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Consolidated revenue fund overdrawn by N2.48tr, says Auditor-General

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The Auditor General of the Federation has queried alleged unsubstantiated transfer of N3.627 trillion from government coffers to entities to fund recurrent expenditure in the 2018 financial year.

He also said the Consolidated Revenue Fund was overdrawn to the tune N2.483 trillion in total disregard of Financial Regulation (FR) 710.

Financial Regulation (FR) 710 stipulates that “No government bank account shall be overdrawn or any temporary advance obtained from a bank. In the event of an account being overdrawn, the Officer Responsible shall be made to refund any bank charges incurred thereon.”

Besides, the AuGF in his report submitted to the National Assembly queried the funding of government investments in non-existent or moribund companies to the tune of N84.702 billion, adding that there was no evidence supporting investment of government in the companies.

The part two report with reference number GF/AR.2018/VOL.II/02 of 25th March, 2021 was signed by the Auditor General of the Federation, Adolphus A. Aghughu and addressed to the Clerk to the National Assembly.

According to the report, the sum  of N8.101 trillion was transferred to fund recurrent expenditure-receipt’ in the Consolidated Statement of Financial Performance, while the sum of N11.728 trillion by 944 MDAs gave rise to an unsubstantiated difference of N3.627 trillion which was recognised in the Consolidated Statement of Financial Performance.

“The audit is unable to validate the correctness or otherwise of the difference under reference,” the AuGF said.

The report said further that about 103 MDAs exceeded their Personnel Cost Budget by ₦641.757 billion in 2018 while another 115 MDAs had zero Personnel Cost even though there was Budget allocation for them.

It queried the sources of extra funds for salaries and wages to the 103 MDAs and why there was zero personnel budget for the 115 MDAs even though the MDAs under reference had annual budgets approved for them.

It expressed concern about the completeness and accuracy of the consolidated figures with respect to salaries and wages, adding that “the above anomalies could be attributed to absence of strong quality assurance around the consolidation process at the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation.

The risk to government resources, it said, is the fact that the consolidated financial statements may have been misstated while there may have been unauthorised virement instead of seeking approval of the National Assembly.

It put the total amount of GIFMIS finalised payments for randomly selected 99 MDAs at ₦536.050 billion and the consolidated salaries and wages at ₦532.352 billion, leading to an understatement of ₦3,698 billion.

The report said there was no further information to enable the audit to verify the understatement.

It attributed the discrepancy to “weaknesses in the internal control systems around the consolidation process at the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation”.

The audit report disclosed that there were certain irregularities in the disclosure of aids and grants to MDAs to the tune of ₦219.562 billion, which it said was in contravention of Auditor-General for the Federation’s recommendation in 2017 report that ‘Aid and Grants’ should be disclosed in a recommended format.

It said “as a result of the above violation, the sum of ₦219.562 billion shown as Aid & Grants could not be validated, and there was ‘Foreign Grants’ of ₦4,200.00 (Four thousand two hundred naira) as well as ‘Domestic Grant’ of ₦17,100.00 (Seventeen thousand one hundred naira) totaling ₦21,300.00 in favour of Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

“Audit is concerned as to what amount in foreign currency was donated to the extent that its naira equivalent was ₦4,200.00. The donor was not disclosed to enable audit follow up with circularization”.

It said this makes accountability difficult and could cast doubt on the existence and accuracy of reported figures.

On doubtful government investments in NITEL and other Moribund companies, the report said  about N84.702 billion was invested in companies whose going concern and continue existence are in doubt, adding that “efforts by the audit to verify the investment in NITEL yielded no result as the Agency in question had been liquidated.

“Continued recognition of these investments without fully disclosing their impairment status in the Consolidated Financial Statements as required by the above IPSAS cast doubt as to their accuracy and existence.

“Audit therefore concludes that since there is no evidence that supports government investment in NITEL and other companies, it is more likely that these investments may have been impaired,” it said.

The Auditor General’s report also stated that some government agencies embarked upon overhead expenditure without appropriation while some others carried out unapproved virement to fund their overheads.

