The National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure (NASENI) on Thursday said it followed due process in awarding contracts to the tune of N480 million and purchase of a helicopter worth N49.5 million.
Mr Olusegun Ayeoyenikan, the Deputy Director, Information of NASENI, in a statement issued on Thursday in Abuja said that the agency complied with all financial regulations and procurement procedures in purchasing the helicopter as well as in awarding contracts.
It would be recalled that an anti-graft group, Corruption Practices Eradication Organisation of Nigeria (COPEON) in May, petitioned the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to probe alleged financial irregularities in NASENI.
The group urged the EFCC to prosecute the Executive Vice Chairman of NASENI, Prof. Mohammed Haruna for allegedly awarding contracts without due process.
The group also alleged that NASENI in 2015 fraudulently presented a 5KW kinetic hydro turbine for electricity generation to Gada hamlet in Akwanga, Nasarawa, as a research product of the agency.
However, the statement quoted the management of NASENI as refuting all the allegations.
The statement read: “In line with its mandate on reverse engineering, NASENI has awarded the contract for supply of a helicopter to Dynali Helicopter Company in Germany.
“The contract was approved by the NASENI Tenders Board (NTB) for supply of Complete Knocked Down components (CKD) of helicopter to fast track reverse engineering and the supervising authority was duly informed.
“Also in most international procurements, as in this case, production or manufacturing of components takes time because production commences only after orders are placed and this product is now ready for shipment.”
Ayeoyenikan explained that NASENI had a working Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Smart Hydro Power of Germany to domesticate its technology in Nigeria through which the Kinetic turbine was conceived, developed, installed and commissioned by the collaboration.
According to him, NASENI is not re-inventing the wheels in the development and has never claimed to have done so.
“Work is still in progress for full acquisition of this technology,’’ NASENI Deputy Director said.
Regarding alleged embezzlement of N24.7 million for purchase of complementary wood working machine in 2012 for Solid Minerals Machinery and Equipment Development Institute (SOMMEDI), Nasarawa, NASENI management insisted that due process was also followed.
“The contract was sponsored and paid for by the Nasarawa State government as part of its contribution toward the take off of the institute.
“The Nasarawa State government never complained about the implementation of the contract and the two machines are available for inspection at the institute in Nasarawa.
“NASENI had not violated or misappropriated any fund allocated to it,’’ he said.
The agency, while describing all the allegations as spurious and malicious, urged Nigerians to discountenance the contents of the petition.
NASENI insisted that all financial regulations and procurement procedures in award of contracts as set by Bureau of Public Procurement was followed.
“Therefore, the claim of the petitioner that Haruna awarded contract fraudulently or with fictitious claims without report of consultancy services can never be substantiated and payment could not have been permitted for uncompleted projects.
“The Executive Vice Chairman of NASENI, within the purview of financial regulations and the Procurement Act, does not have the power to approve any consultancy services above his approval limit.
“In giving out contract in NASENI, what is obtainable in Ministries, Departments and Agencies of government are all the same, and therefore, NASENI has not created a separate procedure for award of contracts.
“There are no cases of splitting of contracts in NASENI.
“All contracts awarded by NTB were in line with the 2007 Public Procurement Act as amended,’’ Ayeoyenikan said.
Edited by: Grace Yussuf
The Staff Union of Energy Commission of Nigeria (ECN) under the aegis of Association of Senior Civil Servants on Wednesday urged the Federal Government to rescue the country’s ailing energy sector.
The President of the association, Mr Promise Chukwu, made the appeal in an interview with the Nigeria News Agency in Abuja.
Chukwu urged the presidency to intervene in the current impasse between the staff union and management of ECN to sustain the gains so far recorded by the Federal Government in ensuring energy efficiency in the country.
NAN reports that the staff union had embarked on strike since June 19 to protest the reappointment of Prof. Eli Bala as the Director-General of the commission for a second term.
Chukwu said that the continued strike by the union was not intended to arbitrarily hold the commission to ransom or ground its activities, but to expose alleged corrupt practices under Bala’s watch.
He said that the inability of the commission to meet its mandate had made it unable to contribute its quota in addressing the challenges confronting the country’s energy sector.
According to him, another issue that needs quick intervention of Mr President is the controversial reassignment of supervision of ECN from the presidency to the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology (FMST).
“This is not only indefensible but at variance with ECN’s core mandates of which the FMST has very little to do with and also not in line with global best practice.
“Such placement can never enable the nation to reap the benefits of establishing and funding ECN which is to assist the presidency to monitor and evaluate the energy sector.
