***Take protest to the National Assembly
Police Retirees Under the Contributory Pensions Scheme on Tuesday took another protest over the lack of equity in the scheme to the gate of the National Assembly reiterating their earlier demand to be exited from the scheme.
The officers had earlier in April taken their protest to the National Assembly when they made similar demands in a form of petition which receive the blessing of the Senate following which an investigative hearing of their petition was carried out.
They also accused the Inspector General of Police, Baba Alkali and the management team of aiding and abbetting the Fraudulent mismanagement of the fund which they alleged is being diverted to private pockets.
This they said is based on their finding that Baba Alkali and the management team have been footdragging to propose a bill to the National Assembly in order to exempt the Police from the Contributory Pension Scheme.
Part of their text which was made available to journalists, read: “It would surprise you to hear that till date, the IGP has refused to comply with the advice given, instead, e mandated the SIG, Sanusi Lemu to join the NPF Pension Ltd marketing team to go on marketing campings against the exit of Police from Contributory Pension Scheme.
“DIG Sanusi’s action violates Section 4 of Police Act which highlights the constitutional duties of a Police Officer. As contrary as this was, another crafty aspect of the act was a hired crowd that was induced with N10,000.00 and souvenir each to gather and pose as retired Police Officers to enable them make a clip for press release to the effect that our genuine agitation was political and not supported by generality of Police Retirees.”
The angry ex-officers recalled that the Senate President, Dr. Ahmad Ibrahim Lawan ordered investigative hearing of their petition since June 2, under the Chairmanship of the Deputy Senate Committee on Police Affairs, Senator Ibrahim Abdullahi Danbaba, which outcome, the IGP was unwilling to abide three months after.
Regrettably, the group said, the Inspector General of Police rather directed the Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG) Sanusi Lemu to join other the NPF Pension Ltd marketing to embark on false campaign, stating that exiting from the Contributory Pension Scheme was not in the interest of retires and serving Police Officers.
The retirees wondered how the IGP and his management team would allow their pecuniary interest to overwhelm the thousands of retirees, saying that it was the Police officers’ fund that was used to set up the capital base of NPF Pension Ltd.
The ex-officers expressed confidence that the National Assembly will intervene by amending the Act in order to do away with the flaws and those clauses that are inconsistent with the supreme law and further demanded that:
“The exemption clause in the Pension Reform Act should be expanded to include the Nigeria Police Force which is the leading agency in internal security in this country.
“All Police retirees who enlisted into the force before the birth of the CPS in 2004 should be exempted CPS and the 300% of their annual salary be paid to them as gratuity and 80% of their last monthly salary be paid to them as pension as specified under the defines benefits scheme under which condition they enlisted into the force.”
The chairman of the cross Rivers State chapter of the Nigeria Police Retirees Under Contributory Pension Scheme Christopher Effiong who coordinated the protest on behalf of other chapters said, the IGP’s lukewarm attitude has justified their earlier findings that their pension was being fraudulently diverted into private pockets.
He expressed the believe that they were being cheated by the pension managers and some serving senior Police officers, which the National Assembly has since directed the IGP to forward a bill.
“We are here to reiterate our former appeal to the National Aseembly to exit us from the Contributory Pensions Scheme for which we were coerced. “We want to exit, we dont want it again. We would rather prefer to return to the defined benefit scheme controlled by the Nigeria police pension board where our pension and gratuity would be paid. We are pleading that they should exit us from the Contributory Pensions Scheme.
“As experts and professionals in different fields that we were trained, if we are utilized properly we are a major asset to Nigeria as a nation especially these days of insecurity ans terrorism. “When such well trained officers are treated with such disdain they can be highjacked to carry out some activities that would not be very good for the Government of this country.
“We have bomb experts, anti Bomb and terrorism expert, we have highly trained intelligent officers among us. Government has to keep us somewhere to pacify us because in more civilised nation retired officers like us are kept as a reserved force. “Anytime you have challenges you fall back and get ideas from us to get things right but here is Nigeria after we have suffered they have abandoned us.
