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How NDDC squandered N4.9bn on medical checkup of its personnel, by Senate



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How NDDC squandered N4.9bn on medical checkup of its personnel, by Senate

Senate adhoc committee report on the alleged financial recklessness in the Niger Delta Development Commission has further disclosed that the agency spent N4.9bn on medical checkup

The copy of the document was obtained by the NationalUpdate in Abuja where it was disclosed that the money was paid to the individual accounts in March.
According to the document the acting Managing Director, Daniel Pondei and the two executive directors got N14.2m each.

The report exonerated the first Interim Management Committee led by Joi Nunieh indicating that no such payment was made during her tenure.

The report further stated that the allowance had been in existence even though there was no specific policy underpining it.

“The three members of the Interim Management Committee received the highest amount of N142m each.

“Two other people, namely Evan Caroline Nagbo and Ms Cecilia Akintomide took N12,387,500 each while Peter Uwa Edieya was paid N10.340,000.

The report added that four other members of staff collected about N8m each while 140 others collected an average of N7m each.

The NDDC management also paid 75 others N6m each while 153 staff were paid N5.5m.

Four other category of staff were paid between N4.1m and N4.8m while seven others got about N3m each.

The document further indicated that 804 staff members collected between N2.4m and N2.9m each.

Apart from that, the document showed that the management paid N114.9m as supplementary medical allowance to 26 staff.

About 15 of them got N7m while one of them collected N5.2m.

The rest however collected between N375, 000 and N550, 000 each.

It read, “Payment to all the 1,401 staff who received the allowance was made on 16 March 2020.”

It added that the distribution of the payment category and number of staff did not suggest a regular hierarchical pattern and an absence of clear policy, which raised suspicion of arbitrariness.

The report also stated that the the NDDC management used staff members for the distribution of Lassa Fever kits.

It explained that Personal Protective Kits were given to the 185 LGAs of the Niger Delta states through the NDDC staff.

The staff members, according to the document, were paid various amounts ranging from N300,000 to N6,845,000 on 15 April 2020 for the distribution of the kits.

The report stated, “The total amount used for the distribution is N55,090,000.

” Twenty nine (29) employees were engaged in “Monitoring of the Emergency Response Programme on Lassa Fever Outbreak at a cost of N5,972,500.

“The items were purchased via a contract to Cremes Limited for the “Supply of 21 ,000 Lassa Fever Protective Kits in the Niger Delta Region for which an amount of N857,850,000 was paid on 22 January 2020.

“There is no record to show the procurement went through Due Process:

” It is observed that almost all cadres of employees were involved in the distribution and monitoring exercise.

“NDDC did not provide any returns on the end-user beneficiaries which would have helped in evaluating the accountability and transparency of the programme. There was also no mention of the original target beneficiaries.

“NDDC management did not provide details of allocation of the Lassa fever Protective Kits per each State and LGA and how the distributors were assigned as well as the collated report on the distribution exercise.

“In the same token, the staff who were engaged with the monitoring exercise should have been made to provide an assessment of the impact of their monitoring exercise.

” They should have justified the huge amount of money allocated for the exercise.

“There should have been record of who covered which state and exactly when was the monitoring exercise carried out given that the most of the payments were made in the very days of complete national lockdown?

“This is the aspect that NDDC failed to provide,” It added

The report further added that by its own record. NDDC spent N808.9m as imprest between October 29 2019 and May 23. 2020.

It stated that, “This covers a period of seven months during most of which the nation was on lockdown.

“Given that significant amount was also expended on travels, Duty Tour Allowance during this period, payment of bills, it is difficult to justify this huge amount as imprest necessary for the services of the commission.”

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RAM panelists insist, Nigeria will collapse without restructuring




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RAM panelists insist, Nigeria will collapse without restructuring 

***only the living can vote – Afenifere warns**

Nigeria is heading for the rocks in view of the various security threats and refusal of the authorities to heed to the clamour for restructuring by majority of the population, panelists at the Restructure Actualization Movement (RAM) have said

They indicated that the only escape route for the country would be a national conversation by Nigerians on how to forge ahead.
He added that such conversation would be at the be called by ordinary Nigerians and not by political elite who would do so with  their agenda that would undermine the interest of equity being promoted by ordinary Nigerians.

This consensus view was expressed by Dr. Akin Fapounda, Dr. Obiageli Ezekweseli, Senator Usman Bugaje and Chief Edwin Clark who was represented by Oni Winge.

