The ECOWAS Monitoring Task Force on the implementation of ECOWAS Trade Liberalisation Scheme (ETLS) on Tuesday met with the Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC) to deliberate on the low trade in the West Africa region.
Mr Nwagwu Julius, the spokesperson of the delegation, made the disclosure when the task force paid courtesy visit to the NSC in Abuja.
“This is the ECOWAS task force set up by the ECOWAS heads of state, arising from the realisation that the ECOWAS region has made some progress in terms of political integration of the region.
“However, the main focus of the establishment of ECOWAS in 1975, which is economy integration, has being lagging behind.
“Whereas many other regions have made some appreciable progress in terms of trade, to the extent of revolving their inter regional trade to about 45 per cent above, unfortunately, the West African inter regional trade stands between 10 and 12 per cent.’’
According to him, the task force has been going on advocacy visit to all the 15 neighbouring countries including Nigeria since 2017.
Wike Has Done Terrific Work In Rivers -FG …Assures Refund Of Monies Spent On Federal Projects By RSG
The Federal Government has assured the Government and people of Rivers State that it would effect a refund of monies expended on federal projects in the state.
Addressing journalists after embarking on the verification of federal road projects executed by the Rivers State Government on behalf of the Federal Government, yesterday, in Port Harcourt, the Minister of State for Education, Hon Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, said that the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration would always abide by set rules.
Nwajiuba said: “The Federal Government has always cooperated with the people of Rivers State. Rivers State is the strongest economic base of the country, and anything that the Federal Government will do for the Government and people of Rivers State, the Federal Government will respond accordingly.
“The President is a stickler for the rules. We have addressed this everywhere, except for five states, that we are now verifying. No state has had an issue,” the minister stated.
The minister said that the Rivers State Government, over the years, did a splendid work in the construction of key projects in the state.
“Terrific work has been done by the Government and people of Rivers State on behalf of the Federal Government. The governor has taken us on extensive review of more than six projects that we came to inspect,” he said.
He expressed happiness with the tour of Federal Road Projects executed by the Rivers State Government.
He said: “I am glad we took time out to go and see all of them and verify them physically. We are really sure that the state government has done what is right.”
The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, had led the Federal Executive Council Verification Team on a tour of listed projects in the state.
In an interview with journalists after the Joint Verification Exercise, the Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike said he was confident that the Federal Government would effect a refund.
He said: “The minister has come with his team, and I believe they will refund us the funds expended on the roads.
“We have made submissions for refund, but we are yet to receive any refund from the Federal Government. I believe this last verification will come to fruition. I have confidence that they will refund us the money expended on federal projects.”
Wike said if the Federal Government fails to effect the refund as promised, the Rivers State Government would raise an alarm.
“If they don’t refund, we will raise alarm, and tell the world to help us ask why we are being denied the refund.
“Now, we are talking of governance and we need these funds to do more projects for our people. He has given us assurance that the Federal Government will effect a refund this time around”, Wike added.
The tour commenced at the over 41.26-kilometre dualisation of the Airport-Isiokpo-Elele-Omerelu Road, the reconstruction of Ikwerre Road from Education to Agip flyover junction, construction of flyover at Agip-Rumueme-Abacha roundabout and the construction of flyover on East-West Road at Obiri-Ikwerre with rotary turning and service lanes.
The verification team also visited the construction of Eleme junction flyover and interchange and the construction of phases one and two of Ada-George Road.
Wike also led the team on an inspection of the Rebisi, Rumuogba and Okoro-Nu-Odu flyover bridges under construction by the Rivers State Government at Garrison, Artillery and Rumuokoro junctions in Port Harcourt and Obio/Akpor local government areas, respectively.
Earlier, the Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, had stated that he was hopeful that the Federal Government would refund state resources used to execute federal projects in the state.
Wike said that his optimism stems from the fact that the Federal Executive Council has sent a verification team to the state in respect of federal projects.
