The former Minister of Health, Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu, has denied allegation that he diverted N300m meant for medical equipment in Zamfara to Enugu state, he described Senator Kabiru Marafa, representing Zamfara Central, who allegedly accused him as a blatant liar.
He added that Senator Marafa’s claim is mischievous, baseless and an attempt to score political point after failing woefully in his 8 years as a senator.
It would be recalled that Senator Marafa had at plenary, accused the former Minister of conniving with the then Permanent Secretary in his ministry to divert N300 million constituency project fund meant for the procurement of equipment for the Federal Medical Centre (FMC), Gusau, to his alleged home state of Enugu.
Prof. Chukwu, who wondered why neither Senator Marafa nor the current Minister of Health had never approached him for his explanations on the issue, accused Senator Marafa of being mischievous and playing to the gallery.
According to the Minister, “What Nigerians should be asking Distinguished Senator Marafa is why it has taken him till the end of his 8-year career in the senate to raise the matter in the melodramatic manner he did.
“Senator Marafa was merely playing politics to hoodwink his constituents who are probably demanding for accountability from their representatives given the unfortunate turn of events in Zamfara State.”
Prof. noted that he is not from Enugu State, decried being drawn into the insidious politics of ethnicity by an outgoing senator who was desperate to score cheap political points to burnish his image.
In a statement by his former Special Assistant on Media and ommunication, Dan Nwomeh, Prof. Chukwu explained that, based on the Public procurement Act of 2007, parastatals and agencies awarded contracts within their
approval thresholds, adding that: “But where the contract value was above the limit set for them, they were duty-bound to send it to the Ministerial Tenders Board, which in turn sent the contracts above its approval threshold to the Federal Executive Council (FEC).”
Giving insight into what actually transpired, Prof. Chukwu recalled how the Director General of the Budget Office wrote a letter to the Federal Ministry of Health in December 2013, quoting a letter earlier written to him by Senator Marafa where he alleged that the ministry had refused to release the said fund.
Prof. Chukwu said he promptly minuted the letter to the Permanent Secretary and the Director of Finance and Accounts who stated that there was no such fund with the ministry, while producing the schedule of approved projects and funds released from the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation as evidence.
He said that he consequently wrote back to the Director General of Budget Office in March 2014, informing him of the situation.
“It was apparently this misleading letter from the Director General of the
Budget Office that Senator Marafa had been relying on for his unsubstantiated claims”, he said.
He advised Marafa to find out from other MDAs how they secured the release of their approved funds for constituency projects at the time, citing the Federal Medical Centre (FMC), Owerri, which implemented a constituency project during the same period as the Federal Medical Centre Gusau which he said traced a similar approved fund to the Office of the Ministry of Special Duties and Inter-governmental Affairs.
“Against this background, it is obvious that the Minister of Health had no powers to divert, and could not have diverted, the funds approved for an agency for another purpose.
“And if the same due process regime is still in place today, as I believe it does, there was no basis for the purported apology tendered by the current Minister of Health on behalf the Federal Ministry of Health, then under my watch, to Senator Marafa.”
On the alleged procurement of mosquito nets for Enugu State, Chukwu also denied that the Federal Ministry of Health did not at any time procured insecticide-treated mosquito nets for any single state in the country under his stewardship.
He said that nets were mainly sourced through two channels which did not involve the ministry in the procurement process- the Global Fund and the World Bank, respectively.
Free Medical Outreach in Nasarawa
Tatara community in Panda Development area has praised the executive chairman of Karu Local government area, James Thomas, for the free medical outreach in the area.
They stated this during the flagging off of free medical treatment held at the primary health care center, Tatara, Wednesday.
The free medical outreach was sponsored by Karu Local government Chairman, James Thomas, in conjunction with the association of Hospital and administrative Pharmaceutical of Nigeria, the association of community pharmacists of Nigeria, and the senior special assistant to Governor Abdullahi Sule on primary healthcare, respectively, where the patients were treated from different ailments.
Speaking to NBC news, some of the beneficiaries, Mr. Banshe Wayo and Mrs. Rejoice Zaka, appreciated the effort of the Karu Local government Chairman in fulfilling his campaign promises by alleviating their health challenges and urged other politicians to emulate him.
While flagging off the free medical outreach, the sponsor who is the chairman, of the Karu Local government area, James Bawa Thomas, said the medical outreach was to fulfill the giant strides of Governor Abdullahi Sule toward providing health services to the people of the state and promised to continue serving the people of Karu as expected.
Earlier, the senior special assistant to Governor Abdullahi Sule on Primary health care, Princess Margaret Elayo, said health is one of the major challenges rural communities are faced with, and commended the chairman of the council for the initiative, stressing that there are drugs available to give the patients after examination by doctors.
There, the head of the medical outreach, Pharmacist Luka Augustine, and Doctor Aleke Nnaemeka, disclosed that the free medical outreach was part of their social responsibility to the communities in addressing their health challenges, stating that the patients will be treated for different diseases and will give the prescribed drugs.
Also speaking, the supervisory councilor for health Karu Local government area, Hamza Sani, the director of Primary healthcare, Haruna Elayo Kuje, and the councilor, representing Tattara Kondora electoral ward, Ombuganza Ezekiel, assured the Tattara community of their selfless service in meeting up to their health-related challenges and sued for their support to enable them to succeed.
