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8M N4 Blog | New Mail Nigeria

Hadiza Bala Usman: NPA remitted all surplus funds – Hadiza Bala Usman

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Hadiza Bala Usman
Hadiza Bala Usman

Twenty hours after refuting allegations of failing to remit the operating surplus of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) to the consolidated revenue fund (CFR), Hadiza Bala Usman was suspended as the managing director of the NPA.

In a letter dated May 5, 2021, a copy of which was obtained by one of our correspondents, Usman told Ibrahim Gambari, chief of staff to the president, that 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 that 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.

However, it was too late by the time her letter came as the cold war between her and Rotimi Amaechi, the minister of transportation who supervises NPA, was already on the cusp of boiling over.

After a failed attempt to get external auditors to audit NPA’s books — which Adolphus Aghughu, the auditor-general of the federation, said had been audited — Amaechi wrote Buhari via a March 4 letter to complain that the NPA had not remitted an “operating surplus of N165 billion to the consolidated revenue fund account (CFR) from 2o16 till date”, citing information from the budget office.

Acting on the letter and subsequent correspondences, Gambari asked the suspended NPA MD to forward records of the agency’s remittance of operating surplus.

By then, Amaechi had furnished the presidency with financial records provided by the budget office, in which NPA’s net profit was listed as N133.08 billion (2017), N88.79 billion (2018), N73.92 billion (2019) and N71.59 billion (Q1 – Q3 of 2020).

In her response to Gambari, Usman 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.

In a March 2 letter to the ministry of transportation, the budget office had said that the NPA’s operating surpluses were N133.084 billion and N88.79 billion for 2017 and 2018 respectively.

But on the contrary, Usman informed the presidency that the NPA had N76.782 as operating surplus for 2017 and N71.48 billion for 2018 in its financial statement prepared in line with the fiscal responsibility act.

“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 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.”

However, by the time the presidency could consider her letter, Amaechi was already meeting with Buhari to make a final case for her suspended, as earlier reported by TheCable.

11 IPOB members killed during attack on Imo police command – Army

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IPOB weapons
IPOB weapons

The Nigerian army says 11 members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) were killed, following an attack on the police command in Imo state.

Mohammed Yerima, army spokesman, disclosed this in a statement on Friday.

The security operatives foiled an attack on a police station in Imo state.

According to Yerima, officers of the army and air force were reinforced to the police command during the attack which occurred on Thursday.

“A gang of IPOB/ESN terrorists mounted in vehicles on Thursday, 6 May 2021, stormed Orlu town with intention to attack the compound housing the Area Command and Police Station in Orlu LGA of Imo State,” the statement read.

“The attackers were resisted by vigilant police personnel at the Area Command and were completely obliterated when a reinforcement team of the Nigerian Army and Nigerian Air Force arrived the scene.

“The assailants who have been on the radar of the Joint Technical Intelligence Team were said to have come from a Forest Camp in Ideato North LGA of Imo State from where they mobilised and planned the failed attack.

“Following the encounter, eleven IPOB/ESN Terrorists were neutralised while four AK47, one G3 and one Pump Action Rifles as well as a Berretta Pistol, charms and assorted ammunitions were recovered. All the seven Operational Vehicles used for the attack were demobilised and as such the remaining terrorists escaped on foot with fatal injuries. There were no casualties on the side of the security forces.”

While calling for the cooperation of Imo residents, the army urged them to be on the lookout for “strange persons with gunshot injuries and report same to the nearest security agency for the safety of their communities”.

“The Nigerian Army remains committed to a united Nigeria that is safe for all law abiding citizens and will continue to support the Police in maintaining internal security,” Yerima added.

Aisha Alhassan, ex-women affairs minister, is dead

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Senator-Aisha-Alhassan
Senator-Aisha-Alhassan

Aisha Alhassan, former minister of women affairs, is dead.

Alhassan, who was popularly known as ‘Mama Taraba’, died on Friday from an unknown illness.

In 2018, she resigned from the Buhari administration over doubts of her political loyalty. She then ran for the Taraba state governorship election months later.

After she failed to secure the All Progressives Congress (APC) ticket in the poll, Alhassan decamped to the United Democratic Party (UDP), where she emerged as the party’s flagbearer.

She eventually lost in the election and returned to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), where she had been in the previous years.

Before defecting to APC in 2015, the former minister contested and won the election for the senatorial seat of Taraba north in 2011 under the PDP.

Her loyalty in Buhari’s government was in doubt as she was a known supporter of Atiku Abubakar, the president’s political rival.

