HURIWA to Minister: Spending N6.2b to train phone repairers in Bauchi is mindless corruption | NN NEWS

A civil rights advocacy group, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has lambasted the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Hajiya Sadiya Umar Farouq, over the reported N6.2 billion purportedly used to train and equip 16,820 youths in Bauchi State in the art of smartphone repairs.

According to the Ministry, the gesture to train and equip the youths in the art of smartphone repairs was to enable them to become financially self-reliant.

HURIWA, in a statement by its National Coordinator Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, described the development as “unbelievable and largely doubtful”, adding that it is “mindless corruption”.

The civil rights group, consequently, called for investigation into the bogus claim, noting that it is fallacious that a government under austerity can fritter such humongous amount of public funds.

“In actuality, the totality of phones in use in Bauchi State is not likely going to be worth a quarter of that massive scale of public funds made from the export of crude oil produced in the neglected Niger Delta region now being claimed to have been blown away in a non productive and non commercial venture as phone repairs,” Comrade Onwubiko regretted.

HURIWA said it will send a team of her members to ascertain the number of phone repairers that are available in the entire Bauchi State.

It stated that from preliminary investigation from a registered member resident in Bauchi, phone repairs as a job is not commercially viable since most people who use handsets owned China made torchlight phones that does not require regular repairs since they are so cheap that it is a waste of resources to attempt to fix them when damaged.

The rights group noted that “it is not empirically practicable that such a huge amount of money will be committed to teach a skill in a place whereby such services are essentially not in demand since majority of the users of telephone do not own sophisticated handsets that require the kind of technical know-how that the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management is laying claim to have imparted on those number of youths in a state that is not commercially viable and with little or no significant functional industries”.

HURIWA also accuses the ministry of deviating from her core mandate but instead is now doing the institutional interventions that local or state governments ought to do with financial assistance from the office of the President or at most some of those disbursement ought to be handled by Ministries of Youths, Social Development and Women Affairs.

In the above summation, it expressed shock that “the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) are looking the other way and mortally afraid of the minister, turning blind eyes to these fantastically unbelievable claims that the sensibilities of right thinking Nigerians are being assaulted constantly with vacuous and unreliable claims by the ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management.”

According to the Minister, who spoke at the flag-off of the N-Skills (smart phone repairs) Programme in Bauchi on Wednesday, the programme is used to pilot the N-Skills programme, which is part of the N-Power non-graduate programme. She said that it is consistent with President Muhammadu Buhari’s aspiration of lifting 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in 10 years.

HURIWA quoted the media as crediting the minister as stating thus:

“The programme is designed to train, tool and transition marginalized unemployed youths into the labour market for gainful employment.

“The Ministry is working with carefully selected consulting firms to provide the N-Skills training services for 6,475 unemployed youths across the Federation.

“The 6-week training is designed to equip target beneficiaries with life, vocational and entrepreneurship skills preparatory to the work-based learning during the 6 months apprenticeship.”

Onwubiko invited the Honourable Minister to a public debate on all or some of these claims so she can have the opportunity to take hard-core questions from a credible platforms and for the good people of Nigeria to demand accountability and transparency face to face from her.

This, he said, is because the civilised International community are now making fun of Nigeria as a failed democracy whereby good governance is very far from the corridors of power.

HURIWA stated that the demand for a public debate with the Minister is made in deference to section 22 of the 1999 Constitution because HURIWA is a media affiliated platform of credible and patriotic journalists.

The rights group said the Freedom of information Act of 2015 supports the request that the group is making since the anti-graft agencies have continued to treat serving government officials and especially those who are connected to Aso Rock such as the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management as sacred cows which offends constitutional democracy given that section 15(5) of the Constitution provides that the duty of government is to eradicate corruption and abuse of power.

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