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NDDC scandal: Akpabio asks NASS to check abuses in budgets

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NDDC scandal: Akpabio asks NASS to check abuses in budgets

… As former MD says N8bn out of N81billion was spent by IMC under her

The Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio, has charged the National Assembly to check against abuses of the budgeting procedures of the Commission.
He spoke Friday on the last day of the investigative public hearing carried out by the Senate Ad- hoc committee on alleged N40billion financial recklessness by the Interim Magement Committee ( IMC) of the Niger Delta Development Commission ( NDDC) between January and March this year.

This was coming as the immediate past Managing Director of NDDC, Dr Yimebe Nunieh declared that out of the entire N81billion spent by the Commission between October 29, 2019 to May 31, 2020, only N8billion was spent by IMC under her leadership between October 29, 2019 to February 28, 2020.

The incumbent Managing Director, Professor Keme Pondei however threatened to resign if allegations of corruptions levelled against his IMC, are proven .
Making submissions at the open hearing on Friday at the Senate wing of the National Assembly, Akpabio noted that instances abound where money budgeted had been drastically and illegally reduced by some members of the National Assembly against the originally approved fund.
According to him, the Niger Delta region can only get maximum benefit if we rejig the way we do budgets for the NDDC.
He pointed out that there has to be governance structure to regulate the way things are done at the Commission.
The Minister who insisted that the forensic audit of the NDDC was the best way of clearing the rot in the commission that had existed since its establishment, called on all stakeholders including the National Assembly to genuinely support the effort of President Muhammadu in ensuring that the money for the NDDC is used for the people of the Niger Delta.

“The reason why you hear so much hue and cry about the NDDC is because of President Buhari’s approval for a Forensic Audit”, he said .

He disclosed that in a particular instance, N10b was put in the budget but some people just went into one hotel in Abuja and reduced it to N100 million but added that the figure failed to achieve any result.

The Minister shocked the audience at the public hearing, that close to a year of supritending the Niger Delta Affairs Ministry , that he had never awarded any contract since he assumed office except the contract for COVID-19 palliatives.
In his remarks, the chairman of the committee, Senator Olubunmi Adetunbi ( APC Ekiti North ), declared that the essence of the investigation was to make sure the common wealth of Niger Delta works for the people of the Niger Delta.
According to him, the investigation is not about missing money but about ensuring that money gets into the right pocket to promote the best interests of the Niger Delta region and its people.
The committee also told Akpabio that at the end of the investigation, those who specialize hijacking peoples money would be put out of business.
In her own submission , the former Managing Director of the Commission , Dr Yimebe Nunieh said out of the N81billion spent by the Commission between October last year to May this year only N8billion was expended by IMC under her leadership for the months period spent ( October 29, 2019 to February 18, 2020 .

She alleged at the sideline of the event while fielding questions from journalists that Akpabio engineered her removal from office for failing to dance to his tunes as regards writing implicating Chairman , Senate Committee on Niger Delta Affairs , Peter Nwaoboshi on fraudulent contracts awards and executions .
“The Minister did all manner of dirty things to forcefully remove me out of office like sponsoring the vandalisation of Agip Trunk A pipeline in Bayelsa as a way of making the unsuspecting public to believe that the youths in the area are angry with NDDC under her leadership .

“He even made frantic attempts to force me to swear to fetish oath which I vehemently refused before he succeeded in getting me out of the place for sole purpose of having his way to run the place the way he likes under the present team of IMC.

But a member of the current IMC, Evangelist Caroline Nagbo punctured Nunieh claim saying that there was no time the Minister invited her or any other member of the IMC to take any oath of secrecy .

“As far as I am concerned, as a member of the current Interim Management Committee of NDDC, I took oath of allegiance and not oath of fetishism from any body “, she said .

In defending the current IMC on spendings made so far, the incumbent Nanaging Director, Keme Pondei, threatened that he would resign if the allegation of corruption against him are proven by his critics.

Dismissing the allegations before the Senate Committee, Pondei said: “If anyone has any evidence that I collected even one percent from any contractor, let him present it and I will resign instantly. “
“We need to be very careful in making spurious allegations that distract the NDDC”.

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FG not withholding any budgetary allocation to the Nigerian Army, says Finance minister

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FG not withholding any budgetary allocation to the Nigerian Army, says Finance minister
**senate Panel chair decries paltry budgetary allocation to the Army

