Barely 24 hours after a presidential aide, Maryam Uwais, lashed out at the leadership of the National Assembly, the latter has responded, saying its comments were misinterpreted.
Ms Uwais, had in a lengthy statement, described some claims made by the leadership of the national assembly as false and dangerous.
She went further to accuse lawmakers of repeatedly trying to manipulate the list of the beneficiaries of the government’s social investment programme (NSIP).
This was in reaction to a meeting between the leadership of the national assembly and the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadiya Farouq.
At the meeting, both the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, faulted the method of distribution of the stimulus package to the most vulnerable during the lockdown. They also called for legislative measures to be put in place to ensure that the poorest of the poor benefit from the programme.
The duo also charged the minister to “change the system” for good.
However, in a statement by the media aide to the Senate President, Ola Awoniyi, the leadership of the National Assembly said although the official press statement issued at the end of the meeting clearly conveyed the deliberations and resolution of the meeting, some misrepresentations appeared in some reports.
Specifically, there was nowhere in the statement that NSIP was described as a “failure” or a “scam” as reported by some papers and there was no mention of two trillion naira or any amount, the statement read.
He also said the comments at the meeting were not made to denigrate any official but to make the scheme more effective in the delivery of its critical mandate and the comments were well taken by the minister and her delegation.
According to the statement, the minister was honest enough to admit that the NSIP had some “challenges” and also bedevilled with “intrigues” which she was yet battling with. And the leadership of the National Assembly would not have suggested an enabling legislation for the NSIP if it does not believe in the relevance of the scheme.
“We believe this misrepresentation misled the Special Adviser to the President on Social Investments, Mrs Maryam Uwais to issue a rejoinder containing unfortunate insinuations which were totally extraneous to the discussions at the meeting and the contemplations of the National Assembly.
“It is true that the leadership of the National Assembly pointed out gaps in the implementation of NSIP. As the representatives of the people, it is a key constitutional mandate of the Legislature to oversight, review and make recommendations for better implementation of important programmes of Government.
“The observations made by the Senate President and the Speaker captured the views of many Nigerians. These observations also reflect feedback from the people they represent who are the targeted beneficiaries of the scheme.
“We, therefore, take strong exception to the innuendo by the presidential aide that her rejoinder was issued towards ‘safeguarding the entitlements of the poorest of Nigerian citizens, whose benefits are likely to cease because they are not known or connected to NASS members or any other person of influence.’ That insinuation is unfair to the members of the National Assembly and entirely baseless,” part of the statement read.
The leadership of the national assembly also urged public office holders to be receptive to constructive ideas and suggestions expressed to enhance service delivery and to improve the performances of public projects and institutions.
While it pledged commitment to sustaining a cordial working relationship with the other arms of government, it said the commitment will never deter or discourage it from asserting its considered views in promotion and defence of good governance.
It also urged officials and agencies of government to exploit their access to the legislature in making clarifications before reacting to newspaper reports on its deliberations.
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