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Reps Summon Adeosun Over Alleged Oil, Gas Infractions

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  • Reps Summon Adeosun Over Alleged Oil, Gas Infractions

The House of Representatives Committee on Public Procurement has summoned the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun over the alleged violation of the law in the engagement of consultants for pre-shipment inspection and monitoring of crude oil and gas exports from the country.

Adeosun and the permanent secretary in her ministry are to appear before the committee led by Mr. Wole Oke by 10:00 a.m. today in the two-day investigative hearing on the issue at the National Assembly in Abuja.

Activities in the oil and gas sector are reportedly bogged down by a lack of transparency. The probe, if efficiently carried out, may be another measure at checking corruption in the industry.

Members of the committee who condemned the absence of the minister were further incensed after the Director of Legal Services in the ministry, Mr. Christopher Gabriel said he was not prepared to make submission on behalf of the ministry.

Oke, who grilled the Director General of the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP), Mr. Mamman Ahmad over the non-adherence to the directive of President Muhammadu Buhari on due process, wondered why the bureau failed to carry out due diligence in the evaluation. He particularly accused the BPE of abdicating its responsibilities to verify claims of bidders who were allegedly ranked prequalified fraudulently in a bid to mislead the ministry.

The BPP boss, who disclosed that the prequalification process had been completed and the report sent to the finance ministry, insisted that outfits picked industry practitioners based on security reports and available information.

Oke wondered why the Ministry of Finance decided to delve into the affairs of the petroleum ministry, and queried the BPP boss for not adhering to the rule of open competitive bidding as specified by the PPA Act.

A member of the committee, Mr. Ossai Nicholas Ossai drew the attention of the BPP boss to how three of the firms, including Trobell International Limited owned by an individual that evaded the payment of taxes, were picked and tasked with both the inspection and monitoring of oil exports from the country.

An attempt by the Managing Director of Trobell, Mr. Thomas Sedi, who was at the investigative hearing, to distance his outfit from such infractions failed as Oke confronted him with evidence that his outfit evaded tax since it under-declared a ridiculous amount of a turnover of N795,000.00 which was a clear aberration.

Oke, who lamented that the BPP sidelined duly qualified firms in the polity, said the committee would refer the issue involving Trobell to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the police, Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC), and the Department of State Services (DSS) to unearth the level of breaches involving the pre-qualified firms.

The Auditor- General of the Federation (AGF), Mr. Anthony Mkpe Ayime who testified before the lawmakers said he was not in the know of the entire prequalification exercise.

Meanwhile, the Senate President, Bukola Saraki has reviewed the styles adopted in waging the war against corruption by the President Buhari-led administration submitting that they had failed. He advocated deterrence rather than punishment in order to permanently win the war.

Saraki made the comments in his speech at the public presentation of Senator Dino Melaye’s book titled: Antidotes For Corruption – The Nigerian Story held in Abuja yesterday. He declared that the Federal Government had not achieved much in its war against corruption because the anti-graft agencies were under pressure to demonstrate that they were working well.

“Most often, therefore, because our anti-corruption agencies are under pressure to justify their existence and show that they are working, they often tend to prefer the show over the substance. However, while the show might provide momentary excitement or even public applause, it does not substitute for painstaking investigation that can guarantee convictions,” Saraki said.

Charging the government and its officials to show more openness and accountability in their dealings, the Senate President stated: “The people are demanding more openness, more accountability and more convictions. Those of us in government are also responding, joining the conversation and accepting that the basis of our legitimacy as government is our manifest accountability to the people. We acknowledge that if we want Nigerians to trust their government again, then government at all levels must demonstrate that we are not in office for the pursuit of private gains, but to make our people happier by helping them to meet their legitimate aspirations and achieve a higher quality of life.”

On why deterrence is a better approach to fighting corruption, Saraki said: “I am convinced that we must return to that very basic medical axiom that prevention is better than cure. Perhaps, the reason our fight against corruption has met with rather limited success is that we appeared to have favoured punishment over deterrence.

“We must review our approaches in favour of building systems that make it a lot more difficult to carry out corrupt acts or to find a safe haven for corruption proceeds within our borders.

“In doing this, we must continue to strengthen accountability, significantly limit discretion in public spending, and promote greater openness,” he said.

On why the current style adopted to fight corruption is wrong, Saraki said: “The problem with that approach however, is that the justice system in any democracy is primarily inclined to protect the fundamental rights of citizens. Therefore, it continues to presume every accused as innocent until proven guilty. Most often, it is difficult to establish guilt beyond all reasonable doubts as required by our laws. It requires months, if not years of painstaking investigations. It requires highly experienced and technically sound investigation and forensic officers. It requires anti-corruption agents and agencies that are truly independent and manifestly insulated from political interference and manipulation. We must admit that we are still far from meeting these standards.”

The Senate President, however, declared that tremendous progress had been made in the fight against corruption under Buhari in the last two years. “One area I believe we have made remarkable progress is that corruption has been forced back to the top of our national political agenda.

“Every day you read the newspapers, you listen to the radio, you go on the Internet, you watch the television, the people are talking about it. The people are demanding more openness, more accountability and more convictions.”

The ceremony chaired by the former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Umar Ghali Na’Abba, also had in attendance Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu; former governor of Kogi State, Captain Idris Wada; former First Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan; former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Senator Anyim Pius Anyim; Minister of Federal Capital Territory, Mr. Mohammed Bello and Minister of Labour, Dr. Chris Ngige, among others.

