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Published On: Thu, Apr 26th, 2018

IDPs: “N2.4b rice donated by China intact”

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By Mashe Umaru Gwamna

Information came yesterday that the 135,500 bags of rice donated to the Federal Government by the Chinese Government were not diverted afterall.
The Director-General of the National Emergency Management Agency(NEMA), Engr. Mustapha Maihaja who gave the indication said the bags of rice were worth N2.4billion with a little above N400million demurrage paid for clearance.
Maihaja said no bag of rice meant for Internally Displaced Persons(IDPs) was either missing or diverted at the ports.
The bags of rice are being kept in warehouses in Maiduguri and Yola pending the completion of the clearance of the huge volume at the ports in Lagos.
Maihaja said although the clearance started in January, the delay was caused by the process of securing exemptions and waivers which the Federal Government was addressing.
The NEMA Director-General made the clarifications at a session on the continuation of a hearing on the operation of the agency by the Isa Ali-led House of Representatives Committee on Emergency and Disaster Preparedness.
Maihaja said the delay in clearance of goods at the ports was not peculiar to NEMA.
He said: “About 135,500 bags of rice, worth about N2.4billion, were donated to Nigeria by the Chinese Government. The actual clearance started in January and those already offloaded are being kept in warehouses in Maiduguri and Yola. The bags of rice were not missing and they were not diverted.
“The delay in completing the clearance was caused by inherent process including securing exemptions. Waivers and other clearance related matters.
“This delay in clearing government goods is not only peculiar to this exercise, it is applicable to many. The Federal Government has noted the inherent process in clearing goods and it is looking at eliminating the causative factors.
“As soon as the clearance is completed, the bags of rice will be offloaded and distributed to the IDPs.”
Maihaja explained in details the logistics involved in clearing the bags of rice.
He added: Maihaja said: “As soon as we secured the necessary documents, we liase with all relevant agencies concerned with clearing but we have to invoke Section 43 (1)b of the Emergency Act because the good has stayed for six months in the port.
“Secondly, it was a tough decision to take considering the situation we found ourselves in. We have to consider the condition of the people of the region that is North-East, who are in danger of hunger and famine. We also have to consider the condition of the rice too.
“We are still in the process of procuring the rest of the material, but we have taken poasession of 110 containers and they are in two locations in Maiduguri and Yola.
“We had to follow that pattern to save the item and the people.
“There are still some in the port but all expenses are incurred by NEMA, though we have not paid on clearing but a little above N400m have been paid on demurrrage for the total consignment.
“With all sincerity of purpose, the problem is about the process which involved three agencies. The process should be looked at”.
Maihaja said the delay in clearance of goods at the ports was not peculiar to NEMA.
The representative of the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Samuel Iloma a Deputy Director said being the recipient of the donation, the waiver certificates were processed for the consignment that came in five batches.

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