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FG spends N5bn monthly on IDPs – Senate panel

Chairman, Senate Committee on Special Duties, Senator Yusuf A. Yusuf, has said that the Federal Government is spending N5 billion monthly on the welfare of…

Chairman, Senate Committee on Special Duties, Senator Yusuf A. Yusuf, has said that the Federal Government is spending N5 billion monthly on the welfare of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the northeast.

Yusuf disclosed this in Abuja at the weekend while briefing newsmen in Abuja on his committee’s findings after an oversight visit to various IDP camps in the northeast.

The lawmaker said the government must stop “IDP syndrome”, noting that there were no resources to sustain spending such a huge amount on the IDPs.

He charged the security agencies to do more to end the insurgency so that people could safely return to their various towns and villages.

He said: “It is a very sad thing that I have seen in the IDP camps. There are 2.7 million people in the IDP camps. No amount of resources that can sustain or take care of their palliatives.

“We cannot continue to believe that the IDP syndrome should continue. We must exit it at one time or the other. It is a sad thing.

“There are children who are orphans in all respect and most of them are below the age of 18.

“The government, the development partners are doing their best but the resources are very small.

“We cannot sustain spending about N5 billion a month to take care of these people.

“What we will do is to put our hands on deck and make sure that security is provided for them to go back to their homes so that we can reduce the mounting pressure on our resources to take care of the IDPs.”

Money not from govt alone – NEDC

Reacting, the spokesman of the North East Development Commission, Abba Musa, told Daily Trust on Sunday that the N5 billion said to be spent on IDPs every month was not exclusively from the Federal Government.

He said: “The figure was arrived at during a meeting of stakeholders in Maiduguri when various agencies and groups presented their success story and challenges.

“Different interventions for the IDPs come from the Federal Government, the Borno State Government, donor agencies and other groups. It is from all these that the conservative N5 billion was arrived that.

“A lot of things are being done to take care of the IDPs. They need food, drugs, clothing and many other things; hence the need for various agencies to come together.

“I can assure you that it is not only the federal government that spending on the IDPs,” he said.

The spokesman of the National Emergency Management Agency, Manzo Ezekiel, said he did not know where that N5bn figure came up from. He said the Senate had invited the NEMA and when the matter was raised, the agency said it “will go back and check its books and get back” to the Senate. He said the foodstuffs being given out to the IDPs had been “stored in warehouses. So, all the NEMA does is to go there and get some food items and distribute when needed.”

Aid groups question spending, CSOs demand probe

Adamu Babaji, Project Officer of a non-governmental organisation, Displaced Children Support Initiative, in Yola, Adawama State, faulted the claim that N5bn was expended monthly on displaced persons in the North East.

He said with significant reduction in the activities of Boko Haram in most of the states in zone, many displaced persons had returned to their villages and resumed normal lives.

He said: “N5 billion is a big money and you should know that in many cases, the IDPs living in the camps receive meagre amount of food and have to go out and work to raise money to buy additional food. Where is the five billion naira doing?”

An official of an NGO in Yobe State, who pleaded anonymity, said: “Although there is no any official IDP camp in the state, there are thousands of displaced persons living in many communities and self-established camps.”

“We have currently supported about 6 local government areas with food and non-food items. If N5 billion were spent in three states as claimed, by now, we could have totally eradicated hunger among IDPs,”  he said.

Director, Centre for Democracy and Development, Idayat Hassan, said since the EU Humanitarian aid operations had said over 10.6 million people were in need of aid in the northeast, she wondered “what the N5bn monthly is all about. It sure does not look like it at all. There is a need for the audit on all these figures been bandied around. The accountability framework is quite weak.”

Executive Director, YIAGA Africa, Samson Itodo, challenged the Federal Government to publish the details of the figures and the spending “if it’s committed to transparency and accountability”