[The Legislative Blog]: Like PINE, like PCNI…presidency budgets N60m for grass clearing in North East

While we’re still very much on the matter of the N200million grass-clearing contract awarded by the Presidential Initiative for the North-East (PINE) to a company owned by the Secretary General of the Federation, Babachir Lawal, the PCNI has just made a similar move.

Members of the House of Representatives were thrown into utter disbelief at their sitting on Tuesday when they found that the Presidential Committee on North-East Initiative (PCNI) has budgeted N60million for another grass clearing contract in North East towns recovering from the Boko Haram insurgency.

According to reports though, not all the affected towns will benefit from the N60million exercise. The contract covers “shrubs, grasses and trees” along the Maiduguri-Mama Road alone.

The PCNI appeared before the lower chamber today to defend its N45billion budget for humanitarian assistance, rehabilitation and resettlement of displaced villagers.

Apart from the N60million set aside for clearing grass, PCNI also wants to deliver security equipment worth N200million. This means what exactly? Oh! The agency also wants to spend N2.5billion on security outfits and N150million on advocacy.

Chairman of the House Committee on Internally Displaced Persons, Mr Sani Zoro could not hide his shock at the figures allocated towards meaningless projects. He questioned the agency on why it wasn’t trying to provide basic facilities to the IDPs.

The PCNI was inaugurated by President Buhari to provide effective coordination and guidance towards addressing the humanitarian crisis, the resettlement and reconstruction of the North East. It now seems that it is treading the same path as PINE which was initiated during the Goodluck Jonathan administration. We expect that this N45billion will be rejected and the agency will face intense scrutiny by the House Committee.

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