The Senior special assistant to the President on Social Investment, Maryam Uwais, has defended the federal government’s social investment programmes (SIP).
Uwais was speaking after Aisha Buhari, wife of President Muhammadu Buhari, had criticised SIP, saying the programme had no visible impact in the north despite the huge amount of money spent on it.
Aisha Buhari revealed that she had been told specifically that 30,000 women from Adamawa would benefit from the programme but nothing of such happened.
Aisha also cast aspersions on the appointment of Uwais, suggesting that it was based on tribe rather than merit.
But Uwais has now hit back at the first lady, saying she would have been able to track all beneficiaries of the project if she had access to available data.
Speaking on Channels Television, the presidential aide said 190,000 beneficiaries from Adamawa are currently being paid under the investment programmes.
Uwais said Aisha spoke without the knowledge of available records on SIP.
She said, for instance, that the conditional cash transfer programme is ongoing in 12 local governments in Adamawa, while over 11,000 graduates have been recruited in a similar package.
Uwais said: “I believe that if she (Aisha) were to listen to the information they have there, if she were to check on our data, she would be able to track all the beneficiaries.
“Yes, she may not have met them. But we are in 12 local governments for the cash transfer. And we are also in 12 LGAs for the loans. So, I think we have at least 290,000 beneficiaries directly that we are paying in Adamawa state.”
Uwais said the school feeding programme is also ongoing in over 1,000 public primary schools in Adamawa and that much more could have been done with more funding.
“I’m saying that we have over 11,000 graduates recruited and working in her home state. We have non-graduates, 440; we started the school feeding programme in October 2018, we are in 1,054 public primary schools,” she said.
“And if we’ve done about 300,000 beneficiaries directly, I believe we could do so much more if we have sufficient funding. We have only scratched the surface in the sense that we don’t have the sufficient funding to address.”