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Senate decries non provision of financial records of IPPIS by OAGF

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The Senate Committee on Public Accounts on Tuesday decried the failure of the Office of Accountant General of the Federation to present the 2015 Integrated Personnel and Payroll System (IPPS) financial details to it for scrutiny.

The committees reaction was sequel to questions posed to the Account General of the Federation (AGF), Idris Ahmed, when he appeared before the Senate Committee on Public Accounts.

The Chairman of the Committee, Sen Matthew Urohidge (PDP Edo), had requested him to present the statement of Account and mandate of IPPIS to the Committee for vetting which  he failed to do.

The Senate Committee on Public Accounts had requested the documents to assist it in its current probe of the queries raised by the office of the Auditor General for the Federation in his financial statement that raised a query for the Office of the Accountant General.

The Accountant General was represented by  a Director in his office, Mr Adiro Emmanuel, who was unable to provide all the necessary documents pertaining to the IPPIS account put at N2.9 billion.

Last week the Accountant General had told the Senate Panel that the documents were available on-line and that his office could make them available on demand.

But on Tuesday his representative returned without the documents with an excuse that the Office of the Accountant General had requested the documents from the CBN.

The office of the Accountant General was also unable to provide satisfactory response to why Nigeria’s revenue dropped drastically from N200 billion to N165 billion in 2015.

On the query concerning the N596 billion Ecological Fund and why the fund was not invested to yield more money for Nigeria, the explanation of the representative of the Accountant General was deemed not quite satisfactory to the lawmakers.

Meanwhile, the Permanent Secretary, Ecological Fund in the Office of the Secretary to the Federal Government, Habiba Lawal, explained that the fund in question did not belong to the Federal Government alone.

Unable to do anything substantial, the Senate Committee had to adjourn the meeting, while mandating the Accountant General of the Federation to within two weeks provide the documents and make himself available to the panel.

Edited By: Emmanuel Nwoye/Donald Ugwu

Politics

Senate raises concern over high cost of crude oil production in Nigeria

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The Senate on Monday expressed concern over the high cost of crude oil production by the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).

It said despite the high cost of producing crude oil, Nigeria was not getting much in return on its investment in crude oil production.

Solomon Adeola, Chairman, Senate Committee on Finance, made the observation at an interactive session on Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and Fiscal Strategy Papers (FSP) with officers of Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning.

Other agencies of government in attendance at the meeting inlcuded revenue generating agencies such as, NNPC, Nigeria Customs Service and Federal Inland Revenue Services (FIRS) among others.

Adeola said: “I want you to take us through why  Nigeria’s cost of production per barrel of crude oil is  the most expensive in the world.

“Give us the breakdown of what constitutes those costs into variables and the technical cost.

“We want to know what you are doing as an agency of government to bring down this cost,” he said.

He said the committee was interested in ascertaining other costs of crude production in terms of administrative cost.

“Who determines this cost, with the benchmark of 25 dollars as proposed, Nigeria is just going to have just three dollars as its own return on investment.

“The oil revenue and the mineral revenue as proposed in the MTEF has dropped from almost N8.86 trillion to N3.33 trillion, are you saying that it is worthwhile investment for us as a nation.

“How do you ensure that Nigeria is being charged the right cost on each barrel of oil.

In Saudi Arabia, it is four dollars per barrel cost of production, in Russia it is about three dollars per barrel, Nigeria is 21 dollars.

“We are beginning to be afraid as to why we are channeling all our efforts to this oil and gas if the return on investment is nothing to write home about,” he said.

Sen. James Manager (PDP Delta) said the reason adduced by NNPC for the cost of production was not tenable.

“Because wherever oil is produced, they have their own security challenge even Saudi Arabia, Iran Russia, they have their own unique security issues.

“How is our own so peculiar that our cost of production is up to 21dollars per barrel.

“You also mentioned administrative issue, which are those administrative issues, why are we different from the rest of the world.

“These are issues that the national assembly is supposed to take up,” he said.

Sen. Jibril Isah (APC Kogi) said:”I am disturbed because, I expected the NNPC to dwell more on fixed costs but surprisingly, you are talking about administrative cost, security, these are variables.

“Even the fixed cost on the long run are also variables which you can also work on,” he said.

The Group Managing Director of NNPC, Mr Mele Kyari said the NNPC was working hard to bring down the fixed cost of crude oil production.

Kyari, represented by the Chief Operating Officer of NNPC, Upstream,Mr Yemi Adetunji said further:

“We know that these costs are high that is why we have decided to go from even the initial approved 25 dollars to 21 dollars per barrel.

