23 lawmakers out of the 25-member in the Kogi State House of Assembly have signed an impeachment notice to remove the Deputy Governor of the State, Arc. Yomi Awoniyi over allegations of gross misappropriation of over N3 billion flood relief funds meant to alleviate the plight of the flood disaster victims since last year.
A source very close to the principal officers of the State legislature, who attended an exclusive extra ordinary meeting yesterday, said that the lawmakers were disenchanted with what he described as the nonchalant attitude of the Deputy Governor, who oversees the management of the fund as Chairman of the Flood Committee Relief Fund. According to the impeccable source, every effort to make the Deputy Governor render an account so far has proved abortive.
According to the lawmakers, one year after flood devastated some communities in Kogi State, as reported in some sections of the media and quoted vividly that most of the flood victims are still lamenting the neglect from the state government in addressing their plight, stressing that they are really suffering.
The lawmakers said their investigations have buttressed the writings of reporters, who visited the affected areas. Further visits round some of the affected communities scattered around the nine affected Local Government areas “showed the victims are still grappling to return to normal life. Pains, anguish, stress, anger are on their faces. Some of the victims who spoke in agony to Saturday Vanguard who was on the entourage of The National Orientation Agency (NOA) to some affected LGA lament their plight saying government promises are yet to see the light of the day as hunger, sickness and poverty have taken them over”.
The lawmakers further confirmed the flood Victims ordeals in various areas under specific media reference to include Ichalla Ajode community in Ibaji Local government, the victims lamented bitterly that their children have stop going to school since the only primary school in the community was destroyed by the flood and they have no money to take their wards to Idah which is the nearest town with schools.
Spokesperson for the community, Mr. Joseph Arewa had earlier told reporters that “the farm seedlings promised by the state government as a post flood assistance did not reach them (pointing to one bag of rice seedlings on the ground). “ This bag of rice seedling was provided by the European Union and that is the only available farm seedling since the flood.”He expressed.
Mr. Arewa who recounted the experience of the flood said the flood left bitter pills too difficult to swallow. “During the flood we shifted a lot. We have to move to Idah for safety. After the camping, we return back to the community and we are yet to receive anything from the government.
We are still pleading to the state government to come to our aid because we need assistance. The flood met us unaware and because we did not prepare for it that was why the devastation was much. More than 50 houses were destroyed by the flood.
In Ejule – Onu community in Ibaji Local Government, Elder Isaac K. Abah lamented the neglect of government to their plight and the ‘politicising’ of the money released by the state government.
“Even while we are at the camp we were poorly fed. It is by the grace of God that we survive till date. I commended the effort of the Catholic Church for giving us adequate assistance at St. Boniface camp. They provided us with clothing materials, food and some other items; but the Federal Government assistance is what we are yet to see up till now. Even the State Government we only heard that they loaded trailers of fertilizers and other food stuff but as I’m talking to you the community has not gotten a single item.
Continuing he said, “The N20 million given by the state government to the LG is yet to reach our community. Some weeks ago when they ask us to converge in Idah for the disbursement of the money, we got there only to hear that the DLG of the LG who was supposed to handle the fund has gone to bury his father. It is three weeks now, we are yet to hear anything again.”
Elder Abah who said the community after the flood received only 10 bags of rice which was share a mudu per household stressed that the well in the community was sunk by communal effort since they have waited long without seeing one out of the 23 boreholes promised by the State government.
He also hinted that four lives were lost after returning from the camp as a result of lack of medical facilities and absence of health care centre. However in Ofodo community in Igalamela-Odolu Local Government, one of the victims, Madaki Abu Jaja who said they are still battling with scarcity of food and accommodation lamented that the money ascribed to their local government was used for political purpose.
Visibly angry, he said that “there was selective distribution of the money. Those whose houses were not even affected by the flood were given N20, 000 because of their political influence towards the forthcoming council election. Can you believe that our pictures placed in the list of those affected were substituted with others?
They refused to make the village head or the youth leader part of their committee. When they came, they said they have their own list which was different from the one compiled by the community. Only ten household received N20, 000 and they left. It is divide and rule system”.
The story was not different in Ofoachi community in Igalamela -odolu LG as the village head, Alhaji Musa Khadir called on the Federal Government and State government to look into their plight and provide them with farm seedling, accommodation so that they can return back to normal life.
It is alleged that since last year, Deputy Governor of the State and Chairman of the Relief Fund Committee, is said to have misappropriated cash donations meant to ameliorate the plight of the victims judiciously. The breakdown of cash donations is as follows:
(a) Private individuals and Organisations – N253, 192,704.10
(b) Federal Government flood relief fund – N500, 000,000.00
C. Alhaji Aliko Dangote – N430 million
“In response to the plight of affected persons, Kogi State Government has provided relief assistance in the following forms:
Establishment of Camps in the nine affected Local Government Areas. The total number of displaced persons at the 87 camps set up after the flood was 73,000. In addition to the donation of relief materials from private organizations, Kogi State also provided feeding and medical assistance for inhabitants of the camps for a period of six months that ended in February 2013; when the last camp at Federal Housing Estate, Lokoja was closed long after camps in other affected states were closed.
On winding down the last camp, each of the families was given the sum of N50, 000 to assist them in finding alternative accommodation. Each family was also given a 50kg bag of rice and other condiments to supplement their feeding. bulk cash assistance to the affected local government areas funds were provided to the nine affected local government areas to assist in the human recovery efforts while the state government intervenes in critical sectors like reconstruction and the provision of social infrastructure. Drawing on the principle of categorisation by ‘extent of disaster’ adopted by the Federal Government, the State government divided the local government areas into three categories- Categories A, B and C.
The local govt. areas according to the categories and questionable amounts received or not accurately given as reported in the media are:
A: Bassa, Ibaji, Lokoja – N20 million each; B: Idah, Ajaokuta, Kogi – N15 million each while Igalamela, Ofu and Omala Lg received N10 million each. While FHA camp received N4.5 million totaling N139.5 million .
These monies shared by the state government to flood victims had continued to generate controversy with many affected communities wallowing in the ordeal of having not yet gotten anything. The lawmakers also observed that some communities were given selective disbursement, while some victims rejected the stipends on grounds that it gives them more excruciating pain after all their losses that and could not address their plight. Most flood victims were discovered to have received only the sum of N3, 000 despite the degree of their ecological disaster due to this alleged mismanagement of the relief fund.
Investigations, according to the lawmakers revealed that the relief funds got ‘lost or stolen out rightly’ between the committee set up by the State government headed by Deputy Governor Yomi Awoniyi and the subcommittee which was supposed to ensure the judicious disbursement of the cash donations. It is on these grounds that the lawmakers have plotted to impeach the Deputy Governor, possibly at the next sitting of the Assembly, come Tuesday, October24, 2013, the penultimate date meant to execute the plot.