Lawan: Our Statement on SIPs Misrepresented by Media

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Ahmed Lawan

The leadership of the National Assembly has dismissed media reports that it labelled the National Social Investment Programmes a failure, stressing that its statement, which was directed at efforts during the lockdown, was misrepresented.

A statement issued on Thursday by Ola Awoniyi, Special Adviser on Media to Senate President Ahmad Lawan who is the Chairman of the National Assembly, said media reports of the meeting with the humanitarian minister were misleading.

The statement read:

“The attention of the leadership of the National Assembly has been drawn to reactions to some newspaper reports on its meeting with the Honourable Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Hajia Sadiya Umar Farouq, which held on Tuesday 7th April, 2020.

“The leadership of the National Assembly had called the meeting as part of the legislature’s collaborations with the executive arm of government for effective management of the coronavirus pandemic in Nigeria and mitigation of the harsh effects of the measures adopted in this respect on Nigerians.

“The focus of the said meeting was the National Social Investment Programme (NSIP), which is the vehicle that Government is using to convey its palliative packages to the most vulnerable Nigerians against the backdrop of the lockdown called in many parts of the country to check the spread of the deadly disease.”

The statement noted that, “It is worth noting that NSIP has been in existence since 2016 and has been pursuing President Muhammadu Buhari’s determination to alleviate the conditions of especially the poorest in society.

“At the meeting with the minister, the leadership of the National Assembly made some observations on aspects of the NSIP and recommended that the implementation process be fine tuned and the scheme be backed with legislation to make it more efficient, effective and accord with global best practices.

“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 the reports by one or two newspapers.”

It specifically stated that “there was nowhere in the statement that NSIP was described as a “failure” as reported by The Nation newspaper or a “scam” as reported by the Sun newspaper. Also, there was no mention of N2 trillion or any amount whatsoever in the statement.”

The statement however noted that virtually all other media houses published or broadcast the press statement accurately except for the reports cited earlier, .

“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 bedevelled with “intrigues” which she was yet battling with.

“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.

“The leadership of the National Assembly is committed to sustaining its cordial working relationship with the other arms of Government as it has seen the benefits of this approach in the improved environment and speed of policy and decision making,” the stament said.