Indications emerged Wednesday that the office of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo was never directly involved in supervision of the expenditures of the National Social Investment Office (NSIO).
Special Adviser to the President on Social Investment, Maryam Uwais disclosed this while briefing the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management, and Social Development, Sadiya Umar Farouq on the activities of the NSIPs in her office in Abuja.
The clarification became necessary following recent reported Presidential directive that the Social Investment Programmes of the Federal Government be relocated to operate within the Ministry, from the Office of the Vice President.
Uwais had while briefing the new Minister whose Ministry is now in charge of NSIO activities on the structure, financial standing, level of implementation of the various components and challenges of the Social investment programme, stated that the “NSIO expenditure has strictly remained consistent with the financial work plan defended and approved by the National Assembly”
“The NSIO reported consistently to a Steering Committee comprising 9 Ministers, chaired by the Vice President,” Uwais said.
“Ministry of Budget and National Planning was the custodian of all our budgetary releases,” she explained, adding that: “it served as the accounting and procurement arm of NSIO. No funds were hosted by us and all of our expenditure had to be budgeted for because the Ministry kept an eye to ensure that the right thing was done. To this end, our expenses were totally in line with the work plan that we defended before the National Assembly”.
The Presidential aide told the Minister that insufficient budgetary releases remain a major challenge in the execution of the Social Investment Programme in the last three years.
“Budgetary releases have remained insufficient for NSIO activities because the beneficiaries are growing at a much faster rate than the funding available. With the Support of the Budget and National Planning Ministry, we have made huge strides and intend to continue to explore how the monthly releases we get cover essential needs, because there are many things we are unable to do”
Uwais, however, said in spite of the shortfalls in budgetary releases to the NSIO, the programme has made a significant difference in the lives of millions of poor and vulnerable Nigerians. She noted with delight that some of the beneficiaries are beginning to take ownership of their lives.
“We have 6, 620,000 cash transfer beneficiaries being paid across 29 States currently. We have also verified that beneficiaries in 20 States have formed savings groups, out of which in 17 States the beneficiaries have saved over N567 million from the monthly payments of N5,000.”
She said that 18,210 of these beneficiaries had taken loans from the money saved and that less than 1,000 of them had defaulted. According to her, these women are working very hard to set up their own businesses, growing productive day by day, explaining that this was possible because of the support they get from the trained community facilitators, who visit them every week to advise, mentor and coach them on savings group formation, financial skills, nutrition, hygiene and sanitation.
In her remarks, the Minister thanked the NSIO delegation for the visit, saying she looked forward to a very good and fruitful working relationship between her Ministry and all the agencies it supervises.