The Senate committee on marine transport has vowed not to pass the 2014 budget of the Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA) in the National Assembly until the agency satisfactorily convinces the committee about the success level of projects embarked upon with the previous budget.
This was disclosed by the chairman of the Committee, Hajia Zaynab Kure at the authority’s Headquarters during the oversight visit of the senators to the agency over the performance of the 20 13 budge, recently.
It was gathered that the committee Chairman’s threat was due to the absence of the Managing Director of NP A, Mallam Habib Abdullahi during the visit of the committee to the agency.
Senator Kure disclosed that the committee members came down to Lagos to see things for themselves before passing the agency’s 2014 budget, but was disappointed with the level of reception given to them by the Management of NPA.
Kure said, “We feel it is pertinent that we appraise NPA’s performance with the 2013 budget before passing the 2014 budget of the agency. But now that nobody is here to give us brief of what has been done with the 2013 budget, our hands are tied on what to do with the 2014 appropriation budget.
“If we wanted just the budget performance appraisal, we could do it in Abuja. But we wanted to come and see on-going projects, that is why we came down to Lagos,” she stated.
The wife of the former governor of Niger State tagged Abdulahi’s absence during their statutory oversight visit to the agency as a sign of disrespect to her and other members of the committee.
Reacting, Hajia Zaynab Kure said, “on behalf of my distinguished colleagues, I want to express my disappointment and displeasure, and of cause embarrassment of the Committee at the inability of your MD to receive an esteemed committee made up of distinguished senators that have come on an oversight function to the NP A.”
She further stated that, “this honourable committee wrote about two weeks ago to NPA that we are coming on a constitutional and statutory assignment. If for any reason the MD, who must have received the letter, knew he won’t be around to receive us, he should have written back to us that he has another assignment that he feels is much more important than receiving this committee”, she lamented.
She continued, “But there was no communication. I only got a call from the NP A MD on my way to the airport, by which time all my other colleagues have even boarded the aircraft, informing me that he won’t be able to receive us.”
“I did not tell my other colleagues because I thought that if I had done that, I won’t be doing justice to what has brought us here. I wanted everybody to come and see things for themselves. Except for one of us, every other member of this committee is here for this oversight visit.”
“We are all here because we have taken our job so seriously. Most of us left other important assignment back home because we want to discharge our responsibilities as a committee that is concerned about the maritime sector of this country.
“But for us to get here and the MD is not here, i must tell you that the committee is seriously disappointed and we are not happy at all. We want you to communicate same to your MD.
“We know that you are working as a team but the MD has no right, whatsoever, to have treated us the way we are treated today. We should have known that he won’t be here and would have possibly rescheduled our trip.”
Corroborating her, another member of the committee, Senator Ben Ayade called the action of the NPA MD as an absolute disrespect to the National Assembly.
In his words, “the last time we were here, the NP A MD was eager to receive us, but, that enthusiasm has dwindled.
“If feel highly compromised. I thing there is an absolute disrespect for the National Assembly. This conduct is deliberate. I find it very insulting.
Traders Protest FG’s Move To Restore Festac Town
The move by the Federal Government to restore Festac Town in Lagos to its original status has sparked up protest among traders occupying Agboju Amuwo Planks and Building Materials Market.
The traders on Wednesday, protested at the FHA office in Festac Town against the demolition of their market, following the demolition of illegal structures by the Federal Housing Authority (FHA) ahead of the restoration.
The Tide recalls that there was a petition to the Minister of Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola, in 2020 about illegal structures that had taken over Festac Town.
Speaking at a stakeholders’ meeting on the restoration of Festac town organised by FHA, last year, its South-West Zonal Manager, Mr Akintola Olagbemiro, said, “This year, we commenced the restoration of Festac town, following the consent judgement from the court against illegal occupants of Festac land.
“Our action is to save the residents from the insecurity that has taken over the entire Festac town as a result of illegal structures everywhere”.
The chairman of allottees of First Gate to Third Gate, Mr Kole Olatunji, in his remarks at the meeting said the land from First Gate to Third Gate was allocated between 1985 and 1999, noting that with the consent judgment, original owners of the land as allocated should take over their plots.
But the chairman of plank market, Muhammed Bello, protested the seven-day notice given to traders to vacate the place without alternative arrangements.
