Must-I-offer? Who is the penny-pinching NEMA boss?

by Alexander O. Onukwue

There appears to be some reason to believe the apparent inefficiency of the relief efforts of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) is squarely due to the disposition of the Director General, Mustapha Maihaja.

According to an employee of the agency who anonymously spoke to the Punch, the new DG, since he became head of the agency in April 2017, “has been silent on approvals for different projects at the IDPs’ camps. There is now over N2 billion in NEMA’s account, but the DG has refused to release money for anything”

“If not that the President directed him to intervene in the Benue incident, he would have done nothing about it. In fact, the Benue incident is the first flood disaster that NEMA is trying to tackle since the agency got its new DG” the employee said.

Mr Maihaja was appointed to the headship of the nation’s main emergency agency in April after the former DG, Mohammed Sani-Sidi, had served the agency for seven years. Mr Maihaja obtained Bachelors in Electrical Electronics from the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) and assumed leadership of the agency at a period when the country was facing major emergencies involving Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in various parts of the country, according to a description of his profile in the Guardian.

The point where he is said to have chosen to intervene in Benue only at the instance of the President may have some history. Maihaja was a 2007 governorship aspirant in Yobe State, but that was after coordinating two of Muhammadu Buhari’s Presidential Campaigns in 2003 and 2007 in Yobe under the Buhari Organization. He has also served in various political committees in the country.

But his political involvement did not end in 2007, as he was recently said to have been expelled by the APC in Yobe state for abusing the party’s constitution. His expulsion was at the same time in June (but for a different reason) when the Kano state chapter of the party expelled suspended member of the House of Representatives from Kiru/Bebeji constituency, Abdulmumini Jibrin.

Could these political distractions be making the DG incapable of fully performing his duties in a very important agency like NEMA? The senior members of staff of the agency have threatened to go on strike which will significantly affect the pace with which the communities affected by the Benue floods will recover.


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