The House of Representatives has queried the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) over its rejection of the World Food Programme (WFP)’s rice donation offer to Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), but rather decided to purchase 5000 metric tonnes of rice for the same purpose.
The lawmakers said it is dubious that rather than convince the WFP to patronise local rice processors to generate revenue for the country and boost agriculture, NEMA decided to use public funds to purchase the rice and hand over to WFP for free.
But NEMA’s Acting Director, Relief and Rehabilitation, Mr Kayode Fagbemi, who represented the Director General, Engineer Mustapha Maihaja, told the lawmakers that President Muhammadu Buhari gave the Agency approval to split the 10,000 metric tonnes of rice for the IDPs into two and give one part to WFP for faster food distribution.
Tempers flared at the hearing when Kayode snubbed the lawmakers’ enquiry on the rationale behind such decision. Hon Mohammed Nur Sheriff, representing the worst hit areas of Bama/Ngala/Kalabalge in Borno State had raised concerns over where the items were supplied given allegations that the IDPs have not received them.
In an earlier hearing by the Committee, five of the six state governments that were supposed to receive the rice had complained about not receiving any rice consignment from the food intervention programme.
The Committee members also sought to know where a quotation allegedly made by Olam Nigeria Ltd for supply of eight metric tonnes of rice, which was presented by NEMA to the committee, emanated from since Olam duly denied given any quote to NEMA prior to his engagement for the contract.
Representative of Olam, Vice President, Rice, Reggie George, had in a presentation to the committee, explained that his company only knew about the contract through the Ministry of Agricultural during a meeting of Rice Processors Associations of Nigeria (RPAN) and though he did not bid or quote for the contract, an award letter came to the company from NEMA to supply rice worth N2.4 billion.
In his submission, representative of APM Terminal, Mr Daniel Odigbe, said as a terminal operator, 271 containers of rice were received and stored but all the containers have left the port after being cleared by the agency.
He said the rice shipment, received between June (50 containers), August (120 containers), September (40 containers) and October 2017 (61 containers), incurred a total demurrage of N389,781 million for storage and delivery.
APT granted waivers to the tune of N183 million based on request by NEMA and the fact that the containers were meant for IDPs and received N206 million as total payment for storage, delivery and handling cost.
Representative of MAX Nigeria Ltd, the local branch of Maxline, China, Ms Blessing Ebri, said while making a presentation before the committee that a total of N200 million was paid for demurrage for the rice which landed in the port of Lagos in June, 2017, along with a standard import charge of N17 million, after several negotiations with NEMA for waivers which the company agreed to.
Also appearing at the hearing, Dangote Company told the Committee that it was not involved in rice distribution to IDPs, neither were they engaged by NEMA. The company said it was only engaged by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in June 2016 and given N2 billion to mop up maize from farmers for off-season use, which they did and later released to NEMA on the apex bank’s directive.