By Naomi Sharang
A Bill to institutionalise the National Social Investment Programme (NSIP) has scaled second reading in the Senate.
This was sequel to the presentation of the lead debate on the general principles of the bill the Senate Leader, Ibrahim Gobir during plenary on Tuesday.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the bill which is an executive bill was read for the first time on Wednesday, Nov. 30.
NAN also reports that President Muhammadu Buhari had on Tuesday, Nov. 29, written the Senate, requesting that the upper chamber considers and approves the executive bill.
Leading the debate, Gobir, who is the Senate Leader said that the bill is titled: “A Bill for an Act to provide a legal and institutional framework for the establishment of the National Social Investment Programme.
“For the assistance and employment of the poor and vulnerable in Nigeria; establish a National Social Investment Programme Agency for the purpose of managing the implementation of the programme and for related matters, 2022.”
Gobir said that the objective of the NSIP establishment bill was to provide a statutory and institutional framework for implementation of the programme.
He said that the NSIP was created in 2016 by Buhari to address socio-economic inequalities and alleviate poverty among Nigerians through four social support programmes.
“The programmes were meant to empower the poorest and most vulnerable Nigerians to attain an acceptable standard of living.
“The NSIP is directly and indirectly impacting the lives of poor Nigerians through its four cluster programmes.
“The programmes are the N-Power Programme, the Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme (GEEP), the National Home-Grown School Feeding Programme (NHGSFP), and the Conditional Cash Transfer Programme (CCT). ”
Gobir further said that the GEEP has so far provided incremental loan of between N10, 000 to about 24 million beneficiaries who are traders, artisans, enterprising youth, agricultural workers and other micro-service providers.
“The National Home-Grown School Feeding Programme delivers one nutritious meal a day to public primary school pupils in classes 1-3.
“This is with the aim of increasing school enrolment, reducing the incidence of malnutrition, empowering community women as cooks and supporting small scale farmers which help stimulate economic growth.”
Seconding the debate on the bill, Senate Deputy Leader, Robert Boroffice commended the federal government for at last, trying to codify the social investment programme which hitherto had been haphazardly managed.
“This is a programme that has very great potentials in impacting the lives of the needy and the vulnerable Nigerians.
“If this programme is institutionalised, it will become easier even for us to monitor the performance of this programme in our various constituencies.”
Similarly, Sen. Michael Nnachi (PDP-Ebonyi) said that the codification of the bill would create a modality of assessment, data collection and accountability which would be community-based.
“It is also a bill that will give authority for correct data compilation, assessment and interpretation.”
In her contribution, Sen. Biodun Olujimi (PDP-Ekiti) said “what we have had since the inception of this government has been good thoughts but faulty implementation.
“We have never had a system where the ordinary people are properly catered for.
“There was no transparency in what we had but this bill will stop all that. It will bring about transparency,” Olujimi said.
Chairman Senate Committee on Special Duties, Sen. Yusuf Yusuf said that a lot of accusations had been said about the implementation of the NSIP.
“Now we are pleased it has come as an executive bill for us to establish a system through which proper implementation can take place whether it is N-power, school feeding programme.
“All these are excellent programmes that are supposed to be fully implemented. It is going to be one of the best programmes for social investment in the country,” Yusuf said.
In his remarks, Senate President, Ahmad Lawan said that “We are unanimous that this bill is a very good bill, and very important and of course, it also testifies the fact that the government wants an improvement in the way and manner the various programmes are implemented.
“We had picked so many holes in the implementation of the various programmes.
“I believe that this is an effort by the administration to ensure that there is a legacy for this programme and also a legacy that can make the programme more transparent, more efficient and more effective.
“We really did not get it right in many ways even to identify those who should be beneficiaries.
“Now that we are creating an agency, we shouldn’t make it an all government affair. Let there be private people, CSOs so that government at all level is supervised.”
Lawan, thereafter refered the bill to the Senate Committee on Special Duties for further legislative action to report back in two weeks.(NAN)