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Poor accountability has turned Northeast humanitarian crisis to profiteering industry —Shehu Sani

A FORMER senator, Shehu Sani says some Nigerian agencies in charge of emergencies and individuals in the presidency have turned the humanitarian crises in the Northeast to a profiteering industry.

“What we are witnessing besides genuine organisations that are helping in the Northeast, there are parasites who are profiteering from the crisis in the Northeast,” Sani who represented Kaduna Central Senatorial District in the 8th Senate said.

Sani said this has continued unchecked due to lack of transparency and accountability in the way funds are spent to assuage the sufferings of victims of the crisis.

“They have turned the humanitarian crisis into the humanitarian industry,” he added while speaking at a workshop on Forced Displacement held in Abuja on Tuesday.

The workshop with the theme: Rethinking humanitarian action in situations of forced displacement: Focus on Northeast Nigeria was organised by De Montfort University, Leicester.

While Sani did not mention any particular government agency or individuals cashing on the humanitarian crisis, he also indicted some top members of the presidency whom he said have been taking advantage of President Muhammadu Buhari to perpetrate corruption in the management of the Northeast crisis.

“A report that I presented two years ago painted a picture of the exploitation and plunder of helpless people by people holding positions of authority who are within the presidency,” he recalled.

“They capitalise on the president’s sympathy, concerns and interest of the Northeast and use it for their own personal benefit.”

He explained that the agencies bypass procurement laws during emergencies to shortchange the government and the victims.

“The law has made it easier in the case of national emergency or in the case of urgency, government agencies exploit the law or the act and they were able to bypass all the procurement laws and the checks and balances,” he said.

This, the former lawmaker said has “made it easier for them to simply write items, give themselves contracts and supply as long as these victims are there, nobody to ask a question.”

He said committees set up by the federal government to handle issues relating to emergencies operated without proper accountability.

“We had to travel to the Northeast to see the fraud perpetrated in the names of the victims. You will find out that they will write supply of food to IDPs N2million and then conference for IDPs N50million. I don’t really understand,” he explained.

Sani also fingered international donor agencies in the ongoing opaque operation concerning funds earmarked and released to address the humanitarian crisis.

“If we have to find a solution to this problem, what we need to do is to properly document what foreign donors are bringing into the country,” he said.

“There is no proper means by which we can know what they are bringing and where it goes. Does it go to the state government, does it go to the federal government or does it go to an agency of the government that already has captured that in its budget.”

He emphasised that the only solution to the problem is to ensure proper accountability in the way money is spent.

“Let us synergise and streamline the activities of government agencies and non-governmental agencies in finding a solution to this problem.”

Speaking earlier, the Project Lead for the workshop, Seun Kolade, explained that the workshop focused on how humanitarian actions can be redesigned around the affected people as the main actors and not just as recipients of aid.

He explained that the project intended to examine the extent to which the displaced population was drawing from the experiences and consequences of the insurgency and counterinsurgency.

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