The Presidency has identified corrupt practices by some state officials in its Social Investment Programmes.
The Special Adviser to the President on the Social Investment Programmes, Mrs Maryam Uwais, disclosed this to State House correspondents after after her presentation to the National Economic Council.
The presidential aide confessed that the Federal Government was weak in the monitoring of the implementation of the programmes.
She listed those corrupt practices as including shortchanging, racketeering and harassment of beneficiaries as well as exploitation of the vulnerable
Uwais, who asked state governors for logistics, said the Presidency had engaged the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, the Department of State Services, the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps as well as traditional rulers for monitoring.
Uwais also disclosed that the actual spending on the programmes in 2016 and 2017 was 15.8 percent of the N1 trillion appropriated, explaining: “This is the amount that has been released out of the budget appropriated for Social Investment Programme.”
He stated: “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. 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 ask 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 and 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 the programmes required state governments to, among other things, provide micro loan programme ad well as support in fraud detection and prevention by local officials
Uwais said put total direct beneficiaries of the Social Investments Programmes at 7,812,201 with 1,500,000 second beneficiaries mainly as farmers and cooks.