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NDDC: We uncovered illegal spending of billions of naira as Commission refuses to submit budget performance – Reps

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Spokesman of the House, Rep. Benjamin Kalu
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By Yemi Itodo

The Nigerian House of Representatives, on Tuesday, took swipes on the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), describing it as a “corrupt” agency that has been engaging in “illegal and unauthorized spending”, to the tune of “billions of naira”.

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Spokesman of the House, Rep. Benjamin Kalu, in a statement on Tuesday, also accused the NDDC of refusing to avail the National Assembly with the agency’s budget performance reports for the 2018 and 2019 fiscal years.

Apparently responding to what it described as “an unhinged television interview” granted recently by the Executive Director in charge of Projects and Member of the Interim Management Committee (IMC) of NDDC, Dr. push({}); Cairo Ojougboh; the House lambasted the Commission for casting aspersions on its integrity and credibility.

Dr. Ojougboh was quoted in the said interview as accusing the Lawmakers of been responsible for the delay in passage of the NDDC budget; “vandalized” and “raped” the Commission’s 2019 budget and working against the ongoing forensic audit instituted by the Presidency recently; amongst other things.

But in its response, the House said, it has rather, been pushing the Commission to do the needful and render account to the Nigerian people.

“Section 18(1) of the NDDC (Establishment) Act mandates the Commission to, not later than 30 September in each year, submit to the National Assembly, its budget estimates for the following year. The House recalls that for more than 13 months after the time required by law, the Commission deliberately failed to submit its 2019 budget to the National Assembly for approval, choosing instead to engage in illegal and unauthorized spending to the tune of billions of naira.

“It took the intervention of the House, following a motion moved by Rep. Benjamin O. Kalu on November 26, 2019, to compel the Commission to present its 2019 budget”, the House explained.

Stressing further, the House recalled that, “on December 10, 2019, the date fixed for the budget defence, the Commission failed to appear with its 2018 budget performance report, a document critical to assessing its previous expenditures and approving its 2019 budget; as a result of which, the budget defence had to be stepped down.

“The Commission was only able to return with their budget performance report on February 5th, 2020 following which the House passed the 2019 budget 3 weeks after (February 27th, 2020)”.

The lower legislative House also stated that, “the negligence and/or deliberate mischief of the Commission has also frustrated all efforts by the National Assembly to expeditiously approve the Commission’s 2020 budget”, adding that, “till date, the Commission has refused to render an account of their 2019 budget expenditures to Nigerians”.

Contrary to the allegation of budget padding leveled by Ojougboh, the House said it was rather forced to cut down the budget estimates from ₦409bn to ₦345bn when it was discovered that the Commission’s projected expenditures were unrealistic, having exceeded their revenue source by ₦63bn.

“The House is also concerned by Dr. Ojougboh’s grave allegations attempting to indict President Muhammadu Buhari of influencing the 2019 NDDC budget by inserting the so called ‘President’s regional projects’. While we have a duty to remove any suspicious items identified in the budget, it must be stated that the House is not aware of any line items in the 2019 budget estimates bearing the name or indicating the personal interests of the President”, the statement further read.

On the forensic audit instituted by the Presidency, the House waved Ojougboh’s comment as “untrue” and “misleading”, saying, it has always expressed total support for the exercise, as approved by President Muhammad Buhari.

The House boasted of been responsible for adding a provision for the forensic audit in the 2019 budget after discovering that the Commission’s original budget estimates failed to include a line for the forensic audit.

“Echoing the sentiments of Nigerians, our only concern is as to the propriety of the appointment or supervision of the forensic auditors and also to ensure that any auditing process is done in accordance with the Constitution”, the statement added.

The House insisted that, a supervision of the auditing process by the IMC or any other subjects of the audit, “defeats the cardinal principle of natural justice, nemo judex in causa sua (no-one is judge in his own cause) and undermines the integrity of the investigation”.

It expressed continuous commitment to exposing corruption, inefficiency or waste in any aspect of the government, as the Peoples’ Parliament, adding that, “our support for the forensic audit does not in any way silence or preclude our oversight mandate in Sections 88 and 89 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (CFRN) (as altered) as both arms of government must continue to work according to the principles of the doctrine of separation of power”.

The House also vowed to continue with its independent investigations, in order to be equipped with information in anticipation of the outcome of the forensic audit.

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Presidency, National Assembly working In Tandem To Alleviate IDPs Plight – Hon. Jega

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Hon Muhammad Jega, member representing Aliero/Gwandu/Jega federal constituency
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The National Assembly is on the same page with the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and the Refugee Commission to enhance the condition of Internally Displaced Persons IDPs and refugees in the country.

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This is disclosed by Chairman House committee on IDPs, Hon Muhammad Jega, member representing Aliero/Gwandu/Jega federal constituency during his interactive session with some journalists in Abuja.

Hon Jega said that the National Assembly and the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and IDPs are working in a harmonious relationship that is why they have recorded successes in their respective operations.

