Acting Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Prof. Kemebradikumo Daniel Pondei, has listed some contracts the commission allegedly paid for under duress before its 2019 annual budget was approved.
Pondei who alleged that some lawmakers, especially members of adhoc Committees have held the Commission hostage over the years with the annual budget approval, also disclosed that they were arm-twisted to pay for some contracts that “were never done or sometimes, never completed.”
In a statement released by his Special Adviser on Media, Edgar Ebigoni, the contracts and benefiting firms were listed as follows;
Kith Global Ventures Ltd; Remedial Works at New Ogorode Roads Lot 3, at the cost of N493,684,169.00 and paid on the 17/03/2020, 301 Constr. Ltd; Remedial Works at Nja Road to Akoku Uno Lot 1, at the cost of N350,027,919.80 and paid on the 17/03/2020. Cracked Stone Constr. Ltd; Remedial Works at Ajaolubeti Road Environs Lot 2 at the cost of N394,010,952.10 and paid on the 17/03/2020. Collincrystal Energy Ltd; Emergency at Benin Township Road Lot 7, at the cost of N 431,053.035.20 and paid on the 17/03/2020. Collincrystal Energy Ltd; Emergency at Benin Township Road Lot 3, at the cost of N361,357,276.20 and paid on the 17/03/2020 and Grapik Ltd; Emergency at Umudee Internal Road, at the cost of N207,673,107.70 and paid the 17/03/2020.
Others were, Southland Constr. Ltd; Remedial Works at Umuduru Chukwu Umuorlu Road, at the cost of N518,409,089.30 and paid on paid on the17/03/2020. Southland Constr. Ltd; Remedial Works at Umuduru, at the cost of N519,949,949.10 and paid on the 17/03/2020.
Grandfox Global Services Ltd; Emergency at Ope Road Okigwe LGA, at the cost of N580,438,578.00 and paid on the 17/03/2020. Collincrystal Energy Ltd; Emergency at Benin Town Road Lot 6, at the cost of N348,853,184.60 and paid on the 7/03/2020 and Crism Constr. Building Ltd; Emergency at Eziama Osuama International Roads Isiala Mbano LGA, at the cost of N561,592,377.80 and paid on the17/03/2020.
Also paid were, Argento Ltd; Emergency at Benin Township Road Lot 4, at the cost of N382,805,411.60 and paid on the 18/03/2020. Two Rocks Cont. Ltd; Remedial Works at New Ogorode Road Lot 4, N500,875,848.00 and paid on the 18/03/2020. Elkan Zibson Ltd; Emergency Repairs of failed and unmotorable sections of Ezumoha Internal Roads Isiala Mbano LGA, at the cost of N531,150,414.29 and paid on the 19/03/2020. Cracked Stone Constr. Ltd; Remedial works on Failed and Unmotorable sections of Benin Township Road Lot 8, at the cost of N417,806,787.01 and paid on the 19/03/2020. PDH Global Logistics Ltd; Emergency Repairs of Failed and Unmotorable sections of Umuezuo Umuagbavu Road Remedy Failed and unmotorable sections of Chikwe Orlu Street Environment, at the cost of N543,247,587.35 and paid on the 20/03/2020. Aritel Oil and Gas; Remedy Failed and Motorable sections of Chikwe Orlu Street Environment, at the cost of N550,100,132.34 and paid on the 24/03/202.
Dis Concept and Solutions Ltd; Urgently Remedy Failed and Un motorable sections of Jessy and Jenny Road off peter Odily Road PHC, at the cost of N476,794,367.22 and paid on the 26/03/2020. Ogugo Concept and Solutions Ltd; Emergency Repairs of Failed and Unmotorable sections of Environs Yenagoa LGA, at the cost of N300,029,695.14 and paid on the 26/03/2020. Webster Global ventures Ltd; Instruction of emergency Repairs of failed and unmotorable sections Benin Township Road Lot 2 Oredo LGA, at the cost of N357,242,054.35 and paid on the 26/03/2020. Webster Global ventures Ltd; Remedial Works of Failed and unmotorable sections of Akuku Illah Road Oshimili North LGA, at the cost of N 463,489,890.13 and paid on the 26/03/2020 and Webster Global ventures Ltd; Remedial Works of failed and Unmotorable sections of New Ogorode Road Lot2 Sapele LGA, at the cost of N 466,416,380.71 and paid on the 26/03/2020.
The statement added;
“This blackmail scheme explains why the 2019 Budget of the NDDC was passed by the NASS Committee in March, 2020”, adding that, “we are talking about a budget that was billed to expire in May, 2020. This implication is that the management of the NDDC had only five weeks, to implement the budget of one fiscal year, and present a performance report on the same budget.
