National Assembly Leaders Meet Buhari, Seek SIP Reforms

The Senate President , Ahmed Lawan, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives , Femi Gbajabiamila , on Tuesday , met with the President , Major General Muhammadu Buhari ( retd. ) , behind closed doors to discuss the implementation of the National Social Investment Programme , among other issues .

This comes days after a clash between the National Assembly and the Special Adviser to the President on Social Investment Programme , Maryam Uwais , over the need for a reform of the process of implementing the programme.

Uwais had, on April 8 , responded to criticisms of the programme by the legislature with allegations that lawmakers were criticising the implementation of the SIP partly because some of them tried but failed in their bid to insert the names of would -be beneficiaries .

The National Assembly , however , replied that Uwais should be “ receptive to constructive ideas and suggestions expressed to enhance service delivery . ”

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Lawan , who spoke to journalists after the meeting at the State House in Abuja, reiterated the call for reforms in the social investment initiatives.

He said , “ This afternoon, we had an engagement with Mr President to discuss with him what we , the leadership of the National Assembly , have resolved and our opinion on various issues regarding the fight against COVID- 19 in Nigeria and going forward.

“ We also believe that it is time to reform the way and manner we implement the Social Investment Programme . This is a very important programme that is to help Nigerians who are poor and vulnerable .
“ We believe that, having implemented this programme from 2016 to date , we should be reviewing to evaluate the efficacy and efficiency with which we have been implementing this programme. ”

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The Senate President emphasised the need to have a transparent programme that would go down to the people that deserved the support and an equitable and fair projects as far as the geographical spread across the country was concerned .

According to him , the Federal Government is considering bringing the request for a stimulus package of N 500 bn to the National Assembly .

He said , “ We believe that we should be watching closely and it is with this respect we feel that we should be on standby so that, should there be a presentation of that request for the stimulus package to be passed , we simply reconvene in the National Assembly to look into the request of the executive arm of government with the intention of ensuring that the stimulus is available to Nigerians at this state . ”

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Lawan stated that, among the discussions with Buhari , was the proposition that the various donations to Nigeria should go into a single account with a management fund committee that would be in charge of releases

Asked whether he wanted the national social register discarded, the Senate President argued that the present register was contrived by “the World Bank method, ” saying the distribution should be on the basis of senatorial districts, federal constituencies , or local governments .

According to him , the implementation procedure does not precisely capture the kind of beneficiaries that ordinarily should be .

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