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NDDC Mismanaged N6trn, Maintains 362 Bank Accounts -Forensic Report …As Commission Abandons 13,777 Projects

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The Federal Government, yesterday, said it was concerned that over 13,777 projects being handled by the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) have their execution “substantially compromised”.
The report indicated that over 13,777 projects awarded by those at the helms of affairs were abandoned.
It also said that the commission has about 362 bank accounts that lack proper reconciliation.
The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, said this while receiving the forensic audit report of the NDDC from the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio, in Abuja, yesterday.
Malami said the government was concerned about what he described as the colossal loss occasioned by uncompleted and unverified development projects in the Niger Delta region, in spite of releasing about N6trillion to the commission in eight years.
According to him, the essence of the forensic audit was to ensure accountability in the use of public funds.
The minister said, “It is on record that between 2001 and 2019, the Federal Government has approved N3, 375, 735,776,794.93 as budgetary allocation and N2,420,948,894,191.00 as Income from Statutory and Non-Statutory Sources, which brings the total figure to the sum of approximately N6trillion given to the Niger Delta Development Commission.
“The Federal Government is particularly concerned with the colossal loss occasioned by uncompleted and unverified development projects in the Niger Delta region, in spite of the huge resources made available to uplift the living standard of the citizens.
“We have on record over 13,777 projects, the execution of which is substantially compromised. The Federal Government is also concerned with the multitudes of Niger Delta Development Commission’s bank accounts amounting to 362 and lack of proper reconciliation of accounts.”
Malami said it was clear that considerable resources have been channelled by the Federal Government to the development of the Niger Delta from 2001 to 2019.
He said it was, therefore, important for the Federal Government and the public to be properly informed of what has been spent and how that has been spent.
“The essence of the forensic audit is to ensure probity and accountability in the use of public funds. It is against this background that the Federal Government will without hesitation strategically implement all aspects of the audit exercise that will promote probity and greater prosperity for the Niger Delta region and Nigeria as whole,” he asserted.
Malami added that the Petroleum Industry Act recently signed into law was to “to bring about the prudence and accountability in the petroleum sector and to give a sense of participation and ownership to the Host communities.”
While submitting the Forensic Audit Report on the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Sen. Godswill Akpabio said that 13,777 projects were abandoned in the region.
“The report of the audit committee showed that there are over 13,000 abandoned projects in the Niger Delta and even before the submission of the report some contractors have returned to site on their own and completed about 77 road projects.
“Although the exercise had a chequered history, I thank Mr President and all those who supported and ensured its success”.
He stressed that the exercise was not done to witch-hunt anyone but to ensure that the huge sums of funds committed to the area yearly are justified.
He lamented that the region had remained backwards since 1958 in spite of successive governments efforts through the creation of various interventionist programmes and projects.
The Lead Forensic Auditor, Kabir Ahmed, in a brief overview of the report, said that the team recommended managerial as well as structural changes, chief of which is the downsizing of the NDDC’s board.
He said to reduce cost the team recommended that members of the team should henceforth be appointed on part time basis.
The appointment of members of the board of the NDDC had been suspended until release of the audit report.
Ahmed also disclosed that oil companies in the country are still in default of their contributions to the commission.
“We recommended that the government should withdraw the license of any oil company which defaults for a period of three years.
“Also, deduction of 15% ecological fund at source and be paid to the commission because both the federal and state governments have failed to make payments to the commission.
“The team recommended as a measure of effective revenue collections, the Federal Inland Revenue Services should collect funds on behalf of NDDC from oil companies in the country”.

