National Assembly leaders, Humanitarian Affairs minister meet over COVID-19 lockdown

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The leadership of the national Assembly has met with the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs  Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadiya Umar-Farouk, in Abuja.

The meeting was convened to find ways to reduce the effects of the lockdown order given by President Muhammadu Buhari on Nigerians in the aftermath of the COVID-19 global pandemic.

The NASS leaders had earlier invited the Minister to brief them on the efforts of the Federal Government to protect the vulnerable members of the society amid the spread of the virus.

Senate President Ahmed Lawan at the meeting on Tuesday called for a review of the strategy used at the National Social Investment Program in disbursing funds to poor households across the country.

He raised the suggestion that identifying the poor and vulnerable in the society can be a bit difficult as he believes that the poor have not been sufficiently reached out to.

He also asked the Minister to explain how the ministry intends to distribute food and materials to them going forward.

Responding, the Humanitarian Minister, Umar-Farouk, said she had yet to figure out how the Home Grown School Feeding Programme wouls work and admitted that there were intrigues surrounding the programme.

She, however, did not reveal what these intrigues are.

The Minister also said the monies disbursed for the conditional cash transfer to poor households so far are the loans from World Bank.

Umar-Farouk admitted that there was a need to widen the National Social Register to reach more poor and vulnerable people in the society and added that her ministry was in talks with the World Bank about this.

The meeting later went into a closed-door session.

The Federal Government had earlier commenced the disbursement of N20,000 conditional cash transfer to poor households across the country by starting with residents of Kwali Area Council in Abuja.

Umar-Farouk said the disbursement was part of the Federal Government’s efforts aimed at helping vulnerable Nigerians get through the lockdown directive given by President Muhammadu Buhari due to the COVID-19 pandemic in the country.

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