He spoke, yesterday, during a courtesy visit by the Minister of State for Education, Hon Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba at the Government House, Port Harcourt, yesterday.
He said: “I thank the Federal Government for at least coming to verify our claims. We submitted our claims, while some other states have been paid. But we are hopeful.
“We have been submitting several documents on the issue of projects that were executed by the Rivers State Government for the Federal Government. We believe that by this verification visit, we will get paid”.
He said most of the federal projects in question were executed by Dr Peter Odili and the immediate past administration of Chibuike Amaechi in the state.
He said that if the state gets the said funds, they would be channelled towards other developmental projects in the state.
Wike said that the country must move together in unity, because certain issues transcend politics.
In his response, the Minister of State for Education, Hon Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, explained that the team was in the state in respect of the federal projects verification exercise approved by the Federal Executive Council.
He said that the team would assess and verify projects that the Rivers State Government completed on behalf of the Federal Government and report back to the Federal Executive Council.
He noted that the Federal Executive Council raised the committee following official demands by the Rivers State Government on federal projects executed by the state.
The minister said that the verification team would work with the Rivers State Government to verify the claims.
Senate Exposes Job Racketeering At FCC …Vows To Bring Perpetrators To Book
The Chairman, Senate Committee on Federal Character Commission, Danjuma Tella La’ah in Abuja, yesterday, exposed a job racketeering was going on at the Federal Character Commission (FCC).
Speaking with journalists in his office, the member representing Kaduna South Senatorial District, Danjuma Tella La’ah said, the matter was being investigated to unravel those involved in the racket.
According to him, there were reports from Nigerians that cartels within the fold of FCC sell jobs to Nigerians at a price that is highly dependent on agencies of choice of the applicant.
He explained how he got a text from a younger Nigerian who got appointment with the Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA) for N3million.
He described the situation as a terrible one that shouldn’t be tolerated.
He said: “Well, thank you for bringing the issue of job racketeering at the Federal Character Commission.
“The Senate Committee on Federal Character Commission has been investigating and we are doing everything possible to unravel those behind sales of jobs there.
“I got reports from different people on sales of jobs going on at the Federal Character Commission (FCC).
“Appointment into government offices for sales at the Federal Character Commission is real.
“Someone has forwarded to me a text which is in my phone that he purchased Nigeria Ports Authority job from the Federal Character Commission at N3million.
“This is shocking. It makes my heart bleed, am so sad and I am going to take drastic action in this case. If the committee finds out that this is what they have been doing, we are not going to take it lightly with them.
“No stone shall be left unturned in telling the whole country that the FCC is involved in job racketeering.
The lawmaker lamented how some elements were involved in underhand dealings in the agency, because of the pressure of unemployment among Nigerians.
“There is high unemployment rate in Nigeria. People finish school and there is no job anywhere only to be busy selling jobs. Does it make sense? It’s an embarrassment to the society; it’s an embarrassment to the government of President Muhammadu Buhari.
“The President had earlier made a statement that he wants to make everybody enjoy his administration whatever it will take and that hundreds of thousands of undergraduates will be given appointment.
“If the investigation we are doing confirms it to be true, we are not going to take it lightly. We are gradually closing in on them.
Similarly, the House of Representatives, yesterday, threatened to issue a warrant on government agencies that fail to appear before its Public Account Committee to answer questions on why they failed to submit their audited account to the Office of the Auditor General of the Federation.
The Chairman of the House Committee on Public Accounts, Rep. Oluwole Oke, who issued the threat, said such agencies have something to hide, stressing that the House was determine to unravel the reason for their refusal.
Specifically, Oke ordered the managing director of the Niger Delta Basin Development Authority to appear before the committee, today or risk arrest.
Oke issued the threat at the resumed sitting of the committee just as its members was told that 14 years after its closure, some workers of the Nigeria Mining Corporation have been receiving salaries from government.
Oke also directed that the Minister of Solid Minerals and Steel Development, the Minister of Water Resources and the Director General of the Bureau for Public Enterprises should cause an appearance before the committee to answer questions relating to agencies under their supervision.