Bello said: “How do they expect us to remove our wares in seven days?
“What we want is that they should allow us to remain there and we will pay whatever amount they ask us to pay”.
Speaking in the same vein, the chairman of Cane Chair and Furniture Association, Emmanuel Okoye said: “We need freedom. Let them tell us where they want us to stay. That place was swampy. We filled the place with several millions of Naira which we got as loans.
“We also rely on loans to do our business. Whatever the government wants us to pay; we are ready to pay to remain there. We have been there for 27 years. What we lost to the demolition is over N300 million”.
Fuel Tanker Explosion Kills Five, Injures Two In Ogun
No fewer than five persons were on Wednesday burnt to death, while two others sustained first degree of injury in a fuel tanker explosion at Ajilete, along Owode-Idiroko road, in Yewa South local government area of Ogun State.
Eyewitness accounts revealed that a truck bearing 33,000 litres of petroleum product was descending the steep portion of the road when its tank suddenly detached from truck’s body and tumbled to the ground with a bang.
The explosion, the witnesses said, killed five persons on the spot, while two other persons were injured.
The Tide learnt that the seven victims were all residents of the area where the accident occurred.
Confirming the incident, the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) Commander, Idiroko Unit, Akinwunmi Olaluwoye, said five deaths were recorded in the accident which occurred at about 8.15 am on Wednesday.
According to him, the remains of the dead had been claimed by their families.
He disclosed that a bus and a motorcycle were also caught in a web of the explosion and razed.
He said, “no vehicle rammed into the tanker. The tank dropped off from the back of the tanker and exploded. The number of persons involved are seven; five dead, two injured.
“The driver had taken away the head of the truck as at the time we got there. But we have allowed the police to take charge and handle that aspect”.
Travellers To Access $4,000 As CBN Boosts Forex Supplies
Nigerians travelling abroad can now access a maximum amount of $4,000 foreign exchange from banks following the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) announcement to increase forex supplies.
The CBN had said in a recent statement that it had concluded plans to increase the amount of foreign exchange allocated to banks to meet legitimate needs.
This followed the warning by the CBN Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele, to Deposit Money Banks to desist from denying customers the opportunity to purchase foreign exchange.
The purposes to access forex included Personal Travel Allowance, Basic Travel Allowance, tuition fees, and medical payments as well as Small and Medium Enterprises transactions or for the repatriation of Foreign Direct Investment proceeds, the CBN had stated.
Sources from some of the banks said those travelling on business trips could also access a maximum amount of $5,000 for each trip.
At a virtual Bankers’ Committee meeting last week, the bankers discussed how the CBN intended to assist with forex to ensure availability for the upcoming summer period and the return of students to school in September.
The CBN also said the BDCs would continue to have their weekly allocations.
The committee observed that the rates were going up.
It stated, “The CBN has said that all the banks must make availability at all times and anyone who wants to buy BTA, PTA, medical fees, student school fees and all the eligible invisible purchases to ensure that Nigerians are not forced to go and queue in the parallel market.
“So what the Central Bank is doing is to encourage all banks to make sure that there is available forex at all times, and that his information should be communicated on all our platforms.
“We are asking our customers to come to the branches and for BTA, for example, present the required documents, which are basically your international passport, your visa, your valid ticket and fill up the form in the bank.
“And what we have been instructed to do is ensure that we don’t turn anybody back and that we should request from the Central Bank once we exhaust the forex that we have.
“The idea is to have a hitch-free summer period and the resumption for children to go back to school. The idea is to ensure there is less pressure on the forex and then the rates will come down”.
Speaking during the virtual meeting, the Group Managing Director, Access Bank, Herbert Wigwe, said, “I think again as part of the Central Bank’s role in terms of price stability and the need to support small and medium enterprises, there was highlight of the need for banks to go and support SMEs who import small raw materials for them to set up their businesses”.
The Managing Director, Ecobank, Patrick Akinwuntan, said, “All banks are available to ensure forex need is met.”
Managing Director, Sterling Bank, Abubakar Suleiman, said the CBN had provided sufficient foreign exchange to meet the needs of all legitimate Nigerian travellers and therefore, the idea of going to any other market should not arise at all.
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