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He further said that , if the ministry and the commission were not attending to the IDPs and refugees accordingly, through their oversight function they would have sanctioned them, but insisted that they will continue to work harmoniously so that it will benefit the targetted audiences. adsbygoogle || []).push({});

“We are actually working hand in hand with the ministry and the commission because we have to be sure that what they are doing is what is required of them and what will bring succour to those in that category,’ He said.

Jega thereby reiterates the need for everybody including the government, private individuals and donor agencies to always reach out to the IDPs and the refugees when he said the issues are a very serious one, adding that these categories of persons are affected by natural disasters without prior knowledge so they need everyone to survive.

He stated that the IDPs need protection and assistance from the government so that they can have a means of livelihood, saying that his committee has been working round the clock to make sure that the government through the ministry and the commissions are there for them.

When Informavores inquire about his Constituency projects, he said that the National Assembly has been misconstrued by a lot of people – stressing that they are the closest arm of government to the people at the grassroots. According to him, most of the development within the rural areas were brought by them because they know what their people need and that is why they have always made it available to them.

He also opined that it is only what they (Lawmakers) take to their people that they are seeing.

“We are mostly misunderstood by a lot of persons out there, but we are the closest arm of government to the people at the grassroots, it is only what we take to them that they are mostly seeing because the government doesn’t even bring development to them except through the constituency projects.

“For instance, in my constituency, we’ve been able to build Classrooms, we provided water pumps to our farmers, solar light and we empowered a lot of them with various skills acquisition.

“We established a standard computer laboratory to teach our students especially now that there are computer-based exams. The most important thing is that we are getting feedback on what we’ve done to our people and it will encourage me to do more,” he said.

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Civil Society Organizations Canvases Legislative Framework For Almajiri System 

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Senate, Executive face-off threat to democracy—APC Chieftain
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A Civil Society Organizations, and stakeholders in Bauchi state have advocated for a legislative framework of the Almajiri system to the state assembly.
 
Lovelyn Agbor, team lead from the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Center (CISLAC) made the call when paid advocacy visit to the Speaker Abubakar Suleiman in Bauchi. 
 
She said the call was part of a  recommendation from a recent multi-stakeholders meeting of relevant stakeholders, Ministries, Agencies ,CSO, Malams and Media in Bauchi. adsbygoogle || []).push({});
 
“The meeting was to identify the challenges facing the almajiri system with the aim of proffering solutions to address the negative impact of Almajiri system on the Economy.
 
“We are calling for the enactment of a legislative framework to standardise the operationalisation of the Almajiri system in the state,” she said.
 
Agbor also called for budgetary provision in the annual budget  for the welfare of the Almajiri system instead of ad-hoc intervention by the government in the state.
 
The team also emphasised that funds and resources set aside for almajiri intervention should be given directly to Almajiri gatekeepers to avoid diversion.
 
Agbor urged philanthropists to be  involved in providing support for catering for the needs of the almajiri in the state.
 
Responding, Speaker Sulaiman commended efforts of the CSOs and Stakeholders for their concern on the plight of the Almajiri system in the state.
 
He assured that the house would accord priority to the well-being and  welfare of the citizens in the state.
 
The speaker also assures to give preference to any relevant Ministries or agencies that includes Almajiri system in it’s annual budget.

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FG Set To Commission Situation Room For Orphans and Vulnerable Children

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President Muhammadu Buhari hand on chin
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In a bid to support the orphans and vulnerable children in Nigeria, the Federal government has concluded plans to commission the National Orphans and Vulnerable Children(OVC) Management Information System (NOMIS) Situation Room.

The situation room will house the National OVC Management Information System in Nigeria to enable in-flow of real-time data from States on the situation of OVC in country. 

A press release signed by the Minister of Women Affairs, Dame Pauline Tallen to commemorate the World Orphans Day World marked every 8th November, revealed that the government is currently partnering with USAID to review the National Priority Action on Orphans and Vulnerable Children (2021-2030) as the current one 2013-2020 will expire this year.

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“We are also working assiduously with our partners to update the number of orphans and vulnerable children in Nigeria through a National Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVC) survey,” she said.  

 The miniyer explained further; “World Orphans Day has always been observed annually on the second Monday of November. As the World marks today 8th November, 2021 as World Orphans Day, the Federal Government of Nigeria through the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs also joins in this celebration in our bid to continue to support the wellbeing and protection of orphans in the country.  

“Orphans are an integral part of the Nigerian society and we will leave no stone unturned to ensure that they are properly catered for and given a right to a family name. This is why under the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari GCFR, we are promoting legal fostering and adoption of these vulnerable children.

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I therefore call on all those interested to follow the proper channels through the States Ministries of Women Affairs as the first point to legalize the processes of the adoption.  

“No doubt the situation of our Orphans has been further worsened by the scourge of the COVID19 pandemic, but we will continue to work with well-meaning Nigerians, corporate organizations and development partners to improve their conditions.” 

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Abdulrahman Obaje
Abdulrahman Obaje
Prince Abdulrahman Obaje is a Media and ICT Consultant, Journalist, online marketer, social media strategist, Mathematician and Computer Scientist based in Abuja, Nigeria. He is the Founder and the Publisher of The Informavores!. You can reach me on +234 805 939 5252 or send i-witness report directly to me on news@informavores.com.ng.

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