Even as a minister, she declared support for the 2019 presidential ambition of Abubakar, an action that angered the APC leadership.

It was that action and similar others that led the APC to disqualify her when he sought the party’s governorship ticket in Taraba.

In a letter informing President Muhammadu Buhari of her resignation, Alhassan said she had always been a committed and loyal party member and was at no time queried or admonished for any wrongdoing.

She told the president she chose to quit the APC over what she described as “grave injustice”.

Supreme court declares dissolution of Oyo LGs illegal

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Gov. Seyi Makinde
Gov. Seyi Makinde

The Supreme court has declared the dissolution of local government councils in Oyo state as illegal.

In a ruling on Friday, the apex court said the replacement of the council chairman with caretaker committees is also unlawful.

Seyi Makinde, governor of Oyo state, had in May 2019 sacked all the local government chairpersons in the state and appointed caretaker chairmen.

The action of the governor was met with widespread criticism, particularly from the Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON).

The Oyo state chapter of ALGON had described the development as “unconstitutionally unwise, unexpected and too hasty for a new government that is yet to find its feet”.

Abubakar Malami, attorney-general of the federation (AGF), had subsequently declared Makinde’s action as unconstitutional.

Mohammed Adamu, former inspector-general of police (IGP), had asked Shina Olukolu, Oyo state commissioner of police, to help reinstate the sacked local government chairpersons in compliance with the directive of the AGF.

Two months ago, Makinde dissolved the council caretaker committees following the expiration of their tenure.

The governor had asked heads of local council administration to take over pending the assumption of elected officials.

Supreme court affirms deregistration of 74 political parties

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Gavel
Gavel

The supreme court has affirmed the de-registration of 74 political parties by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

At its sitting on Friday, the court upheld an earlier judgement of the court of appeal, which stated that INEC’s action was in order.

A seven-man panel of the apex court led by Chima Nweze held that the deregistration was done in compliance with the extant provisions of the constitution and electoral act.

INEC had deregistered the parties in February 2020 after citing their failure to meet certain criteria listed in the constitution.

Some of the criteria they failed to meet included winning at least 25 percent of the votes cast in one state in a presidential election or 25 percent of the votes cast in one local government area.

However, some of the parties went to court to contest the commission’s action.

In August, the court of appeal sitting in Abuja said 22 of the parties were illegally deregistered.

This was after the same court earlier validated the power of INEC to deregister the parties while determining a case involving the National Unity Party (NUP).

Amid the confusion, both the commission and the NUP headed to the supreme court in separate applications challenging the court judgements.

With the verdict of the apex court, the number of political parties in Nigeria remains 18.

If Tinubu becomes president, I’ll cease to be Nigerian – Bode George

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Olabode George
Olabode George

Bode George, a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), says he will cease to be a Nigerian should Bola Tinubu, national leader of All Progressives Congress (APC), become president.

Although Tinubu has not yet expressed his interest in running for office in 2023, many of his supporters have been urging him to contest the presidency.

Speaking during an Arise TV programme on Friday, George called on the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to investigate Tinubu’s tenure as Lagos state governor and his alleged involvement with Alpha Beta Consulting, a tax firm.

He said: “I’ve talked about it and I’m still saying publicly that the EFCC should go urgently and investigate Alpha Beta Company owned by him.

“Let me say it in very clear language, to me it’s an insult to de-civilise the people of this country who are committed to national development that the likes of him want to run this country.

“We must make sure that they investigate him. He’s junketing all over the place—an insult to the civilised minds who work so hard in this country. If, by whatever yardstick, he becomes the head of state, I will cease to be a Nigerian and I’m not joking.”

Concerning the security situation in the country, George described it as “very heart-wrenching,” urging clerics to preach morality to youths.

He said: “Our religious leaders must come out and talk, let us teach our kids the moral standards required in a civilised environment. What happened to the civics that we learnt when we were young?”

Port Harcourt Refinery Rehab: We can’t afford to fail, project to generate 3,000 jobs as construction work kicks off

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L-R: NNPC Chief Operating Officer, Refineries & Petrochemicals, Engr. Mustapha Yakubu, representative of Tecnimont S.P.A. (the contractor), Mr. Masu Alberto, and Managing Director, Port Harcourt Refining Company, Engr. Ahmed Dikko, pledging to make the rehabilitation project a success
L-R: NNPC Chief Operating Officer, Refineries & Petrochemicals, Engr. Mustapha Yakubu, representative of Tecnimont S.P.A. (the contractor), Mr. Masu Alberto, and Managing Director, Port Harcourt Refining Company, Engr. Ahmed Dikko, pledging to make the rehabilitation project a success

Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has kicked off construction work in the Port Harcourt Refinery rehabilitation project with a firm commitment not to fail Nigerians.