“This scheme has continued to play out, because as at this Month of August 2020, the budget of the NDDC for the 2020 fiscal year has not been passed by the Joint National Assembly Committee on NDDC. Sadly, nobody seems to care to ask questions because people are falling for the well-scripted smokescreen playing out in the two Chambers of the National Assembly.
“This document, is among the many others tendered before the NASS Committee, which never saw the light of the day, and which the NDDC Committee were never allowed to speak on, when they eventually appeared before the Committee, during the public hearing. It was based on this evidential claim that the IMC of NDDC staged a walk-out, on the first day they were to testify before the Committee.
“The details of this list can be verified from the Central Bank of Nigeria, through a Freedom Of Information (FOI) request.
“Indeed, the same allegation informed the reason all well-meaning Nigerians urged the Committee Chairman, Hon. Tunji-Ojo to recuse himself from the Chairmanship of that hearing. This is in keeping with the Nemo judex in causa sua, which is a Latin phrase that upholds the principle of natural justice that no one can judge a case in which they have an interest”.
“It is very unfortunate that against all objective appeals and moral persuasions, Hon. Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, alongside some other accused members of the House Committee on NDDC, proceeded to hold a public hearing, which was initially slated for two days, being the 15th and 16th of July 2020, but which effectively ran till 20th of the month, only for him to decide, at his own pace and time, to recuse himself from the hearing, on the last day, an action which cast a dark shade on the entire public.
“This is because, the same reason for which he recused himself on the last day was enough for him to steer clear from the matter, ab initio. The foregoing points to a clear fact that the Committee set out to do a bidding, that was never in the interest of the public. They obviously needed a public hearing to tell the public what they wanted the public to hear, rather than the facts of the matter.
“The Spokesperson the House of Representatives, Hon. Benjamin Kalu, on a National Television Programme, recently, admitted publicly, that Contractors often approached Chairmen of the House Committees and the members, to use their office to compel MDAs to pay them. This definitely should be the new height of the abuse of the oath of office they swore, not to allow their personal interest interfere with the discharge of their official duties.
“Recall that since these allegations were first made by the Acting Executive Director, Projects, Dr. Cairo Ojougboh on National Television, Hon. Olubumni Tunji-Ojo has not deemed it fit to discountenance the allegations by way of a law suit”.
DRC gets $7.5m additional US aid to combat Ebola
The United States, through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), is providing more than $7.5 million in additional humanitarian assistance to help end the 11th outbreak of Ebola in Équateur Province in Northwestern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The funding also will support Ebola survivors and maintain a rapid-response capacity in Eastern DRC, where the DRC’s 10th outbreak, also the second-largest outbreak of the disease in history was declared over in June 2020. The U.S. Government remains the DRC’s principal partner in countering Ebola: USAID has provided nearly $350 million since August 2018, including for preparedness and response activities in the DRC and neighboring countries. The funding announced today is in addition to contributions from other U.S. Departments and Agencies and the U.S. private sector.
Through USAID’s NGO and UN partners on the ground, the United States is scaling up to providing life-saving assistance in Northwestern DRC’s Équateur Province, where a new outbreak of Ebola was declared on June 1. This assistance includes support for the deployment of rapid-response teams to remote areas, surveillance for cases of the disease, and treatment facilities. Additionally, this assistance will help survivors facing stigmatization, as well as fund continued engagement with communities on prevention and post-outbreak training on safe and dignified burials.
The U.S. Government is the largest-single bilateral donor to the response to Ebola in the DRC. U.S. support and expertise played a major role in helping the Government of the DRC and its partners bring an end to Ebola outbreaks across the country, including the recent epidemic in South Kivu and Ituri Provinces. USAID’s Disaster-Assistance Response Team, made up of disaster and health experts, continues to work with the U.S. Embassy in Kinshasa, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, humanitarian partners, and the Government of the DRC to help contain the latest outbreak and bring it under control.
Stopping the spread of Ebola requires a concerted, unified effort from the international community – all in close partnership with the Government of the DRC and affected local populations. USAID strongly encourages other donors to provide additional financial and technical support to help end the outbreak in Équateur Province.
NISS: Driving Change Agenda in Security Agencies
By Afakriya Gadzama
One of the major achievements of the President Muhammadu Buhari Government is upgrading of the National Institute for Security Studies (NISS) to enhance its role in enhancing inter-agency cooperation, building the capacity of security organizations and eliminating practices that are incompatible with the rights of the citizenry.
