Action Aid Nigeria has asked President Muhammadu Buhari, not to divert a whopping N121 billion National Social Investments Programme (NSIP) funds to pay the 2019 general election bills.
The group’s Country Director, Ene Obi, strongly criticised the government’s decision to divert the funds, which could have been used to touch the lives of many impoverished Nigerians.
Action Aid has been involved in the coordination of third-party monitoring of the country’s social investments funds.
In a special communication, Mrs. Obi blamed the decision to divert the funds to government’s challenges and poor planning.
In 2016, she said the government promised to provide N500billion annually for the NSIP funds but released only N140biilion in 2017 and N80billion in 2016.
She also noted the meals provided to primary schools through the Home Grown School Feeding Programme (HGSFP) have enriched the learning experiences of many children who would have otherwise gone without food.
“Many of the children in our rural communities look forward to feeding in the schools and learning – nourishment to their bodies and their minds,” she said.
Having visited some schools in the country’s remote parts and seeing thankful children rush to have a meal, she pushed for the continuation of the country.
“The NSIP contributes to addressing the problem of out-of-school children in Nigeria and should be sustained,” Mrs. Ene continued.
“Action Aid Nigeria is urging the government to release the remaining funds for the SIP to enable Nigerians to fully reap the dividends of the programme.
“Several youth who would have been otherwise unemployed have had their livelihood enhanced with work as N-Agro, N-Build, N-Health and N-Tax programmes.
“The number of N-Teach beneficiaries who find hope in imparting knowledge on children in public schools and in turn receive a stipend of ₦30,000 for a full month’s work leaves one with a strong desire to see more youth empowered to uplift more Nigerians from poverty,” she said.
Mrs. Obi said her organisation vehemently rejected the plan to use the NSIP funds for the 2019 general elections.
She, therefore, called on Mr. Buhari to work with the legislature and seek creative ways of sourcing funds for the elections.
“We appeal that Nigeria must not continue to use that which is meant for the poor but rather find more ways of creating opportunities to lift people out of poverty,” the Action Aid boss said.
The Senate had on November 7, approved a N242 billion virement for Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and other agencies for the conduct of the 2019 general election.
Virement means the funds are re-assigned to different subheads other than previously approved in the budget.
The lawmakers were responding to President Buhari request for funds to conduct the elections.
In granting the request, the lawmakers ordered that N121 billion be sourced from the capital allocations of 30 agencies while another N121 billion should be sourced from the NSIP.
Instead of approving funding for the election by removing the frivolous projects they inserted in the 2018 budget, the lawmakers directed Mr. Buhari to cut N121 billion off the special projects meant for poor Nigerians.
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