…says state officials, lawmakers witnessed distribution
The Director-General of National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Mustapha Maihaja, yesterday said officials of 16 state governments and some Federal lawmakers witnessed distribution of relief materials to Internally Displaced Persons.
He denied claims that relief materials were not distributed to states in the North-East since his assumption of office in 2017. He said the materials were distributed under a Presidential Intervention Programme.
He tendered the list of distribution of the materials and photographs of how deliveries were effected before the Isa Ali-led committee on Emergency and Disaster Preparedness.
Maihaja made the submissions while appearing before the House Ad Hoc Committee looking into the operation of NEMA.
He said contrary to accusations that neither state governments nor officials of State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) were involved, the Federal Government held series of meetings with the beneficiary states.
He said: “This is a presidential intervention conceived by the Vice President. The issue at stake was a Presidential intervention…I was invited on 26th May, 2017 to join the team.
“A sub-committee headed by Minister of Budget and National Planning held meetings with Borno, Yobe and others where the issue of distribution was discussed.
“They were part of the programme. We moved to site together with them. There’s perfect collaboration with the states right from the onset.
“This is not an issue of telling lies, the problem here could be communication gap. We worked together and the materials got to the right place.
“The governments of Yobe and Adamawa were invited at the inception of the programme. They made inputs and how many quantity of items to be distributed to each local government was discussed and a memo was raised to the Vice President and was approved.
“There was collaboration with the states. We visited the state governors to the best of my understanding. The states were part of the distribution from day one.”
He said there could be issue of breakdown of communication, adding “The Vice President was the one who conceived it. Officials of Gombe and Yobe states were involved in the process of distribution of these items. They went with us and ensured that these items were distributed to the right destinations.”
At a point, a member of the Committee said the DG changed the system of distribution by not involving lawmakers in the distribution.
“Why were our members not involved in the distribution? In 2016, we were asked to nominate members for the distribution, we were involved and every ward in the three local governments in my Constituency got the materials,” he said.
Responding, the DG said besides visiting several IDP camps, many Federal lawmakers participated in the distribution of the materials.
He added: “Senator Bukar and Honourable Karasuwa participated in the distribution in Yobe State and other lawmakers in other states too. The problems might be communication gap.”
Earlier, representatives of State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) from Yobe, Bauchi, Taraba and Gombe had denied awareness of distribution of relief materials to their States.
Bauchi confirmed knowledge of the distribution of the materials but regretted that the State government was not involved in the distribution.
Taraba SEMA claimed to be involved in the planning but excluded from the distribution.
Gombe claimed that it had no Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps and had no use for relief food materials but preferred restoration of its infrastructure.