…I stand by my submission that the Committee has failed, Ndume
…Shut Up if you can’t substantiate your position, Presidency tells Ndume
By Henry Umoru
THE Presidency and the former Senate Leader, Senator Ali Ndume, All Progressives Congress, APC, Borno South, yesterday exchanged words over the Coronavirus, COVID- 19 Palliative Measures Committee put in place by the Federal Government following the outbreak of the Pandemic that is at the moment, ravaging the world.
Senator Ndume who chairs the Senate Committee on Army had lampooned 19 Palliatives Measures Committee headed by the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs , Disaster Management and Social Development, Hajiya Sadia Umar Farouq, saying that it was not functioning and that President Muhammadu Buhari should as a matter urgency, sack the Committee.
While Ndume has accused the Committee of total failure and must be sacked, the Presidency has asked Ndume to shut up if he cannot substantiate what he raised.
Senator Ndume had in a chat with Journalists on Thursday in Maiduguri, Borno State Capital taken a swipe at the way and manner the distribution of palliatives to indigent Nigerians at this critical time of Coronavirus lockdown was being handled by the Humanitarian Affairs Ministry.
The Senator who called for the dismantling of the Committee if results must be achieved in all its ramifications, however kicked against the modus operandi being adopted by the Ministry, said that the emergency national assignment should be taken away from the ministry and given to a fresh committee that will use governors of the 36 States as links of distribution across the federation.
Senator Ndume had said, : “My concern is the manner and the way the COVID-19 palliative measures provided by the president is being handled or executed. We have received numerous complaints and it is actually very unfortunate.
“In fact, left to me, I am strongly calling for the humanitarian committee headed by the minister of Humanitarian Affairs to be dissolved with immediate effect and the president should as a matter of urgency, form a taskforce that would deal with issue of palliatives, headed by the military, police, civil defence, voluntary organisations and the NYSC among others.
“It should be formed as taskforce committee headed by governor of each state, and those materials or cash be allocated and distributed house to house, instead of fake or dubious way they have been handling the matter by just going to Television House or Government House to demonstrate.
“If you see a minister or big person in anywhere going personally to do something, then know that there is something wrong. If not, what has the minister got to do with going from state to state to distribute palliative. They should be in the ministry monitoring the activities.
“While the pitiable situation of the poor is visible to everyone, few individuals are rushing to squander the money meant for the poor.
“We have reliable information that the names they generated are fake and that they connived with some of the banks to defraud the poor. It is better to stop the exercise because it is full of lies and if the president don’t do something to stop it now, we will end up investigating and later on going back and forward to the court.”
Responding to Ndume, the Presidency yesterday in Abuja through a statement issued by the Senior Special Assistant to President Muhamnadu Buhari on Media, Garba Shehu , accused Ndume of politicising a national emergency and challenged him to name the alleged kleptocrats in Buhari’s government .
Garba Shehu in the statement , admonished Ndume to keep quiet as according to him, no serious government changes a winning team in times of war .
The statement titled: ” Senator Ali Ndume should figure out his mentioned kleptocrats around the President or be quiet ” , reads: “Claiming that the COVID-19 Palliative Measures Committee is not functioning as it should is not the same as presenting proof for such a claim.
“No one replaces an institutional government body in the midst of the global pandemic without clear and irrefutable evidence that it needs replacing.
“A press briefing from a discontented politician is rarely the source of such evidence.
“At this difficult time of the battle by Nigeria against Coronavirus, everyone should help the fight and not seek to make political capital out of it, whatever his or her grievances.”
Meanwhile, hours after attack from the presidency over his call for immediate sack of COVID, Senator Ali Ndume while responding to Garba Shehu’s statement said that he stands by his position on the programme.
Reacting to the statement through telephone yesterday, Senator Ndume who noted that he stands by his observations and recommendations as far as palliatives distribution arising from COVID 19 was concerned, said however that he was not ready to join issues with anybody having made his observations known.
Ndume said, ” I am not ready to join issues with anybody on palliatives distribution , having made my observations known based on information I got from the grassroots as a grassroots person .
“I have made my position known on the programme and I stand by it.”