Professor Babagana Zulum of Borno State has expressed shock at claims of financial assistance and executed projects by foreign NGOs in the state.
He in fact stopped short of accusing officials of the organisations of using the humanitarian crisis in the state to enrich themselves.
Governor Zulum handed down the warning during an emergency meeting he held with leader of European Union, Mr. Laban Onismas, officials of Plan International, UNICEF and Save the Children at the Government House, Maiduguri on Friday.
During the meeting, the governor disclosed as false claims by some of the NGOs, such as Mercy Corps International (MC) and the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) that they had drilled boreholes and constructed houses in Maiduguri Metropolis, Jere and Gwoza Local Government Areas in the state.
He said: “My sad experience is with Mercy Corps and NRC. I reviewed their activities, after validation, I observed that Norwegian Refugees Council (NRC) claimed and reported that it has drilled 150 boreholes in Jere Local Government alone, which was far from the truth, while Mercy Corps which claimed to have constructed 350 houses in Gwoza as reported was untrue. As it was only one house that was erected by the organization in Gwoza alone.”
“As government we will seat down and review this budget of N20 million Euros. If the budget is in tandem with the demands of the Borno State Government, fine, we are willing to work with you, but if the reverse is the case, then we will not mind if you can shift your intervention to other state or country. If you are ready to change, we are ready to work with you, but if you are not ready to change, then we are ready to change you,” he added.
The N20 million Euros under reference was approved by the European Union for intervention in the state for the period of three years (2019- 2021).
According to governor Zulum, any international NGO operating in the state would have to accept close government supervision and participation in the projects earmarked for execution to ensure transparency and unnecessary duplication.
Zulum however singled for commendation “UNICEF for living up to the expectation of the state government and the traumatized citizens, especially million of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs).
” I want to commend UNICEF for living up to the expectation of the state government and the traumatized citizens, especially million of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs). This is because, since I was in primary school, I used to hear of UNICEF, and they have remained with us as a very committed humanitarian organization.
“Plan International have been in Borno quite for sometime, but we have never met until today. I have strived to see you people since when I was Commissioner for Reconstruction, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (RRR), but you have refused to come to me so that we can have first hand information of your objectives. And this is what I want to correct for now as Governor for the betterment of Borno people.
” With this budget of N20 million Euros which you are part of the consortium for implementation, we are not going to accept it until we seat down again, review your plan budget, and if is not in tandem with our demands, we have the right to write objection to the EU.
“This is in accordance with the demands of our people. Chunk of intervention funds were channeled into psychosocial support, but I think as government we also have our demands.
“Already, the World Bank and the African Development Bank are given us psychosocial support, and if most of these International Non Governmental Organizations (INGOs) are doing same intervention, which means there is duplication of efforts and that is what we are trying to correct, “ he concluded.
Earlier, the leader of the EU Consortium, Mr. Onismas told the Governor that they were at his office to brief him on the plan interventions by the Europe on Union Consortium and the approved budget of N20 million Euros for humanitarian assistance in the education and other sectors in the state for period of three.