The National Social Investments Programme (NSIP) has debunked claims that the new Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Sadiya Umar Farouq, deliberately refused to approve payments for school feeding in four states.
It explained why the payment had been stopped amidst an outcry from the vendors.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Social Investments, Ismaeel Ahmed, in a statement he personally signed on Thursday, said the ministry “needed more time since the SIPs programme has been on transition from the presidency to the new ministry”.
Mr Ahmed’s comments followed reports that the new minister deliberately refused to approve payment for the National Home Grown School Feeding Program for Lagos, Imo, Kogi and Benue states.
The NSIP was set up by President Muhammadu Buhari in 2016 to improve the living conditions of millions of poor Nigerians across the country.
It started under the office of the vice president, Yemi Osinbanjo, until this year when it was moved to the newly-established Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management, and Social Development.
The programmes include N-Power, National Home-Grown School Feeding Programme (NHGSFP), National Cash Transfer Project (NCTP), and Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme (GEEP).
Sahara Reporters in November reported how a memo for the payment of vendors and caterers in the 27 states had been sent to the office of the minister for approval but she only approved that of 23 states minus Lagos, Imo, Kogi and Benue states.
The presidential aide also noted that the “civil service procedures in the new ministry” and briefings were responsible for the delay in payment of stipends of N-Power volunteers for two months.
He further said that all the issues associated with the delay of payments had been resolved.
Mr Ahmed said payment of the backlog would resume.
“It should be noted that the former accounting Ministry, which is the Ministry of Budget and National Planning has to put on hold all processes of payments after the presidential instruction of the movement of the SIP.
“Hence, the necessary civil service procedures that needs to be set up in the new ministry and the briefings delayed payments for a bit,” Mr Ahmed said.