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NDDC’s Contract Verification, Ploy To Subvert Forensic Audit, Group Claims

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The Niger Delta Accountability and Development Coalition (NDADC) has raised the alarm about recent actions undertaken by the Interim Management Committee of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) which may undermine the primary presidential mandate for a forensic audit of the operations of the agency.
In a statement jointly signed by its National Coordinator, Johnson Epia, and Secretary, Comrade Ekong Etim, yesterday, the group stated that it was persuaded that “measures announced by the management committee to facilitate the audit are in themselves fraught with fraud and designed to turn the process into a cash cow for the committee members.”
According to the group, the recent inauguration of a 50-man contract verification committee is another example of the cluelessness of the interim management committee, a kind of merry-go-round.
“The committee, which is headed by the Acting Executive Director Projects, Dr Cairo Ojougboh, has directors and staff of the commission as members. While its business is ostensibly to call contractors and verify their projects and claims, we are sufficiently alarmed by recent happenings to believe that the motive behind this committee is anything but objective.
“Our position is informed by the statement of the management committee that the contracts verification committee will screen the contracts across the NDDC member states, and submit a report which the auditors will use as their primary material to audit the commission.”
The coalition recalled the statement credited to Ojougboh and published in newspapers over the weekend that, “It is now common knowledge that some of the awards were not only spurious, but criminal as records available to us show that most of the awards were not backed by budget, has no bills of engineering.”
The coalition then wondered the essence of a verification exercise when the commission already has its own records, which according to Ojougboh indicates that some of the contracts were spurious.
This is especially so when it is considered that the people who make up this committee, aside Ojougboh, are staff of the commission who themselves screened, verified and approved the same contracts that Ojougboh says are fraudulent and which are now being ‘verified’! What rational outcome can we then expect from this exercise? A proper audit exercise should turn out the records of the commission, as they are, to independent external auditors to probe. Anything short of that is a Public Relations stunt, which we do not need, considering the humongous sums that have been poured into the NDDC.
NDADC affirmed that by this and other actions, the interim management committee confirms stakeholders’ fears that it does not have the skill set to supervise the forensic audit ordered by the President, if indeed its actions are not part of a preconceived agenda.
The group re-stated its stand that “What we want is a full audit of the NDDC since 2001 that will not be stage managed by vested interests masquerading as interventionists”, explaining that this is why the coalition and other civil society groups in the region have always insisted that the Federal Government has no business appointing an interim management committee to supervise the audit, a process any duly constituted board can handle.

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Nasarawa Assembly Orders Completion Of Abandoned School Projects

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Nasarawa State House of Assembly ad-hoc Committee investigating the N1billion abandoned secondary schools projects awarded by the state government in 2018, has given the various contractors  two weeks to complete their works.
The committee said its directives to the contractors were to create an enabling environment for teaching and learning as well as to ensure justice in the utilisation of the state government resources.
Chairman of the Committee Mr Daniel Ogazi, gave the directive when the management of the Ministry of Education and the contractors appeared before the Committee last week in Lafia.
He said that the meeting was aimed at getting information from the contractors regarding the ongoing investigation of the abandoned schools projects.
“ In the course of our oversight functions, we discovered a lot of abnormalities in the execution of the renovations of secondary schools across the state.
“ This meeting is not to witch hunt any contractor but to get relevant information from you which will help this committee in our investigation.
“ Some of you have completed your works, some of the works are ongoing and some contractors did not even start their work.
“ It is in view of this that we are giving all contractors two weeks to complete their work in the interest of our children as we cannot allow our children to learn under the trees, “ he said.
He noted that the works need to be completed while the House liaises with government to ensure that they were dully paid.
Ogazi expressed disappointment that the Ministry of Education paid some contractors 100 per cent without project evaluation  and  others  30 per cent and 70 per cent respectively.
The chairman said that the committee would continue to intensify efforts in ensuring that right things were done in the interest of the education sector and for the overall development of the state.
Some of the contractors who spoke during the sitting complained of non release of  money to them by the Ministry of Education hence their inability to complete  work.
Our source also recalled that on March 17, the House had set up an ad hoc committee to investigate N1bn secondary schools renovation contracts awarded in 2018 by the state Ministry of Education.
On March 16, the House had summoned a former Commissioner of Education and now, the Secretary to the Government of Nasarawa State (SSG), Alhaji Aliyu  Tijani and Commissioner for Education, Science and Technology, Hajiya Fati Sabo over abandoned schools  projects awarded in 2018.

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Mobile Classroom App Offers Free Portal For Students

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Mobile Classroom, the first indigenous mobile application, which enables students to learn audio-visually through devices like phones and computers, has offered all Nigerian secondary school students free access to its online portal without subscription for the period of the suspension of academic activities in schools nationwide.
According to the Chief Executive Officer of Save-A-Lot Limited and the originator of the app, Mr. Akeem Salami, “Mobile Classroom online portal has been declared free without subscription for Nigerian students throughout this period of nationwide school closure by the federal government. To us, Mobile Classroom will be a great learning hub for millions of Nigerian students, particularly those who will be sitting for their senior secondary school examinations.”
Salami explained that the subscription-free mobile classroom offer is easy to be part of; “students are to register to log-in by downloading Mobile Classroom App from Google Playstore using their mobile phones. For those who prefer laptops, they can go through the registration process, logging-in through our website:  www.mobileclassroom.com.ng. All participants are to sign-in with their functional email addresses and choice passwords. Students can then access lectures on any topic and subject of their choice and enjoy different lectures in the comfort of their homes.”
According to the initiator of the app, “this is the best moment parents and students will enjoy the support of a mobile classroom to save lost moments after paying tuition. This is coming at no cost for them within this emergency break. In the mobile classroom, students can select topics and the teacher will pop up right on their device to teach them within the comfort of their homes. This platform is hereby declared free for this period as the world manages the pandemic.”
He advised students to stay away from crowded gatherings to avoid the risk of possible spread of the infection.
“We are making an effort to reach out to all state ministries of education to communicate this opportunity to their respective students across the federation,” he said.

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College Of Medicine Provost, Deputy Test Positive For COVID-19

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The provost and deputy provost of the University of Ibadan’s College of Medicine, Professors Oluwabunmi Olapade-Olaopa and Obafunke Denloye respectively have tested positive for coronavirus.
Our source  reports that Prof. Olapade-Olaopa made this known in a statement released yesterday.
The Public Relations Officer of University College Hospital, Ibadan, Mr Toye Akinrinlola, confirmed this in a telephone interview with our source.
“I wish to inform you that the Deputy Provost and I tested positive for the COVID-19 following tests done on Friday.
“Although we are both asymptomatic, we have gone into self-isolation for 14 days whilst our contacts are being observed closely to determine if they should also be tested,” he said.
Earlier, the Chief Medical Director of UCH, Ibadan, Prof. Jesse Otegbayo, also tested positive for coronavirus.
He said, “On Monday 23rd of March, we commenced a 12-man quarterly board meeting which was meant to last 5 days in the hospital, we observed social distancing and other precautionary measures for COVID-19 as much as possible.
“However, on Wednesday morning, one of us presented with what appeared to be symptoms of COVID-19, his samples were immediately taken for test and the meeting called off.
“His results returned positive on Friday morning and every participant (including me) immediately went into self-isolation while our samples were also taken for test.
“Unfortunately, my result returned positive on Saturday afternoon and I remain in isolation as I am not symptomatic.”

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