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Probe Missing N3.8bn In MDAs, SERAP Tells Buhari

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The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged President Muhammadu Buhari “to direct the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami, SAN, and appropriate anti-corruption agencies to probe allegations that N3,836,685,213.13 of public funds meant for the Federal Ministry of Health, teaching hospitals, medical centres, and National Food, Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) are missing, mismanaged, diverted or stolen.”
The organization said the allegations were documented in Part 1 of the 2018 audited report released, last week, by the Office of the Auditor-General of the Federation.
The organization is also urging him to “promptly investigate the extent and patterns of widespread corruption in the Federal Ministry of Health, teaching hospitals, medical centres, neuro-psychiatric hospitals, National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), and NAFDAC indicted in the audited report, and to clean up an apparently entrenched system of corruption in the health sector.”
In the letter dated January 2, 2021 and signed by SERAP Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, the organization said: “Corruption in the health sector can cause serious harm to individuals and society, especially the most vulnerable sectors of the population. These missing funds could have been used to provide access to quality healthcare for Nigerians, and meet the requirements of the National Health Act, especially at a time of the Covid-19 pandemic.”
According to SERAP, “The Federal Ministry of Health, Abuja spent, without approval, N13,910,000.00 to organise a two-day Training and Bilateral discussion with chief medical directors and chairmen, Medical Advisory Council and the Ministry of Budget and National Planning to prepare 2019 Personnel Budget. ¦ 4,860,000.00 was originally budgeted for the programme.”
SERAP said, “The National Food, Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) paid N48,885,845.00 for services not rendered and goods not supplied. According to the Auditor-General, NAFDAC used fake and fictitious receipts for these payments. NAFDAC also paid N25,734,018.49 to companies/firms who were never awarded any contracts and never executed them.”
The letter, read in part, “Investigating and prosecuting the allegations of corruption by these institutions would improve the chances of success of your government’s oft-repeated commitment to fight corruption and end the impunity of perpetrators, as well as serve the public interest.
“Any failure to promptly investigate the allegations and prosecute suspected perpetrators and to recover the missing public funds would breach Nigeria’s anti-corruption legislation, the Nigerian Constitution of 1999 (as amended), the UN Convention against Corruption, and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights to which Nigeria is a state party.
“Similarly, the Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital Management Board, Aro-Abeokuta, Ogun State failed to account for N28,662,265.32, which was to be used to procure drugs, implants, and other inputs, as approved by the Federal Government. The Auditor-General wants the money returned to the treasury.
“The National Health Insurance Scheme spent N355,510,475.00 on projects between 2016 and 2017 without appropriation. The scheme also spent N32,299,700.00 to provide ‘financial medical assistance’ to individuals who have not been enrolled into the scheme (NHIS).
“The scheme also spent N72,383,000.00 on verification exercise without any supporting documents. The scheme awarded contracts of N66,798,948.12 to members of staff for procurements, instead of making the procurement through award of contracts.
“The Federal Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital, Enugu, Enugu State paid N5,200,000.00 as salary advance to the medical director. However, the medical director was neither proceeding on transfer, on posting nor on first appointment to qualify for salary advance. The Auditor-General is asking the medical director to refund the money collected. Another N3,387,139.00 is said to be missing but the hospital management has failed to report the case, or recover the money.”
“Allegations of corruption in the health sector undermine public confidence in the sector, and obstruct the attainment of commitments made through Sustainable Development Goals, in particular Goal 16 to create effective and accountable institutions. The allegations also show that Nigeria is failing to fulfil the obligations to use its maximum available resources to progressively realize and achieve basic healthcare services for Nigerians.
“We would be grateful if your government would indicate the measures being taken to address the allegations and to implement the proposed recommendations, within 14 days of the receipt and/or publication of this letter.
“If we have not heard from you by then as to the steps being taken in this direction, the Registered Trustees of SERAP shall take all appropriate legal actions to compel your government to implement these recommendations in the public interest, and to promote transparency and accountability in the health sector.”
The letter is copied to Mr Abubakar Malami; Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire; and Chairman, Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), Prof Bolaji Owasanoye.

