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Pondei-led NDDC IMC transparent, accountable, says Group

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As Nigerians await outcome of the 2-day investigative hearing carried out by the Senate Ad-hoc Committee last week Thursday and Friday on alleged financial recklessness by the Interim Management Committee (IMC) of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), a group has debunked the claim of N40 billion scam levelled against the Commission.

The group which projects itself as Citizens Quest for Truth Initiative (CQTI) said as a non- governmental organization, concerned with development of the Niger Delta region through close monitoring of activities of intervention bodies such as the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) , the current Interim Management Committee ( IMC) of the commission is far more transparent in its operations, contrary to the accusation of squandering N40 billion.

President of the group, Obiaruko Christie Ndukwe,  at a media briefing in Abuja Saturday said the Professor Kemebradikumo Pondei-led IMC is not corrupt as being painted by those  who, according to her, “want the operations of the commission to be business as usual.”

“The Citizens Quest for Truth Initiative under my leadership has been monitoring the operational activities of the NDDC over the years as regards the core mandate given to the commission.

“I make bold to declare here that of all the management teams we have interacted with so far and assessed their activities on the field, the current IMC stands out in terms of accessibility to the people and communities in the area as well as transparency in contracts awards and executions.

“All the hues and cries being made by some vested groups against the current IMC are driven by nothing but fear of being cut off from their yearly loot.

“Rather than trying to pull down the incumbent management of the commission, they should by now be running from pillar to post on how to escape from shame awaiting them from reports of the ongoing forensic auditing ordered by President Muhamnadu Buhari,” she said.

She added that it was a lie from the pit of hell for anybody to allege that the Pondei-led IMC is working for the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio and not the people of Niger Delta region.

She said: “During the 2- day investigative hearing, none of the accusers and their cronies could substantiate any allegations to that effect.

“In fact, the public hearing exposed the hollow in all allegations levelled against Akpabio and the Pondei-led IMC and it is expected that they will allow peace to reign now in the commission for the desired development to start taking place in the Niger Delta region.”

 

Credit: Taiye Odewale

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Chinese Loans: Again, Eze assures no peril to Nigeria’s sovereignty

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Chieftain of the All Progressives Congress and erstwhile National Publicity Secretary of the defunct New People’s Democratic Party (nPDP), Chief Eze Chukwuemeka Eze, has again, allayed the fear that China may soon invade the country to take over critical national assets to settle Nigeria’s sovereign debts.

In a statement made available to media houses, Eze, who had earlier lent his voice against the viral misinterpretation of the loan clause to serve some whimsical interests said, there is need for proper public enlightenment and  understanding of the subject to save Nigerians the unnecessary trending kerfuffle.

Recall that China has also come out to deny any clause on the loan agreement transferring Nigeria’s sovereignty to her. This was made known by the Chinese foreign Ministry where the country denied imposing it’s will on the internal affairs of African countries. The statement equally debunked the rumour that China seeks selfish political gains in her development supports to African countries.

Going forward, Chief Eze  said the loan amount in controversy which stands at $500 Million is critical to the funding and completion of the 2000 Kilometers Port Harcourt – Maiduguri rail project (Eastern Rail Line), which he said is of cardinal importance to the city of Port Harcourt and the rest of the South/East.

The party Chief opined that the project which  connects Port Harcourt, Owerri, Nnewi, Anambra, Awka and Abakeliki also links Gombe and Yobe and will only provoke speedy economic acceleration. Chief Eze said halting the loan will amount to sheer wickedness and unfairness because the project, when completed, will generate jobs in massive hundreds to people of the South/East and some part of the South/South, improve the economies of states and generate revenue to the Federal and state governments of the South-East region, as well as Port Harcourt Yobe, Gombe and Maiduguri.

In further pacifying the panicky mode which citizens have been thrown into by the fictitious interpretation of a clause inserted in the loan agreement, the party chief said it is an Internationally and legally recognised standard of practice and referred Nigerians to his previous publication on the subject matter for better clarification, stressing that the country is safe and her sovereignty unshaken and intact.

Eze noted with grief, the high-tech politics playing-out to frustrate the plan of the APC led Government to revive the rail system within the three key regions of the country that could aid the country to revive it’s economy.

Without any doubt, every Nigerian is fully aware that the South South is the main sustainer of the economy of Nigeria through her resources, mainly Oil, while the South East is the major purveyor and engine oil through which the economy is sustained as the hub of the commercial activities of this Nation with the North East as the Food Basket of the country which if harnessed will not only feed the entire populace, but will also provide other means of raising resources apart from oil to sustain the economy and enhance sources of livelihood.

