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Interim report alleges Ex-Gov. Yari misappropriates over N250 billion

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, A Transition Committee set up by Gov. Bello Matawalle of Zamfara has alleged that the immediate past governor of the state , Abdulaziz Yari, had misappropriated the sum of N251, 951,849,482.50.

This was revealed to journalists on Monday by the Chairman of the Transition Committee and immediate past Deputy governor of the state, Mallam Ibrahim Wakkala.

Wakkla said: “my committee while trying to ascertain the liabilities left behind by the immediate past administration of Hon. Abdulaziz Yari collected and went through the report submitted by a transition committee earlier set up by former Gov. Yari.

” We discovered from Yari’s committee that the sum of over N250 billion cannot be accounted for.

“This included liabilities from a total of 462 ongoing projects which stands at N151, 190,477,572.02 and unremitted National Housing Fund (NHF) and unpaid workers’ gratuity of N1, 431,645,305.99.

“Similarly, the state government is indebted to various examination bodies including NECO and WAEC and some higher institutions amounting to over N2. 8 billion,” he said.

He said that the outgone administration which released the sum of N2 billion for the payment of gratuity to retired workers only paid N400 million to retired Permanent Secretaries, while the remaining balance of N1. 6 billion had remained unaccounted.

Reacting to the allegations, the Special Adviser to the former governor, Alhaji Ibrahim Dosara, described them as “baseless and do not hold water”.

Dosara who spoke to the News Agency of Nigeria on phone from Saudi Arabia, said, “please wait for my return very soon, I will come and give you the correct version of what is on ground.”

Edited by Abdullahi Yusuf

General news

Zamfara Assembly confirms 19 commissioner-nominees

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The Zamfara State House of Assembly on Thursday confirmed the 19 commissioner-nominees earlier sent to it by Gov. Bello Matawalle.

The Assembly also confirmed 28 nominees as Special Advisers to the

Governor at a screening exercise during plenary.

Nigeria News Agency reports that the Gov. Matawalle had on Tuesday sent the list of the Commissioner-nominees and Special Advisers to the state’s House of Assembly for screening and confirmation.

NAN further reports that the lawmakers unanimously considered and approved the nominees as members of the state executive council.

The Speaker of the House, Alhaji Nasiru Magarya, who presided over the exercise, said the lawmakers confirmed the nominees as they were impressed at the screening.

NAN also reports that one of the Commissioners-nominee, Alhaji Jamilu Aliyu and a Special Adviser-nominee, Lukman Bisalla Majidadi were conspicuously absent during the screening exercise.

/ MTM

Edited & Vetted By: Buhari Bolaji/ Tukur Muntari.
(NAN)

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Lagos govt. releases N250m to boost science, technology research

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The Lagos State Governor, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu, said on Thursday that N250 million had been released as seed money to the State Science Research and Innovation Fund.

Sanwo-Olu spoke while declaring open a 2-day Art of Technology Lagos 1.0 (AOT Lagos.) conference, in Victoria Island.

The conference, with the theme: “Bridging the Gap’’, was organised by Eko Innovation Centre and sponsored by First City Monument Bank, Microsoft, Malta Guinness, Oracle, among others.

The Nigeria News Agency reports that the Lagos State Government is bridging the gap between government and the technology ecosystem through the launch of the Art of Technology.

Sanwo-Olu said that the fund was for research and development in science and technology across different thematic areas in the state.

The governor said that the fund, to be managed by the Lagos State Science, Research and Innovation Council (LASRIC), was to research and develop areas like Artificial Intelligence (AI) to robotics, health informatics and green energy.

According to him, the Council will direct funds to solve issues of national significance through science and technology research.

The governor said it was a platform on which the future of Lagos State as a smart city would be unravelled.

”At the inception of our administration, we had a vision of growing Lagos State with a population above 20 million from a mega city to a smart city, equipped with infrastructure and facilities that work seamlessly to enhance life experiences.

