• Queries the use of $16m fund for mosquito nets
• Expresses concern on release of N12bn for trauma cases at twilight of government
Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja
Wife of Nigeria’s president, Aisha Buhari, yesterday launched a ferocious attack on federal government’s much celebrated social investment programme (SIP), describing it as a failure, particularly in the Northern part of the country.
Aisha who made this allegation while having an interactive session with women in the Presidential Villa, said even though the manager of the programme, Mrs. Maryam Uwais, who is a Senior Special Assistant to the President on Social Investment Programme (SIP), hails from Kano State, the programme is also a failure in her state.
Aisha who said she had kept quiet before now to avoid being accused of raising alarm, also described the programme as equally a failure in her own state of Adamawa, where according to her, only one of the existing 22 local governments has so far benefitted from the programme.
Querying how the whooping N500 billion budgeted for the programme is being spent, Mrs. Buhari, also said the conditional cash transfer arm of the programme is not getting to the target beneficiaries as promised by the All Progressives Congress (APC) during its electioneering campaign.
She also alleged that the promise made to her by an aide of the president that 30,000 women in Adamawa State would be given N10,000 had remained a farce as the promise is never fulfilled.
Her words: “Concerning the N500bn voted for SIP, that was part of 2015 campaigns where they promised to give out N10,000, feed pupils in primary schools and give N5,000 to the poorest of the poorer.
“The SSA to the president on social investment is a lady from Kano and I’m sure that my husband decided to put somebody from Kano because of the population and political impact it made. I have never asked how the money is being used or is being given out.
“I met barrister (one of the president’s aides on SIP) once and he promised me that for my state (Adamawa), we should get 30,000 women to be given N10,000. Up till now, I haven’t heard from him.
“I don’t want to raise alarm that my state does not benefit from it – where SGF came from – I kept quiet because I don’t want people to say that I talk too much. “Recently, I saw a 74-year-old man selling petty things in Kano. I asked him how much is his capital. He told me between N3,000 and N4,000. Don’t forget that we have campaigned to give the poorest of the poor, N5,000 every month.
“So I don’t know where the social investment.. Maybe, it worked out in some states. In my own state, only a local government benefited out of the 22. I didn’t ask what happened and I don’t want to know but for it to fail woefully in Kano, it’s not a good sign and it’s not a good thing.
“We have a lot of women that do business locally. Due to the cultural thing in the North, they are at home doing their businesses. Some are millionaires. Some have thousands of naira. They need the assistance but they do not get it. Most Northern women do not belong to any market association
“I was expecting that N500 billion to be utilised in different methods in the north for the aim to be achieved. I don’t know the method they used but most of the northern states do not get it. My states do not get.”
Mrs. Buhari who stated that the programme might have worked well in places where there are market associations, added that she had expected a different approach to be employed in the North.
She also queried the use of $16 million counterpart fund said to have been spent on the purchase of mosquito nets, saying whereas she demanded that her own share of the mosquito nets should be sent to her village, till now, nobody has accounted for it.
According to her, $16 million is a huge sum of money that is enough to fumigate mosquitoes in the entire country, wondering how the money had been spent.
“I have heard about mosquito nets, Nigeria paid its counterpart fund, $16m. I asked them to give my own share of the net to send it to my village people. I didn’t get it.
“They have spent $16m on buying mosquito nets, I did not get it, maybe some people have gotten it. But I feel that, that’s my personal opinion; $16m is enough to fumigate mosquitoes in Nigeria. That’s my opinion,” she said.
She tasked the women to monitor another over N12 billion which she said President Muhammadu Buhari had released for the management of trauma cases in all parts of the country.
Her suspicion arose from the timing of the release of the money, saying whereas the ministers are currently on their ways out of office, the money is being released this period.
“Over N12 billion has been released by the president to take care of trauma cases across the country. Can you please monitor the money? The ministers are going very soon and the money are being released,” she said.
However she thanked the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, whom she said had included women in inaugural activities of her husband for a second term in office.
She said whereas they denied women any meaningful participation in the last election process, they have now deemed it fit to allow them participate in inaugural activities, describing it as a ray of hope.
“ I will also like to use the opportunity to thank the SGF for including women in the inaugural activities of Mr. President, this is what is called next level. They didn’t allow us to participate in politics but now they have started given us hope that we can be involved in certain things,” she said.