Saturday, January 30, 2010

US Lawmakers Won't Donate to Haiti

By Festus Owete

A woman holds a young victim waiting to be treated at General Hospital January 29, 2010 in Port-au-Prince, Haiti Photo: REUTERS

Previously announced plans by senators and members of the House of Representatives to raise funds for victims of the recent earthquake in Haiti have failed, as some of the lawmakers have allegedly declined to make their donations two weeks after they announced their interest.

Some of the lawmakers say the contribution is unnecessary and that such donations should first be made towards rehabilitating victims of the recent sectarian crisis in Jos, the Plateau State capital.

The 360-member House, at its plenary session on Wednesday, January 20, resolved to contribute to the Haitians following the earthquake early this month resulting in the loss of hundreds of lives and destruction of properties.

This resolution followed a motion by Halims Agoda (PDP, Delta) in which he noted that about 200 people died while those living have no water, food and other necessities of life.

He added that what affects Haiti usually has an effect on Nigeria because the two countries have a common historical heritage.

But a member Abdul Ningi (PDP, Bauchi) proposed an amendment that each member should contribute N20, 000.00 totalling N7.2 million, towards the rehabilitation of the victims.

On the same day, the 109 senators resolved to contribute to a trust fund that would be used to buy relief materials for victims of the earthquake, following a motion brought by Bassey Ewa-Henshaw (PDP, Cross River).

The senators, who observed a one minute silence for those who died, also urged the Federal government to direct the appropriate departments and agencies, including the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Red Cross and Red Crescent, to mobilise resources and materials for aid to Haiti.

But it was gathered that since the resolutions were taken, the lawmakers have been evading their colleagues who were mandated to collect the donations.

In the House, it was learnt that no member has made any contribution despite pressure from the leadership to raise the money.

"It is been difficult getting members' to make their contributions. Don't forget we have just returned from Christmas/New Year break. However, if we don't raise the fund as promised, it is a shame," a member, who pleaded anonymity said on Friday.

The member, who does not want to be accused of leaking an internal matter to the media, also said the leadership is determined to raise the money in the next few weeks.

Donation is voluntary

Another member, however, explained that some members prefer to make donations for the victims of the recent violence in Jos rather than contribute to buy relief materials for the Haitians.

Efforts to speak with the chairman of the House committee on legislative compliance, Daemi Akpanah and his deputy, Austin Adikpe were not successful.

However, the House spokesperson, Eseme Eyiboh said on Friday that the donation to be made by members is voluntary; just as he added the lower chamber has made progress on the collection.

Mr. Eyiboh did not disclose the number of members that have made the donation or the members charged with the collection of the money.

The senate spokesperson, Ayogu Eze could not confirm if members have started contributing to the trust fund for which a committee was set up.

The Federal government and the Lagos State government recently donated a $1 million each to Haiti. The Foreign Affairs minister, Ojo Maduekwe made the donation in the United States.

Source: NEXT

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