Journalism of Courage

NASS to Presidential aide: Your insinuations unsavoury, unfair, baseless


…official misled by some media misrepresentation of NASS comment on FG’s social investment programme

The leadership of Nigeria’s National Assembly has frowned at a  rejoinder issued by the Presidential Adviser on Social Investments, Mrs Maryam Uwais, saying her insinuations were totally extraneous to the discussions they had with ministry officials on social investment.

The NASS leadership believed that the presidential aide was misled by some media misrepresentation of what transpired at the meeting between NASS and the minister and her officials.

“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.

“We believe this misrepresentation misled the Special Adviser to the President on Social Investments, Mrs Maryam Uwais to issue a rejoinder containing unfortunate insinuations which were totally extraneous to the discussions at the meeting and the contemplations of the National Assembly,’’ a statement by Mr Ola Awoniyi, the Special Adviser on Media to Senate President and Chairman of the National Assembly, said.

Persecondnews recalls that NASS leadership had called the meeting on April 7 at the Assembly complex attended by the Senate President, Dr Ahmad Lawan and the Speakers of the House of Representatives, Mr Femi Gbajabiamila and some principal officers as well as the minister and her team.

The statement pointed out: “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.

“Specifically, there was nowhere in the statement that NSIP was described as a “failure” as reported by The Nation newspaper or a “scam” as reported by the Sun newspaper. 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 bedeviled with “intrigues” which she was yet battling with.’’

NASS also urged public office holders to be receptive to constructive ideas and suggestions expressed to enhance service delivery and to improve the performances of public projects and institutions.

It said the leadership of the National Assembly was committed to sustaining its cordial working relationship with the other arms of government, stressing it has seen the benefits of this approach in the improved environment and speed of policy and decision making.

“But this commitment will never deter or discourage it from asserting its considered views in promotion and defence of good governance.

“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.

“It is true that the leadership of the National Assembly pointed out gaps in the implementation of NSIP. As the representatives of the people, it is a key constitutional mandate of the Legislature to oversight, review and make recommendations for better implementation of important programmes of Government.

“That, in summary, was what was done at Tuesday’s meeting.

“The observations made by the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan and the Speakers of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, captured the views of  many Nigerians. These observations also reflect feedback from the people they represent who are the targeted beneficiaries of the scheme.

“We urge officials and agencies of Government to exploit their access to the Legislature in making clarifications before reacting to newspaper reports on its deliberations,’’ the statement said.

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