Reps Summon Minister, Immigration Boss Over Visa, Passport Contract
The House of Representatives’ Committee on Public Accounts has criticised the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) for engaging consultants to manage visa and passport related matters at Nigerian missions across the world.
Consequently, the committee summoned the Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola; the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Interior, Shuaib Belgore; and the Acting Comptroller-General of the NIS, Idris Jere, to appear before it on Wednesday (today) to address the issue.
The committee issued the summons on Friday when an Assistant Comptroller-General in charge of Budget, Olubusola Fashakin, appeared before the committee to represent Jere over a query issued by the Office of the Auditor-General of the Federation against the NIS.
Chairman of the committee, Oluwole Oke, decried that the arrangement was costing Nigeria a lot of money and should be stopped immediately, since the country has personnel who have been adequately trained to carry out the same functions.
Oke said, “We visited your embassies. The Auditor-General raised some queries on some missions, so we visited South Africa and Atlanta, US. We discovered that Nigeria is losing serious money through your operations.
“You engaged consultants to manage your passports and visas platform. In our opinion, NIS personnel were trained to manage visa and passport matters. That is your core mandate. So, on what basis are you now engaging consultants? So what are you people doing in the offices? So, your men are idle, roaming the streets?
“This is not acceptable to the parliament. Something has to be done to stop the economic wastage”.
He added, “I give you a scenario: In South Africa, out of revenue of $213, a consultant took $90. Out of that $213, only $15 came to Nigeria’s purse. That particular consultant is managing 14 countries.
“Nigeria is bleeding through this window and we will continue to borrow money to finance our budget. And one person sitting down in the corner of his room is making $90 on each applicant. It will not continue”.
Summoning the Federal Government officials, Oke said, “The Minister of Interior, the Permanent Secretary and the CG of the Service are to cause appearance before this committee to speak to this issue.
“You have a letter from this committee asking you to furnish this committee with the particulars of all the consultants you have engaged and the agreement you signed with them. Nigeria is bleeding through this window.
“What are your personnel doing? Why did we train you and engage you? Your personnel are idle, roaming the streets, sitting down in the offices and consultants are doing your job and taking away our money.
“The Minister of Interior, the Permanent Secretary, the CG have to come with the agreement you signed, and give reasons that they have to deny personnel trained and employed to do this work.
“You are also exposing Nigerians to risk – data protection. We owe Nigerians a high duty of care and we would discharge it”.
The committee also directed the NIS to furnish it with records of procurement and utilisation of funds collected through Service Wide Votes for capital projects from 2013 to 2018.
Fuel Subsidy Era Over – Tinubu
Newly sworn-in President, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, has declared that the era of subsidy payment on fuel in Nigeria has ended.
This, he disclosed, is because the 2023 Budget made no provision for fuel subsidy and more so, subsidy payment is no longer justifiable.
“The fuel subsidy is gone”, Tinubu declared in his inaugural speech at the Eagle Square on Monday after he was sworn in as Nigeria’s 16th President.
Tinubu said his government shall instead channel funds into infrastructure and other areas to strengthen the economy, adding that a “unified exchange rate” is guaranteed under his administration.
He promised to remodel the economy to bring about growth and develop the Gross Domestic Product through job creation, saying that “the interest is currently too high and will be reviewed”.
The new President also assured investors that multiple taxation will be reviewed to attract investments, even as he promised one million jobs in the digital economy.
Tinubu, who also vowed to rid Nigeria of terrorism and criminality, said, “Security shall be top of our administration”, adding that he will “reform security architecture, invest more in security personnel, better training and provide better equipment for security personnel”.
The President said he “will end extreme poverty, make food more abundant, ensure inclusion for women and youths, and discourage corruption”.
Customs Holds Training For Maritime Journalists
The Nigeria Customs Service in conjunction with National Inland Waterways recently organised a two- day training workshop for members of the Association of Maritime journalists of Nigeria (AMJON) at the famous Administrative staff college of Nigeria (ASCON), Badagry, Lagos.
Comptroller General of customs, Col. Hammed Ali (rtd) in his key note address said from inception, one of the major cardinal programmes of the service has been effective and efficient mobilisation and sensitisation of members of the public in understanding the important statutory obligations vested on the service.
In order to achieve these objectives, he said, “it became imperative that we partner with our friends from the media to embark on educative and enlightenment programs.
“Having gone this far on our own, we are here today, under the able hands of the ‘owners of the profession’, to enrich, update and sharpen their skills in this direction for greater achievement of our collective objective”.
Speaking, the President of AMJON, Mr. Paul Ogbuokiri, emphasized the importance of the training programme, urging participants to avail themselves of the opportunity, which will translate into improved performance in their reportage.
