President Muhammadu Buhari has directed the immediate investigation of the Joint Admissions And Matriculation Board (JAMB) and the Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMSA) over suspicious remittances of revenues into the Federal Government accounts.
The decision was taken at the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting. Minister of Finance Mrs. Kemi Adeosun who disclosed this after FEC’s meeting said the decision followed the discovery
Minister of Finance Mrs. Kemi Adeosun who disclosed this after FEC’s meeting said the decision followed the discovery of massive fraud in the two federal agencies.
Mrs. Adeosun told State House correspondents, shortly at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, that the investigation of the agencies was in line with the government’s new realities of accountability and transparency.
She said the decision to probe the agencies became evident when JAMB remitted a paltry N3 million to the Federal Government’s coffers in 2015.
According to the minister, the differential in remittance of about N5billion in 2017 alone by JAMB without prompting raised the concern.
JAMB she explained has promised to remit another N3billion to federal government’s coffers before the end of 2017.
“Council felt this is unacceptable. They want to know where the monies have been going in the past. It is not that their revenue drive is different from what they have now. So Council wants to know what has been happening to the money they have been generating. It is in line with this that Council has directed that we look into the books of these agencies,” the minister said.
Adeosun noted that the “grand scale looting in the past in these agencies” must be looked into adding that following the fraudulent discoveries, the council has also mandated the investigation of other revenue generating agencies in the country to ascertain their level of transparency and accountability.
FG to shut border over rice smuggling
As a measure to curtail the smuggling of foreign rice and other toxic materials into Nigeria, the Federal Government has said that it will, in a few days’ time, shut down the land border between Nigeria and a neighbouring country.
Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, stated this when he interacted with youths under the auspices of Guardians of the Nations International (GOTNI) during a leadership clinic in Abuja yesterday.
Although Ogbeh did not mention the particular country, New Telegraph learnt that it is Benin Republic.
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo had, in 2013, closed the Seme border in Benin, citing cross-border crimes, including massive smuggling of goods.
The Federal Government had imposed a ban on the commodity in October 2015 through the land border, having realised that the special levy on imported parboiled rice from 40 per cent to 100 per cent in addition to the 10 per cent statutory duty at the port was no longer working.
Rice is smuggled through the Republic of Benin’s various land borders and creeks.
In 2016 alone, Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) said it seized N597.7 billion of rice between January and August 2016 as against N330.5 billion seized in the same period in 2015.
Ogbeh lamented that the friendly relationship that existed between Nigeria and the neighbouring country was adversely affecting the nation’s economy.
He said the country was bent on destroying the economy of Nigeria and discouraging local production of rice, hence the need to shut down the border.
The minister said that shutting the border had become necessary to encourage local production and sustain the economy of the country.
According to the minister, the Federal Government, in the past two years, had succeeded in reducing rice importation by 95 per cent and increased the number of rice farmers from five to 30 million.
His words: “Our problem is smuggling. As we speak, a neighbour of ours is importing more rice than China is importing. They do not eat parboiled rice, they eat white rice, they use their ports to try and damage our economy.
“I am telling you now because in a few days, you will hear the border has been shut; we are going to shut it to protect you, us and protect our economy. You will start seeing all sorts of negative things on the Internet.
“Let me tell you why we need to shut the border. I grow rice, I was the first Nigerian to mill rice free of stones. If you plant rice in certain parcels of land, some poisonous materials get into the rice.
“There are three kinds of water in their natural state; there is fresh water from the river, salt water from the sea, blackish water. If you go to the Delta in many countries, in South East Asia where they grow the rice, if you plant rice in the same place like four to six years continuously, the quantum of arsenic begins to increase and arsenic causes cancer and that is what they are dumping rice for us.
“Some people say they prefer Thai rice because they are very sophisticated, welcome to poison.”
He noted that states like Anambra, Ebonyi, Kebbi, Kano, and Jigawa have taken advantage of the Anchor Borrower Programme of the Federal Government to upscale their rice production, and that such achievements will not be allowed to fizzle away through smuggling activities.
“We just have to handwork you to prosperity, otherwise this country will not grow. My wish for you is to have a better time that we had,” he said.
The President of GOTNI, Dr. Linus Okorie, commended the minister for sharing prosperity experiences with the youth.
Okorie noted that the leadership clinic was organised by GOTNI to expose young people to practical leadership principle for life success.
According to him, GOTNI is committed to changing the narratives of poor leadership in Nigeria by consciously developing the capacities of generational leaders.
“A lot of young people are asking questions, seeking answers to their questions, wish that they have an experienced person who will hold them by the hands and show them the way to achieve success.
“There are a few people that are readily available to do this; a lot of them are making decisions everyday on the basis of their limited exposure.
“If Nigeria must make progress, if we must consciously build the next generation of leaders, then we must expose these young people to experienced leaders that have gone ahead for a conscious transfer of knowledge and experiences,” he said.
Some of the youth, who spoke at the meeting, called for continuous mentorship from leaders, access to finance and low interest rates to assist them in businesses.
