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How NDDC COVID-19 Fund Was ‘Chopped’ – Palliatives Distribution Committee Chairman



The Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) which is currently under scrutiny for alleged financial misappropriation has been hit by another scandal of alleged misappropriation of N6.2 billion palliative approved by the federal government for the agency.

In a 12-paragraph petition by the chairman of the palliative distribution committee of the commission, Mr. Sobomabo Jackrich dated August 3, 2020, and separately addressed to the senate president, Mr. Ahmad Lawan and the speaker, House of Representatives, Mr. Femi Gbajabiamila , explained that the N6.2 billion palliative scam is different from N1.5 billion relief funds shared to over 4,000 staffers of the Commission and high command of the Nigeria Police Force by the Interim Management Committee (IMC) in April this year .

Jackrich who asked the national assembly leadership to investigate the alleged financial recklessness described the management of the funds as “a show of shame and a scam.”

In the petition entitled ‘Demand for investigation over alleged misappropriation and diversion of N6.2 billion NDDC palliatives money,’ Jackrich said the N6.2 billion was specifically approved by President Muhamnadu Buhari also in April for procurement and distribution of palliatives to residents of the nine states covered by the commission.

Should the nation expect more faintings?

“Today, all of that can be regrettably described as a show of shame and a scam. The N6, 250, 000, 000.00 that was magnanimously approved by Mr. President to help the poor and indigents of the Niger Delta during this difficult period of the pandemic as palliatives has curiously been allegedly misappropriated and embezzled by the IMC of the NDDC and their co-conspirators.

“As the chairman of the palliatives distribution committee, my findings is not only that the money cannot be accounted for, but there is nothing on ground to show that that N6.2 billion naira of our hard earned tax payers money was invested for its original purpose which the president approved.

“The materials and supplies according to the statement were to be done through emergency procurement method as provided in Sections 42(b) (c) and 43 of the Public Procurement Act, 2007,” he said.

He further alleged that the IMC led by the managing director of the commission, Prof. Kemebradikumo Pondei pushed him aside as chairman of distribution committee when the money was about to be spent.

He also alleged that rather than using the money for the purposes for which it was meant for, the IMC embezzled it by only stage managing distribution of items not worth N1m.

“As the chairman of the Palliatives Distribution Committee, I cannot account for the palliatives as my committee was sidelined just because I as the chairman demanded for accountability and transparency in the processes as well as value for money with respect to the Palliatives.

“That I was handed the template for the distribution of the Palliatives wherein it was indicated that nine trucks of food items will be distributed to each of the nine states in the region.

“However, the IMC hijacked the entire process. They called and handed me with few bags of rice and beans just to induce me to play along with them giving the false impression that the process was successful.

“This appears to me as a cover up plot. Most of the food items that they claimed to have distributed were spoilt and unhealthy for human consumption.

“Thus only the IMC can tell where they got those poisonous and rotten food items from. The next thing we hear surprisingly, is that the Palliatives has been distributed. I managed to monitor from a distance the charade and show-off since I and my Committee was stripped of our assignments by the IMC in the distribution processes and left us incommunicado.

“As chairman of the palliatives distribution committee, I am aware that what was distributed under the guise of medical equipment were old goods and wares in the commission’s warehouses which was put on camera just to deceive the unsuspecting public and mislead the president.

“This too was staged. No single kits or COVID-19 Test Centres were set up by the commission in the nine Niger Delta states till date. It is for the records that I state these facts. The money for Palliatives approved by Mr. President was allegedly corruptly diverted by the IMC in concert with identifiable powerful forces and so cannot be accounted for.

“Surprisingly again, at their corrupt leisure and malevolent unbridled appetite, the Managing Director openly on camera admitted to some disturbing embezzlement of unbudgeted funds in the Commission during this pandemic. Responding to questions at the national assembly regarding the COVID-19 Relief Fund paid to NDDC staff the MD said “ONLY N1.3 billion was used to take care of staff” despite being paid their salaries.

“There have been several barefaced embezzlement of billions of Naira from the Commission that was originally established to help the people of the region but to no avail.

“There have been records of scam contracts supervised by the IMC. Unfortunately, they have procured some dubious Non Governmental Organizations NGO’s to defend and cover up their malfeasances and give them a clean bill through procured reports and presentations during the course of ongoing investigations.

“The media has been awash for some days now with respect to sweeping allegations and counter allegations against the IMC over alleged corrupt embezzlement of billions of Naira from the NDDC through countless fronts. These stories further show the level of deep seated corruption going on in the Commission against the impoverished peoples of the Niger Delta.

“The national assembly should probe and investigate the IMC under Prof. Kemebradikumo Daniel Pondei with a view to make them to account for the 6.2 billion naira approved by the President for Palliatives in the Niger Delta during the pandemic.