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We’ll Prioritise Health Sector In 2025 Budget, Fubara Assures WHO …Recommits To More Healthcare Access

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Rivers State Governor, Sir Siminalayi Fubara, has said that Rivers people deserve a functional healthcare system that will avail them easy access to reliable and affordable quality services to enable them to stay healthy always.
To achieve this goal, Governor Fubara reiterated the determination of his administration to commit huge budgetary allocation to the sector in the 2025 budget in order to give necessary financial support to drive the activities in the sector.
This, he noted, will further strengthen what is being done already in ensuring that healthcare facilities in the State are functional at the primary, secondary and tertiary levels to achieve universal access for the people.
Governor Fubara give the assurance when he received in audience a delegation of the World Health Organisation (WHO), led by the Country Representative, Dr Kazadi Walter Molumbo, at Government House in Port Harcourt, yesterday.
The Governor said: “As a matter of fact, in our 2025 budget, we have three key areas: Health, Education and Agriculture. They are our key areas in our 2025 budget. We believe that when we roll out that budget, greater part of the health issues and services will be accommodated.”
Governor Fubara recalled the disheartening state of health facilities his administration inherited, as there were no functional intermediary health facilities given the fact that all the zonal hospitals were not completed.
Saying that the situation was unacceptable, Governor Fubara said, “I know quite alright that one of the most important things, if we go by the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) agenda: affordable healthcare is one major thing that is key target, and it is something the World Health Organization (WHO) is working to make sure that it shouldn’t just be an item for the privileged, but even the less-privileged in the society should afford it and fast too.
“So, as a government, when we came on board, we also knew that one very important area that we need to touch is the healthcare. Development cannot be complete if the health sector is abandoned. So, we did all we could within our power to make sure that we revitalize that area.
“And some of the achievements like the Health Insurance Scheme that has been there for long before now, that we have activated. We might not have gotten it right completely, but the most important thing is that we have started it. Rivers State has keyed into it.”
Governor Fubara insisted: “The very active state of our primary healthcare system now is better than when we came on board. Whatever it is that is required; their resources, we don’t even tamper with it.
“We ensured that they get their resources as at when due so that the aspect of their control and administrative duties are discharged. Accordingly, the primary healthcare system has improved compared to what it was before we came on board.
“We did not end there. We know the situation of the tertiary health services. We only have two: Rivers State University Teaching Hospital (RSUTH) and University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital (UPTH). You can imagine the pressure on those two. So, we also took it upon ourselves to make sure that the intermediary health services must come to life.
“As a policy of our government, we have even started the completion and expansion to standard of all the Zonal Hospitals. We have the Degema, Bori, Ahoada, Omoku and Okehi, and we are already working on them. We didn’t end there. We also have a key facility in Bonny.
“People living in Bonny can’t come from there to access the Zonal Hospital. So, we have already started work to improve the state of the Bonny General Hospital. We know the importance of health, and we are doing our best to complement what WHO is also doing to make sure that healthcare gets to not just the rich, but the poor at affordable rate, with quality service.
Governor Fubara appreciated WHO for the wonderful work that it is doing in both supervisory and support role in the health sector and other areas of health concerns, not just in Rivers State, but in Nigeria and the world at large.
The Governor pointed out that everything is being done to sufficiently provide needed preventive and intervention measures against cholera and all related communicable diseases.
Governor Fubara said: “I have already directed the Commissioner for Health to commence all the necessary processes needed to checkmate the situation. We honestly prioritise health issues. We don’t joke with it.
“We have already started whatever it is, not just the issue of cholera. We are even talking about the issues that could arise from the anticipated flood situation in the state.
“We have also set up a medical team, knowing fully well that, definitely, there will be health issues when the flood situation breaks out. So, we are on top of the situation.”
In his presentation, the Country Representative of World Health Organisation (WHO), Dr Kazadi Walter Molumbo, commended Governor Fubara for his efforts and political will towards the various healthcare interventions in a bid to achieve the target for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and ensure that the people enjoy good health and well-being by 2030.
Dr. Molumbo stated that Nigeria, like most countries of the world, was lagging behind in terms of reaching the target for SDGs by 2030, adding that it was for that reason that there is a global call to do things differently and accelerate the rescue of the people.
He, however, noted: “But, something is very encouraging in your administration, and I will like to commend the effort of your government in providing the enabling environment for all stakeholders in the health sector.
“We also noted your commitment towards improving primary healthcare services and the revitalisation and drive to improve the health status of the good people of Rivers State.
“I will like to specifically commend you for some of the key achievements that have come to our notice, namely: the reactivation of the task force on primary healthcare in line with the Abuja Declaration, and again, I like to emphasize the need for other departments to participate towards efforts to reach that reactivation.
“The consistent release of counterpart funds for supplementary immunization activities. This is something we like to see in many states. What is happening in Rivers State is truly encouraging,” he said.
He commended the Governor for his determination to complete and upgrade the zonal hospitals, strengthen primary healthcare services, and support other efforts to improve the quality of life of Rivers people.

