The Arewa Youth Integrity Forum has frowned at the recommendation of the House of Representatives calling for th sack of the Director General of the National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA DG, Engr. Mustapha Maihaja.

The group wondered why the green chamber decided to chase the agency that has improved tremendously in disaster management in the country instead of running after the real culprits.

The House of Representatives had passed a vote of no confidence on the agency under the leadership of Maihaja for alleged misappropriation of public funds.

Reacting at a press conference held in Kaduna on Friday, Comrade Adamu Adamu, Chairman of the group described the investigation and call for the sack of Maihaja as a political vendetta taken too far by interested parties at the National Assembly .

The group said some national assembly members masterminded the outcome of the investigation and the alleged embezzlement of public funds leveled against the agency DG.

The statement reads in full.

As you are all aware, the National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, has come under the searchlight of the committee in the course of achieving this lofty aim.

The committee we were made to believe began investigations into the affairs of the agency due to allegations raised in some quarters.

The committee was expected to do a thorough job and come out with objective and unbiased recommendations for the smooth operation of the agency and for the intended beneficiaries of its operations and Nigeria as a whole.

But what we have seen at the end of the exercise and after so much blowing of hot air is far from what we expect from a parliament ostensibly out on mission for public good.

Rather than a well investigated and objective report, what we have seen is a shallow, one sided, jaundiced and sentimental hogwash being put in place in the form of a report.

As you all know, The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) was established via Act 12 as amended by Act 50 of 1999, to manage disasters in Nigeria.

The agency has been tackling disaster related issues effectively through its various units and structures like the Geographic Information System, Mobile Clinics, Helicopter for search and rescue and warehouses across the geopolitical zones in the country.

To our knowledge, NEMA has improved tremendously and has been discharging its duties effectively and efficiently since the current administration led by Engr. Mustapha Maihaja came on board  though excellent collaboration with other sister and security agencies.

When some states were ravaged by flood in the years 2016 and 2017, NEMA was up and doing in seeing that the victims of such disasters are quickly identified and assisted to pick up the pieces of their lives within the shortest possible time.

There is also the campaign mounted by the agency for people to be aware of the kinds of natural disasters they are exposed to so they could take caution and act promptly.

This was a huge success given the awareness that came with the 2018 opening up of the Lagdo Dam in the Cameroon which, have direct impact on states in Nigeria on the shores of the Rivers Niger and Benue.

Many search and rescue efforts have also been made where the disasters became inevitable and some times involving the military and this has saved lives.

For a parliament that seeks the greater good of Nigeria and its citizens, we believe there should be a limit to how partisan interests should be pursued and we insists that there are agencies of government who due to the sensitive nature of their schedules should be immune from political horse trading and brinksmanship.

It was alleged by the House committee that there was negligence and inefficiency on the part of NEMA in the handling of a donation of 6,779 metric tons of rice by Chinese Government for IDP’s in the North East and that NEMA and the federal ministries of budget and planning as well as agriculture should account for the rice.

This matter has been addressed over and over again and the NEMA management has accounted for the quantity of rice in question and has explained that some costs were incurred as demurrage on the receipt of the items. This ordinarily should have served as evidence about the receipt of the items.

Another issue is the payment of about N800m demurrage from the Ministry of Budget and National Planning, Ministry of Agriculture and NEMA.

This we believe are verifiable facts and NEMA as a responsible agency of government cannot circumvent this basic principle at our ports. We are aware that other agencies of government like the NNPC still pays such duties for imported products and there’s no issue about that.

Suspension of six staff of NEMA by its management their immediate re-instatement by NEMA.

This we believe would be the height of malfeasance in public service as all the six are currently under investigation by the relevant agencies and reinstating them at a time investigations are yet to be concluded would amount to an attempt to circumvent the course of justice.

Kindly also note that those exonerated by the committee are under investigation by the EFCC and the Board of NEMA under Vice President Yemi Osinbajo did nothing wrong in suspending those persons for the continuation of the investigation.

The DG in the first instance complained about the ugly record he met on ground and engineered the efforts to clean the agency.

Receipt and utilization of N1.6 billion for flood victims in 16 states, and alleged display of insensitivity to the plight of flood victims showed by NEMA management in the handling of the relief materials.

Again this is wide off the mark. If one takes the amount by the number of states involved, this gives an average of 1 billion per state for the 16 states.

The level of devastation we all know are beyond what this amount could contain more so as relief materials are sourced from across the shores of the country.

And there’s no way any person will accuse NEMA officials of insensitivity.

The matter concerning evacuation of Nigerians from Libya, and the claim that the process, procedure, method and cost of evacuation of Nigerians stranded abroad is opaque is not true.

NEMA has done so much in that regard that many Nigerians who returned from Libya have testified to that.

And finally the claim that the Federal Government of Nigeria lost a total sum of over N33 Billion Naira as a result of mismanagement or outright embezzlement of funds.

This again is not true as the committee has from on set,  defined its mission as one out to blackmail the DG NEMA, Engr Maihaja and this submission hasn’t come as a surprise to anyone.

The committee was set up to investigate an allegation of 2.1billion naira, how it turned out to write its recommendations for a phantom  N33billion as cash embezzled so far is unimaginable.

If the committee had wanted to be fair, it would have admitted that these are monies allegedly stolen under the former DG who has been indicted for financial improprieties.

It beats everyone’s imagination that whilst Sani Sidi has been canonized by this Committee, Engr. Maihaja who dared the status quo to introduce transparency into the place has suddenly been declared guilty.

Nigerians know the true complexion of this house led by Dogara which has been on a vendetta against Engr. Maihaja for his relationship with the Bauchi State Governor and therefore are not fooled by what is going on.


Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.