Connect with us

OPINION

House indictment of NEMA, VP: Why politics is involved, By Amarachi Iwuala

Published

on

An emergency is any unplanned event that can cause deaths or significant injuries to the public such as Floods, earthquakes, civil disturbances, terrorism, war and so on. In view of the frequency of these events in our planet and the widespread nature of their effect, emergency management has developed into a professional discipline. People who work in the emergency agencies of developed countries, from bottom up, are seasoned professionals who knows and appreciate the demand of disaster management.
Reading through the House of Representatives Committee’s report on the investigation of NEMA, I was left to wonder whether the legislators are Nigerians or aliens and whether they truly believe in the indictments they so generously handed out to the NEMA Director General, Mustapha Maihaja and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.
First let us examine the terms of reference of the committee and the findings and weigh them against the evidence and principles of disaster management.  The committee said it had the following issues to probe:
(i) The release of N5,865,671,389.26 and N3,153,000,000.00 as emergency intervention of Food Security to support the population affected by insurgency in the North-East in June 2017 and other releases for the North-East intervention;
(ii) The 6,779 metric tons of rice donated by Chinese government to the internally displaced persons in the North-East;
(iii) Payment of about N800 Million Demurrage on the donated Rice by the Chinese government;
(iiii) Over 10 Billion Naira being statutory 20% Ecological Funds released between January 2017 to February 2018 to NEMA;
(v) The Federal Government of Nigeria Flood Intervention in the sum of N1,600,000,000.00 to 16 States in July 2017; and
(vi) The over N1.6 Billion released to NEMA for Evacuation of Nigerians stranded in Libya in 2017.
The committee gave its findings on each one of these but the one that has been hyped more is the alleged refusal of NEMA to distribute the 6,779 metric tons of rice donated by the Chinese Government, and the issue of payment of N800 million demurrage, which the members said was unnecessary if the rice had been cleared as and when due. The committee found:
– That more than one year after the goods were donated, there is no evidence that the 6 States of the North East, who are the beneficiaries have received the items.
– The Federal Government paid about N800 Million as demurrage to APM terminal and Maersk Line for the consignment due to delay arising from inability and negligence on part of NEMA, Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Budget and National Planning to secure the items as at when due.
I’m aware that NEMA has debunked the allegation that it did not distribute the rice to the affected states. But let us for the sake of argument accept that NEMA had not distributed the rice as at the time the committee was doing its investigations, does it then mean that the rice had been sold by NEMA, or that it never meant to distribute them? The committee itself did not say NEMA or any other government agency had sold the rice. It only said it saw no evidence from all the invoices presented to it, because I presume, none of the invoices indicated Chinese rice!
Now it’s important to know that there are four stages in emergency management-mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery. Any emergency agency has to be painstaking at each of the four stages to achieve success. The committee did not tell us in its report at what stage the rice was delivered at the Nigeria port. But let us again assume that since it was just a gift to Nigeria, it was delivered not as an immediate response to a disaster. This assumption is reasonable since the rice was meant for states ravaged by insurgency.
That could mean that distributing the rice to the states mentioned was not such an emergency that required the consignment to be swiftly cleared and distributed to save lives. This could be the case if you consider the fact that there were others who made generous donations of rice and other foodstuffs to those states including our own Aliko Dangote.
So, the issue is not that NEMA allowed citizens to die by failing to supply them necessary foodstuffs. The quarrel of the committee is that the rice shipped from China was not distributed to those they were meant for. Again, on this score one can say that efficient disaster management is a planned series of activities, not some adhoc crisis management as the committee will have us believe. If NEMA already had an appropriate response of its own in place before the China rice was delivered, it makes sense that it doesn’t have to immediately distribute them. If NEMA is a serious agency, one expects it to have its own response plan in place and not wait for donors, except where there are no other alternatives.
The committee did not claim that the refusal to distribute the Chinese led to deaths or serious issues of starvation in the affected states, thus confirming NEMA’s claim that it did indeed distribute rice to those states. Moreover, since it was not an emergency, there was nothing wrong in NEMA keeping the Chinese rice in a wherehouse while planning for further deliveries.
While the alleged payment of N800million demurrage was regrettable, the House committee should not have made it look as if NEMA delayed clearing of the rice so it could pay demurrage. Not only does it not make sense, but it shows a deliberate refusal of the legislators to acknowledge issues with our Ports’ administration. Moreover, as the committee also acknowledged in its report, the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed by Nigeria and the Chinese shows that the clearing of the rice was supposed to be a multi-agency task and not that of NEMA alone. Yet the committee recommended the sack of NEMA DG because of this? And why has the Speaker of the House of Reps Yakubu Dogara picked on NEMA alone with such venom? So much was Dogara in a hurry to indict the DG that his media aide issued a press statement about the discovery of the Chinese rice in NEMA wherehouse, accompanying it with photographs. Shortly after, his media aide issued another statement alleging that NEMA was moving the rice from its wherehouse to an undisclosed location. In the three years he has been speaker, this is the first time Dogara has shown strong interest in any House report. Does it have anything to do with 2019?
The briskness and alacrity with which some PDP stalwarts, including its presidential candidate Atiku Abubakar have lashed on to the so-called indictment gave it away as a game plan focused on 2019. In a statement released by his campaign organization, Atiku sought to parry allegations that he attempted to smuggle campaign cash into the country by alleging that it was a ploy by the APC “to distract attention from the recent indictment of Vice-President Osinbajo by the House of Representatives for grand corruption…,” referring of course to the committee report.
Disaster management is not a tea party as any serious legislator would know. In a country as big as Nigeria the challenges are even more. That is why NEMA recently declared a resolve to engage state governments through intensive advocacy and sensitization on the need for states to key into disaster risk management as a multi-stakeholder activity. Instead of calling for anybody’s sack for some expected laxity in government, the lawmakers should have thought of enactments that could improve disaster management in the country.
Ms. Iwuala contributed this piece from Owerri
Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

