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NDDC in N6.25bn fresh palliative scandal

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The Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) is embroiled in a fresh scandal over N6.25bn purportedly spent as COVID-19 palliatives.

This came to the fore on Thursday when the Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions was told the amount was embezzled by the sacked Interim Management Committee led by Prof. Daniel Pondei.

Chairman of the agency’s COVID-19 Palliative Distribution Committee, Ambassador Sobomabo Jackrich, said no amount was spent as palliatives.

He stated this in a petition addressed to the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions Committee, Senator Ayo Akinyelure.

Ambassador Jackrich alleged that the money was misappropriated as his committee “was totally sidelined and the IMC hijacked the process because of their secret plots just because I, as the chairman, demanded for transparency in the entire process.”

The petition read in part, “As Chairman of the COVID-19 Palliatives Distribution Committee of the NDDC, I testify that N6.25billion approved by Mr President for Palliatives for the entire Niger Delta Region through the NDDC, cannot be accounted for and is allegedly embezzled by the then Prof Daniel Pondei-led IMC.

“My committee was totally sidelined and the IMC hijacked the process because of their secret plots just because I, as the Chairman, demanded for transparency in the entire process.

“The then IMC conspired among themselves and distributed strange substance in the name of Palliatives in form of spoilt food items to a few communities in the region.

“To cover up for the fraud, they tried without success to bribe me with few bags of rice and beans just to induce me to play along with them.”

Senator Akinyelure vowed that the Senate would get to the root of the alleged financial sleaze and asked the NDDC to appear before his committee on February 22 to defend itself.

He said, “This is the third time the leadership of the commission failed to honour invitation on the alleged N6.25 billion COVID-19 palliative scam.

“But unfortunately for them, as a committee of the Senate, we shall thoroughly investigate it whether they like it or not, since petition on the fraud even came from a ranking officer from the commission.

“Even as a senator from one of the affected states, I, along with 26 others, did not see any palliatives distributed by the NDDC last year.

“Since government is a continuum, the new management of the commission must appear before the committee unfailingly on the 22nd of this month.”

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NCC, telecom firms agree on 5G deployment

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All appears set for the deployment of 5G as the Nigerian Communications Commission and major telecoms companies have agreed on the guidelines.
The instruments are the Annual Operating Levy Regulations and the Frequency Spectrum (fees and pricing) Regulations.
The agreement came after a public inquiry organised by the NCC on the two key instruments at its headquarters in Abuja on Thursday, which was attended by Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Prof Umar Danbatta and representatives of major telecoms companies such as Airtel Nigeria, MTN Nigeria, Glo Mobile Network, 9Mobile, and other stakeholders.

The 5G wireless technology is meant to deliver higher multi-Gbps peak data speeds, ultra low latency, more reliability, massive network capacity, increased availability, and a more uniform user experience to more users.

While Airtel Nigeria agreed with key issues regarding the instruments, MTN Nigeria pleaded for extension of timeframe.
But Danbatta assured all stakeholders that frequency spectrum would be assigned and managed in a way that ensures fair pricing and efficient deployment of attendant services.
According to him, the two instruments were not only tailored to meet the challenges of the industry but ensure that all stakeholders are carried along as the country prepares for deployment of 5G technology.
Danbatta said, “More importantly, this Public Inquiry is precursor to the Commission’s current drive to ensure efficiency in spectrum management and the unveiing of next generation services through varied enablers.
“It is in that regard that the Commission issued a Spectrum Trading Guidelines in 2018, to ensure frequency spectrum is readily available to licensees through an effective process.
“Furthermore, the commission has commenced the process for deployment of Fifth Generation (5G) Technology in Nigeria and is driving the provision of such ubiquitous services on making Frequeney Spectrum available to its licensees.
“The efficacy and reliability of these initiatives will be hinged on proper market valuation of the frequency spectrum and fair assessment of levies.”

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Inflow of foreign capital drops by 54% to $875.62m

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The total value of capital importation into Nigeria dropped to $875.62 million in the second quarter (Q2) of 2021, the National Bureau of Statistics has said.
According to the NBS, the figure represents a 54.06 per cent drop compared to the $1.91 billion in the first quarter (Q1) of 2021.

It stated this in its latest report titled, ‘Nigerian capital importation (Q1 & Q2 2021)’.
In 2020, Nigeria’s capital importation plunged by 59.65 per cent at $9.68 billion – the lowest level in four years.

“The largest amount of capital importation by type was received through portfolio investment, which accounted for 62.97% ($551.37m) of total capital importation,” the report stated.
“It is followed by other investments, which accounted for 28.13% ($246.27m) of total capital imported and Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), which accounted for 8.90% ($77.97m) of total capital imported in Q2 2021.”
Capital importation into the banking industry dominated in Q2 reaching a total of $296.51 million, followed by financing with $205.88 million and shares with $194.59 million.
In both Q1 and Q2, brewing, fishing, hotels, tanning and weaving sectors had no record of capital imports, the report added.
Similarly, only Lagos, Ogun and the federal capital territory (FCT) recorded capital inflows across Nigeria in Q2.
Lagos emerged as the top destination of capital investment in the second quarter with $780.06 million, Abuja had $95.26 million, while Ogun had $0.3 million.
By banks, foreign firms emerged as the top capital investment in Nigeria in Q2. Stanbic IBTC recorded $310.21 million, Standard Chartered was second with $282.37 million, then Citibank ($94.15 million).
The report also stated that “the United Kingdom emerged as the top source of capital investment in Nigeria in Q2 2021 with $310.26m.”

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Nigerians experience another nationwide blackout as grid collapses

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Most parts of Nigeria experienced total blackout on Wednesday after a national grid collapse, which electricity distribution companies confirmed in separate notices to their customers.
In a public notice sent out to consumers, the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company said the collapse occurred at 12.26pm but did not say how long it would last.
The notice read, “Dear Esteemed Customers,
Following a grid system outage that occurred at about 12:26 pm today, we have been unable to service our customers in Niger, Kogi and Nasarawa State as well as a significant part of the Federal Capital Territory.
“At the moment, only 20MW has been allocated to AEDC as against the over 400MW that they have been receiving in recent times.
“We urge our customers to be patient and promise that the power supply will be restored to our franchise area as soon as there is a significant improvement in our
allocation.”
In a similar notice, Eko Disco said, “Dear valued customer, we regret to inform you of a system collapse on the National Grid that’s causing outages across our network.
“We are working with our TCN partners to restore supply as soon as possible. Please bear with us.”
Ikeja Electric also sent out a message that read in part, “The current power outage is due to a nationwide system collapse that occurred at about 12:26hrs.
“Power supply will be restored gradually to various parts of the network as soon as the grid is stabilised. Kindly bear with us.”

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