Offiong lamented that a Police Inspector who spent 35 years in service and retired would be paid a paltry sum of N785,284.40 and will be taking N22,000 as monthly pension, while an ASP retiree is currently paid N16,000 monthly, a situation he described as homicidal.
“Let them pay us debarment allowance, exit us from Contributory Pension Scheme. These are the two requests we are making that National Assembly should help us.”
Senate Probes budget office over illegal N19 billion paid to four MDAs without approval of finance minister
Senate has commenced investigation into illegal payment of N19 billion to four agencies by the Budget office without approval of the Finance minister
Budget Office hiwever, failed to appear before the Senate Public Accounts Committee on the querry over payment of N19 billion to four agencies through verbal directive by the Director General of Budget Office in 2015.
The committee hinged the Investigation of the budget office on the 2016 Auditor General’s Report which is currently considered by the pael
Chaired by Senator Matthew Urhoghide.
The budget Office was number one on the list of the agencies expected to respond to the Auditor General’s query, but failed to appear before the Lawmakers.
The budget office in a written response to the Auditor General’s Query said, “the details of MDAs under the reference have not been provided to the usb to enable us respond appropriately.
The Auditor In the 2016 report said, that ” Four MDAs were paid the sum of N19 billion from the service wide vote without the approval of the Honorable Minister of Finance
“Some of the payment were made on a purported verbal directive from the Director General.
“This Act is against Financial Regulations 301 and 302 which stated that ” Recurrent expenditure is paid from CRF and no expenditure may be incured except on the authority of a warrant issued by the Minister of Finance.
“The Director General should provide evidence of approval from the Ministry of Finance for these expenditures or recover the sum of N19 billion from benefiting MDAs.”
Why the National Inland Water ways must work efficiently by Moghalu
The challenges witnessed in the maritime sector can only be addressed when inland waterways become fully functional the Managing Director of the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA), Dr. George Moghalu has said.
Speaking recently in Abuja at the innauguration of NIWA Abuja Liason Office by the Minister of Transportation he said to start with only about 3,000 of the 10,000 kilometres of the Nigerian waterways are navigable.
“All over the world, bulk cargo is either moved by water or by rail but more by rail and our cannot be different. We have over 10,000 kilometres of waterways in this country, as we speak today it is slightly over 3000 that is only navigable which for me is scandalous.”
He said the ubder utilization of the Inland Water Ways is the reason goods that come in to the country or those that are export bound overstay their shelf life at the Apapa Port
He said the delay makes the goods which are mostly perishable lose quality thereby making the transporter incur financial losses.
According to Moghalu, the goods are rejected because the goods spend over three months before they are processed for shipping.
Hence he said there was the need to open up Onitsha river port, adding that about 60 percent of goods shipped into the country through Apapa port are destined for Onitsha and Aba.
He said: “We are interested in getting goods to move. Exporters are lamenting that their goods sometimes spend three months at the export terminal in Apapa and another two months before it gets moved.
“We don’t have exclusivity to these goods and that why we get lots of rejection, they generally say products from Nigeria are not good not knowing that at the point where you took them, they were world-class quality but by the time we suffer delays at the port when it gets to its destination, it is gone bad.”
On the essence of functional waterways, he said: “I believe very strongly that not and until we develop inland waterways the way they should be, will the challenges we have in the maritime today be solved.
“It is when the inland waterways become fully functional that we will decongest Apapa port. It is when it is fully functional that we will save our road infrastructure from total decay because our roads are not designed to carry the weight they are carrying
“If we do a little investment in our waterway infrastructure, a lot will be achieved for the benefit of this country.”
On the decongestion of Apapa port, the NIWA boss said: “We cannot have a world-class port in Onitsha and Apapa port is congested. Meanwhile, over 60 per cent of the cargoes are destined for Onitsha and Aba.
“So, why can’t we move these cargoes directly to Onitsha? I don’t expect the mask vessels to come to Onitsha but badges can move from Apapa to Onitsha and offload the goods. We are going to save transporters lots of costs and at the same time, it is convenient for the operators.”
Moghalu also said plans are underway to concession Onitsha river port before the end of the year.
“Onitsha river port, in no distant time, we are going to conclude with the concessioning process. I am sure before the end of this year, we would have concluded with Onitsha river port concessioning.”
