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Fresh Crisis In Bayelsa Over N207bn Debt

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A staggering sum of N207billion debts left behind by the administration of Chief Timipre Sylva may hurt projects development in Bayelsa, if the reports of the Financial Management Review Committee is anything to go by.

The committee headed by one-time Managing Director of Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Chief Timi Alaibe submitted its report on Monday with the disclosure that the former regime of Timipre Sylva left behind a liability of over N207 billion.

The committee requested the government to recover funds from alleged questionable payments of contracts of N123.18 by the previous government.

Among the alleged questionable payments to the said contractors included, Moreno Construction Company, N10.2billion, Vehicles purchase N2billion, FAK Engineering, N9billion, SENECO N14.28billion and Ratana N2billion.

Chief Alaibe, who disclosed this in Yenagoa when presenting its report to Governor Seriake Dickson, revealed that only N4,500 cash was  in the state treasury when the present government emerged.

The committee recommended that government should tactically reduce the cash flow in the state and review the biometric process of payment of civil servants to expunge “ghosts” on government nominal roll.

He highlighted that N660billion was received during Sylva’s government in the past four and half years, stressing that only N2.89billion was discovered in government bank accounts which cannot be assessed.

The 11-man committee was inaugurated on February 27 by the state governor to investigate the income and expenditure of the last administration.

Alaibe said the N47.18 billion bond collected by Sylva’s government at the capital market was not repaid, as he noted that government would pay back N104.2billion.

The committee recommended that competent hands should be appointed as accountant general of the state and director of treasury to enhance internal control mechanism to provide checks in the treasury department.

Alaibe called for a fresh valuation exercise of all existing contracts in the state before performance certificate is issued to them for payment and also recommended short, medium and long term planning to increase the Internally Generated Revenue(IGR)in the state.

The report also revealed that the former Acting Governor of the state, Nestor Binabo, awarded contract of N1.8billion on February 7, immediately approved payment and the release of the contract funds without the jobs being executed.

To this end, the committee recommended that the contracts should be revoked.

Earlier, Bayelsa State Governor, Seriake Dickson, said the committee report would serve as living document and assured that government will  look at its recommendations and take action where necessary.

Meanwhile,  former Governor of Bayelsa State, Chief Timi Sylva, has said that the outcome of the report of the committee set up by the Bayelsa State Government constituted another means of witch-hunting him.

Sylva said the probe committee, headed by a former Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission, Chief Timi Alaibe, was another obsession with his ghost.

According to a statement by his aide, Doifie Ola, Sylva said the outcome of the probe committee was premeditated.

He said the report never indicted him of any wrongdoing.

The statement by Ola reads in full: “Our attention has been drawn to a committee report administered by Mr. Ndutimi Alaibe in which phoney allegations of grand financial crimes were made against the government of Chief Timipre Sylva.

“Sylva dismisses these allegations as unfounded, and a failed attempt to divert attention from the calamitous political parodies committed in Bayelsa State by these accusers.

“The report of the kangaroo committee is as ridiculous as it is unsurprising to any Nigerian. The composition did not belie its intent as another mock team impulsively set up to deliver a pre-determined judgement. In their continued battle with the ghost of Sylva, those who have installed a puppet administration in Bayelsa State have once again demonstrated their loss of touch with the essence of government and their choice of shadowboxing as state policy.

“To be sure, government is an administrative structure set up to govern human beings with needs. Any normal investigation of government expenditure would try to demonstrate how the financial laws were flouted. The Alaibe committee did not attempt to do this. It simply compiled the incomes that accrued to Bayelsa State within a carefully selected period targeted to smear Sylva, and assumed that there were no needs met in the period.

“The Alaibe report did not demonstrate any flouting of the state’s financial laws and regulations. If anyone had proof of such contravention, they knew where to go. And where to go is not an illegal committee unknown to the laws of Bayelsa State and Nigeria.

“Besides, the allegations thrown up by the power usurpers in Bayelsa State are too weighty to be handled by people with vested political interests in the state and whose track record and history smell of corruption.

The report by the Alaibe committee is at best biased, petty, and heavily tainted. This is yet another manifestation of the constant distress in the camp of those who recently usurped power in Bayelsa State as they live in perpetual fear of Sylva, and guilt of the harsh judgement of democratic humanity.

“As we near a judicial resolution of the manifest political travesty in Bayelsa State, those who believe they should do nothing other than fight the ghost of Sylva should learn to mitigate their desperation, at least, for the decency of what remains of our democracy that they have tried so hard to compromise.”