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Tinubu Consults Labour, Defers Decision On New Minimum Wage

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President Bola Tinubu yesterday held consultations with the organised labour in furtherance of his engagements with critical stakeholders toward arriving at a new national minimum wage.
Minister of State, Labour and Employment, Nkeiruka Onyejeocha, disclosed this while briefing State House correspondents at the end of the meeting yesterday in Abuja.
Onyejeocha said, “The meeting was a conversation between a father and his children, and not a negotiation on the new national minimum wage.”
Also speaking, President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Mr Joe Ajaero, said there was no discussion in terms of what the new national minimum wage would be, and that the status quo remained.
“We didn’t discuss figures.
“The status quo remains, the Federal Government stands on N62,000 while labour is sticking to N250,000.
“We will be back after one week to continue the discussion,” Ajaero said.
President-General of the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC), Mr Festus Osifo, also said labour presented the issues bothering Nigerians to the President as part of his consultations toward arriving at a new minimum wage.
Osifo said the meeting was an opportunity for labour to let the President know how the economic difficulties and the value of the Naira have affected the prices of goods in the market.
“We are all aware of what is happening in the country, how the high cost of living has impacted the ordinary Nigerians and workers.
“So, it was necessary to let the President know the exact situation of things in the country,” Osifo said.

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We’ve Started Preparing Our 2025 Budget -Fubara …Says Amaewhule, 24 Others’ Seats Were Declared Vacant On Dec 13

