Senate President Ahmad Lawan has described as ”unfair and baseless” a statement made by Maryam Uwais, special adviser to the president on social investments.
Uwais had reacted to comments credited to Lawan and Femi Gbajabiamila, speaker of the house of representatives, on the national social investment programme (NSIP).
Uwais said the comments of the national assembly leaders were “regrettable and unfortunate”.
At a meeting with Sadiya Umar Farouq, minister of humanitarian affairs, disaster management and social development, in Abuja on Tuesday, Lawan and Gbajabiamila demanded a reform of the programme.
While the speaker wondered what parameters the government was using to implement the programme, the senate president said: “I think we have not been able to reach far out there to get them properly captured.”
But in a statement, Ola Awoniyi, special adviser on media to the senate president, said at the meeting with Farouq, the national assembly leaders “made some observations on aspects of the NSIP and recommended that the implementation process be finetuned and the scheme be backed with legislation to make it more efficient, effective and accord with global best practices”.
“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,” the media aide said.
“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 bedevilled with ‘intrigues’ which she was yet battling with.
“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.”
Awoniyi said the misrepresentation made Uwais “to issue a rejoinder containing unfortunate insinuations which were totally extraneous to the discussions at the meeting”.
“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 entirely baseless,” he said.
The media aide said public office holders should be receptive to constructive ideas and suggestions.
“The leadership of the national assembly is committed to sustaining its cordial working relationship with the other arms of government as it has seen the benefits of this approach in the improved environment and speed of policy and decision making,” he said.