Presidency budgets N60m again for grass cutting in N-East

Ebun Francis|| With controversy generated by the N200m grass cutting scandal that involved the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal yet to be resolved, Members of the House of Representatives were on Tuesday shocked that the Presidency budgeted another N60m for grass cutting in communities ravaged by the Boko Haram insurgency.

The said amount in the 2017 budget of PCNI is to cover contracts to cut “shrubs, grasses, and trees” along the Maiduguri-Mama Road alone.

The Chairman of the committee, Mr. Sani Zoro, and other members queried the allocation when the PCNI appeared before the House Committee on Internally Displaced Persons to defend its N45bn on humanitarian assistance, rehabilitation, and resettlement of displaced villagers.

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According to Zoro, “You can’t 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 N60m.”

The committee members were equally uncomfortable that most provisions in the N45bn budget were for “security” and procurement of equipment for military services.

Zoro continued, “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.”

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“Maybe, you must first give us the mandate of the PCNI. You have N184m for screening programme for humanitarian activities.

What does that mean?

“There is N150m on advocacy and early warning system and N165m for conflict management.

“You are going to deliver security equipment for N200m. What type of security equipment? Then another N2.5bn 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 have their own budget already.

“Why are you not talking about food, shelter, medical care and schools for these IDPs?