Written by Emmanuel Ogbeche

Enough of Politicking

In a few weeks’ time, the All Progressives Congress, APC, led Federal Government will be three years in office. To state that President Muhammadu Buhari rode on the back of massive expectations is to state the obvious.

However, three years after that historic victory in 2015 that put paid to the Peoples Democratic Party’s ambition to rule Nigeria for the next years the euphoria and drumbeats of a New Dawn has faded leaving in its trail despair and many unanswered questions.

Only recently, the regime was up in arms against Microsoft founder and American billionaire, Mr. Bill Gates, for saying the government was yet to do enough to take Nigerians out of poverty.

In response to Gates’ admonition, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo at the 10th colloquium of Bola Tinubu gleefully said the administration had committed a princely N500 billion annually as social investment package, describing it as the biggest in sub-saharan Africa, and unprecedented in Nigeria.

“…We also decided to put in place an audacious Social Investment Programme to the tune of N500 billion, the largest pro-poor programme in our nation’s history, and the largest social safety net, at least in Sub-Saharan Africa,” Osinbajo said at the colloquium in Lagos, March 29.

The initiative is designed to provide easy-to-access jobs for the unemployed, feeding for school children and a N5,000 monthly handouts to some of the nation’s poorest people.

The government claims more than 7.4 million primary school pupils in 22 states have been fed, while almost 300,000 poor Nigerians are also receiving N5000 monthly cash transfer. It said almost 300,000 Nigerians benefited from micro-credit loans of between N10, 000 to N100,000.

But like in its claims of having stopped fuel subsidy payment, the claim by the vice president shows that the government has been economical with the truth.

A Senate Appropriations Committee discourse of the programme, with even lawmakers from the ruling APC revealed that rather than N1.5 trillion, only N175 billion in three years has been released.

At a session on Thursday with the Special Adviser to the President on Social Investment, Maryam Uwais, members of the Senate committee picked holes in the implementation of the initiative, and challenged Mrs. Uwais to provide names of the beneficiaries of the social intervention programme from their various states.

“You have N500 billion every year, which is unprecedented, totalling N1.5 trillion in three years. I am from Gombe State, and I’m yet to see one single boy or girl that has benefited from the programme. I have been active and politicking for 40 years. As far as I am concerned, I don’t know of anybody who has benefited from your programme and this is N13 billion every month,” chairman of the committee, Danjuma Goje (APC-Gombe) said.

Goje’s comments led to the regime admitting that it had in fact been lying to Nigerians.

“To restate the facts, while indeed we have budgeted a total of N500B for the 2016 & 2017 Budgets each, including the N100B for the Family Housing Fund in the 2017 Budget, only a total of N175B has so far been released since the commencement of the historic Buhari Social Investment Programme,” the vice president’s office said in a statement.

With three years gone and Nigerians in dire straits, it is urgent that the government of President Buhari focuses on delivering on the mandate given to it by Nigerians rather than politicking and scoring cheap political points that end up showing them as propagandists.

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