HURIWA challenges minister to public debate on SIPs
Insists schemes are enmeshed in corruption
Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has challenged the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management, Sadiya Umar Farouq, to fix a date for a public debate to expose alleged widespread corruption in the National Social Investment Programme (NSIP) and the school feeding programme.
HURIWA, which claimed to have been repeatedly attacked after expressing doubts over the credibility of the process of implementing the programme, vowed not to be deterred.
“We want the minister to be a democrat and appear in an independent forum to take questions from Nigerians on how the ministry fed school children during the lockdown.”
According to the group, the ministry charged with the mandate to develop humanitarian policies and provide effective coordination of national and international humanitarian interventions; ensure strategic disaster mitigation, preparedness, and response; and manage the formulation and implementation of fair-focused social inclusion and protection programmes in Nigeria, has become the single most notorious cesspool of corruption with lack of transparency and accountability in over 60 years of the nation’s independence.
HURIWA said it was aware of how the minister contradicted herself when she claimed that the food would be shared door-to-door and in the same breath, averred that vouchers would be allocated at specific collection times to avoid overcrowding.
“Was she misquoted or what? We wonder how there would be overcrowding on the door-to-door distribution of food to children who are claimed to have been individually designated in various locations, even as she failed to provide details of how she intended to reach the 9.7 million school children, who were in their homes in different locations due to the closure of schools. Officials have continued to muddle up required documentation in a bid to cover their tracks, “ the group said.
In a statement signed by the National Coordinator, Emmanuel Onwubiko and the National Media Affairs Director, Zainab Yusuf, HURIWA, which alleged that all was not well with the NSIPs of the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government, also noted the recent condemnation of the Modified Home Grown School Feeding Programme, as well as last April’s row between managers of the scheme and the leadership of the National Assembly over the initiative.
The group recalled that the NSIPs programme, under the ministry, reportedly claimed to have spent billions of public funds to feed school children during the three months of COVID-19 lockdown when clearly the children were all at homes in different parts of the country.
“We have nothing against any transparent effort to provide succor to Nigerians, particularly our children, at this critical time, but we reject the on-going fraud in which school children who were in their respective homes, bearing the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic are being used as representations to divert public funds to a few corrupt individuals in the Buhari administration.
“We are by this statement demanding that the minister, Sadiya Umar Farouq picks a date for the challenge we have thrown at her for a public debate with us to be covered by the media and watched by millions of Nigerians.”
“This is because public debate emerges as a significant tool in the process of making people more active participants in the democratic process by involving them in the decision-making process.
This proposed public debate with the minister will address the people’s opinions, interests, expectations, and clarifications on the alleged cesspool of corruption in the ministry, and then the ministry can state the official lines of what it has spent.
“Failure to clarify this bogus claim that is attributed to her, which to all intents and purposes is not just false, but totally and substantially dubious, deceptive, criminally, and deeply annoying, we assure her that Nigerians will never forget the matter.
“We have nothing against the minister and contrary to what the attack dogs have stated in the various publications, we have nobody funding this pure human rights advocacy.
We need not remind President Buhari and the National Assembly that good governance is enhanced when openness, transparency, and accountability become the mantra of government,” the statement noted.
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