The House of Representatives Committee on IDPs and the North-East Initiatives is currently investigating how the Presidential Initiative on the North-East (PINE) which is under the supervision of the Office of the Secretary General of the Federation, Babachir Lawal, spent N270 million on just clearing of grasses in some IDP camps. Also being investigated by house committee is the purported allocation of N188.69 million for Nigerian refugees living in Minawao, Republic of Cameroon.
At a public hearing on IDPs which held at the National Assembly yesterday October 6th, the Chairman of the committee, Sani Zorro, berated the SGF for failing to honor their invitation to explain how such a huge amount of money was spent.
“The SGF who was slated to have appeared hasn’t showed up. He did not write to intimate us on why his office would not come to explain why issues of internally displaced persons have remained disencouraging, in spite of the billions of naira claimed to have been spent. The PINE officials said he’s at the village. But, as the secretary to the government under whose office the rehabilitation of the North-East was placed, we had expected him to come to throw light on the financial expenses made by his office.
We also expected him to explain the implementation framework being used to spend money. We have been inundated by reports of diversion of materials and funds meant for the rehabilitation of the IDPs, and the North-East and the scandal had led to international embarrassment for the country. Given the issues of credibility and integrity raised against the agency in charge of the North-East Initiative (PiNE) which falls under the SGF office, we had expected him to respect the invitation.” he said.
However, Executive Secretary in charge of the Presidential Initiative, Umar Gulani, who testified before the committee, said that N270 million was awarded as contract for the removal of 250 kilometres of “invasive plant species along river channels and simplified village irrigation scheme (phase II) in Komadugu Basin in Yobe’’.
The House committee chairman expressed dissatisfaction with the explanation saying:
"We are of the opinion that the expenditure of the magnitude you have made is not justified. It’s not acceptable that you would spend such a huge amount of money on the clearing of weeds while 2.5 million internally displaced victims of terror go hungry. They have no shelter and medical care.”