How NEMA spends funds, by Director General
*Reps order probe of amnesty exercise, Agbonayinma over comment on Electoral Act
About N10.322billion was allocated to emergency needs by the Federal Government from January 2017 to date.
This was disclosed by the Director General of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Mustapha Maihaja, an engineer, who said he could only account for its activities from April 2017 when he took over.
He made the clarifications at a public hearing by the House of Representatives Committee on Emergency and Disaster Preparedness over alleged violation of public trust in NEMA.
The House had queried the usage of over N17.8 billion from January 2017 to date.
Maihaja, who appeared before the Ali Isa-led committee, was accused of, among others, breaching sections 18, 20 (1) and 21 of the Public Procurement Act (PPA) in the award of contracts for the supply of relief materials.
While a member of the committee, Mr. Wayo Benjamin Iorembar (Benue, APC) confronted Maihaja on whether NEMA complied with due process in the award of N3.1 billion contract to Olam Nigeria limited for the supply of 10,000 metric tonnes of rice for the Internally-Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the North-East geo-political zone within the period under review, Chairman of the House Committee on Public Procurement, Mr. Oluwole Oke (Osun, PDP), queried why the Director of Relief, Mr. Kayode Fagbemi, other than a procurement officer had to sign award letters.
Oke said the infraction was an intentional act aimed at sidetracking the director of procurement statutory mandated to handle the rice procurement process.
But Maihaja insisted that NEMA secured the approval of the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) before engaging in procurements. He said the agency did not in any way abuse due process in the award of contracts for the nation’s emergency needs.
He explained that the agency was forced to approach the Presidency for the procurement of emergency materials for the Northeast because development partners withdrew 85 per cent of their funding support for the region.
He said contrary to allegations, NEMA cannot award any procurement contract worth more than N300 million.
He insisted that he has acted in good faith and with respect for accountability and transparency since he was made the DG in April 2017.
He said: “On the 10,000 metric tons of rice, we complied with the Procurement Act, the agency sought Presidential approval for the procurement 10,000 metric tons of rice at N3.1b for emergency purposes in the Northeast.
“The approval was signed by the Vice President in a letter by the Deputy Chief of Staff. The contract was awarded to two companies as well as logistics companies for delivery. The contractors don’t get paid until deliveries are confirmed by the recipient agencies.
“Also, the deliveries directly to NEMA are taken to our warehouses across the country and confirmed by our store officers before payments are made”.
When questioned why the Director (Relief) had to sign contract award letters rather than a Procurement officer, Maihaja said the agency had no Procurement officer as at that time.
According to him, there was no Procurement Unit in the agency as at the time of his assumption of duty. He said junior Planning officers were performing the duties.
He added: “Junior Planning officers cannot sign the contract award and being an emergency situation, in all sincerity, the Director Relief was asked to sign the documents.
“We also have a comprehensive store system as well as other mechanisms for confirmation of delivery of relief materials.
“My action was done with utmost sincerity, there was no intention to sidetrack anyone in this responsibility. We have a store system and other units to take charge of materials, the Director Relief is not in charge of stores.”
The DG said the sources of the agency’s funding include Ecological Fund, which was N10.3b in the period under review as well as from Appropriation Act.
He also made available to the committee list of the agency’s accounts, list of companies with awarded contracts and the award letters, including list of donors and donations.
While declaring the hearing open, Speaker Yakubu Dogara said there were a number of disasters unattended to in the country over the period, which was a shame.
Represented by the House Leader, Femi Gbajabiamila, the Speaker said the intervention of the House was as a result of allegations of negligence from victims who complained of late and often inadequate arrival of relief materials.
The Deputy Chairman of the committee Ali Isa said the investigation was not meant to witch-hunt anyone but aimed at making the agency better in meeting its set objectives.
In a related vein, the House has ordered an investigation into the activities of the presidential amnesty programme.
Adopting a motion sponsored by Abubakar Chika Adamu at the plenary presided by Dogara, the House mandated its Committee on Niger Delta Ministry to carry out a comprehensive probe into the management of the funds allocated to the outfit from inception to date.
Besides, the committee is to assess the impact of the programme on the on former militants of the oil rich Niger Delta region.
Also, the House has ordered a probe into statements credited to a member from Edo State, Mr. Johnson Agbonayinma, who was quoted to have spoken against the passage of the electoral bill by the National Assembly.
It, therefore, directed its Committee on Ethics/Privileges to investigate the matter and report back to the plenary.
The decision followed a complaint by Mr. Abiante Awaji-Inombek (Rivers, PDP) who raised the issue under matters of privilege.
Awaji-Inombek had alleged that Agbonayinma “tarnished” the image of the legislature by telling a national television station that the passage of the bill “did not follow due process.”
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