The 109 senators in the National Assembly have yet to fulfil their pledge to donate their December 2023 salaries to the victims of the 3rd of December accidental bombing of Kaduna villagers by the Nigerian Army.
The accident bombing by the troops hunting terrorists claimed the lives of over 100 innocent residents of the Tundun Biri community in the Igabi Local Government Area of Kaduna State.
In the wake of the accidental bombing, which generated an outcry across the country, many prominent individuals and government officials pledged monetary donations to assuage the pain and loss of the victims.
The Deputy Senate President, Barau Jibrin, during a condolence visit to Kaduna in December, pledged that the 109 senators would donate their December salary of N1m, amounting to N109m to the victims.
“We are here to represent the President of the Senate, Senator Godswill Akpabio, and indeed, other senators of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in order to sympathise with you and condole with you for the lost lives and those who sustained injuries in respect of the unfortunate incident that happened at Tundun Biri in Igabi Local Government Area of Kaduna some few days ago,” the Deputy Senate President said.
“It is on this note that we have decided that we are going to donate our salaries for a full month to be given to those who were affected by this incident. So, a total of N109m will be made available to the governor to be channelled to help bring succour to those affected by the unfortunate incident at Tudun Biri,” Jibrin added.
However, checks by Punchng revealed that the senators had yet to fulfil the pledge.
It was gathered that many other persons, who similarly pledged donations, had yet to redeem them.
The spokesman for the Senate, Yemi Adaramodu, confirmed that the lawmakers had yet to fulfil the pledge but said the delay was merely procedural.
“Any noticeable delay in the delivery of the Senate’s pledge to the victims of the unfortunate Kaduna State incident is merely procedural.
“We pledged December monthly salaries and these would come in January. We are still in January. Whatever commitment the Senate made to the Nigerian people shall be religiously fulfilled,” Adaramodu said.
Among those who pledged donations to the victims were the Northern Caucus of the House of Representatives, which pledged N350m projects for the area and a donation of N45m to the victims. The Northern States Governors Forum also pledged N180m.
The Kaduna State Governor, Uba Sani, set up a committee, headed by the Deputy Governor, Dr Hadiza Balarabe, to, among others, take “inventory of all the donations made by the Federal Government, National Assembly, Nigeria Governors Forum, Corporate Organisations and well-meaning Nigerians as well as develop a framework for disbursement of the funds and ensure prompt disbursement to actual beneficiaries.”
It was, however, gathered that a number of those who pledged donations, including the senators, have yet to fulfil their pledges.
A government official, conversant with the process, who spoke to Punchng on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak on the issue, said about N140m had been gathered but the disbursement to the victims was being delayed as many of those who made pledges had yet to redeem them nearly two months after the tragic incident.
To this end, he said, “A letter will be written by the committee to all of them (donors) who made pledges”.
The official added that another challenge before the committee was how to disburse the money to the victims of the disaster “without incurring the wrath of the bandits.”
“The bandits have written them (villagers) threatening their lives and the committee wants to avoid anything that would jeopardise the peace effort in that village for now,” he said.
He said, “The committee, after inauguration by Governor Uba Sani, has met twice so far. However, the fundamental challenge confronting the committee now is how to disburse the funds realised so far without the bandits knowing about it because the bandits are still threatening the people of the area.
“They have written them letters on that. So, the committee wants to see how they can disburse the funds quietly without anybody including the bandits knowing.
“What the committee has come up with now is to liaise with 1 Division, Nigerian Army, Kaduna and the Ministry of Interior to beef up security in the area.
“So far, the committee has received more than N140m. The state government has fulfilled its own promise. But some prominent people, especially politicians who announced their donation openly, withdrew quietly.
“The committee decides to follow up on those who are yet to fulfil their pledges but before then, the committee decides to go ahead to disburse the money they have received so far but the threat from the bandits is delaying the process.
“Sanusi Lamido and some few others have redeemed their own pledge. But the House of Representatives that pledged to N400m project has yet to do something about it. We don’t know the project they want to site in the area yet.”
Speaking with Punchng, Idris Dahiru, who lost 30 members of his family to the incident, said the victims had yet to receive anything from those who pledged donations.
He said, “We are eager to see development in our area after the unfortunate incident but not yet.
“We are expectant. We are not happy that some well-meaning Nigerians who promised donations publicly refused to redeem their pledges.
“We were informed that some of those who announced their donations publicly, on realising that they were using the funds to rebuild Tudun Biri, declined to redeem their pledges. Those in that category should come out and let the world know that they decline to redeem their pledges.
“The security situation in Tudun Biri is still a concern. We were told that a military formation would be established but that has not happened. There is still a security threat here in Tudun Biri and the earlier the government acted on the promise (military formation) the better for the community.”
Another victim of the incident, Aliyu Yakubu, said the village had yet to witness any development, except for the “clearance of the road” leading to Tudun Biri.
“Currently, the construction of the central mosque is ongoing here in our village. But since the clearing of the road a few days before Christmas and when men in military uniforms came to survey where they would establish (a military) formation, nothing is happening in Tudun Biri at the moment.”
On the disbursement of funds to victims, Ibrahim said they had yet to receive any funds from the government except relief materials, including foodstuffs.
“We were told that many who made pledges could not redeem their pledges,” he said.
Efforts to speak with government officials on the matter failed.