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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Maize program coordinator refutes corruption charges

The national co-coordinator of the support program for maize in Cameroon has refuted claims that he swindled over 2billion CFAF ($ 4.3 million) destined to support local maize producers. Mr. SIKAPIN and 46 others, mainly civil servants, are under investigation by the national anti-corruption commission, CONAC, for swindling the money across fictitious Common Initiative Groups (CIG).
In an exclusive interview, Mr. SIKAPIN Paul said "At least 90 percent, I repeat, at least 90 percent of the funds are in the hands of the producers. The amount of money that was given up to now, in reality, is around 2.980.000 FCFA."
He conceded that "If it turns out that a CIG (Common Initiative Group) can't be found, the blame should fall on the basic selection process. But considering the way we work, the figures are... I am shocked. Not all human endeavors are perfect, I admit, but the figures advanced are unacceptable."
The support program for maize farmers came under fire after the association for the defense of collective rights (ACDIC) headed by Paul Njonga hinted that grafting was going on. A confidential report by CONAC affirmed this claim.
“The CONAC report has further confirmed the fact that 62% of funds that was destined to finance the maize program, which was destined for rural farmers never reached them.” Mr. Njonga explained.
“The funds were swindled by civil servants who succeeded to setup a network of fictitious Common Initiative Groups.” He added, saying that the CONAC report also released a list of 47 persons to be tried on the matter. “We at the ACDIC, we're not happy, because not only we have to judge the 47 people involved, but we should make them return the money. As this money had been taken out from its allocation for the production of maize, we need to make sure that the production of maize doesn't suffer.”

However, Mr. SIKAPIN has waved off all accusations saying they are made to hurt the reputation of his program. He said the maize program is one of the best-performing in Cameroon.
“Cameroon has an overall annual maize production of about 13%, even better than some European countries” he said.

Maize is one of Cameroon’s staple foods. The drop in maize production, it is feared may worsen the food crisis in the country.
Nformi Sunday a media worker says "The authorities in-charge, beginning even from the head of that ministerial department should first of all be sacked from his post, and investigated. Because considering the importance of maize, and considering the fact that, you know, people will toy around with funds that have to do with maize that touches on the lives of more than 90% of Cameroonians, I think it's a very serious issue."
Another Yaounde resident Gimnyuy Odette says “When there is not enough corn, you see, we as Cameroonians, most of us eat corn. And when it is not, when the price is high most of us are affected because the price is high. When the price is low, most of us are happy because it is something that we consume too much.”

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