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NHIS Spent N4.93bn On Pre-Retirement Overseas Training, Others -AGF

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The Office of the Auditor-General for the Federation has uncovered about N4.93bn unapproved allowances paid by the management of the National Health Insurance Scheme to its members of staff.
The discovery is contained in the 2017 audit report of the Auditor-General for the Federation, which was obtained by our correspondent in Abuja.
The report, which was signed by the Auditor-General for the Federation, Mr Anthony Ayine, stated that the N4.93bn was paid to members of staff between January 2016 and December 2017.
The report listed the irregular allowances to include upfront allowance, upfront differential allowance, 13th-month salary allowance, and pre-retirement overseas training allowance.
Others are a terminal benefit or exit package, and sitting allowance. It said the terminal benefit allowance is different from what the Contributory Pension Act provided for.
The report stated that these payments violated Public Service Rule 130102, as they were not part of the allowances listed as payable to officers in the Federal Public Service.
The report reads in part, “During the periodic check of National Health Insurance Scheme, Abuja, various irregular and unapproved allowances amounting to ¦ 4,931,475,094.63 were paid to members of staff during the period January 2016 to December 2017
“The payments violated Public Service Rule 130102, as they are not part of the allowances listed as payable to officers in the Federal Public Service.
“Allowance differential payment is illegal and alien to the public service as Public Service allowances are paid on the basis of Grade level as at the time of payment.
“Sitting allowance was paid for holding day to day committee meetings, for which the officers received salaries in violation of Circular Ref No. SWC/s/04/S.310/T/65 of 8th April 2016 which says that ‘Public officers on monthly salary are not entitled to sitting allowance for holding meetings in their offices.”
Ayine said in the report that despite the provision of Financial Regulation 3210(v) which stipulated that the Chief Executive Officers of government agencies must submit both the audited accounts and management reports to him not later than 31st May of the following year, about 265 of them had yet to comply as of June 30 this year.
He said while 160 agencies defaulted in the submission of audited accounts for 2016; the figure rose to 265 agencies in 2017.
In addition, he said 11 agencies have never submitted any financial statements since their inception.
He said, “A number of major weaknesses and lapses in the management of public funds and resources were identified across several MDAs during the annual audit.
“Our findings range from irregular expenditures to failure to surrender surplus revenues to the Treasury, all running into billions of naira. Also notable was the continuing failures in the implementation of International Public Sector Accounting Standards.
“Overall, our findings are indicative of significant weaknesses in expenditure control, accounting, financial reporting and in the completeness and accuracy of the consolidated financial statements.
As was in previous years, the Auditor-General picked a hole in the annual budgeting process of the Federal Government, stating that they are unable to support genuine development.

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COVID-19: Hand Washing Cheapest Way Of Fighting Diseases – Health Commissioner

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The Cross River State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Betta Edu, has said that the cheapest way fighting various diseases was through effective hand washing.
Edu staate this in Calabar while receiving over 200 handwashing stations donated by United Purpose, a non-governmental organisation, for the Primary Healthcare Development Agency in the State.
The commissioner, who said she was grateful that the state had partners who were always ready to support it in the area of health, stressed that when sanitation fails, healthcare suffers.
“Although the state had not recorded massive number of the ravaging COVID-19 infections and deaths residents are advised to have a high index of suspicion.
“We encourage everyone to effectively use the available resources in the health facilities in the state and have a high index of suspicion.
“I call on the health workers in the state to bring the Infection Control Protocol (ICP), they have been taught to bear.
“We will be signing the Clinical Governance Agreement today to ensure that when our clients go to our facilities they are protected and the care giver is also protected,” she said.
The commissioner encouraged residents of the state to build their immunity because it was a way of protecting themselves and their loved ones.
She added that anyone who felt any symptoms of COVID-19 should go to the state’s testing centre. Dr. Janet Ekpenyong, Director General, Cross River Primary Healthcare Development Agency (CRSPHCDA), lauded  United Purpose and other partners for assisting the state.
Ekpenyong said it was not the job of the government alone to fight the ravaging COVID-19 pandemic in the state but the job of everyone.
Mr. Nanpet Chuktu, the Programme Manager of United Purpose, said his organisation partnered the state because it wanted to help in pushing back the virus from the state.
“We the United Purpose, through the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council, are making a donation of 10 hand washing stations per Local Government Area (LGA).
“These hand washing stations are for emergency and would be delivered to the state’s Primary Healthcare Agencies.
“We are looking at about 250 of them and each of the primary healthcare facilities would get at least one,” he noted.
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COVID-19: Ignore Facemask, Risk Arrest, Prosecution, RSG Tells Residents

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The Rivers State Government has expressed worries over the high level of non-compliance of health protocols with respect to the Covid-19 pandemic, warning that henceforth any resident caught without wearing facemask will be arrested and prosecuted.

