SERAP Tasks NASS to Identify Lawmakers Involved in Missing N4.1bn
By Adedapo Adesanya
The leadership of the National Assembly has been tasked to probe the N4.1 billion budgeted for the parliament alleged to be missing.
This charge was given by the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) in a letter addressed to the Senate President, Mr Ahmad Lawan, and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr Femi Gbajabiamila.
In the letter dated May 15, 2021, and signed by SERAP deputy director, Mr Kolawole Oluwadare, the parliament was asked to “urgently probe and refer to appropriate anti-corruption agencies fresh allegations that N4.1 billion of public money budgeted for the National Assembly is missing, misappropriated, diverted or stolen, as documented in the 2016 audited report by the Office of the Auditor-General of the Federation.”
SERAP noted that: “These allegations are not part of the disclosure by the Auditor-General in other audited reports that N4.4 billion of National Assembly money is missing, misappropriated, diverted or stolen.”
“As part of its legislative and oversight functions, the National Assembly has a key role to play in the fight against corruption in the country.
“But little can be achieved by the legislative body in the anti-corruption fight if the leadership and members do not first confront the spectre of alleged corruption and mismanagement within their ranks,” the letter reminded Mr Lawan and Mr Gbajabiamila.
SERAP also urged both men “to identify the lawmakers and staff members suspected to be involved, and hand them over to appropriate anti-corruption agencies to face prosecution, if there is sufficient admissible evidence, and to ensure full recovery of any missing public funds.”
In the letter, SERAP stressed that it was “concerned that allegations of corruption continue to undermine economic development, violate social justice, and destroy trust in economic, social, and political institutions. Nigerians bear the heavy economic and social costs of corruption. The National Assembly, therefore, has a responsibility to curb it.”
“According to the Auditor-General Report for 2016, N4,144,706,602.68 of National Assembly money is missing, diverted or stolen. The National Assembly paid some contractors N417,312,538.79 without any documents. The Auditor-General wants the Clerk to the National Assembly to ‘recover the amount in question from the contractors.
“The National Assembly reportedly spent N625,000,000.00 through its Constitution Review Committee between March and June 2016 but without any document. The Auditor-General wants the Clerk to the National Assembly to ‘recover the amount from the Committee and furnish evidence of recovery for verification.
“The National Assembly also reportedly spent N66,713,355.08 as ‘personnel cost’ but ‘the payees in the Cashbook did not correspond with those in the Bank Statement’. The Auditor-General wants ‘the irregular expenditure recovered from the officer who approved the payments.
“The National Assembly also reportedly paid N116,162,522.60 to some contractors between April and June 2016 without any document. The National Assembly deducted N56,985,568.55 from various contract payments in respect of Withholding Tax and Value Added Tax but without any evidence of remittance.
“The National Assembly also reportedly paid N126,264,320.00 as cash advances to 11 staff members between March and December 2016 to procure goods and services but failed to remit the money.
“The Senate reportedly paid N747,286,680.00 as personal advances to staff members between February and December 2016 for various procurements and services but failed to retire the money. The Senate also deducted N118,625,057.48 as Withholding and Value Added Taxes but failed to show any evidence of remittance to the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS).
“The Senate also spent N109,007,179.73 from the Capital Expenditure vote but without any document.
“The House of Representatives reportedly deducted N821,564,296.48 from staff salaries but failed to remit the money to tax authorities. The House also paid N254,059,513.70 as advances to staff members to procure goods and services between January and December 2016 but failed to retire the money.
“The National Institute for Legislative Studies reportedly spent N375,867,000.00 to buy 11 motor vehicles in April 2016. But the Institute also paid the same contractor N36,610,000.00 in September 2016 under the same contract without approval.
“The Institute also reportedly paid N10,927,768.80 to 7 members of staff who were redeployed from the National Assembly to provide specialized services but without details about the staff paid, and without any justification.”