The decision was apparently informed by glaring inadequacies and rivalry among security organizations that undermined collective efforts to have seamless cooperation and effective coordination between stakeholders in the national security system. It was very critical to have an Institute where the intelligence, security, military and paramilitary organizations could interface and share ideas towards common operational culture.
The National Institute for Security Studies was also to address the diverse and often conflicting doctrines, approaches and understanding in security practice by providing a medium for interaction and forging better formal and informal understanding in handling security and related challenges. When the Institute came on board through the 2019 Establishment Act, inadequacies and anomalies in the security architecture and practices could subvert a unified approach for tackling security challenges in the country. It was considered imperative to have an institutional framework that will bridge the gaps and divergent positions on dealing with common security challenges. There could not have been a better time to have such an Institute than now when the country faces myriads of security challenges. The need to have an institute that will address lack of capacity among those being prepared to hold command appointments was a matter of urgency. The core mandates of the Institute include addressing perceived leadership inadequacies among those holding command appointments.
A major inadequacy in the security, defense, law enforcement and paramilitary organizations in the security sector is lack of sufficient grooming of those aspiring to hold command appointments. The National Institute for Security Studies was charged with addressing leadership inadequacies and ineptitude in those heading security and related organizations. The Institute was without doubt a child of necessity with responsibilities similar to those of the National Defense College and the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies, Kuru Jos. The NISS is also charged with preparing commanders and directors to fit leadership models suitable for effective response to contemporary security challenges. The upgrade of the Institute for Security Studies to a National Institute was informed by the importance of a well-informed perspective, mindset and knowledge supportive of the nation’s nascent democracy and operational effectiveness in emerging security commanders.
After a long period of military rule, it was necessary to initiate significant changes in security management that are in consonance with democratic practices. The Institute promoted a new orientation and best practices in security management by continuously urging participants to avoid attitudes and practices of the past in order to fit into the change agenda and discard the use of unbridled force, abuse of human rights and corruption. The NISS has been a major driving force in the change and democratization processes in the country by adopting re-orientation of mindset of security operatives and related professionals as core areas of study. The NISS also inculcates in course participants the importance of intelligence, integrity and civility in security and crime management by exposing them to best practices in security and intelligence management, drawing extensively from the experiences of other countries and this has been valuable in the change process promoted in the Institute. The Institute also enhances the knowledge of course participants by taking them on foreign studies tours and giving them lectures in comparative studies. The NISS has dedicated lecturers who are very determined to take it to world class level and this has worked in its favour, although much still needs to be done to recruit experienced scholars conversant with contemporary security practice.
The vision of the management of the Institute is to draw from the knowledge and experiences of experienced academia and security intelligence officers especially those who have held top positions. Ministers, governors and heads of government agencies and departments who are interrogated on challenges undermining efforts to address security and development challenges deliver lectures at the NISS. Studies by course participants and interactions with governors have drawn attention to nagging security and development challenges. The Institute focuses on challenges of governance as core areas of study and participants and their study tour coordinators make recommendations to state governments and organizations. The Institute is emerging as a source of valuable contributions in policy decisions that could help stabilize the polity and achieve development objectives.
The NISS also conducts research into topical security challenges facing the country and the sub-region during which participants get lectures and conduct research into major security challenges and why they persist at national and global levels. The research covers challenges of poor leadership, governance and extremism in the country, complemented with studies on institutional and leadership failures. Lectures and research papers also cover proliferation of dangerous weapons, drug addiction, illegal migration, sub-regional challenges and threats that undermine development and change. The Institute provides avenues for exchange of ideas on harmonization of divergent operational approaches in managing security threats and critical intelligence in security practice, avoiding intelligence failures in crises and failure to appreciate intelligence in conflicts. Terrorism, armed banditry, militancy and religious extremism are other important areas of research in view of prevailing situations in the country, as well as sabotage and attempts to delegitimize leadership and governance interest, negative consequences of sectionalism, religious bigotry and promotion of sundry parochial interests and sentiments.
The Institute has recently hosted seminars and lectures on challenges of governance, leadership, and support for the country’s quest for stable democracy. It has also been at the forefront of promoting a paradigm shift predicated on the centrality of respect for human rights and good governance because effective security is only obtainable where the interests of the citizenry and those who lead are in harmony. The perspective of security as the aggregation of all interests is given prominence in lectures and the shift in emphasis from regime protection and preference for the use of force to meeting the aspirations of the citizenry are considered fundamental in understanding critical components of national security. In addition, the Institute frowns at the incursion of deception, playing to the gallery and sycophancy in security practice. Participants are encouraged to cultivate the culture of being frank, truthful and honest to those in the position of authority. The challenges of elections and democracy in a changing environment with emphasis on attitudes, factors and tendencies that undermine the growth of democracy and development also come under focus in the Institute’s concerns for stable democracy, credible election processes and patriotic leadership.
