By Ikechukwu Okaforadi
A group, Save the poor Coalition (SPC) has come in defence of the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Hajia Sadiya Umar Farouk, faulting the claims of the Chairman, Senate Committee on Army, Senator Ali Ndume on the distribution of Federal Government palliatives for Coronavirus (Covid-19) Pandemic lockdown.
The Minister and the office of the National Social Investment Programme (N-SIP) had been under attack for the alleged lopsidedness of the distribution of the Coronavirus lockdown palliatives.
Senator Ndume, speaking in Borno State on Tuesday alleged that most of those benefitting from the palliatives do not deserve them, just as he called for the disbandment of the presidential committee responsible for the distribution.
But in a swift reaction, the National Coordinator of SPC and National Secretary, Emeka Enechi and Adamu Maikasuwa respectively in a statement issued on behalf of the group in Abuja on Thursday, faulted the claims of Senator Ndume and others on the palliatives.
The group said, “Whereas, we are in league with the plethora of criticisms emanating from various quarters, especially that of distinguished and eminent members of the National Assembly, as per the National Social Register of Poor and Vulnerable Households and by extension the COVID 19 palliatives; however, after observing the comments and steps taking so far by the Honourable Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Hajia Sadiya Umar Farouk, we take solace on the truism that she has noted all the salient points raised.
“We of the SPC disagrees with the canvas of Distinguished Senator Mohammed Ali Ndume that the distribution of cash transfer register in states was a fabrication and was full of fraud and that the ministry lacks the capacity and structure to carry out the assignment.
“The distribution of cash transfer register is neither a fabrication nor a fraud; albeit as stated earlier Hajia Farouk did not mince words in talking of challenges in addressing and making comprehensive the National Social Register.
“Our understanding is that she has commissioned professionals to update the National Social Register she met on ground, and because of the urgency of the COVID-19 crisis she cannot throw the current register away.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the authors of the National Social Register never said they covered the 774 local government areas of the country; rather they listed what they covered as 421 local government areas, 4,347 wards, 43, 258 communities, 2.25 million poor of poorest households and 9.54 million extreme poor.
It is common knowledge that the World Poverty Clock as far back as 2018 had listed Nigeria, a World Poverty Capital with over 90 million extreme poor; therefore 9.5 million in the current National Social Register is a tip of the iceberg. The challenge the SPC, and indeed every Nigerian, today is how to assist President Muhammadu Buhari’s regime in lifting millions out of poverty.
“It is our considered view that we need a ministry like that of Humanitarian Affairs and other relevant ministries, state and local governments and private sector to mobilise all hands in order to lift our people to prosperity. Not Task Force.”
It would be recalled that some persons have suggested the setting up of taskforce to manage the federal government palliatives.