Minister: 35 Govs, FCT Got COVID-19 Palliatives from FG

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Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Hajia Sadiya Umar-Farouq

By Udora Orizu

The Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadiya Umar Farouk yesterday insisted that 35 state governors, including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), received COVID-19 palliatives except Rivers State.

Farouk stated this when she appeared before the House of Representatives Committee on Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) to defend her ministry’s 2020 budget performance and presentation of the 2021 proposal.

Her response followed a question by a committee member, Hon. Abbas Adigu from Oyo State on whether the palliatives went round the country.

She said: ‘’The issue raised by Hon. Abbas on COVID-19 palliatives. We distributed these palliatives to all the states. We have given out 70,000 tonnes of grains from the national grain centre by Mr. President. We were also given food stuff by Customs and this we distributed round the 36 States of the federation, including FCT. We handed over these palliatives to all the state governors for onward distribution to the poor and the vulnerable in their States. In FCT, we handed over the palliatives to the two ministers of FCT for distribution to the poor. It is only Rivers State that has not collected its own share. It is still there waiting for them.”

The minister also said that her Ministry did not receive any funding from any organisation both within and outside Nigeria.

She said: “We have not received a penny from any organisation within or outside Nigeria. We only operate within the budgetary allocation as appropriated. But we received some relief items from some organisations during the pandemic like food items, beverages. This is what I will say to that. We have not received any funding from any quarters.’’

Asked whether she handed out cash to vulnerable Nigerians during the Covid-19 lockdown, she said none was shared.

“No, I have not given any cash pertaining COVID-19. The cash transfer that we did is already an existing programme under the NSIP that is being given to the poor and vulnerable household across the country. It has nothing to do with COVID-19 except that Mr. President directed that we should give two months’ advance. Other than that, we have not distributed cash in the name of palliatives”, Farouk said.

Giving the synopsis of the 2020 budget, Farouk said that the sum of N4,034,459,460.00 was allocated to the Ministry in the 2020 Appropriation.

It was later revised downward to N3,125,054,083 representing a reduction of 22.54 per cent.

The revised budget however comprised a total recurrent expenditure of N342,087,385.00 and a total capital allocation of N2,782,966,698.00.

Similarly, the ministry was also allocated the sum of N551,416,000.00 for Covid-19 interventions as contained in the 2020 Appropriation (Repeal and Enactment) Act.

Summarising the 2021 budget proposals of the Ministry, Farouk said a total sum of N4,038,950,383.00 was proposed.

Of the amount, she said the ministry has an allocation of N296,555,226.00 for personnel cost for the first time while the allocation for overhead cost (N499,975,000.00) in 2020 remained unchanged.

The proposed allocation for capital expenditure of the Ministry in 2021 was reduced by 8.26 per cent of the allocation in the 2020 Appropriation Act. The sum of N3,242,420,157.00 has been proposed.

Meanwhile, before her presentation, there was an attempt via a motion by a member of the committee, Hon. Awaji-Inombek Abainte from Rivers State to suspend the presentation of 2021 budget proposal to make way for a comprehensive inclusion of all proposed items for proper scrutiny.

But the motion failed as there was no seconder to it and therefore no ruling on the matter.

The lawmaker also showed his resentment to the recruitment style of the ministry, saying that out of the 279 members of Staff, only two persons were employed from Rivers State.

Also, another member of the committee, Hon. Isiaku Ibrahim, said they have no details of the IDPs camps, money released, adjustment and increment.

Ruling, the Committee Chairman, Hon. Mohammed Mega instructed the minister to make all the information available to the members.