THE Presidential Initiative on the North East could not account for N2.5 billion from the money in its possession till date.
This came to the fore when when officials of PINE, put together by President Muhammadu Buhari, appeared before the Senate on Tuesday.
PINE, according to its mandate, is to oversee the reconstruction and rehabilitation of communities destroyed by Boko Haram in the North East.
While the Secretary of PINE, Umar Gulani, claimed that N203 million was spent on clearing grass somewhere in Yobe State, stakeholders from the state, led by the state’s Commissioner for Information, Mohammed Lamin, disputed this.
Lamin said: “No taipa grass was cleared in the state by any Federal Government agency.”
Also, Gulani’s claim on clearing of invasive plants species around river banks in the state at the cost of N253 million by PINE was denied by the commissioner and other Yobe State officials.
They also denied the N422.5 million the PINE official claimed was spent on the provision of temporary shelter (tents) for some families in the state.
Also dismissed was the claim by the presidential initiative that it had spent millions of naira on the renovation of about 18 schools completely wiped out by the Boko Haram insurgents in Yobe State.
Lamin said only three schools had been renovated in the state by agencies outside the state.
The Senate Committee told the leadership of PINE to forward to it all documents, including photographs, of claimed executed contracts within one week.
The lawmakers asked why a paltry sum of N2 million was spent by the initiative to feed Internally Displaced Persons, while it donated N50 million to a non-governmental organisation as stated in PINE’s statement of account.
A member of the Senate Committee, Senator Theodore Orji, said: “The affected states said they were not aware of all the contracts executed by PINE.
“You people just decided to make money and that is why you decided to donate N50 million for a conference organised by an NGO.”
Another member of the committee, Senator Ben Murray-Bruce, said when the lawmakers visited some IDP camps in the North East, many women cried out for provision of sanitary pads.
Murray-Bruce said this could have been taken care of if the N2.5 billion given to PINE out of the budgeted N5 billion had been well utilised.