OPINION

Hammed Olamijuwon to youths: Vote wisely, shun violence and don’t sell your vote

Published

on

Young and dynamic, Hammed Solomon Olamijuwon has urged youths across the country to vote massively for young and vibrant candidates into respective position that would represent their interest in different level of government in the forthcoming general elections.

Olamijuwon in a statement issued at the weekend, implored Nigerian youths to be an active participants in the February 16 and March 2 elections.

His words: “In few days to this time, we shall be taking a major decision concerning our nation by electing leaders that will steer the affairs of this country. Our decision in the next few days will determine our next four years. The people we decide to elect to the position of power will determine a lot concerning you and I.

“I argue youths to go out and vote during the general election. If we all sit in our homes claiming that our votes won’t count, remember that some persons go out on that day and vote. If they vote-in the wrong people; we will have no choice than to be bound by their decisions over this nation for the next few years to come.

“If you have your PVC, kindly makes sure you go out to vote. Vote wisely. Vote credible and responsible candidates. Do not sell your vote. We must ensure that the right people are elected this time.”

Olamijuwon, a Real Estate developer and Managing Director of HSO Global Limited, while stressing the need for Nigerian youths to play active roles in the forthcoming elections, said the youth votes has the potential to be extremely influential in Nigeria.

“I believe the youth vote has the potential to be extremely influential in this country. Young voters notoriously neglect the importance of voting, but their voice is an important one on both sides of the aisle. Key issues in every election increasingly relate to the concerns of students and professionals between the ages of 18 and 35, making it essential for members within that age group to educate themselves on political issues and take to the polls,” he said.

On his political ambition; the Ijesha man who hail from Ilesa East Local Government Area of Osun State and founder of a Non-Governmental Organisation, HSO Foundation whose youthful political pedigree has endeared him to young and old in the town especially those in the grassroots, disclosed that: “I am taking my time and consulting political stakeholders across the country and my state to know the next step regarding my ambition of serving my people. By 2023 I believe the youth is taken over full time and I can assure my people I am ready to serve them.”

Continue Reading

OPINION

This is what next level means, By Tunde Ajose

Published

on

When the news hit the media that the former president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, gave a press release, calling the attention of the federal government to his fears towards the 2019 presidential election and beyond, it is not surprising that the media took a mere advice out of proportion.

Right to free speech is a fundamental human right and well recognised by the Nigerian constitution.

In the release, OBJ as he’s popularly called while stating his desire for a change of government, insisted that Nigerians must vote in his preferred candidate to replace the incumbent, President Mohammadu Buhari, and send the country back to the dark days better forgotten.

