The Minister of State, Ministry of Water Resources and Sanitation, Alhaji Bello Goronyo, says government has summoned the contractor handling Talum irrigation project worth N128 million in Adamawa.
Goronyo disclosed this after an inspection visit to the project side at Kiri, Shelleng Local Government Area of the state on Friday.
Reports says that the project was under Upper Benue River Basin Development Authority (UBRBDA), Yola, and the company handling the project is American West Africa Agro (AWAA).
The minister expressed disappointment over the ongoing project, saying that now is not time of abandonment of projects as Nigerians want to see the value of their monies.
“I think the time of abandoning projects is over, we are here to galvanise the resources to ensure that whichever contract you are given you must implement the contract because Nigerians must get value for their money.
“There is no way somebody can be awarded a contract and to sleep without implementing it.
“What I did is a clear demonstration that we are on ground following bid of contracts we have awarded and making sure is completed and delivered to Nigerian people.
“So, I summoned the contractor to meet me in Abuja on Monday to discuss the issue,” he said.
Alhaji Abubakar Muazu, the Managing Director, UBRBDA, appreciated the minister’s visit to the site.
He however said that there was a lot of room for improvement as water is a highly capital intensive venture and is why they are advocating for public private partnership.
According to him, the Dangote Sugar refinery is yet to tap 60 per cent of capacity of the water.
NAN reports that the minister also inspected Kiri Dam facility and Dangote Sugar refinery, which are generating water from the dam.
He also paid a courtesy visit to Gov. Ahmadu Fintiri and Lamido of Adamawa, Dr Barkindo Mustapha. (NAN)
Abuja Residents Criticise Motorcycle Crushing, Suggest Auctioning, Fines
Some Abuja residents have kicked against the incessant crushing of motorcycles impounded by the Federal Capital Territory Authority(FCTA) and security forces.
Reports says that the authorities have consistently crushed motorcycles seized from traffic offenders, especially those caught in areas the bikes are banned.
Records from the FCTA show that hundreds of thousands of motorcycles have been destroyed in the last two years alone.
The residents, while reacting to the recent round of destruction, said this in a separate interviews in Abuja on Sunday that the destruction should be replaced with stiffer fines or the auctioning of the motorcycles for use in areas they are not banned.
Some opined that the heavy fines would discourage riders from veering into areas where their presence was outlawed.
They argued that the practice of crushing vehicles and motorcycles was rather “extreme” and could potentially result into an escalation of crime rates, particularly due to the potential loss of jobs in the nation’s capital.
While noting the FCT Directorate for Road Traffic Services’ claim that scraps from crushed bikes are recycled and the proceeds used to fund social services, they pointed out that crushing them had not deterred the riders, hence the need for a different approach.
A civil servant, Mr Joseph Edeh, wondered why the FCTA would resort to crushing the items, saying that they were the main source of income for the owners.
According to him, imposing stiffer penalties and huge fines would go a long way to discourage those disobeying the traffic laws in the nation’s capital.
Edeh said that many vehicle or motorcycle seizures had affected the disproportionately low income families, with many left in hunger and economic hardship.
“Owners of seized vehicles and motorcycles should be forced to choose between paying a higher fine or forfeiting their property.
“We all know that the hardship of the land affects every person, crushing these items is too extreme.”
A journalist, Uche Annune, spoke in the same vein.
“Auctioning and imposing stiff penalties will be more appropriate than crushing these items. Government must operate with a ‘human face.”
According to him, government must be considerate by putting the people first in all its policies and decisions.
“The best way to promote inclusive development is to consider the plight of the desperate poor. Anything outside that can lead to chaos.”
A lawyer, Ms Emilo Atana, also expressed reservations over the crushing of impounded vehicles.
“It is not economically good to destroy social assets like cars or motorcycles. They may be banned in Abuja, but they are very useful in the rural settlements.
“My suggestion is that the impounded could be taken to rural hospitals or schools. There is no doubt that they will be very useful there,” he said.
Offering a divergent perspective, however, a public Servant, Mr Gregory Maduakolam, expressed support for FCTA’s decision to crush all impounded vehicles and motorcycles.
He deemed the action timely, especially considering the ongoing challenges associated with the perpetuation of insecurity involving motorcyclists.
Maduakolam said, “I support the crushing of impounded vehicles and motorcycles because the menace that they cause in the city centre is worrisome.
“Many of the crimes committed here are carried out on bikes; something must be done to prevent these crimes from happening,” he said.
