Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja
The Presidency yesterday in Abuja dismissed claims by the leadership of the National Assembly that the National Social Investment Programmes (NSIPs) of the federal government, which has gulped N2trillion so far is a failure.
A statement by the Special Adviser to the President on Social Investments, Mrs. Maryam Uwais, titled: “Lawan, Gbajabiamila Got It Wrong,” rejected the claims of the Senate President, Senator Ahmad Lawan, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr. Femi Gbajabiamila, saying they were deliberately conceived to undermine the effectiveness of the programme under the supervision of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo in the past.
According to Mrs. Uwais, a prompt reaction to the alleged falsehood by the two leaders of the National Assembly had become compelling because of “the gravity and implications of the narrative conveyed, as well as the caliber of persons involved.”
Specifically, Mrs. Uwais dismissed claims that the NSIPs had gulped N2 trillion since 2016, saying on the contrary, the total amount appropriated by the National Assembly for the programme since inception was N1.7 trillion.
She also said it was not only that the total appropriation was less than the figure claimed by the two leaders but also that the highest release so far was N57.8 per cent in one fiscal year.
She proceeded to narrate her claims on what had transpired under the programme so far.
“While the total appropriation by the National Assembly (NASS) from inception, for the four NSIPs, 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 from the NASS.
“Also, the monies released for the N-SIPs can be further broken down into 14.03per 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 4 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 having been generated for the poorest of the poor who do not own bank accounts for sundry reasons.
“As at September 2019, the funds had expended as follows: On the: Job Creation programme (549,500 N-Power graduates and non-graduates and 7 Technology Hubs); National Home Grown School Feeding Programme (in 33 States, 9,963,762 pupils to 107,862 cooks in 54,952 primary schools); the National Cash Transfer Programme (including the development of the National Social Register by the National Social Safety Net Coordination Office) 1,491,296 poor and vulnerable households comprising 6,056,872 individuals in 33 States and 620,947Y cash transfer beneficiaries; and the Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme (managed by the Bank of Industry); a total of 2,279,380 TraderMoni, MarketMoni and FarmerMoni beneficiaries.
“In addition, it is a false to claim that poor and vulnerable beneficiaries of the NSIPs are made to apply online, through the internet and they require a BVN for payment.
“It is only in respect of the N-Power Job Creation programme that applications are made online after which successful volunteers are selected through a transparent process. Indeed, all the 774 LGAs nationwide currently have N-Power beneficiaries serving in different capacities.
“The utilization of the BVN for N-Power beneficiary payment is also as a means of identity (since the NIN number can be generated from the BVN) and to facilitate the tracking of payments and further ensure accountability,” she said.
The statement also explained the circumstances surrounding the disbursement of the national cash transfer programme, saying names of beneficiaries were drawn from a national social register which she said emanated from the ministries of planning from every state of the federation.
It added: “the process for objective identification of poor and vulnerable households is as provided in the Financing Agreement (F.A) signed between Nigeria and the World Bank, for which purpose the World Bank IDA Credit and the recovered funds from the Abacha family are being utilised.”
The statement proceeded to explain further measures taken by the programme to arrive at the selection of beneficiaries of the scheme.
“The process involves a poverty mapping of the LGAs in each State, community mobilization, targeting and identification supported by trained enumerators at State and LGA levels, after which each of the households identified by the communities is visited and data collated.
“As at March 31st 2020, the NSR comprised 11,045,537 individuals from 2,644,495 households, collated from 35 States, 453 LGAs, 47,698 communities. The identity of beneficiaries can be verified as each has a generated unique number and can be tracked.
“For the records, although the National Social Investment Office (NSIO) was then under the Office of the Vice President; the accounting and procurement aspects of the NSIPs were handled by the Ministry of Budget and National Planning on behalf of the NSIO, and not the Office of the VP. As such, all requests for information related thereto were responded to by that Ministry.
“It should also be noted that during the period that the NSIO supervised the NSIPs under the auspices of the Office of the Vice President, documents relating to the structure, activities and progress of the NSIPs were routinely shared with the National Assembly,’’ the statement added.
Mrs. Uwais further argued that as the then main supervisor of the NSIP, she honoured all invitations from the National Assembly to public hearings and other meetings.
She also said monthly reports of 3,000 N-Power monitors in the 774 local councils were submitted to poverty alleviation committees of the federal legislature which should have guided Lawan and Gbajabiamila.