By Gift Chapi Odekina
The House of Representatives Committee on Cooperation and Integration in Africa says deliberate action must be taken to fund the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) to alleviate poverty in Nigeria.
The Chairman of the committee, Rep. Umar Bago (APC-Niger), at an oversight function on Monday in Abuja, said that the committee would engage the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) on the poor funding of NEPAD.
Bago said that the 2021 budget allocation for NEPAD was too lean for the agency to carry out its mandate.
“I do know how you want to eradicate poverty when you are poor, you are very poor, your budget is so lean and I am surprised that you are using air conditioners in your office.
“Honestly speaking, something must be done if NEPAD must work; as a committee, we need to send a communiqué to the Appropriation Committee to justify more funding for you.
“Give us your challenges in writing because some of the things you need, we need to write the Minister of Finance; unless we are saying NEPAD is not necessary, this funding is not acceptable.
“So much funding goes to the SGF through Serivcewide Vote; we also need to write the SGF, the office needs to understand the essence of NEPAD.
“If there are other ways for the SGF to assist, he should; but there must be a deliberate attempt by the SGF to fund NEPAD.
“I have seen that you have programmes across the continent, is it with N20 million you will go overseas to attend meetings?
“NEPAD needs to be strengthened, there is need for us to engage the SGF, we will write the SGF and take up this issue with the SGF during oversight to say the envelope system for NEPAD is too lean,” he said.
According to him, people are breaking warehouses in this country because other people are hoarding food; if we are doing what we should do, these palliatives should have gone through NEPAD to be distributed accordingly.
He charged the National Co-ordinator of NEPAD to partner stakeholders especially members of the National Assembly to enable it to drive and deliver on its mandate.
Bago advised that the agency should submit a copy of its proposed amendment bill to the committee for scrutiny before it would be presented to the House.
The chairman maintained that it would enable the members of the committee to lobby other lawmakers to ensure easy passage of the bill when presented on the floor of the House.
Earlier, the National Co-ordinator, Mrs Gloria Akobundu said that if NEPAD was given the required political backing it needed, it would address the crisis in the country.
According to her, our target is the rural area and if we are able to make it convenient, these youth will not be in the city protesting.
Akobundu said that NEPAD needed the enabling laws to carry out its mandate of poverty alleviation.
“NEPAD should be strengthened to monitor Trader Money programme and all other strategy put in place to address poverty.
“The government has a vision of taking 100 million citizens out of poverty; the problem is not the intention but the implementation of the policy.
“NEPAD is supposed to monitor disbursements of funds from Federal to the Local Governments but we cannot do that, if we try they will say who sent you?
“We need our law to be passed so that our feet can be strong to carry out our mandate; we do not even have the enabling funding right now to do studies to deliver our mandate.
“Only N20 million is allocated to us for capital expenditures; how can we work with that? We have Heads of Departments that are ready to work.
“We are relying on the members to use their legislative powers to ensure adequate funding for NEPAD,” she said.
The co-ordinator said that NEPAD should be domiciled in the Ministry of National Planning to enable it to track implementation of government agenda.
She said that the current law limits NEPAD to implementing development projects of United Nations and other development partners in the country.
She urged the lawmakers to facilitate the quick passage of the amendment bill to reposition NEPAD to deliver on its mandate.