Major stakeholders in the conduct of elections including the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the security organizations and political parties are invited to deliver lectures. The Institute has facilitated exchange of ideas on corruption in recognition of the fact that corruption has socio-economic and political implications on and national growth and progress. The mandate of the National Institute for Security Studies is well thought out to meet security, development and leadership demands and overcome challenges of our time with particular focus on reorientation, remodeling and changing the mindset of personnel especially those holding Command appointments. Going by its achievements so far, the Institute remains on course despite disruptions of its programme by the Covid-19 pandemic and lack of funds for the successful take-off of some of its programmes and qualified manpower. Afakriya .A. GADZAMA OFR, mni Chairman, Governing Board of the National Institute for Security Studies.
Enugu State Government and the Quest for Growth
…with a special focus on rural development and the execution of feasible policies)
Enugu State got recently recognized in the National news as one of the top six states of the Nigerian Federation surviving on its internally generated revenue. This news sparked off debates among people from resident citizens to political stakeholders and diaspora communities straddling the fence in either support or opposition
The management of funding in Nigerian states is an ongoing uphill task, as evidenced by the low number of 6 out of 36 states that survive without the monthly federal allocation and reflects a major achievement by the Enugu State government.
This feat is due to the combined efforts of the leaders who have shown consistency in pushing and prioritizing top policies that positively affect the state both in real-time and future long term.
Right from the inception of the fourth republic in Enugu State in 1999, Enugu continues to recover from the history of military-style administration and repression which has existed for over two decades. There have been noticeable improvements in the state’s administration that continues to date in the Ugwuanyi’s administration.
In Enugu State, Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi popularly addressed by the moniker, GburuGburu is the third democratically elected governor since 1999 who came into power in the 2015 general elections, after he defeated competitors to emerge as the winner.
He was sworn into power to succeed Governor Sullivan Chime on the 29th of May 2015 at the Michael Okpara Square, Enugu.
On resumption of duty, he instituted his cabinet and members of the current administration. Subsequently, they continue working to grow and build the state with a special focus on rural development and the execution of feasible policies.
In addressing the varied policies of the Enugu State government that strives to impact all the sectors of the state ranging from education, business, and security among others. From the court of public opinion, these policies rank on different levels of effectiveness with positive and negative responses. We explore the verifiable facts on ground.
Enugu State Policies
As earlier mentioned, the policies of the state government have been varied and cover most sectors of the state’s economy. The most important of these policies which are highlighted below are those that have positively impacted the standard of living and quality of life for Enugu State’s residents and indigenes.
One wonderful aspect of the democratic government since 1999 is its continuous focus on human capital development with the policies on:
The most important policy that shows governance focus is its provision of affordable and quality education for the children and youth populations. “Education is a weapon through which people can become better or fight subjugation” – Nelson Mandela.
The Enugu State Government is continually funding, expanding and improving access to quality education. By making basic education relatively free and affordable, the state literacy rate has risen to nearly 89%.
This was done by broadening the foundations set by past governments for public schools through the provision of over 50 new classrooms and the renovation of more than 150 old classrooms across several of the public schools scattered through the entire state.
Furthermore, the government of Ugwuanyi, in a bold and unprecedented move to close out competence gaps, also employed an additional 2000 teachers who were posted largely to rural areas.
The consistent payment of teachers’ salaries, building new classrooms, provision of numerous school supplies, students’ scholarships and staff training are among some of the ongoing measures been driven by the government to improve literary levels within just the Basic Education level. Complementary efforts in secondary, tertiary and adult education levels would be examined in the future.
- Business Development/Investment Attraction
The ease of doing business in Enugu is another aspect that has borne fruition due to efforts by the current administration. The Ugwuanyi led government has fully improved the available resources and facilities that help establish businesses. With Enugu State’s huge available workforce that allows interested parties to tap into available markets. For instance, ICT which holds more than 20% of the world market share and is currently the largest biggest sector worldwide has risen in Enugu with organizations like the Genesys Tech Hub and TechX Innovation Hub who have set up headquarters in the state to train skilled software developers and programmers with support from the government.
The government also established the SME center that connects young people and small-scale businesses to entrepreneurial opportunities. This center provides loans at minimal rates to small scale businesses and conducts training for skilled and unskilled participants interested in setting up businesses.
