- Govs who May Sabotage Presidential Initiative On Rebuilding The N/E
- Refugees Wallow In Squalor, Cry Out In Neglect
The Presidential initiative on Rebuilding the North East may be in grave danger, if some Governors in the region, or their agents are allowed to hijack the processes, as some of the Governors are already said to be scheming to perpetuate the mismanagement and the stealing of billions of naira in the name of the welfare of Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs, and rebuilding their destroyed homes.
This is even as the General T Y Danjuma’s Committee, has been cautioned by stakeholders who know what goes on in the name of IDPs, to be wary of state Governors, who may approach it in the guise of collaboration, while their actual motive to sabotage the project, and perpetuate the mayhem, which they never wanted to end, given the material benefits that accrue to them while the crisis persists.
The Committee which is planning a stakeholders conference to discuss the best way forward in rebuilding the region is said to have already taken measures to forestall possible hijack of its functions by some conflict profiteers, having taken cognizance of the activities of some state governments in plundering resources meant for the management of the Boko Haram crisis, and the attendant emergence of internally Displaced Persons.
nationalTRAIL, having monitored developments around Borno and Yobe States reports that, managing IDPs has become a perfect alibi for government officials to steal money meant for the upkeep of these victims of human disaster, even as state Governors line their pockets under the guise of reconstructing structures destroyed by Boko Haram insurgents.
While it remains a fact that emergency situations, like the Boko Haram saga, tend to take toll on the finances of affected governments, be it federal, state or local governments, claims of expenditure being made in the name of IDPs in Borno and Yobe States are bogus and mind boggling.
States affected by the Boko Haram insurgency, particularly Borno, Yobe and Adamawa, which were worst hit, have been crying out over the depletion of their resources in the maintenance of the IDPs. Pathetic as the story may sound, recent reports indicates that, government officials tend to hide behind managing the various camps where displaced persons are being kept in their states to feed fat, raking in Billions of Naira from shoddy deals at the expenses of hapless fellow countrymen.
While Adamawa, Taraba and Gombe State Governors, have been adjudged to be rather modest in their claims, as IDPs in their states seem to be receiving better attention than their counterparts in Borno and Yobe States, the common story is that, the emergence of IDPs in the wake of the Boko Haram crisis has created an opportunity to divert resources by some of the governors.
State Governors, under whom the management of IDPs are usually coordinated have been making bogus claims as their monthly expenditures on IDPs, while facts on ground point to the contrary, to the effect that not even half of such claims were actually spent on these victims of the conflict.
A visit to some camps in some of the states reveal that, IDPs live under very sordid conditions, while the billions of naira worth of materials, and even money being donated for their upkeep by International and local donors, do not often reach them or serve the purpose for which such donations were made, as some of the items find their way back into the markets, while donated cash are diverted into private pockets.
Some of the camps are being deserted as hunger stares occupants in the face, yet the government continues to make claims that Millions of IDPs are still being fed and catered for from government’s coffers. According to one of the IDPs in Maiduguri, they have become a means through which officials and their cohorts steal and divert fund.
While Borno State Governor, Kashim Shettima, claims to be spending N620 million monthly on the upkeep of Internally Displaced Persons scattered in various camps across Maiduguri, the state capital, and other parts of the state, his Yobe state counterpart, Ibrahim Geidam, does not seem to be sure of his own monthly expenditure on maintaining the hundreds of victims of the Boko Haram insurgency in his domain.
Available records showed that Governor Shettima, has collected not less than N20 Billion in donations on behalf of the IDPs, in addition to the N620 Million he claims to be spending monthly, but investigations reveal that not even a quarter of these receipts was actually utilised for the purposes often stated, rather greater part of it was used for political patronage.
Again, while he concentrates efforts on IDPs from Northern and Central Borno, thousands of refugees, most of who are camped in Biu have been left on their own and at the mercies of good spirited individuals and groups. Some of the IDPs prefer to take shelter with friends, relations and well-wishers than go to the camps where they are virtually being starved.
