By Christiana Ekpa
Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadiya Farouk on Tuesday insisted that all the 36 State governors including the Federal Capital Territory, FCT got COVID-19 palliatives except Rivers State.
Speaking while giving details of the performance of her Ministry’s 2020 budget performance and the presentation of the 2021 proposals before the House of Representatives Commitee on Humanitarian Affairs in Abuja, Farouk said that Rivers could go for their share of the palliatives anything they deemed necessary.
She also hinted that the Ministry did not receive any funding from any organization both within and outside Nigeria.
Farouk’s response followed a question by a committee member, Hon. Abbas Adigu from Oyo State on whether the palliatives went round the country.
She said: “I think he was asking if we have counterpart or external funding apart from the budgetary.
“I say no to that. We have not received a penny from any organization within or outside Nigeria. We only operate within the budgetary allocation as appropriated. But we received some relief items from some organizations during the pandemic like food items, beverages. This is what I will say to that. We have received any funding from any quarters.
“The issue raised by Hon. Abbas on COVID-19 palliatives. We distributed these palliatives to all the states. We have given out 70,000 tons of grains from the national grain centre by Mr. President. We were also given food stuff by Customs and this we distributed round the 36 States of the federation including FCT. We handed over these palliatives to all the State Governors for onward distribution to the poor and the vulnerable in their States. In FCT, we handed over the palliatives to the two ministers of FCT for distribution to the poor. It is only Rivers State that has not collected their own share. It is still there waiting for them.”
Asked whether she also handed out cash to vulnerable Nigerians during the Covid-19 lockdown, the minister said non was shared.
“No, I have not given any cash patterning Covid-19. The cash transfer that we did is already an existing programme under the NSIP that is being given to the poor and honorable household across the country. It has nothing to do with COVID-19 except that Mr. President directed that we should give two months advance. Other than that, we have not distributed cash in the name of palliatives”, she said.
Giving the synopsis of the 2020 budget, Farouk said that the sum of N4,034,459,460.00 was allocated to the Ministry in the 2020 Appropriation.
It was later revised downward to N3,125,054,083 representing a reduction of 22.54%.
The revised budget however comprised a total recurrent expenditure of N342,087,385.00 and a total capital allocation of N2,782,966,698.00.
Similarly, the Ministry was also allocated the sum of N551,416,000.00 for Covid-19 interventions as contained in the 2020 Appropriation (Repeal and Enactment) Act.
Summarising 2021 budget proposals of the Ministry, Farouk said a total sum of N4,038,950,383.00 was proposed.
Of the amount, she said the ministry has an allocation of N296,555,226.00 for personnel cost for the first time while the allocation for overhead cost (N499,975,000.00) in 2020 remained unchanged.
The proposed allocation for capital expenditure of the Ministry in 2021 was reduced by 8.26% of the allocation in the 2020 Appropriation Act. The sum of N3,242,420,157.00 has been proposed.
Earlier before her presentation, there was an attempt via a motion by a member of the committee, Hon. Awaji-Inombek Abainte from Rivers State to suspend the presentation of 2021 budget proposal to make way for a comprehensive inclusion of all proposed items for proper scrutiny.
But the motion failed as there was no seconder to it and therefore no ruling on the matter.
The lawmaker also showed his resentment to the recruitment style of the ministry, saying that out of the 279 members of Staff, only 2 persons were employed from Rivers State.
“The document is not comprehensive enough and will not give us the expected results. Out of 279 employees of this ministry, only 2 are from my Constituency.
“I will formally move we step down the consideration of the budget of 2021 until the whole document is submitted to us”, he said.
Similarly, Hon. Isiaku Ibrahim, another member of the committee said “We have no details of the IDPs camps, money released, adjustment and increment, if we are not informed, we are deformed”.
Seeing that the room was getting heated up especially after an appeal from another member to his colleagues to “stop harassing” the minister, the Committee Chairman, Hon. Mohammed Mega from Kebbi State instructed the minister to make all the information available to the members.
However, in her response to the issues especially on the employment, the minister said it was not the responsibility of the ministry to recruit staff but that of the Civil Service Commission.
She also promised to make every other necessary detail available to the committee.
“On the issue of employment, as you know, ministries do not employ. It is the responsibility of the civil service Commission”, she said.