Governor Zulum says UN, INGOs not transparent with donor funds spending

With over $3 billion donor funds so far received (from 2017 date) by the UN and INGOs aid to render humanitarian services in Borno and parts of Northeast Nigeria, the state governor, Babagana Zulum, said more impact would have been made if parts of the monies are not diverted.

Governor was in his usual blunt element on Wednesday when he told two leading donor governments, the USA and the UK that he has proofs suggesting that a portion of the monies their countries are donating don’t reach the target populace because it is being cornered to private pockets.

The United Nations Office forr the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) has confirmed that it has so far received over $3 billion donor fund from 2017 to date.

The Humanitarian Times can confirm that an estimated $1.01 billion is being appealed under the 2021 Humanitarian Response Plan for Nigeria alone. And so far about $340 billion has been generated.

But Governor Zulum is saying that at least 30% of the donated funds usually get diverted by those whose responsibility is to manage the hard-earned scarce resources.

The governor who made this revelation while receiving a delegation of top diplomats from US and UK in his office on Wednesday said he worries about the depth of corruption ravaging the way and manner donor funds are managed in Borno state.

Short of calling names of some of the UN agencies and the INGOs, the governor informed the visiting ambassador to the US Mary Beth Leonard and the UK High Commissioner, Catriona Laing, said the only way out for their donations can get to the targetted population in need is for the UN and INGOs to work with Borno state government who should also institute an independent project monitoring body to check how transparent the funds are being used.

“You see, funding is very critical; and how the government and people of Borno state benefit from these funding is also very critical,” Governor Zulum said. 

“The participation of the state government is important- the bottom-top approach is very key. 

“Without the participation of the state, the funding will not reach the desired target population. 

“In fact, I am very much known for my transparency, there was never a time, from my time as commissioner for RRR, that I diverted a single kobo belonging to the donor agencies. 

“We are not looking for some… cash from you. But what we want to do is that we want Borno state to take leadership. This is very key. You may announce some heavy donations, but if this money is left unchecked, believe me sincerely, 30 percent of this funding will not go to the target population. 

“What I am telling you is that we shall work together with a view to meeting our objectives of closing the camps. The UN system will be with us so that the money can be channeled appropriately. 

“These are tax payers’ money, so there must be transparency in the system.  Honestly, I don’t want to mention names, but I keep on saying that there is corruption in the system! and why there is corruption is because we are not involved from the beginning. 

“If we were involved we would try as much as possible to be transparent, and to give the sense of understanding in the system. There must be an independent monitoring team. There is no way you can be funding, executing and monitoring your own activities. The major issue is the donation, of which we remain eternally grateful to all of you. But the big challenge is how do we ensure that the funding goes to the critical mass of the population – the deserving ones.

“There is no way you can go on to determine the target population without the government!  The UNDP did it under the stabilization facilitation project and they involved us. We went there and started screening the beneficiaries together. But there are some INGO or donor partners who just don’t want to talk to us! 

“We have a lot of complications caused by the INGOs – one person is receiving ten support from ten different organizations! We say no to that. And again, as I said, that was why some INGOs don’t want to partner with the government of Borno state, because we will insist on telling them ‘no’, this is not right. 

“So as long as I am the governor of Borno state I want to be seen to be doing the right thing. I want to be transparent with you and I want to partner with you, but there is a need for us to set things right when it comes to managing donor funds. These donor funds coming from you people, are taxpayers’ money, with which is coming from you people to help us; we too want to help you to ensure that the objectives of your donations are met without any problem.” 

The delegation had earlier acknowledged the ongoing insecurity in the region, and how “the protracted conflict in Nigeria has affected the Lake Chad Region, including its neighbouring countries of Cameroon, Niger and Chad for over 10 years”. 

The UN and the INGOs have not responded to the claims of the governor at the time of filing this report .

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