The Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has admitted that it spent N30 million to build a mosque in an Internally Displaced Persons’ ( IDPs) camp in Borno State.
A statement by the Director of Information in the Ministry, Theodore Ogaziechi acknowledged that the leaked memo circulating on the social media was authentic.
The memo which has gone viral on social media has generated reactions from Nigerians who questioned the rationale behind the spending of such an amount of money by the ministry on a mosque, especially when Nigeria is a secular state.
The statement read, “Our attention has been drawn to an online publication by the Punch Newspaper alleging that the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has come under fire on social media following a leaked memo conveying the approval of N30 million for the construction of a Friday mosque with taxpayers’ fund. In addition, a government official memo, dated December 10, 2020 with ref. No. FMA/PROC/AHS/SIP/2020/7742/1 stating that the Ministerial Tenders Board approved the contract, was displayed on the platform.
“To put the facts straight, the memo is authentic and appropriate in all ramifications.
“It is original and was issued by the Ministry for the construction of a worship centre for a community of livestock farmers who were sacked and displaced in Borno State by Boko Haram insurgents and are being resettled in Ngarannam/Mafa local government, Borno State.
“Apart from the mosque, other common facilities provided for the livestock farmers in the community include Solar Powered Boreholes with Overhead Tanks and Drinking Troughs for their cattle and small ruminants, Water Harvesting Structures, Milk Collection Center, Resettlement Abode, as well as other infrastructure to properly settle and rehabilitate the displaced livestock farmers,” the statement explained.
Ogaziechi explained that the construction of the mosque was a special request from the community through the Borno State Government to avoid moving too far from the settlement areas for prayers and also to ensure their safety and contact with the insurgents.
He added, “The memo is an official document and it is available for public scrutiny and review. It is therefore unfortunate for anyone to presume that the memo leaked.
“The Ministry is in no way perturbed about the matter because it received appropriate approval, carried out due needs assessment and ensured due process in the execution of the project.
“It is advised that in future, due diligence and restraint should be observed by our media friends before publication of this nature, meant for public good and security, are issued to avoid raising false alarm and creating unnecessary rancour in the public space which may lead to overheating of the polity.”