PRESIDENCY has said the federal government has spent just less than one billion naira on the Social Welfare Scheme for which N500billion was budgeted. Special Adviser to the president on Social Protection Plan, Mariam Uwais, who made the disclosure to the National Assembly Joint Committees on Appropriation, stated that since the budget became law earlier this year, the sum of N25billion had been released to the scheme. She however expressed optimism that another N40billion would be released to it before the end of the year. According to her, there is still hope that some N60billion could be spent on the scheme before the end of the year. “Out of the N500billion appropriated for the social intervention programme, we have not spent up to N1billion. We have been preparing, we have the framework in place but unfortunately, we did not get the release early enough. By the end of this month, we would have spent up to N60billion,” she said. At a meeting by the Appropriation Committees of the Senate and the House of Representatives to consider President Muhammadu Buhari’s request for virement of N180billion from the N6.06trillion 2016 budget, some agencies presented figures which conflicted sharply with the figures presented by the president. The joint committee expressed shock that the Social Intervention Scheme which was a key campaign point of the administration could be treated with such disdain, to the extent that only less than N1billion had been spent out of the huge N500billion. Members of the committee led by the chairmen of the Senate and House of Representatives Committees on Appropriation, Dajuma Goje and Mustapha Bala Dawaki respectively, raised issues about the readiness of the executive arm of government to implement the scheme. Leading the committee in expressing dismay on the slow implementation of the scheme, Goje said: “I don’t know if you are aware that this your agency is borne out of our campaign promises; and you’re here to say that you don’t need the money. You don’t need the balance of the money, you want it appropriated to other agencies. After we have promised people that we are going to provide them money and the money will be sent to them. It’s quite sad.” The conflict in the figures presented by the president and those by the agencies became noticeable in respect of the National Youth Service Corps, NYSC. The embarrassing development aroused the attention of lawmakers when the director of Finance and Accounts in NYSC, Mr. AIB Adeleke informed the committee that the corps only needed N8.5billion as opposed to the N19.792billion proposed by the president. Surprised, Goje asked Adeleke to be sure of his facts and figures, but the NYSC finance director stood his ground. The Director-General of Budget, Ben Akabueze swiftly informed the committee that Adeleke surely got the figures mixed up. Akabueze said there was another sum of N11.2billion which the NYSC had requested earlier in the year, adding that the president simply wanted to take care of all the needs of the NYSC at once by asking for N19.792billion. When called upon later to declare his final position, Adeleke simply said “I agree with the submission of the DG Budget.” Other agencies which presented conflicting figures with those of the president included Public Complaint Commission, which asked the committee to approve the sum of N2.5billion against Buhari’s N1.2 billion. Also, the Niger Delta Amnesty Programme for which the President voted N35billion asked the National Assembly committee to approve N35.2billion.
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