The Nigerian Senate has expressed concern over the humanitarian crisis in the North East ravaged by Boko Haram insurgency, despite funds and supplies released to ameliorate conditions of the internally displaced persons.
Following a motion sponsored by Baba Garbai (APC-Borno) and 17 others, the Senate resolved to constitute an eight-man ad hoc committee to investigate utilisation of funds released to the Presidential Initiative on the North East, PINE.
The committee will also investigate alleged diversion of grains and other food items from the strategic grains reserves, National Emergency Management Agency and other sources for the IDPs.
PINE, Mr. Garbai told the Senate, is yet to show “tangible result on ground with over half of the money appropriated to it released”.
It was inaugurated last year by President Muhammadu Buhari to manage the North East crisis.
“On the 17th of November 2015, the Senate in recognition of the dire situation in the North East by its resolution raised the amount proposed by the Executive in the budget for the IDPs from six billion naira to N10 billion,” said Mr. Garbai.
Mr. Garbai quoted UNICEF’s Chief of Nutrition in Nigeria, Arjen de Wagt, as saying “We haven’t found the right words to describe the magnificence of the crisis”.
According to Mr. Wagt, 4.5 million people are in dire need of assistance out of which 1 million are danger of extreme malnutrition.
The UNICEF Chief also said over N2 million people were still trapped in areas controlled by Boko Haram and could not be reached for assistance due to security reasons.
Thousands of children also stand risk of starvation to death if something urgent is not done to assist them, UNICEF said.
“Notwithstanding the huge budgetary allocation by the National Assembly, and various releases by the Executive, including significant donations from many sources, the situation on ground is not cheering,” Mr. Garbai lamented.
He listed 21 contract awards by PINE which should be investigated.
For instance, he said Limex International Ltd was paid N117 million to supply temporary shelters “but with no record of these shelters anywhere”.
Members of the ad hoc committee to investigate the alleged diversions are Shehu Sani, Yahaya Abdullahi, Theodore Orji, Ben Bruce, and Oluremi Tinubu.
Others include Tayo Alasoadura and Solomon Olamilekan and Ali Wakili.
The committee are to work for two weeks during which public hearing will be convened, Senate President, Bukola Saraki ruled.
Mr. Saraki described the situation in the North East as outcome of poor coordination, slow response and massive monumental corruption.
In additional resolution, the Senate resolved its members should contribute N300 thousand each to help the IDPs.
It also resolved anybody indicted after the investigation would be prosecuted.