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.
CAS Lauds Troops For Exceptional Performance In South-East Operation
Chief of Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Hassan Abubakar, has lauded Nigerian Air Force (NAF) troops for exceptional performance in ongoing Joint Task Force in the South-East code-named “Operation Udo Ka II”.
Abubakar said this yesterday in Enugu during his maiden visit and tour of operational and training assets and facilities within NAF Ground Training Command (GTC), Enugu.
He noted that NAF troops had done exceptionally well and recorded series of success in the joint operation meant to keep the South-East safe and secured for all.
The CAS noted that the GTC Command was highly important to NAF as it housed the ground component (non technical component) as well as a unit of air component necessary to ensure the attainment of the mandate of NAF.
He said: “Today, we are in Enugu, which is the host of the GTC Command in our maiden visit and we are here to interact with the NAF personnel, see the facilities and infrastructure on ground.
“We are also here to encourage the personnel to continue to do the good job they had been doing before now.
“The GTC Command and the Air Training Command are key to all of our activities in NAF and the two commands ensure we have the adequate and skilled manpower for all our activities and operations.
“I am also here to strengthen our activities within Operation Udo Ka II, which Enugu is the headquarters, and see how we can achieve greater successes more than what we are having now and ensure that South-East is totally secured.”
He disclosed that 750 personnel were currently undergoing training and would be graduating between December 2023 and January, 2024.
“These training are important to us in terms of our operation; and the current number is very significant amount of manpower to be injected into our operations and other activities in the country,” he said.
On the inspection in the new GTC Command Headquarters, new 553 Base Services Group (BSG) Headquarters and BSG Annex; Abubakar said that he was quite satisfied and impressed with the pace, level and quality of work done already.
“I have taken out time to inspect the projects and asked questions about the projects and I tell you that I am satisfied with what are on ground and all our assets and facilities are well maintained and protected,” he said.
The NAF boss commended NAF officers, airmen and airwomen in GTC Command for “doing a good job and keeping the flag flying high” as well as extolled their sacrifices and commitment to duties as well.
“I am very happy for their performance. We at the NAF headquarters, we are doing all we can to make sure they have all the necessary support and equipment as well as welfare and accommodation to carry out their jobs effectively,” he said.
He assured NAF personnel of doing more by providing all necessary infrastructures to ensure the maximum working of the GTC Command.
The CAS also inaugurated a renovated airmen’s club and new Mrs Rakiya Abubakar Children’s Park as well as inspected the water treatment and reticulation system and the hospital within NAF Base, Abakpa in Enugu.
UNIBADAN Lecturer Wins Best Thesis Dollar Prize
The Institute of African and Diaspora Studies (IADS), University of Lagos, has announced Dr Muhammad Ribadu as winner of this year’s Rahamon Bello Best Ph.D thesis in African Studies award.
The Director of the institute, Prof. Muyiwa Falaiye, made the announcement in a statement issued to newsmen yesterday in Lagos.
Ribadu, of the University of Ibadan, will be rewarded with a total of 1000 dollars, a plaque and a certificate.
Falaiye said a total of 18 entries for the 4th edition of competition were received from various universities in Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa
He gave the title of the winning thesis as: The Social Context of Gentrification in Lagos State; Ph.D (Jan. 2023) Department of Sociology, University of Ibadan.
“The first runner up for this competition was Oluwaseyi Popogbe, currently a lecturer at the Department of Economics, Crawford University in Ogun.
“The title of his thesis is: Social Exclusion and Poverty in Selected Coastal Slum Areas in Lagos State; Ph.D (Dec. 2022) Department of Economics University of Lagos.
“The second runner up position went to Dr Charles Akwen, currently a lecturer at the Department of English, University of Lagos.
“Akwen’s thesis is titled: Notions of Identity in the Literary Creativity of Odia Ofeimun and Yang Mu; Ph.D (Dec. 2022) English Literature, University of Lagos,” the director stated.
He said that both the first and second runners up would be awarded plaques and certificates in recognition of their contributions and hard work.
Falaiye noted that the competition was in honour of Prof. Rahamon Bello, who was the 10th Vice Chancellor of the university, at the time the institute was inaugurated.
The prize money is usually donated every year for the award by friends of Prof. Bello.
Falaiye said that Dec, 6, had been fixed for the presentation of the awards.
The Tide source reports that the award was first presented in 2020.
States, LGs Lack Infrastructure To Manage Ecological Fund, Shun Queries – Perm Sec
The 36 states of the federation and the 774 local government councils have no structure in place to manage Ecological Fund.
The declaration was made in Abuja, yesterday, by the Permanent Secretary, Ecological Project Office, Malam Shehu Ibrahim.
Ibrahim made the declaration at an interactive session with the House Representatives Committee on Ecological Fund.
He said since states and local governments began to share the fund with the Federal Government they had not been able to put structures in place to manage their share.
The Ecological Fund is an intervention fund by the Federal Government to address the multifarious ecological challenges in various communities in the country.
Ibrahim told the house committee that the sharing of the fund among the three tiers of government followed a court decision.
He said governors and local council chairmen never welcomed queries about how they deployed the ecological funds.
“It is a `no-go’ area,’’ he quipped.
“They don’t want to see officials of the Ecological Project Office near them; so we cannot ask them how they spend the money,’’ he added.
Ibrahim said also that all motions by the National Assembly regarding intervention on ecological project matters had been treated.
“The Ecological Project Office acts expeditiously on documents sent to it to solve problems; it looks at some of the gaps within the motion and tries to fill the gaps, and we have had more than five of such motions.
“ The Ecological Project Office does not handle funds; it only appraises projects and makes recommendations to the president,’’ he said.
The permanent secretary explained that it is the Ministry of Finance that manages the fund and the projects.
He stressed that it was a misconception that the Ecological Project Office is in charge of funds and at liberty to decide on where projects would be sited with the money in its coffers.
He said whenever there were interventions; the Ecological Project Office informed affected communities and went with the contractor to hand over the projects to the community.
This is to enable the community to take ownership of the intervention and communicate their observations to the project office.
Responding, Rep. Sani Jaji (APC-Kaura Namoda/ Birnin Magaji), chairman of the committee, said there should always be stakeholders engagement before embarking on ecological fund intervention projects.
He noted that the projects were stakeholders’ projects and failure to include the stakeholders would always lead to security breach.
“So many things happened with UNICEF’s polio vaccine rejection; but when it included stakeholders, people began to accept the vaccine.
“It is critical to involve stakeholders and ensure equity. Security cannot be the reason why you won’t execute projects in certain parts of the country.
“The perception about your office is that there is money out there; so you need to change that perception and let people know that you have limitations about the execution of projects,’’ he said.
Jaji challenged the Ecological Fund Project Office to provide the needed advice to the president to enable him to take the correct steps.
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