.. Public office holders should be receptive to constructive ideas and suggestions expressed to enhance service delivery and to improve the performances of public projects and institutions – NASS
The last has surely not been heard of the brickbats between the leadership of the National Assembly and Special Adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari on the Social Investment Programme (SIP), Mrs. Maryam Uwais.
On Tuesday, the presidential aide had with the leadership of the National Assembly, in Abuja, where notes were believed to have been compared between the two parties with regard to the conditional cash transfer scheme of the Federal Government.
But Mrs. Uwais had, apparently following reports in a section of the media that the programme where it was reported that the National Assembly leadership faulted the Federal Government’s implementation of the programme in a meeting it had with Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Hajia Sadiya Farouq.
It was also reported that the NASS leadership had, in a meeting with the minister, called for an overhaul of the NSIP programme.
But in a statement, on Wednesday, however, Mrs. Uwais described some of the assertions made by the leaders of the National Assembly as ‘untrue’.
However, the National Assembly leadership would not let the matter lie low, but took exceptions to “the innuendo by the presidential aide” in her reply to the whole matter.
So, on Thursday, the National Assembly first clarified that there was nowhere in its earlier Press Statement of the meeting with the minister where the NSIP was described as a ‘failure’ or a ‘scam’ as reported by the two national newspapers.
In a Press Statement apparently to tackle Mrs. Uwais’s comment on the matter, the National Assembly urged public office holders to be receptive to constructive ideas and suggestions expressed to enhance service delivery and to improve the performances of public projects and institutions.
The release read, “The attention of the leadership of the National Assembly has been drawn to reactions to some newspaper reports on its meeting with the Honourable Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Hajia Sadiya Umar Farouq, which held on Tuesday 7th April, 2020.
“The leadership of the National Assembly had called the meeting as part of the Legislature’s collaborations with the executive arm of government for effective management of the Coronavirus pandemic in Nigeria and mitigation of the harsh effects of the measures adopted in this respect on Nigerians.
“The focus of the said meeting was the National Social Investment Programme (NSIP) which is the vehicle that Government is using to convey its palliative packages to the most vulnerable Nigerians against the backdrop of the lockdown called in many parts of the country to check the spread of the deadly disease.
“It is worth noting that NSIP has been in existence since 2016 and has been pursuing President Muhammadu Buhari’s determination to alleviate the conditions of especially the poorest in society.
“At the meeting with the minister, the leadership of the National Assembly made some observations on aspects of the NSIP and recommended that the implementation process be fine-tuned and the scheme be backed with legislation to make it more efficient, effective and accord with global best practices.
“Although the official Press Statement issued at the end of the meeting clearly conveyed the deliberations and resolution of the meeting, some misrepresentations appeared in the reports by one or two newspapers.
“Specifically, there was nowhere in the statement that NSIP was described as a ‘failure’ as rep The last has surely not been heard of the brickbats between the leadership of the National Assembly and Special Adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari on the Social Investment Programme (SIP), Mrs. Maryam Uwais. orted by The Nation newspaper or a ‘scam’ as reported by the Sun newspaper.
“Also, there was no mention of N2 trillion or any amount whatsoever in the statement.
Virtually all other Media Houses published or broadcast the Press Statement accurately except for the errant reports mentioned above.
“The comments at the meeting were not made to denigrate any official but to make the scheme more effective in the delivery of its critical mandate and these comments were well taken by the Honourable Minister and her delegation.
“The minister was honest enough to admit that the NSIP had some ‘challenges’ and also bedevelled with ‘intrigues’ which she was yet battling with.
“The leadership of the National Assembly would not have suggested an enabling legislation for the NSIP if it does not believe in the relevance of the scheme.
“We believe this misrepresentation misled the Special Adviser to the President on Social Investments, Mrs. Maryam Uwais, to issue a rejoinder containing unfortunate insinuations which were totally extraneous to the discussions at the meeting and the contemplations of the National Assembly.
“It is true that the leadership of the National Assembly pointed out gaps in the implementation of NSIP.
“As the representatives of the people, it is a key constitutional mandate of the Legislature to oversight, review and make recommendations for better implementation of important programmes of government.
“That, in summary, was what was done at Tuesday’s meeting.
“The observations made by Senate President Ahmad Lawan and Speaker House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, captured the views of many Nigerians.
“These observations also reflect feedback from the people they represent who are the targeted beneficiaries of the scheme.
“We, therefore, take strong exception to the innuendo by the presidential aide that her rejoinder was issued towards ‘safeguarding the entitlements of the poorest of Nigerian citizens, whose benefits are likely to cease because they are not known or connected to NASS members or any other person of influence.’
“That insinuation is unfair to the members of the National Assembly and entirely baseless.
“Public office holders should be receptive to constructive ideas and suggestions expressed to enhance service delivery and to improve the performances of public projects and institutions.
“The leadership of the National Assembly is committed to sustaining its cordial working relationship with the other Arms of Government as it has seen the benefits of this approach in the improved environment and speed of policy and decision making.
“But this commitment will never deter or discourage us from asserting our considered views in promotion and defence of good governance.
“We urge officials and agencies of Government to exploit their access to the Legislature in making clarifications before reacting to newspaper reports on its deliberations,” the statement said.