Some members of the National Assembly have set their sights on a fat new pie: President Muhammadu Buhari’s N500B Social Investment Programs (SIP).
Officials of the Budget and Planning Ministry, which is responsible for disbursing the fund, say the Senators and Representatives have tabled a list of their demands regarding how they can share of the money.
The sources say the legislators are demanding that unless they are allowed to select the beneficiaries of the SIP as well as award and take contracts under the scheme, they would simply terminate the program, which is designed to benefit ordinary Nigerians including the most vulnerable and the poorest, as well as unemployed youths.
One Senator from one of the Niger Delta States threatened to “kill the entire program,” if Senators are not allowed to choose beneficiaries of the N-Power jobs for unemployed graduates, while a Representative from Kano State specifically demanded contract benefits. According to a Kano State government source, it took the intervention of the governor of that state to call the Representative to order.
Similarly, some Senators have demanded of the Presidency that Senators be allowed to nominate 50 beneficiaries each for N-Power. That is in opposition to a selection system that would guarantee equal opportunity for all Nigerian youth by means of an online application process. That system has already allowed in 200,000 Nigerian previously unemployed graduates who got in without needing to press any buttons whatsoever.
The Presidency has explained that the beneficiaries of all the SIPs are being produced through that fair online application process, which is also easily audited and cross-checked.
In several instances, some of the National Assembly and other partisan political operatives have been reported to be selling illegal application forms to unsuspecting Nigerians and charging illegal fees in the process.