Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo says the approval of N5.8 billion emergency
food intervention fund for the north-east was within his constitutional
The house of representatives had indicted the governing board of National
Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) chaired by Osinbajo over what it
described as an “illegal approval”.
In a statement released on Friday by Laolu Akande, spokesman of the
vice-president, the approval was said to have become necessary because the
federal government needed to “urgently” purchase stored grains for
distribution to internally displaced persons (IDPS).
“These presidential approvals were well within the clear constitutional
authority of the Acting President, who needed to take emergency steps to
forestall acute food shortages in the affected States and there was
nothing illegal or unconstitutional about them. The approvals were duly
communicated by the Deputy Chief of Staff to the Governor of Central Bank,
Director General of NEMA and the Minister of Finance for implementation,”
the statement read.
He said the approval was based on a request raised via a letter dated May,
25, 2017, by Godwin Emefiele, the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria
(CBN), who served as facilitator of the national food security programme.
“In its report, the Committee alleged that a sum of N5,865,671,939.26 was
approved and released in June 2017 vide a Memo raised from the Office of
the Acting President, directing the Honourable Minister of Finance and the
Accountant General of the Federation to so act. The House Committee also
concluded that the payment made was in contravention of approval of the
National Assembly. This conclusion is both false and misleading,” he said
in the statement.
“To start with, it is important to understand the context of the
transaction. This was at a time when internally displaced persons and
their host communities faced very severe food shortages throughout the
North East, as a result of successive poor harvests and abandoned
farmlands, minimal cross-border cash crop trade and lost economic
“On 15th April 2017, the United Nations World Food Programme (UN WFP), a
major aid organisation and food supplier to the region, had issued a
warning that it would be reducing its vital support to about 1.8 million
IDPs by as much as 85%, due to corresponding reduction in funding by the
donor countries. Around the same time, the United Nations Commission for
Refugees in Geneva also warned of the growing risk of mass deaths from
starvation among people living in the conflict areas.
“The Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN). A Presidential Committee on
Emergency Food Delivery to the North East was convened and the Committee
met on the 13th of May, 2017 to kick off the process, with the then Acting
President as Chairman.”
The vice-president argued that section 43 of the public procurement act
makes provision for emergency procurement, in which case the procuring
entity is allowed to engage in direct contracting for goods and file a
report thereafter with the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPE).
He added that the suggestion that the grains were never delivered to the
target states is falsehood.