“The commission ought to feed the presidency with independent expert performance assessment and give adequate advice needed to develop the country’s energy sector.’’
He, however, urged the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to expedite action in investigating alleged mismanagement of the Lake Chad Basin project.
“The union had on June 27 petitioned the EFCC to specifically draw the attention of the public on the need for the anti-graft agency to unravel the corruption and mismanagement of international donor funded projects shrouded in secrecy.
“The Federal Government should unravel the mystery surrounding how African Development Bank Fund of about 975 million dollars Lake Chad Basin project was expended.’’
He emphasised the need for the Federal Government to set up a panel to investigate the alleged maladministration of the commission as well as issues affecting staff welfare.
“The doubt around the integrity and competence of Bala has provoked calls for full investigation of his score card,’’ Chukwu said.
NAN correspondent who visited the premises of the commission observed that activities were grounded as the striking workers engaged in discussions, prayers, dancing to music and playing of table tennis.
“The premises has remained without light as the power supply to the agency was cut off due to unpaid debts to Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC) and non-availability of diesel to power the generators,’’ Chukwu said.
The Director-General of the commission rebuffed the correspondent’s efforts to speak with him on the allegations.
Edited by: Omolade Michael/Grace Yussuf
Workers of the Energy Commission of Nigeria (ECN) have vowed to drag Prof. Eli Bala, the Director-General of the commission before anti graft agencies over alleged mismanagement of 975 million dollars.Mr Promise Chukwu, the Chairman, Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria, ECN Unit, told the Nigeria News Agency in Abuja on Tuesday that the amount was for the Lake Chad Basin project.
Chukwu said that there was need to unravel the alleged corrupt practice and other irregularities under Bala’s watch.
“It is imperative to specifically draw the attention of President Muhammadu Buhari and the public to the need to direct anti-corruption agencies to unravel the grand corruption and mismanagement of international donor funded projects shrouded in secrecy.
“It is important to particularly unravel the mystery surrounding how African Development Bank Fund of about 975 million U. S. dollars Lake Chad Basin project was expended.
“Similarly, millions of naira had been budgeted and squandered under the National Energy Data Bank project with nothing to show for it,’’ Chukwu said.
NAN recalls that the ECN staff union on June 19 embarked on an indefinite strike to protest the reappointment of Eli for a second term.
The union appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to reverse Bala’s reappointment and investigate him over alleged maladministration as well as flagrant indifference to public service regulations.
Chukwu further accused the D-G of continuously perpetrating deliberate unfair labour practices by refusing to implement agreements reached with the staff union.
“Another sad and pathetic reality the staff of ECN suffered under Bala for five years was his inability to create functional divisions, branches and sections within the technical department of the commission.
“He also failed to define job schedules for the staff as well as any form of mandatory career progression training required to bridge the large skills gap and manpower requirement to execute ECN mandate,’’ he said.
Chukwu emphasised the need for the Federal Government to set up an independent administrative enquiry to examine the capabilities of the members of the ECN management to address the labour-related issues.
The chairman said that the workers’ petition would be submitted to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on or before Friday, June 29.
NAN correspondent who visited the headquarters of the commission reports that workers of the organisation were loafing around during work hours.
While some of them danced to the music playing on the premises, some engaged in table tennis competition and others sat down at different locations discussing among themselves.
The protesting workers also had placards with inscriptions such as “EFCC Please Investigate ECN’s Financial Transactions in Project Account’’ and “Incessant Violation of Financial Regulations in Energy Commission of Nigeria’’.
All efforts to get the Director General’s reaction was unsuccessful.
Bala, through the receptionist, said “I will reach you when I need you’’.
Edited by: Bayo Sekoni/Grace Yussuf
Commonwealth Secretary-General, Patricia Scotland, has said Commonwealth assisted Nigeria in recovering of about three billion dollars within one year.
Scotland said this on Tuesday in Abuja when she visited the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama. She did not give specifics on when the money was recovered, from whom and how.
