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NPA Clears Air On  $852.93m , N1.8bn Audit Query

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The Nigerian Port Authority ( NPA) , yesterday cleared itself of  allegations of under remittance  of $852million and N1.8billion   to the Federation   Account  before the Senate  Committee on Public Accounts.
The Office of Auditor General for the Federation had in  the 2019 audit report , alleged that NPA did not collect remittances from terminal operators  which amounted to $852million and N1.8billion .
The Senate Committee   on Public Accounts ,had Tuesday  on the strength of the  audit directed  the agency’s Managing Director , Mohammed Bello Koko  and other management staff , to appear before it unfailingly within 48hours .
In response to the committee’s directive , the Managing Director of NPA explained to the committee that the lump sums of $852million and N1.8billion , raised in the queries , were accumulation of unremittances  from  private port operators who came on board through 2006 concession agreement .
Faulty concession agreements he explained , signed with the private operators by the Federal Government in 2006  , largely accounted for the unremittances NPA is being held responsible for.
His words  “ The $852milliion and  N1.8billion unremittance by private operators to NPA , are largely caused by faulty concession agreements the Federal Government signed with them in 2006 when the ports  were concessioned .
“ The concession agreements were faulty in the sense that some of the operators are facing encumbrances in different ways to  cover the space concessioned for them which also encumbered them to remit what are due from them to NPA.
“ The encumberances in question range from inaccessibility of some portions of areas leased,  by concessionaire ,  communal encumbrance and volume change or turnage  amount”,
The Managing  Director also  noted  hat federal government that signed the concession agreement with the private operators , even contributed to encumberances faced by the concessionaires at the beginning by not removing structures that belong to it from the right of way of the affected  concessionaires .
“ Out of the $852million , going by our in – house assessment, $504million are  accumulated unremitted levies due to encumbered areas .

“ However , we have been able to $232.2million  and N269.4million from the N1.8billiion .

“ “ We have gotten consultancy from the World Bank for review of the concession agreements which would be free from any form of encumberances “, he said.

 

On the second query of outstanding debts of $67.45million and N32.266billion , the NPA boss told the committee members that the debts were not incurred by NPA but the defunct Nigerian Shippers Councils whose debtors are now longer traceable .

The Chairman of the Committee , Senator Aliyu Wadada in his remarks ,  indicated  the  need to identify the said bad debts  and mandated he NPA boss to furnish the committee with their financial statement and way out for government to write off the legacy debts .

By: Nneka Amaechi-Nnadi, Abuja

 

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Cost Of Living: Lagos Civil Servants To Work Three Days A Week …As Sanwo-Olu Announces 25% Discount On Public Transportation 

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The Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, yesterday, announced a reduction of working days for State public servants as part of plans to cushion the cost of living crisis in the country.

Sanwo-Olu made the announcement in Lagos during the ongoing media parley on economic hardship in the country

“We want to start with our public servants, immediately from next week, Civil servants from the lower level will be working like three times a week and level 15-17 can work four times in a week,” he said.

On the rising cost of food, he said that his administration would open more markets where Lagosians can buy food items at discounted rates.

“We will open Sunday markets in at least 42 identified markets across Lagos State. You will be able to buy food items at a discounted price. You will only be able to buy items worth up to N25,000,” the governor said.

He said his administration was also constructing four food hubs to ensure food distribution in tackling rising food prices.

“Coupled with the one at Idi-Oro in Mushin, four more food hubs are under construction and seven other locations in other local governments have also been identified for more food hubs to be developed,” Sanwo-Olu said.

Meanwhile, Sanwo-Olu has said that the state will resume a 25% reduction on public transportation in the state.

“Almost immediately from this weekend, we’re throwing back a 25% reduction on all public transportation.

“We’re working with the various unions to ensure that we also can support them. But on our BRT, our trains, our ferry services, we’re going to begin to enjoy that almost immediately from this weekend.

“I’ve given an instruction, so they are working on the logistics for that.”

Recall that the Lagos State Government, in a bid to cushion the effects of the fuel subsidy removal, slashed the costs of transportation of all state-owned transport systems by 50 per cent in August 2023. It was, however stopped in November, 2023.

Furthermore, Sanwo-Olu announced a free delivery for pregnant residents across all government-owned hospitals in Lagos.

“There is an arrangement for free delivery including cesarean session at government hospitals,” he said.

On rising cost of drugs and other pharmaceutical products, the governor promised that his administration “will also give rebate on some particular drugs at our state government hospitals”.

The governor noted that his administration was also in discussions with various transport unions to reduce their fares.

“First is to express empathy with our citizens, We are not unmindful of the situation, as leaders, we must be able to solve socioeconomic problems,” Sanwo-Olu said.

He also challenged the private sector to look into what they can do for the citizens by replicating their role during the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

 

 

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Police To Lift Ban On Tinted Glass Permits

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The Nigeria Police Force said it has conducted a comprehensive review of the issuance of tinted glass permits and is set to lift the ban on it for vehicles.

Previously banned in June 2022, the NPF said the ban then was a proactive move to bolster national security and tackle criminal activities linked to the misuse of tinted glasses.

The Force Public Relations Officer, ACP Olumuyiwa Adejobi, disclosed this in a statement yesterday.

