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Report: Suspended NPA MD being probed over N165.3bn unremitted funds

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  • Hadiza Bala-Usman insists NPA remitted all surplus funds

The suspended Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority, Hadiza Bala-Usman, will early next week appear before a probe panel over N165.32bn she allegedly failed to remit to the Consolidated Revenue Fund.

The panel headed by a director in charge of maritime at the Federal Ministry of Transportation may also expand its probe to audit the accounts of the NPA, a Daily Trust report has stated.

Bala-Usman was suspended as NPA MD and was immediately replaced with an acting MD via a statement on Thursday by a presidential spokesman, Garba Shehu.

The travail of the suspended NPA boss is said to be a fall-out of a cold war between her and Minister of Transportation Rotimi Amaechi, who reportedly accused her of ‘bypassing’ him in key decisions of procurement and other major official matters.

Daily Trust reported that the latest quarrel was around the reappointment of the MD and constitution of the new board of the NPA without Amaechi’s input.

Amaechi, in a letter to President Muhammadu Buhari dated March 4, 2021, had called attention to the audit report of the NPA account, especially the unremitted operating surpluses between 2016 and 2020, as flagged by the Budget Office of the Federation.

The letter entitled ‘Remittances of operating surplus to the Consolidated Revenue Fund Account (CRF) by the Nigerian Ports Authority from 2015-date’, was signed by the minister.

It read in part, “It has been observed from the records submitted by the Budget Office of the Federation that the yearly remittance of operating surpluses by the Nigerian Ports Authority from year 2016 to 2020 has been far short of the amount due for actual remittance.

“In view of the above, I wish to suggest that the financial account of the activities of Nigerian Ports Authority be investigated for the period 2016 to 2020 to ascertain the true financial position and the outstanding unremitted balance of One hundred and sixty five billion, three hundred and twenty million, nine hundred and sixty two thousand, six hundred and ninety seven naira only (N165,320,962 697).”

The minister asked the President to approve the audit of the NPA accounts, adding, “approve that the account and remittance of the NPA in the period of 2016 – 2020 be audited to account for the gross shortfall of remitted public funds.”

The minister’s request, according to the minutes on the one-page document by the President, was approved on the 17th March, 2021.

According to the Audit Report for 2017 released by the Office of the Auditor General of the Federation (OAGF) in December 2019, the NPA was queried over alleged irregularities in contract awards and payments.

The report by the accountant- general office said in its findings that about N7.5bn in contract sum was not properly accounted for at the NPA under Bala-Usman.

The document said the NPA awarded the contract for Shore Erosion Control Work at Akipelai, Ayakoro and Otuoke towns in Bayelsa State for N7.5bn.

The audit report suggested that as of November 11, 2015, about N4.24bn was paid to contractors in four payments certificates.  That represented about 56.61 per cent of the contract amount.

The audit report had indicated that a “review of documents and the Bill of Quantities under Bill No. 1 (General) attached to the payments revealed that mobilisation fee of N1.12bn paid to the contractor was supported by a conditional bank guarantee from Zenith Bank Plc with a validity period of 365 days.”

The report said the “guarantee, which expired on March 2, 2013, was contrary to the provisions of Section 35(1a) of the Public Procurement Act, 2007 and Financial Regulations 2933 ’i’ (2009) which provided for submission of an unconditional bank guarantee or insurance bond.”

It also stated, “The sum of N19.5m was paid for the purchase of three Toyota Hilux vehicles without any evidence that the vehicles were purchased.”

It found that the sum of “N13.5m was provided as an annual running cost for the project vehicles, out of which N6.75m was certified and paid to the contractor without evidence it was quoted for.”

The report added, “The sum of N11.25m certified for compensation of properties to be affected by a project and paid in certificate No.3 had no records on how the money was utilised nor the beneficiaries involved.

“The sum of N12.5m provided for community relations was certified and paid vide certificate No. 3 with no supporting documents to validate the payment.

“The sum of N128m provided for insurance of the work and insurance against damages to persons and properties was certified and paid through certificate No. 3 with no evidence that any insurance policy was undertaken.?

The auditor-general also found that while N3.9bn was the value of work executed for the contract based on the Principal Manager’s report on Interim Valuation Certificate No. 4 dated  November 11, 2015, about N4.24bn was the amount paid.

“During the inspection of the project, it was revealed that the contractor had since abandoned the project site; and the duration of the project had since lapsed without approval for its extension,” the report added.