The Secretary General said the amount could not be compared to what the nation got in 10 years.The Secretary General said that amount could not be compared to what the nation got in 10 years. Scotland said President Muhammadu Buhari was very clear on the repatriation of the funds, saying that it is a matter of pride to the Commonwealth to have been able to assist Nigeria in getting her money back. “We were very proud in the Commonwealth when the President graced us by coming to the Tackling Corruption Together Conference in May, 2016, and he explained so graphically, the wisdom that comes from corruption. “And I don’t think anyone would forget. When they asked him, what do you want out of this and he said, I want my money back. I want my money back to the people of Nigeria. “And this has been a matter of great pride to us in the Commonwealth that we have been able to assist Nigeria in getting its money back and in one year. ”Nigeria has managed to get back more money than it has got back in 10 years before. “It recovered about three billion dollars. That is over five hundred billion naira. “And that is money that can go to schools and housing and roads and I hope that we will get even more money back together,” Scotland said. Scotland also commended the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for its fight against corruption in the country. She commended the EFCC Chairman, Ibrahim Magu, for the work he has done, expressing hope that it was just the beginning of the war against corruption in the country. “And I do applaud everything that the new commission is doing. “I was there to launch that building, fantastic building and I really applaud the acting chairman because of the work that he has done. “I am hoping that this is just the beginning and I pledge our continued support,” Scotland said. She thanked Nigeria for her generosity towards the Commonwealth and called for more support. In his remarks, Onyeama said anti-corruption was one of the three priority areas of the President. The minister expressed delight over the Commonwealth’s monitoring and supporting anti-corruption efforts, saying it was of high importance. He said Nigeria looked forward to having more cooperation and engagement with the Commonwealth, including funding. “We believe in the Commonwealth and we believe that the better funded it is, the more responsive to our needs it would be, ” he said.
Network of Innovators and Incubators in Nigeria (NINE), an ICT hub, on Tuesday called on the Federal Government to establish an agency to curb internet crimes in the country.
Miss Mercy Olorunfemi, the Business Operations and Programmes Coordinator of NINE made the call in an interview with the Nigeria News Agency in Abuja.
According to Olorunfemi, the porous nature of internet use in the country has contributed to the increase of internet impostors that dupe victims of their data and money.
“Nigeria doesn’t have an agency that monitors internet use, although we have something concerning hate speech but it is not enough.
“It will be needed to set up an agency to monitor internet usage, although some people will categorise it to be freedom of expression.
“The truth is if you look at it, it will curb online crime right now because of people doing e-commerce.
“There is a rise in the number of people being duped doing e-commerce. Criminals pretend to be stores online and they just want to take your data and sell or take your money and runaway,” she said.
She, however, added that the government could expand the job description of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to cover that of cyber crimes.
She recalled the recent global internet frauds that involved Facebook, saying that internet users should minimise the information they shared online.
The expert said in spite of the affordability of data, internet users should be cautious of their activities to avoid data breach.
“Facebook is free and right now you see a lot of sponsored adverts on it to suit the personality of the user.
“Those platforms have been able to gather data of an individual based on past activities of such person online.
“There is nothing such a person can do to protect it in the long run, because even if you don’t subscribe to certain news feeds, your information is there, they have your friends and know their likes.
“All those things they use it to build a virtual picture of who you are and what you like.
“People should minimise what they post on social media platforms, there are certain things that should be private.”
On the development of Nigerian ICT, Olorunfemi said that Nigeria was one of the countries in Africa that had been able to go deep in technology.
She, however, said that more needed to be done for the country to be in the global space with some other countries.
“We can’t compete with Silicon Valley because they already have Artificial Intelligence or Robotics, but we don’t have that.
“Technology is always changing and so we could actually learn a new language that is localised and suitable for Nigerians and encourages the use of African languages.
“Probably with that, we can develop something that is really big that will change Nigeria and Africa.”
Edited by: Grace Yussuf
The National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) says its Information Technology (IT) Clearance Portal for Ministries Departments and Agencies (MDAs) will correct anomalies in the IT sector.
Dr Isa Pantami, the Director-General, NITDA said this at the Sensitisation Workshop and Stakeholders’ Engagement on IT Project Clearance Portal and Draft Guidelines on Tuesday in Abuja.
“The IT Clearance Portal is a state-of-the-art website with intelligent analytics capability that will make clearance process more evidence based and transparent,’ he said.
The NITDA chief executive said findings carried out by the agency showed that many IT projects were poorly done from conceptualisation to planning stage.
Pantami, who was represented by Mr Kashifu Inuwa, the Technical Adviser on IT in NITDA, added that many projects were being done in silos, thereby, leading to duplication, waste and redundancies.
“I implore you to support NITDA as we strive to make IT procurement more value-added to all Nigerians, ‘’ he said.
He stressed the need for proper coordination as a major step to properly address the IT Projects Clearance initiative in MDAs.
“Our goal at NITDA is to use the IT Projects clearance process to correct the ills identified above and to further entrench IT product manufacturing and services in Nigeria.
“Our immediate plan is to automate the IT clearance process to make it more robust and efficient,’’ he said.