In the report by the Alaibe committee, presented to the state government on Monday, Sylva was accused of mismanaging the N660.45 billion his government received from the Federation Account from 2007 to 2011.

Sylva was also accused of accumulating almost all the N207 billion liabilities on the state government in terms of debts and frittering the N50 billion bond he received in December 2009 from the capital market without utilising the funds for the capital projects it was meant for.

The Alaibe committee, tagged the Financial Management Review Committee, told the state Governor, Seriake Dickson, that the state under Sylva received N99.5 billion in 2007; N164.7 billion in 2008; N106.3 billion in 2009; N110.6 billion in 2010; and N189.1 billion in 2011.

Alaibe said though government expenditure increased from N165 billion in 2007 to N208 billion in 2010, the chunk of the money was used to finance recurrent expenditure such as personnel, overhead and other contingency costs.

He said the recurrent expenditure maintained steady increase from 48 per cent in 2007 to 80 per cent in 2010 and 2011, observing that there was 48 per cent decline in capital expenditure within the period under review.

Alaibe added: “This accounted for the absence of funds for the implementation of capital projects. In the same period, recurrent expenditure had increased to 123 per cent from 2007 to 2010. In contrast, there was 48 per cent drop in capital expenditure during the same period.”

The report said most of the spending was without supporting documents, noting that security and ‘Government House emergency expenses subheads were used as a conduit to move the cash.

It further alleged that apart from the conventional security votes contained in the recurrent expenditure, the immediate past administration claimed to have spent on security N3.3 billion in 2010, N10.3 billion in 2011 and N3.87 billion in January and February 2012.

Sylva allegedly withdrew N1.6 billion in 2010, N7.4 billion in 2011 and N155 million in January and February 2012 from the treasury under the subhead: Government House Emergency Expenses.

Alaibe said in the report: “These payments were in spite of the regular monthly security payment made out of recurrent expenditure amounting to N3.19 billion in 2010; 7 billion in 2011 and N890 million for January and February 2012. Clearly these payments are abnormal payments.  They are frivolous and in fact fraudulent.”

Dickson vowed to implement the recommendations of the committee as he lamented the collapse of institutions and processes in the past administration, adding: “It is difficult to believe that this kind of thing happened amidst poverty and so many challenges.  “Never again will the state return to the time when all institutions and processes vanished.”

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390,676 Civil Servants, 559 MDAs Captured In IPPISS, FG Confirms

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A total number of 390,676 civil servants in 559 Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) have been captured on the Integrated Personnel and Payroll Information System (IPPISS) platform as of January 31, 2021, the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Dr Folasade Yemi-Esan, has said.
She made the disclosure at a press briefing in Abuja as part of activities to kick-start the 2021 Nigeria Civil Service Week, yesterday.
The Federal Government had in 2006 introduced the IPPIS to weed out ghost workers from the civil service and automate salary payments for transparency and accountability in public expenditure.
In October, 2019, the Federal Government directed workers in its MDAs to enroll on IPPIS.
Recalled the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) had last year gone on strike over the Federal Government insistence that its members enroll in IPPIS
Only last week, the salaries of 331 civil servants cutting across all were suspended over their failure to update their records on IPPIS despite repeated directives to do so.
According to Yemi-Esan, 390,676 staff across the 559 MDAs have now been captured on the platform.
She added that the figure excludes the army, paramilitary, police, and universities.
“As of 31st January, 2021, a total number of 559 MDAs with 390,676 employees have been captured on the IPPIS platform. This figure excludes the Army, para-military, police and universities.
“Accordingly, several activities have been initiated and carried out by the office towards driving, implementing and deployment of the Human Resource module of IPPIS.
“With full deployment of the HR Module of IPPIS, human error would be minimized through streamlined data, cost reduced based on available accurate data, financial and manpower resources efficiently and effectively utilized and planned for; while storage of data collected on employees of the Federal Public Service is secure and only accessible to authorized officers.”
Speaking further, Yemi-Esan said the civil service took advantage of Covid-19 to accelerate the digitalisation of its processes to enable it “continue to function effectively as the backbone of government within the new normal”.
Yemi-Esan also disclosed that the process of reviewing the nation’s Public Service Rules was almost completed, saying it is ready for the approval of the Federal Executive Council.
“The office, in the last one year, has finalised the review of the PSR and it has presented to the 2020 National Council on Establishment in Lagos which approved the revised document in principle.
“The office has produced the final draft for onward transmission to the Federal Executive Council for approval,” she said.
According to her the government has spent N2.4billion in settling 594 families of deceased civil servants while outstanding death benefits will be paid soon.
Yemi-Esan added, “Sometimes last year, the Ministry of Finance released N2.5billion to pay backlog of death benefits to the next of kin of deceased officers.
“As of today, out of N2.5billion, N2.468billion has been expended to settle 594 beneficiaries.
“The others that are outstanding will be completed once the office receives the requisite bank’s attestation.”
Yemi-Esan said a committee would soon be set up on the Steve Orasanye report on rationalisation of government agencies.
“As regards the Orosanye report, the SGF and I have planned to set up two committees to look into the report.
“We are going to look at what happened before the Oransanye report and after the Oransanye report,” she said.

