Finance Minister Starves President Buhari’s NPower Volunteers Of Their Salaries, By Tunde Daniel
No doubt, Nigerians are beginning to reap the benefits of the CHANGE mantra as many young unemployed people have found reasons to believe in Muhamadu Buhari-led administration especially as millions of Nigerians have benefited directly and indirectly from each of the various schemes of the National Social Investment Programmes.
The federal government, in 2016, established the NSIP to tackle poverty and hunger across the country. The NSIP programme comprises NPower, National Home Grown School Feeding (NHGSF), Government and Empowerment Programme (GEEP), and the National (Conditional) Cash Transfer Programme.
Till date, over 7.9 million beneficiaries have been recorded since the inception of the programme with presence in the 36 states of the federation and federal capital territory. One of the most important aspects of the programme is that beneficiaries are being paid directly with their Bank Verification Numbers used to prevent fraud.
Unlike in the past where schemes like these are manipulated to favour politicians, beneficiaries of the NSIP programmes have applauded President Muhammadu Buhari for not bowing to pressure from politicians to turn the program into another political jamboree for political office holders to ‘settle’ cronies and loyalists.
With the huge success recorded in this programe, one would begin to wonder why beneficiaries are being starved of their monthly stipends.
A quick background check revealed that a total of N900 billion was appropriated for the NSIP in 2016 and 2017; with N500 billion appropriated for 2016 and N400 billion appropriated for 2017.
Despite the approval of the N900 billion budget by the National Assembly, Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, for reasons best known to her, has released only a total sum of N109 billion with a deficit of N791 billion.
Information available to us shows that the GEEP expenditure gulped N11,700,200,466, while the CCT gulped N5,235,401,087.
Between October 2016 and November 2017, N22,370,719,017 was expended for the Home-grown School Feeding Programme (HGSFP); while N69,731,256,122 was expended on N-power.”
If anything, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, should understand better that the NSIP is one of the many successes of this administration with millions of young people lifted off the poverty level and given life changing opportunities.
Sadly, Adeosun’s continued deliberate poor releases of funds to NSIP is coming at a time beneficiaries are hopeful that a scheme that has provided a temporary relief from unemployment in the country will be put on the front burner in the finance ministry’s list of priorities.
Most of the beneficiaries live on the N30,000 stipend and it would not augur well to keep delaying payment without recourse to their plights and needs.
Mrs Adeosun should not be too comfortable with her juicy office and starve beneficiaries of the NSIP of their monthly stipends. If anything, the NSIP budget should be prioritized. Yes, there are many capital projects to be completed but this is a scheme the Minister must not play politics with as it is a cardinal project of Mr President and speaks directly to Mr President’s love for the masses.
In December 2017, beneficiaries protested delay in payment of their monthly stipends due to Adeosun’s inaction.
Presently, many are yet to get paid for the month of March 2018. Should we wait till beneficiaries begin to carry placards and embarrass the federal government before Adeosun sees the need to prioritize NSIP budget?
Or is Adeosun tilting towards Senator Danjuma Goje’s call to scrap the National Social Investment Programme by deliberately starving beneficiaries of their stipends?
I would like to hope that this is not true. The NSIP is touching lives and by God’s grace, more lives would be touched this year. More so, Adeosun should note that the programme is in line with the manifesto of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
In all, while the nation is investing in more capital projects than ever before, Adeosun should support FG’s position and commitment to invest in the people just as Bill Gates mentioned at a special session of the National Economic Council held at the old Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
In conclusion, I urge President Buhari, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo (SAN), and all party Chieftains to call Mrs. Kemi Adesoun to order to immediately release NSIP funds so beneficiaries can again have reason to smile and meet their urgent needs.
Tunde Daniel is a political analyst and social commentator in Abuja. He can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org