The State Commissioner for Information and Communication, Pastor Paulinus Nsirim handed down the warning while speaking on a live Radio programme in Port Harcourt on Saturday and monitored by the Tide.

Nsirim who is Chairman of the State Inter-ministerial Committee on Enlightenment for Covid-19 recalled the unhappiness of Governor Nyesom Wike during last Wednesday’s State broadcast with the attitude of many residents who flaunt extant directives on the wearing of facemask and other health protocols.

“The Governor in that broadcast also expressed concern that a lot of people in the State are not obeying the protocols. Social distancing, wearing of facemask and he spoke specifically in what is happening in some churches. Government will introduce policies, the onus is on the populace to obey those policies.

 

“Not just obeying it, the Covid-19 pandemic that we are talking about has defied medical solution for now. So to flatten the curve, everyone living and doing business in Rivers State has to take responsibility.

“If I take responsibility and everyone around me takes responsibility to observe the relevant protocol, we are sure to flatten the curve. But if people live righteously and just do as if nothing is happening because there are places where people are just living in denial.

“Some people still believe that there is nothing like Coronavirus. Two weeks ago, my committee rounded off street to street campaign in all the 23 local government areas of the State. They still met people who are in this denial. That is the challenge.

“The Governor is desirous that Rivers State remains safe. That is why he is initiating policies to ensure that strategically the state is somehow isolated from the national spread,” the Commissioner said.

Nsirim further said, “If you go around the State, since the executive order on facemask was introduced. You will notice that less than

30 per cent of the populace are really obeying that executive order. What we are seeing in the State is that people just put the mask around their chin.

“You go to some churches we see people open their mouth and things will be spewing out in the enclosed environment on the chin. The Governor is saying that to give this wearing of facemask the kind of weight that it deserves to save our people, a special taskforce be put in place.

“That is the only sure way because a lot of people are still living in denial. He said the governor’s broadcast is very clear, arrest and prosecute. Henceforth we will arrest and prosecute people not wearing facemask in public places,” he stated.

The Rivers State Government spokesman said arrangements have been concluded to monitor churches that fail to observe the guidelines of not more than 70 persons per church service, wearing of facemask, provision of water for hand washing and the use of hand sanitizers, while weddings and burial ceremonies should not exceed 50 persons.

 

Dennis Naku

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Missing National Light Newspaper’s Journalist, Mathew Onwuasoanya, Found

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Anambra Newspapers and Printing Corporation (ANPC),  publisher of the National Light group of Newspapers, Awka has announced that one of their reporters, Barr Mathew Onwuasoanya who went missing for more than  a month has been found.
Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Media House, Sir Chuka Nnabuife, Editor of the newspaper, Mrs Rose Oranye, along with Chairman, Anambra State Council of Nigeria Union of Journalists ( NUJ), Sir Emma Ifesinachi and the Council’s Secretary, Mr Emma Udeagha, on Thursday, July 9, 2020, met with Mr Onwuasoanya and members of his family.
During the meeting, Barr Onwuasoanya narrated his ordeal within the five weeks of his surprised absence. He explained how he was taken from his residence on May 30, 2020.
 He confirmed that he was picked up by some security men as reported but he got released thereafter.
After the shocking encounter with security agents which left him rattled, he promptly sought medical attention to attend to the traumatic experience.
 He disclosed that he received treatment all the while until he returned home while expressing his regret for his inability to reach

out to anybody given that he lives alone and had lost his phones in the process.
This reporter recalled that in a terse statement released earlier by the MD, a brother to the journalist, Mr Oliver Onwuasoanya had said that neighbours told him “that about 2am on May, 30, some vehicles, comprising a white Hilux truck and a Highlander with some gun – bearing men dressed in what looks like security men’s uniform came and whisked him away”.
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