- Says disaster interventions hampered by paucity of funds
James Emejo in Abuja
Despite mounting pressure from lawmakers on him to admit guilt on alleged violation of public procurement processes by his agency, the Director General, National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Mr. Mustapha Maihaja, wednesday refused to give in, insisting, â€œIâ€™ve not violated the Procurement Act.â€
Maihaja said suspicious contracts were awarded in the agency before his assumption of duty, adding that he inherited some rots in the agency and he was doing his best to correct it.
He also refuted suggestions that he might have misled President Muhammadu Buhari, the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) and Nigerians in general by making emergency procurement of relief materials without approval from the president.
The NEMA boss had appeared at the continuation of the investigative hearing organised by the House of Representatives Committee on Emergency and Disaster Preparedness on an alleged violation of public trust in the agency as well as breach of due process in the award of contracts.
The committee, presided over by its Deputy Chairman, Hon. Ali Isa (APC, Gombe), further accused Maihaja of awarding contracts to some companies which do not have tax and pension clearances which are among others, key pre-requisites for any organisation to benefit from government.
It said most of the companies engaged by the relief agency were not qualified.
Lawmakers further sought explanation over delays in NEMA intervention in disaster affected areas even when funds had been released on time to that affect.
In one instance, the committee noted that although monies were received to deliver relief materials to communities, the agency responded after six months.
The lawmakers are also seeking to know how the N1.6 billion Intervention fund received by NEMA in July was applied to the 16 affected states.
But, responding to the numerous charges, the NEMA boss denied all accusation, maintaining that, â€œWeâ€™ve not violated any law.â€
He said the agency duly wrote to BPP which never faulted the steps it took during the contractual processes- adding that certificate of no objections were even issued to the relief agency by BPP.
He urged the committee to try to understand the peculiar conditions which the agency operate in- especially when asked to adhere to due process during emergency interventions.
Nevertheless, he said NEMA had always follow through due process in all its engagements.
Maihaja also said the recent decision by international partners to scale down interventions especially in the North-east, had further limited its capacity to respond to disasters given the resulting funding challenges.
He said the committee should appreciate the efforts he had made to sanitise the procurement unit of the agency since he assumed office April 2017.
Meanwhile, as the hearing continues today, the committee has ordered suspended personnel of NEMA as well as other persons who played key roles in the agencyâ€™s procurement system to appear before it.