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Corruption: FG Launches Major War Against Senators

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The Federal Government has started compiling the list of legislators in both chambers of the National Assembly over constituency projects earmarked for them in the 2014 and 2015 budgets, which were not executed.

The sum of N100bn was earmarked for constituency projects in each of the 2014 and 2015 budgets.

The worth of constituency projects totalled N200bn for the two years.

The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN), told one of our correspondents on Sunday that the compilation was being done by the police, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission.

Though he declined to give details “in order not to pre-empt investigation,” the AGF said the funds, the names of legislators and the constituency projects that were not executed would be made public after investigation.

He said his office and the law enforcement agencies had received complaints of how payments were made for constituency projects that were never executed.

He said, “The money for constituency projects had been taken, but certain allegations prevailed that some constituency projects were not executed after the money had been paid 100 per cent.

“If money is appropriated in the budget, paid and the projects the funds were meant for were not executed, it is only natural to take steps to find out what happened. If neither the money nor the project can be produced, then you must take steps in accordance with the law.

“There are cases that are specific; we are compiling them. I will not want to pre-empt investigation, we have to allow investigation to be concluded before we go public.”

When asked which of EFCC or ICPC was involved in probing the constituency project fraud, the minister responded, “including the police”.

One of our correspondents learnt that the AGF had received petitions against many of the federal legislators, including a former Chairman, House Committee on Appropriation, Mr. Abdulmumin Jibrin.

Jibrin had also petitioned the EFCC, ICPC, the police and the Department of State Services, alleging that the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr. Yakubu Dogara, and three other principal officers had requested the inclusion of N40bn projects in the 2016 budget, besides other projects in sums ranging from N20bn to N30bn.

The police are currently investigating Jibrin’s allegations.

MDAs responsible for constituency projects –Lawmakers

However, some lawmakers stated that ministries, departments and agencies under the executive were responsible for the execution of constituency projects.

They explained that lawmakers only identified projects, put them in the national budget, while the MDAs execute them after the president had approved the budget.

The representative of the Oyo South senatorial district at the Senate, Senator Adesoji Akanbi, said any probe into the constituency projects should start from the executive.

He said, “There is a certain amount set aside for constituency projects. Each lawmaker is allocated a certain amount of money and they will identify the projects of their choice. But the execution by contractors has nothing to do with lawmakers. The main role we play is to name the project and make sure that the project is executed.”

When he was asked if it was possible for a lawmaker to influence the selection of the contractor and the execution of the project, Akanbi said, “That means the ministry or the agency handling the project has been compromised.’’

Akanbi, however, said lawmakers could be culpable in the manipulation because they had to certify that the job had been done before the contractor could be paid.

Senator George Sekibo, who is recontesting his election in the Rivers-East senatorial district, also said the projects included in any budget passed by the National Assembly were executed by the MDAs.

The legistlator, who has been in the Senate since 2007, stated that lawmakers were not involved in the execution of constituency projects.

He said, ‘‘Nobody gives a kobo to any senator for constituency project. All a senator does is to recommend a project for his constituency.”

The House also said the role of lawmakers in constituency projects was limited to the selection of the projects, while relevant MDAs carried out the implementation.

It also said no member was handed cash or paid money for the implementation of the projects.

The Chairman, House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Mr. Abdulrazak Namdas, said, “Members do not execute constituency projects, and they don’t receive money for the projects.

“For example, a health centre will naturally be done by the Ministry of Health or any agency so designated by the executive to handle the project. It is not the member who implements the project or appoints the contractors.”

CSOs back FG probe

Civil rights groups supported the probe.

A United States-based activist, Simon Ajaja, said constituency projects had brought fraud.

He  said, “The idea is an organised fraud driven by the mostly ignoble men and women who have serially foisted themselves on Nigeria and Nigerians as their lawmakers, but with no intentions of making laws that would engineer  national development beyond advancing a cause for themselves via phoney loopholes in the system.”

Also, the Executive Secretary of The Anti-Corruption Network, Ebenezer Oyetakin, urged the Federal Government to carry out a thorough probe.

“The constituency projects have become an avenue for the members of the National Assembly to recoup the outrageous money spent to run elections and to feed their corruption nest rather than serving the purpose they are defined to serve,” he added.

The President of Campaign for Democracy, Bako Usman, said, “This will create more synergy between the executive and the legislature, and even the judiciary. When it comes to budget harmonisation and implementation, issues like padding will no longer occur.”

The National Publicity Secretary of Afenifere, Yinka Odumakin, advised the government to limit access to money by public officials.

He said, “The government should start institutional reforms that will ensure that people don’t have access to that kind of money again.’’

Efforts to get the reaction of the Senate’s spokesperson, Senator Sani Abdullahi, proved abortive as his mobile phone rang out. He had yet to reply to a text message sent to him.

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and Investing.com, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.