Pantani decried the apparent disparity between increasing budgetary allocation and expenditures on IT projects and services, saying the insignificant increase in automation of public services called for concern.
“It may interest us that about two billion dollars is being expended on IT projects on annual basis in the country, ‘’ he said.
Pantami commended President Muhammadu Buhari and the collaboration of sister agencies like the CBN, EFCC, Petroleum Equalisation Fund, and Bureau of Public Procurement for their support in the initiative.
He said the workshop was one out of the series of stakeholders’ engagements and sensitisations planned for the year to further get their inputs in NITDA’s quest to further enrich the draft guidelines.
“We had earlier engaged the Chief Executive Officers of MDAs on April 27 on the need to improve e-Governance and digitisation of government services.
“This event is targeted at the mid-level professionals in the MDAs. We will continue these engagements in the coming days.
“It is an obvious fact that technology is set to play key roles in the current administration’s change mantra, especially in the area of security and eradication of corruption in the economy,’’ he said.
Dr Usman Abdullahi, the Chairman, IT Projects Clearance Committee said the guidelines was to ensure among other things that there was integration of IT systems and services by MDAs, save costs, share services and improve efficiency.
He said the workshop was to sensitise all MDAs on the process of the guidelines, adding that any breach of the guidelines by any organisation was a criminal offence under sections 17 and 18 of the NITDA ACT of 2007.
Edited by: Constance Imasuen/Grace Yussuf
Two of every five youths of working age in Akwa Ibom are either unemployed or doing jobs not rewarding enough to escape poverty, a group, Youth Alive Foundation (YAF), has said.
“The youth unemployment crisis has become stubbornly persistent,” the Executive Director of YAF, Dr Udy Okon, told the Nigeria News Agency on Friday in Lagos.
Okon said that the unemployment rate made the group to initiate an advocacy which, she said, secured the support of the state Assembly.
She told NAN that YAF was seeking an enabling environment where youths could be advanced and become more productive through skill acquisition.
Okon said that the group was also seeking to redefine the roles of the Nigerian youth in governance and development processes.
“We create a platform for social, intellectual and spiritual development of youths through the electronic and print media, ” she said.
The executive director told NAN that YAF was implementing a Department for International Development (DFID)-funded project entitled “Increasing Youth Participation Against Corruption (YPAC)’’.
“This project is a five-year project which started in March 2017 and seeks to engage youths as active advocates in the fight against corruption through capacity building, behaviour change communications and civic engagement activities.
“Under the (YPAC) project, we are mobilising youths nationally to take action against corruption through a social movement campaign tagged “MadACT”.
“MadACT stands for Make a Difference Against Corruption Today.
“The movement is a social movement for change, real change,” Okon said.
She told NAN that in 2018, YAF would strengthen partnerships with ICPC, EFCC, NYSC, and youth groups to implement the YPAC project.
Okon said that the group planned to hold various activities for capacity building, behaviour change and civic engagement.
According to her, the activities would take place in Abuja, Lagos, Kano, Akwa Ibom and Rivers.
She told NAN that YAF had trained more than 4,500 youths in advocacy, gender mainstreaming and digital skills since inception in 2002 to positively engage them.
“The aim is to re-orientate the society about the need to invest and pay more attention to the youth,’’ she said.
Edited by: Ijeoma Popoola
The U.S. Government has pledged to continue its support to the anti-corruption crusade of the Nigerian Government and particularly to strengthen the EFCC in this regard.
The U.S. Department of State stated this at the Global Forum on Asset Recovery at Washington, D.C, co-hosted with the UK Government in demonstration of continued commitment to preventing and combatting corruption globally.
The event is being attended by Nigerian Government officials led by the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice Abubakar Malami and representatives of the Nigerian civil society organisations.
The department said since 2013, the U.S. government had provided foreign assistance to increase the Nigerian government’s capacity to investigate and prosecute corruption and financial crime cases, including asset forfeiture and anti-money laundering.
The state department added that its programmes also sought to bolster Nigerian civil society’s capacity to ensure transparency and accountability in government.
“Over the past three years, the United States has funded a project with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to mentor officials investigating and prosecuting money laundering crimes.
“These include on asset forfeiture and counter financing of terrorism, in addition to providing technical assistance to the Nigerian judiciary.
“We will continue to work with the EFCC to further strengthen EFCC institutional development,” the state department said.
The U.S. government funds the Open Government Partnership’s (OGP) Support Unit through a joint grant between the Department of State and U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).