”Our dream and vision of transforming the landscape in Lagos State was anchored on the pillars of our administration’s ”T.H.EM.E.S” philosophy to tackle perceived challenges.

”It is instructive to note that technology has redefined the way we live and think. Indeed, it is the bedrock of social integration and harmony because of its multiple applications to solve or enhance the art of living itself.

”We are prepared to provide Lagosians with the opportunity to connect on the global stage.”

“We cannot disaffirm the intractable challenges we face as a state. With a population of about 22 million and a crumbling infrastructure, new sustainable methods of transportation and infrastructure deployment must be formulated to keep up with the population growth.

”The use of artificial intelligence to predict movement of human resources and materials and reverse environmental degradation are critical solutions we need to adopt,” he said.

Sanwo-Olu said that the state’s challenges put it in a unique position to engineer not just its own solutions but solutions for the world at large.

”In view of these and other issues, our administration is committed to releasing and turbo charging our nascent problem solving potential through innovations in science and technology,” he said.

Highpoint of the event was the launch of the ”Innovation Master Plan” by the governor, aimed at highlighting the government’s critical focus areas that will unleash a culture of problem solving.

Sanwo-Olu said that the plan addressed the four main pillars that were required to enable a vibrant innovation ecosystem, namely: Access, Talent, Infrastructure and Funding.

According to him, with the administration’s activities in these four main areas, the innovation ecosystem is sure to receive the needed boost to raise its contribution to the state’s economy.

”There is no gainsaying the fact that any society that wants to be reckoned with on the global stage must be grounded in the application of technology to growth and development.

”It is, also, gratifying to note that the world has accepted that Lagos State is the ”Silicon Valley” of the African Continent, with major investments by Microsoft and Google in the Ikeja based ”Computer Village” and emerging tech hubs, which have served as launch pads for the digital careers of numerous youths as software developers.

”We have provided more opportunities for our children in the public primary and secondary schools to acquire ICT knowledge through exposure to Coding.”

”There are many opportunities available for the development of software that can transform the way we see, do or think about life activities.

”Art of Technology 1.0 will open the window for ideas, concepts and principles buried in the creative recesses of our people to break out and transform the landscape.

”It is our goal to foster the gains achieved by the Art of Technology 1.0 to enhance and empower the residents and investors in Lagos, the obvious and preferred location of first choice,” Sanwo-Olu said.

The Commissioner for Science and Technology, Mr Hakeem Fahm,  in his address, unfolded more of the state government’s plans in the state.

“The Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, is embarking on a journey to provide 6,000 Kilometres of fiber connectivity in the state.

“Three thousand in 2020 and 3,000 in 2021, in addition to that, he is providing 2, 000 high definition cameras so as to accomplish a safe city initiative and e-governance.

“Pooling all these together will give us smart mobility, healthcare, education, grid and smart energy, smart home, use of internet things and smart relay.

“So, we need a sustainable framework to do this,’’ the commissioner said.

Fahm said that in Smart Lagos, transformation would be seen in key domains such as health, transport, urban solutions, safety and education.

The commissioner said that the state would be safer, more comfortable and more sustainable with the use of sensors, monitoring cameras and smart systems.

Earlier, the Special Adviser to the Governor on Innovation and Technology, Mr Olatunbosun Alake, said the AOT was an innovation, ecosystem catalysing event that the government was bringing to the people.

“The Art of Technology Lagos 1.0 is an innovation, an ecosystem catalysing event in which the government wants to bring everybody together in an ecosystem.

“Let us make these catalysing connections where funders can meet creators, incubators can meet people with ideas and let’s make all of that work in a serious poll such that the government has support.

“That is what this event is all about,’’ Alake said

NAN reports that AOT Lagos 1.0 brought together 2,000 tech giants, policy makers, government officials, software engineers/programmers, etc., to drive innovations that would pave way for the evolution of a smarter, digital, more efficient and more competitive Lagos State.