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15 States Risk Severe Flooding This Month -FG

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The Federal Government has issued a warning about potential severe flooding in 15 States due to heavy rains expected later this month.
The Federal Ministry of Environment, through its spokesperson, Haruna Ibrahim, announced that these States should brace for significant rainfall from July 21 to July 25, 2024, which could lead to widespread flooding.
According to the release, the states are, Adamawa State, Benue State, Jigawa State, Borno State, Kebbi State, Kano State, Kaduna State, Katsina State, Kogi State, Nassarawa State, Niger State, Plateau State, Sokoto State, Taraba State, Zamfara State
Steps for Effective Flood Preparedness
1. Stay Informed: Monitor weather forecasts and heed local alerts. Use trusted sources like government websites, local news stations, or radio for real-time updates.
2. Emergency Kit: Assemble an emergency kit that includes non-perishable food, water, medications, flashlights, extra batteries, and crucial documents. Keep it in a place that’s easy to access.
3. Elevate Electrical Units: Lift electrical systems and appliances above expected flood levels. Disconnect them during heavy flooding to avoid electrical hazards.
4. Use Sandbags: Deploy sandbags to shield your home. Arrange them effectively to redirect water away from critical areas.
5. Secure Loose Items: Fasten down outdoor items such as patio furniture and garbage bins to prevent them from becoming hazardous in strong winds.
6. Evacuation Plan: Familiarize yourself with local evacuation routes and plan accordingly. Determine safe locations or higher grounds for refuge.
7. Flood Insurance: If you reside in a flood-prone zone, consider getting flood insurance since typical homeowner’s policies do not cover flood damage.
8. Communication Plan: Set up a reliable way to stay in contact with family during a crisis. Make sure everyone knows the emergency plan.
9. First Aid Skills: Acquire basic first aid knowledge to help yourself and others in emergencies.
10. Avoid Floodwaters: Never attempt to walk or drive through floodwaters. They can be unexpectedly deep and forceful, presenting severe dangers.

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Jonathan Urges NDDC To Complete Abandoned Projects In N’Delta 

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Former President Goodluck Jonathan has urged the Ministry of Niger Delta Development and the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) to prioritize the completion of abandoned projects in the region.

He also encouraged state governments within the Niger Delta to collaborate closely with the NDDC, so as to foster efficient synergy to achieve legacy goals.

This is as the Minister of Niger Delta Development, Engr. Abubakar Momoh, has emphasized the urgent need to address environmental sustainability and economic diversification in the Niger Delta.

Speaking at the Niger Delta Stakeholders Forum 2024, at the Obi Wali International Conference Center, Port Harcourt, Rivers State, the former President commended the Minister and the NDDC board and its management for their effective performance so far and advised them to complete all abandoned projects.

On his part, the Minister of the Niger Delta Development and Chief host, Engr. Momoh, while speaking on the theme, “Renewed Hope for Sustainable Development of the Niger Delta Region,” emphasized the urgent need to address environmental sustainability and economic diversification in the region.

The Minister in a statement by his Special Assistant on Media, Osigwe Omo-Ikirodah, highlighted efforts like the Ogoni Clean-up Project and initiatives for cleaner energy such as Compressed Natural Gas (CNG).

Momoh stressed the importance of diversifying the Niger Delta’s economy by investing in various sectors and pointed out the region’s untapped potential in tourism and the blue economy.

He assured the audience of the government’s commitment to infrastructure development, citing recent projects like the 25.7km Ogbia-Nembe Road in Bayelsa State.

He said that the summit’s theme was a call to action, aligning it with the ‘Renewed Hope Agenda’ of President Bola Tinubu’s administration and emphasizing the need for collective effort to harness the region’s resources and cultural heritage for sustainable development.

