Yusuph Olaniyonu; Abuja
Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, on Friday called for calm as the United Nations announced that it would be suspending aid deliveries in Nigeria after a United Nations International Children’s Fund (UNICEF) humanitarian convoy was attacked while travelling from Bama to Maiduguri in Borno State.
Saraki in a statement by his Media Office, condemned the attack in the strongest possible terms, stating that it was unacceptable to endanger the lives of aid workers, who were only trying to assuage the situation in the North East.
“This unfortunate situation has led to the United Nation’s temporarily suspending its rehabilitation-related aid deliveries to parts of the North East,” the Senate President said, while adding that “this is a major cause for concern as overtime, the Nigerian military has recorded significant successes in routing the insurgency and many foreign donor agencies have expressed their preparedness to join in the North East restoration efforts.”
Saraki further called for an immediate review of the security situation in the North East by the relevant authorities, stating that it was necessary to alleviate the concerns of international partners who are set to help rebuild the crisis-torn areas.
“I also urge our military, the Department of State Security and the Police, to commence an immediate security re-evaluation and review of the entire North East zone in order to allay the fears of our donor partners. The partners are important to Nigeria’s work to reposition the North East after months of decimation at the hands of Boko Haram”, he stated.
With the temporary suspension of the United Nations’ activities in the region, the Senate President called on the Presidential Initiative for the North East (PINE), National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and other relevant agencies to immediately address the shortfall that will arise from the cessation of donations of food and medicines.
“Effective action must be taken in the interim. We need to make sure that no lives are lost due to the temporary suspension of UN aid”, he added.
Saraki further called on the UN to resume its activities in North East as soon as possible, while reassuring Nigerians and the international community that the Senate would fast-track the passage of the North East Development Commission (NEDC) Bill, which aims to create a legislative framework and multi-state platform for the coordination of relief and donations to the zone. Following the submission of the Report of its Public Hearing by the Senate Committee on Special Duties, the bill Following the bill is awaiting third and final reading before being passed.
The Senate President had on July 18 led a delegation to Maiduguri in Borno State where he pledged that the Senate would look into the issue of malnutrition and shortage of medical supplies in the North East. DC Bill is currently awaiting its third and final reading in the Senate.
Two days later, through a Point of Order raised by Senator Baba Kaka Garbai (APC – Borno Central), the Senate discussed the issue of malnutrition in the North East and resolved that the Ministry of Finance should immediately release necessary funds to the North East while the Federal Government should begin coordination of private sector donations to the region.
During the debate on the motion, Saraki emphasised the need for a sustainable public-private-partnership driven approach to combat the issue of malnutrition, stressing that Nigeria did not need to lose more lives to the lack of food in the North East.