On the security on the waterways, he said: “We have started the process of distributing patrol boats. We have released three patrol boats to Lagos and by next week, the minister of transportation will be in Port Harcourt to commission some of our patrol boats, top boats and houseboats so that we can deploy them.
“We are deploying patrol boats all over our waterways to ensure that security is addressed and people obey required protocols to get things in place”.
The Nigerian Export-Import Bank (NEXIM) has promised to boost trade across Africa when its sea transportation and logistics company becomes operational.
The Managing Director of the Bank, Abba Bello while on a courtesy visit on NIWA Managkng Director requested a continued partnership with NIWA to ensure trade open up across African countries
The company which is christened sealink company is expected to raise the ante in trading across Africa.
On what the company would contribute to the economy, Bello said: “There is enormous potential and one of the biggest aside from the creation of jobs which comes automatically in the maritime industry and other sectors that will open up, for instance, is mining.
“Today mining contributes only 3percent to the GDP and while there are challenges, one of the things stopping the development of that industry is the evacuation of the mineral, many of them are heavy minerals and we don’t have the logistics capacity to move them to the ports for evacuation.
“Luckily, most of the mineral resources are within the central area and the river cuts across and we think that by operationalising the see link consortium, one of the biggest beneficiaries will be the mining sectors; jobs will be created, and additional revenue.
“We all know what is happening in Apapa, we cannot continue relying on Apapa as the only evacuation and receiving port in Nigeria. So, we have to look at other jetties.
“Baro port, we hope you will allow us to use the port when we start maybe in terms of the partnership or you lease it out to sealink but any option that will be beneficial to the economy will be welcomed by us”.
Obasanjo urges better participation to solve housing deficit
Former President of Nigeria, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo GCFR, has called for increased partnership of the private and public sectors in the housing industry, since the problem of housing is everybody’s business.
Obasanjo made the call at the last day of “National House Fair 5.0” NHF in a virtual speech, where he commended the Group for the introduction of the “metro shelter” scheme aimed at decentralising movement from rural to urban areas.
He stated that BSTAN Group cannot remedy the housing deficit alone, stressing that government at all levels as well as the private sector needed to do more in ensuring that the housing deficit is reduced to.the bearest minimum.
He said, “Housing is one of the essential requirements of humankind. Here, let me commend what BSTAN Group has been doing in providing affordable accommodation all over Nigeria.
“They have covered about a third of the states in the country. There’s still a lot to be done, but once again I will say, more grease to their elbow.
“What exactly are they doing? They work on what they call metro housing scheme; which is to actually ensure that houses are spread to new organised areas, organised in the sense that, wherever you have around 1000 people, they become what you can call an organised area.
“So what you need is affordable housing, businesses, employment opportunities so that people can stay as close to where they are working as possible and this idea is a very welcome development, and again I will commend Bstan for metro housing.
“BSTAN alone cannot carry this baggage by itself, it has to work with others in the private sector, it has to work with government at the local Government level, state level and at the Federal level, Regional level; like the ECOWAS and such other regions in Africa.
“I will urge and plead with Government in Nigeria at every level to work hand in hand with the private sector; the likes of BSTAN to develop and implement more housing system.”
He said by so doing they will bring affordable houses to little urban communities so that they can be encouraged to remain in their location rather than move to large locations which will create other problems.
Obasanjo expressed his belief in what BSTAN group is doing in housing development and provision of housing at affordable prices for all categories of people in Nigeria and further wished them success.
Also speaking, the Group Managing Director, BSTAN Group, Dr Becky Olubukola thanked the Ooni of Ife Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi who is the Chairman of BSTAN Group for his unflinching support and the fatherly role he plays.
According to her, BSTAN is working tirelessly and in partnership with several state Governments and the private sector not to just provide accommodation, but make homes that are safe, efficient, secure, with adequate electricity, adopting new technologies that allow for speed in construction – hence the metro shelter scheme.
She highlighted the various schemes and mortgages; some with zero percent interest, with flexible payment plans that allow for affordable homes. She therefore called on all Nigerians to subscribe to the offer that BSTAN brings, stressing that owning a home is key.
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