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FG Saves N119b from Court Judgment Liability

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FG wage bills

By Modupe Gbadeyanka

Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola, has disclosed that his ministry has, through negotiations and compromise, saved the Federal Government a staggering sum of N119.4 billion resulting from a judgement entered against it over a litigation from a metering contract awarded by the previous administration in 2003.

Addressing newsmen after Wednesday’s Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting in Abuja, Mr Fashola said the one of the three memoranda the Ministry took to the council for approval was in respect of an inherited liability from the former Ministry of Power.

He explained that the judgement came “as a results of acts of officials of government, who varied the presidential approval without seeking further directives from him” and then awarded the contract on that basis, adding that the party, who was the beneficiary of that contract, “which the officials subsequently sought to withdraw,” later went to court and got a judgment in its favour.

The Minister, who cited the incident as an example of some of the problems inherited from the last administration, added, “But we have successfully reached a compromise on that matter where the judgment has been compromised for the entire sum of N119.4 billion to N19.4 million. So, government is no longer liable to, under this new agreement, to pay that amount”.

Pointing out that the negotiations took about the entire period of his tenure as Minister to achieve”, the Minister added that the successful negotiation was able to free up another N39.17Billion held under another Judgement in court to be used now for the supply of electricity metres to the DisCos adding that all of the disputes arose from a contract to supply 3,000,000 metres entered into with the contractor and NEPA, which became PHCN, in 2003; about 14 years ago.

“The contract was never fully performed by both parties; either by the contractor or government. So, from the very early days they ended up in court. Government constituted one committee after the other to resolve the matter. So, there was court judgement, money was left in the bank, the purpose couldn’t be achieved. Then a new contract was created which became a liability of N119 billion”, he further explained.

Mr Fashola, however, expressed delight that the Federal Executive Council approved the Memo “to give effect to the negotiations that we were able to put together to compromise that judgement entirely and to convert the old N39 billion to a loan to that contractor so that they can use it to supply metres to the DisCos” through new rules being developed by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC).

The Minister said one of the other two memoranda sent to council by his Ministry was with respect for approval to construct the Pankshin-Balang-Yeleng-Sara-Gindiri Road in Plateau State for N10.461 billion while the second one was with respect to Share- Pategi Road in Kwara State for N10.29 billion adding that both prayers were approved by council.

Modupe Gbadeyanka is a fast-rising journalist with Business Post Nigeria. Her passion for journalism is amazing. She is willing to learn more with a view to becoming one of the best pen-pushers in Nigeria. Her role models are the duo of CNN's Richard Quest and Christiane Amanpour.

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Group Laments Absence of Sign Language Interpreters at TV Stations, Hospitals

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Sign Language Interpreters

By Ashemiriogwa Emmanuel

A former leader of the women’s wing of the Nigerian National Association of the Deaf (NNAD), Mrs Monsurat Abdulwasiu, has raised the issue of exclusion of hearing-impaired individuals, especially in major TV broadcasts.

The counsellor made the complaint to the Minister of Information and Culture, Mr Lai Mohammed, on Thursday during the 2021 annual lecture organized by the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN) in partnership with the Albino Foundation and the European Union (EU).

Speaking through an interpreter on behalf of the disadvantaged, Mrs Abdulwasiu said that because many TV stations across the country do not feature sign language interpretations in their major broadcast, persons with disabilities only look at images during news hours without understanding the message.

In her words, “Only the Nigerian Television Authority, NTA, has a sign language interpreter during one of its news hours. In the other media platforms, there are no sign language interpreters. Even in the healthcare sector, no sign language in Nigerian hospitals.

“So, what happens to deaf people when they are reading news, and when they are sick and go to the hospital. Does it mean that we are not entitled to information and healthcare? The government needs to look into this.”

Responding to this, the Minister confirmed this and said he was touched by the point raised, adding that there was a need for sign interpreters during the network news and other major news belts.

Mr Mohammed then assured that he would direct all TV stations in the country, both public and private, to feature sign language interpretation in their major broadcast.

“I am going to ask the NBC to direct all our television stations to ensure that there are sign [language] interpreters in all television stations during their major news hours.

