ABUJA – Presidential Spokesman, Garba Shehu, has said President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration will ensure the timely release of the Ecological Fund to States to address pressing ecological challenges in their localities.
Shehu, who is the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, disclosed this in a statement issued in Abuja yesterday.
The statement, which was signed by Mr Atta Esah, Deputy Director (Information), State House, said Shehu spoke at an audience participation programme on FRCN Kaduna, entitled: `Hannu Da Yawa’.
He pledged that the Buhari administration would continue to assist flood victims across the country.
The Presidential aide added that the administration would under no circumstances abandon its humanitarian obligations to alleviate the distress of flood victims.
‘‘In spite of Nigeria’s technological limitations and the paucity of funds to handle or manage large scale and complex emergencies, the APC administration will leave no stone unturned in offering succour to victims of natural disasters across the country,’’ he said.
According to Shehu, it is the right of citizens to demand the judicious use of the Ecological Fund, which is distributed among the three tiers of government from the Federation Account.
‘‘The largest chunk of the Fund goes to the States and Local Governments. Every month, States and Local Governments receive 1.4 per cent from the Federation account as Ecological Fund, compared to the Federal Government’s share of one per cent.
‘‘From the one per cent the Federal Government gets, NEMA takes 20 per cent for its operation,’’ he said.
He noted that lately, disaster management in the country was gradually being ceded to the Federal Government by other tiers of government.
‘‘Whenever there is an emergency from natural or man-made disasters, all you hear is ‘where is Buhari, what is he doing?
“What happens with the other tiers of government?”
The Presidential aide, therefore, enjoined Nigerians, at the state and local government levels, to always demand for transparency and accountability in the management of ecological funds by their Governors and Local Government Chairmen.
‘‘Without accountability by local political leaders, the Federal government would continue to be the scapegoat for the failure of states and local governments to use ecological funds for the purposes they were released,’’ he said.
Shehu said the Presidential Committee on Flood Relief and Rehabilitation had also been mandated to step up the provision of relief infrastructure to those in need.
President Buhari, had on August. 31, directed the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) to immediately mobilise personnel and resources to come to the aid of the victims of the flooding in Benue where over 100,000 persons were displaced and many communities submerged as a result of downpour in the state.