Gombe State Commissioner for Finance, Alhaji Muhammadu Hassan has charged MDAs and Non-Governmental Organizations partnering in different projects in the State to present reports of their activities as a condition for getting more funding.
The Commissioner was speaking when the State Committee on Food and Nutrition paid an advocacy visit to him. The advocacy visit was led by the Committee’s chairman and State Commissioner for Economic Planning, Alhaji Danladi Mohammed Pantami who was represented by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Mr. Stephen Ayuba.
The Commissioner, who expressed bitterness over what he described as a devastating indices of 41 per cent stunting rate of children in the State, said the report had spoilt his day, and wants it to spoil the day of the Governor so that action would be taken immediately.
According to him, “I’m just knowing this for the first time and nobody in his right state of mind would allow such kind of thing to happen, not to us in Gombe. No father would want such in his family”.
He called for a change of attitude in addressing the situation saying, “41 per cent stunted children? It means 41 per cent loss and it could be more because of inter-generational impact. We are their leaders today; we are supposed to prevent that”.
Faulting the NGOs and MDAs, the Commissioner said “I assure you that you are seeing no action because you people have not done your job. If at a time I give you a budget of N120 million, I must have believed that the project is worth N120 million. If you see me reduce that to N30 million, then you have to be convinced that I have not seen results, I have not seen the benefits of retaining N120 million”.
The Commissioner added: “And if it is after six years that I get to know that we have stunting children in Gombe, then we should do something about it and you shouldn’t blame me but yourselves, those of you doing advocacy”.
He said, on all projects requiring counterpart funding in the State, it is always a tug of war because of scarce resources at the disposal of government in the face of many competing demands. He said, “That is why your attention will go to what you see and touch on a daily basis but most of those projects that do not receive Government support in terms of counterpart funding, it is simply because we do not see the report, we don’t see the benefit of the funding we saw in the past in terms of its benefit to the people we are serving”.
However, Mr. Akpan Effiong of the Gombe state office of Save the Children International (CSI), explained to the Commissioner that the Governor was aware of the matter but that having access to the Governor to discuss measures needed to consolidate the successes achieved in the fight against malnutrition in the State has remained the major challenge of the Committee for a long time now.
Earlier, Chairman of the Committee and Commissioner for Economic Planning, Alhaji Danladi Mohammed Pantami, who was represented by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Mr. Stephen Ayuba, commended the State Government’s effort in addressing malnutrition in the State but stated that the statistics of the State still show 41 per cent stunting rate which is considered very high.
According to him, the advocacy is for the functioning of the Gombe State Committee to come up with a clearly defined plan that focuses on most effective interventions especially at the LGA and communities levels for improved women’s nutrition, improved access to micro-nutrients supplements, improvement of the quality of the food through micronutrients fortifications and change behaviours of family members at critical points during the pregnancy period until the child’s second birth day.
He assured members of the Committee that he will immediately pave the way for them to have audience with the Governor while tasking them to have a costed working plan for the Governor ahead of the meeting as soon as he is back to the State.