As much as N80billion out of N500bn earmarked for the Buhari government’s Social Intervention Programme this year has been spent, even before the commencement of the programme.
Over one million jobless graduates have filled forms online for enrolment into the programme that promises to employ 500, 000 teachers and other workers.
Vice-president yemi Osinbajo had promised that the first batch of employees (200, 000 in number) would be paid before the end of October. The promise has not been fulfilled.
The revelation that N80billion was missing from the fund came from the Senate on Tuesday, the day the upper chamber also rejected President Buhari’s request to seek $30bn foreign loan. Senator Ali Ndume (Borno South) raised a motion on “the need to avoid the mismanagement of the N500 billion Intervention Funds”.
He stated that N80 billion had already been taken out of the N500 billion without any explanation on what the money was spent on: “The Senate is concerned that the implementation of such a huge programme is now being carried out in the same manner as the other failed social interventions funds like the Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme, SURE-P, without a proper framework which led to their failures.
“In the light of the recent petitions and complaints from our constituencies, this money will not be well spent, nor will it achieve any major benefit to the economy despite the good intentions of government because of the way it’s been structured.”
The Senate urged the Presidency to ensure that the implementation of the intervention programme was robust enough to reach the poorest in communities for whom the programme was first conceived. “We are not building a nation for elites alone, but a nation for all citizens,” Ndume said.