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N2.67bn School Feeding Funds Found in Private Accounts — ICPC

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The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission, ICPC, on Monday, said that it uncovered the sum of N2.67 billion payment made to some federal colleges for school feeding during the lockdown in personal accounts.

The ICPC said that the money diverted into personal accounts was paid when children were not in school.

Chairman of ICPC, Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye, disclosed this in his keynote address at the 2nd National Summit on Diminishing Corruption with the theme: “Together Against Corruption and Launch of the National Ethics and Integrity Policy,” at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

Prof. Owasanoye said N2.5 billion appropriated by a senior civil servant (now deceased) in the Ministry of Agric for himself and cronies, was also discovered.

The anti-graft agency listed other assets recovered in the Agric ministry to include 18 buildings, 12 business premises, and 25 plots of land. He said under the Open Treasury Portal review carried out between January to August 15, 2020, out of 268 Ministries, Departments and Agendas (MDAs) 72 of them had cumulative infractions of N90 million. He said while 33 MDAs tendered explanations that N4.1 billion was transferred to sub-TSA, N4.2 billion paid to individuals had no satisfactory explanations.

According to Owasanoye, “We observed that transfers to sub-TSA were to prevent disbursement from being monitored. Nevertheless, we discovered payments to some federal colleges for school feeding in the sum of N2.67 billion during lockdown when the children are not in school, and some of the money ended up in personal accounts. We have commenced investigations into these findings.” The ICPC boss also said under its 2020 constituency and executive projects tracking initiative, 722 projects with a threshold of N100 million (490 ZiP and 232 executives) were tracked across 16 states.

He noted that a number of projects described as ongoing in the budget, were found to be new projects that ought to have been excluded in order to enable the government complete exiting projects; the absence of needs assessment resulted in projects recommended for communities that do not require them being abandoned; projects sited in private houses on private land thus appropriating common asset to personal use, hence denying communities of the benefit; absence of synergy between outgoing project sponsors and their successors.

He said the commission also discovered that uncompleted projects sponsored by legislators who do not return get abandoned to the loss of the community and the state. Besides, the anti-graft czar said it had found out the use of companies owned by sponsor’s friends or relatives or companies belonging to civil servants in implementing MDAs to execute projects which are abandoned or poorly performed.

Another area of worry was the conspiracy between legislative aides of sponsors and implementing MDAs and contractors to undermine the quality of the project without the knowledge of the sponsor; vague project description that result in the diversion of funds by implementing MDAs or project sponsor with the collusion of contractors and the absence of community ownership of the project because they were not consulted or largely ignorant of projects allocated to them. The ICPC chairman said in the education sector, 78 MDAs were reviewed and common cases of misuse of funds were uncovered.

Some of the discoveries include life payment of bulk sums to individuals/staff accounts, including project funds; non-deductions/remittance of taxes and IGR; payments of unapproved allowances, bulk payment to microfinance banks, payment of arrears of salary and other allowances of previous years from 2020 budget, payment of salary advance to staff, under-deduction of PAYE and payment of promotion arrears due to surplus in Personnel Cost, abuse and granting of cash advances above the approved threshold and irregular payment of allowances to principal officers.

On asset recovery, Owasanoye said the commission recovered N16 billion from the ministry of agriculture, paid into individual accounts for non-official purposes.

Also covered were payments to Agric contractors for no job done or overpayment for jobs done, appropriation of projects to private farms of senior civil servants of the ministry.

It also discovered N2.5 billion appropriated by an individual now deceased for himself and cronies. Other assets recovered include 18 buildings, 12 business premises, and 25 plots of land.

According to him, “We have restrained or recovered by administrative or court interim and final orders assets above N3 billion, facilitated the recovery of $173,000 by the whistleblower unit of FMFB&P from an erring oil company, retrained £160,000 in a UK-bank in an ongoing interim forfeiture.
“These figures exclude quantum of recoveries on return or contractors to site as a result of project tracking initiatives. “It should however be noted that some of these assets are subjected to ongoing cases and where suspects proved their cases physical or liquid assets will be released in accordance with laid down laws, guidelines or court directives.”

The ICPC chairman said in order to boost community involvement for its 20th anniversary, it launched in July, N20 million from the ICPC @20 project with two main competitions aimed at provoking youth creativity and support for the fight against corruption.
“These were the National Music Competition and National Essay Competition for Junior and Senior Secondary Schools with Anti-Corruption or Integrity Clubs,” he said.

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

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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

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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

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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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