By Kucha Jeremiah, Abuja
The chairman, Senate Committee on Special Duties, Yusuf Abubakar Yusuf, yesterday said the National Assembly is trying to scrutinise the Social Investment Programme (SIP) national register to find out how it was derived.
Yusuf who stated this during an interview with journalists in Abuja, said the members of the national Assembly are in doubt of the authenticity of the register.
The lawmakers said the register was not locally generated adding that the claim if foowed the definition of the World Bank was untrue.
“Therefore, we query the veracity of the palliatives that were distributed to the vulnerable households during this Coronavirus pandemic stay-at-home order,” he said.
According to Yusuf, “The Social Investment Programme (SIP) have what they called National Register. We are trying to scrutinise that register and to also find out how they came out with this register.
“We were told that the register is the definition of World Bank, indicating that they can use thesis of our various community. I have done my own investigation and I am still doing it. There are lapses we need to correct as time goes on.”
He said that COVID-19 has brought new reality to the country adding, “it is like when you are in war front, there are certain things that even if they were doing well, you will have to think of new strategies to handle them.
“A lot of discussions are going on with all members of the National Assembly and State Houses of Assembly o ensure that more of the households are contacted, but you know that resources are limited. This makes it humanly impossible for government to meet the needs of every household in the country. We are talking about the vulnerable households,” he said.
Yusuf clarify that there is no controversy between the National Assembly and the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, saying: “The COVID-19 pandemic is a new reality that everyone needs to adjust to see how we can relate with one another in this respect.
“However, be that as it may, we cannot deny that there are areas we need to understand one another. The minister of humanitarian has received some released for palliatives it has its own mandate under the Social Investment Programmes (SIP).
“We consult with the ministry to ensure that whatever is given, the National Assembly is also recognised, not the situation where the National Assembly is being pushed aside as if this is just the executive side alone. You know, we are closer to the people at the grassroots, we know our people and therefore, whatever the executive is doing, they have to involve the National Assembly,” he said.
According to him, the ministry has gotten the best inroads of dealing with the National Assembly, unlike before, where they do it on the executive side alone.
Citing the Oyo incident, Senator Yusuf said that they find out that there were issues regarding the quality of the rice.
According to Yusuf, through their oversight, they discovered the problem was not with the humanitarian ministry, but with the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) and the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS).
“What happened before the released of the rice, the minister insisted that NAFDAC should go and do the testing. As far as the minister of humanitarian is concerned, they have received their certificate, clearing that the rice is in good condition from NAFDAC, so, at the moment, the question is between Customs and NAFDAC to tell Nigerians what has actually happened. They have given them certificate indicating that they’ve tested the rice and it is in good condition, that is why the ministry gave them the go ahead to distribute.
“The matter is not between the ministry of humanitarian affairs and Oyo State government but between customs and NAFDAC.”
Senator Yusuf said further investigation is ongoing to unravel where the problem is from, he said his colleagues who oversight is on health, where NAFDAC falls under and those in charge of customs are also working hard to see where things went wrong.
He promised that when they reconvene tomorrow, he will further engaged his colleagues to see what they have been able to find out about the incident in Oyo.
Responding on the social welfare system in Nigeria, he said “we have our system of social welfare, but you know, certainly it is not the best, but once you have a system, you will get to see how you can modify it. I am not very comfortable with the way it is but certainly, we will have to look at it in the best way we think we can improve on it.
“I will give you a typical example, World Bank coming to dictate to us on who in a community is vulnerable, while I as a senator in my own community don’t know who that person is. I think there are certain issues we will have to look at, we need to discuss among ourselves with the executive to know who truly the vulnerable people are and how is the system being implemented.
“We were told that in the last three years about a total of 600 to 800 billion naira was released for SIP while the National Assembly appropriated 2 trillion naira. But since there is no enough resources, only 700 billion naira or there about has been released. How has that affect the economy of the country? The economy of the locals in our communities. We have N-Power, conditional cash transfer, traders moni, market moni, school feeding programmes, etc, all these are issues we need to sit down and correct, if we really want to make them move the way we want,” Senator Yusuf said.