*Accuses Reps of a witch hunt for refusal to share relief materials to them
*Declares that NEMA’s mandate is to share materials to IDPs not lawmakers
*Says Bayelsa government demanded N20m for logistics
By Joyce Remi- Babayeju
Director General of the National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, Mustapha Mahaija has denied allegations that he received N33 billion intervention fund for disaster management in the country and mismanaged it.
It would be recalled that members of the House of Representatives Committee on Emergency and Disaster Preparedness had accused the DG of misappropriation of the sum of N33bn meant for Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs in the north east.
Apart from the denial, the embattled DG alleged that the federal lawmakers were not happy with him because according to him, he refused to share items meant for the IDPs with the lawmakers.
Speaking further, Mahaija insisted that the agency is not under any obligation to give the law makers the relief items, but has been working hand in hand with the state governments through State Emergency Management Agencies, SEMAs to distribute such relief materials to the IDPs.
Briefing newsmen in Abuja yesterday, Mahaija however said he could not attach figures to the total intervention funds received because according to him the programmes are of different nature and cannot be summed together but if added together, the fund is not up to the N33 billion being brandished by the House of Representatives Committee on Emergency and Disaster Preparedness.
According to the DG, the only fund he could recollect is the N1.6billion that was released for flood intervention in 16 states and the N826million that was approved for transportation of relief materials including the N1.6billion that was released for the evacuation of Nigerians in Libya and the N10billion Ecological fund from where N3.7billion has been spent.
He explained that N1.98billion was spent out of the money between January and April by his predecessor, while he spent N1.7billion between April and February 2017 when the report was submitted to the House Committee before he came into office.
Mahaija further explained that he never received any query from the Vice President but he could say there were series of petitions from many agencies including Bureau of Public Procurement, Department of State Service, DSS and that he also received a petition from a Nigerian that was forwarded to him from the presidency
Speaking on the N1.6billion received to provide relief materials for flood victims, he said when the money was released, a disaster assessment was carried out in all the affected states and relief materials was provided based on the assessment done.
He disclosed that a total of N1.6billion was expended in the provision of needed infrastructures in all the affected states except Bayelsa state government who he said demanded N20million as logistics to distribute relief materials to local government areas which the agency refused to comply with.
“Since we refused to comply with their demand, they too refused to give us letter, but the items were transported to their ware houses”, he stated.
On the distribution of relief items, Maihaija said they operated strictly according to procedures. He said “Since I came in, we work together with State Emergency Management Agencies in making assessment and distributing relief materials.”
He stated that food items were not usually handed over to SEMAs “but we usually do the planning together with the state SEMAs but for distribution, we engage social workers in the local government areas at the recommendation of the Emirs.”
“If you noticed, the state governors didn’t say we did not distribute the items, what they said was that they did not receive the items and this programme was not meant to hand over the items to the state governors, it is a Presidential Committee to work with the SEMAs”, he further explained.
On the rice donated by the People’s Republic of China, the DG said, 6,779metric tons of rice (representing 135,550 units of 50kg bags of rice in a total of 271 containers) was donated to support the North East Humanitarian effort and that the rice arrived Apapa Port from China in five shipments between June-October 2017.
He explained that the agency commenced haulage of the donated rice to Maiduguri, Damaturu, Yola, Jalingo, Gombe and Bauchi after it has paid N518million shipping and storage charges of 271containers of rice explaining that the actual cost of the donated rice was N2.26billion.