Meanwhile, Dr Abdulateef Bello, the Director of the Department of Road Traffic Services (DRTS), has said that plans are underway to crush more than 130 impounded vehicles that failed integrity tests.
He revealed that the vehicles would undergo standard verification with those below minimum standards crushed, while the owners could face mobile courts and penalties in accordance with the law.
He said that some vehicles, deemed unfit for the road, would be crushed after inviting owners to retrieve valuable belongings.
“Those arrested for crimes committed under the guise of commercial operations will also be prosecuted,” he said.
According to him, the impounding, conducted during evening raids in the last two weeks, aims to combat criminal activities carried out by vehicles pretending to be engaged in legitimate commercial activities.
“The DRTS, aligning with the administration’s vision of zero tolerance for insecurity in the FCT, plans to continue operations until all substandard vehicles involved in criminal activities are removed from the city.
“Efforts have also been made to reduce criminality associated with ‘one chance’ incidents, with a focus on ensuring that taxi operators conduct their businesses within authorised parks rather than on the roads.
“Residents are advised against patronising vehicles outside authorised parks to enhance safety and security.”
Reacting also, Mr Kalu Emetu, the spokesperson of DRTS, called on motorists in the nation’s capital to comply with all traffic laws and vehicle registration requirements, dispelling any notion of animosity between them.
He said that stiff measures were being taken to address the lackadaisical attitude many motorists had adopted that were hurting the country and its policies.
He noted that the DRTS operates under the mandate of the Transport Secretariat of the FCTA, and affirmed the agency’s commitment to contributing to road safety efforts.
He highlighted the crucial role of the task force in maintaining order in the city, lamenting that Nigerians often found it challenging to obey traffic laws.
According to Emetu, the demonstration of patriotism for the country should include timely renewal of vehicle registration papers and viewing the DRTS as collaborative partners in ensuring compliance with regulations.
The PRO disclosed that 13,719 vehicles have been impounded from January 2023 to date for various traffic offenses.
“That is why we call on all motorists to obey traffic rules and renew their vehicle registration on time.
“People drive cars and buy fuel daily, why is it difficult to be patriotic and renew vehicle papers? Why should they wait until they are apprehended?
“Motorists are our key stakeholders; without them, we would not have work, so, we treat them with respect, we will only encourage people, Nigerians to be bold, we don’t kill anybody, we don’t kill people.
“We don’t have power to arrest any human being, we can arrest your vehicle, but not you. You will only drive it to where you will park it and leave it, when you settle whatever you need to settle, you take the vehicle.”
Emetu noted that the task force, despite not being based in DRTS, functions under the purview of the FCT Minister’s office and has diverse uniformed organisations in it.
He outlined the primary functions of DRTS which included ensuring the free flow of traffic, handling vehicle administration such as registration and renewal of documents, and generating revenue for the FCT.
Responding to allegations, Emetu encouraged the public to report any misconduct by DRTS personnel, assuring that such cases would be thoroughly investigated.
He reiterated the importance of public collaboration, emphasising that motorists are key stakeholders and treated with respect.
Responding to suggestions that fines be increased instead of crushing impounded vehicles, Emetu emphasised that fines were already being implemented within the legal framework.
He pointed out that the effectiveness of fines had been limited, with many traffic violators failing to comply.
The spokesperson emphasised the commitment of DRTS to its primary goal of ensuring safety on the roads and urged the public to engage constructively with the agency to address concerns.
On allegations of corruption and misconduct of its personnel, Emetu acknowledged that enforcement entities often face public skepticism.
He encouraged the public to report concerns about staff behavior instead of confronting them, highlighting the readiness of the office to address public inquiries through its SERVICOM channel. (NAN)
We’ve Lost over 15, 000 Pastoralists to Armed Banditry – MACBAN President
From DanAmasingha, Minna.
Pastoral Fulani said a total of 15,000 of their Members were killed by armed bandits while over four million others were displaced within the last ten years.
National President of Miyetti-Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN), Alhaji Othman Baba Ngazalma has disclosed.
He explained that the pastoralists cutting across the country particularly, within the North West and North Central states suffered unprecedented casualties in the hands of criminally minded elements as a result of the activities of armed bandits stating that they are at the receiving end of the banditry attacks compared to other Nigerians.
Speaking with newsmen shortly after an emergency National executive Council meeting of the association held at the weekend in Paiko town hall, Alhaji Baba Othman stated that the association expressed dismay over the manner in which the military and the vigilante are looting and killing their cattle without just cause.