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Government

Federal Government Raises Price of Electric Meters

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The Federal Government through the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission has raised the price of both single-phase and three-phase electricity meters starting from November 15, 2021.

The regulator increased the price of a single-phased meter to N58.661.69, up from the present cost of N44,896.17. While the price of a three-phase meter was raised from the current cost of N82,855.19 to a revised rate of N109,684.36.

The commission announced this in a circular dated November 11, 2021 and addressed to managing directors of all electricity Distribution Companies and all meter asset providers.

The circular, with reference number NERC/REG/MAP/GEN/751/2, was entitled ‘Review of the unit price of end-use meters under the Meter Asset Provider and National Mass Metering Regulations’.

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Complete Text of President Buhari’s Speech at the Furniture Investment Initiative Summit

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Buhari arrives Bamako, Mali

President Muhammadu Buhari is one of the global leaders invited to speak at the ongoing 5th Future Investment Initiative Summit organised by Saudi Arabia.

As reported by Investors King, President Buhari arrived Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on Monday at about 11.50 pm for the summit.

On Tuesday President Buhari delivered the speech below.

“Let me begin by conveying my heartfelt gratitude and appreciation to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud for inviting me to the 5th edition of the Future Investment Initiative Summit in Riyadh.

In the short period of its existence, this summit has emerged as a credible forum for interaction between the public and private sectors, to explore ways of advancing economic growth, development and global prosperity.

I wish to commend the organizers of this year’s summit for the foresight to look at “investment”, not only from a profitability and wealth accumulation point of view, but also bringing prosperity to humanity in general. The humane approach to investment is the only way to address the global challenges we face, especially in the Covid-19 era.

We should continue to sustain our efforts to combat the COVID- 19 pandemic and mitigate its negative socio-economic impact on our societies, build resilience and achieve recovery. It is therefore my hope, that this session will leverage on the enormous economic opportunities that lie ahead in order to satisfy the prevailing needs of our people and planet.

Investing in humanity is investing in our collective survival. This is why we in Nigeria we believe that public and private partnership should focus on increasing investments in health, education, capacity building, youth empowerment, gender equality, poverty eradication, climate change and food security. By so doing, it will go a long way in re- energizing the global economy in a post COVID-19 era.

Nigeria’s population today exceeds 200 million people. Some 70 percent are under 35 years old. When we came into government in 2015, we were quick to realise that long-term peace and stability of our country is dependent on having inclusive and humane policies.

In the past six years, our government took very painful but necessary decisions to invest for a long-term prosperous future knowing very well that this will come with short term pains.

We focused on the following areas:
a. diversification from oil to more inclusive sectors such as agriculture, ICT and mining;
b. tackling corruption, insecurity and climate change; and c. introducing a Social Investment Program.

We introduced policies that supported investments in agriculture and food processing. We provided loans and technical support to small holder farmers, through the Anchor Borrowers Program. As a result, Nigeria today has over 40 rice mills from less than 10 in 2014. Nigeria also has over 46 active fertiliser blending plants from less than 5 in 2014.

Furthermore, in agriculture, we have reformed the process of obtaining inputs such as fertilizer and seeds. We have several million hectares of available arable land and have embarked on the creation of Special Agriculture Processing Zones across the country. These initiatives we believe will make it easier for investors in agriculture.

Two months ago, I signed the Petroleum Industry Act. The Act will serve as a catalyst to liberalize our petroleum sector. It has introduced a number of incentives such as tax holidays, 100 percent ownership, zero interest loans and easy transfer of funds. In addition, we have highly skilled in-country workforce and a large domestic market.

In mining, we have also made several opportunities available for investors. Nigeria is a country rich in minerals from gold, iron ore, tin, zinc, cobalt, lithium, limestone, phosphate, bitumen and many others. We have made the licensing process easier and also made extensive investments in rail and transportation.

Infrastructure investments represent significant potential for investors in Nigeria. We have opportunities in seaports, rail, toll roads, real estate, renewable energy and many others. We have created several institutions that are available to co-invest with you in Nigeria.

We have the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority and more recently, I approved the creation of Infrastructure Corporation of Nigeria. These institutions are run as independent world class institutions to make investments in the country and are available to co- invest with you.

In addition, the development of social infrastructure such as healthcare and education present enormous opportunities for investors in a country our size.

Digital Economy in Nigeria has many potentials for investment, as it has remained the fastest growing sector in both 2020 and 2021. Nigeria has many opportunities for investment in broadband, ICT hardware, emerging technology and software engineering.

We have recently approved the national policy on Fifth Generation (5G) network. Our aim is to attract investors in healthcare, smart cities, smart agriculture among others. The benefit of real time communication will support all other sectors of the economy.

Yesterday, I launched the E-Naira, the electronic version of our national currency, which puts us on track to become the first African country to introduce a Central Bank Digital Currency. We believe this and many other reforms, will help us increase the number of people participating in the banking sector, make for a more efficient financial sector and help us tackle illicit flow of funds.

