Call for stoppage of disbursement without framework

As members boo House Appropriation Committee chair

By Johnbosco Agbakwuru

ABUJA—THE House of Representatives yesterday told the Federal Government not to disburse the N500 billion social intervention fund captured in the 2016 budget until a framework and detailed information about the scheme was made available.

The House at the plenary presided over by the speaker, Yakubu Dogara, mandated its Committee on Legislative Budget and Research and Poverty Alleviation to compel the Senior Special Adviser, SSA, to the Vice President on Social Protection Programmes to make available the framework and details of the programmes and advise the House within three weeks.

Dogara-HouseThe House in a one-point resolution, after debate on the motion, titled, “Urgent need for the framework and details of the 500 billion Naira social intervention fund”, sponsored by  Abubakar Chika Adamu, representing Shiroro, Rafi, Munya Federal Constituency of Niger State, noted that the social intervention fund was a good policy but had no framework to guide its implementation.

But the motion also attracted criticisms from the Leader of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila, who stated that it was not a motion for the House to look into, contending that the motion only intended to kill development programmes of the government.

Besides, the House Chairman on Appropriations, Abdulmumin Jibrin, was booed when he attempted to explain the position of the committee over the social intervention fund captured in the budget but without the necessary details.

The sponsor of the motion stated that Nigeria at different times, had introduced similar programmes, such as  the Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme, SURE-P, but failed woefully due to mismanagement and lack of strong institutional structure.

He explained that the National Assembly had approved N500 billion as a social welfare fund domiciled under the Service Wide Votes of the Federal Ministry of Budget and National Planning to be implemented by the Senior Special Adviser, SSA, to the President on Social Protection under the office of the Vice President.

He said it was not the right structure to handle such social intervention fund to mitigate the plight of the poor and vulnerable by providing concrete and recognisable social protection programmes that would provide a lasting legacy in Nigeria.

Adamu stated that there was an urgent need for the Federal Government to stop the disbursement of the fund until a framework was provided for the disbursement.

According to the lawmaker, most developing countries are investing in social protection to improve the lives and welfare of the vulnerable.

He added that the World Bank Group and International Labour Organisation have a vision of social protection for all where anyone who needs social protection can have access at anytime.

Adamu said“N500 billion has been appropriated in the 2016 budget for social intervention programmes in five key areas. These are job creation opportunities for 500,000 teachers and 100,000 artisans across the nation.

“Also 5.5 million children are to be provided with meals through school feeding programmes, conditional cash transfer schemes, financial support to one million vulnerable beneficiaries and complement the enterprise programme which will target up to one million market women; 400,000 artisans and 200,000 agricultural workers nationwide.’’

In his contribution to the debate on the motion, Uzoma Nkem-Abonta, said there should be a framework that would specify the beneficiaries of the intervention fund, adding that it should be made available within the shortest possible time.

He noted that if the details were not provided, the money earmarked for the intervention could end up being wasted.

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