Recently, Governor Shettima, who sources said was not comfortable with the composition of The T Y Danjuma’s committee, started what he called the rebuilding of destroyed settlements across Borno State, ostensibly to cover up what he claimed to have been spent on IDPs. But his citizens do not seem to be impressed, knowing well he wants to justify the plunder of local government resources, which he is alleged to have mismanaged.
nationalTRAIL findings also revealed that, the Borno State Government, has over the years succeeded in keeping prying eyes of the media away from happenings in the state, including the mismanagement of IDPs and the Boko Haram crisis in general, but recent efforts seems to be failing, as some of the media houses hitherto compromised are beginning to see things from other perspectives.
The Governor, sources said, wants the Danjuma committee to come and build upon what he may have started, and go further to use his agents in hijacking the Federal Government initiative, and eventually claim credit for it. This may have informed his secret visit to a particular publisher in Kaduna, where he usually gets support with his gimmicks on his achievements with IDPs, to mobilise media support.
The Governor who initially ignored calls from the said publisher, lavished money on the publishers family, in order to impress him and put the medium off an impending publication which may reveal some of the rot going on in Borno state.
Critics of the Government allege that, Governor Shettima has pulled a wool over the eyes of some people with his pretentious tears, where he was always on television crying as if he identified with the plight of the refugees, but recent events around the governor indicates that, all the tears he was shedding were actually a façade, as he may be rejoicing from within him, believing that, every incident that displaces people brings him closer to raking in more wealth.
In Yobe State, the issue of mismanagement of IDPs, nationalTRAIL findings reveal has been a subject of controversy between the Yobe state Government and some stakeholders, with the later disputing government’s claims in a recent petition to the chief of staff in the Presidency. A group of Yobe state citizens disputed the government’s claims on the IDP camps, with graphic pictures of rot in virtually all the camps.
But the Governor’s spokesman, Abdullahi Bego, told our correspondent that Yobe state deserves the empathy of Nigerians, and praises for her efforts in cushioning the effects of the insurgency generally, and not condemnation by fault finders, given the circumstances the state found itself in the face of Boko Haram.
While he did not mention specifically how much the state expends in maintaining the IDPs neither how much has been received in donations, the Governor’s media aide, insists that the Governor has been meticulous and honest, and that so much is being spent on security issues, being the single biggest problem of Yobe state for now.
Taraba State on the other hand, may not have been one of the epicenters of Boko Haram activity, but the state has had its own share of the misfortunes of its neighbours. Her problems has to do with the influx from other states, who find Taraba as a safe haven than with receiving donations on their behalf, or even voting from the state coffers to take care of them.
Eight of her local governments have been flooded by displaced persons. Aside from a N30 million donations received from the Victims Support Fund, Taraba could not be said to have benefitted much from donations. Given its precarious financial position, no thanks to alleged massive looting of the state treasury by one of its former Acting helmsman, the state deserves a pat on the back for being able to provide the basic requirements of living for IDPs under her care.
The state Governor, Darius Ishaku, was said to have been so passionate about the plight of IDPs that he has ordered daily briefing over their conditions by the Permanent Secretary, Liaison Office Abuja, who oversees the welfare of IDPs. According to the state Emergency Management Agency, its infrastructures and health facilities are being overstretched, and the state requires a decisive intervention from donors.
Adamawa and Gombe States were not forth coming with explanations on how the state Governments managed funds intended for the upkeep of IDPs, neither the conditions under which the IDPs live, but independent findings by our correspondents reveal that, the story is not different, as the refugees suffer sub human treatments.
Commissioner for Information in Adamawa state, Ahmad Sajoh, promised to get back to this medium with explanations which he never did till the time of going to press, while the Executive Secretary for Gombe State Emergency management Agency, Danlami Rukujei, declined comments on the situation in Gombe state, even as efforts to get the comments of Borno state government officials were rebuffed.