Updated: February 27, 2021
The Buhari Media Organisation (BMO) has described House Speaker Yakubu Dogara’s comment on the Social Investment Programme (SIP) as irresponsible and an insult to beneficiaries of the initiative.
Dogara had described the social welfare scheme as vote buying at a one-day ‘Public Hearing on Vote Buying and Improving Electoral Processes in Nigeria’, on Monday, in Abuja
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In a statement signed by its Chairman Niyi Akinsiju and Secretary Cassidy Madueke, BMO said it is shocking that Dogara could descend so low just to score political points.
“Here is a man who presides over an arm of the National Assembly which approved a budgetary allocation of N500bn for 2016 and N400bn for 2017 respectively, for this same social welfare scheme.
“Speaker Dogara and his colleagues in the Senate are also aware that all the initiatives, including the very popular TraderMoni, began in 2016 after a total sum of N110bn was released.
“Cash disbursement was done throughout the previous years and it is on record that the National Assembly was even keen on monitoring compliance of the SIPs
“Clearly Speaker Dogara is not sincere, otherwise he wouldn’t describe an initiative that started in 2016 as vote-buying.
“And like the Senior Special Assistant to the Vice President on Media and Publicity Mr Laolu Akande once said, any attack on the TraderMoni scheme is an attack on hardworking petty traders and Nigerians in general; and we dare say that Speaker Dogara has shown clearly that he does not have the interest of the masses at heart.”
The pro-Buhari group also questioned Dogara’s understanding of the components of SIP when he said that the funds were being disbursed by public officials.
“That was a subtle dig at Vice President Yemi Osinbajo who has had to launch the TraderMoni scheme in markets across the country including the very successful one in Ilorin, Kwara state that got the National Assembly leadership fuming on seeing the large turnout of people.
“Surely, the Speaker would not want Nigeria to wonder at the calibre of people in charge of the two legislative chambers when even the average people on the street know that disbursement is not done physically but through the Bank of Industry.
“Or is he saying that he did not fully grasp a programme he led the House of Representatives to approve when he was a member of the ruling All Progressives Congress?
“For the avoidance of doubt, the SIP schemes are organic poverty-fighting policies based on a World Bank template, not like the tricycle-sharing or wheel barrow-distributing initiatives that Dogara’s Peoples Democratic Party is known for
“At the last count, the programme is providing direct support for over 13 million beneficiaries and 3,999,000 secondary beneficiaries out of which the National Cash Transfer alone is touching lives in 26 states where more than 300,000 poor Nigerians receive N5, 000 monthly, while beneficiaries of TraderMoni are 2.3 million people,” BMO added.