By Michael Olugbode in Maiduguri
Senate Majority Leader, Alhaji Mohammed Ndume, yestrday said 63 out of the 103 trucks approved by the presidency for release to Borno State from the National Strategic Grains Reserve in April had gone missing and yet to be delivered four months after.
He noted that President Muhammadu Buhari had in April ordered the immediate release
of 10,000 tons of grains to the six North-eastern states to cushion the effect of the Boko Haram insurgency.
Ndume, representing Borno South in the National Assembly, told journalists in Maiduguri that it was unfortunate that only 53 trucks were delivered.
He said the contractor was supposed to have delivered 103 trucks of assorted grains for distribution in Borno State, but “he only delivered 53 trucks. The authorities are on it to get the remaining 63 trucks.”
Ndume said President Buhari had instructed that the grains should be tracked which necessitated a probe during which it was discovered that some of the grains were diverted.
He said: “President Buhari is very concerned on the issues in the North-east, what brought me to the state is to inquire about the true situation on ground regarding the grains release.
“Mr. President had an intelligence report that the grains had not been released so he called me and asked me to find out the truth.”
Ndume revealed that it was after an investigation that it was discovered that the contractor had diverted 63 trucks out of the 103 meant for the state.
Ndume, who revealed that the contractor was already in the net of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), said: “Our original plan was to start sharing the grains but we cannot distribute only 53 trucks now.”
He expressed gratitude to Buhari for his concern on the humanitarian crisis in the North-east, stressing that: “We are grateful for his concern on the humanitarian crisis in the North-east. Like I said, we discuss most often on the issue and when I told him about the devastation in Bama and Gwoza where the entire houses and infrastructure were destroyed he felt very sad.”
He disclosed that: “Last week we spent almost two hours discussing with the president on the issue of hunger, starvation, resettlement and rehabilitation of the North-east.
“I think that he is genuinely concerned about the problem because he also has an independent sources of information.’
The lawmaker expressed optimism that the National Assembly would passed the North-east Development Commission bill into law as soon as possible.
He said: “The House of Representatives has already done with it before going on recess.
The senate was almost done with it too but for some little hiccups due to the source of funding at the proposed headquarters.’
He however said the issue had been resolved by the leadership, adding that: “We are hoping that immediately we resume, it will be a priority to all of us as everybody is supportive of the bill.”
He said: The passage of the bill is crucial for effective frame work for the rehabilitation of the North-east devastated by the Boko Haram terrorists.”