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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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EndSARS Protests: NGO urges FG to deploy legal, constitutional means

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EndSARS Protests: NGO urges FG to deploy legal, constitutional means


By Friday Idachaba

Patriots for Growth and Development Initiative (PGDI), a Kogi-based Non‐Governmental Organization has called on Federal and State Governments to deploy every legal and constitutional means to end the nationwide EndSARS protests.

Mr Isaac Salami, Executive Director of PGDI who made the call at a Press Conference on Monday in Lokoja.

Salami said the call had become necessary to protect lives and livelihoods of Nigerians in view of the escalating acts of disruption, attacks and killings in recents days in parts of the country.

He said that the trend, if not quickly arrested, could plunge the nation into a state of anarchy as he attributed it to efforts of Fifth-columnists.

He described it as “A careful planned effort and hardwork of Fifth-columnist and enemies. If you see crises coming into peaceful agitations like this know that the 5th Columnists are at work to subvert the relative peace and unity in Nigeria.

Salami noted that President Muhammadu Buhari in his October 12, national broadcast, stated that the disbandment of SARS was only the first step in government’s commitment to police reform.

He held that the government had started implementing all the five-point demands of the protesters and did not see any justification for the escalation of the protests.

“We therefore see no reason why the protesters should continue to be on the streets thereby creating opportunities for negative characters to perpetrate anarchy leading to threat of lives and livelihoods of Nigerians.

“We clearly understand that the original intentions of the protesting youths is for an end to SARS, and Police reform. We also affirm the constitutional and democratic rights of every patriotic Nigerian to protest.

“But the violent dimension that the supposed peaceful protest has taken in the past few days has shown that some enemies of the State are marauding as protesters to unleash mayhem and confusion on the peace and unity of Nigeria.

“We ask the government at the Federal and State levels to use every legal and constitutional means to protect lives and livelihoods of all”, he said.

Salami also called on all patriots and leaders to lend their voices and support to end the protests across the country while the citizens await and monitor implementation of the demands “to a logical conclusion.” (NAN)

FDJ/

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Gov Tambulwa commends President Buhari for flood intervention

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Gov Tambulwa commends President Buhari for flood intervention

Governor Aminu Waziri Tambulwa of Sokoto state has commended President Muhammadu Buhari for his intervention after floods that ravaged Gwadabawa, Ilela, Sokoto North, Wammako, Bondinga and Tambuwal Local government areas, destroying farmlands and crops in the state.
The Governor gave the indication at the weekend when the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development Sadiya Umar Farouq visited the state to distribute relief items to flood victims and also flag off the Rural Women’s special Grant Project .


“I must thank President Muhammadu Buhari for his goodwill message, empathy and sympathy earlier, on the natural disaster that ravaged a number of our communities, as well as his support to the victims affected.
He said they are working on a supplementary budget to be presented to the State House of Assembly, to see how we can rebuild houses, hospitals and schools affected by the flood.
He also commended President Buhari for the Social Investment Programs.
“There are so many of them and we appreciate the much that Sokoto state has benefited from these programs. We assure you that the people and government of Sokoto state are willing to partner with you on any program that will benefit the people”. 
The Governor who described Sokoto state as women friendly also promised to do more to empower women especially those in the rural areas.
Earlier, the Minister Sadiya Umar Farouq sympathised with the state government on the flood incident.

She said President Buhari is concerned about the devastation caused by the flood and has directed her ministry to activate the National Emergency Management Agency to respond in providing necessary support to the affected persons.
“I am here with the Director General of NEMA to present relief items approved for distribution  to assist the affected persons”
Food items delivered to the state include 1,502 bags of Maize, 1,502 bags of Rice 1,502 bags of Beans, 107 kegs of palm oil, 43 kegs of Vegetable oil, 202 cartons of seasoning , 141 cartons of tin tomatoes and 22 bags of salt. 
Other relief items given to Sokoto state include 3868 blankets, 3868 mattresses, 3004 mosquito nets, 3780 bags of cement, 3780 bundles of roofing sheets, 723 bags of nails, 200 packets of zinc nails and 72 cartons of detergent.
The minister noted that before the distribution of the items, the flood affected persons in Goronyo Local Government Area had already received support from the Federal Government through NEMA. 
“NEMA Sokoto Operations Office has conducted an on-the-spot assessment in the Local Government Areas of Binji and Silame and the following relief items have been approved and due to be delivered before the end of the week. 
455 (12.5kg) bags of rice,  455 (12.5kg) bags of maize, 455 (25kg) bags of beans, 76 cartons of seasoning, 46 kegs (20 Litres) of vegetable oil, 38 cartons of tomato paste, 910 blankets, 910 mattresses, 910 mosquito nets, 600 bags of cement, 600 bundles of roofing sheets, 200 packets of zinc nails, 67 bags of 3 inch nails
Minister Umar Farouq also announced the payment N5,000 monthly to 3,465 poor and vulnerable households in Sokoto state, while 29,676 vulnerable households awaiting enrollment.
She appealed to the governor to assist the state to enroll more people for the intervention programs. 

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Martins warns FG against deployment of army to quell #ENDSARS

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Marthins warns FG against deployment of army to quell #ENDSARS

Archbishop of Lagos Catholic Archdiocese Alfred Adewale Martins has warned the Federal Government against the deployment of the Nigerian Army to quell the unending #ENDSARS protest.

This was contained in press Statement the cleric personally signed and was issued on Saturday.
The Archbishop was speaking against the backdrop of a BBC News report on 15th October that insinuated that the Nigerian Army may be deployed to quell the protests by force.
He observed that such action if carried out would be counter productive henceforth he expressed the hope it does not happen.

Such a measure he said if adopted, can only lead to injuries and possible deaths, and an escalation of the protests.
“It has the tendency of turning the largely peaceful protests into a violent one.”
He said Nigerians must all remember that the whole world is watching to see how they handle this situation.
“We, therefore, call for dialogue and mutual understanding in addressing the situation at hand for the benefit of our young people and the future of our country.”
He expressed the believe that a sincere and transparent response to the demands of the young people would go a long way in resolving the present impasse.
“The youths, on their part, must continue to go about their protests peacefully and not allow themselves to be led into any act of violence, no matter how small.”
He however commended the government for acceding to the demands of the youth. According to him, now, the whole country looks forward to practical steps that would be taken to implement them.
“We therefore urge the Federal Government to toe the line of engagement in dialogue, listening to the demands of the youth and other well -meaning Nigerians.
Martins indicated that the disbandment of the dreaded Special Anti -Robbery Squad (SARS) and subsequent replacement with the Special Weapons and Tactics Team (SWAT) has not assuaged the demands of the youths, who have consistently trooped out on the streets in rain and sunshine, even at nights, to show their dissatisfaction with the solution offered by government to their demands.
“The issues are clearly more fundamental than the replacement of one police unit with another. The youths, and indeed most well-meaning Nigerians, are calling for justice for the individuals and families affected by the brutality of the policemen attached to the disbanded SARS unit.
“They are also using the protest to bring to the fore the systemic failures which have led to widespread corruption, lack of accountability and massive youth unemployment, among other ills.”
Hence he concluded by asking the Government to dialogue with the protesters rather than the use of force.

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