…Official Misled By Media Misrepresentation Of NASS Comment On FG’s SIP

The leadership of the National Assembly has knocked Special Adviser on National Investment Social Programme to President Muhammad Buhari, Ms Maryam Uwais, over her rejoinder on comments purportedly emanating from the National Assembly, saying that her insinuations were totally extraneous to the discussions the lawmakers had with ministry officials on social investment.

Believing that the presidential aide was misled by some media misrepresentation of what transpired at the meeting between NASS leadership and the minister and her officials, the NASS leadership said, “We, therefore, take strong exception to the innuendo by the presidential aide that her rejoinder was issued towards ‘safeguarding the entitlements of the poorest of Nigerian citizens, whose benefits are likely to cease because they are not known or connected to NASS members or any other person of influence.’

“That insinuation is unfair to the members of the National Assembly and is entirely baseless.

“We believe this misrepresentation misled the Special Adviser to the President on Social Investments, Mrs Maryam Uwais, to issue a rejoinder containing unfortunate insinuations, which were totally extraneous to the discussions at the meeting and the contemplations of the National Assembly.”

This rebuke was contained in a statement by the Special Adviser to the Senate President and Chairman of the National Assembly, Senator Ahmed Lawan,  Mr Ola Awoniyi.

Recall that the leadership of the NASS had on April 7 called for a meeting at the NASS complex, attended by the Senate President, Dr Lawan and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr Femi Gbajabiamila, and some principal officers, as well as the minister and her team.

The statement pointed out that “although the official press statement issued at the end of the meeting clearly conveyed the deliberations and resolution of the meeting, some misrepresentations   appeared in the reports by one or two newspapers.”

It added, “Specifically, there was nowhere in the statement that NSIP was described as a ‘failure’ as reported by The Nation newspaper or a ‘scam’ as reported by the Sun newspaper. Also, there was no mention of N2 trillion or any amount whatsoever in the statement.

“Virtually all other media houses published or broadcast the ‘press statement’ accurately, except for the errant reports mentioned above.

“The comments at the meeting were not made to denigrate any official, but to make the scheme more effective in the delivery of its critical mandate; and these comments were well taken by the Honourable Minister and her delegation.

“The minister was honest enough to admit that the NSIP had some ‘challenges’ and also bedeviled with ‘intrigues’ which she was yet battling with.’’

While urging public office holders to be receptive to constructive ideas and suggestions expressed to enhance service delivery and improve the performances of public projects and institutions, the statement added that the NASS leadership was committed to sustaining its cordial working relationship with the other arms of government.

It also stressed tgat it has seen the benefits of this approach in the improved environment and speed of policy and decision making.

The statement added, “But this commitment will never deter or discourage it from asserting its considered views in promotion and defence of good governance.

“The leadership of the National Assembly would not have suggested an enabling legislation for the NSIP, if it does not believe in the relevance of the scheme.

“It is true that the leadership of the National Assembly pointed out gaps in the implementation of NSIP. As the representatives of the people, it is a key constitutional mandate of the legislature to oversight, review and make recommendations for better implementation of important programmes of government.”

It said that was exactly what transpired at the Tuesday meeting in summary; adding that the Senate President’s and Speaker of the House’s observations actually captured the views of  many Nigerians.

Describing the observations as a reflection of feedback from the people they represent, and who are the targeted beneficiaries of the scheme, the lawmakers said, “We urge officials and agencies of government to exploit their access to the legislature in making clarifications before reacting to newspaper reports on its deliberations.’

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