He said that ICT analysts and Eenforcement officers nationwide would undergo a comprehensive training scheduled for the 29th of February, 2024, as a prequel to the reopening of tinted glass permit issuance.

It read, “In a bid to enhance national security and curb criminal activities facilitated by the misuse of tinted glass, the Nigeria Police Force has concluded its review of the issuance of tinted glass permits, previously banned in June 2022.

“The ban was initiated due to widespread concerns regarding the role of tinted glass in aiding heinous crimes such as kidnapping, armed robbery, the illegal transportation of firearms, human trafficking, etc.

“With the proposed lifting of the ban, stringent measures are being implemented to prevent abuse and ensure strict compliance with guidelines governing the issuance and use of tinted glass permits.

“ICT Analysts and Enforcement Officers nationwide will undergo a comprehensive training scheduled for the 29th of February, 2024, as a prequel to the reopening of tinted glass permit issuance.”

The statement also noted that the training will equip ICT analysts and enforcement officers with skills to regulate tinted glass permit registration, address public complaints, and enforce compliance.

It further stated, “The training will equip ICT Analysts and Enforcement Officers with the necessary skills and knowledge to regulate the registration process, guide registrants on the use of the portal where required, attend to complaints from members of the public, and enforce compliance effectively.

“It will focus on the intricacies of the new guidelines, emphasizing the importance of maintaining a delicate balance between public safety and individual freedoms while safeguarding national security.”

Highlighting the details in the to-be-newly issued permit, the statement explained, “The proposed tinted glass permit will incorporate distinctive features aimed at enhancing enforcement efficiency and security.

“These include a QR code linked to a central database for real-time verification, unique serial numbers correlated with vehicle and owner details, as well as a digital hologram ensuring authenticity and integrity, among other measures.

“It is crucial to highlight that the guidelines for the issuance of tinted permits and the use of tinted glass will strictly adhere to the provisions of the MOTOR VEHICLES (PROHIBITION OF TINTED GLASS) ACT 1991 and other relevant extant laws.”

Adejobi said this strategic approach underscores the commitment of the Nigeria Police Force to prioritise public safety while upholding individual rights and national security interests.

Earlier in 2023, the police said they would soon reintroduce permits for vehicles with tinted glass across the country.

“The Nigeria Police Force remains committed to providing updates to the general public on the implementation of the reviewed process of tinted glass permit issuance, ensuring transparency and accountability in its efforts to maintain internal security,” the statement concluded.

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NOSL Launches “you are not Alone” initiative to promote mental health

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Maintaining optimal mental health is vital for thriving in society. To survive daily stress effectively, it is essential to cultivate positive coping mechanisms and embrace mindful living. Giving sufficient time to prioritise a healthy lifestyle becomes necessary in this quest.

To this end, On January 31, 2024, Natural Oilfield Services Limited (NOSL) organised a program ‘You Are Not Alone’ mental health awareness driven in partnership with Mentally Aware Nigeria Initiative (MANI) at the University of Lagos to create an awareness about the significance of mental well-being. This event was a proactive endeavour to initiate open dialogues and provide substantial resources for mental health care.

Mental health challenges have no boundaries. This mental health advocacy had a unique approach by inviting both mental health professionals and students from the University of Lagos to share their expertise and personal stories. This collaborative effort cultivated an environment of truthfulness that promotes acceptance and understanding.

Speaking during the event Dr. Mrs. Abolarin Abimbola expressed, ‘Navigating the landscape of mental health stigma requires collective effort and NOSL’s ‘You Are Not Alone’ is a positive initiative in mental health support. This will help to encourage dialogues and welcome different perspectives, which can reduce discrimination.’

“By unlearning misconceptions, fostering awareness, collaborating, and sharing insights, engaging in the community, every small step can contribute to a more caring world, and amplify its impact to bring a positive change. ”

Also speaking, Dr. G.A Akinbode said, ‘In a world where mental health challenges persist, NOSL’s initiative will act as a guiding force and illuminate the avenues towards a benevolent future. We appreciate NOSL for inviting the students who play an integral part in shaping societal attitudes towards mental health, where mental well-being is prioritised and identified.’

According to him Mentally Aware Nigeria Initiative (MANI) is Nigeria’s largest youth run and youth-focused mental health organization championing the fight against mental health related stigma and creating an environment that makes it possible for people to seek care for their mental health without fear of discrimination.

“NOSL believes that mental health conversation is fundamental. The company is poised to make an ever-lasting impression, an unwavering commitment to long-term sustainability to value psychological well-being and support mental health challenges.”

Dignitaries present at the event were Dr. Mrs. Abolarin Abimbola, Director Special Education and Guidance and Counselling, Lagos State Ministry of Education, Dr. Umar Adisa, Sub-Dean of Faculty of Social Science, University of Lagos, Dr. G.A Akinbode, Head of Department of Psychology, University of Lagos, Dr. U.N Israel, Staff Adviser, Department of Psychology, University of Lagos,
Mr. Abiodun Oguntola, Executive Director, Mental Awareness Nigeria Initiative and Ms. Oluwatomilayo Awodoyin, Clinical Psychologist, Mental Awareness Nigeria Initiative.

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