Nigeria’s Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management, Sadiya Farouq, has given in to pressures from federal lawmakers to compromise the country’s social register.
The lawmakers finally had their way to benefit from the conditional cash transfers in the country during a meeting with Farouq on Tuesday.
On Tuesday, the lawmakers faulted the way the Social Investment Programme of the Nigerian Government was being implemented and called for enabling legislation in line with global best practices.
President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, both made their reservations about the scheme at the meeting with Farouq and top officials of the ministry on Tuesday.
While Lawan said the National Assembly was interested in the current intervention initiatives of the ministry particularly with respect to the disbursement aimed at assuaging the plight of poor Nigerians against COVID-19, Gbajabiamila urged the minister to talk with the relevant committees and the National Assembly leadership on the best way to codify the scheme.
However, sources uncovered plans by the lawmakers to manipulate the social register so as to have a share of the funds.
“The lawmakers will be nominating and adding names of their loyalists and cronies to the social register when the minister brings the scheme to the National Assembly.
“The lawmakers have been angry that they have not been benefitting from the cash transfer and billions of donations to the COVID-19 fight, which was why they summoned the meeting and pressurised Sadiya to give in to their demands,” a source with knowledge of the corrupt scheme reported.
At the meeting on Tuesday, the minister made unsuccessful attempts to explain the implications of tampering with the register for Nigeria’s reputation with her partners in the intervention programme and distortion of the established payment process.
“The parliamentarians tried the same arm-twisting while the program was under the control of Mrs Maryam Uwais to no avail.
“Unfortunately, Umar laid the foundation for the disruptions of the smooth implementation of the program when on assumption of office she took over the program with so much display of power and control,” the source added
The conditional cash transfer is being monitored by the World Bank and distributed in line with the social register of the country.
It is not yet known what the response of the World Bank and other countries involved in the implementation of the NSIP would be.
When contacted over the matter by SaharaReporters, Chief Press Secretaries of both Farouq and Gbajabiamila refused to respond to calls and text messages sent to their mobile telephone lines.
The Special Assistant on Media to the minister also refused to comment on the issue when contacted.
The Social Investment Programme established in 2016 under the Presidency but now under the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs has been criticised as being a conduit for top government officials in Nigeria to steal money meant for the country’s poor.