The Minister for Solid Minerals and Steel Development as well as the Director General of the Bureau for Public Enterprises are to appear before the House Committee to explain why the agency that has been closed down since 2006 was still drawing salaries from the public funds.
The Assistant General Manager, Finance of the Nigeria Mining Corporation, Dauda Ibrahim Gambo, told that House Committee that agency was closed for privatisation and that they were asked to collaborate with BPE for a successful privatization of the place
However, about 24 former workers of the Lagos International Trade Fair, who were sacked when the agency was concessioned and absolved by the parent ministry are still collecting salaries from the organization.
The committee, however, placed all River Basin Development Authority on status enquiry, saying the House wants to get that root of the non-rendition of audited account to the office of the Auditor General of the Federation by treasury funded and partially funded agencies in accordance with the law.
The Anambra Imo River Basin Development Authority, Lower Benue River Basin Development Authority, Cross River Basin Development Authority, Sokoto Rima Basin Development Authority, Lake Chad Basin Development Authority, Benin Owena River Basin Development Authority, Lower Niger River Basin Development Authority were all placed under status enquiry by the committee.
Also placed on status enquiry was the Oil and Gas Free Zone Authority (OGFZA), while the National Agency for Food, Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) had its representative turned back.
A Deputy Director in the agency, Gbenga Yewande, had informed the committee that the director general could not attend the sitting because she was attending an international event at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel in Abuja.
Oke was particularly not happy with the office of the Auditor General for failing to issue constant reminder to agencies even when they are aware of default by the agencies.
Meanwhile, an Executive Director with the NIRSAL Micro Finance Bank, Dr. Lawrence Akande, who appeared before the committee inform them that even though the bank was established to help drive small scale investment in the country, there is no single kobo from public fund invested in the bank.
He said the only fund the bank was using for its operations was the share of the equity paid by the Bankers Committee who own 60 per cent of the bank equity.
He said the vision of the bank was to have branches in the 774 local government areas of the country, stressing that at the moment, they have only 53 branches and hope to complete another 60 before the end of the year.
Bandits Burn Churches, Houses In Plateau
Following the attack by hoodlums on the Management of University of Jos that resulted in burning of homes and churches in Naraguta village, the National President of Anaguta Youth Movement (AYM), Deacon Moses Dawang, has urged Anaguta people o stop annexing land belonging to the University of Jos.
He urged the management of the institution to continue with the demarcation of their properties, saying the university had legitimately acquired the land that led to the protest by some hoodlums.
Dawang disclosed this, yesterday, during a press briefing in Jos, and vowed to deal with anyone who further causes any form of upheavals in Naraguta community.
“We are calling on all Anaguta people that are alienating the property belonging to the University of Jos, to stop forth with or we shall handle them appropriately.
“Anaguta community is aware that University of Jos has acquired the land in question and has proper documents to that effect from the B.P.E. and has every right to use such lands as it deems fit.
“Any individual or group of persons that have any issue with University of Jos acquisition of any land should follow legal means of addressing his or their grievances rather than resulting to self help which will lead to break down of law and order.”
He said the community is aware that the University of Jos has legitimately and properly acquired every land it is situated upon.
“We the Anaguta Youths Movement are encouraging the authorities of University of Jos and the government to continue the demarcation of all their legitimate lands in other to secure and protect government properties against land grabbers, speculators and hoodlums who are bent on taking advantage of the university land that is not fenced.”
Dawang appealed to government to bring succour to innocent community members whose houses were burnt and churches destroyed.
“We call on the government to urgently reach out to our community that suffered great loss as a result of last Saturday’s attack as our people are left without houses and churches that were destroyed by the hoodlums in the guise of protesting against the demarcation of land by the university authorities.
“The question is what has churches and native houses got to do with the activities of University of Jos? There is more to it; the action is purely criminal and expansionist.”
He called on the security agencies to fish out those who have repeatedly attack the management of the University of Jos.
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