The importance of these regions that provides major resources that sustain the economy of this country and to the overall being of Nigeria need not be overemphasized so with few member of a cabal plotting to deny these regions the required loan to facilitate the provision of modern rail system already provided for the South West and some parts of the North Central and North West is not only unpatriotic but sheer wickedness.

One need not consult an economist to imagine the monumental loss Nigeria particularly, these regions will incur should this plot to deny these regions a modern rail system sees the light of day.

Eze highlighted that the South East is the commercial hub of Nigeria and require proper transport system to thrive economically. He posited that it will remain easier and cheaper  to smuggle shoes from Aba to Cameroon than any part of the North East without the railway system in the East. Eze expressed worries that the Igbos suffer all kinds of losses including robbery attacks, too much payment to police and customs in moving containers from Lagos to the East.

He reiterated that the East remains the largest producers of Palm oil in West Africa and to transport palm oil containers from East to other parts of Nigeria by road is a business killer plot.

He said any Nigerian patriot will definitely sob for the South South, South Eastern and North Eastern Regions, should the Chinese Loan to revive the rail system in these regions turns out a failure.

Eze appealed to the National Assembly not to fall into the hands of the enemies of the regions and support the Buhari’s Administration in its efforts to fulfill the APC Pledge to the Easterners by approving the Loan required in this regard.

Should this plot scale through, the party Chief said, the Easterners and North Easterners will  understand who their enemies are; not President Buhari, not  Amaechi but the cabal that wants to destroy Nigeria if their unholy plot to govern Nigeria come 2023 fails.

Similarly, the party chieftain quoted the  Debt Management Office as saying that the total value of loans taken by Nigeria from China as at March 31, 2020, was $3.121 billion. This represents only about 3.94% of Nigeria’s total public debt of $79.303 as at March 31, 2020. Furthermore, in terms of external sources of funds, loans from China accounted for 11.28% of the external debt stock of $27.67 at the same date. He said the report appropriately points that China is not a major source of funding for the Nigerian Government.

According to Eze and the DMO report, the afore-mentioned loans are concessionary loans, with interest rates of 2.5% per annum, tenor of 20 years, and a moratorium of 7 years.

He said Nigerians could get further details about the loan terms from the DMO website.

Further quoting the DMO, Chief Eze said total loans from China is $3.121 and are project-tied and listed some to include: The Nigerian Railway Modernization Project (Idu-Kaduna section), Abuja Light Rail Project, Nigerian Four Airport Terminals Expansion Project (Abuja, Kano, Lagos and Port Harcourt), Nigerian Railway Modernization Project (Lagos-Ibadan section), and Rehabilitation and Upgrading of Abuja-Keffi- Makurdi Road Projects.

As stated by the DMO, Eze said the impacts of these loans are not only evident but visible. For instance, the Idu-Kaduna Rail line has become a major source of transportation between Abuja and Kaduna.

Also, the new International Airport in Abuja, has improved air transportation for the populace, while the Lagos-Ibadan rail line will ease traffic on the busy Lagos-Ibadan expressway.

He called on Nigerians to support President Mohammadu Buhari and the Transportation Minister, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, to deliver more dividends to the Nigerian people.

Chief Eze Chukwuemeka Eze. APC Chieftain & former National Publicity Secretary, nPDP

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Ecobank Group announces the 2020 Fintech Challenge Finalists

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 Ecobank Group  today announced the finalists from  the 2020 Ecobank Fintech Challenge. The challenge, in its third edition, is designed to deepen collaboration between Ecobank and Fintechs with Africa focused products.

The 10 finalists Fintechs from 7  different countries, who emerged from a competitive pool of over 600 fintechs, will participate in an online Finale scheduled for August 21, 2020.

The 2020 Finalists are:

Always In-Touch Real-time ( South Africa), Fluid AI (India), Franc Group (South Africa), Growth Factor (Ghana), Leaf Global Corporation (Rwanda), Moja Ride (Ivory Coast), Nokwary Technologies Limited (Ghana), Papersoft S.A (Mozambique), Ukheshe Payment Solutions (South Africa), PayChap Technologies (Tanzania).