“The National Assembly Service Commission reportedly approved N109,995,400.00 to train some officers in Dubai, United Arab Emirates but spent N127,629,600.00 as Estacode Allowances to participants, and fees for two consultants engaged for the training. The Commission also spent N9,975,000.00 as course fees for 34 officers but it also paid a consultant N4,987,500.00 for the same course fees.
“The Legislative Aides Section earned N12,274,587.77 as interests on Bank accounts in a commercial bank between January and December 2016 but failed to remit the money to the Consolidated Revenue Fund,” it stated.
Lagos State Executive Governor Commissions Babajide Sanwo-Olu International Market Ikosi
By Adedapo Adesanya
***Constructed By Total Value Integrated Services
The Governor of Lagos State, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu, recently commissioned the third phase of the Ikosi International Model Market and the Ikosi International Fruits Market Phase 2, delivering on a promise made to the people of the community.
The Governor speaking at the commissioning, which was held amid fanfare and jubilation on Thursday, May 25, stated that commercial activities in markets have had a great impact on the state’s economy.
He added that building a befitting environment for traders remained a noble initiative to drive grassroots democracy and socio-economic growth.
The Governor said, “I commend the vision and leadership which facilitated the delivery of these two ultra-modern markets befitting the status of our state and resonate with the vision of a Greater Lagos.
“The impact the markets have had on the economy of Lagos is invaluable, as they serve as focal points of economic activities in the State. These are the real examples of initiatives of grassroots democracy and socio-economic growth.”
On his part, Mr Chris Onyekachi, the Managing Director (MD) of Total Value Integrated Services, a conglomerate involved in real estate development, construction, and civil engineering contracting works and the brain behind the construction of the ultra-modern markets with structures named after notable personalities including the Lagos State Deputy Governor, Mr Obafemi Hamzat, Mr Busura Alebiosu, Mr Mudashiru Obasa, et al. revealed that it wasn’t easy building a market of the magnitude of the third phase of the Ikosi International Model Market and the Ikosi International Fruits Market Phase 2.
He revealed that the journey to where the market is today began almost two and half years ago when his company came to reconstruct the market, which started from phase one to the third phase.
He said, “It wasn’t an easy journey because convincing market traders that we had good plans for them wasn’t an easy one. In their minds, they thought we wanted to chase them away. Some people felt that we wanted to use the place to build an estate, but we were lucky to have the leaders in the environment intervene. To the glory of God, we completed the first phase, we allocated it, then we started the second phase, and we also completed and allocated that. This is the third phase, and to the glory of God, we are here today. I thank God for His grace and mercy.”
Stating that the shops are affordable, Mr Onyekachi said that Total Value Integrated Services has a timeline for payment for those who can’t afford to finish their payment once, noting that once 60 per cent of the first deposit is paid, the remaining balance can be spread as agreed.
“We have our management team that is going to be on the ground to manage all the facilities here. I can assure you that in the next 10 years, whatever you have seen today is going to be in the same condition because we are going to manage them properly. Everything is properly designed, the landscape included. You can see our car parks. We have about 500 car parks here, and it makes it convenient for every person that is coming to buy and trade.
“We have a 300 KVA generator, a fire hydrant in case of fire; definitely we don’t pray for that, but we have made provision. All of the shops will be metered; we also have our security house here. We have six mobile policemen that are going to be here day and night, and we also have members of the Odua Peoples Congress (OPC)/that are also going to be here to provide security.”
Adding her voice to the narrative, the chairman, Ikosi-Isheri LCDA, Mrs Bada, noted that the markets were built in the quest to improve the standard of trading and to serve as an alternative to the existing markets.
“The markets were built in phases. The first phase was commissioned last year by Mr Governor, which consisted of key-clamp shops (fruit section) where all old occupants and fruit-market shop owners were conveniently relocated, with more than 3,000 units of spacious key clamps.
“Today, I am delighted that the second phase has been completed and is being commissioned by Mr Governor and will be allocated to old users,” she concluded.
