President Muhammadu Buhari’s wife, Aisha, has rubbished the N500bn Social Investment Programme of her husband’s administration, saying that it failed “woefully” in the North in particular.
Aisha, who hails from Adamawa State, said the situation in her home state, as far as the implementation was concerned, was pathetic.
She also cited Kano, a highly-populated northern state, as another example where she believed the programme failed, despite the huge funds the Federal Government budgeted for it.
The SIP is domiciled in the Office of Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, but its direct implementation is done by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Social Investment, Mrs Maryam Uwais.
Mrs Buhari bared her feelings on Saturday in Abuja during an interactive programme she organised for women at the Presidential Villa.
For instance, she disclosed that though Uwais informed her that 30,000 women would be beneficiaries in Adamawa State, four years had passed and there was no evidence that the SA kept her word.
The President’s wife spoke in detail, expressing her disappointment.
She went on, “Concerning the N500bn voted for SIP, that was part of 2015 campaigns where they promised to give out N10,000, feed pupils in primary schools and give N5,000 to the poorest of the poor.
“The SSA to the President on Social Investment is a lady from Kano and I am sure that my husband decided to put somebody from Kano because of the population and political impact it made. I have never asked how the money is being used or is being given out. I met Barrister (one of the President’s aides on SIP) once and he promised me that for my state (Adamawa), we should get 30,000 women to be given N10,000. Up till now, I haven’t heard from him.
“I don’t want to raise the alarm that my state does not benefit from it, where the SGF (Secretary to the Government of the Federation) came from, I kept quiet because I don’t want people to say that I talk too much. Recently, I saw a 74-year-old man selling petty things in Kano, I asked him how much is his capital, he told me between N3,000 and N4,000. Don’t forget that we have campaigned to give the poorest of the poor N5,000 every month.
“So, I don’t know where is the social investment… Maybe, it worked out in some states. In my own state, only a local government benefited out of the 22. I didn’t ask what happened and I don’t want to know, but it failed woefully in Kano, it’s not a good sign and it’s not a good thing.
“We have a lot of women that do business locally due to the cultural thing in the North, they are at home doing their business. Some are millionaires, some have thousands of naira, they need the assistance but they do not get it. Most northern women do not belong to any market association.
“I was expecting the N500bn to be utilised in different methods in the North for the aim to be achieved. I don’t know the method they used, but most of the northern states do not get it. My state does not get it.
“How many of you (women in the hall) get it in your state? My state did not benefit from it.”
The women responded by saying that they got nothing in the past four years.
She argued that the method employed in implementing the programme in the North was faulty, a reason she believed it failed there.
“It worked out well in a situation whereby they have market associations but I was thinking different methods should be used in the North”, the President’s wife stated.
Amid applause from women in the hall, Mrs Buhari also criticised the $16m counterpart fund said to have been used so far on procurement of mosquito nets.
She noted, “I have heard about mosquito nets, Nigeria paid its counterpart fund, $16m. I asked them to give my own share of the net to send it to my village people. I didn’t get it.
“They have spent $16m in buying mosquito nets, I did not get it, maybe some people have got it. But I feel that, that’s my personal opinion, $16m is enough to fumigate mosquitoes in Nigeria. That’s my opinion.”
However, she commended the SGF, Mr Boss Mustapha, for the initiative to include women in the inauguration programme of her husband for his second term on May 29.
She stated further, “I will also like to use the opportunity to thank the SGF for including women in the inaugural activities of Mr President; this is what is called next level. They didn’t allow us to participate in politics but now they have started giving us hope that we can be involved in certain things.”
On the anti-drug committee chaired by a former Military Administrator of Lagos State, Buba Marwa, the President’s wife recalled how she practically made herself a member to ensure that things went well.
She added, “I also managed to put myself as member of the committee and the wife of the Vice-President. The wife of the Vice-President (Dolapo Osinbajo) has worked very well; it took her one year to go round schools in Abuja because of the level of abuse. Many girls don’t go to school because they are afraid of being raped while returning from school or when their parents are away.
“You know most of their parents are farmers. The revelation is beyond comment. I asked her to publicise her discovery but she didn’t; if she had done so, it would have served as a lesson.
“Over N12bn has been released by the President to take care of trauma cases across the country. Can you please monitor the money? The ministers are going very soon and the money is being released.”
On the 2019 polls, she called on the All Progressives Congress to refund the money female contestants spent to purchase nomination forms since the women ended up being marginalised.
By The PUNCH