He also emphasized the need for peace and security in the Niger Delta, urging all stakeholders to address the root causes of unrest and conflict.

Momoh advocated for inclusive development that reaches every community, prioritizing the empowerment of women and youth.

In his remarks, President of the Senate, Godswill Akpabio commended the Ministry of Niger Delta Development and the NDDC’s board and management for their commendable work.

He highlighted the stalled East-West Road project, emphasizing the need for strategic project management and continuity.

A former Governor of Cross River State, Mr. Donald Duke called for investments in agriculture, tourism, manufacturing, and technology to ensure the region’s long-term prosperity.

The event, co-hosted by NDDC Managing Director Samuel Ogbuku and Board Chairman Chiedu Ebie, was graced by former President Goodluck Jonathan; Senate President Godswill Akpabio, who represented President Tinubu; Senator Adams Oshiomhole; former Cross Rivers Governor Donald Duke; former Bayelsa State Governor Seriake Dickson; and traditional rulers from across the Niger Delta.

Other attendees included Senator Asuquo Ekpenyong, HM Ekperikpe Ekpo, Ondo State Governor, Lucky Aiyedatiwa, the Abia State Deputy Governor, Senator Monday Okpebholo, and Minister of Interior Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo.

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Expedite action on minimum wage – NAAT tells Tinubu

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The leadership of the National Association of Academic Technologists (NAAT) has called on President Bola Tinubu to expedite action on the new national minimum wage for workers.

Mr Ibeji Nwokoma, NAAT President said this in a statement on Sunday in Abuja.

Nwokoma said the union was worried over the continuous delay by the President in transmitting the new National Minimum Wage Bill to the National Assembly.

“NAAT, as an affiliate of Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), stands by the position of the organised labour and call on the federal government to expedite action on the matter to avoid industrial action,” he said.

He said the union condemned in strong terms, the unpatriotic position of State Governors claiming inability to pay even the N62, 000 proposed by federal government, though, rejected by the organised labour.

“The refusal of the Governors Forum to recognise the efforts of workers in creating wealth and prosperity in the states and the country in general, is most unfortunate.

“This undermines the essence and model adopted for national minimum wage. We therefore, demand that the Governors Forum should reconsider the position and toe the path of honour.

“The proposal by the governors to pay minimum wage based on their peculiarities is condemnable and rejected in its entirety,” he said.

He stressed that the constitutional provisions, on issues of minimum wage is contained in the exclusive legislative list.

The NAAT president also called on the federal government, to immediately implement the payment of the withheld salaries of its members and the resolutions of all other outstanding issues.

“NAAT is compelled to issue this press statement as a response to the non-payment of five and half months withheld salaries, non-payment of 25 per cent and 35 per cent salary increment arrears.

“Others issues are, the non-payment of Occupational Hazard and Responsibility Allowance arrears, release of enabling circular for CONTISS 14 and 15.

“Also, the non release of arrears of Earned Allowances as contained in Memorandum of Understanding (MoUs) of 2020, 2021 and 2022,” he said.

Nwokoma recalled that the union embarked on a three-day warning strike in March, 2024 and had also met with the Minister of Education, Prof.Tahir Mamman and the
the House Committee on University Education and yet nothing came out of the steps taken

He added that in all the meetings, assurances were given, especially the withheld salaries, but, unfortunately, nothing had been done in that respect by the federal government.

“Having waited this far, the National EXCO at the end of its emergency meeting held at the National Secretariat, University of Abuja, resolved to toe the path of diplomacy and advocacy in actualising its demands.

“However, if this fails, the issue will be referred to the National Executive Council (NEC) at her regular meeting scheduled to hold this July 2024 for next line of actions,” he said.

Nwokoma, therefore, called on well-meaning Nigerians, religious leaders, traditional rulers, National Assembly, among others to prevail on government and ensure implementation of all the outstanding issues for a sustainable industrial harmony.

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