Senate quizzes minister over N32.4bn for palliatives
The Senate through its Committee on Special Duties on Thursday quizzed the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Hajia Sadiya Farouq, over the spending of the N32.4 billion allocated to her office for palliatives provisions against COVID-19 pandemic.
At an interactive session at the Senate, Senator Ali Ndume (APC Borno South) expressed regret that the Ministry was not doing enough.
“You are not doing enough as far as poverty eradication in the country is concerned.
“The modus operandi being adopted by your Ministry cannot in anyway help in fixing the country.
“Humanitarian intervention should be looked at more holistically,” he said .
Also speaking, the Vice Chairman of the committee, Senator Biobarakuma Degi Eremionyo (APC Bayelsa) said the handouts being doled out to some Nigerians as palliatives by the Ministry, cannot in anyway, take them out of poverty line.
“Giving unemployed people N10,000 or even N20, 000 for a month or two, cannot help them out of the poverty related problems facing them.
“The handouts should be channelled into creation of employment for the unemployed,” he said.
But, the Chairman of the Committee, Senator Yusuf Yusuf (APC Taraba Central), quickly intervened by telling the members that the interactive session was not on poverty eradication by the Ministry but interventions made by it as palliatives against COVID – 19 from the 32.4billion earmarked for it out of the N500billion appropriated by the National Assembly last year.
The Minister in her response clarified that only N2.4billion was released to her Ministry from the N32.4billion earmarked.
She said the N2.4billion was expended on feeding of School pupils and direct monetary interventions made to vulnerable Nigerians across the 36 States of the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory.
When asked to explain how the school pupils were allegedly fed in their various homes , the Minister said, “We drove to some of their homes based on addresses gathered from their Schools and also adopted the template of six person per family and three Children in a home.”
She explained further that aside feeding of School pupils at home , other interventions such as rice distributions totaling about 33,000 tonnes were made to vulnerable Nigerians across the 36 states of the federations.
“We also got a lot of consignments from the Nigerian Customs Service for distribution as palliatives during the period under review aside 70,000 metric tonnes of Grains, Millets, Guinea Corn and Garri released from strategic reserves on the orders of Mr President,” she added.
The Chairman in his closing remarks tasked the minister to ensure collection of the N30billion balance from the Ministry of Finance and forward to the committee intervention programmes of action it had on ground for it.