APC govs move against NWC members
…sponsor allies to unseat incumbent officers
Party leaders to submit Unity List on Friday
Panel disqualifies aspirants over age, education
Ahead of the forthcoming National Convention of the All Progressives Congress (APC), governors elected on the platform of the party have launched a fierce battle against members of the National Working Committee (NWC) in a bid to secure the national leadership of the party.
The state governors, New Telegraph learnt, have resorted to sponsoring rival candidates for the various positions where incumbent members of the NWC are seeking re-election.
The National Convention Committee has also disclosed that some of the 179 aspirants have been disqualified on account of age and educational qualification.
Seventeen of the 21 NWC members are seeking re-election to their current offices. Among those seeking re-election are the Deputy National Chairman (North), Senator Lawal Shuiabu; National Secretary, Mai Mala Buni; National Auditor, George Moghalu; National Women Leader, Hajiya Aisha Ramattu Tijjani; National Organizing Secretary, Senator Osita Izunaso and National Publicity Secretary, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi.
Others are the Deputy National Secretary, Victor Geidam; National Vice Chairman (South-West), Pius Akinyelure; National Vice Chairman (North-West), Inuwa Abdulkadir; National Vice Chairman (North-Central), Zakari Abdullahi Ede; National Financial Secretary, Tajudeen Bello; National Vice Chairman (South-East), Emma Eneukwu; National Vice Chairman (South-South), Prince Hilliard Eta and National Vice Chairman (North-East), Hon. Mustapha.
New Telegraph authoritatively gathered that part of the game plan to stop these incumbents would be for the governors to submit a Unity List of their favourite aspirants. The said list is expected to be submitted to President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday.
According to our source, the governors believe that since they had supported the President on his choice for the National Chairmanship of the party, the President should reciprocate the same gesture by respecting their choices.
President Buhari had asked the governors to support the former governor of Edo State, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole for the post of National Chairman and the governors have given their consent to this.
A party source revealed that those at the forefront of the campaign that the present NWC members must go are Governors Nasir el-Rufai (Kaduna), Rochas Okorocha (Imo), Abdullahi Ganduje (Kano), Yahaya Bello (Kogi) and Shettima Kashim (Borno).
The Imo State governor, it was learnt, has got a replacement for the National Organizing Secretary, Izunaso in the person of Chief Emma Ibediro, a former commissioner in Imo State.
Also, Okorocha is pushing for the replacement of the National Auditor, Moghalu and National Vice Chairman (South-East), Eneukwu.
Eneukwu and Izunaso are both from South-East. Izunaso is from Imo State.
Okorocha, speaking of Izunaso’s replacement recently, said: “It is folly to contend that experience in corruption and mastery of intra party electoral fraud and stealing of sensitive materials and congress result sheets are the only criteria to hold party offices in Nigeria. This is unacceptable and we reject the odious past,” he said.
The three NWC members from the South-East were among those that appeared before the Appeal Screening Panel chaired by the Imo State governor over petitions against them from the zone.
In the North-East, Governor el-Rufai is making all efforts to ensure that the Deputy National Chairman (North), Shuiabu, and National Vice Chairman (North-West), Abdukadir, did not return as NWC members.
El-Rufai has been in a running battle with the NWC members to the extent that the Kaduna State government had demolished Abdukadir’s house in Kaduna at a point.
The party source explained that El-Rufai had met with the President and other governors from the zone on the issue.
Also likely not to return as NWC members are the National Treasurer, Mohammad Gwagwawara and the National Women Leader, Hajiya Rammatu Tijjani. Their ambitions are being opposed by their state governors.
While Governor Ganduje believes that the National Treasurer is a loyalist of his political opponent in Kano, Senator Rabiu Kwakwanso, Governor Bello believes that the National Women Leader is a supporter of the late Prince Abubakar Audu’s political bloc in Kogi State.
The two state governors, according to the party source, have presented their case to the governors of their zones on why the aspirants should not be returned.
In fact, the two governors are said to have got replacements for the two offices. Bello wants Hajiya Salamatu Bawa to replace the Women Leader, while Ganduje wants Hon. Adamu Fanda to replace the National Treasurer.
Hajiya Bawa is a friend of a powerful figure in the Buhari’s administration.
In the North-East, the case is not different, as the Governor of Borno State, Kashim Shettima wants the National Secretary, Buni, to be replaced with Imam Kashim, a former presidential adviser. Buni is from Yobe State, while Kashim is from Borno State.
The candidature of Kashim is said to be supported by the National Leader of APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.
According to the party source, Tinubu wants all the NWC members to go.
Tinubu has not been happy with the NWC members since the outcome of the Ondo State governorship primaries that produced the incumbent governor of the state, Rotimi Akeredolu.
Speaking categorically on the plot, the source said: “The governors would produce the list of the members of the NWC and the only person that might come back is the one who is politically at home with his governor or the leader of the party in his state.
“There is no gainsaying that the governors control the party. As you can see, all the sub-committees are headed by them.”
Meanwhile, the APC National Convention Committee, yesterday, discarded the Unity List being planned by some governors of the party.
The committee discarded the list after its meeting in Abuja.
The meeting, according to a source, was meant for the chairmen and secretaries of the 12 sub-committees to brief the Convention Committee on the progress made so far.
