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Reps summon Emefiele, Odubu, Others Over Abandoned NDDC Contracts

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By Orkula Shaagee, Abuja

The House of Representatives ad hoc committee on contracts abandoned by the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) has summoned the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Godwin Emefiele and acting Managing Director of NDDC, Mr.

Pius Odubuh and the immediate past minister of Niger Delta, Pastor Usani and all former managing directors of NDDC to appear before it unfailingly next Monday.
 

Similarly, NDDC’s directors of finance and administration, agriculture and legal services, environmental control and supply as well as that of budget monitoring and supervision are to also appear before the committee

Giving the order during investigative hearing in Abuja yesterday, the Chairman of the ad hoc committee, Hon.

Ossai Nicholas Ossai (PDP, Delta), said the invited officials are to explain how contracts were awarded for various abandoned projects and which companies benefitted from the deals.

Ossai, whose order followed a motion by chairman of the House committee on foreign affairs, Hon. Yusuf Buba Yakub (APC, Adamawa) warned that the House being representative of the people will not condone any action that would undermine its authority. He wondered why the acting managing director of NDDC could not attend the investigative hearing after “the minister of Niger Delta had directed him to honour our invitation”

The chairman also frowned at the absence of other stakeholders including Bayelsa, Cross River and Edo states. Though Imo state government sent a representative, he could not make any presentation but rather asked for permission to be given time to prepare its submission. Ossai, however explained that Delta state government could not attend the hearing because the letter to the state governor was not delivered on time.

Testifying before the ad hoc committee, Akwa Ibom state governor, Mr. Emmanuel Udom disclosed that a total of 384 projects have been abandoned by the NDDC in different locations across the state. He explained that 148 of these projects were in Eket senatorial district, while 104 are in Ikot Ekpene senatorial district and 132 in Uyo central senatorial district.

Represented by the state commissioner for works, Mr. Ephraim Akparawa Inyangeyen further explained that some of the projects were abandoned for as long as 10 years, while some for 5 years and others in the last few years; and promised to get details of the defaulting contractors to the committee.

He lamented that the quality of job executed by the NDDC in Akwa Ibom was of very poor quality urging the parliament to impress on the commission to embrace international best practices in the execution of contracts.

“Honourable members, I want to bring to your attention that the roads constructed by NDDC across Akwa Ibom are of low standard. The contractors do not follow the designs. I want to appeal to this committee that in the course of this investigation, NDDC must be made to adopt international best practices because there is no need building substandard projects”

Also making his presentation, chairman of the Ondo State Oil Producing Area Commission, Mr. Gbenga Edema disclosed that the commission has 115 abandoned projects in the state.

Representative of the Aiyetoro community in Ondo state, Otunba Dele Kudehinbu in his presentation informed that the Aiyetoro Shoreline protection project, which was first awarded in 2014 at the cost of N2.4 billion to Gallet Nig. Ltd. Was re-awarded to another company in 2009 at the cost of N6.6 billion after the former had collected N650 million mobilization fee.

He another project, the construction of concrete jetty in Aiyetoro, which was awarded in 2013 to Global Link Venture at the cost of N82 million had been abandoned since 2016 with work only 50 percent completed.

Briefing the ad hoc committee, the Auditor General of the Federation (AGF) disclosed that since the inception of the NDDC, the federal government has released a total N738.025 billion as its contribution as enshrined in the act establishing it.

The AcGF, who was represented by the director in charge of federation account, Mr. Sabo Mohammed, explained that this amount was outside of the contribution from international oil companies (IOCs).

In his submission, the Auditor General of the Federation disclosed that from the audit carried by his office from 2000 to august this year, it has discovered that a total of N64.4 billion has been wasted as mobilization fees on abandoned projects across the Niger Delta region.

Director of audit in the OAGF, who represented the auditor general, told the investigative committee that it was shocking that after collecting mobilization fees, companies abandon projects explaining that the report of the audit has been submitted to government.

Also at the investigative hearing, the Olu of Warri, His Majesty Ogiamen Ikenwoli lamented that some projects awarded by the NDDC in Delta state since 2006 were still ongoing, yet there is nothing concrete on ground. According to the traditional ruler, the communities in the state were being eroded by exploration activities.

The Olu of Warri, who was represented by the Ogua Olusan of Warri, Chief Brown Mene expressed displeasure with the slow pace of work executed by the NDDC in the state noting that “the Koko-Owerri road, has been on the federal government drawing board for 50 years and this is supposed to be part of the trans African high way linking Akwa Ibom”

He said the Okene-Koko-Escravos road and the one leading from Escravos, the maritime university and Chevron were still not completed. 

just as the committee learnt yesterday that so far, N64.4 billion have been frittered by the NDDC as mobilization fee for various contracts abandoned across the Niger Delta region with over 384 projects abandoned in Akwa Ibom and 115 in Ondo state.

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CGC Raises Concerns, as Customs Intercepts Cannabis, Codeine Worth N4.1b

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From Anthony Nwachukwu, Lagos

The Comptroller-General of Customs, Adewale Adeniyi, has warned of the severe and devastating effects of the growing misuse and abuse of drugs on the youth and the society at large, as the agency intercepted cannabis indica and codeine worth N4.

1 billion.

Adeniyi spoke in Lagos over the weekend while showcasing the unwholesome imports comprising 1x40ft container of regulated, unregistered pharmaceuticals and another 1x40ft container of illicit psychotropic substances intercepted by the Tin Can Command of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS).

