Eromosele Ebhomele

Two civil society groups, UK-based Tearfund and the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) have expressed “concerns that relief funds and materials allocated to cater for the needs of the displaced persons and victims of floods in several parts of the country are not reaching those who need them.”

The groups said this maltreatment is mostly due primarily to bureaucratic bottlenecks and corruption.

A whole town submerged in RIVERS: victims not getting help

The groups also lamented that apart from transparency issues, the reported government relief funds of around N17 billion given to the states and N3 billion that have been allocated so far to FEMA “are ridiculously small given the number of people and communities that have been so far affected.”

The groups in a joint public statement made on Sunday and signed by Tearfund Country Representative, Danladi Musa, and SERAP Executive Director, Adetokunbo Mumuni, said there was serious lack of transparency in the handling of the victims’ welfare.

“Lack of transparency and accountability in the use of relief funds and materials have continued to exacerbate the suffering and misery of people and communities who have been let down by their own government. This is double jeopardy for the victims who have lost everything.

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“We urge the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) to work together to ensure that critical resources and funds to cater for the needs of the flood victims are not diverted, and also investigate and prosecute any allegations of corruption in the disbursement of relief funds and materials.

“Both agencies should establish a Complaint Hotline where complaints can be reported on a toll-free telephone number,” the groups advised.

The civil society groups further advised the government of President Goodluck Jonathan to urgently provide the required leadership to ensure that the needs of the victims are swiftly met.

“Both the federal government and the states affected will have to demonstrate they can spend relief funds transparently and well if they want to really provide the much needed assistance to victims of the massive floods, and help in rebuilding the suffering communities.

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“Both the federal government and the affected states must ensure full transparency in aid flows, allocation, procurement and distribution process, and put in place a tracking system accessible to everyone.

“But the actual outputs of funds used must also be monitored. Donors and government institutions and other implementing agencies should strive to be accountable to the intended beneficiaries of reconstruction assistance.

“The federal and state authorities must involve affected communities, including women and vulnerable and marginalised social groups, in decisions relating to relief and reconstruction at all stages of the process.

“Both authorities should swiftly establish and fully fund community support programmes to assist in the rebuilding of community infrastructure and the restoration of livelihoods and human rights,” the groups also stated while advising donors, government and other implementing agencies to ensure that affected communities are provided with accessible and understandable information about relief and reconstruction efforts as well as about the relief and compensation benefits to which they are entitled.

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For over four months now, Nigeria has experienced severe flooding, which is considered as one of the worst to hit the country in recent times and which ravaged many parts of the country leading to loss of lives, farm lands, houses and other properties as well as displacement of people.

Early warning messages from the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) indicate that flooding would continue till November 2012.

Records from NEMA also show that at least 431 people have been killed and tens of thousands of hectares of farmland have been submerged since the start of July, raising concerns about food security.