To further strengthen our anti-corruption drive, increase accountability and transparency, we have centralized government funds through a Treasury Single Account, and ensuring that all Nigerians with a bank account use a unique Bank Verification Number (BVN). These initiatives, coupled with our nationwide National Identification Number (NIN) exercise, reinforce our efforts to tackle corruption and fraud. We believe that this should give investors a lot of comfort.

As we strive to build resilience towards a sustainable economy in our various countries, let us not forget the negative impact of climate change on our efforts to achieve this goal. Nigeria and many countries in Africa, are already facing the challenges posed by climate change. Climate change has triggered conflicts, food insecurity, irregular youth migration, rising level of sea waters, drought and desertification, as well as the drying-up of the Lake Chad.

In the Lake Chad Basin region, where Boko Haram insurgency continues to undermine the peace, security and development of the region, climate change is largely responsible for the drying up of the Lake Chad which has shrunk by more than 85% of its original size.

The diminishing size of the Lake is at the root of the loss of millions of livelihoods, displacement of inhabitants and radicalization of teeming youths in the region who are recruited to serve as foot soldiers in the insurgency.

In order to redress this situation and restore the lost fortunes of the Lake Chad Basin region, strong public-private partnership through massive investments will be needed to recharge the waters of Lake Chad. I am confident that this forum will rise to the challenge in the interest of durable peace and sustainable development of our region.

We cannot invest in humanity without relieving our countries from the crushing effects of the debt burden especially when the COVID-19 pandemic has increased the risk of deepening the debt portfolio of poor countries. These nations increasingly allocate more and more resources towards external debt servicing and repayment at the expense of the health, education and other services that contribute to the overall well- being of their population.

Nigeria is Africa’s largest economy and most populous nation. Our economic reforms which focus on “humane” investments are ideal for investors looking to have profitable returns while positively impacting the citizenry.

Your Excellencies, Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, Investing in Humanity is the right thing to do. I strongly believe the historical under- investments in “humane projects” is the genesis of most of the insecurity and socio-economic challenges the world is experiencing today.

I will conclude once again by thanking the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, and also congratulate His Royal Highness, Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman for their leadership and their support through the Future Investment Initiative.

I remain confident that through such exchanges, the world indeed will be a better place. I hope and pray that this forum will rise to the challenge in the interest of durable peace and sustainable development.

I thank you.”

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UN and Zimbabwe Sign New Cooperation Framework

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The government of Zimbabwe and United Nations have signed the 2022-2026 Zimbabwe United Nations Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework that will support the country’s efforts to achieve Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The official signing and launch of the Zimbabwe United Nations Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework 2022-2026 was presided over by the Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet, Dr Misheck Sibanda and UN Resident Coordinator Maria Ribeiro. UNESCO Regional Director for Southern Africa, Prof. Hubert Gijzen witnessed the signing ceremony together with other UN Country Team members and Government officials.

Speaking at the signing ceremony, Dr Misheck Sibanda said Zimbabwe was grateful for the UN support towards the country’s development in the face of various challenges.

“I want to pay gratitude to Ms Maria Rebeiro for her commitment to uplift the livelihoods of the people of Zimbabwe in the face of natural disasters like the cyclone, droughts and the COVID-19 pandemic,” Dr. Misheck Sibanda.

He took the opportunity to bid farewell to Ms Rebeiro whose term of office ends this year and urged the UN team to continue with the legacy of her hard-work which saw the UN mobilise US$400 million towards promotion of agriculture, climate adaptation and health needs for Zimbabwe.

The UN Resident emphasised the importance of aligning the UN’s programmes with the country’s development strategies.

“In the same spirit of achieving SDGs, climate change, the COVID-19 pandemic are opportunities for us to do better by aligning the country programmed NDS1 with instruments of the UN in resource and financial mobilisation,” Ms. Maria Ribeiro.

The 2022-2026 Zimbabwe United Nations Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework (ZUNSDCF) articulates the strategic engagement of the United Nations Country Team (UNCT) in Zimbabwe to support the country to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Anchored on Zimbabwe’s National Development Strategy 1 (NDS1) 2021-2025, the ZUNSDCF encapsulates the shared commitment to leaving no one behind through delivering concrete results that ensure inclusive participation and reaching the people typically left the furthest behind.

The ZUNSDCF with full government ownership throughout the process, is a result of extensive consultations involving a wide range of key stakeholders whose inputs contributed to defining the strategic priorities and implementation modalities.

The ZUNSDCF lays out an ambitious programme to accelerate development progress during the Decade of Action as Zimbabwe strives to recover better and stronger from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Fully cognizant of the urgency to act, the ZUNSDCF represents the vehicle through which the UNCT in partnership with the Government of Zimbabwe and other stakeholders, will deliver transformative support that drives inclusive and sustainable economic growth, gender equality, human rights and climate action.

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