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SERAP Demands Probe of 316 Duplicated Projects in 2021 Budget

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316 Duplicated Projects

By Adedapo Adesanya

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has asked President Muhammadu Buhari to probe the duplication of 316 projects in the 2021 budget he signed into law in December 2020.

SERAP made the request via a statement issued on Sunday by its Deputy Director, Mr Kolawole Oluwadare. The group also asked Mr Buhari to direct the Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami, to carry out the investigation.

The organisation wants the Minister to also “investigate ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) and members of the National Assembly suspected to be responsible for inserting N39.5 billion” for the 316 duplicated projects.

“Any such investigation should establish whether public funds have been mismanaged, diverted or stolen in the guise of implementing the duplicated and mysterious projects,” the statement also demanded.

“Anyone suspected to be responsible should face prosecution as appropriate, if there is sufficient admissible evidence, and any stolen public funds should be fully recovered,” it added.

According to SERAP, the misallocation of public funds for duplicated and mysterious projects has seriously undermined the ability of the indicted MDAs, noting that the government should ensure respect for Nigerians’ human rights through developing and implementing well-thought-out policies, plans, and budgets.

It also expressed concerns that the N39.5 billion duplicated and mysterious projects may have been used as a ploy to divert and steal vital resources from MDAs.

The statement added, “Budget allocations and expenditure ought to be well-suited to ensure access of Nigerians to basic public services, and responsive to the people’s needs in order to prevent corruption or unnecessary or wasteful spending.”

Business Post reports that last week, an organisation known as BudgIT revealed that there were 316 duplicated capital projects worth N39.5 billion in the 2021 budget worth N13.588 trillion.

The ministries reportedly involved in the duplicated and mysterious projects are Ministry of Health with 115 projects; Ministry of Information and Culture with 40 projects; Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development with 25 projects; Ministry of Education with 23 projects; Ministry of Transportation with 17 projects; and Ministry of Science and Technology with 17 projects.

“Others are the Ministry of Environment with 13 projects; Ministry of Power with 11 projects; Ministry of Labour and Employment with 11 projects, and Ministry of Water Resources with 10 projects.

For SERAP, this development suggests a grave violation of the public trust and Nigerians’ rights to education, health, water, sanitation, and a clean and satisfactory environment because the indicted MDAs have misallocated public funds at the expense of the people’s access to basic public services, and enjoyment of rights.

The group informed the President that “investigating and prosecuting any allegations of mismanagement, diversion and stealing of public funds budgeted for the 316 duplicated and mysterious projects would allow your government to use the budget to effectively promote Nigerians’ access to essential public goods and services.”

“It would also enable your government to meet Nigeria’s human rights obligations in the way the MDAs under your leadership and supervision allocate, spend and audit the budget,” it added.

“Publishing the ‘implementation status’ of the duplicated and mysterious projects would allow Nigerians to hold their government to account in the spending of public funds. This is particularly true for marginalized and excluded groups, such as people living in poverty, women, children, and persons with disabilities, as the budget has a disproportionate impact on their welfare.”

“We would be grateful if the recommended measures are taken within 14 days of the receipt and/or publication of this letter. If we have not heard from you by then, the Incorporated Trustees of SERAP shall take all appropriate legal actions to compel your government to comply with our request in the public interest.”

“The revelations also suggest that the indicted MDAs lack transparent, accountable, effective and credible budgeting processes to prevent and combat corruption. SERAP is concerned that the Federal Government has not complied with Nigeria’s obligations under international human rights law,” SERAP said.

Also, it urged the Minister of Finance Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, to publish full details of the current implementation status of the duplicated and mysterious projects, adding that, “any spending on the projects to date, including the 115 projects inserted in the budget of the Ministry of Health; the 23 projects inserted in the budget of the Ministry of Education, and 10 projects inserted in the budget of the Ministry of Water Resources.”

Adedapo Adesanya is a journalist, polymath, and connoisseur of everything art. When he is not writing, he has his nose buried in one of the many books or articles he has bookmarked or simply listening to good music with a bottle of beer or wine. He supports the greatest club in the world, Manchester United F.C.

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We Cater for Over 17.5 Million Nigerian Orphans—SOS Children’s Villages

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SOS Children's Villages

By Ashemiriogwa Emmanuel

Over 17.5 million orphans in Nigeria are being catered for under the watch of the SOS Children’s Villages in Nigeria.

The independent, non-governmental, non-profit international development organization, in addition, runs family strengthening programs, where children and families in need benefit from vocational training, care, medical and food assistance.

The National Director of the SOS Children’s Villages in Nigeria, Mr Eghosa Erhumwunse, recently disclosed this in Isolo, Lagos, while receiving food items donated by Crown Flour Mill (CFM) Limited, producers of the popular Mama Gold flour and semolina brands and Crown Pasta food products.

Thanking the firm for the humanitarian gesture, he said, “By making this food donation to bring relief to the children at the Villages, Crown Flour Mill Limited has demonstrated that it is a business that values the wellbeing of its host communities.

“We cater for over 17.5 million orphans in Nigeria. Our in-country strategic partners have been instrumental in ensuring the vulnerable segments are able to survive the various shocks of the ongoing global crises and local challenges.”

