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APC, PDP senators clash over FG’s social intervention fund

  • …as Senate probes programme, Jonathan’s SURE-P

Senators of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and those of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) clashed yesterday over the Federal Government’s social intervention programme (SIP).

Minority Leader Biodun Olujimi (PDP, Ekiti), who brought a motion before her colleagues, said the SIP was being used for political purpose.

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This is even as the senators resolved to probe both the federal government’s social intervention fund and the SURE-P under the administration of former president Goodluck Jonathan.

Olujimi said those given the fund were asked to fill forms alongside details of their permanent voters’ cards, noting that those without PVCs were denied.

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She said it was apparent that the fund was used to influence voters as the 2019 elections approach.

“As we speak, people are asked to bring their PVCs to collect it. I have some of the forms here with me where it is written ‘I stand with Buhari.’

“For me, there’s no corruption greater than using our collective purse to maintain a political party. There’s need for us to have a high-powered committee to probe this. That’s my prayer,” she said.

But immediately she concluded her statement, Senate Leader Ahmad Lawan (APC, Yobe), sought to speak and was permitted to do so by Senate President Bukola Saraki.

But PDP senators would not allow him speak, with Dino Melaye (PDP, Kogi) leaving his seat to approach his APC colleagues, shouting on top of their voices.

Lawan stood for several minutes as Melaye and other PDP senators kept disrupting him. It took Saraki several minutes to calm the senators down.

“This drama is unnecessary. The minority leader has spoken, and the leader wants to speak, he should be allowed to speak,” Saraki said and asked Melaye to return to his seat.

After returning to his seat, Melaye once again interrupted by raising a point of order, citing Senate Order 43, which he said provides that a motion needed to be seconded before a debate could be taken. But Saraki insisted that Lawan be allowed to speak.

In his submission, Lawan said “For the first time in the history of social intervention programme in Nigeria, we have a full proof system that any part of Nigeria that you come from, you can apply online and be captured.”

Senator Albert Akpan (PDP, Akwa Ibom) then raised another point of order, saying based on the Senate rules, those in support of a motion should speak first before those against, hence Lawan should not be allowed to speak at that point.

But Saraki said: “I think we’re wasting more time. We would have finished by now. Leader would have finished speaking, and I would have asked somebody to second. Many at times here, we did it like that from here.”

When Lawan was once again allowed to speak, he said he was not opposing the motion but that he wanted to set the records straight.

“We were all here when SURE-P and whatever were instituted and the funds were stolen. I have no objection in the investigation. What I don’t want is for the minority leader or any other person to make this matter a partisan one,” he said.

‎It was then resolved that an ad hoc panel be constituted to investigate the matter and report back to the Senate.

Senator Jibrin Barau (APC, Kano), in an additional prayer, said the ad hoc committee should also investigate the SURE-P programme.

Though PDP senators kicked against the prayer via their voice votes, Saraki granted it.

 

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