FON/ /SOA

Edited & Vetted By: Oluyinka Fadare/Oluwole Sogunle
(NAN)

/

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2019 budget: N15.2 bn has been so far released to fund NHIS- Ehanire

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The Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire has said that only N15.2 billion of the N28 billion allocated to fund the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) in the 2019 budget has been disbursed. 

Ehanire made this known at a 2-day investigative hearing organised by three committees of the House of Representatives in Abuja.

The committees are Insurance and Actuarial Matters, Healthcare Services and Health Institutions.

Ehanire who was represented by a director in the ministry, Dr Emmanuel Moribo, stated that so far the ministry had received N28.5bn and had so far disbursed N15.2bn.

According to the minister, only three states nationwide had got funds so far.

He explained that certain factors are considered while carrying out assessment of the states and 22 states met the criteria so far.

We consider the per capital income, Primary Health Care Facility on ground and poverty index.

“There are different levels of implementation in the states but so far only three states namely: Osun, Ebonyi and Abia were only states that could access the funds because they met the criteria,” he said.

The Director-General of NHIS, Prof M Sambo, told the lawmakers that in other climes, the scheme is seen as a social insurance not a business venture.

He said in Nigeria, the NHIS based on the Amended Act, operates like a business saying that this is not done in any part of the world.

“And based on this, it will be difficult to have a universal suffrage approach to its activities.

The NHIS was not designed to have too much money because it was expected to operate a social insurance, so running it as a business outfit is going to be difficult,” he said.

Earlier, the Chairman, House Committee on Insurance and Actuarial Matters, Rep. Darlington Nwokocha (PDPImo), said that the house was out to probe the agency’s N30billion with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

He said that the fund had remained unaccessed by healthcare delivery operators since 2018.

Nwokocha said that the money which was captured in the 2018 budget had not been accessed by healthcare delivery operators up till date.

“This investigation will unravel the difficulties in accessing the fund under the sub heading of Basic Health Provision Fund in the CBN resulting in some states being left out.

“We have also received complaints from different stakeholders across the states of the federation on the difficulties in accessing the funds appropriated to states under the Basic Healthcare Provision Fund,” he said.

Edited & Vetted By: Kayode Olaitan
(NAN)

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Nigeria’s higher education sector over populated –Atiku

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Former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar has said that

Nigeria’s higher education sector was overburdened by population growth.

He suggested the establishment of more tertiary institutions across the country to cope with the country’s growing population.

He stated this at a public hearing on a bill to establish Modibbo Adama University Yola, held at the National Assembly Complex, Abuja on Thursday.

Nigeria News Agency reports that the bill passed second reading in the Senate on Nov. 13.

The bill seeks to convert the Modibbo Adama University of Technology (MAUTech) Yola, a mono-disciplinary institute to a multi-disciplinary and engaging institution of higher learning.

Abubakar said that the higher education sector was also overburdened by a significant youth bulge.

“More than 60 per cent of the country’s population is under the age of 24 years; almost one in four Sub-Saharan people reside in Nigeria, making it Africa’s most populous country.

“From an estimated 42.5 million people at the time of independence in 1960, Nigeria’s population has more than quadrupled to 186,988 million people in 2016 (UN projection).

“The United Nations anticipates that Nigeria will become the third largest country in the world by 2050 with 399 million people,’’ Atiku said.

The former vice-president said that with such projections, Nigeria’s exponential population growth was exerting immense pressure on the country’s resources and overstretching public services and infrastructure.

Abubakar further explained that record from Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB) indicated a wide disparity between the number of applications and the actual number of successful admission in the nation’s tertiary institutions.

He said that converting MAUTech Yola to a conventional university would expand the chance of qualified candidates to get placement beyond the limited confines of engineering and sciences.

“The conversion of the university to a conventional university which in addition to courses in science and technology will have the mandate to run courses in medicine, pharmacy, law, the arts and social and management sciences, among others.

“This indeed is the surest way to accelerate access, quality, relevance and equity for our people in Adamawa.

