The All Progressives Congress (APC) has asked the National Assembly to properly scrutinize the puzzling request by President Goodluck Jonathan for a $1billion loan to fight the insurgent group Boko Haram, saying the administration has no business borrowing money the money if it had not accounted for $20 billion in oil funds or plugged the official stealing of 300,000 barrels of oil per day.
In a statement issued in Lagos yesterday by its National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the party said even if the missing oil fund is only between $10billion and $12billion as admitted by the Federal Government, the amount represents more than 10 times the fund which it is now seeking to borrow under conditions that are yet unknown.
It described as disingenuous and sheer blackmail the argument that the money is for national security or that it would facilitate the release of the over 200 school girls who were abducted about 100 days ago.
”That argument is hollow. In the first instance, trillions of Naira have been allocated yearly – in the past few years – for security and defence, yet the fight against the insurgents rages on with deadly consequences. Secondly, the only reason the school girls have remained in captivity is the sheer cluelessness and incompetence on the part of the President Goodluck Jonathan Administration, which waited for all of 19 days before even admitting that the girls were kidnapped in the first instance.
“Therefore, putting more money in the hands of an incompetent and massively corrupt Administration can only encourage more incompetence and corruption. That is why we are asking the National Assembly to put national interest above all other considerations by taking a dispassionate, non-partisan look at the President’s request.”
“What we are saying in essence is that the National Assembly must summon security and military chiefs to explain how the huge funds allocated to security sector in the past has been spent, before more funds can be pumped into the sector. They must be asked what happened to the military equipment said to have been procured in recent years.
“They must also inquire from the administration why it should be borrowing $1billion when it has yet to account for the missing $20billion oil money, plug the daily stealing of 300,000 bpd and unravel the massive frauds that have hallmarked the tenure of this administration (pension fraud, oil subsidy scam, Malabu fraud etc). If after all the scrutiny, the National Assembly still feels it must approve the loan, so be it, but it (National Assembly) must know that its own integrity and credibility are on the line,” APC said.
The party also reminded Nigerians that the Nigerian civil war, which lasted three years, was prosecuted by the government without resorting to any external borrowing, due to competent and transparent management of the nation’s economy.
“On the contrary, trillions of Naira have been pumped into the Boko Haram war in the past five years, and Nigerians still do not have any indication of how soon the insurgency will end or what happened to the huge allocated funds. Instead, what the tax payers are being asked to do is to shell out more funds to finance the incompetence and corruption of a reckless Administration, whose officials fly around the world in jets that burn billions of Naira but cannot allow them to be probed by the National Assembly,” it said.
APC wondered why the Jonathan administration that roundly pilloried Governor Kashim Shettima of Borno State, when he alerted Nigerians to the need to adequately equip and motivate our men and women in uniform, has now turned around to admit that the military needs modern hardware to fight the insurgency.
The party said it aligns with those who have cautioned against the National Assembly giving a blank cheque to the administration, due to its inability to account for the past budgetary allocations for the security and defence, as well as its sheer cluelessness and palpable incompetence.
“This year alone, 20 per cent of the total national budget of N4.962trillion, which is about N968.127billion, was allocated to Defence. How much of that money has been released so far and how has the funds been spent? What about the equally huge allocations in the previous years?
“With the Jonathan administration allegedly spending or setting aside an average of N2billion to impeach each governor of APC states, and the PDP-led administration using the common wealth to bribe voters in a desperate bid to win elections at all costs, approving the $1billion loan may amount to giving more ammunition to the Administration to stifle the nation’s democracy or even threaten the very existence of the country,” it said.
90% Of Money Laundered Via Real Estate, EFCC Reveals
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) says about 90 per cent of money laundering is done through the real estate sector.
The commission’s Chairman, Abdulrasheed Bawa, stated this while featuring on Channels TV’s Sunrise Daily, yesterday,
According to him, although the sector is monitored via the special control unit, more needed to be done.
According to Bawa, “One of the problems we have now is the real estate. 90 to 100 per cent of the resources are being laundered through the real estate.”
He said there are so many issues involved, but that they were working with the National Assembly to stop what he called “the gate keepers” as there would be reduction in looting if there is no one to launder the money.
Bawa, the EFCC boss, gave an example of a minister who expressed interest in a $37.5million property a bank manager put up for sale.
He said, “The bank sent a vehicle to her house and in the first instance $20million was evacuated from her house.
“They paid a developer and a lawyer set up a special purpose vehicle, where the title documents were transferred into.
“And he (the lawyer) is posing as the owner of the property. You see the problem. This is just one of many; it is happening daily.”
The EFCC chairman also revealed that he receives death threats often.
Asked to respond to President Muhammadu Buhari’s frequent “Corruption is fighting back” expression, Bawa said he was in New York, USA, last week, when someone called to threaten him.
“Last week, I was in New York when a senior citizen received a phone call from somebody that is not even under investigation.
“The young man said, ‘I am going to kill him (Bawa), I am going to kill him’.
“I get death threats. So, it is real. Corruption can fight back,” he said.
On corruption in the civil service, he said there were a lot of gaps, especially in contracts processing, naming “emergency contracts” as one.
