Rep accuses NEMA of ‘siphoning’ public funds

The House of Representative in Chamber ... members are notorious for budget mutilation
The House of Representative in Chamber ... members are notorious for budget mutilation

Members of the House of Representatives on Thursday accused the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), of diverting public funds.

The lawmakers alleged this while deliberating on a motion titled ‘Urgent public importance to investigate the violation of public trust at the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA)”, sponsored by Benjamin Wayo (APC, Benue state).

The members expressed disappointment at the agency’s management style. They said the agency awards ‘personal’ contracts with funds meant for the provision of relief materials for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and other victims of disasters across the country.

Mr. Wayo, while explaining the core mandate of the agency, noted that in spite of this, several cases of disasters across the country have not been given necessary attention.

“For example, the hunger issue in IDP camps in the North-east; the farmers/herdsmen conflicts; fire disaster victims, and many other such cases across the country that have been neglected.

“The agency has received more than N10 billion from the 20 per cent National Ecological Fund in the last one year, N5 billion for hunger intervention in the Northeast, about N2 billion for flood intervention across the country.

“These funds were illegally siphoned by officials of the agency through dubious awards of contracts without delivering relief items to the victims.

“The Director General of the agency contracts to companies he has personal interests in, and has violated his approval limits by awarding contracts to a single firm without due process.

“Example, one company called Olam Nigeria Limited got a contract of N2.4 billion, which is against the agency’s approval limit as stated in Section 16 subsection 1 of the NEMA Act. It should be made clear that the section pegs the approval limit at just N30 million,” he said.

The lawmaker disclosed that the agency is the only federal agency that has an air ambulance but has turned it into a commercial one without remitting the financial proceeds to government coffers. He said the agency could not account for its assets.

He also reminded the House that the agency’s staff went on strike last year over the Director General’ s incapacity to manage the affairs of the agency.

He added that the staff are currently threatening to embark on another strike if there is no intervention to resolve lingering labour related issues in the agency.

Danladi Tope (APC, Kwara state), also expressed disappointment at the agency’s misuse of public funds. He called for thorough investigation as he explained that “billions are being raised for them and they syphon the money.”

Also calling for investigation, Obinna Chidoka (PDP, Anambra state), urged the House to look into the activities of the agency as well as it’s management.

“Investigate how their budgets are used and make sure they account for every dime they spend,” he urged colleagues.

The House thereafter, resolved to “mandate its committee on emergency and disaster preparedness to investigate and report back within six weeks.

PREMIUM TIMES could not immediately get the reaction of the agency to the allegations presented by the lawmaker.

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