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Reps Query N450bn Amnesty Contracts Under Jonathan

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  • Reps Query N450bn Amnesty Contracts Under Jonathan

The House of Representatives, on Monday, queried contracts worth over N450bn awarded under the Presidential Amnesty Programme between 2010 and 2015.

The House Committee on Public Procurement and the Committee on Niger Delta are investigating the contracts, which were meant to execute projects for the rehabilitation of ex-Niger Delta militants.

The Lead Chairman of the hearing, Mr. Oluwole Oke, said documents obtained by the House showed numerous breaches of the Public Procurement Act, 2007, by the officials of the Presidential Amnesty Office.

They allegedly “colluded” with many companies that had doubtful background to execute the contracts.

Oke also said the over 300 firms that handled the controversial contracts did not register with the Corporate Affairs Commission.

The Federal Inland Revenue Service also wrote the House to say that many of the firms had no tax clearance certificates.

Oke added, “Over N450bn was committed to the programme under former President Goodluck Jonathan.

“We are out to find out how the money was utilised; this is not a witch-hunt, but this hearing is to find out the truth.

“FIRS, CAC, the Industrial Training Fund, they wrote us on the status of these companies with them.

“We have to ask these questions because the Amnesty programme was a good intention by the Federal Government under the late President Umaru Yar’Adua to address the challenges in the Niger Delta region.

“At a time we are facing economic recession, we are aware that the Niger Delta is key to our (economic) recovery.

“So, if so much money was committed to resolving those challenges and we are still where we are with the same problems, we have to ask questions.”

As the roll call of former Special Advisers to the President on Amnesty Programme was taken, only Mr. Timi Alaibe was present at the hearing.

Mr. Kingsley Kuku, who headed the office up till the time the Jonathan’s administration wound down in 2015, did not honour the committee’s invitation.

However, Alaibe informed the committee that he was ready to cooperate with the investigation.

He told the lawmakers how the “protocol” of the Amnesty programme was jettisoned after he left office.

Alaibe stated, “There was a protocol of the Amnesty programme. Was it followed?

“There were five pillars of the programme. What the committee is looking at here is only the procurement.

“But, I have a detailed record of what we did before we left office.”

A former Director of Procurement at the Amnesty Office, Mr. Tikolo Phillip, came under a barrage of questions from lawmakers when he claimed that the office complied with all procurement requirements in awarding the contracts.

When confronted with the evidence that FIRS, CAC and ITF’s reports discredited the firms which handled the contracts, Phillip replied that they “met minimum requirements of law.”

According to him, some companies merely produced evidence of sworn affidavit attesting to their competence and qualifications.

However, he admitted how under Kuku, some contracts were awarded in line with the urgency to mobilise ex-militants to camps for training.

Some ex-militant leaders, who came to the hearing, created a mild drama when they accused “political leaders” in the Niger Delta of being responsible for the non-implementation of the programme.

One of them, ‘General’ Morocco Wilifred, alleged that N500m was set aside to take care of the welfare of ex-militant leaders shortly before President Muhammadu Buhari assumed office in 2015.

He alleged that the money “disappeared” within a few days without traces.

Wilifred added, “The N500m was meant to be shared to 53 ex-militant leaders. The money disappeared.

“Our Niger Delta political leaders are the people destroying the region. They will tell you that they trained some of the boys, but they don’t even know anything.

“Some trainees were sent abroad, but they were sent back to Nigeria because they stopped paying their bills.”

Another ‘General’ David Ogwekpe, claimed that Kuku “tortured” some ex-militants for daring to confront him over the non-implementation of some rehabilitation projects.

Ogwekpe alleged that at a point, the amnesty funds were being rationed out to family members by officials.

“They were busy sharing the money to themselves and family members. The main people (ex-militants) were sidelined and they turned the amnesty programme to a political programme,” he said.

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.

Government

COVAX Delivered 38m Vaccine Doses To Over 100 Countries, Says WHO

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The World Health Organisation (WHO) yesterday announced that more than 100 countries have received life-saving COVID-19 vaccines from COVAX, the global mechanism for equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines.

It said the milestone comes 42 days after the first COVAX doses were shipped and delivered internationally, to Ghana on February 24th.

In a statement, the United Nations’ Agency revealed that COVAX has now delivered more than 38 million doses across six continents, supplied by three manufacturers – AstraZeneca, Pfizer-BioNTech and the Serum Institute of India (SII).

Of the over 100 economies reached, 61 are among the 92 lower-income economies receiving vaccines funded through the Gavi COVAX Advance Market Commitment (AMC).

It, however, said despite reduced supply availability in March and April – the result of vaccine manufacturers scaling and optimising their production processes in the early phase of the rollout, as well as increased demand for COVID-19 vaccines in India – COVAX expects to deliver doses to all participating economies that have requested vaccines in the first half of the year.

