By Omeiza Ajayi
An Abuja based social advocacy group, Save the Poor Coalition, SPC, has faulted the Chairman, Senate Committee on Army, Ali Ndume on the distribution of Federal Government palliatives for the COVID-19 lockdown.
The group said calls for a scrap of the ministry and replace it with a Taskforce were in bad faith.
Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Social Development and Disaster Management, Hajia Sadiya Umar Farouk and the office of the National Social Investment Programmes (N-SIPs) had recently come under attack for alleged lopsidedness in the distribution of palliatives.
Senator Ndume had specifically alleged that most of those benefitting from the palliatives do not deserve them, just as he called for the disbandment of the presidential committee responsible for the distribution.
However, in a swift reaction, the National Coordinator of SPC and National Secretary, Emeka Enechi and Adamu Maikasuwa in a statement issued on behalf of the group in Abuja, faulted the claims of Senator Ndume and others on the palliatives.
The group said: “Whereas, we are in league with the plethora of criticisms emanating from various quarters, especially that of distinguished and eminent members of the National Assembly, as per the National Social Register of Poor and Vulnerable Households and by extension the COVID-19 palliatives; however, after observing the comments and steps taking so far by the Honourable Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Hajia Sadiya Umar Farouk, we take solace in the fact that she has noted all the salient points raised and working on them.
“We of the SPC disagree with the position of Senator Mohammed Ali Ndume that the distribution of cash transfer register in states was a fabrication and was full of fraud and that the ministry lacks the capacity and structure to carry out the assignment.
“The distribution of cash transfer register is neither a fabrication nor a fraud; albeit as stated earlier Hajia Farouk did not mince words in talking of challenges in addressing and making comprehensive the National Social Register.
“Our understanding is that she has commissioned professionals to update the National Social Register she met on ground, and because of the urgency of the COVID-19 crisis she cannot throw the current register away.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the authors of the National Social Register never said they covered the 774 local government areas of the country; rather they listed what they covered as 421 local government areas, 4,347 wards, 43, 258 communities, 2.25 million poor of poorest households and 9.54 million extreme poor.
“It is common knowledge that the World Poverty Clock as far back as 2018 had listed Nigeria, a World Poverty Capital with over 90 million extreme poor; therefore 9.5 million in the current National Social Register is a tip of the iceberg. The challenge before the SPC, and indeed every Nigerian today is how to assist President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration in lifting millions out of poverty.
“It is our considered view that we need a ministry like that of Humanitarian Affairs and other relevant ministries, state and local governments and private sector to mobilise all hands in order to lift our people to prosperity. We say no to having a Task Force.”