NEMA Boss Insists Lawmakers Witnessed Distribution of Relief Materials to IDPs


James Emejo in Abuja
The Director General of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Mr.  Mustapha Maihaja, on Tuesday denied accusations that relief materials were not distributed to states in North-east which have been worse-hit by insurgency  since his assumptions of office in 2017.

He said neither state governments nor officials of State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) were involved in the distribution of the materials, adding that state officials and some federal lawmakers  particularly witnessed the distribution of the materials in their respective states.

NEMA had been on the spotlight following ongoing investigation by the House of Representatives Committee on Emergency and Disaster Preparedness into allegations of breach of public trust.
Lawmakers said the relief agency had not transparently distributed relief materials to disaster affected states, some of which are constituencies they represent.

However,  at the continued hearing yesterday, Bauchi State confirmed knowledge of the distribution of the materials but regretted that the state government was not involved in the distribution.
Earlier, representatives of SEMA from Yobe, Bauchi, Taraba and Gombe  States claimed to be involved in the planning but excluded from the distribution.

Gombe State claimed that it has no Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps and had no use for relief food materials but prefer restoration of its infrastructures.
As such, the state claimed that it was totally unaware of the distribution of the relief materials in the state.

However, in his response, Maihaja said all the said states were fully informed of the issue.
He said: “The issue at stake was a presidential intervention, and that was the time I took over and I was invited on May 26 to join the team.

“A sub-committee headed by Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma, held meetings with Borno, Yobe and others states where the issue and distribution  was discussed.
“They were part of the programme. We moved to site together with them. There’s perfect collaborations with the states right from the outset.

“This is not an issue of telling lies, the problem here could be communication gap. We worked together and the materials got to the right place.”
At this point, a member of the committee, Abdulraham Shaibu, said the DG changed the system of distribution by not involving lawmakers in the distribution.

He said: “Why were our members not involved in the distribution? In 2016, we were asked to nominate members for the distribution, we were involved and every ward in the three local government areas in my Constituency got the materials”.

Responding,  the DG said besides visiting several IDP camps, several federal lawmakers participated in the distribution of the materials.
He said: “Senator Bukar and Honourable Karasuwa   participated in the distribution in Yobe State and other lawmakers in other states too. The problems might be communication gap.”