“We believe that once we have the new framework in place going forward, we shall even see lower cost of production from T1 and T2.

“There are things we are targeting; security challenges are peculiar to Nigeria.

“In other climes,  pipelines are on the surface you hardly see them being  tampered with,  but in Nigeria even when they are buried two meters to three meters deep they are still being vandalised.

” In some cases, we are trying to take them to deeper levels but those ones will add to cost of production like going 10 meters to 15 meters deep.

“This adds to the cost about three or four times the cost of production as against putting the pipelines on the surface,” he said.

He said NNPC was working with security agencies to ensure that security hitches responsible for high cost were brought down to the minimum.


Edited By: Chioma Ugboma/Ekemini Ladejobi (NAN)

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Sport

Senate President appoints Fema Special Assistant on Sports Development

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The President of the Senate, Sen. Ahmad Lawan, has appointed Sani Fema, a former member of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) Executive Committee, as his Special Assistant on Sports Development.

Fema’s appointment was conveyed in a letter dated May 14 and signed by the Clerk to the National Assembly, Mohammed Sani-Omolori.

The Clerk of the National Assembly congratulated Fema on his appointment, adding that it was a testimony of the Senate President’s confidence and trust in him.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that Fema was the Special Adviser  to the Governor of Yobe on Special Duties from 2005 to 2007.

He was also the Executive Chairman of Yobe State Sports Commission from 2007 to 2015.

Fema had served as Chairman of Yobe Desert Stars Football Club from 2001 to 2015, and was elected NFF Executive Committee member in 2014.
OLAL

(
Edited By: Olawale Alabi) (NAN)

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Education

KWASU VC Conveys Virtual Senate Meeting, appoints New DVCs

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The Kwara State University (KWASU), Malete on Thursday conveyed a virtual Senate meeting led by the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Muhammed Akanbi.

A statement from the institution’s University Relations said the meeting was the Vice-Chancellor’s maiden Senate meeting since his emergence as the second substantive Vice-Chancellor of the University.

According to the statement, the meeting gave all Senate members the opportunity to participate via video conferencing.

”Presiding over this virtual meeting, Prof. Akanbi said the rationale behind the video conferencing was to comply with the Federal Government’s social distancing policy and at the same time keep the University administration running.

”He said the University keyed into all measures to mitigate the spread the current COVID-19 pandemic and as such was poised to prioritise virtual learning in the business of dispensing quality education to her students.

“Topmost on the agenda of the meeting was the appointment of two new Deputy Vice Chancellors and two internal members of the University Council.

Prof. Omololu Fapojuwo of the Faculty of Agricultural Sciences was appointed Deputy Vice Chancellor Administration while Prof. Sheikh Lukman of the Faculty of Humanities, Management and Social Sciences was appointed the Deputy Vice Chancellor Academic.

Prof. Abiodun Amuda Kannike of the Faculty of Law and Professor Emmanuel Ajani of Faculty of Pure and Applied Sciences emerged as the internal members of the University Council,” the statement read.

It added that the University’s Collegiate system would be changed to Faculty system to reflect what most academic staff were trained for.

Edited By: Felix Ajide (NAN)

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Politics

Revised 2020 budget: Buhari seeks Senate approval for $5.513bn external loans

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President Muhammadu Buhari has sought the approval of Senate for an external loan of 5.513 billion dollars to fund the revised 2020 Appropriation Act.

Buhari’s request was contained in a letter addressed to President of Senate Ahmad Lawan and read at plenary on Thursday.

Buhari in the letter said the loan which would be sourced from the multilateral organisations would be used to finance the revised 2020 budget and priority projects of the Federal Governments.

He said the loan became necessary given required funding of the revised 2020 budget and moves to insulate the nation’s economy from the COVID-19 pandemic .

He listed the multilateral organisations to source from to include International Monetary Fund(IMF)World Bank, African Development Bank and Islamic Development Bank.

A breakdown of the loan to be received from the organisations according to Buhari are :
IMF: 3.4billion dollars, World Bank 1.4billion dollars, Africa Development Bank 500million dollars, Islamic Development Bank 113 million dollars.

The President added in the request that the loans being urgently sought for are targeted at critical areas of funding of the 2020 budget,execution of critical projects slated for 2020 fiscal year and projects to support the state governments.

The senate also at plenary received documents on revised 2020-2022 Medium Term Expenditure Frame Framework (MTEF)and Fiscal Strategy Paper (FSP) and revised 2020 Appropriated Act.