“This will not apply to only the Nigerian Television Authority. Whether public or private television stations, they must comply with the directive.

“This directive will work both ways. It means the complaint of exclusion will be tackled and the persons with disability of hearing will also be included in programs and policies of the government,” he said.

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CBN to Inject Fresh N15bn into Lagos Blue Line Railway Project

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Blue Line Railway Project

By Ashemiriogwa Emmanuel

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has said that another tranche of N15 billion is due for disbursement to Lagos State for the completion of the ongoing Blue Line Railway project.

This is part of the N60 billion the apex bank has earmarked for the project of which the sum of N45 billion has been disbursed to the state already.

The provision of the funding by the central bank, through select banks, is under the Differentiated Cash Reserves Requirement (DCRR) intervention to ensure Lagos State had the financial capacity for the project.

Speaking after a tour at the Marina site on Thursday, October 14, to monitor the progress of the infrastructure operated by the Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (LAMATA), the Director of CBN Development Finance, Mr Yusuf Philip Yila, remarked that the “progress of the job matches the funding so far.”

“The total amount we have made available for this line is N60 billion. We have disbursed N45 billion. There’s another tranche of N15 billion.

“We are confident, based on what has been shown, that progress has been made. Disbursement of the funding is being done in tranches. So, another tranche is due.

“As the central bank, we felt it is important to come and see what is on the ground and the quality of work is quite impressive,” Mr Yila disclosed.

Evaluating the work done on the site so far, he noted the job opportunities that have been opened to young Nigerians in the state through the avenue which includes welding, fabricating and others.

He said, “There are over 500 jobs on-site here, which is a good takeaway. I am happy, having met some of the people on-site and across other stations.”

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FG Approves N2.5bn for Senior Citizens to Curb Poverty

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National Senior Citizens Centre

By Adedapo Adesanya

The federal government has approved N2.5 billion as a take-off grant for the National Senior Citizens Centre (NSCC), the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management, Ms Sadiya Farouq, has disclosed.

The Minister said this at a one-day Southern Zone Stakeholders Consultation on Development of NSCC Strategic Plan on Thursday in Lagos, where she was represented by the ministry’s acting Director, Social Services, Mr Mansur Kuliya.

According to her, the money is presently being processed for disbursement to the centre and would be used to identify the strategic priorities, processes and approaches that would provide an impetus for the centre to achieve its mandate of integrating senior citizens.

The Minister said that the centre was collaborating with relevant stakeholders to brainstorm and produce ideas for the development of a 10-year strategic plan.

“This consultation indicates the commitment of the ministry, board and management of the centre to ensure full implementation of Mr President’s agenda toward the establishment of the centre.

“The ministry and the centre will ensure that the country benefits from the wisdom and wealth of experiences of the senior citizens,” she said.

The Director-General of NSCC, Mr Emem Omokaro, in his presentation, said the consultation was to inform stakeholders about the National Senior Citizens Act and its mandate.

Mr Omokaro said the Act aligns with the National Policy on Ageing and the SDGs Agenda 2030, which was the guiding document for the operations of the NSCC and the parameters of the stakeholders’ deliberation.

Corroborating this, the Minister noted that, “This consultation is also to engage stakeholders on critical issues affecting older persons; to listen to your views, context, evidence and even myths.

“It is to bring innovative solutions that will constitute actions that NSCC should consider and the means to achieve them.

“By this consultative forum, NSCC is creating and fostering an environment of collaboration in the key decision-making process.”

The Lagos State Commissioner for Youth and Social Development, Mr Segun Dawodu, in his remarks, said Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu was committed to reducing the sufferings of older citizens in alignment with the theme policy agenda of the state.

Mr Dawodu, who was represented by Ms Caroline Inegbedion, the ministry’s Deputy Director, Correctional and Elderly Care Services, noted that the commitment was geared toward reducing the vulnerability of elders to poverty.

He said it was also to make them economically independent and improve their general well-being.

The Commissioner said plans were underway for the construction of Day Care Centre in each of the three senatorial districts, adding that the facility was at 85 per cent completion in Epe.

He noted that the state government had a functional and well-funded Old Peoples Home to take care of its vulnerable aged people with social workers, nurses, doctors and physiotherapists attached.

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