The Minister of Finance Budget and National Planing Zainab Shamsuna Ahmed on Tuesday said the Federal Government has been doing its best to ensure all budgetary allocation to the Nigerian Army are released promply.
Reacting to the statement by the Senate Committee chairman on Army Senator Ali Ndume statement that the situation is so bad that the Nigerian Army now rations ammunition because of inadequate funding,
She said, “This sensitive issue of financing the security sector of the country, apart from the fact that we try our effort to fund with what is provided from the busget almost 100%, there are also instances when the swcurity services will go to the president for special approval and we still provided the funds.
“So if it is to take stock of the needs of the Nigerian Army, we have an opportunity in the supplementary budget that is coming and we can address some of that.
She enumerated some of the
capital funding for the Nigerian Army in 2019 fir which she said what was budgeted was N19.6b and N12.84b was released representing 64.37%
“In 2020 the total capital budget was N74.37b and this amount was released 100%.
“In 2021, the total busget for the Nigerian Army is N29b and so far we are in May we have released 17.9% of that which means we are on course to also release 100%.
There were some of their needs outside budget because the need was higher than what was provided in the budget provision of N64.5b for the procurement of military equipment that was provided from seperate approval by the president.
we have the detals attached.
she indicated that, in terms of overhead cost, what was budgeted for the Nigerian Army was N15.64B out of which we released N14.22b representing 91.01% for 2019.
“In 2020 what was budgeted was 20.634b and out of it 20.47 representing 99.21%
“In 2021 the budget for the year is N20.6b and 3months releases with overhead is N4.99b representing 96.75% of the autorated budget for the 3 months because the year is still running.”
Ndume earlier had said the people of the North East are gettjng used to BoKoharam attacks because they have vowed that they cannot go anywhere again
“We have been displaced for 6 or 7 years we are scattered all over the country. Those that were strong enough to go back can not sleep confortably.
“I have the insight in the armed forces. it is so bad that the Nigerian Army now rations ammunition. To ration Food is normal but not ammunition.
“I can be quoted I have gone round I have not seen a Nigerian Soldier holding a brand new AK47. I can Understand because in a budget of N13trillion you are allocating less than N30 Billiion to the Nigerian Army.
He alleged that thee only place he has seen Army holding new AK47 is in Abuja because it is the seat of power.

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Nigerian workers demand full implementation of N30,000 minimum wage

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Nigerian workers demand full implementation of N30,000 minimum wage

Workers across Nigeria have expressed anger at the non implementation of the N30, 000 minimum wage, insisting that henceforth no worker would accept anything short of full implementation of the N30,000 national minimum wage.

The Workers who gathered for the May Day celebration under the aegis of the Nigeria Labour Congress and Trade Union Congress across the country called on the state governors to fully implement the N30,000 minimum wage approved by the Federal Government.
The workers, said the new minimum wage was not only their rights but also non-negotiable.
The labour union leaders noted that while some states had yet to implement the N30,000 minimum wage, a number of other governors who had implemented it failed to do so fully.

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Humanitarian Minister tackles State Governments over shoddy distribution of CIVID-19 palliatives

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Humanitarian Minister tackles State Governments over shoddy distribution of CIVID-19 palliatives

The minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadiya Umar Farouq has blamed State Governments for the shoddy distribution of the COVID-19 palliatives.
She expressed regrets for ever using States for the distribution of COVID-19 palliatives.
Speaking on Thursdsy at an investigative hearing organised by the Senate committee on Special Duties, she said she has not recieved any report from the state governors on how they distributed the food items.
“This has made us to have a rethink and restrategise to see how we can engage other bodies especially the NGOs in subsequent interventions by the ministry.”
It would be recalled that some of the palkiatives given to states were stockpiled in warehouses with many wasting away until the #ENDSARS protest uncovered them. The palliatives were later looted as youths went on rampage, broke into the ware houses and carted away most of the commodities.

Continuing the minister said,
“We handed over grains as directed to the state governments and when we handed over we told them what the intervention is meant for and who it  is meant.
“Unfortunately the EndSARS came with some revelations, some warehouses were vandalised we got to know that some of those warehouses existed.”

She said the ministry was allocated the sum of N551462 for covid-19 intervention in 2020 appropriation which she said has been sum has been utilised for various interventions.
“In addition, the sum of N2 billion 457 million 500k was released to the ministry in respect of the covid19 rapid response and this is part of the allocation of N32,457, 000, 0000 allocated from which N30 billion is yet to be released.
“This sum is meant for the payment of N5,000 each to 1 million vulnerable urban and fairly individuals for 6 months.
“On the modified national home grown school feeding programme, in an effort to ensure and achieve response during covid-19 pandemic, the ministry experimented the modified school feeding programme whereby food was tailored to be provided to households with children of benefiting schools.”
She said the experiment was conducted in FCT, Lagos and Edo.

The Senate Commitee on Special Duties, took up the Minister over spendings of the N32.4billion allocated to her office for palliatives provisions against COVID – 19 pandemic .

The Committee drilled the Minister on how the fund was spent during an interactive session on Thursday.

Senator Ali Ndume ( APC Borno South) who said the Ministry was not doing enough tackled the Minister asking how she thinks Nigerians are not feeling the impact of alleged interventions made by the Ministry in the heat of the COVID- 19 Pandemic.

” You are not doing enough as far as poverty eradication in the country is concerned.

” The modus operandi being adopted by your Ministry cannot in anyway help in fixing the country .

“Humanitarian intervention should be looked at more holistically “, he said .

Also lampooning the Ministry on its modus operandi, the Vice Chairman of the committee, Senator Biobarakuma Degi Eremionyo ( APC Bayelsa ) said the handouts being doled out to some Nigerians as palliatives by the Ministry, cannot in anyway, take them out of poverty line .

“Giving unemployed people N10,000 or even N20, 000 for a month or two, cannot help them out of the poverty related problems facing them .

“The handouts should be channelled into creation of employment for the unemployed ” , he said .

As a face saving measure for the Minister , the Chairman of the Committee, Senator Yusuf Abubakar Yusuf ( APC Taraba Central), quickly intervened by telling the members that the interactive session was not on poverty eradication by the Ministry but interventions made by it as palliatives against COVID – 19 from the 32.4billion earmarked for it out of the N500billion appropriated by the National Assembly last year .

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