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MDAs mismanage N105.66bn, says Auditor-General report

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The office of the Auditor-General for the Federation (AuGF) has noted some irregularities in the accounts of ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) of government through disbursement and utilisation of public funds.

The AuGF said transparency and accountability in government financial management systems were important, particularly given the country’s dwindling revenues as well as the impact on annual budget.

The auditor general, in the latest annual report on the financial conduct of public institutions, on its website, lamented that a total sum of N105.66 billion had been expended by the MDAs in breach of extant rules and regulations.

The development came amidst reforms undertaken by the Buhari administration to instill sanity in the public procurement and finance system.

The report stated that N18.36 billion had been awarded for contracts with disregard to the Public Procurement Act.

The AuGF also expressed concern over the persisted inherent weaknesses in the system despite his previous recommendations to the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning as well as the Accountant General of the Federation for prompt actions.

The latest audit assessment stressed the need for authorities to enforce strict compliance with legislations, rules and regulations across all MDAs.

It said the Public Accounts Committees of both chambers of the National Assembly should look deeply into the issues raised in the report and ensure the reports and resolutions of the legislature on these matters are forwarded to the executive for implementation.

It added that clear sanctions should also be imposed on erring officers going forward.

The audit revealed that revenue amounting to N54.69 billion was not remitted to government coffers by agencies.

It stated that while 18 revenue-generating agencies failed in their statutory obligations of remitting revenue generated to the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF), 17 other MDAs failed to either deduct or remit deductions by way of Value Added Tax (VAT), Withholding Tax (WHT), Pay As You Earn (PAYE) and Stamp Duties.

The audit, among other things, found that 72 payments, amounting to N23.48 billion, were made by 43 MDAs in violation of extant rules.

It stated that irregularities and failure to comply with regulations in the spending of public funds could result in the misapplication or misappropriation of funds.

Moreover, 25 MDAs awarded 52 contracts totaling N18.36 billion, in violation of the Public Procurement Act, 2007, the audit added.

The AuGF said, “The violation ranges from disregard to due process, irregularity in payment for contracts, excessive pricing of procurements, payment for services not rendered, payment in full for uncompleted projects and other similar infractions.”

It also warned that a breach of the Procurement Act and other weaknesses in procurement processes could be deliberate means to siphon public funds.

It said while the amounts involved in the infractions should be recovered into government coffers, sanctions in sections of the Procurement Act should apply against erring officers.

It added that erring MDAs should be denied budget appropriations as well as the affected accounting officers being surcharged.

Some of the agencies indicted by the audit report for breaching due process, financial mismanagement, and non-compliance with financial regulations, among others, are the National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration (NAFDAC), Federal Ministry of Finance, National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), the Bank of Industry (BoI), Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria (FRCN) and the Nigerian Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF).

Others are the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN), Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) and the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing.

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Nigeria’s inflation records first drop in 20 months, now 18.12%

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Nigeria’s inflation rate dropped to 18.12 per cent in April this year from 18.17 per cent recorded in March, the first decline in headline inflation in 20 months.
This is contained in the latest consumer price index report just released by the National Bureau of Statistics.
The last time the consumer price index which measures the rate of change in the price of goods and services dropped was in 2019 when it slowed from 11.08 per cent in July to 11.02 in August.
The NBS, which announced this on Monday, stated that the food inflation also reduced to 22.75 per cent in April from 22.95 in March.
“The urban inflation rate increased by 18.68 per cent (year-on-year) in April 2021, down by 0.61 the rate recorded in March 2021(1.60), while the rural index also rose by 0.95 per cent in April, down by 0.57, the rate recorded in March 2021 (1.52 per cent),” the report said.
It also stated, “The rise in food index was caused by increase in prices of Coffee, tea, coca, bread and cereals, soft drinks, milk, cheese and eggs, vegetables, meat, oils and fish and potato, yam and other tubers.
“On a month-on-month basis, the food sub index increased by 0.99 percent in April 2021, down by 0.91 percent points from 1.90 percent recorded in March 2021.”
The report noted that food inflation on a year-on-year basis in April was highest in Kogi at (30.52 per cent), Ebonyi (28.07 per cent), Sokoto (26.09 per cent), while Abuja (18.63 per cent), Akwa-Ibom (18.51 per cent), and Bauch (17.64 per cent) recorded the slowest rise in year-on-year inflation.
“On a month-on-month basis, however, April 2021 was highest in Kebbi (2.46 per cent), Ekiti (2.42 per cent), and Kano (2.17 percent) while Abuja (0.05 per cent) recorded the slowest rise in the month-on-month food inflation with Rivers and Ogun recording price deflation or negative inflation.”