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Rivers State Governor, Sir Siminalayi Fubara, has said that his administration has started the process of preparing the 2025 budget, just as he insisted that the legislative seats of Martin Amaewhule and his co-travellers that were declared vacant on December 13, 2023, will remain so.
The Governor stated that they are truly gone and will eventually return home because they desired it to be so when they defected from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the platform on which they won their election, to the All Progressives Congress (APC), voluntarily.
Governor Fubara spoke when he received on solidarity visit the leadership structure, critical stakeholders, opinion leaders, women and youths of Etche and Omuma Local Government Areas led by Ogbakor Etche, the apex socio-cultural organisation of Etche Ethnic Nationality Worldwide, at Government House in Port Harcourt on Wednesday.
The Governor, who dismissed their recent ranting as noise-making from delusional folks, urged the 25 former lawmakers to wake up from their slumber to see the ship of governance in the State sailing on smoothly.
Governor Fubara also said that his administration has started preparing details of the 2025 Appropriation Bill, with priority placed on education, healthcare and agriculture.
He said, “Let me assure you that agriculture is an area that we have promised the very special and peace-loving people of Rivers State that our 2025 budget, which we have already started preparing, will address. Don’t bother about those people that are delusional. They think we are still sleeping. Let me tell you people so that they can hear anywhere they are.
“I wanted to help them, sincerely because I know them. And I have said it before, these are people that I have helped. I paid their children’s school fees. I paid their house rents. So, I wanted to help them.
“We all knew what happened when they crossed (defected), and how did they cross? Because of our God, for them to make that mistake, they crossed! They are gone, and they are gone. Now, let me tell you: when I wanted to help them, I accepted to help them because we are all one. We disagree to agree as it is said.”
Governor Fubara stated: “But, they thought they are smart. What is holding them is the declaration of their seats vacant that was done on December 13, 2023. That is what is holding them. We are not doing any budget to nullify that decision. It is what will send them to their villages.
“For me, as I am talking to you, I have started preparing my budget for 2025, which I am going to present very soon. And, in that budget, my key areas will be education, healthcare and agriculture.”
Governor Fubara explained that the three priority areas that the 2025 budget will focus on will ensure that even if more roads will be constructed, emphasis will be placed on providing quality healthcare services to keep the people healthy.
“Our children need to go to quality schools. Even if they can’t go to private schools, let them go to the public ones that have standard. We need to go to good health facilities owned by government and get standard healthcare services.
“Even if we cannot afford those private hospitals, when you go to the public ones, you can get the same services with qualified professionals. That is our thinking.
“And when we get to the issue of agriculture, it will address the issue of unemployment. When we start engaging our youths, they wouldn’t have time to be involved in crime. So, our thinking is to secure and protect our State,” he added.
Governor Fubara reiterated that his administration is not fighting anybody, and will continue to show appreciation to those who have contributed to the good fortunes that he has received in life.
The Governor, however, clarified that in being loyal, it does not mean losing one’s liberty, sense of discretion, and what is right, which is why he will not be a Governor forced on his knees to stair the affairs of the State.
He added, “I want to assure you one thing: we are not fighting anybody. We appreciate what God has used people to also do in our lives. But, we are not going to rule (govern) this State on our bent knees. We will rule standing this way I am standing.
“If it is only being on our knees to rule that is the way that they will see us as being loyal, then, I will pack my few things that I have here, and go and relax in my house comfortably because it will be a disaster, not just to me but to everyone in thd State and even my own generation.
“So, I will continue to stand tall and stand on the side of truth. So, let me thank the President General (of Ogbakor Etche) for bringing your people, the great people of Etche and Omuma together to come and pay us a solidarity visit.
“We want to assure you that we recognize all ethnic groups, and we are not here because of any particular group. We are here and standing for Rivers State. Our greatest support has come, not from my own people (Opobo), but from all of you.”
Governor Fubara urged the people of Etche Nation to sustain their support for his administration because its vision is clear and encompassing to advance the well-being of all Rivers people.
The Governor said, as stated in the national anthem, he is determined to establish a climate (State) where every man should be free of oppression, and freely pursue their aspirations.
He emphasised: “We are asking for only one thing from you: Support us because our interest is very clear and straight. We mean well for our people. We want everyone to be free. We want to lead with the fear of God. We want you to express yourselves without fear.
“So, I want to assure you that we are on the right track. With your support, we are going to get there. Don’t allow anybody deceive you. They can go to the media and dance; when they go behind, they cry. It is the truth. We don’t know how to dance but we say it the way it is, and stand tall anywhere we go.”
Governor Fubara, in responding to the requests of the people, said his administration is working with the Nigeria Police in finding lasting solutions to the hydra-headed issue of herdsmen attacks on farmlands and farmers in the area while urging them to continue to provide vital information of strange people and their operations to the relevant authorities.
The Governor also promised to address the issue of illegal dredging activities in the area, and undertake reconstruction work on priority areas, including roads, schools and health facilities, just as he announced the donation of N50million to Ogbakor Etche Worldwide for the smooth running of the organisation.
In his speech, Oyeisi Etche, His Eminence, Eze Emmanuel Opurum, said Etche and Omuma people will continue to give full support to Governor Fubara and ensure that his administration succeeds.
Eze Opurum, who also said that the political crisis in Rivers State is an ill wind that will do no good to anybody, called on governors of the 36 States of the Federation to quickly summon a meeting to collectively find a lasting solution to the crisis, which should be communicated to President Bola Tinubu and eventually enforced.
On his part, the President General of Ogbakor Etche Worldwide, Sir Charles Nwonuala, said the Etche people, who share in the travails, joy and the many victories of Governor Fubara, came to pledge their unalloyed support, confidence and faith in him and his administration.
Sir Nwonuala also presented a list of roads, schools and other development needs plaguing them as a people, while insisting that they endorse and support the good governance provided by the Governor in the State.
In his speech, Head of Rivers State Civil Service, Dr George Nwaeke, said the Oyeisi Etche, the entire leadership structure plus 70 academic professors from Etche Nation, have come together with women and youths to express solidarity to Governor Fubara to enable his administration succeed.
Dr Nwaeke emphasised that they are particularly happy to identify with the administration because they rank among first who felt liberated when the administration of Governor Fubara started giving his all-inclusive leadership approach and love for peace.

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