President of the Nigerian Senate, Ahmed Lawan, has faulted federal government’s distribution of N20, 000 to some Nigerians as palliative against the economic bite of COVID-19 pandemic.
Mr Lawan said “I think time has come for us to redefine the implementation of the Social Intervention Programme. Probably going out to communities to give them N20, 000 per person might not be the best way to go. It is still an effort, but I think we need a better approach that will be more efficient.”
He said this on Saturday when the federal government requested from the National Assembly the approval of the establishment of a N500 billion COVID-19 Crisis Intervention Fund.
The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, met with the leadership of the National Assembly in Abuja to intimate them on the request for the intervention fund.
The meeting was a follow-up meeting to the one held last Wednesday between the National Assembly leadership and members of the Presidential Committee set up for the management of the COVID-19 crisis.
Mrs. Ahmed said: “What we are proposing is an establishment of a N500 billion COVID-19 Crisis Intervention Fund. This Fund that we are proposing, that should be created, will involve mopping up resources from various special accounts that the government, as well as the Federation have, to be able to pull this N500 billion.”
The finance minister further said that in addition to the identified special accounts from where the money would be drawn as loans, the proposed intervention fund is also expected to be sourced from grants being expected and loans from multilateral institutions.
“Our general view is that this Crisis Intervention Fund is to be utilised to upgrade healthcare facilities as earlier identified. The Federal Government also needs to be in a position to improve healthcare facilities not only in the states, but to provide intervention to the states,” Mrs. Ahmed said.
She also said: “We know that there will be a need for the parliament to agree and approve the taking of loans from these special accounts and we will be coming back with a proposed bill in that regard that will define what the fund will be used for.”
The senate president said “Just like we told Nigerians, when there is need for us to meet, or to take legislative action in support of ensuring that the government responds appropriately to developmental issues and challenges in the country, we will do so.
“This meeting, the second in the series after we shut down the National Assembly for two weeks, is a clear testimony of what we have said. Governance requires that we work together, so we want to listen to those things that you have on your side and how we can also play our constitutional role in ensuring that Nigerians continue to benefit from governance and how we are able to weather the storm created by COVID-19.”