According to the CEO of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, Dr. Seth Berkley, “In under four months since the very first mass vaccination outside a clinical setting anywhere in the world, it is tremendously gratifying that the roll-out of COVAX doses has already reached 100 countries.

“COVAX may be on track to deliver to all participating economies in the first half of the year yet we still face a daunting challenge as we seek to end the acute stage of the pandemic: we will only be safe when everybody is safe and our efforts to rapidly accelerate the volume of doses depend on the continued support of governments and vaccine manufacturers. As we continue with the largest and most rapid global vaccine rollout in history, this is no time for complacency.”

The WHO Director-General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said: “COVAX has given the world the best way to ensure the fastest, most equitable rollout of safe and effective vaccines to all at-risk people in every country on the planet.

“If we are going to realise this great opportunity, countries, producers and the international system must come together to prioritise vaccine supply through COVAX. Our collective future, literally, depends on it.”

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Approved Ibom Deep Sea Port, Proposed $1.4B Fertilizer Plant Will Change Akwa Ibom’s Economic Status – Gov. Udom

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Akwa Ibom State Government has said the approved Ibom Deep Seaport and the proposed $1.4 billion Fertilizer and Ammonia Plant are expected to change the economic status of the state.

The State Governor, Mr. Udom Emmanuel, made the assertion in an Easter message to the people of the state.

He maintained that with the recent approval and take off of the federal government’s approved Oil and Gas Free Zone and the ongoing construction of the Sterling Petrochemical Plant at Eastern Obolo, the state would be ready to dump its status as a civil service state.

The governor said the fertilizer and ammonia plants should be supported by all indegenes and residents irrespective of political affiliation because of its capacity to change the economic fortunes of the state.

The governor who commended President Muhammadu Buhari for approving the industrial projects in the state said construction work on the Ibom Deep Seaport would commence very soon.

“In recent past, we have been blessed with life-changing projects such as Sterling Petrochemical Plant in Eastern Obolo, where construction is in an advanced stage.

“Two months ago, the Federal Executive Council, (FEC) approved the license for us to commence the construction of our long desired Ibom Deep Seaport. Work would soon commence on this gigantic project. These are huge achievements for our State and our people.

“Ibom Deep Seaport will open up our economic fortunes; create employment and wealth opportunities for our people and throw open our State as a major maritime hub in our nation.

“We thank the President and the Commander in-Chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces, Muhammadu Buhari (GCFR) for this kind approval,” he said.

Continuing, Emmanuel said: “About three weeks ago, we signed a $1.4 billion Fertilizer and Ammonia plant with our Moroccan counterparts. The plant will again create huge employment and other supply chain activities for our people, which will transform us from a civil service oriented state to a fast industrialising one.

“These are huge achievements that should gladden the hearts of every Akwa Ibomite irrespective of political affiliations.”

He reminded the people of the state that the essence of Easter would be lost if the resurrection of Christ is not allowed to illuminate their souls through love and sacrifice to one another.

“Let the fishermen in the ocean fronts of Mbo, Okobo, Eastern Obolo and Ibeno love one another. Let the farmers in the rice plantations at Ini, Ikono, Ika, Onna and Nsit Ibom love one another.

“Let the civil servants and public servants, politicians in all political parties, members of all denominations, preachers of all faiths, love one another.

“When we let love drive our every action and every thought, when we let it drip from our lips and from our hands, then shall the joy of Easter be complete, and our State shall surely attain the lofty height set for it by our ancestors when they named it Akwa Abasi Ibom State.” the Governor stated.

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US Intelligence Says ISIS and Al-Qaeda Are Planning to Attack Southern Nigeria

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The United States has warned the Federal Government of Nigeria that Al-Qaeda and ISIS are planning to attack Southern Nigeria.

This was disclosed by Dagvin Anderson, the Commander of the US special operations command, Africa.

According to Dagvin Anderson, AlQaeda is planning to expand into the Southern part of Nigeria and other parts of West Africa.

He, however, said the US will continue to share intelligence with Nigeria.

We have engaged with Nigeria and continue to engage with them in intel sharing and in understanding what these violent extremists are doing,” he said.

And that has been absolutely critical to their engagements up in the Borno state and into an emerging area of northwest Nigeria that we’re seeing al-Qaeda starting to make some inroads in. 

“So, this intelligence sharing is absolutely vital and we stay fully engaged with the government of Nigeria to provide them with an understanding of what these terrorists are doing, what Boko Haram is doing, what ISIS-West Africa is doing, and how ISIS and al-Qaeda are looking to expand further south into the littoral areas. 

Anderson regretted that despite successes recorded in previous years, there has been a setback, adding: “We as a community of international nations, keep thinking we have defeated them or we have put them on their back foot and that they’re just moments from disintegration.” Anderson said for international efforts to yield desired results in the fight against terrorism in Nigeria, the government must take the lead. 

“When it comes to Nigeria in general, Nigeria, obviously, is a critical nation to West Africa. It is a critical nation and we realise that Nigeria is a lynchpin,” he said.

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