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Northern zones under siege, says Senate

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The growing insecurity in parts of the country came to the fore again in the Senate on Thursday.

The upper chamber particularly lamented the increasing humanitarian crisis in the Northeast, Northwest and Northcentral geo-political zones.

The humanitarian crisis in the regions, it said, was being fueled by Boko Haram and Islamic State in West African fighters in Northeast, farmers/herders clashes in the Northcentral and rampant cases of banditry and kidnapping activities in the Northwest region.

Adopting a motion sponsored by Mohammed Ali Ndume, titled: “The dire state of humanitarian crises in Nigeria, especially in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states,” the Senate asked the Federal Government to pay more attention to the humanitarian crisis caused by growing insecurity.

Ndume, in his lead debate, described the realities on the ground in the Northwest zone.

The Borno South senator put the number of people in need of humanitarian assistance in the Northeast at over 7.1 million.

Ndume put the number of people in need of food in the area at 2.7 million.

He added that underfed children stood at 1.1 million.

The lawmaker noted that about $1.2 billion (N420 billion) is required to address the humanitarian crises as soon as practicable.

Ndume said: “The humanitarian crisis caused by Boko Haram and ISWA in the Northeast, Northwest, farmers-herders clashes in the Northcentral region and rampant cases of banditry are of concerns.

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

As part of measures to address the distressing issue, the Senate asked the Federal Ministry of Finance to release funds to National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and Refugees Commission to enable them to deal with the humanitarian crises.

The upper chamber also resolved to hold a conference on Northeast humanitarian issue aimed at finding ways and means to address them.

Senate President Ahmad Lawan frowned at some government agencies responsible for the management of funds donated by donor agencies.

Lawan warned that the mismanagement of funds must stop in the interest of the affected persons.

Senate President particularly took exception to the practice of using the bulk of the money received from donor agencies for overhead by those responsible for the implementation of the intervention programmes

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

“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.

“We get from within and from foreign donors, but there is a lack of focus and prudence in the use of the 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.

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

 

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