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Reps to investigate alleged diversion of power funds

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The House of Representatives has adopted a motion mandating the Committee on Power to investigate the alleged diversion of funds appropriated for the power sector, and the apparent disregard of due process in the award of projects.

Raising the motion, Mr. Yunusa Ahmad (APC, Gombe) noted that the country has been grappling with poor power supply for a long time, despite efforts by several administrations to address the situation. During his presentation, the lawmaker highlighted the important role power plays, especially in the development and economic advancement of any nation.

He went on to add that the current administration has prioritised the provision of stable power supply to citizens in its scheme of projects and, hopefully, this will herald the industrialization of the country.

He said, “…funds were appropriated by the National Assembly in the 2016 and 2017 budgets for various power projects, some of which were awarded and are at various stages of completion, while others are yet to be awarded.

“The allegation that the bulk of the funds appropriated in the 2016 and 2017 budgets for the power projects was expended without regard to due process, and as a result, that contractors handling various projects are not being paid, a case in point being the Zungeru Hydro Power Project.

“That failure to pay contractors might lead to increase in the costs of the projects, apart from heightening the restiveness of resettled communities, which could present huge risks to the execution of the projects,” he submitted.

Ruling on the matter, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr. Yakubu Dogara asked the committee to investigate and report back in six weeks for further legislative action.

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Tambuwal, Mark, others collected N17b bribe to pass 2015 Budget – Okonjo-Iweala

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Former Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iwella, has alleged that former President of the Senate, David Mark; former Speaker of the House of Representatives and now Governor of Sokoto State, Alhaji Aminu Tambuwal; and other members of National Assembly collected a N17 billion bribe before the 2015 Budget was passed.

Okonjo-Iweala, who served under former President Olusegun Obasanjo, made the shocking revelation known in her new book: “Fighting Corruption is Dangerous: The Story Behind the Headlines.”

Okonjo-Iwela said this on page 80 of the book as Twitted and pictured by the spokesman of the President Muhammadu Buhari Campaign Organisation, Festus Keyamo (SAN).

The former Minister said the bribe money, which was added into the budget was N20 billion initially, but was reduced to N17 billion.

She added that the N17 billion was padded into budget as election expenses.

She said: “By the time we presented budget on December 16, 2014, the oil prices has further fallen down to $58 per barrel. We were prepared and knew we had to trigger the additional expenditure and revenue measure in 2015 to make the budget work. This would be tough, given that we had entered election year.

“Indeed, legislators initially refused to accept pay cuts to their regular N150 billion budget, despite dwindling revenues. But, eventually agreed to 13 percent cut against backdrop of Ministers accepting voluntary 50 percent to their basic salaries.

“In a tough session with the National Assembly ad-hoc committee on budget (made up chairs of Finance committee and Appropriation Committee of both chambers and other leaders of National Assembly), an additional N20 billion was reintroduced as election expenses for the National Assembly members.

“We insisted that the amount should be dropped because it nullified the 13 percent cut to their statutory budget, but managed N20 billion figure by only N3 billion to N17. This become the price to have 2015 budget passed.”
But it was not clear as at the time of filling this report whether all members of the National Assembly benefited from the N17 billion budget padding.

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Birnin-Gwari: Again 42 passengers kidnapped

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In a daring and consistent operation along Birnin-Gwari-Kaduna Highway, armed bandits have kidnapped 42 passengers en-route to Kano within 24 hours.
A leader of National Union of Road Transport Workers in Birnin-Gwari, who pleaded anonymity, told PRNigeria that the incidents occurred tetween evening of Tuesday and Wednesday morning.
The union leader said: “At least 42 passengers have been kidnapped along Birnin-Gwari and Kaduna Highway between yesterday evening and this morning.
“This Wednesday morning around 8am, the armed bandit intercepted three vehicles conveying 21 people from Birnin-Gwari, Kuriga and Kagara and abducted them into the bush.
“Meanwhile, yesterday evening around 5.15pm, another 21 people inside commercial VW golf (saloon) cars were also kidnapped.
“Some of the drivers of the vehicles who escaped on sighting the kidnappers narrated their ordeal to us.
“Majority of the passengers, including women and children, were travelling to Kano when the kidnappings occurred.”
PRNigeria has gathered that relevant security agencies have been informed of the development and action is being taking to rescue the victims and apprehend the kidnappers.
Recall that PRNigeria had reported activities of armed bandits operating along Birnin-Gwari-Kaduna Highway, where they recently kidnapped 107 passengers, which prompted the Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Yusuf Buratai, to charge troops to end the wanton killings and destruction of property in the axis in three weeks.
Concerned with the incessant kidnapping and killing, the National Union of Road Transport Workers in the area cautioned its members from plying the route pending deployment of troop and other security agencies.
An official of the NURTW told PRNigeria that most of the kidnapped victims were passengers travelling between the Northern and Southern parts of the country.

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Lagos to subsidize staff housing for civil servants, says HoS

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The Lagos State Head of Service, Folashade Adesoye has said that steps are currently being taken to ensure that the Rent-To-Own Scheme of the State Government eases the accommodation problem confronting employees in the Civil Service.

Adesoye disclosed this on Tuesday at the ongoing annual Ministerial Press Briefing to mark the third anniversary of Governor Akinwunmi Ambode’s administration held at Bagauda Kaltho Press Centre in Alausa

She stated that efforts are in top gear to review the Staff Quarters Manual to further strengthen the basis of the relationship between the Government and occupiers of the Staff Quarters.

Adesoye gave assurance that her office will not rest on its oars until affordable housing units are provided for members of staff, just as she expressed optimism that the Rent-To-Own Scheme would create a veritable platform for Public Servants to benefit maximally from this mortgage scheme at a subsidised rate.

Speaking further, the HOS stated that the budgetary provision for Housing Loan for civil servants in the State has increased from N50 Million N100, saying that the development lays credence to the State government’s commitment to staff welfare.

“Within the period under review, 280 Public Servants from various MDAs benefitted from a total sum of N95,033,564.14 as housing loan,” she said.

The HOS stated that the government has a total housing stock of 1,121 Housing units spread across the State as staff quarters, stating that the units have served as an avenue through which the government ameliorates accommodation issues for its workforce.

She disclosed that the State government through the Office of Transformation, Creativity and Innovation, OTCI, has completed the design of an advocacy programme aimed at enlightening Public Servants on the need for a change from a “Fixed” to a “Growth” Mindset, stressing that governance in Lagos State has been characterised by promises fulfilled, anchored through a vibrant and purposeful Public Service.

“I take pride in stating that our Public Servants are competent professionals who are committed to the tenets of Service delivery. We boast of loyal, dedicated, and effective Officials across the broad spectrum of our employees from the Management Staff to the Cleaners, Drivers and Office Attendants. Let me, therefore, use this forum to celebrate the diligent Public Servants of Lagos State for their readiness to embrace change as we consolidate on our efforts to becoming a Smart City.” Adesoye stated.

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