This focus on business drivers for the state is sure to yield positive results as these SME startups begin to set up, grow and expand in the future.
Moreover, there exists low, effective and transparent taxation, good security and accessible road networks that help boost businesses within the state.
Despite the set governance limitations in not getting directly involved in the establishment and running of industries, the Enugu government seems to have largely focused on creating a more secure and business-friendly environment to encourage private-sector investments.
- Skill Acquisition Programs/Youth Empowerment
Youth unemployment in Nigeria has reached crisis proportions and Enugu is also affected by this national issue. Although the resident youths are vibrant, skilled and intelligent, too many remain unemployed or under-employed and poses a challenge for the government. This crisis is being managed with targeted collaborative efforts to provide skill acquisition programs as well as offering business aid to young entrepreneurs. This is evidenced by the over 400 traders who are beneficiaries of the popular Ugwuanyi market traders’ initiative, promos and grants.
The health status in Nigeria is another area of national crisis and this has been brought to light with the ongoing COVID 19 pandemic. At the State level, Enugu is better suited in comparison to neighbouring states in the South East region in the management of health care with reports of coordinated efforts by the government in managing the pandemic.
Under primary and tertiary health care, there are over 360 primary health care centres, 35 cottage hospitals, several district hospitals, and this is topped with the State university teaching hospital, Parklane.
The current government has consolidated on the achievements of the past governments by building new clinics and hospitals alongside improving health infrastructures for existing ones.
The government continues to prioritize the health system of the state to meet the needs and demands of public healthcare which takes a huge chunk of the state’s funding and budget.
This support is further reflected through its offering of free antenatal care and treatment of children under 5 years and free treatment for special cases like HIV and Tuberculosis.
There are ongoing studies in academia on the impact of these health infrastructural developments in the health statistics of the state and these will likely be explored in the future.
“Good roads breed good development”. This oft-quoted phrase perfectly describes the status of roads within Enugu State. Considering the cost implications, yet building public roads is one major infrastructure that the state government continue to invest.
The efforts by the Ugwuanyi’s government in constructing roads that cover most parts of the state to connect rural and urban areas has been extensively extolled.
These roads have given the impacted rural communities a sense of belonging and pride in their state. With farming as the major occupation for most rural indigenes, the improved transportation routes ensure agricultural produce are less likely to perish. Thus food items are easily processed, effectively supplied and made accessible to the public at affordable market worthy prices without complications.
A cursory examination of the human interest perspectives will provide numerous anecdotal evidence as this focus on rural communities has strongly impacted the state’s agricultural industry growth.
The final aspect worthy of commendation is the management of security within the state. Across the years, successive governments have enacted policies and procedures that help boost the security levels in the state.
Recently, the government created the Enugu State Neighborhood Watch that works in tandem with community policing and this has reduced the crime rate in numerous communities.
Furthermore, with public outcry and complaints about herdsmen invasion of the state’s forests and farmlands, the Enugu State government created and continues to finance Forest Guards who help police the state’s lands and their efforts have helped immensely.
Also, the government set up channels of communication through the aid of community stakeholders to foster bonds among the Hausa and Fulani migrants where they encourage self-monitoring in these communities to help security agencies fish out deviants who try to threaten the peace.
Finally, the Ugwuanyi’s government has constantly provided automobiles such as cars and trucks from local suppliers like the Innoson Group for the state security agencies to aid their monitoring and safety measures.
Despite these highlighted good policies being driven by this administration, it is not without criticism.
As this administration focuses on improving Enugu State’s capacity, there are some decisions in need of execution to ensure consistent progress.
For instance, in their attempt to get effective government delivery to the people and manage public expectations, the state spends a large part of its funding in employing civil servants and managing political stakeholders. Too many people seem to be the government’s payroll.
Besides, constant acquisition of some non-essential items like cars for public convoys seems to take a toll on the state’s finances. The governor and other politicians need to reduce the number of cars in their convoys and stop buying more.
Lastly is the defensive way most of the government’s criticisms and decisions are handled. Too often, politicians with personal interests, who sometimes are in the same ruling party seem to constantly be on the attack.
Honest and constructive criticism is good for the development of the state, but malicious attacks without evidence seek to divide the state and create bad public opinion among the citizenry.
This distracts the people in government and can better be managed by sharing more stories, facts, figures and information of the collaborative efforts they take in reaching decisions that affect the public.
Adopting these suggestions will help all who are working towards the state’s peace, unity and development.
Edited by Ese Okereka