Nigeria’s Senate President Bukola Saraki has inaugurated the Senate Adhoc Committee to investigate the use of the fund that has been allocated to the humanitarian crisis in the North East of the country and promised that all the facts of the case will be exposed.
Speaking at the event, Saraki stated that the committee led by Senator Shehu Sani is being assigned a task to act on behalf of the 4.5 million families in the North East zone of the country who are in dire need of assistance; the 1 million people in the region who are in danger of extreme malnutrition; and the over 2 million Nigerians who are beyond the reach of aid.
Saraki urged the members of the Adhoc Committee to ensure that there would be no cover-ups in the investigation. ‘The whole world is watching,’ he said, ‘We must ensure that there are no cover-ups as this is the first committee of its kind that has been inaugurated to embark on this task.’
‘The work that this committee will be doing will impact the lives of the 4.5million families in the North East who are in dire need of relief, rehabilitation and other forms of assistance,’ he continued.
‘The recommendations that you will submit from the investigation will help us ascertain how much has been spent in our response to this crisis, and will also help us improve our coordination efforts so that the international community will have confidence in us.’
The Senate President who has consistently pressed for better coordination and oversight in the nation’s response to the humanitarian situation in the North East, also charged the committee to ensure that it delivered on its mandate.
In his comments, Senator Sani acknowledged that with international partners scaling up their donations to the North East, it was important to determine how funds allocated to the region were being spent.
Sani remarked that government agencies that have been given the responsibility to provide assistance to the people of the North East have engaged in the exploitation of the vulnerable people of the region.
‘It is alleged that billions of naira and countless trucks of grains meant for the IDPs have been misappropriated and diverted,’ Sani said, ‘This has been happening while according to UNICEF, an estimated 400,000 children under the age of 5 will suffer from severe acute malnutrition and more than 4 million people are facing food shortages.’
‘It is very alarming that the UNHCR has put Nigeria at Level 3, being the highest level of humanitarian emergency in the world. At a time when our gallant troops are winning the war on terror, some people are choosing to engage in corrupt practices and self-enrichment. This is sabotage bordering on treason. This is blood money,’ he said.
Another member of the Adhoc Committee Senator Ben Murray Bruce reassured the Nigerian people that the committee would maintain the highest standards while undertaking its assignment.
Meanwhile the Senate on Thursday approved allocation of three per cent of Value Added Tax (VAT) accrual to the federal government in the next 10 years to the rebuilding of the North East.
This was sequel to the adoption of the recommendation of the Adhoc Committee on North East Development Commission Bill which also proposed that the commission be domiciled in Borno.