“It was beautiful and simple as all truly great swindles are.”
O. Henry, 1862-1910, American Writer, IN THE HEART OF THE WEST
O Henry was writing about how in several states of America public officials and elected individuals, as well as private promoters devised all sorts of schemes to defraud Americans. The easiest and most successful swindles almost always revolved around programmes ostensibly designed to help the poor people who were then in the majority.
Designers of Nigeria’s Social Investment (or Intervention) Programme, SIP, must have taken a page out of the books of scams in America. They were able to persuade the Vice President, Osinbajo (Pastor, Professor and Politician) to buy their stories. He in turn persuaded President Buhari that the “give-away” programme code-named SIP would actually benefit the poor in Nigeria. Neither the VP nor the President asked to see the details. But, lynx-eyed financial analysts were quick to point out that the programme will never benefit the poor as envisaged. As presented the SIP provided very little opportunity for audit. There was no way to determine who the beneficiaries were and if they were receiving what was due to them. Instead, the beneficiaries will be those sitting in the Presidency and the contractors they would engage as cover-up for the larceny.
In 2016, when the programme was then called Social Protection Programme, an article written in December of that year had warned her about the calamity which had befallen the programme. She was told that SIP ( aka SPP, SWP), as conceived and handed to her, was a fraudulent programme and advised to go home. Please read what was said about this shady programme in December 2016.
POOR MRS UWAIS: A VICTIM OF BENEVOLENCE.
“Some great misfortune to portend; no enemy can match a friend.”
Jonathan Swift, 1667-1745. (VANGUARD BOOK OF QUOTATIONS, VBQ p 161).
Tell me quickly which appointed Federal Government official received the highest vote in the 2016 Budget? If your answer is Babatunde Fashola, the Super Minister of Power, Works and Housing, you are dead wrong. The biggest “pot of gold” or naira actually was handed, again on paper, to someone who is not even a Minister. She is just a Director, but a really Super-Super Director. In fact, in the entire history of Nigeria, no single individual had ever been allocated so much money to manage in one year. Ladies and gentlemen, meet Mrs Maryam Unwais, the wife of the former Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, who hitherto had established a track record of solid achievements. But, whose hard-earned reputation for delivering results is steadily being eroded by serving as the Director of Buhari’s Social Protection Programme, SPP, which was touted as the “most ambitious” programme in history. To the SPP, N500 billion was allocated or eight per cent of the 2016 budget. This was the “pot of gold” which benevolently was handed to Mrs Uwais to administer. In years past, that sum and the selection of Mrs Uwais as the one in charge should have been cause for congratulations; her office and home should have been under siege by contractors and she should be smiling….
But, as the year rolls inexorably to an end, Madam is not smiling. In fact, the poor woman is unhappy. She knows one thing which most Nigerians don’t know, except “busy-body” faculty and students of UniJankara, that Mrs Uwais will end 2016 with only massive failure to report on the SPP. Her “friends”, who promised N500 billion, had delivered less than N80 billion. None of the promises made by President Buhari on May 29, 2015 regarding the SPP would have been delivered. As a grandmother, one particular failure must hit her hardest – the failure to provide food to five million school children.”
In 2016, Mrs Uwais was still a true believer in the racket because like most inherently decent people she could not believe that people working in the presidency for a President who had declared zero tolerance for corruption could deceive. Now she knows better.
Readers should remember this. Out of the N110 billion so far released for SIP for 2016 and 2017, less than N7 billion was by their admission used to feed the kids. Less than N5 billion was given away to mostly ghosts. And despite the VP’s promise at the end of 2016 very few teachers have been recruited and posted to schools. There is over N80 billion for which the managers of this programme have to account.
Mrs Uwais has finally started to reveal what we knew all along from our surveys nationwide that SIP is a fraud and will continue to be one until Buhari appoints new people to review the entire programme.
The National Assembly can help the country two ways. First, it must immediately institute a powerful probe into SIP. Second, the N350 billion budget for SIP should be drastically scaled down to less than N50 billion until we have a clear idea about what is going on in that programme.
Those who want to secretly amass campaign funds for 2019 should go and look elsewhere for their money. As Leo Tolstoy, 1828-1910, had observed: “Yes we will do anything for the poor man, anything except get off his back.” The managers of SIP are s not helping the poor and the children. They are sitting on the backs of poor people and they are helping themselves to a good chunk of our money in many ways known to us which we do not now want to disclose.
At least, we have one honest person in the place. Mrs Uwais should be commended for her courage. But, she will resign immediately if she calls for a copy of my December 2016 article. She might ot realize it but she is working in a sh*t house.