The Minister of Labour, Employment and Productivity, Chris Ngige, has criticised a bill seeking to reorganise the National Social Investment Programmes of the Federal Government, which were introduced by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The harmonised bill is also proposing that the state and local governments share the burden of the SIPs with the Federal Government.
The bill was jointly sponsored by the Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila; Deputy Speaker, Ahmed Wase; Mansur Soro and nine other members.
The proposed legislation is titled, ‘A Bill for an Act to Provide a Legal Framework for Establishment of National Social Investment Programmes for the Assistance and Empowerment of the Poor and Vulnerable in Nigeria; and to Establish the National Social Investment Programmes Coordination Office within the Federal Ministry Responsible for Social Development to Manage the Implementation of the Programmes and National Social Investments Trust Fund to Alleviate Poverty among Vulnerable Nigerian Citizens through Targeted Programmes for the Aged, Infirm, Unemployed and Students.’
At the public hearing organised by the House Committees on Poverty Alleviation; Labour and Productivity on the bill in Abuja on Thursday, Ngige, who was represented by Paul Okwulehie, said some of the objectives and responsibilities of the proposed bodies would clash with those of existing ones such as the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund.
Ngige said, “The current administration has done excellently well with the programmes it has enunciated with respect to poverty to poverty alleviation. Before this administration, we had the NEEDS programme and others. So, we find that programmes and interventions targeted at the poor thus change and that is constitutional.”
Ngige also criticised the second bill, saying, “You will discover that there is duplication of functions already domiciled in the NSITF. Taking it to the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs will be a duplication of that particular function.”
He added, “If we look at the title of the second bill that talked about the institutional framework, which is the establishment of the Social Investment Trust Fund to alleviate poverty amongst vulnerable Nigerians, you will discover that it is still the same citation, and so still in conflict with the NSITF Act.”
Speaker of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila, while declaring the hearing open, said the bill was to establish a statutory framework to ensure continuity and accountability for the NSIP.
Gbajabiamila, who was represented by the Majority Leader, Alhassan Ado-Doguwa, said, “One bill seeks to codify the National Social Investment Programmes into law and establish a framework for coordinating, implementing, monitoring and improving those programmes.
“The other seeks to establish a National Social Investment Trust Fund. In considering both of these legislative proposals, I expect that the stakeholders here today will give thought to the best practices worldwide and be influenced by considerations of economic and public finance realities.”