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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FG to Ease Economic Burden of 1.7m Small Businesses, Individuals

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FG to Provide Financial Support for 1.7m Small Businesses and Individuals

The Federal Government has said it will provide financial support for 1.7 million businesses and individuals in the next three months.

The Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment, Ambassador Mariam Katagum, disclosed this at the virtual commissioning of the Fashion Cluster Shared Facility for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) held at Eko Fashion Hub, in Lagos.

According to the minister, the initiative was borne out of the government’s continued effort at cushion the negative impact of COVID-19 on the people by protecting present jobs while simultaneously creating new opportunities.

She further explained that the administration of President Buhari, through the Economic Sustainability Committee, had launched specific programmes to cushion the negative effect of COVID-19 on small businesses across the country.

She said, “The Federal Government is fully committed to empowering Nigerians; more so in the face of the COVID-19 Pandemic. In this regard, the government, through the Economic Sustainability Committee had announced specific programmes aimed at cushioning the impact of COVID-19 on MSME businesses.

“These programmes include among others, the N75 billion MSME Survival Fund and Guaranteed Off-take Schemes of which I have the honour to chair the Steering Committee for the effective implementation of the projects.

“The project, which will run for an initial period of three months, is targeting 1.7million entities and individuals and has provisions for 45 per cent female-owned businesses and five per cent for those with special needs. The registration portal for the schemes is set to open on Monday 21st September 2020 and I urge you all to take full advantage of the schemes.”

Katagum explained that the Nigerian Economic Sustainability Plan, which was developed by a committee headed by the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, was introduced to combat the health and economic challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.

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OPay, WorldRemit Partner to Deepen Mobile Money Transfer Service

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Nigerian financial service technology company, OPay has announced a partnership with leading global digital payments platform WorldRemit, to offer international money transfers directly into OPay mobile wallets in Nigeria.

The partnership between OPay and WorldRemit will provide Nigerians with a fast, easy and more affordable way to receive money from over 50 countries including the United States, United Kingdom and Canada directly into their mobile phones.

Nigerian financial service technology company, OPay has announced a partnership with leading global digital payments platform WorldRemit, to offer international money transfers directly into OPay mobile wallets in Nigeria.

The partnership between OPay and WorldRemit will provide Nigerians with a fast, easy and more affordable way to receive money from over 50 countries including the United States, United Kingdom and Canada directly into their mobile phones.

OPay also offers an exciting opportunity for customers to save and invest their money in its FlexiFixed service, which offers up to 12% returns per annum.

The service, which launches in September 2020, is immediately available to all OPay customers on KYC 2 level and above. New customers can download the Opay app from the Google Playstore or iOS store and upgrade to KYC level 2 to instantly access the service.

“This partnership ensures that customers can continue to make affordable money transfers to their family and friends in the comfort of their homes. Together WorldRemit and OPay are disrupting traditional money transfer methods by delivering services that customers can access 24/7 via smartphones at their convenience.

“I’m pleased to share that we’ve reduced prices in 48 corridors and passed the savings onto our customers. With communities across the world having to change their lifestyles due to the disruption caused by Covid-19, we’re proud to play our part in making sure our customers can continue to support their family and friends throughout this challenging time,” says Gbenga Okejimi, Country Manager for Nigeria & Ghana at WorldRemit.

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COVID-19: Africa’s Hospitality Industry Loses $50 Billion

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Hospitality Industry In Africa Loses $50 Billion to COVID-19

Global health pandemic has erased more than $50 billion in revenue from the hotel and tourism industry in Africa, according to a recent report.

African Union stated this in a report titled “Impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) on the African economy”.

However, on Thursday Transcorp Hotel admitted suffering unprecedented losses and therefore has decided to let go 40 percent of its present staff as it moves to restructure and reposition the company for the new normal.

To this end, the hotelier is diversifying its portfolio and reducing its workforce as part of its cost management initiatives,” Transcorp Hotels Plc Managing Director Mrs. Dupe Olusola, said at a news conference yesterday.

She went on: “The impact of COVID-19 on the business is like nothing the company has ever witnessed. The hotel and hospitality industry in Nigeria has never faced a crisis that brought travel to a standstill, including the Ebola Virus Outbreak of 2014 and the recession of 2015.

“The slow pick up of international travel, restriction on large gatherings, the switch to virtual meetings and fear of the virus, has drastically reduced demand for our hotels and occupancy levels to its lowest of less than five per cent.

“Despite the losses incurred we have fulfilled our obligations to staff. At the inception of the pandemic, we maintained a 100 per cent salary payment to our over 900 employees in March and April.

“We also activated various cost-saving initiatives such as renegotiations of service contracts and restructuring of our loans. We suspended further commitment to buy fixed assets and operating equipment as well as reducing our energy consumption and maintenance costs.

Despite undertaking these, it has become apparent that more fundamental changes need to be made for the business to survive. To this end, our workforce headcount will be reduced by at least 40 per cent and our reward system will be optimised.”

Mrs. Olusola further disclosed how the company plans to adequately compensated its workers given the peculiarities of the economy at this time.

She said: “A health insurance package to reduce their health burden costs, especially during the pandemic, amongst other payment settlements, will be activated. Equally, all Executives of Transcorp Hilton Abuja have now taken a pay cut.

“As one of the leading hospitality brands in Africa, Transcorp Hotels Plc has stated its commitment to uphold service standards and ensure that all guests continue to experience the warmth and hospitality that it is known for.”

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