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‘Name kleptocrats in Buhari’s government or keep quiet’, presidency fires back at Ndume

NEWSMAN, Abuja – The presidency has fired back at former Senate Leader and incumbent Senator representing Borno South senatorial district, Ali Ndume for alluding in a press briefing that President Muhammadu Buhari was harbouring corrupt officials who had become “kleptocrats” through the distribution of palliatives for Covid-19 and the National Social Investment Programme, NSIP.

In a statement by the Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity to the President, Garba Shehu on Friday, the presidency denied the allegations describing such as “disappointing” and asked Senator Ndume to “name the kleptocrats around the president or be quiet.”

“The President has made it clear times without number that anyone who will not, cannot, or does not pull his weight – nor meet these exacting standards – is not welcome in his administration. A number of ranking officials have been shown the way out at various times simply on account of this”, Shehu said.

“Should any individuals be found to be serving themselves and not the people, then it is right and proper to call them out. But this must be done on the basis of evidence and proof – not on conjecture.

“It is therefore disappointing to hear a politician call out unnamed individuals in the administration and accuse them of unnamed transgressions. If this politician has evidence – then he should make public their identities as well as his proof. Innuendo is not proof”, the statement said.

Shehu went on to say that “simply claiming that the COVID-19 Palliative Measures Committee is not functioning as it should is not the same as presenting proof for such a claim.

“No one replaces an institutional government body in the midst of the global pandemic without clear and irrefutable evidence that it needs replacing. A press briefing from a discontented politician is rarely the source of such evidence.”

Ndume, an All Progressives Congress (APC) lawmaker had accused the federal government relief committee on Coronavirus headed by Humanitarian minister, Sadiya Farouq of fraud and also called for its immediate disbandment at a press briefing. 

The senator alleged that the committee lacks the credibility to manage the huge resources at its disposal, as he expressed disappointment that President Buhari did not announce the disbandment of the committee during his last national broadcast “despite the outcry of many Nigerians who expressed dissatisfaction about the minister’s led committee.”

Senator Ndume stated that President Buhari will be ”smearing what remains of his goodwill”  if the committee is allowed to continue disbursing palliatives meant for the poorest of the poor Nigerians amid the Coronavirus pandemic. 

He told journalists; 

“I’m not trying to make allegations against the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management, and Social Development; what I’m saying are facts. 

“If they will continue with the way they are doing now, they had better not distribute the palliative at all because it’s a fraud.

“My concern now is the manner and ways the palliative measures taken by the president are being executed. We have received numerous complaints and it’s very unfortunate. Left to me, I’m calling for the so-called Humanitarian committee headed by the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs to be disbanded immediately and the president should set up a task force to handle issues of palliatives.”

Pointing out the lopsidedness of the disbursement, Senator Ndume added; 

“The task force under the Chairmanship of each state governor should include a Senator and House of Assembly member from each state, the Army, Police, Civil Defense, religious organization, Red Cross, Civil Society Organisations to ensure the distribution of the palliatives; I don’t mind the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and members of Social Investment Programmes as members.

“Imagine Zamfara state, which happens to be the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs’ home state, has 291, 629 households and 1, 341,153 individuals captured under the National Social Register of Poor and Vulnerable households for March 2020, leaving Sokoto State which is adjudged as the poorest state in Nigeria with a paltry 3,347 households and 18, 435 individuals. Borno has only 7,130 households and 33,728 individuals.

“I have reliable information that even names they have generated is fake, the BVN is not fraud-proof, one person will generate thousands of names and after conniving with banks, they are issued BVN. Investigation will reveal all these.

“They have the names of their cooks, drivers, relatives, relatives of their house helps and those they call the poorest of the poor and give this money to them.

“I call on the press to join in the call to stop this callous act, you can imagine the situation our people are in at the moment, yet some people are rushing to either share or steal this money.”

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