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Disquiet in South-South over NDDC audit report

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Godswill Akpabio

The Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) Audit Report is already raising dust across the Southsouth even before the full recommendations of the committee are made public.

Stakeholders are particularly displeased with the suggestion by the committee that membership of the NDDC board should be trimmed and made part time.

The report was received from Niger Delta Affairs Godswill Akpabio on Thursday by Justice Minister and Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, on behalf of President Muhammadu Buhari.

The Ijaw Youths Council (IYC) Worldwide asked Buhari to immediately sack Akpabio, who it claimed, manipulated the audit process by deploying delay tactics, selfish politics and maneuvering to maintain his stranglehold on NDDC against the collective interest of the region.

The President of  IYC, Peter Igbifa, said sacking Akpabio would pave the way for the inauguration of the NDDC board now that the  forensic audit report has been submitted to the government.

Igbifa alleged  that Akpabio was not ready to relinquish his hold on the NDDC.

He  appealed to the Presidency to approach with caution some of the recommendations contained in the forensic audit report.

He said: “We were told that Akpabio ensured that selfish recommendations were smuggled into the report. If these recommendations are implemented, they will deny states adequate representation on the board and give Akpabio more time to continue running the NDDC with a sole administrator.

“For instance, we learnt that there are recommendations for a part-time board and reduction in the number of the board members. These suggestions are not feasible because they are designed to extend the sole administrative regime in NDDC. They require amendments of the Act establishing the NDDC and this will take at least six months to achieve.

“Besides, how can you think of reducing the board members?. Which states are you going to exclude from the board? Or do you think IOCs should not be part of the board? These are obviously selfish recommendations and we are calling on the Presidency to be careful to avoid promoting one man’s selfish tendencies ahead of the collective interest and development of the Niger Delta.

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Sallah: Look out for new moon, Sultan tells Muslims

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Sultan of Sokoto and President General, Nigeria Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar III, has directed the Muslim Ummah to look out for the new moon of Dhul-Hijjah as from Wednesday.

The Sultan made the call in a statement signed by Prof. Sambo Junaidu, Chairman, advisory committee on Religious Affairs, Sultanate Council, Sokoto.

“This is to inform the Muslim Ummah that Wednesday, June 29, which is equivalent to 29th of Dhul-Qidah 1443AH, shall be the day to look out for the new moon of Dhul-Hijjah 1443AH.”

“Muslims are therefore requested to start looking for the new moon on Wednesday and report its sighting to the nearest district or village head for onward communication to the Sultan,” the statement read.

He also prayed to Allah to assist the Muslim Ummah in discharging their religious duties.

Dhul-Hijjah is the 12th and the last month in the Islamic calendar where the Holy Pilgrimage (Hajj) takes place as well as the Eid Kabir – festival of sacrifice.

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Saudi rejects pilgrims older than 65, Nigeria’s additional 5,000 slots

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Intending pilgrims that are above 65 years will not perform this year’s hajj, the Saudi Arabian authorities have declared.

The National Hajj Commission of Nigeria, NAHCON, communicated this directive along with its request for 5,000 additional hajj slots also turned down by the Saudi.

The commision said that its request to waive officials, who are above 65 years was rejected, giving no specific reasons.

NAHCON in a statement said despite the high powered delegation led by the Commissioner of Operations, Alhaji Abdullahi Magaji Hardawa, after an official request made before now to actualize the offer, it was turned down.

The statement read in part, “The visit became especially important to lessen Private Tour Operators’ genuine outcry over shortfall in number of clients they would be able to accommodate for the Hajj.

“It was also targeted at managing pressure of other Nigerians desperate to be participants in the season’s pilgrimage.

“Hence, NAHCON’s formidable team of representatives as well as the strong presentation made by our Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, to the Saudi Minister of Hajj and Umrah, unfortunately, the promise could no longer be fulfilled.

“Therefore, Nigeria’s Hajj industry is left with its initial allocation of 43,008.

“In view of this, NAHCON wishes to solicit the understanding of those aggrieved due to the failure to be counted among this year’s successful Haji applicants.

“NAHCON beseeches them to accept it as the will of the Almighty and look forward to next opportunity if God spares our lives.

“The Commission has done its best but the Almighty has decided the rest.

“Indeed, Alhaji Zikrullah Kunle Hassan, the NAHCON Chairman and other NAHCON management members, did their best to make sure that slots were distributed equitably.

“It was, however, clear right from the start that not everyone who is qualified would make it to this year’s Hajj due to the relative low number of allocated slots.

“The commission is aware of the agitation from all its publics, to wit, the States Pilgrims Welfare Boards, subscribes through the Hajj Savings Scheme, Private Tour Operators, including its own staff as well.

“NAHCON management is consoled because it did not ostracize any group in the distribution of available Hajj seats, but of course, not all would be successful, because, the Commission was working within the boundaries of what was available.

“Yet, management understands the frustration of many who were desperate to participate in this year’s pilgrimage after two years of blockade.

“As people of faith we should remember that Hajj is a divine call that one would answer at the destined time; no matter one’s wealth, health status, age or free time.

“NAHCON assures those unable to proceed for the Hajj that their Hajj fare deposits are untouched and safe.

“Thus, the Commission will order release of their monies to them without delay should they request for a refund.

“If they decide otherwise, they should be rest assured that they will not be short changed in anyway.

“Similarly, NAHCON had sought for waiver for Hajj officials above 65 years of age, who due to their relevance to the Hajj operation, their presence in Saudi Arabia is crucial.

“This request too was turned down by Saudi Arabia. Hence, any official above 65 years is exempted from participating in the 2022 Hajj duties.

“While soliciting for the understanding of all concerned and indeed the general public, the Commission sincerely regrets all the inconveniences as well as all such obvious/likely losses associated with the incidences highlighted above.”

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Intending pilgrims protest in Kano over exclusion from hajj

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Many intending pilgrims on Tuesday in Kano protested over their exclusion from the list of those to perform this year’s pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia despite making full payments for the hajj.

The protesters stormed the head office of Jaiz Bank, the financial institution that processed their payment through a savings scheme, and the office of the Kano State Pilgrims Board.

The affected persons, numbering 284, said they were shocked to find out that after making payment, no seat was reserved for them, noting that some of them started the saving scheme since 2019.

Daily Trust reported that the first batch of the 400 intending pilgrims from Kano State had been airlifted to Saudi Arabia for the 2022 hajj exercise on Monday.

One of the affected intending pilgrims, Auwalu Jibrin, said, “We are the ones the National Hajj Commission asked to open an account with Jaiz Bank and deposit our money there. The state pilgrim board has collected our passport and screened us and now we learnt that we have no allocation.

“We are now left stranded without any assurance. Jaiz Bank has told us that of course there’s a problem and they are working towards ratifying the problem.”

Sources familiar with the development told Daily Trust that names of the aggrieved intending pilgrims had been sent to the state pilgrim board and documented but were not included in this year’s hajj because of the reduced allocation.

The state pilgrim board is said to be constrained by over 100 names sent from NAHCON to be given allocation while many who saved for years under the hajj scheme could not be accommodated.

Executive Secretary of Kano Pilgrims Board, Abba Dambatta, told Daily Trust that the board was doing its best to resolve the problem, noting that there was no allocation this year for those on savings’ scheme, especially those from Jaiz Bank.

He however said he was going to Abuja to make efforts in securing allocation for the 284 intending pilgrims.

 

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