Lawmakers Decry N60m Grass-cutting Proposal For North-East
Nigeria’s House of Representatives on Tuesday decried the N60 million provided by the Presidential Committee on North-East Initiative (PCNI) in the 2017 Budget for weeding in communities ravaged by insurgency.
The amount is for contracts to “cut shrubs, grasses and trees” along Maiduguri-Bama road.
The house’s Committee on Internally Displaced Persons picked out the figure when the PCNI appeared before it to defend its N45 billion budget for humanitarian assistance, rehabilitation and resettlement of displaced villagers.
Chairman of the committee, Rep. Sani Zoro and other members expressed displeasure over the provision.
“You cannot travel this same way, awarding contracts on grasses again; it is not acceptable. Why can’t you assign this duty to the military to do it for you?
“They can use their personnel to clear the grasses and you can drop this idea of awarding contracts with N60 million.
“Your duty, from what we understand, is to provide succour for the displaced persons.
“These people are traumatised and they need urgent basic amenities as they return home. Rehabilitation has to do with their survival as human beings first,’’ Zoro said.
He challenged the PCNI to furnish the committee with its mandate, saying “You have N184 million for screening programme for humanitarian activities, what does that mean?
“There is N150 million on advocacy and early warning system and N165 million for conflict management.
“You are going to deliver security equipment for N200 million. What type of security equipment? Then another N2.5 billion for security outfits.
“Are you telling us that part of your role is to fund the operations of the military in the North-East? The military has its own budget already.
“Why are you not talking about food, shelter, medical care and schools for these IDPs?’’
A member of the committee, Rep. Adamu Kamale (PDP-Adamawa) said the N45 billion budgeted for the North-East was inadequate, but decried the provision of N8.4 billion out of the money for military operations.
Kamale argued that there was no justification for the proposal for the military in the budget.