- Says Uwais’ reaction baseless, unfair
Deji Elumoye and Chuks Okocha in Abuja
The bickering between the leadership of the National Assembly and the presidency over the alleged N2 trillion allocated to the National Social Investment Programme (NSIP) continued yesterday as the President of the Senate, Dr. Ahmad Lawan, described the reaction of Special Adviser to the President on Social Investments, Mrs. Maryam Uwais, to the comments of the lawmakers as unfair and baseless.
Lawan and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, had during a meeting with the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Ms. Sadiya Farouq, demanded a reform of NSIP and wondered what parameters the government was using to implement the programme.
Following Uwais’ response to the allegation credited to the lawmakers that N2 trillion was allocated to NSIP, Lawan said yesterday that there was no mention of N2 trillion or any amount in the statement by the leadership of the National Assembly during the meeting with the minister.
Lawan stated that the statement the leadership made about NSIP was to make it more effective and was not aimed at denigrating the presidency.
He urged officials and agencies of government to exploit their access to the legislature in making clarifications before reacting to newspaper reports on its deliberations.
Special Adviser to the Senate President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Ola Awoniyi, said in a statement that 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 COVID-19 pandemic in Nigeria and mitigation of the harsh effects of the measures adopted in curbing it on Nigerians.
According to him, the focus of the meeting was the NSIP, which is the vehicle that the 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 disease.
“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 bedeviled with “intrigues” which she was yet battling with,” Lawan stated.
According to him, the National Assembly would not have suggested an enabling legislation for the NSIP if it does not believe in its relevance.
“We believe this misrepresentation misled the Special Adviser to the President on Social Investments, Mrs. Maryam Uwais, to issue a rejoinder containing unfortunate insinuations, which were totally extraneous to the discussions at the meeting and the contemplations of the National Assembly.
“It is true that the leadership of the National Assembly pointed out gaps in the implementation of NSIP. As the 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 the government,” he added.
The statement explained that the observations made by Lawan and Gbajabiamila captured the views of many Nigerians, stressing that 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 National Assembly members or any other person of influence.’ That insinuation is unfair to the members of the National Assembly and entirely baseless.
“Public officeholders should be receptive to constructive ideas and suggestions expressed to enhance service delivery and to improve the performances of public projects and institutions,” the statement said.