The question that one would have expected to be asked should have been whether this was because he loved Nigeria or there was a selfish motive behind it all. Why?

It is not coincidental that his preferred candidate happens to be the same person he once ruled the country with. This same preferred candidate is the one same OBJ had rubbished severally in the media as unreliable and even went to the extent of writing a book; dedicating substantial pages to why Alhaji Atiku Abubakar must never be allowed to smell power again.

I could remember an interview Chief Obasanjo gave a long time ago, when he was also faced with cries of non performance. He was asked why it was taking like forever to fix Nigeria based on his promise. Obasanjo answered, “As a farmer, I know where I can hit a storey building with a caterpillar and it would all collapse within few minutes. But it takes months to build the same without changing its specification.”

Obasanjo believed that many years of military misrule can’t just be undone with few years of democracy as it would take time.

This is the same belief of the Buhari led government. That 16years of the Peoples Democratic Party’s rule, where money meant for national projects were shared by the privileged few. The insurgency caused by Boko Haram which has been greatly decimated by our gallant men of armed forces would have been a thing of the past if PDP 16 year rule has not diverted the fund meant for standard arm procurement into few pockets.

President Mohammadu Buhari came into power with the believe that even though the corrupt elements had already done havoc to the national treasury, he could not comprehend extent of rot he eventually met.

So with the believe that you can’t build a solid house on a rotten foundation, Buhari, despite enormous expectations placed on him, decided to start rebuilding the foundation into a stronger institution for the country in his first term and hope to consolidate and erect a befitting edifice, where corrupt elements, insurgency, unemployment and many social vices would be things of the past.

And this is the next level.

 

– Ajose, wrote from Lagos, Nigeria.

Continue Reading

OPINION

Atiku’s US Trip: So much ado about nothing, By Tunde Ajose

Published

on

For good watchers of the Nigerian politics, one thing has come to stay in our political experiment at getting it right in this country and that is the ability for smart politicians to easily sway the electorates with mundane issues.

The campaigns are no longer issue based but media sensationalism.

Latest of such was the sudden appearance of the former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar in the United States of America! Then one begins to wonder why the opposition would think such is the needed magic wand to win the election.

And the euphoria may not be unconnected with the report that Atiku was barred from entering the States because of his fraudulent nature but the question is, why would any serious opposition believes such action would immediately translate into winning the Aso Rock.

One would have wondered why Atiku has chosen to travel with the current senate president, Dr. Bukola Saraki? Could it be that he actually traveled under the diplomatic immunity of Saraki’s official delegation?

Diplomatic immunity is a form of legal immunity that ensures diplomats are given safe passage and are considered not susceptible to lawsuit or prosecution under the host country’s laws, but they can still be expelled.

We need to be circumspect as we move forward as a nation and be more discerning. The current government of Nigeria is focused more than before in ensuring that Nigerians, regardless of the class or status has a befitting country they could fall back to and call a home.

It is quite obvious that while the opposition are playing to the gallery, the presidential campaign organisation of president Mohammad Buhari is busy rolling up its sleeves and getting down to fields where the real electorates are and connecting with them.

This past week especially has been full of activities for the president despite his age. Within a spate of two weeks, Buhari had sat down to two interviews in-between journeying from the length and breadth of the country in getting the message of hope down to the people.

The president does not rely on his privilege as an incumbent, but insisted on talking to his people and ensuring that Nigerians are united as they go to polls come February.

No one is in doubt that his message also resonates well with the citizens as they troop out en masse to welcome and listen to what he has to say. With the multitude of crowd recorded today as he presented the gubernatorial flagbearer of the party to the good people of Delta State and the ovation that greeted it, there is no doubt that Buhari is truly loved.

As we count down to the elections, Nigerians need to bear it in mind that the 2019 election is about building on a new foundation which the present government has been able to achieve in the first four years and giving the solid foundation out to the marauders to destroy along with the better forgotten 16years in power.

If Atiku is in the United States today, there is no way the intelligence agencies of the federal government of Nigeria would not know about it.

 

Tunde Ajose, a political commentator, writes from Lagos.

Continue Reading
Advertisement

Facebook

Advertisement
Advertisement

Trending