All the speakers maintained that, there is already a consensus among Nigerians for restructuring saying that what is left is how the people would evolve the conversation to convoke their sovereignty, discuss national cohesion and unity under agreed terms.

Representative of the Southwest at the RAM conversation, Dr. Akin Fapohunda said there was no need for any future election without restructuring, to provide for national consensus on the way to continue to exist as one country in peace and unity.
He said the term ‘Afenifere’ means living in love and unity, thus the Southwest position on the way forward for first to note that Nigeria a failed state with 36 states running as silos of expenditure that are not viable.

According to him, the Yoruba nation is desirous of living other with all other tribes and ethnic representation in Nigeria, however,  the critical question of ‘how’ to live together is one that must be deliberated and agreed upon.

He said it is because the extant constitution is not working and should be replaced.

According to him, the profligacy and inequalities in the system must be addressed for an all inclusive governance structure that provides equal opportunities to all Nigerians.

He pointed out that part of the structural deficiency in the system is lumping of over 1000 state assembly lawmakers, 109 senators, 360 members of House of Representatives 42 ministers and administrative staff of the federal government on level 16 and 17 in each of the 36 states of the federation leads the national coffers to unnecessarily bleeding economically.

He pointed out that these silos of expenditure includes the 36 states governors and their paraphanelia of office drains the public purse without any tangible public expenditure that benefits the people.

He proposed that Nigeria Lawmakers should be made to draw their earnings for their service from their respective region and communities based on their earnings.

He maintained that the Yoruba nation was not disposed to 2023 elections as “regardless of the subtle quest, by some elements, to network for political trophies in anticipation of 2023, the overwhelming desire of Yoruba people is to refrain from an further participation in the process of elections unless and until a new constitutional order in is negotiated and enacted.

“Recent events of insecurity across our lands affirms to correctness of this posture, as only the living can exercise voting rights not the dead” he warned.

In her submission on the conversation, Dr. Oby Ezekwesili restated that Nigeria suffers constitutional failure which is the foundation of the country’s trajectory and this failure manifests in the fact that Nigeria was  bequeathed British and Military Constitutions which did not take into cognisance the interest of the people, all of whom have failed.

Ezekwesili said, added to this, was the privatization of the public space and elite class thus undermining the rights of Nigerians to engage.

She said the conversation must be made and its outcome from the views of Nigerians would form the basis of going forward as an indivisible nation.

Former Cabinet minister and leader of the Niger Delta region, Chief Edwin Clerk who was represented by Oni Winge told the participant that Nigeria will not exist further without restructuring.

He said the South South region which is the bread winner of the country wants true Federalism and be able able to control its resources.
He pointed out that while the nation has focused on living on the black gold from the Niger Delta region, the Gold of Zamfara state has been the exclusive resource of the state with the State having full control.
On his part as a panelist at the RAM town hall meeting in Abuja, Senator Usman Bugaje said Nigeria is in a very dangerous trajectory and would required informed discussions on the conversation.

Bugaje who identified three major issues as the bane of advancing the nation to include: power sharing, wealth sharing and identity of a Nigerian said effective management of these factors would birth a United Nigeria.

According to him, the inability of the political class to equitably distribute political power, wealth and ensure the identity of a Nigerian without ethinic or religious biases was a problem to be solved.

He said any part of the country is free to go it’s own way however, it should be done constitutionally stressing that sovereignty belongs to the people.

He said attempts to reduce allotment of presidential slots to ethnic basis like Hausa or Igbo Presidency was a stupid idea.

Proposing a 44 state federating unit with 12 regions, former Minister of information, Prof. Jerry Gana said restructuring Nigeria is an inevitable change whose time has come and Nigeria must actualize to negotiate a peaceful co-existence among all parties.

He said the theory of the majority tribes rotating the Presidency among themselves remains an issue to be discussed so that all minority ethnic nationalities would see a possibility of emerging President of the Country too

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Despite protest by minority, senate confirms Ex-Service Chiefs as Ambassadors-Designate




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Despite protest by minority, senate confirms Ex-Service Chiefs as Ambassadors-Designate 

The Senate on Tuesday confirmed the nominations of the former Service Chiefs as Ambassadors-Designate amidst protest from the minority leader senator Eyinaya Abaribe.

The confirmation of the nominees followed consideration of the report of the Committee on Foreign Affairs.