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Nigerian Law School, PH Campus’ll Be Ready In Six Months, Wike Vows

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The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike has received a formal letter of approval from the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, for the establishment of a Nigerian Law School campus in Port Harcourt.
The letter was presented to the governor by the Director General of the Nigerian Law School, Prof Isa Huyatu Chiroma, at the Government House, Port Harcourt, yesterday.
Wike said it was gratifying that the Council of Legal Education and the Attorney General of the Federation have graciously given approval to the Rivers State Government to assist in the establishment of a Law School in Port Harcourt, an offer which was initially rejected by the immediate past administration in the state.
The governor commended the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN, for his statesmanship and commitment to the growth of legal education in Nigeria.
“This is devoid of any political affiliation. I must commend him for this show of sportsmanship, for this show of leadership, that at the end of the day, it is Nigerians and Rivers people that will benefit from the establishment of this campus in Port Harcourt.”
Wike explained that construction work had already commenced at the site approved by the state government for the Port Harcourt campus of the Nigerian Law School.
According to him, the campus will be ready in the next six months and the Certificate of Occupancy for the school is ready.
“The six months that we have given is not six years. Six months is six months. Even if any other project will be suspended, let it be suspended. This project must be finished within six months. And I also urged you to appoint a deputy DG who should move down to Port Harcourt immediately.”
The Rivers State governor explained that some corporate organisations, including banks, have expressed their readiness to build hostels and library in the campus, pending the approval of the authority of the Nigerian Law School.
The governor urged the Nigerian Law School management to graciously immortalise the former Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice for the Federation, Justice Nabo Bekinbo Graham-Douglas, SAN, by naming the Port Harcourt campus after him.
The Director General of the Nigerian Law School, Prof Isa Huyatu Chiroma, said the process for the establishment of a Law School campus in Port Harcourt started on the June 4, in Yenagoa when Governor Wike threw a challenge that if given an opportunity, Rivers State Government was ready to construct and deliver a new campus of the Nigerian Law School in Port Harcourt within six months.
He explained that afterwards, the Council of Legal Education met and unanimously agreed to accede to the request of the Rivers State Government and this was also endorsed by the Attorney General of the Federation.
The Attorney General of the Federation in this letter to Governor Wike which was read by Chiroma, said immediately he received the letter from the Rivers State Government to assist in the establishment of a new campus in Port Harcourt, his office forwarded same, via Solicitor-General of the Federation and Permanent Secretary for consideration by the Council of Legal Education.
“I am delighted to convey to you the acceptance of your offer by the Council of Legal Education at its meeting held on June 18, 2021. A copy of the approval letter and a draft Memorandum of Understanding to guide or govern the conduct of the partnership project is hereby forwarded to you for your kind consideration and further action.
“While appreciating the kind gestures of the Rivers State Government in the promotion of legal education in Nigeria, please accept the assurances of my best regards and high esteem as always.”
In his remarks, the Rivers State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Prof Zacchaeus Adangor, said the Law School campus in Port Harcourt will stand out as one of the most iconic achievement of the Governor Wike’s administration.
The Chief Judge of Rivers State, Justice Simeon Amadi, commended the Attorney General of the federation and the Council of Legal Education for the approval and assured that the state will construct a befitting campus in Port Harcourt.
Former President of the Nigerian Bar Association, Onueze C.J. Okocha, SAN, said though the new campus is in Port Harcourt, it will be for the benefit of all Nigerians and the legal profession.
The chairman, Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Port Harcourt branch, Prince Nyekwere applauded the approval, and urged the Federal Government to devolve some of its obligation in the Executive List to the federating States.

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Buhari Off To London For Medical Check-Up, Today

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President Muhammadu Buhari will on Friday travel to London, for a scheduled medical follow-up.
The Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to President Buhari, Femi Adesina, confirmed this in a statement, yesterday.
Adesina said the President is expected return to the country in the second week of next month.
“He is due back in the country during the second week of July, 2021,” the statement said.
It would be recalled that on Tuesday, March 30, 2021, Buhari had visited London to receive medical attention from his physician.

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