The leadership of the National Assembly and House of Representatives has criticised the approach adopted by the federal government to distribute social grant to Nigerians who suffer the impact of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdown.
The upper and lower chambers called for legislation for the programme in line with global best practices.
The Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, expressed deep concerns at a meeting with the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadiya Farouq, and some top officials of the ministry on Tuesday.
The meeting, convened by the leadership of the National Assembly, was against the backdrop of the ongoing federal government intervention initiatives aimed at reducing the impact of the pandemic on the most vulnerable Nigerians, following the lockdown order given by the President Muhammadu Buhari on March 29.
Since President Muhammadu Buhari ordered the lockdown, the ministry said that it has since announced the distribution of the first tranche of N5 billion.
Lawan and Gbajabiamila noted that the programme needed reform to make it more efficient and effective as they expressed concerns about the conditions and guidelines for the programme.
When for example, some conditions are set, that those who will benefit will have to go online, through the internet or BVN and the rest of it.
I want to tell you that the majority of those who are supposed to benefit have no access to power. They have no access to the Internet. They have no bank account, so no BVN.
In fact, many of them don’t even have phones and these are the poorest of the poor. Yet, some of the conditions or guidelines which you set inadvertently leave them out.
Now with coronavirus, they need our attention more than ever before. The time has come that we review the ways and manner we use to deliver the services under the SIP to Nigerians.
We need to be better in terms of strategy for delivery and definitely, what we have been doing in the past cannot deliver exactly what will solve the challenges of the most ordinary and most vulnerable Nigerians.
So we need to put on our thinking cap and work out some strategies on how to identify the poorest persons in Nigeria. I think we have not been able to reach far out there to get them properly captured.
Similarly, Gbajabiamila charged the minister to change the system she met because Nigerians are watching.
I know that you came into a system, or you get a system that has nothing to do with you, but what we will be asking you to do is for you to change that system.