The former Service Chiefs confirmed are: General Abayomi G. Olonisakin (Rtd), Ekiti; Lt. General Tukur Y. Buratai (Rtd), Borno; Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete E. Ibas (Rtd), Cross River; and Air Marshal Sadique Baba Abubakar (Rtd), Bauchi;

Also confirmed was Air Vice Marshal Muhammad S. Usman (Rtd), Kano. 

Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, Adamu Muhammad Bulkachuwa, in his presentation said their appointments were made in line with section 171(40) of the 1999 Constitution as amended.

According to him, “their experiences as Service Chiefs and in the military where they rose to the highest ranks in their careers have made them eminently qualified; and that the nominees were very knowledgeable and articulate in their response to questions directed at them by the Committee.”

Bulkachuwa, however, disclosed in the report that “the Committee received petitions against their nominations as Non-Career Ambassadors of the Federal Republic of Nigeria but the petitions were dismissed.” 

The Senate Minority Leader, Enyinnaya Abaribe, while coming under a point of order, demanded explanation as to the rationale behind the dismissal of the petition against the nominees by the Committee, particularly against the backdrop of the Senate resolutions in the past calling for their removal as Service Chiefs. 

Responding, the Senate President pointed out that the Senate resolution demanding their removal was in no way related to President Muhammadu Buhari’s request for the Senate to confirm them as Ambassadors-Designate, adding that, “these are two separate roles.”

“Without prejudice to what the executive will do, where we need to fight the Boko Haram insurgency and banditry, because of their experience in the field, they should be able to interact very closely and sufficiently to advice and create the atmosphere for working together, for partnership and cooperation between Nigeria and those countries.

“So, I think on that scope, the nomination cannot be nullified because we said they should be changed”, Lawan said 

The nominees were, thereafter, confirmed after a motion moved by the Senate Leader, Yahaya Abdullahi, to that effect and seconded by the Minority Leader, Enyinnaya Abaribe. 

The Senate President in his remarks after the nominees were confirmed advised the Executive arm of government to deploy them to countries where their experiences as former military officers would be required. 

Lawan said, “the nominees that we have just confirmed are nominees that have served this great country to the best of their ability as Service Chiefs and today, they have been confirmed as Non-Career Ambassadors. 

“Our appeal to the Executive is to make sure that we utilize their experiences as Military men to the best, because we should be able to post them to countries where they can be much more useful in their engagements as Ambassadors.”  

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Senate moves to beam searchlight on misappropriation of $20m Safe School Initiative fund




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Senate moves to beam searchlight on misappropriation of $20m Safe School Initiative fund

Apparently piqued by the vulnerability of pupils and students at basic and secondary schools respectively to being abducted from their premises, the Senate is poised to investigate the utilization of over $20 million (USD) funding proposal and budgeted for the initiative over the years.

To this end the Senate has mandated the Committees on Education (Basic and Secondary); and Tertiary Institutions and TETFUND to get to root of the issue
The investigation would also beam its searchlight on all monies donated by foreign governments and agencies to the initiative. 
This formed part of resolutions reached during plenary on Tuesday after the Senate considered a motion on the “Urgent need for the Restoration and Revalidation of the Safe School Initiative in Nigeria.”
Sponsor of the motion, Senator Stephen Adi Odey (PDP, Cross River North) noted that the “Safe School Initiative” was launched to promote security and safety of schools, pupils, students, teachers, as well as facilities in 2014.
According to the lawmaker, the initiative “was formulated to design and Implement the best of global standards in the educational sector in Nigeria through the employment of qualified teachers, provision of  library and laboratory equipment, conducive environment for teaching and learning, as well as provision of habitable classrooms and hostels.” 
He expressed concern that, “The unfortunate increase in the insecurity crisis in the country, with the advanced target at schools in diverse locations, especially the regrettable kidnap of the Chibok and Dapchi School girls in Borno and Yobe States respectively.
He also lamented the abduction of the Kankara School Boys in Katsina State and most recently, the kidnap of students of Government Science College, Kagara in Rafilga Local Government Area of Niger State.
He said the incidences have exposed the unimaginable decadence and dilapidation in the schools in Nigeria, drawing inference from the footage; from the school environments.” 
He warned that “These ugly and condemnable activities of insurgency, kidnapping, wanton killing and other associated crimes will not abate, especially in consideration of the payment of “Ransom” for the release of victims and as reportedly hinted by the immediate past Chief of Army Staff (COAS) in the course of his continuation as ambassadorial nominee.”
“Also concerned that these incidences of kidnapping school children/students or invasion of school premises across Nigeria have created negative publicity for Nigeria with the attendance loss of confidence by foreign investors in the Nigerian economic climate; 
He expressed concern that the country has lost a large number of men and women as well as military resources of the over-stretched military to the Kidnappers, Terrorists, Bandits and other criminal elements.
He pointed out that the recent plane crash which resulted in the death of 7 Air Force Officers who were on an a mission to aid the release of the recently kidnapped Kagara School students and workers was another sad commentary.
The lawmaker expressed concern that the incidents may instill fear in parents and guardians and force them to withdraw their children and wards from schools or prevent them from sending their children to schools.
Should that happen, he said, it will in tum defeat the government’s educational policy of ”literacy for all” and further deprive the children of the opportunity of having quality education to compete with their peers globally.
 The implementation of the “Safe School Initiative” by all stakeholders would have curbed the latest twist in the criminal activities associated with insecurity in Nigeria especially as it relates to the invasion of school premises as well as kidnap of students and teachers for ransom.