The audit report recommended that the managing director of the NPA should be sanctioned in line with extant regulations for these infractions.

Bala Usman: NPA remitted all surplus funds

But Hadiza Bala-Usman has denied any wrongdoing.

In a letter dated May 5, 2021 addressed to the Chief of Staff to the President, Prof Ibrahim Gambari, Bala-Usman said the purported failure of the NPA to remit an outstanding balance of N165.32 billion from 2017 to 2018 was a misrepresentation of facts.

She said contrary to the figures given by the budget office as outstanding operating surplus, the NPA had remitted all that was due to the CFR — as stipulated in the fiscal responsibility act of 2007.

She faulted the net profit as listed by the budget office, saying it was in excess of the actual amounts and that it was contrary to the template provided by the fiscal responsibility act.

She stated, “Accordingly, the figures so provided by the Budget Office of the Federation as the Operating Surplus for the respective years on which basis they arrived at the shortfall are derived from submission of budgetary provision not the actual amounts derived following the statutory audit of the Authorities financial statements,” she said.

The statement read in part, “The authority’s (NPA) computation of its remittances to the CFR are concluded arising from numbers from Audited Financial Statements using the template forwarded to the Authority from the Fiscal Responsibility Commission as herewith attached and not budgetary provision.

“The authority has remitted the full amount due to it to CFR for the periods of 2017 and 2018 arising from the Operating Surplus derived from the Audited Financial Statement for the period totalling N76.384 billion as evidenced in attached treasury receipts.

“The authority has remitted a total of N82.687 billion for the period 2019 and 2020 pending the audit of the financial statement at which point the amount so computed arising from the value of the Operating Surplus in the audited financial statement will be remitted to the CFR.”

We’ve not been indicted – NPA

The General Manager, Corporate and Strategic Communications of the authority, Jatto Adams, in a statement on Friday said the NPA was not indicted.

He said, “While audit queries are part of the standard operating procedures to entrench accountability in government Ministries, Departments and Agencies, the NPA has, at this moment, not received queries of the nature being circulated in the media.

“The management of the authority has answered audit queries to the satisfaction of the Office of the Auditor-General of the Federation in past years and is committed to providing evidence that all our operations have followed due process in the event of any queries in the future.”

 

 

 

 

Auto

$1bn investment recorded in auto industry – Minister

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The Federal Government has recorded more than one billion dollars’ worth of investments in the automotive industry. Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Otunba Adeniyi Adebayo, said this in Abuja on Tuesday when he featured at the 20th edition of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration scorecard series organsied by the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture.

“Over one billion dollars in investment has been recorded in the automotive sector and we are ready to move on to the next phase for the automotive industry,” the minister said.

He said the review of the National Automotive Industry Development Plan (NAIDP) was almost completed, adding that the plan was going through validation process.

Adebayo restated the ministry’s commitment toward enabling business environment to attract and retain investments.

According to him, the ministry and the Nigerian Investment Promotion Council (NIPC) are committed to attracting and protecting investments that genuinely benefit Nigeria and its citizens.

He said that the revised Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) would boost investment.

“Nigeria has successfully revised its model Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) to include a specific provision for investment facilitation, which institutionalizes the principle of assisting investors in completing their investments.

“We are proud to offer Nigeria’s first investment policy to the Federal Executive Council (FEC) for approval.

“This strategic statement, which will outline our priorities, aims, commitments, and expectations, is a turning point for the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade, and Investment and Nigeria as an investment destination,” he said.

Adebayo, who said that Nigeria had Investment Promotion and Protection Agreements (IPPAs) with Singapore, Morocco, and Saudi Arabia to attract and retain investments, said the ministry was developing more.

“We have IPPAs with Singapore, Morocco, and Saudi Arabia to attract and retain investments. The president ratified both accords on Sept. 16, 2022 and we are developing more IPPAs,” he said.

Adebayo said the ministry also distributed 5,571 acceptance certificates worth N7.7 trillion to 2,665,800 firms.

“The acceptance certificates allow businesses claim tax reduction when computing Company Income Tax.

“We also issued more than 130 Production Day Certificates, a crucial Pioneer Status Incentive step,’’ the minister said.

To further accelerate industrialisation, Adebayo said that the ministry was expediting the establishment of Special Economic Zones (SEZs) across the country.

According to him, the special economic zones will increase infrastructure availability and provide fiscal incentives for value addition.

