Ed Malik, A / September 2, 2022
Following outrage by the disclosure of an official of Jigawa State that the government had shared over N192.96 billion to pregnant women and lactating mothers, civil rights advocacy group, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria, (HURIWA) on Friday, asked the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission to probe the administration of Governor Abubakar Badaru.
Supporting the HURIWA action, the claim of the humongous amount seems to suggest that the pregnancy industry is booming in Jigawa State as to make the government to spend that mind-numbing amount that could have been used to develop key infrastructure and even hospitals which hold better value for the women, lamented Lagos-based media/legal practitioner, Barrister Mack Ogbamosa.
HURIWA’s national coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, in a statement, said the claim is unbelievable, outrageous and allegedly another possible means to siphon taxpayers’ funds, saying the public should not be swayed with the gimmicks of the state government.
Recall that the Jigawa State Government said it spent N192.96 billion to implement its Maternal and Child Cash Transfer programme between November 2021 and June 2022.
According to reports, the Executive Secretary of the Jigawa State Rehabilitation Board, Ibrahim Rabakaya, on Wednesday, disclosed this during an event.
Rabakaya said the intervention targeted 5,740 beneficiaries – pregnant women and lactating mothers, for conditional cash transfer across the 287 political wards in the state.
He also said that N4 million was expended as extra charges, N688.8 million on bank charges, and N4.59 million on automated teller machines cards.
Reacting, HURIWA’s Onwubiko said: “The claim that the Jigawa State Government shared N192.96 billion to pregnant women and lactating mothers is outrageous and highly unbelievable.
Governor Abubakar Badaru must tell Nigerians how many millions of women are pregnant in the state because the amount spent appeared to have been used for all pregnant black girls globally.
“As every other government expense, the state government should transparently release the list of beneficiaries of the humongous money, the bank used to distribute the fund and other important details like their medical history. Nigerians won’t be beguiled by such blatant insult on our collective intelligence like the government, saying it spent N688.8 million on bank charges! Who is fooling who?
“Whilst HURIWA supports United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal 3 which is to “ensure healthy lives and promote well-being of all at all ages”, corruption under any guise should NEVER be condoned and where there are reasonable suspicions that some things do not add up, then the relevant national antigraft agencies should ask the most relevant questions to ascertain whether there are skeletons in the cupboard and then sweep them away through lawful means.
HURIWA, therefore, urged the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission to probe the Jigawa State Government and its spending of N192.96 billion on pregnant women. This is election season and politicians are craftily moving out money under spurious guises. The anti-graft agency must bring an end to this trend.
“Also, the EFCC must let Nigerians know why it is yet to arrest the Peoples Democratic Party’s governorship candidate in Rivers State, Siminialayi Fubara, who is yet to be arrested months after he was declared wanted over N435 billion fraud, and after he escaped arrest.”
“The law must respect nobody if indeed the war against graft is to be taken seriously. We are asking the EFCC if the powerful politician has also secured a permanent ban through the courts on the EFCC to treat him as an untouchable sacred cow or not.
“The ominous silence from the EFCC’S end and the heightened political environment in Rivers State show that may be some secret arrangements may have been reached as alleged in some circles. The EFCC should tell Nigerians the status of that matter which they themselves brought to the public square on their own or do they expect us to just watch and make no demands for accountability?”, he queried.