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FG to launch maritime security strategy next month

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The Federal Government will launch a maritime security strategy next month to address challenges in the sector, Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi has said.
He stated this in Abuja on Monday while playing host to the Belgium Ambassador to Nigeria, Daniel Bertrand, who paid him a courtesy visit in his office.
Amaechi said, “The crisis in the maritime sector is insecurity and it is more complex than the world knows, but the Federal Government has come up with a solution and it is ready to take off. The Navy, Police, Army and State Security Service are involved.”
A statement by Anastasia Ogbonna, Acting Director (Press and Public Relations), Ministry of Transportation, quoted the minister as saying that if successful, maritime insecurity would be addressed while noting that countries in the Gulf of Guinea may elect to adopt it.
He said, “Sixty-five per cent or 75 per cent of crime comes from our waters and if we are able to eliminate it, then we will be making a lot of progress.
“If you are on air, you will see what is happening in the water. If you are inside the waters, you will be able to respond. A helicopter has the capacity to drop in the naval men when they see anything suspicious.”
He added that the partner would be willing to compare notes with anyone who wanted information for the purpose of securing the Gulf of Guinea.
Ambassador Bertrand had earlier presented a letter to the minister requesting the support of the Nigerian government for the Belgium candidate for the position at the International Maritime Organization.
He also promised his country’s readiness to support the implementation of maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea.

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Limit your speed to 30km/h, FRSC tells all motorists

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FRSC Corps Marshal, Boboye Oyeyemi

As Nigeria joins the rest of the world to mark the 6th United Nations Global Road Safety Week, the Federal Road Safety Corps has asked motorists to limit their speed to 30 kilometres per hour in urban or built-up areas for all categories of vehicles.
The global safety week will be celebrated between Monday May 17 and Sunday May 23, 2021.
The Bauchi Sector Commander, FRSC, Mr Yusuf Abdullahi, made the recommendation on Monday in a statement issued by the FRSC Public Relations Officer in the state, Mr Rilwanu Suleimanu.
The corps said speeding was responsible for about 30 per cent of crashes in Nigeria.
Abdullahi explained that the corps would be using the 6th United Nations Global Road Safety Week to carry out an advocacy programme where people would be educated on the issue.
He said, “The 6th UN Global Road Safety Week will focus on the issue of speed.
“The week advocates for safer streets motoring by making 30 km/h speed limits, the norm for cities worldwide in places where people mix with traffic.
“The week is concerned about policy commitments at national and local levels to deliver the 30 km/h speed limits in urban areas and to generate local support for such low speed measures in order to create safe, healthy traffic flow within Urban cities globally.
“As a lead agency in road safety management and administration in Nigeria, the FRSC is hosting the event and embarking on nationwide advocacy to replicate this global activity in selected Nigerian Cities.
“Pursuant to this, the Bauchi State command of the FRSC organises public education campaign programmes to inculcate the norm of 30km/hr speed limits among road users.”
He called on the general motoring public to always adhere to the maximum legal speed limit while in the city or in built up areas so as to prevent crashes, its attendant injuries as well as its fatalities.
Abdullahi, who further stressed the need to avoid speeding, considered among the critical traffic violations with high risk factor, said speeding would lead to increase in crash severity, resulting in more fatalities or injuries.
The sector commander explained that more damage would be caused to vehicles involved in speeding when they crashed, thereby increasing the likelihood of such vehicles not drivable thereafter.
“Speeding also leads to extra fuel consumption and frequent replacement of auto parts, among others,” he said.
The public advocacy programme would include media charts, roadshows, visits to hospitals, and advocacy visits to stakeholders, including policymakers and others.

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