Mrs. Maryam Uwais, Special Adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari on Social Investment, says the National Social Investment Office (NSIO), will continue to be guided by the provisions of the Fiscal Responsibility Act, in its expenditures.
Uwais spoke on Wednesday when she led the management team of the National Social Investment Programme (N-SIP), to brief the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Hajiya Sadiya Umar Farouq, on the outfit’s activities.
Uwais briefed the minister on the structure, financial standing, level of implementation of the various components, and challenges of the Social Intervention Programmes of the Buhari Administration.
“The NSIO expenditure has strictly remained consistent with the financial work plan defended and approved by the National Assembly.
“The NSIO reports consistently to a Steering Committee chaired by the Vice President; that committee comprises of nine ministers.
“The Ministry of Budget and National Planning is the custodian of all our budgetary releases. iI serve as the accounting and procurement arm of NSIO.
“No funds are hosted by us and all of our expenditure has to be budgeted for, because the ministry keeps an eye toward ensuring that the right thing is done.
“To this end, our expenses are always totally in line with the work plan that we defended before the National Assembly.
“However, insufficient budgetary releases remain a major challenge in the execution of the Social Investment Programme in the last three years.
“Budgetary releases have remained insufficient for NSIO activities because the beneficiaries are growing at a much faster rate than the funding available,” Uwais said.
She further explained that with the support of the budget and national planning ministry, her office had made huge strides.
She added that her office intended to continue to explore how the monthly releases they get could cover essential needs, because “there are many things we have not been able to do”.
Uwais, however, said that in spite of the shortfalls in budgetary releases to the NSIO, the National Social Investment Programme had made a significant difference in the lives of millions of poor and vulnerable Nigerians.
She noted with delight that some of the beneficiaries were beginning to take ownership of their lives.
“We have 6,620,000 cash transfer beneficiaries being paid across 29 states currently.
“We have also verified that beneficiaries in 20 States have formed savings groups, out of which in 17 States, the beneficiaries have saved N567 million from the monthly payments of N5,000.
“Also, 18,210 of them have taken loans from the money saved, and less than 1,000 of them have defaulted.
“So, these women are working very hard to set up their own businesses, growing productive day by day.
“This has become possible because of the support they get from the trained community facilitators, who visit them every week, to advise, mentor and coach them on savings group formation, financial skills, nutrition, hygiene and sanitation,” Uwais said.
In her remarks, Farouq thanked the NSIO delegation for the visit, and expressed hope of a good and fruitful working relationship between the ministry and the agencies it supervises.
The Social Investment Programmes of the Federal Government was recently relocated from the Office of the Vice President to the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development.