Bawa said, “A particular agency is notorious for that. They have turned all their contracts to emergency contracts.”
However, he said, EFCC has strategies in place to check corruptions, one of which is “corruption risk assessments of MDAs”.
According to him, “I have written to the minister and would soon commence the process of corruption risk assessments of all the parastatals and agencies under the Ministry of Petroleum Resources to look at their vulnerability to fraud and advise them accordingly.”
Asked if the scope of corruption in the country overwhelms him, Bawa, the EFCC boss said, “Yes, and no.”
We’ve Spent N9bn To Upgrade RSUTH, Wike Confirms
The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, says his administration has spent N9billion in upgrading structures and installation of new equipment at the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital (RSUTH).
He said the fact that 40 per cent of the 2021 budget of the state is dedicated to provision of quality healthcare delivery was a further demonstration of the priority placed on the sector.
Wike made the explanation at the foundation laying ceremony for the construction of a Renal Centre at RSUTH, last Friday.
The governor said he made promise to Rivers people that the best would be provided to them in all sectors of the society within his capability because of the mandate they gave to him.
“As we came on here, I just looked around and I see the changes in this teaching hospital. I can say that we have put not less than N9billion in this teaching hospital.
“If you look at the budget, the health sector alone, what it’s taking from the Rivers State Government is not less than 40 percent of the 2021 budget.”
Speaking further, Wike said the state government cannot afford to implement free medical service programme in the present economic circumstance.
While dismissing the request for a subvention for RSUTH, Wike, however, commended the chief medical director and his team for their commitment to turnaround the fortunes of RSUTH.
“I have never seen anywhere that health services can be totally free. They’re telling me that people who come here can’t pay. I have never declared that this state is going to take over the health fees of anybody.”
Also speaking, the former Minister of Transport, Dr. Abiye Sekibo, who performed the flag-off, noted that Wike’s achievements in the health sector in particular, surpass what former governors of the state had done.
Sekibo said that the governor has given equal attention to every section of the health sector by providing complete health infrastructure that was positioning the state as a medical tourism destination in Nigeria.
Earlier, the Rivers State Commissioner for Health, Prof Princewill Chike, lauded Governor Nyesom Wike for his interest in the health of Rivers people.
He noted that the renal centre, when completed, would become another landmark development project in the health sector that would handle and manage all kidney-related ailments.
In his remarks, the Chief Medical Director of the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital, Dr. Friday Aaron, commended Wike for approving the renal centre.
Aaron explained that chronic kidney disease was a major burden globally with estimated 14 million cases in Nigeria.
According to him, over 240,000 of these cases require renal replacement therapy in the form of dialysis and renal transplant.
The CMD said the building that would house the centre was expected to be completed in six months and consists of two floors.
The ground floor, according to him, would house the haemodialysis unit with eight haemodialysis machines.
He further explained that the first floor of the centre would house the surgical component where most of the sophisticated equipment for kidney transplant would be installed.
Aaron said Wike has released the funds required to build, equip the centre as well as for the training of personnel locally and internationally.
Power Generation Falls 23% To 3,172MW
Power supply in Nigeria has failed to improve on last week’s performance, as it fell by 22.9 per cent from peak generation of 4,115Megawatts on Saturday to 3,172.20MW as at 5pm, yesterday, latest data from the System Operator has shown.
According to the data, most power plants were operating far below capacity due to gas shortage with Olorunsogo Power Plant 335MW capacity; and Sapele Power Plant, 450MW capacity; completely out.
Egbin was generating at 746MW; Omoku 37.20; Omotosho (NIPP) at 105MW; while Afam was generating at 80MW.
The data showed that on the average power generation in the past seven days were 4,120.9MW on Sunday, June 6; 4,249.4 on Monday, June 7; 4,000.9MW on Tuesday, June 8; 3,720.7 on Wednesday, June 9; 3,517 on Thursday, June 10; 3,765MW on Friday, June 11; and 4,115MW on Saturday, June 12.
The International Oil Companies (IOCs), had last warned that despite Nigeria’s huge gas reserves a lot needs to be done to attract investment to the sector to develop gas reserves to boost power generation in the country.
Speaking at the just concluded Nigeria International Petroleum Summit, the Chair, Shell Companies in Nigeria/MD SPDC, Osagie Okunbor, said with 203trillion Cubic Feet of gas reserves, what was needed in the country is to deliver projects that would produce the gas.
“The challenge is not just growing the reserves but in producing these reserves for the benefits of our country. Essentially growing the reserves and delivering on the production is a function of two or three elements.
“I like to see infrastructure that is required for the development of these resources at two levels. Soft infrastructure is often the one that is more important than and that is the one that is actually drives most of what you see at site.”
“Soft infrastructure refers to the enabling environment and nothing pleases me as much seeing both the Senate President and the speaker of the house give very firm commitments about trying to pass the PIB this month.
“That is probably the big one of the enabling environment to provide the kind of stability we also need all sorts of other issues we need to that we have discussed severally in terms of sanctity of contract, stable policies and collaboration and I think we are well on our way there”, he added.
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