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Reps Begin Probe Of N19bn 2011 Rail Contract To Ghost Firm

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The House of Representatives has resolved to investigate a contract awarded in 2011 for the rehabilitation of the Port Harcourt-Makurdi section of the Eastern Rail Line valued at N19.2bn.
The House is especially probing into the allegation that the contract was awarded to a ghost firm.
The Minority Leader, Ndudi Elumelu, moved a motion of urgent public importance at the plenary on Monday, which was unanimously adopted by the House.
The motion was titled ‘Need to Investigate the N19.2 Billion Railway Rehabilitation Contract Awarded to Eser Contracting and Industry Company Incorporated.’
Elumelu said, “The House notes that Eser Contracting and Industry Company Incorporated was awarded the contract to rehabilitate the 463km Port Harcourt-Makurdi section of the Eastern Railway Line for N19.2bn in March 2011. The railway rehabilitation work was divided into three sections, namely 463km Port Harcourt-Makurdi track, 1016km Makurdi-Kuru track and 640km Kuru-Maiduguri track, and the three sections were awarded to three different companies.
“There are allegations that while carrying out due diligence on Eser Contracting and Industry Company Incorporated, it was discovered that the company was not in existence, as it was not duly registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission.
“The House is worried that the Bureau for Public Procurement failed in its responsibility by issuing a Certificate of No Objection to clear the way for the Railway Corporation to award a job of such magnitude to a company without any legal status.”
The lawmaker alleged that after the contract was awarded, the promoters of the firm devised a way to smoothen the irregularities by registering Eser West Africa Limited in June 2011, three months after the contract had been awarded.
He stressed that the new company had continued dealing with the present-day government officials without any form of questioning on the sudden change of name.
Elumelu said, “The House is disturbed that the contract is now considered failed and abandoned, and there are allegations that the government has gone far with plans to re-award the job to another company without certainties that anyone would be made accountable for the regulatory failures and corporate fraud that characterised the charade.”
Adopting the motion, the House resolved to set up an ad hoc committee to investigate the allegations and report back in four weeks.

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Karu Market Inferno: Re-Allocate Shops To Original Owners, Senate Tells FCDA , AMAC

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The Senate yesterday expressed concern over recent spate of fire outbreak in markets while commiserating with traders in Karu Main Market over the huge losses.
Considering the plight of the traders, the Senate urged the Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA) and Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC), to re – allocate shops affected by fire outbreak at Karu Main Market to original owners after reconstruction.
The upper chamber also urged the federal government through its Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management, Social Development and National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), to urgently make emergency palliative and relief provisions to cushion the effect of fire disaster on the victims.
The Senate consequently mandated its committees on Environment and Legislative compliance, to ensure strict compliance with the resolutions and report back within four weeks.
The resolutions were sequel to a motion sponsored to that effect by Senator IretiKingibe( Labour Party FCT) .
Senator Kingibe in the motion titled : “ The Karu Fire Outbreak and the Need for Safer Public Places “ , informed the Senate that the fire outbreak that occurred at Karu Main Market on June 27, 2024, left scores of traders in tears after goods worth billions of Naira were destroyed .
She specifically lamented that as disclosed by eye witness accounts, the inferno razed almost all the shops and destroyed food stuff, electronics, cosmetics, clothes among other consumables and non-consumable items worth billions of Naira.
‘ These fire outbreaks have become one too many already; with attendant losses running to billions of Naira. In the last six months, there have been several incidents of this nature. From Idumota Market Area in Lagos; to the Police Shopping Complex, Mararaba, Nasarawa State; to the Yan Katako Market, Rijiyar Lemu Area of Fagge LGA, Kano State, just to mention a few.
“ These fire outbreaks all had the same causative factors which hinged on basic building safety regulations that were either inadequate or not adhered to or out rightly not in place.
“This state of unpreparedness in safety management cuts across private homes, government buildings, open parks and gardens, markets, shopping malls, warehouses, sawmills, fuel tankers, gas and fuel stations, educational establishments, shops, clubs, hospitals, hotels, and restaurants: thereby exposing ourselves to avoidable mishaps”, she said .

