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Borno senator, Muhammed Ndume, on Wednesday, accused the federal government relief committee on COVID-19 headed by the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadiya Farouq, of fraud and called for its immediate disbandment.
Mr Ndume said the committee “lacks credibility” to manage the huge resources at its disposal. He said so far, the distribution of the relief materials has been laced with “fraud.”
Mr Ndume, who represents Southern Senatorial District of Borno State at the Senate, warned that unless President Muhammadu Buhari wants to squander what remains of his goodwill, he should not allow the committee to continue the disbursement of the palliative that was meant to reach the poorest of the poor Nigerians.
Mr Ndume said he was disappointed that President Buhari did not announce the disbandment of the committee during his last national broadcast, “despite the outcry of many Nigerians who expressed dissatisfaction about the minister’s led committee.”
Mr Ndume, who spoke to journalists during a press conference in his Maiduguri home, claimed the minister and committee members had failed to discharge the task assigned to in a transparent and equitable manner.
“I’m not trying to make allegations against the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management, and Social Development; what I’m saying are facts,” he said.
“If they will continue with the way they are doing now, they had better not distribute the palliative at all because it’s a fraud.
“My concern now is the manner and ways the palliative measures taken by the president are being executed. We have received numerous complaints and it’s very unfortunate. Left to me, I’m calling for the so-called Humanitarian committee headed by the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs to be disbanded immediately and the president should set up a task force to handle issues of palliatives.”
Mr Ndume also queried the composition of the committee, saying it lacks true representation of a group that is fair to all Nigerians. He said this was what led to the lopsidedness in the distribution of the palliative packages.
“The task force under the Chairmanship of each state governor should include a Senator and House of Assembly member from each state, the Army, Police, Civil Defense, religious organization, Red Cross, Civil Society Organisations to ensure the distribution of the palliatives; I don’t mind the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and members of Social Investment Programmes as members.”
“Imagine Zamfara state, which happens to be the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs’ home state, has 291, 629 households and 1, 341,153 individuals captured under the National Social Register of Poor and Vulnerable households for March 2020, leaving Sokoto State which is adjudged as the poorest state in Nigeria with a paltry 3,347 households and 18, 435 individuals. Borno has only 7,130 households and 33,728 individuals.
“I have reliable information that even names they have generated is fake, the BVN is not fraud-proof, one person will generate thousands of names and after conniving with banks, they are issued BVN. Investigation will reveal all these.
“They have the names of their cooks, drivers, relatives, relatives of their house helps and those they call the poorest of the poor and give this money to them.
“I call on the press to join in the call to stop this callous act, you can imagine the situation our people are in at the moment, yet some people are rushing to either share or steal this money,” Mr Ndume said.
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