President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan has again restated his concern on the mode of disbursement of relief packages to cushion the effect of the lockdown occasioned by the pandemic, coronavirus.
Tribune Online reports that Senator Lawan at a meeting with the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Hajia Sadiya Umar Farouq and some top officials of her Ministry on Tuesday had expressed reservations over the implementation of the Federal Government Social Investment Programme, (SIP).
Speaking on Wednesday at a meeting with the National Assembly leadership with some members of the Presidental Committee on COVID-19, the President of the Senate appealed to the committee to ensure equity and fairness in the distribution of the stimulus package across the country.
He insisted that no geo-political zone should be left out in the intervention initiatives of the Federal Government. He cautioned that the number of cases should not be a criterion in the distribution of relief packages as he noted that certain section of the country were in dire strait before the outbreak of the deadly scourge.
He said: “We must ensure that there is equity. That there is fairness in the interventions. Every part of this country should have something to ameliorate the situation whether it is coronavirus infected or not.
“In fact, some of our states have been in a very difficult situation before the outbreak of coronavirus and such interventions will definitely help.”
He equally cautioned against needless duplication of projects by the relevant agencies saddled with the responsibility of disbursement of the fund and the packages. He said their activities must be streamlined along with the provisions in the 2020 budget.
“In our stimulus package, we need to ensure provisions that will streamline with what is already in the 2020 budget so that we don’t do duplication.
“In our last meeting, the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning indicated very clearly that the Executive is proposing a N500 billion stimulus package.
“While this is a very good proposal, how we wish you could even have more than N500 billion, but my belief is that we don’t duplicate what is already in the 2020 budget.
“And of course, there is utmost need to streamline what the Federal Ministry of Finance is proposing and what the CBN is also proposing because some of the proposals may have a spillover effect on some projects.
“So there is the need for the Federal Ministry of Finance and the CBN to have their intervention streamlined in such a manner that what someone loses under the stimulus package of the Federal Ministry of Finance, he gains in the stimulus package of the CBN.
“We must ensure that these Interventions have very clear and definite measurable targets. We shouldn’t just throw money and there and then we don’t see anything because the National Assembly will ensure that it monitors every single Kobo if and when the proposal was endorsed.”
The Senate President said the session was important as it presented the leadership of the National Assembly an opportunity to have all the facts regarding the current situation on Nigeria’s crude oil earnings ahead of the amendment of the Medium Term and Expenditure Framework(MTEF) and 2020 budget.
The Finance Minister, Zainab Ahmed said the meeting was designed to be a consultative forum to bring the National Assembly leadership up to date “on what we have been doing but also to take your feedback, your guidance and advice as we move forward towards adjusting the MTEF, adjusting the budget as well as designing the N500 billion stimulus package.”
In attendance were the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, Minister of State for Petroleum, Timipre Sylva and Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele.
The meeting was also attended by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege, Deputy Speaker, Idris Wase, some principal officers and relevant Senate and House Committee members.