Senate quizzes Minister over N32.4bn COVID-19 palliative fund

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The Senate Committee on Special Duties, on Thursday, asked the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Hajia Sadiya Umar Farouq, to explain how N32.4billion allocated to her Ministry for palliatives meant to cushion the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic was being spent.

Farouq however explained only N2.4billion out of the N32.4billion allocated for palliatives has been released to the Ministry.

She said that the Ministry is presently engaged with the Ministry of Finance to get the balance N30billion released.

The exchange between members of the Committee and the Minister took place at an interactive session organised for the purpose by the panel.

Senator Mohammed Ali Ndume and Senator Biobarakuma Degi-Eremienyo had asked the minister about the impact of the palliatives distribution on the lives of poor Nigerians.

Ndume said even though the Ministry is doing its best, what it has been doing was not enough to properly cater for the poor and vulnerable in the country.

Ndume said: “You are not doing enough as far as poverty eradication in the country is concerned.

“The modus operandi being adopted by your Ministry cannot in anyway help in fixing the country.

“Humanitarian intervention should be looked at more holistically.”

Senator Degi Eremienyo, said the palliatives given to some Nigerians by the Ministry, cannot in anyway, take them out of poverty.

“Giving unemployed people N10, 000.00 or even N20, 000.00 for a month or two, cannot take them out of the poverty.

“The handouts should be channelled into creation of employment for the unemployed,”Degi-Eremienyo said.

The Chairman of the Committee, Senator Yusuf Abubakar Yusuf, intervened by telling the members of the Committee that the interactive session was not on poverty eradication but on interventions made by the Ministry from the N32.4billion allocated to it for COVID-19 palliatives.

Farouq said only N2.4billion has so far been released to the Ministry from the N32.4billion allocation.

She said part of the N2.4billion was expended on school feeding during the lockdown and direct cash transfers made to vulnerable Nigerians across the 36 States of the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory ( FCT).

On how she fed school children at home during the lockdown, Farouq said: “We drove to some of their homes based on addresses gathered from their Schools and also adopted the template of the United Nations of six persons per family and three children in a home.”

She explained further that besides feeding of school children at home, other interventions such as 33,000 tonnes of rice were distributed to vulnerable Nigerians across the 36 states of the Federation.

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