Osibanjo, NEMA and Reps: Is there more than meets the eyes?

OrderPaperToday – The Vice President of Nigeria, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo (SAN) and the Director-General of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Mr. Mustapha Maihaja, are currently embroiled in allegations of corruption, mismanagement and sundry malfeasance surrounding some N5.8billion North-east intervention fund.

Following the adoption of the report of its Committee on Emergency and Disaster Preparedness by the House of Representatives, strings of damaging allegations were levied against the DG of NEMA and by implication the vice president. These allegations were thrown up by the House which has largely been the main force propelling it in the media.

Although the report of the Mr. Isa Ali-led committee did not mention the Vice President specifically,media releases from office of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, have more or less imported vicarious responsibility on the nation’s number two man.

Perhaps to stay out of the line of fire, Mr. Ali in a press briefing said: “In our submissions, there was no where I or the committee mentioned, specifically the VP Professor Osinbajo. What I also know is that he is the chairman of the Governing Council of NEMA. So, if he knows that that there is something that I didn’t know, his office may be able to respond to some of the issues. I have documents from CBN stating that N5.8 billion be paid directly to the said companies, without signing any agreement with the companies, without any award letters; without any procurement processes…”

However, VP Osinbajo, through his spokesperson, Laolu Akande, has maintained that he did nothing wrong in the approval of the expenditure, citing the emergency nature of the procurement in question.

The NEMA DG on his part, has been relatively quiet although sources close to him say he totally disagrees with the charges against him.

In an exclusive Chat with OrderPaperNG, the head of media at NEMA, Sani Datti, accused the Reps of witch-hunt, saying the agency came under fire as a result of policy change in distribution of relief materials. He pointedly accused the lawmakers of “politicizing the investigation,” adding that the committee ignored the testimonies and presentations made by NEMA.

Hear him: “This issue has been politicized, we do not want to be talking too much, we do not want to be talking too much, even yesterday (last week), look at what Dogara said, look at what his media aide is saying, is it a proper thing to say? They have already personalized it. We do not want to be talking too much. They are the ones fighting us. You know that there is more beyond this thing.”

He stressed that the investigation is a reaction to the policy of the agency to distribute relief materials directly to the people instead of giving it to the states. He said: “All they wanted is for the items should be handed over to the states; (even though the government policies says) the materials should be handed directly to the people; this government felt that since the previous government was handing over to the states, and there has always been complains, malnutrition, the government decided that this must be handed over to the people, I think that’s where they are not finding it easy. I think that’s the whole problem. The way the policy is, our officials are the ones handing in over directly, using voucher and the records.”

Datti also denied the allegation that the rice donated by china was not shared to beneficiaries, accusing the national assembly of lacking operational skills in emergency relief.

“The issue is that they are not operational people, they expected us that since the Chinese government donated the rice, we should just go and distribute it like that, and it’s not like that,” he said.

 

Additional reporting by Majeed Bakare

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