By Nick Dugba
The Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development, Sen. Aisha Jummai Alhassan, has called on the Taraba state Government, to ‘release the grains for distribution to the IDPs who have already been informed of the kind gesture of Mr. President’, saying, ‘I believe we can serve the people in our different ways and capacities without each party struggling to pull down the other’.
The Minister made this pronouncement during a press statement today, at her residence in Jalingo, on the heels of the controversy that heralded her arrival to Jalingo last week which pitched her against the government of Governor Darius Ishaku, concerning relief materials meant for distribution to the IDPs.
According to the Minister, the press release by the state government over the situation was false hence the need to set the ‘records straight’, saying ‘a falsehood unchallenged can potentially assume the status of truth in the minds of the unsuspecting public’.
She stated that the state government never intended to welcome her as “two political appointees of the government went to the Jalingo Airport in the morning of the 29th July before my arrival to intimidate, harass and lock out my supporters from the arrival lounge of the airport and prevented some from even entering the airport”.
She stated further that instructions given to her on the distribution of grains to IDPs were “clear and unambiguous. I was not instructed to partner with, or jointly conduct the assignment with the state government. In any case, other Ministers of the North East have successfully conducted distribution of the grains in their states without the states Government participating or even knowing”.
The Minister who just recovered from an undisclosed ailment, revealed that “letters were written by both NEMA and the Federal Ministry of Agriculture (from where the grains came from) authorizing the release of the grains to me to carry out the distribution assignment”.
“On my arrival in the state, I personally wrote and signed a letter to His Excellency, the Deputy Governor, who incidentally is the Chairman of SEMA because the Governor was out of town….I followed with a phone call to the Deputy Governor to inform him of my arrival and the letter I sent to his office and requested him to direct SEMA to release the grains”, she added.
She then wondered if her inability to pay courtesy call on the governor was the reason for denying the IDPs “who are in very dire need of the grains”.
When asked what she had to say on the alleged diversion of relief materials, she said, “I don’t have the facts that the grains have been tampered with, but it would be a shame if it had been tampered with”.
The former governorship hopeful however, noted that “if for any reason at any other time, I am given a Federal Government assignment to Taraba state that requires me to consult, partner, liaise, or solicit the support or help of the state government, I will be duty bound to do so without any hesitation”.
She regretted that up till this moment the government was yet to “volunteer any useful information on the availability of the grains to enable the committees already set up for the distribution to commence their work”.
She concluded by saying, “our people need the peace and tranquility to carry on their normal lives. In the final analysis, it is our service to the people that will endear us to their hearts and nothing else”.