Kogi: NDLEA Seizes 1,699kg Assorted Drugs within Six Months
From Joseph Amedu, Lokoja
The Kogi National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) Command has arrested 149 suspects with a total of 2, 699kg of assorted hard drugs between January and June in the State.
The Kogi NDLEA Commander, Mr Abdulkadir Abdullahi Fakai, made the disclosure during a Press briefing yesterday in Lokoja to mark the beginning of a weeklong activities in celebration of the 2022 United Nations Day Against drug Abuse and trafficking.
Fakai said that the theme “Addressing Drug Challenges in Health and Humanitarian Crisis” was carefully chosen to mark the 2022 UN Day of fight against drug abuse.
The Commander said that 149 drug suspects made up of both males and females were arrested with the 2,699kg assorted drugs within the period under review include codeine, Methamphetamine, Exol-5, Diazepam, tramadol, Cannabis sativa, Pentazocine amongst others.
The NDLEA boss said that the Agency recorded the highest seizure of 948.956kg in April followed by 307.815kg in May while the list of 59.973 kg was recorded within June
He said that already the command has tried and convicted 29 accused persons while other cases are still pending at the Federal High Court, Lokoja.
“The drug situation in Nigeria and indeed Kogi is disturbing, especially being a microcosm of Nigeria, and as a federating unit, Kogi cannot stand alone in the face of this ominous threat of drug abuse and trafficking.
“The implication on security, economic and the general wellbeing is dire. Statistics and empirical facts from National Drug Law Enforcement Agency operations indicate clearly that drug problem is mutating into a colossal social problem.
“It has become an issue linked beyond doubt to escalation of insecurity and its attendant effects on peace and economy across the country,” he said.
He said that the debilitating effects of armed robbery, kidnapping, banditry, rape and other violent crimes against humanity were contesting for the soul of our nation.
“We know that drugs are mostly the catalyst for these vices, because anywhere that there is drug, there is crime and vice versa,” he said.
He said that explains why the command has engaged in various operations, sensitization, courtesy/advocacy visits to Gov Yahaya Bello, Kogi, Secretary to State Government, traditional rulers and the State security chiefs including the Nigerian Police and the Nigerian Army.
“In the area of drug abuse and preventive education (DAPE), 25 schools and organizations where sensitized from January to date while 84 clients referred from investigation units were counseled within the period.
“Drug war is a onerous task that cannot be left in the hands of the agency alone,”.
He enumerated some successes recorded within the period to include arrest/seizure of a J5 bus, intercepted along Okene/Lokoja-Abuja expressway conveying 750kg of dried weeds (Indian Hemp), interception of 29 pieces of sewn military camouflage uniforms in a truck and arrest of a jail breaker.
Fakai, however, called on the general public for cooperation, support and provision of useful information to the agency whenever they see or hear something strange
He said that all hands must be on deck as the Agency cannot do it alone, but the government at all levels, traditional institutions, Religious and opinion Leaders, NGOs must give a helping hand to ensure a drug free Kogi and Nigeria as a whole.
Niger Launches COVID-19 Recovery Programme, Disburses Funds to Communities, Groups
From Dan Amasingha, Minna
The Niger State Government has launched COVID-19 Action Recovery, Economic Stimulus Programme, and disbursed over N60 million to beneficiaries.
Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Ahmed Ibrahim Matane, disclosed this while launching the commencement of NIGER – CARES and distribution of cheques to benefitting communities and groups organized by the Niger State Community and Social Development Agency (CSDA) held at Justice Idris Legbo Kutigi International Conference Centre, Minna.
Matane explained that the Nigeria CARES Project is an intervention programme aimed at mitigating the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the poor and vulnerable households.
According to the SSG, the disbursement of funds to groups is a poverty reduction strategy as well as support to micro and small-scale enterprises as a means of stimulating the economic growth in a post-COVID-19 era thereby bringing people out of poverty.
He noted that due to the leadership and political will provided by Governor Abubakar Sani Bello, Niger State was ahead of many States in this endeavour and expressed optimism that implementation of the programme would improve the living standards of communities to get back on their feet.
The SSG urged the benefitting communities and groups to utilize the funds for the purpose it was meant for and not to allow any form of hijack by anybody.
Earlier in his remarks, the Honourable Commissioner, Niger State Planning Commission, Alhaji Zakari Abubakar encouraged the people of the State to take advantage of the opportunities provided by NIGER-CARES to enhance their means of livelihood and reduce the spate of poverty in their communities.
The General Manager, Niger State Community and Social Development Agency (CSDA), Yusuf Ahmed Usman announced that the State Government has released the sum of N248, 854, 184 to the Agency for the provision of social basic infrastructures to communities and groups in all the 25 Local Governments Areas in the State.
Ahmed Usman said that Communities and groups that would benefit from the disbursement include the Aghumai Bari group, Paikoro LGA, Soje B, Chanchaga LGA, Talwood community, Wushishi, Chingini Enazan, Edati LGA and Association of the blind, Kontagora LGA.
Over N60 million naira was disbursed to the communities and groups to commence the implementation of the following chosen micro-projects, drilling of solar boreholes with an overhead tank, renovation of a health clinic, renovation of learning centre and provision of learning materials, the General Manager revealed.
Highlights of the occasion were goodwill messages from different stakeholders and cultural performance.
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