Senate’s Unkind Cut Against Babachir

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By Babande Musa

Day after day, it is becoming very obvious that the Senate Committee’s report, which purportedly indicted the Secretary to tzhe Government of the Federation, David Babachir, over so-called corruption, was cunningly but poorly crafted by ‘’political enemies’’ to deliberately open holes in the SGF’s character.

But, in doing the dirty job, the Shehu Sani-led Senate Committee took too lightly the worth of work done by the Presidential Initiative on the North East (PINE) as overwhelming evidence has shown in the past few days.

Just recently, the Senate was said to have been confronted with overpowering proof by members of the PINE, which revealed that the Senate Committee actually misled the apex law-making organ in its attempt to carry out the request of its master(s).

To be sure, the assertion by the Senate committee that PINE was a ‘’grass cutter, who actually did not cut any grass’’, has been demonstrated  to be wholly deceptive and absolutely erroneous as the Senate committee refused to take cognizance of the facts that PINE had delivered excellently on the huge responsibility given to it by the federal government.

As a matter of fact, it is absolutely preposterous, illogical and nonsensical on the part of the Senator Sani-led committee to suggest that the powerful Presidential Initiative on North-East (PINE) under the watch of the SGF, is a mere ‘’grass cutter’’, especially when juxtaposed with the fact that Engr. Babachir is a well-intentioned precursor of the no-nonsense Lt. Gen Theophilus Danjuma-led Presidential Committee on North-east Initiative (NCNI).

Save from working from answers to questions, the Senate would have discovered sound findings on the real mandate and excellent works that have been executed by PINE within a very short time it functioned under Engr. Babachir.

At the beginning of its work, the then President Goodluck Jonathan administration embedded PINE in the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) with most of the preliminary works and related expenditures done under the watch of the NSA.

But when President Muhammadu Buhari assumed office, he reorganised it and placed it under SGF apparently for ease of coordination since many of the agencies working on the troubled North-east are government ministries and departments, which SGF directly supervises.

As redesigned by President Buhari, the mandate of PINE was to mobilise resources to provide emergency assistance to people and communities displaced and unpleasantly affected by the Boko Haram terrorists; kick-start and stabilize the region’s economy; and strategically position the region for long-term prosperity.

While inaugurating the initiative that was mandated to coordinate all interventions in the region ravaged by the deadly terrorists, President Buhari had said that the worst of terrorism in the north east was over due to the gallant effort of the military. He had expressed confidence that the committee chaired by former Minister of Defence, Lt Gen Danjuma, would deliver on its mandate.

He asserted that the devastation to human lives and livelihoods by the terrorists in the North East was severe, with more than an estimated 20,000 persons killed, over 2.4 million persons displaced and billions of naira worth of personal and public assets destroyed. “Many humanitarian intervention efforts, national and international, have worked over time to assist in coping with the task of bringing succour to the IDPs in and outside the region, with most of these efforts aimed at providing short-term emergency assistance and relief to the victims of the violence and displacement,” he had stated.

Buhari had noted that there remains a need for better coordination of these efforts particularly the humanitarian resettlement and reconstruction of the region.

With these huge challenges, it will be very mean-spirited and spiteful for the Sani-led committee to suggest that Engr. Babachir, a very close confidant of President Buhari, would mess up; and surely he did not, as unfolding facts have rightly suggested.

In an accomplishment of first putting into practice strategy of providing emergency assistance, PINE got involved tremendously in the provision of relief assistance, including food and non-food materials to the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) from the peak of the crisis till the Senate intervention.

It is now clear that PINE acquired relief materials, comprising 960 tons of food items, 450 tons of non-food items, including 17,500 bundles of roofing sheets (zinc), 300 tons of cement for IDPs across the region and 360 tons of food items for IDPs in Niger Republic, and also provided 2,005 tents for IDP families in Borno State.

With all these revelations, coupled with the PINE’s pursuit of it second implementation strategy of restoring lost livelihood by starting a very painstaking process of rehabilitation of destroyed infrastructure, including schools and hospitals, I am sure by now the Senate would have been embarrassed to discover that the entire Senate was misled. With the ongoing works, it would not only assist in resettling the displaced but would also provide the masses some jobs as the rehabilitation works begin.

As a matter of fact, PINE has renovated 28 schools burnt down by the insurgents; it also renovated 32 police stations and two police barracks that were burnt down by Boko Haram in Adamawa and Yobe States; it has upgraded and equipped the Burn Centers at the University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital and the Federal Medical Center, Yola. PINE also provided two ambulances to the Federal Medical Center, Yola and the State Specialist Hospital, also in Yola.

It has also removed invasive plant species on River Kumadugu and channelled the river in order to provide irrigation for the affected troubled communities along its banks as part of its core mandate of restoring economic activity to the ravaged communities.

Like somebody said, the most important work that PINE did was the development of a Marshall Plan for the resettlement and reintegration of the communities ravaged by the insurgents, which was developed by a 22 member special committee, including representatives of relevant government ministries, departments and agencies, Victims Support Fund, North East Economic Summit Group, Nigerian Red Cross Society, some large companies in the region and several development partners.

In spite of these colossal works done by PINE, the self-styled human rights activist, Senator Sani, refused to note them and decided to rubbish the initiative with an out-of-the-way case of a mere private business transaction between Josmon Technologies Limited and Rholavision Nigeria Limited—-over the funding of a contract won by the former: the transfers of monies from Josmon to Rholavision, insisting that the transaction was suspicious. Senator Sani’s misgiving was that Babachir had interests in Rholavision and that the transfers were softeners for a contact Josmon got from PINE that was then under the watch of the SGF.

Having discovered that Sani-led committee misled the Senate, the appropriate thing for the leadership of the Senate to do is to move swiftly to reverse itself and apologise to SGF. But that will be a wishful thinking, especially when the decision of the committee was planned and executed by the leadership of the Senate.

However, trust President Buhari: the Senate committee’s report is as useless as waste papers, that will not be given any further consideration than the presidential enquiry the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, has conducted. Surely nothing concrete has been found. Otherwise more than a week after he submitted his report, the president would have come out smoking, given his no-nonsense approach to corruption. 

–Musa is of the Coalition for Truth, Maiduguri