From Ndubuisi Orji, Abuja

The House of Representatives has charged the Federal Government to resume the National Social Investment Programme (NSIP), following the increasing hardship in the country.

The House also charged the government to place on hold alleged plans to set up a steering committee for the NSIP, under the supervision of the Ministry of Finance. It stated that the plan is a violation  of the extant law, which places the programme under the control of the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation.

The parliament also charged the Federal Government to quickly complete the investigation of the suspended Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, Beta Edu. 

According to the House, in the meantime, the government should “direct a minister of state  to oversee relevant approvals and implementation of the NSIP so as to minimise the adverse implication of increasing hunger and sufferings experienced by vulnerable Nigerians, who rely on the programme.”

This followed the adoption of a motion by Billy Osawaru, on the need to resume the implementation of the NSIP as means of alleviating the current hardship in the country.

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Osawaru, in his motion, said that since the suspension of Edu, the various components of the NSIP, including N-Power Programme, Conditional Cash Transfer Programme, Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme and Home Grown School Feeding Programme, have all been placed on hold.

According to him, the NSIP is expected to be on hold “pending a thorough review of the programme and investigation of the alleged misconduct in the management of the programme.”

The lawmaker argued that “halting the implementation of the programme, particularly during this period of increasing hardship, has the implication of heightening the challenges of the vulnerable population relying on its assistance, and could lead to rise in poverty levels, social unrest and ultimately, impact negatively on the overall stability and development of the country

“The recent cases of looting of warehouses and food trucks in many cities across the country as a result of increasing hunger and sufferings, signals the need for immediate action to ameliorate the sufferings of Nigerians, such as the resumption of all form of social investment programme.”

Osawaru added that while the interim report of the panel appointed to investigate allegations surrounding the embattled Minister has recommended the resumption of the programme, there is “an alleged recommendation suggesting that a new steering committee board under the leadership of the Minister of Finance” should oversee the NSIP, henceforth.

He argued that the recommendation is “not only an anomaly but also contravenes the extant law, which situates the implementing agency and programmes under the purview of the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation.”