Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila has questioned the manner of selection and implementation of cash payment to vulnerable Nigerians through the Social Investment Programme of the Federal Government and called for an enabling legislation in line with global best practices.
At the meeting with the Minister of Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Hajia Sadiya Umar Farouk, Gbajabiamila insists on the need for the ministry to work with lawmakers who are closer to the people as their representatives.
“The questions are going to be asked, how do you come about your list, how comprehensive is your distribution list? What are the parameters? What is the geographical spread?
“If you really want to define the meaning of representation, if that was being practised in the real meaning of representation, then we shouldn’t be here. Because all the questions we want to ask, we should already have the answers.
“We as representatives to the people should be providing those answers to the Nigerian people we represent.
“But if they ask me, as the speaker of the House, or ask the Senate President or any of my colleagues here, we are going to be struggling for answers.
“If we were really representing, then we will not need to ask because we will have the answers,” the speaker said.
The Speaker added the relevant Committees in the House have been complaining bitterly even before the Minister took over the scheme about the inability to access information about the scheme.
He said Nigeria’s SIP is similar to the Unemployment Insurance Act in the UK and the Social Security Act in the US.
“There is a lot of take away from this #COVID-19. One of them is the International Best Practices. My point is that these things are backed by law. They are codified by the legislature so that these issues and these questions will not arise because right there and then in the piece of legislation that is crafted, the parameters we are asking for is in the law, how you distribute is in the law. So it is not based on anybody’s whims and caprices or discretion of how he wants to distribute it. we will codify and come out with a legislation that will meet the international best practices ” he said.
The Speaker urged the minister to talk with the relevant Committees and the National Assembly leadership on the best way to codify the scheme.
In her response, the minister said the SIP was moved to her ministry for “sustainability and institutionalisation”
“I am very pleased to hear that we are going to work together to see that we give legal backing to this programme because that is the only way to go,” the minister said.