SPECIAL Adviser to the President on Social Investments, Maryam Uwais, yesterday said N619 billion was released for the National Social Investment Programme (NSIP) between 2016 and 2019.
She was responding to some issues raised during a meeting between the National Assembly leadership and the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Hajiya Sadiya Umar Farouk, under whose ministry the NSIP is now domiciled.
Mrs Uwais said the National Assembly leadership had wrongly claimed that the programme, while under her direct supervision before it was removed from the Office of the Vice President, received N2 trillion.
However, she said N1.7 trillion was budgeted for the three years and that only N619.1 billion was released.
Mrs Uwais denied the allegations that the NSIP information was not accessible to the National Assembly and that the National Social Register (NSR) was a scam.
On the expenditure, she said: “Although the total appropriation by the National Assembly from inception is N1.7 trillion, the actual funds released for the NSIPs between January 2016 and October 2019 (when the NSIPs were handed over to the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development), amounted to N619.1 billion, constituting 36.4 per cent of the total appropriation.
“The monies released for the NSIPs can be further broken down into 14.03 per cent (2016); 35 per cent in 2017; 43.5 per cent in 2018 and 57.8 per cent (as at Sept 2019) of the N500 billion in 2016 and N400 billion appropriated for the subsequent years.
“It should be noted that for 2017 to 2020, the sum of N100 billion was appropriated specifically for the National Housing Fund hosted by the Federal Ministry of Finance.
“These releases covered operational activities and payments to 13,363,680 beneficiaries across all the four NSIPs, all of whom can all be verified either through their BVN numbers or their unique numbers generated by the National Social Register.
“Those identities have been generated for the poorest of the poor who do not own bank accounts for sundry reasons.”
Also yesterday, Senate President Ahmad Lawan and House of Representatives Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila said their observations on NSIP implementation represented the views of Nigerians.
Special Adviser (Media) to the Senate President, Ola Awoniyi, in a statement in Abuja, said the National Assembly leadership is committed to maintaining good working relations with the executive.
However, he said such a gesture would not stop it from “asserting its considered views in promotion and defence of good governance.”
“It is true that the leadership of the National Assembly pointed out gaps in the implementation of NSIP.
“As 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.
“That, in summary, was what was done at Tuesday’s meeting.
“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.
“Public office holders should be receptive to constructive ideas and suggestions expressed to enhance service delivery and to improve the performances of public projects and institutions.
“We urge officials and agencies of government to exploit their access to the legislature in making clarifications before reacting to newspaper reports on its deliberations.”
The National Assembly leaders said there were misrepresentations of the deliberations and resolutions conveyed after the meeting with Hajia Farouq.
“Specifically, there was nowhere in the statement that NSIP was described as a ‘failure’ or a ‘scam’ as reported by some national dailies. Also, there was no mention of N2 trillion or any amount whatsoever in the statement.
“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 these comments were well taken by the Honourable Minister and her delegation.
“The minister was honest enough to admit that the NSIP had some ‘challenges’ and also bedevilled with ‘intrigues’ which she was yet battling with.
“The leadership of the National Assembly would not have suggested enabling legislation for the NSIP if it does not believe in the relevance of the scheme,” the statement added.