A statement by the Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division ofthe NNPC, Dr. Kennie Obateru, quoted the NNPC Chief Operating Officer, Refineries & Petrochemicals, Engr. Mustapha Yakubu, as saying that everything was being done to ensure that the project is delivered hitch-free and on schedule.

Speaking at the Technical Kick-off Meeting for the project which held at the Port Harcourt Refinery Complex, Alesa Eleme, Rivers State, Engr. Yakubu said everything about the project had been carefully worked out to ensure that the target of at least 90% refining capacity is achieved when operational.

“It must be hitch-free and that is why we are engaging the host communities appropriately. 200 million Nigerians are looking up to us and we can’t afford to fail. We’ve been on this journey since 2019,” he said.

The COO disclosed that the project would require 3,000 workers at the peak of activities, stressing that out of that number there would be only 70 expatriates while the balance would be sourced locally in line with the local content policy.

He expressed gratitude to the Federal Government for approving $1.5 million for the project.

Speaking earlier via a message delivered on his behalf by the Chief Financial Officer of the Corporation, Umar Ajiya, the Group Managing Director of NNPC, Mallam Mele Kyari, assured Nigerians that the Port Harcourt Refinery Company (PHRC) would roar back to life on or before April 5, 2023, when repairs would have been completed on the old refinery also known as Area 5.

He said the target was to fix the old refinery first so that local refining can resume as soon as possible, adding that NNPC management would do everything to support the contractor, Maire Technimont SPA, to ensure prompt delivery of the project.

Abaribe should be in prison for failing to produce Nnamdi Kanu – Dep. Speaker

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Sen. Enyinnaya Abaribe
Sen. Enyinnaya Abaribe

Idris Wase, deputy speaker of the house of representatives, says Enyinnaya Abaribe, senate minority leader, should be imprisoned over his failure to produce Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).

Abaribe was one of Kanu’s sureties when he was released on bail in April 2017.

Since his release, Kanu has failed to turn up in court and his counsel, Ifeanyi Ejiofor, has said his whereabouts remains unknown.

Wase spoke on the issue during plenary session on Thursday while contributing to a motion of privilege sponsored by Sada Soli from Kaduna state.

Soli had accused Ndudi Elumelu, minority leader of the house, of disclosing a discussion held at an executive session of the green chamber to the national executive council (NEC) of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

During his contribution, Wase made reference to Ali Ndume, senator from Borno, who was once remanded in prison over his inability to produce Abdulrasheed Maina whom he stood surety for.

Maina is being prosecuted for alleged pension fraud.

The deputy speaker said since Abaribe could not produce Kanu, he should be made to face the same consequence that was meted on Ndume.

“I think Mr speaker we need to put the record straight. I watched the video clip very well, over and over again. And I think what the minority leader(Elumelu) did there is a complete misrepresentation of what happened at the executive session,” he said.

“What he(Elumelu) reported to the NEC meeting was that there was a very robust discussion about security which is the fact. But that in the cause of expression of members there was this desire and many are going to defect. There was never a time such expression was made.

“Mr speaker, it was a confidential matter. You know the meaning of executive session. He couldn’t have gone there to report that one. Mr speaker, I want to say that there is a kind of false platform that I am seeing because after that meeting sir, PDP caucus of both chambers went and had another discussion, a kind of build up on the security situation. And I think Mr speaker, we need to be serious.

“I see somebody as Abaribe who is leader in the senate championing that. Yes there are many flaws. He bailed Kanu Nnamdi and during the ENDSARS, we knew what happened. Kanu then was the one who was asking for the head of Tinubu, destroy this, destroy that in the nation. But we have allowed him. He knew what happened to Ndume.

“Ndume, for bailing Maina, was taken to prison for not producing him, but we allowed this man to go as opposition person. And that is why they could send everything back to the person. I am a presiding officer, I wish to be neutral as much as possible.

“I think there is need for us as a system to change our tactics. It is not about opposition. If you are going to do opposition, do opposition that is right, give factual views and also be part of solution to problems.

“Mr speaker, respectable colleagues, I think our privilege has been breached. There was complete wrong information and it is deliberate and that is why I am citing the issue of what I have seen the minority leader in the senate has done, with all of them sitting behind you.

