Fred Itua, Abuja
Senate has resolved to investigate alleged misuse of the Social Intervention Programme (SIP) funds by the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led Federal Government.
The upper legislative chamber also agreed to probe how funds allocated to the Subsidy Re-investment Programme (SURE-P), were utilised before 2015.
The resolution followed adoption of a motion by the Minority Leader, Biodun Olujimi on alleged deployment of funds under the SIP, to buy Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs) to promote President Muhammadu Buhari’s presidential election in 2019.
Olujimi displayed copies of signed forms, by an alleged SIP beneficiary, and claimed that beneficiaries are made to attach their PVCs before they can benefit from the fund.
She noted that it was unfortunate that the social intervention programme, which was created for the benefit of every Nigerian, is allegedly being manipulated to buy PVCs for president Buhari’s re-election bid.
Olujimi, who came under Order 42 (personal explanation) prayed the Senate to investigate the matter as a matter of urgency.
She urged the chamber to ensure that the social intervention programme fund is used for political purposes.
But, Senate Leader, Ahmad Lawan, described the allegation as completely unfounded. As Lawan moved to disabuse the minds of his colleagues about any untoward use the fund, Senate erupted with shouts of ‘point of order.’
Attempts by the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, to control the situation failed for some minutes.
Thereafter, Saraki yielded the floor to Senator Dino Melaye to move his point of order. Melaye said Olujimi’s motion should first be seconded before contributions would be made but requested for protection and be allowed to make his points. Saraki said Lawan should be allowed to speak, which he did.
Lawan said: “I listened attentively to the motion by senator Olujimi. I want to say that the SIP of this administration is transparent. For the first time in the history of social intervention programmes in Nigeria, we have proof that anywhere you are in Nigeria, you can apply.”
But, shouts of ‘point of order’ continued.
Senator Albert Akpan, took the floor to raise Orders 49 and 52 and re-iterated Melaye’s position that Saraki should first allow Olujimi’s motion be seconded.
He added that contributions in support of the motion should be taken after which those opposed to the motion should take the floor.
Saraki could take none of that. He insisted Lawan be allowed to conclude his contribution. Buoyed by that support, Lawan said the SIP is computer-based, which made it easy for Nigerians to apply wherever they were.
He urged the Senate President to be above board and blind to the debate.
Lawan also said it is on record that the SIP has been the most successful in the country.
“We inherited poverty, we inherited empty treasury. This administration is working to change the system. The social intervention fund is under the office of the Vice President, who has been very transparent in the implementation of the programme for the benefit of all Nigerians,” the leader said.
Lawan added that he is not against whatever the Senate wanted to do with Olujimi’s motion “but the investigation should not be turned into a political weapon.” He reminded senate that Nigerians were aware that Sure-P failed and that Olujimi should tender the document she had while the investigation should be party blind. Thereafter, senate adopted the prayer that the probe should be apolitical. The prayer that Sure-P should also be investigated was also adopted.
Senators Ibrahim Gobir, Shehu Sani, Enyinnaya Abaribe, Danjuma Goje, among others, will probe Olujimi’s claims.