An advocacy group, the Niger Delta Rights Advocates (NDRA), has urged President Muhammadu Buhari to investigate the alleged misappropriation of N3.14 billion COVID-19 palliatives by the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
The group’s Spokesman, Mr Darlington Nwauju, made the call in a statement on Friday in Port Harcourt, while reacting to the latest findings by the Senate Ad hoc Committee probing the agency’s alleged financial recklessness.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that Sen. Olubunmi Adetunmbi had said at an Investigative Public Hearing on Thursday that NDDC spent N1.5 billion as COVID-19 palliatives to its staff and the police.
Adetunmbi said documents submitted to the ad hoc committee by NDDC Interim Management Committee (IMC) showed that the police got N475 million, while the 1,269 staff of the agency received between N600,000 and N10 million each.
Nwauju said the group was worried over the alleged misused of public funds, and, therefore, called for presidential investigation into the matter.
“The NDRA is appalled at the revelations from Sen. Adetunmbi-led Senate Ad hoc Committee, especially as the Niger Delta youths were being offered stipends as palliatives.
“We are appalled because youths were falling over themselves to receive the N20,000 IMC claimed to have been shared as COVID-19 palliative allowance in nine states, amounting to N270 million.
“While youths were falling over themselves, the NDDC IMC and staff were helping themselves to between N600,000 and N10 million as COVID-19 allowance.
“What other forms of disservice can the people of the Niger Delta got?,” he asked.
Nwauju said that NDRA was concerned that N85.6 million was spent on trips to the United Kingdom to attend the graduation of some students on the NDDC foreign scholarships.
He wondered that IMC could have spent such money on the trip in May, especially at a time when most countries were under lockdown and schools closed due to the pandemic.
“Did they (NDDC IMC) embark on this travel using African magic, going by the fact that every part of the globe was under lockdown.
“How can they justify spending N122.9 million on condolences and N248.9 million on stakeholders’ engagements from Feb. 19 to May 3 and N475 million on face masks and hand sanitisers to the police?
“The NDRA wishes to call the attention of President Buhari to the current ‘abracadabra’ going on in the NDDC,” he said.
Also, Mr Charles Odili, NDDC’s Director of Corporate Affairs, when contacted to respond to the allegations, told NAN that he was indisposed and had not been briefed on the matter.
Edited By: Folorunso Poroye/Olagoke Olatoye (NAN)
Dollar slips as yields dive on recovery worries
The dollar fell in Asia on Wednesday, hitting a five-month low on the yuan.
A hardening perception that the United States recovery is lagging Europe has buttressed the euro, which has repelled a rebound in the dollar and rose back above $1.18 on Wednesday.
At the same time speculation that stalemate over fiscal policy in Washington could leave the Federal Reserve with more to do, has hastened a steady decline in United States yields – undermining the dollar more broadly.
Sterling, the Australian dollar and the kiwi all climbed back toward pre-pandemic highs, while the yen rose and gold soared as real yields plumbed record lows.
“United States economic outperformance, relative to the eurozone and Japan, is no longer guaranteed given the damage from the COVID-19 pandemic,’’ said Tai Hui, J.P. Morgan Asset Management’s chief strategist in Asia.
“Dollar interest rates are also converging to other developed economies’ interest rates, which means that the dollar is less appealing,’’ Hui said.
He added it is difficult to see the Fed easing policy ahead of its global peers.
The Australian dollar led gains among the majors with a 0.4 per cent rise to $0.7189.
Ten-year Australian government debt now yields about 31 basis points more than 10-year United States government debt, up from 16 basis points two months ago.
The New Zealand dollar rose 0.3 per cent to $0.6646, catching some support from a surprise dip in the jobless rate.
The yen rose 0.1 per cent to 105.60 per dollar and sterling edged higher to $1.3091.
Even the Chinese yuan, which had struggled to capitalise on the dollar’s weakness amid simmering Sino-United States tensions, forged higher to a five-month top of 6.9570 per dollar in onshore trade.
Other Asian currencies also made gains, notably the Malaysian ringgit, which was stronger than 4.2 per dollar for the first in five months.
The dollar has been sliding since March, but its prime antagonist in recent weeks has been the euro, which in July posted its best month in almost 10 years.
That has the common currency more or less back where it began life in 1999 and has many investors convinced it can keep climbing as a Europe-wide fiscal relief package anchors recovery and allays perennial worries about the bloc’s stability.
“Right now, looming long-term negative United States issues – like the dollar’s reserve status as the United States and China decouple – are at the forefront of FX concerns and not the euro’s structural problems,’ said Deutsche Bank strategist, Alan Ruskin.
“The door to $1.20+ remains wide open,’’ he said.
For now, eyes are on Washington where White House negotiators have vowed to work “around the clock” with congressional Democrats to try to reach a deal on coronavirus relief by the end of this week.
Investors expect steady services growth in Europe and a slowdown in the United States in hiring, with surprises on any front likely to illuminate the apparent divergence between Europe and the United States
Analysts at ING have also noted that equity investors have yet to really buy into the European recovery story – and say a pile-in could provide even more support to the currency.
“Buy-side surveys suggest that investors are still heavily overweight United States equities, especially tech stocks, and are minded to rotate into the Eurozone and see the euro as cheap,’’ said ING’s global head of markets, Chris Turner.
