West & Central Africa

Corruption and mismanagement lead to refugee starvation

Gross mismanagement of funds to the tune of up to two and a half billion Naira, has been confirmed this week by the ad hoc Senate committee probing the Presidential Initiative on the North-East (PINE) in Nigeria.

Their report says, “Award and execution of non-existing contracts, inflated contracts to outright misappropriation of funds.”  The discovery was made at a stakeholder public hearing in Abuja on Tuesday at public hearing probing the
mismanagement of funds made for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Northeastern Nigeria.
Umar Gulani, the secretary of the Presidential Initiative on the North-East (PINE) Nigeria had claimed that the body child-holding-food-om-idpcampspent “N203m to clear grass somewhere in Yobe State.” He was speaking

In countering the claim, Commissioner for Information, Mohammed Lamin, from Yobe State, disputed Gulani’s claim. “No taipa grass was cleared in the state by any Federal Government agency.” He said. “On clearing of invasive plants species around river banks in the state at the cost of N253m by PINE”  was false. The Yobe State Information Commissioner Lamin also denied that PINE spent N422.5m on the “provision of temporary shelter (tents) for some families in the state.”

Also disputing the claim of “millions of Naira on the renovation of about 18 schools completely wiped out by the Boko Haram insurgents in Yobe,” Lamin stated that only three schools had been renovated in the state by agencies outside the state.

Meanwhile, President Buhari had accused the United Nations’ Agencies working in Northeastern Nigeria of “hype” and exaggerating the hunger and needs in the region just to solicit more funds. “We are concerned about the blatant attempts to whip up a non-existent fear of mass starvation by some aid agencies, a type of hype that does not provide a solution to the situation on the ground but more to do with calculations for operations financing locally and abroad,” the president said.

The UN on Friday, warned that “the 2017 Humanitarian Response Plan for Nigeria seeks more than $1 billion to address the needs of those in crisis in the three most affected states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe, about 6.9 million people.

The statement said, “This is the largest crisis on the African continent and I am confident that with the support of the international community and the private sector, we can begin to bring hope to the people of the north-east,” stressed Peter Lundberg, the Deputy Humanitarian Coordinator, while also complimenting the Government of Nigeria and the initiative behind the Inter-Ministerial Task Force on their full cooperation to address the humanitarian situation.”

The public hearing has given urgency to the call for action by both the United Nations and Church groups. The Rev Nenman Gowon, special Adviser to the Plateau State Governor on religious Affairs told Global Christian News, “We must separate poliben-murray-brucetics from the on going crises in the north east. Other still see it as an opportunity to get rich. We as a Church, lament the tremendous human suffering and call on agencies to do all they can. The corruption in our government is appalling.”

Senator Ben Murray-Bruce, said when the lawmakers visited some IDP camps in the North-East, many women cried out for provision of sanitary pads, which, he said, could have been taken care of if the N2.5billion given to PINE out of the budgeted N5 billion had been well utilised.