The Centre for Social Justice, Equity and Transparency (CESJET) has hailed National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) Director General, Engineer Mustapha Maihaja, for “ensuring transparency and accountability at the highest level.”
The Centre gave this commendation at a press conference on Monday in Abuja on the “strengthening of procurement practice and processes in the interest of improving the wellbeing of Nigeria”.
In a statement signed by Executive Secretary, Isaac Ikpa, the CESJET described the NEMA DG as a man of integrity who is running “government agency to meet global benchmarks”.
The Centre revealed that it followed the activities of NEMA in the last five years and no trace of corruption or mismanagement of funds was levelled against the DG.
Among others, according to the group, NEMA’s procurement under the stewardship of Engineer Maihaja has been transparent and there’s been a strict compliance with the Treasury Single Account (TSA) too.
The Centre, therefore, commended the current leadership of NEMA for diligently doing their work and going the additional mile of showing the country how to entrench transparency.
Read full statement below:
Gentlemen of the press, the Centre for Social Justice, Equity and Transparency (CESJET) is invited you to this press briefing in order to draw attention to the things that some government agencies are getting right for the benefit of the government and people of Nigeria by those that can be appropriately termed as people desirous of seeing the emergence of a new Federal Republic of Nigeria.
In specific terms, our focus is on the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), where the Director General, Engineer Mustapha Yunusa Maihaja has made members of the public to realize that there is hope for the country. In this sense, we are not talking in terms of hope by way of coming out of traumatic disasters or crises with the guarantee of receiving relief materials for rebuilding livelihood but we are referring to assurance that Nigeria still has men of integrity, who can run government agencies to meet global benchmarks.
CESJET is holding this accountability press briefing to intimate Nigerians with the outcome of its appraisal of the extent of transparency and best practices that have taken hold at NEMA under Engineer Mustapha Maihaja as Director General. Because we are resolved to have brevity in the course of this interaction we can simply executively summarize our finding by saying the NEMA DG has ensured transparency and accountability are at the highest level the agency under his supervision.
We have worked with several partner NGOs in tracking the procurement processes and safeguards that have been implemented in NEMA. The processes are benchmarked against extant procurement legislation of the country and the provisions set out by the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP). We have in addition taken steps to routinely and discreetly track the companies that participate in the bid processes, which in addition to our understanding that the nation’s anti-graft institutions routinely watch-list those that are directly and indirectly involved in procurement matters in government agencies and offices.
Let us point out that this tracking is something that CESJET and its partners have consistently and dedicatedly done now for the past five consecutive years. From our monitoring along the stated benchmarks, we confidently report that there has been no time that the anti-corruption agencies have been able to find anything untoward in NEMA’s procurement under the stewardship of Engineer Maihaja – any incident recorded by these agencies pre-dated his coming on board and represent the contrast between the accountability he has come to entrench versus the situation he inherited upon resumption of office.
Only contractors with all registration certificates and those that meet the standard benchmark are accredited and allowed to progress in qualifying to get contracts.
We have also found that NEMA’s procurement process deliberately weed out companies that have not shown track record of transparency in the conduct of its business. It is not surprising to see companies being dropped from executing projects for the agencies because it submitted misleading or unverifiable information. We have been made to realize that this is to ensure that frauds are prevented before they occur. We have confirmed that this is yielding positive results in blocking leakages.
Another thing of interest we found in NEMA is the strict compliance with the Treasury Single Account (TSA) in compliance with the directive of the Federal Government. While NEMA is not a revenue generating agency, its use of TSA reveals a culture of making refunds for unexpended cash releases and full declaration of donor funds, donations and support. This is a practice that should find replication in other agencies.
Gentlemen of the press, permit us to point out that in the course of the five years we have been tracking NEMA, we have watched the inventory process evolved into something better than it was at inception. Ordinarily, inventory on the scale kept by NEMA should be a nightmarish assignment but Engineer Maihaja’s team has brought such finesse to the process that we now see efficiency on a scale that did not exist before. This has translated into a faster response time and less discomfort for those that are in need of emergency intervention.
NEMA has also implemented measures that ensure unscrupulous elements do not abuse materials meant for the needy. It has eliminated the practice where impostors collect materials meant for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs). The biometric registration of affected persons that made this possible can best be described as an externalization of the transparent practices that are now the hallmark of NEMA. It is another of Maihaja’s unfolding legacy that must be sustained.
In our view, what NEMA has achieved under Maihaja is to positively weaponize transparency as a tool for fighting corruption. We strongly recommend the approach to the Federal Government since it saves the country from the torturous process of chasing treasury looters or the ardours task of recovering funds when they have been stolen.
We therefore commend the current leadership of NEMA for diligently doing their work and going the additional mile of showing the country how to entrench transparency.
CESJET however charges the management of NEMA to address any identified drawbacks since these could be used as justifications by those that are interested in bringing back corruption. For instance, the painstaking inventory is being blamed by some critics as the reason for occasional delay in getting succour to affected persons when this is in reality not the case. They had used such lies to claim that food items expire in storage. It is therefore pertinent that the organization is able to further refine the process to complete eradicate the ability of detractors to make such spurious claims.
We further charge agency to take the necessary steps to institutionalize these remarkable changes so that NEMA remains a shinny example of what Nigeria should be.