The event attracted several notable personalities, including the Chairman of Ikosi-Isheri LCDA, Mrs Samiat Bada; Commissioner for Wealth Creation, Mrs Rabiat Arobieke; Special Adviser to the Governor on Works and Infrastructure, and Mr Aramide Adeyoye, among others.
FG Declares May 29 Public Holiday
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
Monday, May 29, 2023, has been declared a public holiday by the federal government to commemorate the inauguration of Mr Bola Tinubu as the President of Nigeria.
Several dignitaries from across the world, including the United States and some African countries, are expected to grace the swearing-in of the country’s 16th democratically elected President.
In a statement on Friday, the Minister of Interior, Mr Rauf Aregbesola, commended the citizens for their strident efforts at achieving an unbroken civilian rule and successful change of governments since 1999, appealing for support and cooperation with the coming administration.
“Democracy anywhere is an unfinished business, and the only way it can keep developing and serve its end of being the vehicle to good governance and the welfare of all the people is by adhering to its tenets of the rule of law, support for democratic institutions, promotion of free and responsible press and advancement of the frontiers of freedom for all the people,” he said.
The Minister commended Nigerians for their faith in democracy as expressed in the nationwide elections that produced the President and his Deputy being inaugurated and indeed in all elections across the nation, enjoining Nigerians to continue to support and promote democracy through adherence to the rule of law and uphold all democratic institutions.
In the statement signed by the Permanent Secretary, Mr Shuaib Belgore, the Minister urged Nigerians also to continue to promote ideals of peaceful coexistence and love for our neighbours, noting that we can only practice democracy and enjoy its dividends in a peaceful environment.
Mr Aregbesola charged Nigerians to shun any form of violence and other untoward acts, saying all hands should be on the deck for the brightness of the future of Nigeria.
Schneider Electric Reinforces Support to Partners in Achieving Energy Management Goals
By Adedapo Adesanya
Schneider Electric, a global leader in digital energy management solutions, recently held an event for its valued partners with a focus on industry trends, challenges, and the future of energy management.
The event provided a platform for attendees to network and share critical insights, including the latest market trends and Schneider Electric’s newest offerings in energy management.
Present at the event were the Country President, Schneider Electric, West Africa, Mr Ajibola Akindele, official distributors, retail partners, panel builders, Marketing and Communications Manager, Schneider Electric, Omobolanle Omotayo, Channel Sales Director, Schneider Electric, Nurudeen Oyedeji, amongst others.
It featured engaging discussions and presentations that explored the current and future trends in the industry, as well as how Schneider Electric can better serve its customers’ evolving needs while showcasing the company’s latest products and services.
Expressing his gratitude to their partners, Mr Akindele said, “Our partners’ satisfaction is crucial to enhancing our individual efforts, and we are thankful for their unwavering support. Their partnership has been instrumental in our success as an organization, and we remain committed to working collaboratively to achieve our shared goals.”
Speaking further on working collaboratively with partners, he mentioned that Schneider Electric had developed a programme targeted at empowering electricians for the safe installation of energy management solutions.
“At the core of Schneider Electric is a passion for people. To guarantee the safety of our customers, an initiative has been created to equip electricians with products and technical skills for safe installation.”
On his part, Channel Sales Director, Nurudeen Oyedeji highlighted a few of Schneider Electric’s latest offerings in energy management, “We have Electrical Vehicle (EV) Chargers, flexible design switches, circuit breakers, switchboards, Building Management Systems (BMS) and other energy solutions designed for residential and small businesses, buildings, data centres, and industries.
“We look forward to a continuous collaboration with our partners to drive innovation and create sustainable energy solutions for the future.”
Schneider Electric is driving digital transformation by integrating world-leading process and energy technologies, endpoint to cloud connecting products, controls, software, and services across the entire lifecycle, enabling integrated company management for homes, buildings, data centres, infrastructure, and industries.
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