You must explain N5.8bn North-east spending, Reps tell Osinbajo

The House of Representatives Committee on National Emergency Management Agency has insisted that Vice President Yemi Osinbajo still has questions to answer over the N5.8 billion expenditure for food supply intervention for Internally Displaced Persons in the North East.

The committee, had in its report presented to the House last Thursday, claimed that virtually all the states in the North-East denied ever receiving a grain of such supply under an intervention tagged; “Emergency Food Supply For Population Affected By Insurgency In the North-east.”

The committee also alleged that the said funds, on the approval Osinbajo as the then Acting President, were paid directly to the supplying companies without any contract papers signed.

Osinbajo, while reacting to content of the committee’s report, however, accused the lawmakers of misleading Nigerians, and have no consideration for the fact that the intervention was done at a time when there was drastic shortage of food for the IDPs.

But the committee Chairman, Hon. Ali Isa JC, raising a motion under matters of privileges yesterday, blamed the office of the Vice President for hurriedly reacting to a report, for which it has not received any official communication about.

The lawmaker had earlier tendered video recordings of the committee’s sittings during the investigative hearings on NEMA’s handling of the interventions and other documentary evidences.

The committee chair who similarly pledged to apologise to Nigerians if other facts emerged against their findings, however told journalists that Osinbajo has questions to answer “as Chairman of the Governing Board of NEMA.”

He said rather than attack the committee, which pointed out some lapses in the handling of the interventions, the executive should rather commend the House and address the noted lapses as evident during its investigation.

For instance, the lawmaker argued that the N1.6billion flood intervention approved for 16 states in June 2017, were only received in some instances, this year, while about 6,779 metric tons of rice donated by the Chinese government to assist in feeding the IDPs “were unattended to for nine months after arriving Nigerian ports”.

Making reference to a letter by the then Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, to the Central Bank of Nigeria for payment for the food supplies, Isa said the committee found out that no procurement processes were initiated or followed.

According to him, while NEMA informed it that monies were paid directly to companies, the CBN defended itself that it only acted as banker to the government.

Ruling on the matter, Speaker Yakubu Dogara said it was quite commendable of the committee for tendering evidences it used in arriving at its recommendations to the House, adding that ” if contrary evidence emerged, do not hesitate to come to ask that we rescind the position. For now, the facts before your committee is the fact the House will work with.”

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