It said about 14 MDAs incurred overhead expenditure totaling N162.924 billion without appropriation in total disregard to the 1999 constitution as amended, leading to possible misappropriation of funds.

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We’ll not ban Almajiri qur’anic education, but reform it — Gov. Tambuwal

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Governor Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State has said the state government was targeting the remodelling of the Qur’anic education system and not banning it.

Tambuwal stated this on Saturday at the closing of a two-day workshop for the adaptation of the Indonesian Pondok system into the Almajiri-Islamiyya educational system in the state.

He expressed government’s determination to ensure that the initiative was implemented to the letter, stressing that any recognisable success of the system would upgrade and improve the state’s educational system.

He said: “We are not aiming to ban the Almajiri qur’anic education system as some people have urged the Sokoto State Government to emulate other states.

“We are striving to provide reasonable solutions to the challenges and with the present initiative the time has come.”

Tambuwal assured of full implementation of the suggestions made by resource persons and the design of a programme that would surely be a solution to the educational challenges, especially bridging the gap of out of school children.

In his remarks, the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar III, urged the Federal Government and its agencies, including the Universal Basic Education Commission, to consider making financial provisions to the Almajiri qur’anic educational system.

Abubakar noted that when the implementation of the initiative begins, the out of school children figure will drop as well as curtail those roaming the streets.

The Sultan urged others states to emulate Sokoto state on the initiative, in recognition of its importance and suitability to Nigerian’s system of education.

The Special Adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari on National Social Investment Programmes, Maryam Uwais, expressed delight at the initiative as it was in line with the President’s efforts at reducing poverty and empowering Nigerians.

Uwais said: “The huge numbers of marginalised youths and children, who have no education, school dropouts who have no skills, have contributed to the dismal outcomes of security challenges.

“The challenges also include females who faced incidence of gender based violence, along with cases of early marriages arising from lack of education, which leads to diminished opportunities.”

She noted that the Pandok system focuses on character development and addressing socioeconomic challenges that children faced, as well as improving educational levels which were all aligned with Sustainable Development Goals.

Uwais added that her office was working towards empowering between 30 to 50 youths in all the local government councils, to supervise and monitor others on valuable skills to be acquired, through various initiatives.

Earlier, the Executive Director, Sokoto State Arabic and Islamic Education Board, Alhaji Umar Altine, said based on the study conducted, the Pandok system of education in Indonesia were owned and managed by individuals or communities, regulated and assisted by the federal ministry of religious affairs.

Altine said the major sources of sustainability were Endowments (Waqf) and Alumni, noting that based on advocacy and sensitisation by the board, six Qur’anic schools had adopted the model.

In her presentation, UNICEF Education Specialist, Sokoto Field Office, Dr. Safiyya Tahir, said that no fewer than 1.2 million children were out of school in Sokoto State, noting that early children development centres were mostly owned by private schools, with only a small percentage owned by public schools.

Tahir said the Pandok system would be relevant to the culture of Sokoto people because they shared similarities with the Indonesians as many families prepared their children for enrolment in religious schools in early life.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that several resource persons made presentations at the occasion, including Dr. Bala Muhammad of the Mass Communication Department, Bayero University, Kano, and Prof. Abdullahi Sule-Kano of the Political Science Department, BUK.

Others were: Prof. Maryam Koko of the Centre for Entrepreneurship Development, Usmanu Danfodio University, Sokoto; Prof. Suleiman Khalil, Sociology Department in UDUS; Prof. Bashir Galadanci; and Prof. Muhammad Junaid.

The Eagle Online

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Resident Doctors Vote to Continue Indefinite Strike

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Striking resident doctors in the country have resolved to sustain their ongoing industrial action until their demands are met by the federal government.

The strike by members of the National Association Resident Doctors (NARD) has entered its seventh week, with their parent body, the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), also threatening to embark on solidarity strike if the dispute is not resolved by next weekend.

The resident doctors are demanding payment of arrears of salaries of their members on GIFMIS platform as well as approval of new hazard allowance for the health sector, among other demands.

