The Senate through its Public Accounts Committee says it has discovered fraud in the payments of over N208 million for the Zonal Skills Acquisition organised by the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment.
The programme was organised in all the six zones of the federation in 2021 with N35 million for each zone apart from South East which had N32 million.
The money used for the programme was reportedly drawn from Service Wide Vote (SWV) which has become the subject of investigation by the Senate Public Accounts due to failure to subject the expenditure to the scrutiny of the auditor-general of the federation office before expenditure.
The Senate committee alleged forgery of signatures of participants in the programme.
The lawmakers, who received the lists of participants through the Senate Public Accounts Committee chaired by Senator Mathew Urhoghide, observed a few persons signed for the participants to collect their stipends in the six zones as the ministry allegedly failed to make available the phone numbers of participants in the programme.
Urhoghide wondered how the officials could pay millions of naira via cash for the programme instead of bank transfers.
The committee said the character of the signatures in participants’ list made it look the same and not a single person used his name as a signature.
The committee said the ministry would have used e-payment for the participants.
“The signatures can’t stand the forensic test if we subject them to the forensic test,” the committee declared.
Urhoghide said, ” The money ought to have been paid straight into the accounts, you see one person signing for many people. There is a clear violation of e-payment”
However, the ministry’s permanent secretary, Ms Kachollom Dajua, and other officials were said to have failed to give a convincing explanation to the committee as they argued that due process was followed in paying the participants.
Nigeria ranks 150 out of 180 countries in 2022 Transparency International Corruption Index
The Executive Director, Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Center (CISLAC), Auwal Ibrahim Musa Rafsanjani, has announced that Nigeria ranked 150 out of 180 countries in the 2022 Transparency International (TI) Corruption Perception Index (CPI).
This according to Rafsanjani is four places lower than the 154th position in the country’s 2021 CPI results.
Rafsanjani made the announcement on Tuesday at a press briefing held at CISLAC meeting hall, Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja.
He however added that in terms of points, the country has retrained 24 points it had in 2021.
He also noted that the data index used for the CPI is not collected by CISLAC/TI- Nigeria but by Independent and reputable organisations with sound research methodologies.
“While Nigeria moved four places up on the country ranking, it has maintained it’s previous score of 24 which is it’s lowest score on the CPI since 2012, which suggests a slowdown in the steady decline observed in the previous three CPI’s, he said.”
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The CISLAC boss lamented the rate of corruption in the country and reserved some blames for the Judiciary.
“Nigeria as a country has reached a point where citizens should come out in their millions to protest against corruption, thus, with the expectations that this regime could address the issue of corruption, yet the world continues to face corruption with the help of high profile officials,” he lamented.
Among other recommendations, CISCLAC called on the executive arm of government to stop granting pardon to corrupt politicians recklessly.
As a means to curb and tackle the incessant corruption in Nigeria, CISLAC also recommended as follows:
1. The presidency, INEC, political parties, security actors and other relevant bodies should ensure that the 2023 general election are free, fair and credible.
2. The relevant anti-graft agencies should ensure that high profile corruption cases are pursued to their logical conclusion for the benefit of Nigeria and her citizens.
3. Agencies given the mandate to recover assets under the proceeds of Crime (and Management) Act 2022 should ensures that they establish a database where information about assets in their custody is easily accessed by citizens in line with the Act and the proactive provisions of the Freedom of Information Act 2011.
4. The Federal government should address the lingering issue of oil theft in the country.
5. The relevant agencies should investigate those behind the important of toxic fuel to Nigeria in 2022.
6. The National assembly should ensure transparency in the implementation of the constituency projects. The relevant agencies should ensure that those found guilty are brought to book.
7. With the election fast approaching, the judiciary should ensure more than ever to deliver justice.
The Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) developed by theTransparency International (TI) in 1995 is an annual ranking of countries on the prevalence of corruption within each country, based upon surveys by experts and business executives. It’s aims is to serve as a basis for critical reflection on tangible ways to strengthen the fight against corruption.
No single government can solve Nigeria’s problems – Buhari
President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday said that no single government can solve Nigeria’s problems.
Buhari, at a state- of- nation dialogue on security, economy and administration of justice in Abuja, stated that efforts of successive governments were required to see the country through its challenges
The President hoped that the event, which was organised by the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), would contribute to Nigeria’s development. Buhari, who was represented by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, reminded lawyers that they owed the nation some responsibilities.
“I would say no one government in this country would be able to solve the problems of Nigeria. But as we build on the precedent set by successive governments, not discarding completely what has been put in place, we would in the course of our desire to build a Nigeria of our dreams, be able to pick one or two things, on which we can concentrate and move.
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“As a government, the outcome of this dialogue can be transmitted to us so that whatever resolutions are reached, that would become part of the documents would prepare us as we transit and hand over to an incoming government.”
Kebbi State Governo, Atiku Bagudu, who also attended the event, said one of the ways to tackle insecurity was to give priority to primary education in the country.
He said most of the causes of insecurity were a result of the breakdown of the social contract towards the people.
Bagudu, therefore, advocated more investment in primary education to turn the situation in the country around.
The governor pointed out that in developed countries, as much as $27,000 is spent on a child, while in Nigeria, a rich state like Lagos, spends far less.
He said: “They (children) have not been provided education. The challenges of inclusion are the most current. We need to include more people and so we have to mobilise more resources.”
Bagudu praised the NBA for the theme of the dialogue, which according to him, is holding ahead of the general election.
Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations (UN), Amina Mohammed, condemned the attacks on facilities of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
She also frowned at attacks on some candidates for the general election, as well as fake news and hate speeches focusing on religious and ethnic identities.
The UN chief said: “INEC has been making great strides in improving the transparency, accountability and credibility of Nigeria’s electoral process. The increase in the number of registered voters from 84m to 93m is encouraging and suggests Nigerians are enthusiastic about the electoral process.
“However, we continue to witness attacks against the institution. Fake news, hate speech, based on religious and ethnic identities, violence against candidates as well as INEC facilities and staff since the political campaigns began.”
Mohammed hoped that the elections would provide an opportunity for Nigerians to unite and shape the future of the nation.
She said as Africa’s largest economy with a youthful population, Nigeria cannot afford to fail.
The UN chief said Nigeria must be steeped in economic, social and environmental principles and must be guided by Agenda 2030 and its 17 goals.
“The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are an urgent to-do list, a blueprint for global and local action. We needed it to develop peace and prosperity and a thriving natural environment for current and future generations.”
NBA President Yakubu Maikyau (SAN) said there was a need to continuously engage government at all levels on issues affecting the country and the citizenry.
He urged members of the Bench and Bar to always ensure that justice was served without fear of favour.
The New Chairman of the Police Service Commission, Solomon Arase, encouraged the deployment of technology to secure the country.
Arase, who added that government cannot solve security problems alone, said the establishment of reform panels over insecurity was a waste of time.
Angry youths protest in Kano, stone Buhari’s helicopter
There was a protest in some parts of Kano on Monday by some angry youths during President Muhammadu Buhari’s working visit to the state.
In an area, the youths were seen throwing stones at Buhari’s helicopter.
They were however dispersed by security agents who fired shots in the air to scare them away.
The protesting youths were chanting “Ba mu so” (We don’t want) as they set a bonfire of tyres along Hotoro Road where the President went to commission the Muhammadu Buhari Interchange.
The development came hours after Abdullahi Ganduje, Kano governor, made a U-turn over the president’s visit to the state.
Ganduje had asked the president to postpone the visit over security concerns and difficulty in accessing the new naira notes.
There were also videos that went viral on Monday showing stones littering a road said to be the area where the president’s convoy was expected to pass through.
In one of the videos, a voice in the background said the people were angry at the president and decided to attack him with stones.
Reacting to the incident in a statement, Debo Ologunagba, PDP spokesperson, described the alleged incident as treason and sacrilege.
“This organised attack on the person of the President is outrightly treasonable and a sacrilegious assault on our national sovereignty which must be condemned by all,” the PDP said.
“Our Party is alarmed that this attack is part of APC Presidential Candidate’s alleged plot to undermine the Presidency, cause confusion, trigger violence in the country, disrupt the conduct of the 2023 general elections and derail our democracy; having realised that he cannot win in a peaceful, free and fair electoral process.
“The PDP invites Nigerians to note how Governor Abdullahi Ganduje attempted to abridge President Buhari’s movement and even tried to stop him from visiting Kano State. More disquieting is the fact that the APC Presidential Campaign sought to humiliate and harm President Buhari, while performing his official duties in Kano.
“It should be noted that the APC Presidential Candidate has been displaying open aversion and making inciting statements against President Buhari since Mr. President’s declaration, in line with democratic best practice all over the world, that Nigerians should freely vote for any candidate and Party of their choice in the 2023 general elections.
“The apparent frustration of Asiwaju Tinubu to resort to encourage or condone violence is fueled by his entitlement mentality, that it is his turn to be President, despite his numerous ineligibility and disability baggage.
“Nigerians are reminded about Asiwaju Tinubu’s infamous statement in London where he declared to his supporters that ‘political power is not going to be served in a restaurant, it is not served a la carte. It is what we are doing; It is being determined; you do it at all cost; fight for it, grab it, snatch it and run with it’.”
However, Bayo Onanuga, spokesperson for the APC presidential campaign council, dismissed the claim of the attack and criticised the PDP for reacting to something “imaginary”.
“We were not surprised to read of the imaginary attack on the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria being peddled by the Peoples Democratic Party since the party has nothing tangible to tell Nigerians from its crumbling Presidential Campaign,” Onanuga said.
He also said,“This invented attack on President Muhammadu Buhari must have happened only in the fertile imagination of PDP National Publicity Secretary, one Debo Ologunagba.
“Nigerians should disregard this fake news from a party that has lost touch with reality and suffering the agony of violating its own rules on power rotation.
“Just as it has been masterminding fake news against the APC presidential candidate and trying vainly to cause disharmony in the APC family, we believe the party may have planned to embarrass President Buhari in Kano and then put the blame on host Governor Ganduje and Tinubu.
“This is because PDP has of recent morphed from being a Buhari virulent critic to strangely becoming a Buhari spokesperson! The last time it issued a self-serving misinterpretation of Asíwájú’s statement in Abeokuta as an attack on President Buhari.
“It should be quite obvious to Nigerians that the knowledge of impending defeat of PDP at the coming presidential poll has pushed the party and its candidate into frenzied hallucinatory mode of mindless, ridiculous, ludicrous litany of lies and fabrications against APC and its candidate.
“The PDP is a drowning party feverishly clawing at any straw of lies and lashing out in all delusional directions to keep afloat – but sink it will. We believe Nigerians are not taken in by the jejune antics.”
Onanuga also asked security agencies to “arrest” Ologunagba over his comments regarding the alleged attack.
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