The Presidential Committee on North-East Initiatives, PCNI, has decried the N45 billion proposed by the federal government to feed over 2.6 million Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs, in the 2017 budget as grossly inadequate.
Speaking during the delivery of food items to IDPs in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital, Ali Ndume, a senator who led members of the presidential committee to the state, said the amount was like “a drop in the ocean of need of the victims of Boko Haram insurgency in the Northeast.”
He asked the federal government to up its allocation to the victims of insurgency, insisting that the government of the country has to show to the rest of the world that it takes the welfare of its people seriously.
Ndume said it was not good enough that the country was contributing far less to the North East than the international donor agencies.
He suggested the sum of N108 billion as what is required to “effectively and efficiently intervene and feed” IDPs in camps and liberated communities of the affected states in Northeast sub-region of the country.
The lawmaker who led the team on visits to the Deputy Governor of Borno State, Usman Durkwa, the Northeast office of the National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, the Theatre Command headquarters of the Counter-insurgency operations in the Northeast and a school where blocks of classroom were rebuilt by the PCNI, asked the federal government to review upwards it’s budgeted expenditure on the victims of Boko Haram.
“We want to use this opportunity to also ask the Borno state government to join us, members of the National Assembly, that are crying out to the Government and to the leadership of the Upper and Lower Chambers to increase the budget for intervention in Northeast from N45 billion to N108 billion,” he told the deputy governor.
He equally lamented that the Nigerian Government last year budgeted only N12 billion while it proposed a paltry N45 billion in 2017.
He said this was unfortunate as the allocation was grossly inadequate, stressing that “the contributions of the international community in the humanitarian crisis we have in the Northeast is more than that of the government.”
Citing the United Nations Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance, UN-OCHA, Ndume said: “UN-OCHA has budgeted $1.05 billion (N300 billion) for 2017.
In December last year, $449 million was also contributed by the international community.
“That also represent an equivalent of N130 billion, compared to the N45 billion budgeted by Federal Government this year to feed the displaced persons in the affected North-East sub-region.”
Ndume called on Federal and State Governments to at least take the lead or match what the international community is doing to the “traumatized and displaced” persons in the region.
He however noted that there is light at the end of tunnel, as President Muhammadu Buhari is committed to addressing the challenges of feeding and resettling IDPs.