The 2020 revised Appropriation Act  received for senate consideration is now predicated on oil production of 1.93 million barrels and oil price benchmark price of 25 dollars per barrel.

While the total budget estimates stood at N10.509 trillion as against N10.59.4 earlier approved, which amounts to difference of N85billion.

Senate also at plenary passed for first reading five bills.

The bills are Nigerian Railways Corporation Act repeal and reenactment Bill ,2020 by Sen.Buhari Abdulfatai (APC-Oyo), National Transport Commission Establishment Bill, 2020 by Sen. Buhari Abdulfatai (APC-Oyo North), Tertiary Education Trust Fund Act 2007 amendment Bill, 2020 by Sen. Bamidela Opeyemi (APC-Ekiti), among others.

Senate also at plenary debated and passed for second reading the bill to amend the 2020 Appropriation Act,having receive the document and suspended its rule 70 to debate the revised document on 2020 revised appropriation bill.

It also received the report on Federal Character and intergovernmental Affairs on confirmation of nomination of 38 persons for appointment as Chairman and members of Federal Character Commission.

Edited By: Remi Koleoso/Sadiya Hamza (NAN)

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Politics

Senate refutes allegations on padding of 2019 budget of NDDC

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Chairman, Senate Committee on Niger Delta Affairs, Sen. Peter Nwaoboshi (PDP-Delta) on Wednesday, denied the alleged padding of 2019 budget of Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) as alleged by Interim Management Committee (IMC) of NDDC.

He also said that the allegation of having removed the regional projects of President Muhammadu Buhari in the budget submitted to the committee and inclusion of 500 non existing projects valued at N80 billion was untrue.

He also refuted the allegation that the committee was not forth coming in the processes leading to approval of the 2020 budget of the NDDC, noting that the senate had approved the commission’s budget in 2016, 2017 and 2018.

Nwaoboshi, made the clarifications at news a conference in Abuja on Tuesday.

The Acting Managing Director of NDDC, Prof. Kemebradikumo Pondei and the Executive Director, Projects of NDDC, Dr Cairo Ojuigbo had at different news fora accused the National Assembly of infractions in 2019 budget of NDDC.

The IMC acting managing director and the executive director projects had alleged that the National Assembly had padded the commission’s budget with 500 non existing projects with appropriation of billions of naira.

The NDDC IMC had noted that the budget which would be terminated by May 31 was yet to execute any projects in the region for the fiscal year.

The senate had earlier set up an ad-hoc committee to investigate an alleged misappropriation of N40 billion by the NDDC IMC in the four months of its operations.

Nwaoboshi, who was however not a member of the senate ad-hoc committee investigating the IMC said: “Blackmail will not stop the senate committee from doing its investigation.

The 2019 budget of NDDC was given to the IMC since April 20, and they signed for it.

“They have been implementing the budget, no complain, while nobody said the budget was balkanised, just because the National Assembly has decided to investigate the activities of the IMC, the issue of payments, balkanisation of budget, payments among other issues came up.

“Just because the IMC will appear before the Senate Committee to defend its activities.”

He said the National Assembly have the constitutional rights to appropriate and no amount of intimidation would stop the senate from exercising its rights.

He said it was untrue that the committee was not working on the 2020 budget of the NDDC, noting that the IMC was yet to produce the relevant documents on the budget proposal to the committee.

He urged the IMC to appear before the ad-hoc committee investigating it to prove its innocence over the allegations against the management instead of embarking on cheap blackmail on the National Assembly.

Nwaoboshi said the decision of the Senate to set up an ad-hoc committee was very right, given the series of blackmails on its committee on NDDC committee.

Edited By: Remi Koleoso/Ekemini Ladejobi (NAN)

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Politics

May 27: Senate President celebrates Nigerian children

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President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, has felicitated Nigerian children on the occasion of the 2020 Children’s Day.

Lawan noted that the day was set aside to highlight the challenges children face, with a view to promoting their well-being and happiness.

Lawan in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media, Ola Awoniyi, said the surest route to a happy and fulfilling future for our children was to provide them quality education and healthcare.

He also identified their protection against all forms of abuse as other means to fulfill their future.

Lawan said it was this realisation that led the Federal Government in 1976 to introduce Universal Primary Education, which in 1999 was expanded to the Universal Basic Education.

He said the Federal Government enactment of the Child Right’s Act in 2003 was also to give children a sense of belonging.

The senate president, however, expressed concern that in spite of all such efforts, Nigeria was still heavily burdened with a high number of out-of-school children.