“I formally join fellow compatriots in the advocacy for the conversion of the university from a specialised entity to a conventional one,” Abubakar said.

He, however, appealed to members of the National Assembly to review the law on compulsory basic free education, alleging that the funds given to states to develop education were being diverted.

Sponsor of the bill Sen. Aishatu Dahiru (APC-Adamawa Central) said that the world was moving from mono-disciplinary institutions to multi-disciplinary and inter-disciplinary institutions of learning.

“In keeping with this, it will also have well-grounded students of technology with knowledge of the social sciences and humanities and not just technology robots,’’ she said.

In his remark, Chairman, Senate Committee on Tertiary Institutions and TetFund Sen. Ahmad Kaita, said that the institution would provide the much needed technical knowhow that would aid the country’s technological advancement.

President of the Senate Ahmad Lawan while declaring the public hearing open said that the institutions were central to the growth and development of the much needed workforce in the country.

Lawan who was represented by the Deputy Senate President Ovie Omo-Agege said that the institution would be useful to the proposed catchment areas of Adamawa.

Edited & Vetted By: Kamal Tayo Oropo/Kayode Olaitan
(NAN)

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Benue House approves six months extension for tenure of LG caretaker chairmen

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The Benue House of Assembly has approved the extension of tenure of caretaker committee chairmen of the 23 local government areas of the state for another six months.

The approval followed a correspondence from the state Gov. Samuel Ortom on Thursday during the plenary requesting the house to grant the caretaker committee chairmen and their members an extension of tenure.

Ortom explained that the extension was necessary in order not to create vacuum at the third tier of government but to ensure smooth operations until elections would be conducted in year 2020.

Nigeria News Agency reports that the tenure of the caretaker committee which were confirmed by the House on May 30, would end on Dec 8, 2019.

Moving a motion for the approval, the Speaker, Mr Titus Uba and the House Minority Leader, Mr Bem Mngutyo (Tarka/APC), said that the Local Government Law provides for the extension of tenure of the committee for another six months.

Mr Terkaa Ucha (Tiev/PDP), who seconded the motion, said that the governor’s request was within the law.

Edited & Vetted By: Modupe Adeloye/Kayode Olaitan
(NAN)

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Reps pass 2020 budget, increase to ₦10.59trn

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The House of Representatives on Thursday passed the 2020 Appropriation Bill of more than ₦10.59 trillion against the initial amount of ₦10.33 trillion presented by President Muhammadu Buhari.

The house passed the bill after considering the report of the Committee on Appropriations presented by the Chairman, Rep. Muktar Betara (APC-Borno) during the Committee of Supply.

The ₦10.33 trillion budget was presented on Oct. 8 by Buhari before a joint session of the National Assembly with both chambers of the assembly assuring Nigerians of passage before the end of the year.

The report, however, reflected the total sum of N10,594,362,364,830, indicating an increase of about ₦260 billion.

Presenting the report, Betara said “that the house do consider the Report of the Committee on Appropriations on a Bill for an Act to authorise the issue from the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Federation the total sum of ₦10,594,362,364,830.

“Of which ₦560,470,82,235 is for Statutory Transfers; ₦2,725,498,930,000 is for Debt Service; ₦4,842,974,600,640 is for Recurrent (Non-Debt) Expenditure; while the sum of ₦2,465,418,006,955 is for contribution to the Development Fund for Capital Expenditure for the year ending on Dec. 31, 2020.”

The initial amount allocated to Statutory Transfers was ₦556.7 billion reflecting an increase of about ₦3.77 billion, while the initial allocation to Debt Service was ₦2.45 trillion, reflecting an increase of about ₦28 billion.

The Recurrent (non-debt) Expenditure was initially put at ₦4.88 trillion and reflected a decrease of about ₦4 million.

The house would transmit the Appropriation Bill to the president for assent.

Edited & Vetted By: Kayode Olaitan
(NAN)

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