Soni Daniel, Northern Region Editor
*Names NSA, CoAS, others as new members
*House of Reps probes use of N270m for grass clearing
Did the Presidential Initiative on the North East receive as much as N5 billion for the provision of succour for Internally Displaced Persons?
If the answer was in the affirmative, who collected the money and on what specific services was it applied? These are the crucial questions that the House of Representatives Committee on IDPs is currently battling to resolve with a view to bringing to book alleged saboteurs.
Reports of fraud, diversion of life-saving materials donated by the federal and foreign governments had forced President Muhammadu Buhari to overhaul the management of the IDPs.
Saturday Vanguard exclusively gathered that an angry Buhari consequently removed all the directors, who were saddled with the management of the IDPs. Some trusted ministers were chosen as replacements.
A source in the Presidency, who confirmed the development to Saturday Vanguard yesterday, explained that Buhari was very upset over the matter.
Similarly, the House of Representatives also summoned the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr. David Babachir, to explain what happened to the funds and materials allocated to the IDPs. Babachir, who was expected along with officials of the Presidential Initiative on the North East to brief the lawmakers on Thursday, however, failed to show up.
It was learnt that reasons were not given for his absence. The Presidency official revealed last night that Buhari had to urgently overhaul the management of the humanitarian situation in the region, which was hitherto coordinated by officials in the director cadre.
The source said: ‘’The truth is that a flurry of disturbing reports by observers, civil society groups, donors and interventionist agencies all said the situation had been grossly mismanaged.
“The mismanagement has led to poverty, hunger, diseases and deaths in the Internally Displaced Persons’ facilities across the zone with the potential of degenerating to an epidemic. “Daily, reports of diversion and outright sale of food items, clothing and shelter materials meant for the IDP camps have been in both local and international media, with horrible pictures of victims of the crisis.
“I can tell that the President, who is apparently piqued by the development, has ordered that the situation is reversed immediately to avoid escalating the suffering of the victims of Boko Haram insurgency. “To give impetus to the directive, he has approved a change in the management of the humanitarian situation, putting ministers in control of sectoral coordination.
“Specifically, an Inter-ministerial Task Force has been established by the President to coordinate the response and work with humanitarian agencies to support the structure of government and those of other interventionist agencies in the affected North East states.
It was gathered that in the multi-sectoral task force, each sector will be led by a minister while the entire team would be led by the Ministry of Budget and National Planning, which will now coordinate and mobilise the domestic, governmental and private sector resources necessary to effectively address the challenge with the urgency it demands.
It was also learnt that five key ministries are directly involved in the management of the situation while their ministers are to personally supervise their ministries’ role in the newly modified governance structure. The ministries to coordinate the new operations include Health, Interior, Women Affairs, Agriculture and Water Resources.
Also included in the new team are the National Security Adviser, Chief of Army Staff, National Emergency Management Agency ,NEMA, and the Presidential Committee on North East Intervention, PCNI, whose membership also include the Transport and Defense ministers.
As a first step, the National Humanitarian Coordination Forum met in Abuja last Thursday and enumerated key steps to be taken.