Another corruption scandal may be staring the Muhammadu Buhari administration in the face following revelations that his Chief of Staff,Alhaji Abba Kyari, and the Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Hajiya Zainab Shamsuna-Ahmed are stealing billions of Naira
meant to rehabilitate the ravaged northeast.
This is as the administration pussy-foots on the report of a contract scam involving Kyari’s accomplice, the now suspended Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) Babachir Lawal.
The president had on October 26, 2016 inaugurated the Presidential Committee on North-east Initiative (PCNI). At the occasion, the president directed all government agencies involved in humanitarian action in the zone to collapse into PCNI, which he said would thereafter coordinate all efforts in the zone.
“PCNI “will be the apex coordinating body for all interventions in the region, including those by the public, private, national and international development partners…” and “is charged with the responsibility for developing the strategy and implementation of the framework for rebuilding
the North east region”, said Buhari.
A presidency official told Pointblanknews.com that, unknown to Buhari, his Chief of Staff (COS), as well as his Minister of State for Budget and National Planning had other ideas.
An official of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) from Borno State told Pointblanknews.com that Kyari, who hails from Bama, Borno State, had always wanted to control whatever federal government monies came into the northeast.
He said, “On four occasions Kyari flooded PCNI with his cronies. On each occasion, President Buhari rejected the draft. This explains why it took close to a year to inaugurate PCNI. When it became clear Kyari wouldn’t have his way, he bidded his time, springing up a devious scheme cloaked as “The Bama Initiative.”
He continued, “Kyari and Zainab Ahmed, who belong to Buhari’s kitchen cabinet, fraudulently set up what they call the “Bama Initiative” , an action plan known to only both persons, but through which they hope to steal all of the N48 billion approved by the National Assembly for
humanitarian efforts in the six northeast states”.
The states are Adamawa, Borno, Bauchi, Yobe, Gombe and Taraba. Pointblanknews.com investigations revealed that should feelers from the Ministry of Budget and National Planning be anything to go by, Kyari and Mrs Zainab Ahmed could in the coming months waltz to the banks with all of the N48 billion budgeted for the zone.
In what a ministry official called “testing the waters,” the Minister of State for Budget and Planning penultimate Friday released N5billion to the “Bama Initiative” whose chairman, interestingly, is the Chief of Staff.
“In the next few weeks, madam (Minister Zainab) will release the remainder of the N18 billion which they deceived Acting President Yemi Osinbajo into approving in Baba’s (Buhari) absence,” offered a ministry source.
According to the official, during Buhari’s medical leave, the Minister on July 28, 2017 wrote a memo to Osinbajo requesting the diversion of N18 billion out of the N48 bilion approved by the National Assembly for PCNI, to “Bama Initiative.”
The four-page memo which was entitled “Request for approval for constitution of funding for the Bama Initiative/It’s Presidential Steering Committee Project Implementation Committee and Procurement Committee “, the minister urged Osinbajo to approve the release of N18,227,065,037.50 “out of the N48 billion provided for Northeast Intervention Fund in the
According to the ministry official, “either to court the Acting President, or to allay his concerns,” Minister Zainab Ahmed in the memo disclosed that the Acting President had been appointed chairman of the steering committee of the “Bama Initiative “.
In the memo the minister said she would be chairperson of the project committee, while Kyari would chair the procurement committee. According to the source, Kyari’s strategy was to suck-in Osinbajo as the figurehead chairman of the steering committee while she and Kyari skim
off the funds.
Pointblanknews.com gathered that, not wanting to be further buffeted by Buhari loyalists who were accusing him of trying to oppose everything from their end, Osinbajo, on August 10, 2017 approved the minister’s memo. The approval was conveyed in a letter signed by Osibanjo’s deputy Chief of Staff, Ade Ipaye.
Noted the senior ministry official, “The Acting President acting either out of fear or ignorance. At no point during the budget defence at the National Assembly did Bama Initiative come up. Bama Initiative is Kyari’s personal property, a front for stealing monies meant to rehabilitate
internally displaced persons (IDPs).
“The Chief of Staff and my boss (Minister) had their minds made up to steal the Northeast money blind. First, they gave the impression that there was a fund called the Northeast Intervention Fund. This is a huge lie. It was created by the Minister to warehouse money from which they can
steal. The money ought to go straight to PCNI headed by the respected General T.Y.Danjuma.
“However, by cleverly creating a dubious account which she dubbed the Northeast Intervention Fund, the Minister of State, in concert with the Chief of Staff, have set the stage for controlling every kobo of the N48 billion budgeted by the National Assembly for the northeast.” he added.
A source in the office of the Accountant-General of the Federation (AGF) told Pointblanknews.com that his office released to ‘Bama Initiative’ penultimate Friday N5 billion out of the N18billion approved by the erstwhile acting president, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo.
Pointblanknews.com also gathered that, contrary to Buhari’s directive that, as far as all northeast humanitarian efforts are concerned, PCNI should coordinate, Kyari and Zainab-Ahmed have converted PCNI into a member of the ‘Bama Initiative.’
Scoffed an official of the officie of the Chief of Staff, “I feel so sorry for Mr. President. He is busy fighting corruption, not knowing that corruption springs from his bedroom.
“Can you beat the fact that Chief (of Staff) is chairman of the procurement committee of Bama Initiative, while the head of PCNI, to whom all government agencies and agents should be reporting to, has been reduced to a ‘member’, a typical case of the tail wagging the dog,” he
opined, stressing, with one Farouk Gumel as the taskmaster.
Continued the official, “in their wisdom federal lawmakers approved N48 billion for the entire northeast made up of six states of Borno, Adamawa, Yobe, Taraba, Bauchi and Gombe comprising 112 LGAs.
“However, Kyari and Zainab -Ahmed feel they know better hence they unilaterally cut out N18 billion or about a third of the entire budget for Bama, just one of the 112 LGAs. If this isn’t corruption and abuse of office, what is?” quarried the official.
Pointblanknews.com gathered that the fraud was worsened by the realization that the N5 billion released penultimate week was for “re-training” security personnel in the zone.
Minister Zainab Ahmed is believed to have been nominated minister by governor of her home state, Kaduna, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai. The 56-year old minister had served as General Manager of the defunct Nigerian Telecommunications Limited (NITEL), and later, Executive Secretary, Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI).
In late July 2015, shortly after Buhari’s inauguration, she had during a courtesy visit on the newly sworn-in El-Rufai, declared that NEITI’s checks revealed that between 2009 and 2012, Nigeria lost about 160 million barrel of crude oil valued at $13 billion.