According to him, the full implementation of the Safe School Initiative would have guarranteed the best of global standards in the educational sector in Nigeria through the employment of qualified teachers, provision of library and conducive environment for teaching and learning, as well as provision of habitable classrooms and hostels,” Odey said. 
Contributing, the Senate Deputy Whip, Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi (APC, Niger North) said the recent kidnappings of school children by bandits has resulted in students from a part of the country missing out on education.  
“This motion is very timely, especially coming at the heels of the last incident of the kidnap of school children from Kagara Government Science Secondary School. 
“Mr. President, Distinguished Colleagues, we need to take note of the kidnapping of school children. 
“We know we are fighting insurgency and the bandits, and the philosophy of insurgency is to the effect that western education is not good.  And Whatever is being done to dissuade parents from sending their children to school is something that we must take seriously”, Sabi Abdullahi said. 
Senator Orker Jev (PDP, Benue North West) while speaking in support of the motion, said the spate of kidnappings of students would on the long run have adverse affect on the quality of learning and education in Nigeria.
According to the lawmaker, the problem of kidnapping of students can only be addressed when general insecurity is nipped in the bud across parts of the country. 
Another lawmaker, Senator Smart Adeyemi (APC, Kogi West), stressed that the welfare of school children must continue to be a priority for the Federal Government of Nigeria so as to secure their future.  
Accordingly, the Senate while urging the Federal Government to, in collaboration with the various state governments, restore, revive and revalidating the Safe School Initiative in Nigeria, urged the Ministry of Education under the auspices of the National Council of Education to come out with a comprehensive and workable framework for Safe Schools in Nigeria. 
The Upper Chamber, while mandating its Committees on Education (Basic and Secondary); and Tertiary Institutions and TETFUND to investigate the utilization of funding proposed and budgeted for the initiative over the years, as a well as called for securing boarding schools with perimeter fence using funds from the Initiative. 
In his remarks, the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, advised the National Council on Education to come up with policies and guidelines that would ensure the safety of school children and students in the various institutions of learning across the country. 
“It appears we are focused so much on armed security to be present in the premises. I think we should be liberal to consider how the school itself can be secured, in terms of the perimeter fencing would be, the entrances to the premises, classrooms and dormitories.
“I think these are the kind of things, so that even if you have one or two security personnel there, they would be assisted by the kind of infrastructure within and surrounding the school. 
“Probably, that is where the National Council on Education would come in, because let it be a national policy, that every state government – and in that case state governments control the primary and secondary schools and the federal government of course – should have these kind of secured environment. 
“But if you emphasize on just armed people, we may never have enough, and that will overstretch our security system again.”
Lawan also called for a probe into the $20 million dollar fund for the Safe School Initiative so as to determine why the initiative was stalled and the level of implementation achieved so far. 
“Let me also add, that the former British Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, came to Nigeria and said there was $20m (USD) that was for the safe school initiative. He was the driver of that initiative when President Goodluck Jonathan held sway.
“And, I agree, our Committee should find out the implementation that took place, what happened, why is it stalled. And the National Council on Education should actually be in position now – given our circumstances recently having abductions in our schools – to come up with some national policies and guidelines on securing our institutions,” the Senate President added. 

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