Threaten to cut down budget this year
By Henry Umoru
ABUJA— PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari’s Social Intervention Fund totalling N1.5 trillion came under serious attack, yesterday, as senators picked holes in the implementation of the programme.
Following what the senators described as failure of the programme, they threatened to cut down the appropriation this year by 20 per cent, adding that the publicity of the programme at the moment was zero.
The senators’ position came as Special Adviser to the President on Social Investment, Maryam Uwais, appeared before the Committee on Appropriation, led by Senator Danjuma Goje (APC, Gombe Central) to defend the 2018 budget proposal.
The lawmakers, who were not impressed with the manner the programme was being executed, demanded for names of the beneficiaries of the social intervention programme from their various states, which the agency promised to submit before the close of yesterday.
In his opening remarks, Chairman, Senate Committee on Appropriations, Senator Danjuma Goje, who expressed dissatisfaction with the implementations of the programme, despite the N500 billion allocated to the intervention programme annually, lamented that lawmakers were left out of the programme across the country.
Goje and his colleagues told Uwais that if she must succeed in the programme, lawmakers must be carried along, since they were the true representatives of the people.
He noted that none of his senatorial district members has benefited from the programme introduced by President Muhammadu Buhari.
He said: “You have N500 billion every year, which is unprecedented, totalling N1.5 trillion in three years. I am from Gombe State, and I’m yet to see one single boy or girl that has benefited from the programme.
‘’I have been active and politicking for 40 years. As far as a I am concerned, I don’t know of anybody who has benefited from your programme and this is N13 billion every month.”
Earlier in her presentation before the committee, Uwais, who explained to the lawmakers that N500 billion was normally approved annually for the implementation of the programme since the beginning, with same amount appropriated in 2017, of which N100 billion was allocated for the Social Housing Scheme under the Ministry of Finance.
According to her, for the very reason that the budget of agency is mostly recurrent expenditure, the Ministry of Finance cannot borrow to finance recurrent, just as she told the Senators that of the remaining N400 billion, only N90 billion was released to the agency, of which N89.8 billion has been spent.
She added that 7,487,441 pupils were being fed daily in 22 states by 75,333 cools in 33,981 primary schools.