N’East crisis now money-making venture, Senate laments

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The Senate, Wednesday, raised the alarm that the crisis in the North East region of Nigeria has been turned into a money-making venture.

Senators also raised the alarm over acute hunger ravaging Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states.

Immediate-past Senate Leader, Ali Ndume raised the alarm in a motion tagged ‘The state of the Humanitarian Relief Effort in the North East amidst high level of funding so far’.

also speaking during the debate, Senate Adhoc committee chairman on Mounting Humanitarian Crisis in the North East which recently submitted an interim report, Senator Shehu Sani made the claim during plenary.

Senator Sani said: “Humanitarian crisis has now been turned into a humanitarian industry where people make profits. Contracts being awarded in the name of humanitarian crisis do not translate to affect the people. They tell us that they have built schools, but when we go there, we see a different story on the ground.

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“The problem is not lack of money, but lack of sincerity on the part of the managers. We have done our best by coming out with an interim report. We will soon release the full report. Those who think they are above the law by virtue of the offices they occupy should wait and see.”

Deputy Senate Leader, Senator Bala Na’Allah, urged his colleagues to put mechanisms in place to ensure that relief materials sent to IDPs are well utilized.

The upper chamber said 5.2 million may face acute hunger by June, 2017. It also revealed that up to 7.0 million people in the North East are in need of humanitarian assistance, while 2.5 million children are said to be malnourished.

Ndume said despite the 73 per cent increase in donor funding for the humanitarian response in the North East, the situation was still bad. He said the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) reported that over $426 Million has been received as at end of December, 2016.

The Borno lawmaker further explained that though over N5.7 billion has been donated to help the region deal with health and sanitation issues, health needs remain extreme with many people already in critical health conditions and high prevalence of severe morbidity and mortality.

“The way things are going even if N1 trillion is thrown into the mix without synergy, oversight, engagement, transparency and better coordination, nothing would improve in the condition of the displaced persons and the victims of the insurgency for whose benefit the donations have been made in the first place,” he added.

On his part, Senate Minority Leader, Godswill Akpabio, likened the humanitarian crisis in the North East to post-civil war era in Nigeria. He said during and after the Biafran war, relief materials sent to victims were diverted to other parts of the country.

New Senate Leader, Senator Ahmed Lawan on his part, told lawmakers to go beyond probing the misappropriation and ensure that relief materials are properly disbursed.

Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, who presided, insisted that monies and relief materials sent to IDPs must be judiciously distributed to victims.

Ekweremadu was however interrupted by Senator Oluremi Tinubu while still speaking on the need to set up an adhoc committee to look into the claims raised in the motion.

Senator Tinubu was also the lone voice who shouted ‘nay’ when Ekweremadu subjected the issue to a vote. The ‘aye’ eventually carried the day. The membership of the adhoc committee is expected to be set up in the coming days.

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