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Support Nigeria’s Economic Reforms, Minister Urges UN

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Minister of Budget and Economic Planning, Senator Abubakar Bagudu, has called on the United Nations (UN) to show more deliberate support for Nigeria’s economic reforms.
He said such support would encourage other nations to make similar adjustments necessary for sustainable growth and development.
Bagudu made this appeal during a courtesy visit by the Deputy Director-General of the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO), Ms. Fatou Haidara, in Abuja.
Despite the substantial economic reforms introduced by President Bola Tinubu’s administration aimed at revitalising Nigeria’s economy, Bagudu expressed disappointment over the UN’s slow response in backing these initiatives.
“Over the past year, Nigeria has undertaken what we consider very bold and courageous reforms, almost at risk to our leadership. But we don’t think the system, particularly the United Nations system, has responded fast enough.
“We feel that we are missing maybe an element which will encourage other countries to embark on reforms if they don’t see the support”.
The Minister told Haidara that many developing countries believe the UN has not been meeting their expectations. She urged the UNIDO deputy director-general to relay this message to the UN system for corrective measures.
“This issue was discussed at the Non-Aligned Movement Summit in Uganda. Many countries thought the United Nations system was deviating from the ideals of its founding fathers. We are telling you this, so you can find a way of communicating the challenge or doing something about it”, he stated.
Despite these concerns, Bagudu expressed gratitude for UNIDO’s support for Nigeria’s industrial sector over the past 40 years, particularly highlighting the establishment of one of its investment and technology promotion centres in the country.
In her response, Haidara acknowledged Nigeria as a significant founding partner of UNIDO and noted the rewarding cooperation between the two entities over the years.

Her visit is intended to provide a status report on the ongoing cooperation and seek further guidance to enhance their partnership.

“My colleagues told me that all the meetings to design the Programme for Country Partnership (PCP) were held with your ministry and here.

“We are very honoured to be able to talk today about what we will be doing under this Programme for Country Partnership”, she said.

Haidara revealed that UNIDO had developed ‘Agenda 2063,’ a strategic framework aligning with the developmental priorities of African leaders, to support the continent’s growth and development.

The meeting underscored the importance of mutual support and collaboration in achieving sustainable economic growth, with Nigeria urging for more proactive engagement from the UN system to bolster its ambitious reform agenda.

Nneka Amaechi -Nnadi, Abuja

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FG Threatens To Revoke Sold Ikoyi Liaison Quarters

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The Minister of Interior, Mr. Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, has expressed the Ministry’s determination to recover its liaison residential quarters allegedly sold by an undisclosed Director of the Ministry.
He gave the hint in Lagos on Monday while on tour of some facilities in the Federal Marriage Registry, Immigration Service, and Ikoyi Correctional Centre, all in Lagos, to be abreast with their operations.
The Minister said the sales of the properties will be revoked, not minding who is involved, because “we can not mortgage our future”.
According to him, “the government of President Ahmed Bola Tinubu’s Renewed Hope agenda would not let go of those involved in the illegally acquired government properties”.
In the same vein, while addressing journalists after the facilities tour at the correctional center, Ikoyi, he stated that “President Tinubu’s Renewed Hope agenda will continue to tackle and address all inherited jumble of problems of the past administration”.
He further explained that Mr. President as a patriot is braced up to address all inherited problems since assumption of office, adding that as a listener, he has showed concern about the inherited problems and never rested on his oars.
On Correctional Centre, Tunji-Ojo said, “I have always said, that urbanisation is real. So far, we have looked at some of these correctional centres across the country and we have been very keen on repositioning them.
“We want a real correctional centre in actual deed, not a place that will be psychologically damaging. We want offenders to come to correctional centres and be reformed.
“We think that the change of name from Prisons, which is a place of incarceration, to correction, simply means a place of transformation, and should take effect really.
“We want a change of ideology, a change in orientation, and change in our approach of methodology of formation so that people will see this place as a place of hope, and leave with the renewed hope”.
He further assured that the Ikoyi Correctional Centre will soon be relocated to a designated area properly deemed fit by the Federal Government.
Industry watchers commended the minister for making time to assess some of the dilapidated buildings and offices  warehousing his officials.
A senior officer of Immigration Service who did not want his name in print, said the Minister’s visit was not a witch hunting exercise but an assessment of performance of the ministries under his watch to enable him assess the problems inherited, adding that the Minister had an ample opportunity of critically observing activities on facilities visited and even said officialdom would not permit him to see.
The Minister was accompanied on the tours by the Director, Citizenship and Business, Mr. John Adinoron; Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Interior, Dr. Aishatu Gogo Naayako; and the Comptroller-General of Immigration Service, amongst others.

Nkemenyie Mcdonminic, Lagos

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