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FEC approves N18bn refund for federal road projects to Yobe

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The Federal Executive Council on Wednesday approved a reimbursement of N18 billion to Yobe State Government for five major roads undertaken on behalf of the Federal Government.

The approval came at a meeting presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari.
FEC said about N477 billion had been refunded in the first tranche of reimbursement to many states.
Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, who briefed journalists on behalf of the ministry of works and housing, disclosed that in the first tranche, Edo got N30 billion, Lagos N106 billion, Niger N333 million, Ogun N37 billion, Delta N56 billion, Ebonyi N10 billion, Enugu N12 billion, Jigawa N10 billion, and Ekiti N10 billion.

“The last memo by the honorable minister of works and housing is memo seeking council’s approval for the reimbursement of the funds that were certified recommended for a refund for the Yobe State government.
“You’ll call that when this administration came in, many states made requests that under the previous administrations they undertook construction of roads and bridges, which were supposed to be Federal Government roads and bridges and they actually asked federal government to reimburse them. Upon which the federal government set up inter-ministerial committee made up of ministries of works and housing, transport, education, and the like. And they came up with recommendations.
“I think it’s important to say that well, it is true that we are just reporting this particular memo, which is a refund being sought by Yobe government. The Yobe government is asking for the sum of N18,663,843,009 as reimbursement for five federal roads, which they rehabilitated or constructed.
“A committee was set up to inspect the claim and were actually found to be true. They were reviewed, and then out of the N20 billion they asked for, they certified N18 billion as refund due to Yobe State for undertaking the construction and rehabilitation of these federal roads on behalf of the Federal Government.”
Mohammed said this is not the first time the federal government has reimbursed states for jobs done contrary to claims by some opposition states.
He said since 2015 the FG made refunds to about 24 states.
“And I want to put on record here that but for the benevolence of this administration many states would have sunk under.
“You remember that by the time we came in about 27 states were unable to pay salaries, it took this Federal Government to really bail them out so that they could pay salaries and arrears. And when the price of crude crashed, this same government gave each state what is called a bailout. And some of the states today that complain that they have never benefited from the federal government especially the PDP states, are the ones that have taken the lion’s share of this reimbursement.
“Because records I have here show that Akwa Ibom got the sum of N61 billion from this Federal Government for works they undertook on behalf of the Federal Government especially before we came in.
“Rivers got over N100 billion which shows that this administration, it does not matter whether you are PDP or APC or Labour or APGA, this administration looks at you as a Nigerian and when the largesse are being distributed, it does not favour you just because you are from APC states or from a friendly state.
“In the first tranche of this reimbursement about N477 billion was refunded to many states. Edo got N30 billion, Lagos N106 billion, Niger N333 million, Ogun N37 billion, Delta N56 billion, Ebonyi N10 billion. Enugu N12 billion, Jigawa N10 billion, Ekiti 10 billion. And this although the first tranche.
“Second tranche were the last trench and I think if I remember, I think Yobe and two other states were supposed to be in the next batch. We have Yobe which was gotten to today, N18 billion for works which they undertook on behalf of the Federal Government.”

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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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