Probe Jonathan Over SURE-P, Senate Tells Buhari; reject N5,000 allowance for the unemployed

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ABUJA (Sundiata Post) – Senate on Wednesday advised President Muhammadu Buhari to prevail on his immediate predecessor, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, to account for every penny that was spent on the Subsidy Re-investment and Empowerment Programme (SURE-P) and other poverty alleviation programmes.
The Upper Legislative Chamber also strongly condemned the high rate of unemployment in the country, considering the huge bailout intervention funds that were expended by the Federal Government in various sectors of the economy over the years to boost domestic production capacity.
As a result, the Red Chamber directed its relevant committees  to investigate the effective release, utilisation and performance of the various intervention funds to the various sectors of the economy by the relevant government agencies.
It called on the Federal Government to take steps to boost entrepreneurial development and employment capabilities of the economy; to integrate entrepreneurship, savings and investment culture and education into the educational curriculum at appropriate levels; and both government and sub-national governments to intensify their efforts on employment generation activities in line with their various campaign promises.
But the Senate, however, dashed the hopes of unemployed teeming Nigerians to be paid the N5,000 monthly stipend promised by Buhari during the presidential election campaign.
The advice to probe Jonathan and other resolutions were sequel to an additional prayer moved by Senator Babajide Christopher Omoworare to Senator Bassey Albert Akpan-sponsored motion on the ‘Urgent Need to Curb the Soaring Rate of Unemployment in Nigeria’.
After the initial recommendations of the motion, Senator Philip Aduda raised an additional prayer, urging the Federal Government to fulfill one of its numerous campaign promises.
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“The Federal Government should immediately commence the payment of the N5,000 monthly stipend it promised during the pre-election campaign,” Aduda moved.
The Senate Minority Leader, Senator Godswill Akpabio, rose and seconded the additional prayer.
But Omoworare raised the Senate Standing Order 53(6) to oppose the additional prayer.
This led to bickering between senators of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The Senate President, Senator Abubakar Bukola Saraki, however, intervened, after about 22 minutes to bring the bickering to an end.
Saraki asked Aduda to repeat his additional prayer, which the latter did.
When Saraki put the additional prayer to voice vote, the ayes actually had the louder voice, but the Senate President, however, hit his gavel for the nays.
The Senate President, thereafter, gave Omoworare the privilege of raising another additional prayer.
“I want to move that the immediate past government be made to account for every penny spent on SURE-P and other poverty alleviation programmes, and I so move, Mr. President,” Omoworare said.
When Saraki put the question to voice vote, the ayes response came from the APC senators, but the PDP senators kept mute to the nay call.
In the motion, Akpan observed that the latest figures of Nigeria’s soaring unemployment situation by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBC) has increased increased to 8.2 percent in the second quarter of 2015 from 7.5 percent in the first quarter of 2015 and 6.4 percent in the last quarter of 2014.
“The latest statistics as released by the Bureau reveals that economically active population, or working age comprising Nigerian within the age range of 15 to 64, is now 103.5 million, increasing from 102.8 million in the last quarter of 2015, while the unemployed labour force now stands at 74 million Nigerian youths. This is truly a calamity,” he noted.
He expressed concern that about N2 million has been expended on intervention funds by the Federal Government to boost the productivity of various sectors of the economy in the last five years without any commensurate impact on employment generation.
“With a projected population growth of 200 million by 2020, we project an unemployed population of about 100 million Nigerians or more. Where lies the economic future of this country?
“If the unemployed youths of this country are effectively engaged in gainful employment, terrorism, kidnapping, armed robbery and other socio-economic and cultural vices will be drastically reduced as the saying goes, ‘an idle mind is the devil’s workshop’,” he said.
In their various contributions, the senators gave support to the motion.
The Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, who revealed that the number of unemployed, who are seeking for his assistance, has seriously increased in the last one year, urged the Federal Government to embark on training and retraining programmes.
Other senators, who contributed to the motion, include: Senator Shehu Sani, Senator Lanre Tejuoso, Senator Ibrahim Gubir, Senator Aliyu Shittu, Senator Nelson Effiong, Senator Matthew Urhoghide, Senator Abubakar Ibrahim, Senator George Sekibo and Senator Abubakar Abdulrahman.

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