“That they should show material evidence of compliance with the relevant Sections of the Public Procurement Act, 2007. That they should show proof of procurement and utility of the necessary foodstuffs keeping the approved figures in mind the medical equipment and distribution of same to the Niger Delta states by the palliatives distribution committee chairmaned by High Chief Sobomabo Jackrich.

“The IMC and any other public office holder(s) no matter how highly placed as long as this probe is concerned should be made to step aside or be suspended from office just like Ibrahim Magu of the EFCC so as not to interfere in the ongoing investigations in the NDDC. This will disable him from compromising relevant documents and or personnel in the interest of transparency.

“The sweeping allegations against the IMC and their overtures disqualify them from overseeing any forensic audit because they have become interested Parties in the criminal investigations ongoing in the NDDC both by the audit and the National Assembly just to sabotage President Muhammadu Buhari,” he stated.(newsgazette)

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63rd Independence: Tinubu Approves Wage Palliative for Junior Workers, Appeals for Patience Over Reforms



President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has approved a temporary wage award for workers on the lower rung of the Civil to cushion the effects of economic reforms by the Federal Government.

In an Independence Anniversary broadcast to the nation on Sunday, the President announced a N25,000 addition to the monthly wages of the affected workers for the next six months.

President Bola Tinubu also said that the Federal Government has been taking the path to economic greatness since his administration assumed office in May, and that he was aware of the hardships being experienced by Nigerians, but affirmed that nothing good comes easy.

He appealed to Nigerians to remain resolute as the gains of the reforms will be visible and felt in a short while.

Full text of Presidential broadcast:

Dear Compatriots,

It is my unique honour to address you on this day, the 63rd anniversary of our nation’s independence, both as the President of our dear country and, simply, as a fellow Nigerian.

On this solemn yet hopeful day, let us commend our founding fathers and mothers. Without them, there would be no modern Nigeria. From the fading embers of colonialism, their activism, dedication, and leadership gave life to the belief in Nigeria as a sovereign and independent nation.
Let us, at this very moment, affirm that as Nigerians, we are all endowed with the sacred rights and individual gifts that God has bestowed on us as a nation and as human beings. No one is greater or lesser than the other.

The triumphs that Nigeria has achieved shall define us. The travails we have endured shall strengthen us. And no other nation or power on this earth shall keep us from our rightful place and destiny. This nation belongs to you, dear people. Love and cherish it as your very own.

Nigeria is remarkable in its formation and essential character. We are a broad and dynamic blend of ethnic groups, religions, traditions and cultures. Yet, our bonds are intangible yet strong, invisible yet universal. We are joined by a common thirst for peace and progress, by the common dream of prosperity and harmony and by the unifying ideals of tolerance and justice.

Forging a nation based on the fair application of these noble principles to a diverse population has been a task of significant blessing but also serial challenge. Some people have said an independent Nigeria should never have come into existence. Some have said that our country would be torn apart. They are forever mistaken. Here, our nation stands and here we shall remain.

This year, we passed a significant milestone in our journey to a better Nigeria. By democratically electing a 7th consecutive civilian government, Nigeria has proven that commitment to democracy and the rule of law remains our guiding light.

At my inauguration, I made important promises about how I would govern this great nation. Among those promises, were pledges to reshape and modernize our economy and to secure the lives, liberty, and property of the people.
I said that bold reforms were necessary to place our nation on the path of prosperity and growth. On that occasion, I announced the end of the fuel subsidy.

I am attuned to the hardships that have come. I have a heart that feels and eyes that see. I wish to explain to you why we must endure this trying moment. Those who sought to perpetuate the fuel subsidy and broken foreign exchange policies are people who would build their family mansion in the middle of a swamp. I am different. I am not a man to erect our national home on a foundation of mud. To endure, our home must be constructed on safe and pleasant ground.

Reform may be painful, but it is what greatness and the future require. We now carry the costs of reaching a future in Nigeria where the abundance and fruits of the nation are fairly shared among all, not hoarded by a select and greedy few. A Nigeria where hunger, poverty and hardship are pushed into the shadows of an ever-fading past.

There is no joy in seeing the people of this nation shoulder burdens that should have been shed years ago. I wish today’s difficulties did not exist. But we must endure if we are to reach the good side of our future.
My government is doing all that it can to ease the load. I will now outline the path we are taking to relieve the stress on our families and households.

We have embarked on several public sector reforms to stabilize the economy, direct fiscal and monetary policy to fight inflation, encourage production, ensure the security of lives and property, and lend more support to the poor and the vulnerable.

Based on our talks with labour, business, and other stakeholders, we are introducing a provisional wage increment to enhance the federal minimum wage without causing undue inflation. For the next six months, the average low-grade worker shall receive an additional Twenty-Five Thousand naira per month.

To ensure better grassroots development, we set up an Infrastructure Support Fund for states to invest in critical areas. States have already received funds to provide relief packages against the impact of rising food and other prices.