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Pay customers with N100, N50, CBN orders commercial banks

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The Central Bank Of Nigeria has directed all commercial banks to pay customers over the counter in N100, N50, N20, N10, and N5 notes, regardless of the amount withdrawn.

Bankers Committee issued the directives to all commercial banks in the country on Monday, and announced the discontinuation of old notes payment of N1000, N500 and N200 across the counters.

It also urged people to use their alternative channels for transactions, while those insisting on new naira notes were advised to use Automated Teller Machine (ATMs).

The directives came on Monday, following a meeting of the bankers committee in Lagos.

The CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, in a statement on Sunday extended the deadline for old naira notes from January 31 to February 10, 2023.

Emefiele also noted that he obtained permission from President Muhmammadu Buhari to effect the extension.

According to him, the extension, ‘a seven-day grace period’ was as a result of measures put in place to ease the scarcity.

The decision is coming after CBN had previously insisted that it would not extend the deadline.

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Famous 4×4 Grenadier coming to Nigeria, courtesy Coscharis Motors

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Coscharis Motors has announced its readiness to introduce the popular rugged off-road vehicle, Grenadier, to the Nigerian auto market.

This follows the naming of the auto company by INEOS Automotive as its official retail partner in Nigeria.

Nigeria is the sixth market in Sub-Sahara Africa to join the brand after South Africa, Kenya, Tanzania, Namibia and Botswana.

A statement on Monday by Abiona Babarinde, the auto firm’s General Manager, Marketing and Corporate Communications, said, “The first Grenadier demonstrator vehicles are expected to arrive in Nigeria in early 2023 with customer deliveries expected to commence within the first quarter.

“All after-sales servicing will be conducted at a dedicated workshop also located in Lagos.”

Commenting on this partnership, the President/CEO of Coscharis Group, Dr Cosmas Maduka, said, “We are proud that INEOS Automotive has appointed Coscharis Motors to represent its brand in Nigeria. “This milestone marks another step in the evolution of our company. With our history and experience of the Nigerian market, we know that the INEOS Grenadier is going to be a serious player in the off-road segment.

“We have no doubt that the Grenadier has what it takes to handle Africa’s tough terrain and that it is the perfect option to meet the specific demands of those who need a capable, refined, and reliable off-road vehicle in the region. We look forward to the first customer test drives and hearing public feedback, because this vehicle is definitely going to stir things up in Nigeria.”

The statement quoted Tim Abbott, INEOS Automotive’s Head of Region South Africa and Sub-Sahara Africa, as saying, “We are carefully selecting our partners across the SSA region, to find people who know their local market and customers, and also understand our brand.

“Coscharis Motors shares our belief that the INEOS Grenadier is the perfect vehicle not only for Nigeria, but for the continent. Our shared passion for off-roading, along with their excellent reputation in the automotive industry, makes it the perfect partnership for Grenadier in Nigeria.”

Coscharis says the Grenadier has been developed to be refined on the road and extraordinarily capable off-road.

“The Grenadier is powered by a choice of two straight-six, 3.0-litre BMW engines. Both the BMW B57 diesel and B58 petrol powertrains have a proven track record, regularly appearing in top ten world’s best engine lists since 2016. They have been used in everything from sports cars to SUVs.

“The two power units bring BMW’s sophistication and refinement to the Grenadier, but they have been enhanced by INEOS Automotive’s engineering team. As well as providing powerful acceleration on tarmac, they also deliver peak torque at low revs – sustaining it through the rev range – for optimal off-road performance,” it states.

It also notes that the carefully calibrated characteristics help the driver to confidently manage the vehicle’s momentum and grip without stressing the engine, ensuring full control when tackling tricky terrain.

It adds, “The refined turbo petrol engine produces 286PS (210kW) and 450Nm (332 lb ft) of torque, while the twin-turbo diesel generates 249PS (183kW) and 550Nm (406 lb ft), for even greater pulling power. Start/stop is built-in, increasing range and preserving air quality when the vehicle is stationary.

“While it is every inch a rugged 4X4, it ticks all the right boxes on the road, too. The chassis combines a five-link suspension setup with Brembo brakes and Bridgestone tyres, meaning the Grenadier is composed, well- mannered and fun to drive no matter what the terrain.”

The firm also reveals that by the end of this year, INEOS Automotive plans to have a network of more than 200 sales and service sites for the Grenadier spanning over 50 countries, including established dealer groups, 4X4 specialists and agricultural equipment dealers.

 

 

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