Abuja-based non-governmental organisation (NGO), Connected Development (CODE), has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to probe transactions related to the N9.2 billion National Clean Cookstove Scheme (NCCS).
Chief Executive of CODE, Hamzat Lawal, stated in a circular that, after over six months of frequent engagement with stakeholders both in private and public sector on the issue government should take a closer look into the disagreement between the Federal Ministry of Environment and Integra Renewable Energy Services Limited (the official contractor handling the project) in order to reinforce the objective of the scheme.
The Federal Executive Council (FEC) in November, 2014 under the reign of former President Goodluck Jonathan approved the above sum (of N9.2 billion) as an intervention fund to procure 750,000 clean cookstoves and 18,000 wonderbags to mitigate the environmental as well as health hazards caused by the use of wood to generate energy for cooking food which, according to World Health Organisation, accounts for the death of over 95,000 women annually in Nigeria. This is the third highest killer after Malaria and HIV.
“Our latest assessment report on the execution of the exercise titled When State Agents Becomes Kleptocratic Women Are Deprived of Alternatives, vehemently oppose the intrigues that led to the contractor institutionalising a court case against the ministry to protest plots to terminate the contract,” Lawal said.
“The 15-page document urges President Buhari to find out exactly where the money is and how it was spent.
“It’s already over 256 days since this announcement, and 120 days after some of the funds were released to the Federal Ministry of Environment, the fate of 750,000 rural households that were supposed to enjoy from the benefit of this project still remains hanging.”
Lawal, who is also the Co-Founder of Follow The Money, noted that the Ministry of Environment confirmed receiving the sum of N5 billion after series of campaigns on the importance of the scheme in curbing the incessant felling of trees to generate fire for cooking and also reduce the quantity of smoke that poisons food as well as pollutes the atmosphere.
“While responding to our Freedom of Information Act (FoIA) letter, the contractor confirmed that it received N1.2 billion from the Ministry of Environment to procure clean cookstoves, although the clean cookstoves exhibited were not newly procured from our findings, N3.7 billion was confirmed by the Permanent Secretary, Fatima Mede, to be in the account of the Ministry of Environment, while we could not ascertain how the Ecological Funds Office has utilised the remaining N4 billion.
“It is noteworthy to state at this point that the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC), Nigeria’s agent of horizontal accountability, has been an ally since we started monitoring the execution of this programme, and they have every bit of information concerning it.
“While kicking the status quo from its point of equilibrium using various strategies to ensure that this initiative doesn’t toe the part of others, we are still hoping that the ICPC will take pro-active steps after being part of the processes we have initiated to address the uncertainties beclouding the successful implementation of this exercise,” declared Lawal.