“Ordinarily for failing to produce Kanu Nnamdi, he should be in prison, just like Ndume was taken to prison.”

Uzoma Abonta, a member of the PDP, responded by saying the matter was already in court and making such a demand will amount to interfering in a judicial decision.

Buhari suspends Hadiza Bala Usman as NPA MD

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Hadiza Bala-Usman, NPA MD
Hadiza Bala-Usman, NPA MD

President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the suspension of Hadiza Bala Usman as the managing director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA).

In a statement signed by Garba Shehu, presidential spokesman, on Thursday, the suspension followed a recommendation by Rotimi Amaechi, minister of transportation, to set up an administrative panel of inquiry to investigate the management of the NPA.

Buhari also approved the appointment of Mohammed Koko to take over while “the investigation is carried out”.

The panel is to be headed by the director of maritime services in the ministry while the deputy director of legal in the same ministry will serve as secretary. Other members of the panel will be appointed by the minister.

Bala Usman was first appointed as the NPA MD in July 2016.

In January, President Muhammadu Buhari reappointed her as NPA MD, for an additional five-year tenure.

She previously served as the chief of staff to Nasir el-Rufai, governor of Kaduna state, from 2015 to 2016.

In 2014, she co-founded the Bring Back Our Girls campaign to advocate the rescue of abducted Chibok schoolgirls.

Bala Usman is also a founding member of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

NPA recently launched Etó, an electronic truck call-up system, aimed at tackling the perennial logjam caused by articulated trucks within the Apapa ports corridor.

Unplanned urbanisation is killing the environment – FUTA Don

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Professor Josiah Babatola
Professor Josiah Babatola

A Professor of Water resources and Environmental Engineering has warned that the rate of unplanned and arbitrary urbanization in the country is causing a lot of damage to forests and other natural resources. He said if more proactive measures are not put in place to control unbridled urbanization, the environment will continue to degenerate with disastrous consequences for its inhabitants.

Professor Josiah Babatola sounded the alarm bell while delivering the 126th inaugural lecture of the Federal University of Technology Akure FUTA with the title Water, Man and Environment: The Three inseparable partners on Tuesday May 4, 2021. On a global scale he warned that if urgent steps are not taken to redeem the planet, the world could run out of rain forests in 2100, food in 2050, fish in 2048 and water in 2040.

Outlining the ways humans impact the environment, he said plastic pollution, deforestation, air pollution, oil spillage, overpopulation, overfishing, deforestation are some of the ways humans are damaging the environment. He said these are an offshoot of urbanization and rapid industrialization and they have attendant negative effects on the environment such as global warming, climate change, ocean acidification, acid rain, and ozone depletion.

Professor Babatola, who is also a recipient of the TETFund Research Grant for several research works, pointed out that in looking at the major disasters that have occurred in the past, all of which have had a direct impact on the environment, it is evident that there are recurring elements that are still of concern today and that both human factors and human errors can be directly related to environmental impact. According to him, “Never before has our planet faced the scale of man-made challenges than we have today thus real change is needed not just from politicians and businesses but from all of humanity.”

He said since humans greatly impact the natural habitat in so many ways there is therefore the need to be aware of our personal environmental input and take steps that will mitigate the spate of ensuing natural disasters that are manmade. To that end he called on researchers in Nigeria to embark on serious interdisciplinary, need driven researches in all areas bearing in mind the impacts the output of these researches will have on the environment.

He also recommended that that all existing government policies and laws dealing with environmental and water protection be reenergized and enforced. This he said is important because if the current rate of both solid and waste water generation is not controlled there will be the rampaging death from waterborne diseases. He said the effect of man on the Environment, and the resultant impact of the environment on man, is being lost in the rapid changes that are being experienced in this latest phase of industrial revolution and technological growth. He therefore recommended that the government takes action to correct this anomaly because of the future of the coming generations and to avert a major disaster that might change the world as we know it.

The lecturer said Mother Nature is an unrelenting, unforgiving force so it is best to treat her well by adopting sustainable practices such as recycling, use of biogas, proper waste disposal systems, afforestation and efficient resource planning. He said, “The best time to act was yesterday and the best that we can do is today as tomorrow may be too late. Society needs to help itself in order to survive.”

In his capacity as chairman of the occasion, the Vice Chancellor, Professor Joseph Fuwape, described the lecturer as a prolific researcher who has contributed immensely to his area of specialization. He said, “Babatola is a productive scholar and an astute administrator who has served the university dedicatedly in various capacities.”