The situation, he said portends grave danger for the country and was unacceptable.

“I want to use the opportunity of this occasion to assure our children that the National Assembly is fully aware of the challenges that they face and will continue to work to guarantee a better future.

“I also call on the authorities at the sub-national level who have not done so, to domesticate the Child’s Rights Act for the sake of the future of our children,” Lawan said.

The senate president called for collaboration between the federal and state governments in comprehensively addressing issues relating to the plight of Nigerian children.

On the part of parents, Lawan urged them to dutifully play their own role in providing the immediate needs for their children, adding that the future peace of the country depended on it.

Edited By: Dorcas Jonah/Obike Ukoh (NAN)

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Economy

Group backs senate’s call for suspension of electricity tariffs increment

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A group, the Energy Consumer Rights and Responsibilities Initiative (ECRRI) on Monday backed Senate’s call for suspension of increment in electricity tariffs by electricity Distribution Companies (DisCos).

Mr Sural Fadairo, ECCRI National President, told the News Agency of Nigeria   in Lagos that the tariff increment billed to commence on July 1, should be suspended due to prevailing economic realities.

NAN reports that the Senate, had during  recent plenary advised the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) to suspend the increment to mitigate economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Nigerians and businesses.

Fadairo said the move had shown that the lawmakers had the interest of ordinary Nigerians  who are being subjected to exploitative bills by the DisCos at heart.

He said: “We, as an electricity consumer group have been against any form of increment in tariffs because we feel it is not justifiable.

” Now with the economy being ravaged by Coronavirus, it is only proper that any move to increase tariffs be put on hold because Nigerians are struggling to survive.”

The ECCRI president also commended the Senate for its ongoing probe of the privatisation of the power sector.

He urged the lawmakers to do a thorough job that would help put the sector back on track.

Fadairo said: “It is our belief that the privatisation of the power sector has failed because the nation is still struggling to provide electricity for  citizens.

“We believe that the procedures and processes which led to it must be reviewed if Nigerians are to enjoy quality supply of electricity.”

According to him, the privatisation model of the telecommunications sector which has made the industry vibrant today should be emulated in the power sector.

“We have to look at increasing power generation,  transmission and distribution to end users and also examine whether those currently saddled with the responsibility have the capacity of actualising that.

” It is not good enough that a nation of almost 200 million people generates  less than 5, 000MW of electricity.

“We cannot achieve economic growth and national development under this situation, “Fadairo said.

—————-

Edited By: Chinyere Bassey/Oluwole Sogunle (NAN)

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Politics

Senate President commiserates with Sen. Gaya over wife’s death

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President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, on Friday, condoled with Sen. Kabiru Gaya over the death of his wife, Hajiya Halima Gaya.
Lawan, in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media, Ola Awoniyi, also commiserated with the people and government of Kano State over the tragic loss of ‘a pillar’ behind their former governor.
“I express my heartfelt condolences to the Gaya family and share their grief over the death of a beloved wife and loving mother.
“May Allah console the entire family, give them the fortitude to bear the irreparable loss and accept the soul of the departed,” Lawan said.

Edited By: Kamal Tayo Oropo and (NAN)‘Wale Sadeeq

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Foreign

U.S. Senate confirms Trump’s Navy secretary pick

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The U.S. Senate on Thursday confirmed President Donald Trump’s pick Kenneth Braithwaite to be secretary of the U.S. Navy in a voice vote.

The confirmation was made weeks after the service came under sharp criticism for its handling of the coronavirus outbreak aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt aircraft carrier that infected more than 1,000 sailors.

In his confirmation hearing earlier this month, Braithwaite pledged to restore a culture of good order and discipline in the Navy, according to a report by The Hill.

“It saddens me to say that the Department of the Navy is in rough waters due to many factors, but primarily the failure of leadership,” Braithwaite told a Senate committee.

The U.S. Navy said in late April that it is launching a broader inquiry into the coronavirus outbreak aboard the aircraft carrier, effectively delaying its recommendation to reinstate Captain Brett Crozier as commanding officer of the warship.

Crozier wrote a memo in late March pleading for a faster and more thorough response to the growing outbreak on the warship. The memo was leaked to the media and Crozier was relieved of command on April 2 by then-Navy Secretary Thomas Modly who resigned the following week after calling Crozier “too naive or too stupid” while addressing the aircraft carrier’s crew.

At his hearing, Braithwaite said he supported the decision to open a broader inquiry, said the report by The Hill.

Braithwaite has served as U.S. ambassador to Norway since 2018.

(XINHUA)

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