The Finalists  will pitch their products to a jury for the cash prizes for the  top 3, worth US$10,000, US$7,000, and US$5,000.  All the finalists will be enrolled into Ecobank’s Fintech Fellowship where they will spend the next 6 months exploring partnership opportunities which includes :

  • Multinational product roll out: An opportunity to pursue collaboration with Ecobank and possibly launch products in Ecobank’s  33 African markets.
  • Service provider partnerships: A chance to become a pan-African service partner to Ecobank for Fintechs with the qualities to become product partners and offer joint services with Ecobank
  • Mentoring and networking support:  Access to networking and mentoring opportunities within the Ecobank Group and its vast network of global and African partners
  • Integration with existing Ecobank digital offerings: An opportunity to potentially integrate with Ecobank’s existing digital offerings.

Eddy Ogbogu, Group Executive, Operations & Technology  said, “we congratulate the 10 Fintechs that have made it to the 2020 Finals. This is an impressive cast of innovators and we  look forward to the Final event where we will honour them and potentially build productive collaborations.”

The Ecobank Fintech Challenge is designed in partnership with the advisory firm Konfidants and is supported by partners across Africa and globally.

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The Claim on Palliatives is Baseless – Odili

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The Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, has refuted claims by the erstwhile Chairman of the COVID-19 Palliatives Distribution Committee of the NDDC, High Chief Sobomabo Jackrich, that N6.25 billion funds approved for the procurement and distribution of COVID 19 palliatives to the poor people of the Niger Delta region was embezzled by the Interim Management Committee, IMC.

The Commission in a statement signed by NDDC Director, Corporate Affairs, Charles Obi Odili and circulated to local, regional and international news platforms, journalists, editors and media practitioners stated that the allegation, “is another false claim orchestrated by the same forces who have been waging a campaign of falsehood against the Commission and its management since President Muhammadu Buhari ordered a forensic audit of the operations of the Commission in the past 19 years. Although the Commission is minded to ignore this claim, we have to respond to re-assure our stakeholders that the IMC is honest in the management of the common trust in their care.”

The statement went further to state the facts thus:

 

*High Chief Jackrich approached the Commission to work with it in different ways. He was then chosen to oversee the Committee involved in the distribution of the COVID-19 Palliatives to communities in the Niger Delta. The Committee was put in place to ensure transparency in the process.

 

*Immediately the constitution of this committee was announced, some of the

 

State Governors reached out to the Commission that they would have nothing to do with it. Instead, they demanded that the palliatives meant for their states be given to them. In fact, one particular Governor declined to give the permit to move the items during the COVID lockdown unless the Commission directly deal with his government in the matter.

 

*The Education, Health and Social Services Directorate (EHSS), which oversees the COVID-19 response raised a memo advising management to accede to the demands of the governors. The memo dated May 22, 2020 argued that in view of the need to collaborate with state governments in the Niger Delta, the management should grant approval for state directors ‘to liaise with their respective state governments, on behalf of the Commission in drawing up a programme for the flag off and donation of the COVID-19 Palliative items in their respective states.

 

*On May 23 2020, management approved the request of the EHSS directorate. As a result of this approval and the change in policy, the task of the High Chief Jackrich Committee became redundant. This means the High Chief was no longer and could no longer be involved in the direct distribution of the Palliatives. This also means he could not have accurate information on the exercise.

 

*As at today, none of the nine state governments has denied receiving its own share of the food items for distribution under the COVID-19 Palliatives programme.

 

*The bulk of Mr. Jackrich’s petition dwelt on the refusal of the IMC to pay him a humongous amount of money for being Chairman of the Committee. This has led to this blackmail.

 

It needs be stated that apart from the palliatives distribution to vulnerable people, the COVID-19 Intervention of N6.25 billion approved by President Buhari had two other components: the procurement of medical kits and a public sensitisation campaign. The following medical kits were procured:

  • 27 trilogy 202 ventilations,
  • 65 ECG Machines,
  • 54 RT PCR Machines,
  • 18 APC smart digital UPS 5KVA,
  • 36 infra-red thermometers,
  • 18 double jar suction machines,
  • 18 Fluid warmers,
  • 18 multi parameter patient monitors,
  • 94 standard ICU beds,
  • 95 oxygen cylinders,
  • 95 oxygen masks,
  •      95 infusion pumps,
  • 18 mobile X-ray machines,
  • 18 mobile ultrasound machines,
  • 18 mobile dialysis machines,
  • 18 arterial blood gas machines,
  • Sanitizers and syringe pumps.

According to Odili, all the procured equipment have been distributed to the nine Niger Delta states and received by the state governments.

“Beyond COVID-19, this intervention has boosted the health care delivery capacity of the nine states. We are grateful to Mr. President for this intervention, which has saved lives in the region” Odili declared.

Charles Obi Odili

Director, Corporate Affairs

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