Some of the food items donated included Crown Premium Spaghetti bags of Mama Gold Semolina and Crown Supreme Semolina and a range of sanitary products and toiletries.

In addition to these, a cookout for over 480 students of Biyamusu Primary School, Ajingi, Kano was also organized by the firm along with the donation of food products and toiletries to the wards of Nasarawa Children’s Home an orphanage also in Kano state.

These contributions supported by the flour milling firm were in line with its series of activities lined up to commemorate the 2021 World Food Day (WFD) tagged: Our actions are our future – Better production, better nutrition, a better environment, and a better life.

Speaking during the visit, the Managing Director of Crown Flour Mill Limited, Mr Ashish Pande, lamented the gap that exists between many children and their access to a healthy future.

He reiterated the firm’s determination in providing consumers, the underprivileged, and people affected by food shortage with access to affordable and nutritious food options.

On her part, the Corporate Affairs Manager at Olam Nigeria, Ms Damilola Adeniyi, said, “No one, most of all children, deserves to suffer hunger or lack access to good food.

“Therefore, we are taking actions that align with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of achieving zero hunger in the world in our business operations, which lay emphasis on food safety, fortification, security, and Corporate Social Investments (CSI) such as this.”

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200 Retirees in Jigawa to Share N331.7m

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Invest Jigawa Roundtable

By Adedapo Adesanya

No fewer than 200 retirees in Jigawa State will share N331.7 million, the Executive Secretary of the Jigawa State and Local Government Contributory Pension Scheme, Mr Kamilu Aliyu, has disclosed.

Speaking on Wednesday in Dutse, Mr Aliyu stated that the beneficiaries were retired from the service in the state, local government and Local Education Authorities (LEAs).

He said that the payment comprises retirement benefits, death benefits, death pension balance and refund of eight per cent contribution.

Breaking down the figures, Mr Aliyu said that 83 of the beneficiaries were from state service, 72 from local government service and 45 from LEAs.

He said that a total of N331.698 million would be paid to 200 retirees in the disbursement exercise.

“Forty-seven beneficiaries from the state service will be paid N99.709 million as retirement benefit, and 52 retirees of the local governments will receive the sum of N72.653 million, while N26.753 million will be paid to 22 beneficiaries from LEAs.

“For the death benefits, 15 retirees from the state will be paid N38.721 million and 14 retirees from the local government will be paid N27.270 million while 18 others from LEAs will get N47.645 million,” he said.

Mr Aliyu said that under the death pension balance, nine beneficiaries from the state would be paid N9.2 million, six retirees from the local government will receive N1.613 million while five others from LEAs will get N6.9 million.

According to him, 12 beneficiaries will receive N1.25 million as a refund of the eight per cent contribution.

The executive scribe reiterated the commitment of the state government to ensure prompt payment of pension and other entitlements to improve the wellbeing of pensioners.

To achieve this, he said, the board had adopted proactive modalities to hasten payment processes of the retirees whenever their number reached about 200.

“We no longer have to wait until we have a large number of retirees.

“This will enable the retirees not wait for long or suffer before they start enjoying their benefits after disengagement from the service,” he stated.

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Oyo to Implement Social Protection Programme

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Social Protection Programme

By Aduragbemi Omiyale

All is now set for the implementation of the social protection programme aimed to address the issues of lack of access to education and healthcare for children in Oyo State.

This Oyo State Social Protection and Implementation Plan is being put in place in collaboration with the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF).

According to the Commissioner for Budget and Economic Planning in Oyo State, Professor Musibau Babatunde, the idea of this scheme is to strengthen social protection among the vulnerable people in the state.

Speaking during a four-day stakeholders’ meeting in Oyo town, the Commissioner said the state, through constant engagements with relevant stakeholders, has finalised the production of a Medium-Term Sector Strategy (MTSS).

Mr Babatunde explained that the partnership with UNICEF would provide a unique opportunity for the most vulnerable people in the state to access development and intervention programmes.

“The essence of the partnership on social protection is to make a difference in the lives of the most vulnerable people in the state. Through this, we will make them an integral part of the development and intervention programmes in the state,” he said.

The meeting, organised by the state’s Ministry of Budget and Economic Planning and UNICEF, was attended by representatives of civil society organisations, media, development partners among others.

Speaking earlier, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Budget and Economic Planning, Mrs Mofoluke Adebiyi, said the workshop was aimed at articulating and mapping social protection programmes in the state for proper domestication of the National Social Protection Policy.

She recalled that a three-day technical working session held in Oyo between August 30 and September 1, resulted in the production of a clean and updated revised policy document that culminated as the working tool for the workshop.

In another development, the Oyo State government has reiterated its total commitment to the wellbeing of the less privileged, saying it will leave no stone unturned in catering especially for the Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVC).

The wife of the Oyo State Governor, Mrs Tamunominini Makinde, gave this assurance on Tuesday at the 10th anniversary of Winnie’s Castle Orphanage, Ibadan.

She said the administration of her husband, Mr Seyi Makinde, would provide basic needs and protect every child’s right to survival, development, protection and participation as enshrined in the State Child Rights Law (2006).

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