Journalism of Courage

FG admits fraud in social investment programme, invites EFCC

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has been invited to probe massive fraud  in the Social Investments Programme (SIP).
This is even as it has said that only 15 percent of the N1 trillion budgeted for the programme in two years, has been released.
The Special Adviser to the President on Social Investments Programme, Mrs. Maryam Uwais, made the disclosure while briefing State House Correspondents, on her presentation to the National Economics Council (NEC) meeting chaired by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo bat the Aso Rock Villa.
She said that a total of 7,812,201 Nigerians are direct beneficiaries of the programme, which include home-grown school feeding programme, conditional cash transfer, N-Power; while secondary beneficiaries – mainly farmers and cooks – are about 1,500,000.
According to Uwais, the total actual spending on SIP in 2016 and 2017 is just 15.58 percent of the budget. Half a trillion naira had been budgeted for each of the two years, meaning that only N158 billion had been released and spent.
She however, disclosed that challenges encountered so far had been *Corrupt practices in the States, like shortchanging, racketeering and harassment of beneficiaries; *Exploitation of the vulnerable due to poor levels of literacy; * insufficient awareness/publicity and logistics for monitoring the programme.
Uwais said that while the SIP is collaborating with various organisations within and outside the Government to overcome the challenges, participating State Governments are required to support in fraud detection and prevention by their local officials; loan recovery from beneficiaries as well as mobilization and facilitating the generation of BVN and the opening of accounts.
She stressed  that this was imperative as some of the officials had been discovered to siphon money to illegal bank accounts, which is why the EFCC has been notified to swing into action to apprehend and prosecute the officials, some of who have been suspended or sacked.
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