President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the release of N15 billion to implement the exit strategy and the immediate repatriation of the Nigerian refugees in the neighbouring countries of Cameroon, Niger and Chad displaced by the Boko Haram insurgency.
A breakdown of the amount shows that the sum of N6 billion was released to the Borno State Government; N3 billion to the Defence Headquarters; N2.5 billion to NEMA and N3 billion to the Refugee Commission for the first phase of the work of the Presidential Committee.
Consequently, the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, has directed all government agencies involved in the implementation of the work of the Presidential Committee on the Repatriation, Returns and Resettlement of Displaced Persons in the North-East to harmonise items needed and their prices in all procurements to be undertaken on behalf of the Committee.
Osinbajo, who is the Chairman of the Committee, also directed effective monitoring and evaluation of the implementation at a meeting he presided over today at the Presidential Villa.
He gave the directives during a meeting at the Presidential Villa, Abuja on Friday.
At the meeting, presentations were made by the Borno State Government, the Military, the National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons, and the National Emergency Management Agency
The Vice President, who expressed serious concern about the price differentials and the duplication of needs, directed that the Sub-Committee on harmonization of needs and prices should correct the situation.
He also directed that the Sub-Committee should be engaged with the task of effective evaluation and monitoring. He then specified that the Sub-Committee should work in consultation with Borno State Governor, who is also the Vice Chairman of the Committee Prof. Umara Babagana Zulum, regarding the harmonization of the needs and prices.
A statement by the Vice President’s spokesman, Laolu Akande quoted him as saying: “The President is very serious about the work of the Committee” emphasizing the need for judicious use of resources and transparency in the spending of the funds already released.
“It makes sense to have the already existing Sub-Committee liaise with the Governor of Borno State in order to streamline the needs and acquisition of requirements preparatory to the return of the IDPs.”
The meeting was attended by Borno State Governor Zulum, Governor of Gombe State, Muhammad Inuwa Yahaya; Chief of Staff to the President, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari; Director General of NEMA, AVM Muhammadu Alhaji Muhammed (Rtd.), and representatives of Chief of Defence Staff, Inspector General of Police, and other heads of agencies involved.
Speaking to journalists after the meeting, Governor Zulum said “the meeting is on the settlement of IDPs that are living in the Republic of Chad, Cameroon and Niger. Based on the recommendations of the Chairman of this Committee, the Vice President, the sum of N15 billion has been released to the Committee.
“We are here to discuss modalities of implementation, who does what. So far so good, a lot has been discussed, and many items will be procured so that the repatriation exercise will take place with immediate effect.
“More than 300,000 people have been repatriated, but under this phase, we are to begin the process. This is the 4th phase of the repatriation exercise which we shall embark on very soon. Guidelines were provided to respective agencies that are to handle this matter.”
Governor Zulum also disclosed that the modalities include what is to be given to the individuals in terms of food and non-food items. According to him, “what kind of houses shall we build, what is the transportation medium, what is the minimum threshold to return people from the neighbouring countries to Nigeria, these are some of the issues that we discussed according to international best practices.”