Abimbola Akosile with agency report
The Presidency has upbraided Senator Danjuma Goje over his comments and criticism of the President Muhammadu Buhari administrationâ€™s National Social Investment Programme (NSIP).
In a statement issued by the Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity to the Vice President, Laolu Akande, he said contrary to Gojeâ€™s view, the programme is touching the lives of many Nigerians.
The statement reads â€œOur attention has been drawn to a news report quoting Senator Danjuma Goje as suggesting that a sum of N1.5 trillion has so far been released for the National Social Investment Programme of the Buhari Administration.
â€œThe distinguished senator was reported as saying that by the end of three years the NSIP would have handled an unprecedented sum of N1.5 trillion. He was speaking at a Senate Appropriation Committee hearing on Thursday.
â€œThe Senator was also quoted directly that â€œI am yet to see one boy who came to tell me that he has benefited from your N500 billion.â€ â€œFirst 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.
â€œTo restate the facts, while indeed we have budgeted a total of N500 billion for the 2016 & 2017 Budgets each, including the N100 billion for the Family Housing Fund in the 2017 Budget, only a total of N175 billion has so far been released since the commencement of the historic Buhari Social Investment Programme.
â€œIt 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.
â€œWhile 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.â€ it added
Akande, in the statement, also disclosed that there are 200,000 previously unemployed Nigerian graduates who are receiving their N30,000 monthly stipends while serving their communities in different capacities as teaching assistants, agricultural extension aides or community health workers.
He said â€œThere 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 and 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.
â€œThese are the facts and the selection process for the beneficiaries are (sic) open, transparent and can be easily cross-checked by any diligent inquirer.
â€œFinally, the Buhari Administration will not relent in the vigorous pursuit of the SIP in line with the manifesto of the ruling All Progressives Congress. And in this year, we hope and plan to ramp up all the schemes to widen the scope and bring in even more beneficiaries. The SIP is touching lives and the testimonies are all around us. More lives would be touched this year by the special grace of God,â€ Akande said.
Meanwhile, less than 48 hours after Senator Goje dismissed the NSIP of the current administration, his home state of Gombe has shown just how effective the programme has been.
According to reports, Focal Person for the NSIP in the state, Hajiya Maryam Mele, said N394 million has been released for the feeding of school children under the National Home Growth School Feeding Programme (HGSFP), one of the elements of the programme.
Mele, who reportedly briefed newsmen on Saturday in Gombe on the activities of the agency, said the funds were released to 2,809 food vendors, participating in the programme. She said N197 million was released in the first tranche in February, while N197 million was released in the second tranche in March.
She said issues involving 400 food vendors who had difficulty in accessing the funds due to mismatched names and Bank Verification Numbers had been resolved.
Mele said the state had benefited from the social investment programme since its inception in 2016. She said 2,840 beneficiaries were currently partaking in the N-power programme across the state.
She also said the state has 21,000 applications in the second batch of the programme, adding that 8,251 of the number were pre-selected, with 7,000 verified and sent to the national office for enrolment. â€œOurs is to verify the successful applications and send to Abujaâ€, she said.
She gave a breakdown of the beneficiaries of N-power as 548 from Gombe Central, 594 from Gombe South, while Gombe North had 1,692 slots. She also said 515 food vendors were from Gombe Central, 1,023 from Gombe South, and 1,282 from Gombe North.
For the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT), she said only one ward in Yamaltu /Deba Local Government Area of the state was captured, with 1,373 beneficiaries.
She said, 1,200 cooperative societies have applied for Government Entrepreneur Empowerment Programme (GIEP) for free interest loan of N100,000 and above.
She commended President Buhari for initiating the programmes and Governor Ibrahim Dankwambo for the support given to ensure its implementation.
Goje, a former minister, governed Gombe state between 2003 and 2011. On Thursday, he dismissed the NSIP for being a waste of public fund, yielding no dividend to Nigerians.