistant to the Vice President, Laolu Akande, the presidency singled out a senator for blame berating his comment as ‘irresponsible statement.’
Members of the committee on Thursday picked holes in the implementation of the social investment programme saying the government has nothing to show for the N1.5 trillion it has attracted since inception.
While appearing before the committee to defend the 2018 budget, the lawmakers demanded the Special Adviser to the President on Social Investment, Maryam Uwais, provide names of the beneficiaries of the social intervention programme from their various states, which the agency promised to submit before the close of yesterday.
“You have N500 billion every year, which is unprecedented, totalling N1.5 trillion in three years. I am from Gombe State, and I’m yet to see one single boy or girl that has benefited from the programme. I have been active and politicking for 40 years. As far as a I am concerned, I don’t know of anybody who has benefited from your programme and this is N13 billion every month,” chairman of the committee, Danjuma Goje (APC-Gombe) said.
The presidency faulted the senators’ condemnation on Friday, saying Mr Goje made an “irresponsible statement.”
“First we would like to hope that the senator was misquoted. And we call on him to make the necessary clarifications.
“However were it to be true that he made such wild claims, it would not only be unfortunate but certainly an irresponsible statement,” the statement reads.
Mr Akande noted that the programme has only received N175 billion as against N1.5 trillion claimed by Mr Goje.
“To restate the facts, while indeed we have budgeted a total of N500B for the 2016 & 2017 Budgets each, including the N100B for the Family Housing Fund in the 2017 Budget, only a total of N175B has so far been released since the commencement of the historic Buhari Social Investment Programme.
“It is incredible that the distinguished senator will insinuate otherwise. If actually he was accurately reported, we would say he ought to have requested for the information instead of misleading an entire nation with such an incredible claim.
“While the Senator was claiming he knew no one from his state who has benefited from the SIP at a Senate Committee hearing, his colleague from Kogi State, distinguished Senator Atai Aidoko requested from the Special Adviser to the President on SIP, Mrs. Maryam Uwais, (who was before the Appropriations Committee) for a random name of a beneficiary from his state, called the number there and then and got positive confirmation from the beneficiary. That senator then formally announced the outcome of his random call to the entire senate hearing.
Inspite of the cash-trap, the presidency said the programme has benefitted many Nigerians. The statement listed some of the beneficiaries.
“For the avoidance of any doubt, there are today in this country 200,000 previously unemployed Nigerian graduates who are receiving their N30,000 monthly stipends as they serve their communities in different capacities including as teaching assistants, Agric extension aides or community health workers.
“There are today in our nation more than 7.4 million primary school pupils in 22 States who are being fed one hot meal a day under the Buhari SIP. Almost 300,000 Nigerians are also receiving N5000 monthly cash transfer among our most vulnerable & poorest citizens. Our target for the cash transfer is one million. And there are almost 300,000 Nigerians who have benefited from micro-credit loans of between N10, 000 to N100,000.
“These are the facts and the selection process for the beneficiaries are open, transparent and can be easily cross-checked by any diligent inquirer.”
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