Making the economy more robust by lowering transport costs will be key. In this regard, we have opened a new chapter in public transportation through the deployment of cheaper, safer Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) buses across the nation. These buses will operate at a fraction of current fuel prices, positively affecting transport fares.

New CNG conversion kits will start coming in very soon as all hands are on deck to fast-track the usually lengthy procurement process. We are also setting up training facilities and workshops across the nation to train and provide new opportunities for transport operators and entrepreneurs. This is a groundbreaking moment where, as a nation, we embrace more efficient means to power our economy. In making this change, we also make history.

I pledged a thorough housecleaning of the den of malfeasance the CBN had become. That housecleaning is well underway. A new leadership for the Central Bank has been constituted. Also, my special investigator will soon present his findings on past lapses and how to prevent similar reoccurrences. Henceforth, monetary policy shall be for the benefit of all and not the exclusive province of the powerful and wealthy.
Wise tax policy is essential to economic fairness and development. I have inaugurated a Committee on Tax Reforms to improve the efficiency of tax administration in the country and address fiscal policies that are unfair or hinder the business environment and slow our growth.

To boost employment and urban incomes, we are providing investment funding for enterprises with great potential. Similarly, we are increasing investment in micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises.
Commencing this month, the social safety net is being extended through the expansion of cash transfer programs to an additional 15 million vulnerable households.

My administration shall always accord the highest priority to the safety of the people. Inter-Service collaboration and intelligence sharing have been enhanced. Our Service Chiefs have been tasked with the vital responsibility of rebuilding the capacities of our security services.

Here, I salute and commend our gallant security forces for keeping us safe and securing our territorial integrity. Many have paid the ultimate sacrifice. We remember them today and their families. We shall equip our forces with the ways and means needed to perform their urgent task on behalf of the people,
We shall continue to make key appointments in line with the provisions of the Constitution and with fairness toward all. Women, Youth and the physically challenged shall continue to be given due regard in these appointments.

May I take this opportunity to congratulate the National Assembly for its role in the quick take-off of this administration through the performance of its constitutional duties of confirmation and oversight
I similarly congratulate the judiciary as a pillar of democracy and fairness.

I also thank members of our dynamic civil society organizations and labour unions for their dedication to Nigerian democracy. We may not always agree but I value your advice and recommendations. You are my brothers and sisters and you have my due respect.

Fellow compatriots, the journey ahead will not be navigated by fear or hatred. We can only achieve a better Nigeria through courage, compassion, and commitment as one indivisible unit.

I promise that I shall remain committed and serve faithfully. I also invite all to join this enterprise to remake our beloved nation into its better self. We can do it. We must do it. We shall do it.!!!

I wish you all a happy 63rd Independence Anniversary.
Thank you for listening.
May God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

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Eid-ul-Mawlid: FG Declares Wednesday Public Holiday



By Ojone Grace Odaudu

The federal government has declared September 27 as a public holiday to mark this year’s Eid-ul-Mawlid celebration.

Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, minister of interior, announced the holiday on Monday in a statement by Oluwatoyin Akinlade, permanent secretary of the ministry.

The Eid-ul-Mawlid celebration is in commemoration of the birth of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).

Tunji-Ojo congratulated all Muslims in the country and in the diaspora for witnessing this year’s occasion.

The minister urged Nigerians to embrace the virtues of hard work and peaceful disposition towards one another.

“His admonition to Nigerians is to imbibe the spirit of love, patience, tolerance, and perseverance which are deep spiritual virtues that the Holy Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) exemplified,” the statement reads.

“Tunji-Ojo also urged Nigerians, especially our youths, to embrace the virtues of hard work and peaceful disposition toward fellow humans, irrespective of faith, ideology, social class, and ethnicity, and join hands with President Bola Tinubu’s administration in its effort to build a progressive and enviable Nation that all citizens will be proud of.”

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Female wrestler Adekuoroye Obtains 2024 Olympics Spot



Female wrestler Adekuoroye obtains a spot in the 2024 Olympics.

By Ojone Grace Odaudu

Odunayo Adekuoroye, a female wrestler representing Nigeria, won the bronze medal in the women’s 57kg division at the upcoming World Championships in Belgrade on Wednesday. She therefore became the nation’s first grappler to qualify for next year’s Olympic Games in Paris.

Adekuoroye overcame Turkish opponent Elvira Kamaloglu in the third-place match 9-5 to earn a spot in Paris.
Adekuoroye will compete in her third Olympic Games in Paris in 2024, aiming to win a medal after obstacles in Rio in 2016 and Tokyo in 2020.

The 29-year-old, who missed the African Wrestling Championship earlier this year, was charged with winning her first world title but dropped 6-4 in the quarter-finals against world No. 1 and India’s Sarita Mor on Tuesday.

She was however able to compete in the repechage on Wednesday, securing her third World Championships bronze medal and a spot to per take in next year’s Olympics.

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