According to him, MACBAN as an organization, have mapped out strategies to shape the behaviour of the Fulani youths across the country against all forms of crimes and criminality bedevilling the country.
“We have deliberated extensively on how to fish out bad eggs among the pastoralists, how to sensitize them against the use of illicit drugs and to check the proliferation of small arms and light weapons within the pastoralists community.”
He noted that the association under his leadership is disturbed with the increasing rate of hardship and the high cost of foodstuffs in the country stating that the association has decided to help the government to solve the food crisis in the country.
MACBAN national President said he has deliberately refused not to speak out since the inception of the hardship that the citizens were subjected to as a result of the increasing rates of poverty across the country stressing that the association is worried and urged those in authority to find a lasting solution to alleviate the suffering of the citizens .
Speaking further, Alhaji Othman Baba Ngazalma told Journalists that the government of Niger State under the leadership of Governor Mohammed Umar Bago will continue to be accorded the unflinching support and cooperation by the pastoralists’ community for creating the Ministry for Nomadic and pastoralists affairs in the state.
He said the governor is passionate about the Fulani Community in Niger State urging other state governors in the country to emulate the Niger State governor by creating the Ministry of Nomadic in their respective states.
“Governor Umar Mohammed Bago has really proved to the Fulani Community in Niger State that he is so passionate about their affairs.
“For the governor to create the Ministry for Nomadic and pastoralists affairs and appoint one of our own as a commissioner is an exhibition of his love for the Fulani race in the state” he concluded.
PenCom Recovers N25.45bn from Defaulting Employers in 11 Years
By Tony Obiechina, Abuja
The National Pension Commission (PenCom) has successfully recovered a total sum of successfully recovered a total of N25.45 billion in unremitted pension contributions from defaulting employers between the years 2012 and 2023.
This substantial amount encompasses the principal contributions of N12.
The disclosure was made by the Head of Corporate Communications of PenCom, Mr Ibrahim Buwai during the Finance Correspondents Association of Nigeria (FICAN) Annual General Meeting held in Abuja at the weekend.
Buwai highlighted the importance of the Pension Reforms Act, noting that the legislation mandates penalties for late remittances, accruing interest at a rate of 2% per month.
He emphasised the nearly equal distribution between recovered principal contributions and penalties, underscoring the comprehensive efforts to enforce compliance.
He said: “From the inception of these recovery agents’ programmes in 2012 to December 31, 2023, the principal contributions that were recovered were about N12.9 billion while the penalty was about N12.5 billion.
“So, you can see that it’s almost 50-50. All this is what has been recovered from employers and paid into RSAs. The good thing is that all this penalty and principal goes into the individual RSA account.
“Nobody takes a penny, not PFAs, not PenCom, nobody. All these money recovered were for RSA holders and it goes into RSA. What you can help us by way of employers is that it is not in their interests not to remit because it is cheaper to remit than not to remit.”
Addressing Compliance Challenges
PenCom’s recovery efforts are not without challenges. Buwai pointed out two major issues: employers failing to remit pension contributions and the lack of proper schedules accompanying remittances to Pension Fund Custodians (PFCs), which hampers the allocation of funds to RSA holders.
PenCom has taken proactive measures to combat these issues, including publicising a list of uncredited remittances and urging concerned parties to ensure compliance.
Buwai said, “We have the issue of employers not remitting. The second issue is that employers remitted but if there is no company schedule that shows the employers that these monies belong to Pension Fund Custodians (PFCs), they cannot apportion to RSA holders.
“We are not happy and that is why in 2023, we put out a statement on it and on our website, we have a long list of remittances that we saw were uncredited, calling on the people concerned to come forward and make sure the remittances are done.”
Ensuring Pension Fund Safety
Reiterating PenCom’s commitment to the safety of pension funds, Buwai assured that the regulatory body maintains strict guidelines to safeguard pension assets. These guidelines are meticulously designed to protect pension funds against potential investment risks.
He said:, “We are not wavering, we have not made it lax or easy. All those stringent guidelines that were thoroughly outlined so that pension funds might be protected in the event that these investment instruments might be available – those stringent requirements remain.
“All we know is that if the pension funds are available, pension funds managers will review and take their decisions.
“I have to also clarify that PenCom does not partake in investment issues on the pension funds.
“All we do as regulators is that we set out general guidelines as contained in our investment regulations.”
The diligent efforts of PenCom to recover unremitted pension contributions reflect its unwavering commitment to protecting employees’ retirement savings and ensuring employers adhere to regulatory obligations.
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