The Senate has dismissed an allegation that its president, Ahmad Lawan, and some other senators, received job slots from the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management in the ongoing recruitment exercise for the Batch-C N-Power beneficiaries.
In separate statements by Mr Lawan’s spokesperson, Ola Awoniyi, and Senate spokesperson, Ajibola Bashir, on Saturday, they described the allegation as false and a fairy tale.
Mr Awoniyi urged members of the public to disregard the media report, which according to him is untrue.
“The attention of the Office of the Senate President has been drawn to a publication on the Sahara Reporters portal purporting that the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management allocated N-Power recruitment slots to the Senate President and other lawmakers
“We hereby advise members of the public to totally disregard the fake and malicious publication in its entirety as regards the Senate President.
“It should be noted that the fairy tale only blandly and obliquely claimed that some lawmakers printed out application forms from the portal of the scheme but failed to provide any evidence that this was to fill its speculated allocated slots.
“We wish to stress that neither the Senate President nor this office has anything to do with the purported slots mischievously credited by the publication to the Senate President.
“We urge the media to always strive to be factual in their reports and abide strictly by the ethics of their profession which require them to hear from all sides and objectively establish the facts, especially before publishing accusations capable of damaging the reputation of public officials.
“Finally, we firmly restate that the story in reference is malicious and should be disregarded.”
The spokesperson of the Senate, Mr Bashir, via a telephone interview with PREMIUM TIMES, also denied the allegations that his colleagues receiver’s slots from the ministry.
“I am not aware that slots has been given to the National Assembly or any politician,” he said.
“The report is pure sensationalism, the report failed to demonstrate how the N-Power is corrupt, but if they feel anything had been done on towards they can vist the law enforcement agencies assuming there is corruption like the EFCC and the ICPC.
“Also on the question on the form, I as a lawyer I wouldn’t know the source of the form and whether it is signed by any of the alleged senators. Anybody could go to a business centre and print a form and distribute it.”
Also, the Deputy Director, Information, of the humanitarian ministry, Rhoda Iliya, said the mode of applying for the scheme does not require a form as it is an online process.
“This is not true, Ms IIiya said, the process of applying for N-Power is online not manual so it is false.
The disclaimers came after SaharaReporters, on Friday, accused the Senate President and his colleagues of fraudulently receiving slots of about 50,000 from the minster, Sadiya Farouq.
The report also showed photos of forms allegedly being distributed by Mr Lawan and three other Nigerian politicians; a former Senate Deputy Majority Leader, Abdul Ningi; and the current Bauchi State House of Assembly speaker, Abubakar Suleiman; with the inscription “Free 2020 N-Power registration form” and the requirements of personal information and bank detail of an intending applicant.
The humanitarian ministry which had on Friday announced the commencement exercise for the N-Power programme is expected to take in 400,000 beneficiaries willing partake in the scheme.
However, there had been controversies in the past that some Nigerian senators were trying to hijack the intervention programmes under the National Social Investment Programme (NSIP).
The special adviser to the president on social intervention, Mariam Uwais, had accused Nigerian lawmakers of repeatedly trying to manipulate the list of beneficiaries of the programme.
Her comments were against the backdrop of heated accusations and counter accusations on transparency of the SIPs. The leadership of the National Assembly criticised the approach adopted by the federal government to distribute social grants to Nigerians who suffered the impact of the coronavirus lockdown.
The NSIPs include the N-Power for jobless graduates, school feeding programme for primary school pupils, the the conditional cash transfer for elderly cum vulnerable Nigerians, and the government empowerment programme that includes tradermoni – giving out of micro loans to smalll-scale traders.
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