Rising from its Annual General Meeting (AGM) that ended yesterday at the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University Teaching Hospital (ATBUTH), Bauchi State, NARD said that it had unanimously resolved by vote to continue the total and indefinite strike action.

A new national leadership also emerged at the meeting with Dr Dare Godiya Ishaya as the new president of NARD.

NARD said that: “After critical appraisal of the performances of both federal and state governments on all the issues that led to the ongoing strike as stated above, the AGM unanimously resolved by vote to continue the total and indefinite strike action until our minimum demands are met”.

In a communiqué jointly signed by NARD President, Dr. Dare Godiya Ishaya; Secretary General, Dr. Suleiman Abiodun Ismai; and National Publicity Secretary, Dr. Alfa Yusuf, the doctors said that federal government should ensure that their demands are urgently met before normalcy would return to the health sector

The resident doctors said they are demanding the payment of the Medical Residency Training allowance within 72 hours since the money meant for it is available and verification of the list for payment has been completed.

They also demanded payment of the arrears of salaries of their members on GIFMIS platform within 72 hours while the migration process continues.

Other demands of the Resident doctors include: “Withdrawal of the case against us in court in the interest of peace; and payment of our withheld August and September salaries”.

NARD said that federal government should prevail on various state governments to urgently “pay arrears of salaries and allowances owed our members in the state tertiary health institutions as stated above”.

In the communiqué, NARD said they were committed to the smooth running of the health sector, but can only do so when their welfare is given the desired attention.

“We, therefore, call on all well-meaning Nigerians to prevail on the government to set aside all technicalities as directed by President Muhammadu Buhari and resolve the aforementioned demands in the interest of the masses and our members who are currently suffering because of the ongoing strike action,” it said.

Earlier during the AGM, the doctors bemoaned the delay in payment of death-in-service insurance benefit to the next-of-kin of the fallen heroes despite their sacrifices to the country.

They expressed concerns over the conditions of their members under different state governments’ employs, especially Abia, Imo, Ekiti and Ondo states, where their members are being owed 20 months, six months, four months and four months’ salary arrears, respectively.

They meeting also observed with serious concerns the poor response of most state governments in domesticating the Medical Residency Training Act of 2017 while commending states like Delta and Benue for adopting the law.

In particular, NARD expressed appreciation to the governor of Delta State, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, who has paid its members the 2021 MRTF during the ongoing strike.

The meeting lamented the acute manpower shortage in most tertiary health institutions and the attendant burnout effects on its members.

The communiqué said that NARD observed with serious concerns that despite several meetings with the presidential committee on salaries and other top government stakeholders on the review of hazard allowance for health workers, the hazard allowance still remains a paltry N5,000.

It also noted the non-payment of COVID-19 inducement allowance to some of the members in federal and most of its members in state tertiary institutions.

Onyebuchi Ezigbo, Thisday News

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BREAKING: IPOB orders sit-at-home on October 1, removal of all Nigerian flags from southeast

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The Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, has declared a sit-at-home across the Southeast on October 1.

IPOB said the October 1 sit-at-home is to show its rejection of Nigeria and all the country stands for.

In a statement by its spokesman on Saturday, Emma Powerful, the group also declared the commencement of “operation no Nigerian flag begins in Biafra land from October 1st.”

Powerful said the sit-at-home order was declared to celebrate Ambazonia Independence Anniversary.

The statement reads partly: “IPOB has declared 1st of October 2021 total shutdown in Biafra land as a sign of our rejection of the evil construct called Nigeria and there shall be no movement in Biafra land on this day.

“Also, IPOB has declared from today 25th September 2021 that all Nigerian flag mounted anywhere in Biafra land must be brought down, Banks exceptional, IPOB leadership will communicate to Banks directly and give them reason they must peacefully bring down Nigeria flag in their banking premises before we do it ourselves in our own way.

“Every body must strictly adhere to this directives from IPOB leadership, we want to let the world know you that Biafraland is not Nigeria and shall not be. Don’t say I don’t know, a word is enough for the wise.”

Seun Opejobi, Daily Post

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