On his part, the Managing Director, National Inland waterways Authority (NIWA), Chief George Moghalu, spoke on its new autonomy status and how it affects its national mandate.
Moghalu, who was represented by the Manager, Legal Services, Barr. Nasiru Biyankari, affirmed that NIWA offers a very critical role in the nation’s maritime industry through the execution of development in inland waterways of Nigeria and its regulations nationwide.
Also speaking, the National Coordinator, Port Standing Task Force Team (PSTT), Mr. Moses Fadipe, tasked AMJON members on accurate and objective reportage on PSTT’s operations to ensure that the public is well informed about the efforts of the team in tackling corruption at the ports.
“AMJON members are expected to adhere to ethical journalism standards and avoid sensationalism or biased reporting ,clear and informed reportage by Amjon members can contribute to building public trust in the PSTT and its efforts to improve transparency and efficiency in Port operations”.
The retreat had various renowned academicians as resource persons.
At the end of the two days training, with the theme, “Enhancing capacity/Efficiency in Modern News Reportage”, the participants were equipped with the knowledge and skills to perform their responsibilities as core maritime media practitioners.
Maritime: Stakeholders Set Agenda For Tinubu, Transport Minister
Stakeholders in the maritime sector have started coming up with measures for the newly sworn-in Federal Government under the leadership of Alhaji Bola Ahmed Tinubu, to revamp the maritime sector of the country.
The stakeholders are unanimous in saying that Nigeria as a maritime nation requires the services of a core professional, who will be courageous enough to implement some programmes that will practically empower indigenous operators in the shipping industry, while encouraging the entrance of new investors.
They said such measures include growing indeginious capacity through the full implementation of cabotage law, facilitating tonnage volume, and positioning of the maritime sector as a major contributor to federal revenue and national development.
According to the stakeholders, it is unfortunate that the maritime sector for years under different leadership derailed from its primary objectives, which is “to promote the development of indeginious commercial shipping in international and coastal trade”.
In his opinion, a maritime analyst and member of the Joint Ministerial Committee on International Maritime Organization (IMO)/Maritime Organization of West & Central Africa (MOWCA), Mallam Ismail Aniemu, said “there is the urgent need to unite the country because people have been more divided along ethnic, religious and lingual lines. This lack of unity fuels insecurity.
“Many parts of the country are unsafe, thereby creating the impression of ungoverned spaces. It’s time to improve on the security situation by not treating perpetrators of killings and other unlawful behavior as sacred cows. The laws of the land should be made to reign supreme on everybody”.
According to him, “Nigeria is overdue for a deliberate and sustained action towards economic diversification to achieve balance of trade, manufacture more for export, and creating job opportunities instead of distributing cash as handouts to the poor and vulnerable”.
On his part, the former President, National Association of Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), Chief Eugene Nwike, said, “I will advise the President and the incoming Minister of Transportation to appreciate and embrace the global doctrine, which defined ‘Trade’ as ‘an instrument of global peace’, hence, the need to evolve and support a holistic policy aimed at promoting trade facilitation”.
Nwike said the President must deliberately adopt the relevant tools required for its actualisation, while giving priority to removal of all forms of “Red Tapes and Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT), including the undue prohibition of trade and closure of the border entry points.
“To this end, the immediate reversal of policy of categorised and uploaded certain regular trade items as non-beneficial to conventional foreign exchange assessment from the commercial banks excerpt for the parallel market (black markets).
“Secondly, undertake a drastic action against the foreign exchange market administration”.
Thirdly, siad, there’s the need “to give the maritime industry a priority, especially with the consideration to massive job creation, for which the industry has the capacity to remove our teeming youths off the unemployment market.
“And, for the incoming Transportation mitnister to pursue purposeful stakeholders engagements and embrace engagement by merits”.
A Maritime journalist, Odjegba Eguono, said the President “should appoint someone with productive and leadership capacity.
“Someone who should be an industry technocrat, and, if not, a fast learner with passion to grow the maritime and transport sector like the immediate past Minister, Jaji Sambo.
“The President and his Transportation Minister should prioritize urgent repairs and expansion of ports access roads, review terminal operators licenses, and decongest lagos ports”.
He stated that the new government should scrap the CRFFN, saying that the agency has proved unproductive and meaningless, being used as a drainpipe, contributing nothing to the system .
“The Minister should also scrap the NSDP by NIMADA and invest in MAN and NITT with the required wherewithal to carry out manpower development training.
“Finally, the incoming government should probe the NIMASA floating Dockyard and either dispose of it, or deploy it under an executive order”, Eguono said.
Stories By Nkpemenyie Mcdominic, Lagos
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