The leaders of the National Assembly have faulted the implementation of the federal government’s Social Investment Programme (SIP) during the lockdown in some states.
Senate President Ahmad Lawan and Femi Gbajabiamila, Speaker of the House of Representatives, made their feelings known at a meeting with the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadiya Umar Farouq, in Abuja on Tuesday.
The two leaders asked the minister what parameters the government was using to implement the programme and how the government contacted the vulnerable in those states.
Speaking first, Lawan said the programme need to be more effective and efficient so that poor Nigerians can benefit it to cushion the effect of the lockdown.
The Senate President said majority of those who are supposed to benefit from the programme have no access to power, Internet, bank account, and phones.
He said: “We feel that we need to work together with you to ensure that there is effectiveness, there is efficiency, that those who are supposed to benefit, benefit directly.
“When for example, some conditions are set, that those who will benefit will have to go online, through the internet or BVN and the rest of it.
“I want to tell you that the majority of those who are supposed to benefit have no access to power. They have no access to the Internet. They have no bank account, so no BVN. In fact, many of them don’t even have phones and these are the poorest of the poor.
“Now with coronavirus, they need our attention more than ever before. The time has come that we review the ways and manner we use to deliver the services under the SIP to Nigerians.
“We need to be better in terms of strategy for delivery and definitely, what we have been doing in the past cannot deliver exactly what will solve the challenges of the most ordinary and most vulnerable Nigerians.
“So, we need to put on our thinking cap and work out some strategies on how to identify the poorest persons in Nigeria. I think we have not been able to reach far out there to get them properly captured.”
Also speaking, Gabjabiamila questioned how the government came about the distribution list used to share the cash transfer and the food items to poor Nigerians.
He said: “When you walk into a system, no system is 100 perfect. The word reform is something we use all the time, and this is the one time when that word reform must be used in the truest sense of that word.
“The questions are going to be asked, how do you come about your list, how comprehensive is your distribution list? What are the parameters? What is the geographical spread?
“So these are tough questions that are going to be asked but I want you to look at them as frank questions that we need to ask.
“If you really want to define the meaning of representation, if that was being practiced in the real meaning of representation, then we shouldn’t be here. Because all the questions we want to ask, we should already have the answers.”