By; SUNDAY ODE, Abuja
The federal government has uncovered corrupt practices in the social investment programme of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration.
This was disclosed by the special adviser to the president on social investment programme, Maryam Uwais on Thursday after the National Economic Council meeting presided over by Vice president Yemi Osinbajo at the Presidential Villa.
She listed shortchanging, racketeering , harassment of beneficiaries and exploitation of the vulnerable (due to poor levels of literacy) as the corrupt practices facing the programme.
She said they are collaborating with various organisations within and outside the government to overcome the challenges in the areas of; Monitoring and Security, Sensitization, Communication.
According to her , the total actual spending in 2016 and 2017 is 15.8 per cent of amount appropriated, pointing out that this is the amount that has been released out of the budget appropriated for Social Investment Programme.
She said “We identified seven challenges relating to corrupt practices by some state officials, racketeering, taking advantage of the level of illiteracy of the women who are poor and illiterate. Their vulnerability are exploited.
“We pleaded with state governors to take more interest in what is going on so they can be protected. We are weak in motoring. So, we also asked the state governors to support us with logistics.
” In some communities, we can only access them through bush paths and see how they can support us with offices for their own staff and all that is required for us to operate seamlessly in the states.
“We mentioned that we are collaborating with certain organisations within the federal government which have presence in the states and are helping us with monitoring.
She also said they have engaged the services of traditional rulers, EFCC, DSS, Civil defence to checkmate corrupt practices in the programme.
She added “We engaged traditional rulers. We engaged DSS. We engaged EFCC where fraud is involved because we really need to monitor and we also engaged the civil defence which has agreed to give us armed policemen and also armed civil defence to guard the women the day they are being paid.
“We ask for some assistance. For example where some of the state officials act as gate keepers. They charged the beneficiaries who apply for loans certain amount. So, we asked the states to take better interest and to stop those malpractices because they are actually cheating these people who are already poor.
” We ask states to facilitate the generation of BVN and opening of accounts for some of these people and also to form cooperative so that they can access our loans.
” For the school feeding, we ask them to fast track the commencement of the programmes in states where they haven’t started. We ask them to assist us in screening the cooks and also training them and also strengthening the monitoring and evaluation because we keep seeing or hearing stories of what is happening.
” We are trying to curtail those but because of the remoteness of some of these communities, the information doesn’t come to us early enough but we are encouraging everybody to give us feedback; to tell us what kind of food is being fed to the children because we have come to agreement to set menu of nutritional content required for children of that age, ” she said.