Speaking with journalists after the meeting, a member of the media sub-committee, Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, said that the meeting was to appraise the works done so far.
According to her, the meeting agreed that there would be no Unity List of any sort, but that consensus would be allowed for aspirants.
She, however, disclosed that 20 out of the 62 aspirants for various positions in the APC NWC would be running unopposed while 42 others would be going for outright election.
Dabiri-Erewa said: “The meeting today (Monday) is about getting set for the convention which is going ahead as scheduled and is taking place at Eagles Square, Abuja.
“Screening has been done; there are 20 positions that are going unopposed. So, there are 42 positions to be contested. Some people were disqualified. For example, if you are 40 years and going for national youth leader, you know you will be disqualified or you don’t have requisite educational qualification.
“The bottom line is that this convention is going ahead. And we hear of the existence of a Unity List. This is not true, there is no Unity List. But of course consensus is allowed, affirmation is allowed. And of course, as I said, some people are running unopposed. There’s no such list as Unity List. If you see any list, it is a fake list.
“The election will be held, and it will be free, fair and credible.”
On the details of those that have been disqualified, she said the Appeals Committee was yet to submit its reports.
On funding, she stated that the committee had no problem of funding as they were making judicious use of the funds at their disposal.
“The APC government does not believe in waste of resources, therefore, we are making judicious use of the money we have got,” she said.
As APC goes for national convention
The ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) will this week elect its National Working Committee (NWC) members to run the affairs of party for the next four years. Since after the coming of the party to the centre in 2015, this is the first time it would be going for an elective convention.
The convention would mark the end of the Chief John Odigie-Oyegun era, having held sway in the last four years and nurtured the party from an opposition party to a domineering one at the centre, the National Assembly and 24 states of the federation.
The major task of the new leadership is to ensure that APC goes into the 2019 general elections as one formidable entity. The party is currently being threatened by internal strife, with many party members angered by the turn out of events at its state, local governments and ward congresses that have just been concluded.
From state governors to senators, House of Representatives members to other big players that have been edged out at the congresses at various levels, there is discontent at all levels.
From Imo, Rivers, Lagos to Adamawa, Kwara, Benue to other states, the assignment before the new leadership remains how to resolve all the crises generated by the congresses.
In Imo State, Governor Rochas Okorocha is holding the short end of the stick as far as the party machinery is concerned. The hope of Okorocha having his son-in-law, Uche Nwosu, replace him at the Douglas House appears to have gone up in smoke with the pulling off of the rugs from under his feet by contending forces in the state APC.
Okorocha is left with the option of staying in APC if persuaded by the new NWC or seek an alternative platform to realise his ambition for Nwosu, if not convinced.
It is almost a similar scenario in Rivers State where the APC group led by Senator Magnus Abe is almost on the edge, having been outmuscled by the faction led by the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi. Except something serious is done by the new NWC, Abe and his group might find reasons to leave the party.
By far, the most significant task awaiting the new APC leadership is keeping a section of the party, known as the New PDP (nPDP) within the party. The formidable group was part of those who wrecked PDP in 2015, when five governors and major forces of the then ruling party, left with others to join APC. Their exit from PDP was the death knell for the then ruling party.
Today, this group, save for Amaechi, are threatening to quit APC over what they termed unacceptable treatment in APC by the party. Currently, talks between APC and nPDP have broken down, with the group threatening to leave the party to another platform. The group is largely irked by the perceived continued humiliation of one of its leaders and Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, by APC government, the latest in the long line being the Offa armed robbery saga.
The problems within APC are legion. Even the National Chairmanship position, which ordinarily is assumed to have been taken by a former Governor of Edo State, Adams Oshiomhole, is not certain.
In the open, Oshiomhole has been endorsed by President Muhammadu Buhari, the National Leader of the party, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and some other governors.
But we are aware that some other interest groups are pushing for some other candidates, since they perceive Oshiomhole to be allegedly dictatorial.
We do not expect that there would not be splinter voices in any democratic organisation. We also do not expect that the new leadership would heal all the wounds, since there are varied selfish interests in a political party as large as the APC.
Similarly, we also know that even the best of solutions would not appease all angry members of the party. But we are convinced that whoever emerges as the national chairman of the party has the task of moving very swiftly, to save the party from forces threatening to pull it apart. We also expect the new leadership to ensure a more harmonious relationship between the executive arm and the National Assembly, which in the past three years has at best been frosty.
We see no reason why a Presidency and the National Assembly, both controlled by APC, would constantly embarrass the country with petulant and childish quarrels.
There is also the task of keeping the governors of the party in check, so that they do not become so powerful to destroy the party as happened to PDP. We believe very strongly that whoever emerges in the new NWC of APC has some serious jobs to do.
We also suggest that they borrow some leaves from PDP and the self-destruct button it pressed in 2015. APC is currently fiddling with the same button.
Unless an urgent effort is made to remove the fiddling hands from the button, it might be pressed same way PDP did in 2015 before the 2019 elections. We hope that APC will come out of its convention stronger, better and more prepared to govern Nigeria. The last three years, we assume, have been learning curves.
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