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Boko Haram: Senate asks FG to release over N420bn to address humanitarian crises

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Jude Johnson

The  Nigerian Senate has frowned on the mounting insecurity in the country and its effects, especially in Northern Nigeria, asking the Federal government to as a matter of urgency release over $1.2 billion (N420 billion) to address the consequential humanitarian crises especially in the Boko Haram ravaged North East region of the country.

According to the Senator Ahmed Lawan’s led 9th Senate, the growing insecurity was creating a humanitarian crisis in the northern part of the country.

The upper legislative chamber said the ongoing attacks by the Islamic State in West Africa (ISWA) in the North-east, farmers-herders clashes in North-central and North-west, as well as rampant cases of banditry, were fueling crises in the country.

To address the issues, the Senate has mandated the Federal Ministry of Finance to release funds to the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and Refugees Commission to enable them to address the humanitarian crisis.

The Senate also urged the executive arm to pay more attention to the humanitarian crisis caused by insecurity.

As part of a wider arrangement to address the crisis, the Senate said it would organise a conference on North-east humanitarian issue. The date and the composition of the committee are yet to be announced.

These resolutions were made yesterday during plenary, following a motion sponsored by Senator Ali Ndume entitled “The dire state of humanitarian crisis in Nigeria, especially Borno, Adamawa and Yobe (BAY) States.”

Presenting the motion, Ndume painted a gloomy picture of the realities on ground and put the current number of people in need of humanitarian assistance in the North-east at over 7.1 million.

He added that the number of people in need of food stands at 2.7 million, while malnourished children are about 1.1 million.

According to him, not less than $1.2 billion (N420 billion) is required to address the humanitarian crisis.

He said: “The humanitarian crisis caused by Boko Haram and ISWA in the North-east, North-west, farmers-herders clashes in the North-central region and rampant cases of banditry are of concerns.

“Already, more than 7.1 million people need humanitarian assistance in the North-east. The violence continues to disrupt livelihoods and deepening the impact of chronic vulnerabilities such as food insecurity, malnutrition and epidemics in affected communities.”

In his remarks, Senate President Ahmad Lawan criticised government agencies responsible for the management of funds offered by donor agencies.

He also criticised the practice where the bulk of the money released by donor agencies are spent on overhead by those responsible for the implementation of the intervention programmes.

Lawan said: “The issue of the displaced persons and IDPs mentioned, are a subject of debate. It is a serious issue. We have to come up with very coordinated approach to handle the situation in the IDP camp.

“As a country, we can afford to deal with the situation. We are not a very poor country. I think what we lack is the coordination to deal with the situation there and of course we deploy so much resources.

“We get from within and from foreign donors, but there is lack of focus and prudence in the use of those resources. What we need to do is to engage the National Planning Commission because the donor agencies should really declare exactly what is being brought and what the IDPs would have.

“In a situation where the donor agencies use the monies for rent and other things is wrong. I think is not acceptable. The bulk of the funds must be expended on the IDP. The committee on special duties will handle it.”

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