He disclosed that one of the 1x40ft containers No. GAOU 669921/5 imported from Canada, with approximate street value of N3.

216 billion, concealed three plastic drums with several packets of cannabis indica and 46bags of 2,144 packets of cannabis indica – all weighing 1,072kg.

The other contained 877 cartons of Barcadin cough syrup with codeine (200 bottles of 100ml per carton), and 82 cartons of Really Extra Diclofenac Sodium 50mg tablets (600 packs per carton) from India. The approximate street value of the cough syrup is N964.340 million.

According to him, the agency has made concerted efforts to prevent illegal entry and exit through diverse routes and means of conveyances, leading to a number of successfully executed interceptions and seizures of illicit drugs, arms and ammunition, illegal wildlife and petroleum products at various locations in recent months.

However, “these interceptions have brought to light a concerning trend wherein criminal networks engage in collaborative attempts to subvert the competency of the agencies tasked with mitigating the trafficking of such illicit substances,” he noted.

 “The misuse and abuse of drugs, particularly cannabis indica and codeine, pose severe dangers to our society. Codeine, a restricted drug in Nigeria, has been widely abused, leading to devastating effects on our youth.

 “This substance not only impairs the health and well-being of individuals but also contributes to the rise in criminal activities.  Cannabis indica, similarly, has become a significant concern, with its abuse leading to mental health issues, addiction, and social problems.

 “Unchecked activities involving restricted items serve multiple purposes for criminal elements. These drugs, for instance, are used as stimulants by criminals, further fueling societal unrest and instability.

 “Additionally, the proceeds from the illicit drug trade are often used to finance disruptions by non-state actors, posing a significant threat to our national security and economic stability.”

Nevertheless, Adeniyi noted that within its mandate of obstructing harmful and illegal substances from Nigerian communities, the NCS “will continue to work closely with relevant national and international agencies to conduct operations that lead to the interception of illegal goods and the disruption of criminal networks.

He disclosed that investigations were ongoing to bring perpetrators to book, while warning those engaging in illicit activities of the NCS’ unwavering vigilance and dedication to protecting the society and ensuring that all Nigerians benefit from a stable and prosperous economy.

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Investing in Davido, Meme Coins Highly Risky – SEC

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By Tony Obiechina, Abuja

The Security and Exchange Commission has warned that investing in meme coins, including $Davido, is highly risky and should be done with a full understanding of the associated risk.

According to the Commission in a Circular, “The attention of the Securities and Exchange Commission, Nigeria (“SEC”) has been drawn to a meme coin known as “$Davido” allegedly linked to the popular Nigerian singer, David Adedeji Adeleke AKA Davido.

“Generally, meme coins are crypto-currencies inspired by memes and internet jokes. They are often envisaged as fun, light-hearted crypto-currencies promoted through a social media community and sometimes through celebrity endorsements”.

The SEC further stated that Meme coins are also NOT intended to serve as a medium of exchange accepted by the public as payment for goods and services, or as digital representation of capital market products such as shares, debentures, units of collective investment schemes, derivatives contracts, commodities or other kinds of financial instruments or investments.

The Commission therefore advised the general public that meme coins lack fundamental value and are purely speculative.

“The general public is further WARNED that investing in meme coins, including $Davido, is highly risky and should be done with a full understanding of the associated risk.

“Capital Market Operators are by this Notice warned not to associate with instruments that fall outside the SEC’s regulatory purview. Such instruments should not in any manner be distributed or monitored through any capital market mechanism”.

The SEC also emphasised that the Commission does not recognize $Davido as an investment product or investable asset class under its regulatory purview, as such individuals who patronize it, do so at their peril.

“The Commission will continue to monitor developments within the ecosystem and will not relent in deploying its regulatory powers as and when required” , the circular added.

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Blue Economy Targets Top Spot in PEBEC – Oyetola

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From Anthony Nwachukwu, Lagos

Mindful of the sector’s critical role in economic diversification and sustainable development, the Ministry of Marine and Blue Economy aims to place Nigeria tops in the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC) by achieving ease of doing business and fostering a conducive environment for trade and investment.

To this end, the Minister, Adegboyega Oyetola, said the ministry plans to elevate Nigeria’s maritime sector to global standards and has prioritised the implementation of the national single window and port community system to automate port processes, in order to enhance operational efficiency and attract investments.

Oyetola, who spoke at the BusinessDay Maritime Conference in Lagos Thursday, disclosed that the ministry has already reported significant progress in revenue generation, driven by innovative strategies to block revenue leakages and explore new sources within the marine and blue economy sector.

Others include ongoing efforts to upgrade infrastructure, such as the development of inland dry ports and modernisation projects at key ports across the country, while public-private partnerships (PPPs) in advancing port modernisation, dredging activities and deploying cutting-edge maritime technologies remain important.

He further announced plans for the development of additional deep-sea ports on a PPP basis to further bolster Nigeria’s maritime capabilities.

Acknowledging the significant contributions of participants in shaping the discourse in Nigeria’s marine and blue economy, Oyetola expressed hope that insights from the conference would drive positive transformations and propel Nigeria towards greater economic prosperity through the harnessing of its vast maritime resources.

He restated his commitment to developing a dynamic national policy framework for the sector by the end of the year, while urging all stakeholders to continue working together towards realising the sector’s full potential, ensuring sustainable growth and inclusive development across coastal communities.

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