SECRETARY to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha on Wednesday denied claims that each member of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 receives N500,000 as a sitting allowance once the committee meets.
Mustapha, who is also chairman of the committee, declared the news as false while speaking at the COVID-19 briefing in Abuja.
He said since they resumed operation, no one was paid for logistics or what it described as operational cost, much more a sitting allowance.
But he was quick to state that the committee might later be rewarded based on the laws guiding such service, as detailed by the public service rule.
His words: “Seating (sic) allowances in the government of either states or federation are guided by certain extant rules and regulations…you know there are extant rules that guide the payment of seating allowances if you sat in committees or commissions or task force.
“But let me say off-front when somebody was alleging that the Federal Government has withdrawn $150 million out of which they are paying the committee members of the task force N500, 000 daily as seating allowance.
“Let me say as the chairman of this committee, since we started functioning as a committee, we have not received a dime either by way of even operational cost talk less of seating allowances.”
“As I said, seating allowances are matters of regulations. They are there in the public service rules and regulations. It will be applied when the need arises, when funds are available,” he added.
In his remarks, Lai Mohammed, the Minister of Information and Culture, also dismissed the claim about the committee receiving seating allowances.
“The truth is no member of the presidential committee has received a penny, either for seating or sleeping allowance….everybody has spent his time, energy and sometimes his resources.”
No more cash payment to poor households
Regarding palliatives, he advised Nigerians not to make available their Biometric Verification Number (BVN) to the public.
Doing the contrary, he noted could cause more harm to the people affirming that criminal-minded individuals might want to take advantage of the situation. These, he said, remains vital to maintain the social distancing recommendation to check further spread of the virus.
“The past experience of the ministry of humanitarian service shows it became difficult to control the people. In the process of giving palliatives, you do not endanger the health of the people that should be beneficiaries…the process will be a combination of payment through the bank and credit payment…”
“Asking for BVN is 419. Even in the midst of the pandemic, some people will want to play and exploit the ignorance of people to defraud them. Please advise the Nigerian populace not to disclose or release any information on their BVN, credentials or private information.”
While justifying need to make use of the airspace despite the travel ban, Mustapha also announced that a medical consignment from Turkey arrived the country but it was dropped in Lagos, instead of Abuja.
The Nigerian Airforce, according to him was, however, directed to convey the package to Abuja which is being kept at the medical storage facility at the Federal Ministry of Health.
Olugbenga heads the Investigations Desk at The ICIR. Do you have a scoop? Shoot him an email at [email protected] Twitter Handle: @OluAdanikin