“If that rotation comes to pass … then euro/dollar may be a $1.25 story after all.’’
Edited By: Abdulfatah Babatunde (NAN)
Mobile Police Training School, not personal asset of I-G – Police
The Police say the Mobile Police Training School in Nasarawa State was a national security legacy project and not a personal asset of the Inspector General of Police (I-G), Mr Mohammed Adamu.
The Force Public Relations Officer (FPRO), Mr Frank Mba, disclosed this in a statement on Tuesday in Abuja.
Mba said establishing the school in Endehu, Nasarawa State, was informed by overriding national security consideration on the need to strengthen the operational capacity of the special forces of the Nigeria Police Force.
He said that the IGP had not used his office to threaten Mobile Police Commanders into generating millions of naira monthly through illegal means for the project.
”It is on record that the parcel of land where the institution was sited was donated to the Police with the full complement of the Certificate of Occupancy by the Governor of Nasarawa State.
“The acquisition of the land was, therefore, without any financial commitment by the Police.
”The construction of the facility was achieved with the support of the Nasarawa State Government and well-meaning corporate bodies within the context of their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).
”All the support so extended were not in cash but in form of donation of materials,” he said.
Mba said that the only involvement of some Squadron Commanders was to ensure the delivery of some of the construction materials so donated by the corporate bodies.
He said the construction of the project through corporate intervention was a demonstration of the commitment of the Force leadership to meet its obligations to citizens.
According to him, this is not the first time corporate organisations and governments at all levels are assisting the police to bridge operational and infrastructural gaps.
Edited By: Chidinma Agu/Maharazu Ahmed (NAN)
CAS task NAF cadets on core values of integrity, service before self
Abubakar gave the charge on Tuesday night during the regimental Dinner of Direct Short Service, Course 29, at the Military Training Centre NAF base Kaduna.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that regimental dinner was a military tradition worldwide aimed at inculcating one of the rich mess etiquette in officers in order to maintain regimentation and comradeship among other military ethics and tradition.
Abubakar reminded the cadets of vision of the NAF as they looked forward to passing out and begin your service to our fatherland as commissioned officers.
“To reposition the NAF into highly professional and disciplined force through capacity building initiative for effective, efficient and timely employment of air power in responsive to Nigeria’s national security imperatives.
According to him, this is particularly important as the country, in recent time, has witnessed a wide range of security challenges that have stretched the capacity of the armed forces and other security agencies.
Abubakar said the armed forces, particularly NAF, had been involved in operation aimed at finding lasting solution to some of these security challenges.
He added that NAF has also been involved in community out-reach programmes to demonstrate a human approach to finding lasting solution to some of the security challenges.
“As you pass out from training to become commissioned officers, most of you will be assigned various duties in order to restore peace to our nation.
“Such duties will not only require professional competences, but also your ability to lead men in the field.
“Military profession is all about leadership and command, as young officers, you will realise that your men depend on you for inspiration.
“You are, therefore, to ensure that you show good example in both your personal qualities and abilities.
“This can only be achieved by ability to apply NAF core values of integrity, first excellence in all we do and service before self,’’ he said.
Abubakar charged the cadets to always ensure that equipment and resources that would be put at their disposal were maintained and judiciously utilised.
NAN report that the passing out parade of the cadets would be held on Aug. 8.
Edited By: Chidinma Agu/Abdulfatah Babatunde (NAN)
COVID-19: Nigeria’s total hits 44,433 as NCDC announces 304 new cases, 910 deaths
The NCDC made this known on its official twitter handle on Tuesday.
According to it, as of Aug. 4, 14 deaths were recorded in the country.
Till date, 44,433 cases have been confirmed out of which 31,851 cases have been discharged and 910 deaths recorded nationwide.
Others were Edo (6), Bauchi (4), Kwara (4), Ogun (4), Osun (4), Bayelsa (3), Plateau (3), Niger (3), Nasarawa (2) and Kano (1).
Meanwhile, the agency warned that the coronavirus does not care if a person ‘believe’ in use of face masks or not.
“You may not believe in the virus, but the virus sure believes in you.
“Do not wear masks with valves.
“Why? Because a valve acts as an open doorway, allowing your breath to leave the mask and putting those around you at risk of catching COVID-19.
“Again, there are many ways to wear a mask incorrectly, but only one way to maximise protection; wear a well-fitted mask with gaps.
“Check if your mask fit before going outside, it is really simple.
“Step 1, inhale: Your mask should pull on your face.
“Step 2, exhale: Your mask should expand.
“Step 3, check leaks: There should be no major leaks.
“Readjust your mask if there are leaks for best protection, your mask should fit well,’’ it advised.
“Even if you wear protective mask in public, it is important that you also use other preventive measures, stay at least two metres away from other people.
“Wash your hands frequently with soap and water.
“Avoid touching your face with unwashed hands; cover your coughs and sneezes.’’
It, however, said that coronavirus could not overwhelm Nigerians.
“There’s an end; let’s just do the needful,’’ it stated.
The figures have reduced significantly over the past seven days with the lowest figure over this timeline, being 288 recorded on Aug. 3.
Between June and July, new cases had risen to as high as 790 on July 1.
With the recent trend, the case rate is slowing down in the country.
Edited By: Chidinma Agu/Abdulfatah Babatunde (NAN)