They work with civil society and governments to develop commitments aimed at countering corruption and promoting transparency.
The U.S. also funded a project which led to the drafting of Nigeria’s OGP National Action Plan.
This was carried out through collaboration with EFCC, the ICPC, Nigeria Police Force, and several civil society organisations.
“The U.S. foreign assistance also supported outreach efforts through infographics and social media on corruption-related issues.
“These supports make public data from Nigerian anti-corruption agencies more accessible, and training Nigerian journalists on best investigative journalism practices,” the state department said.
According to the World Bank, over 20 billion dollars is stolen by corrupt officials annually.
The U.S. said: “This is money that should be used to ensure the sustainable development of these countries for essential services such as schools, hospitals, and roads.
“Rather than lining the pockets of corrupt officials, these funds should help grow economies and improve the well-being of the people of these countries.
“To help prevent and combat kleptocracy, U.S. assistance helps strengthen transparency and accountability within government institutions”.
Since 2016, the Department of State and USAID have dedicated more than 115 million dollars annually to a wide range of foreign assistance efforts to counter corruption.
These include capacity building of foreign governments to create stronger laws and more effective institutions; investigate, prosecute, and secure convictions for corruption offences.
Edited by: Sadiya Hamza
The National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) says it is collaborating with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to ensure that Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) comply with the clearance of Information Technology projects procurement.
Dr Isa Pantami, Director-General of NITDA, said this in a statement signed by Mrs Hadiza Umar, Head, Corporate Affairs and External Relations, in Abuja.
“In an effort to strengthen the IT Projects clearance process, Dr Isa Pantami, the Director General sought for the support of the EFCC.
“This is to sustain its fight against corrupt practices in IT procurements of Government Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs).
“Mr Ibrahim Magu, the EFCC Acting Chairman pledged the Commission’s support and indicated that they would comply with government’s directives in obtaining NITDA’s clearance for the Commission’s IT procurements and services.
“The commission fulfilled this pledge by subjecting its Information Communication Technology Security and Systems Infrastructure Upgrade project to rigorous scrutiny by NITDA’s IT Projects Clearance Committee.
“By this singular act, the EFCC has shown that it is not above the law thereby serving as an example to other government establishments,” Pantami said.
He also said that other MDAs should follow suit, adding that the agency was committed to the task as the government’s clearinghouse for all IT procurement and services.
The director-general recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari had at the opening ceremony of the eNigeria 2017 Conference recently held in Abuja, called for strict compliance to the directive.
The Nigeria News Agency reports that NITDA is an agency under the Federal Ministry of Communications charged with the responsibility to implement the Nigerian Information Technology Policy and coordinate general IT development, regulation in the country.
The agency also creates a framework for the planning, research, development, standardisation, application, coordination, monitoring, evaluation and regulation of Information Technology practices, activities and systems in Nigeria.
Edited by: Abdullahi Yusuf
Association of Movie Producers (AMP) have appealed to state governors to step up the fight against piracy to minimise the damage to the industry.
Mr Ralph Nwadike, its National President, told the Nigeria News Agency on Saturday in Makurdi that efforts by the Federal Governments would have more impact if states initiated laws to tackle pirates.
He regretted the losses AMP members had incurred owing to the activities of pirates, saying that the damage had become “unbearable”.
The official described pirates as “gangsters” that were “stealing intellectual works with impunity”, saying that their activities had driven some producers out of business while others had passed away.
He appealed to the Federal Government to invest into the creative industry to reinvigorate the economy, stating that capital injected into the creative industry would bring double returns.
Nwadike appealed to President Mohammadu Buhari to allocate part of the funds recovered by the EFCC to the movie industry so as to create jobs for the youths.
“Any investment into the creative economy will double its returns and expand the scope of the economy beyond expectations. The private investors are only waiting for government to lead the way.
“Let government invest at least N10 billion into the industry and watch how it will reap double that investment within a short period,” he said.
He advised government to obtain loans from the World Bank to support the industry because its multiplier effects were massive and far reaching.
Nwadike rejected suggestions that AMP members were involved in porn movies.
“Our members are disciplined; they follow professional ethics. No film producer will do pornography. Those who do it are interlopers who are not our members.”
He explained that films were censored by Films Censored Board and categorized for home viewing, and explained that such checks were enough to ward off interlopers.
Nwadike, who is in Makurdi to boost the activities of the Benue Nollywood week, which began on Nov. 17, commended the state chapter of the association for spearheading the drive for professionalism.
He appealed to Gov. Samuel Ortom to take advantage of the opportunities in the industry to invest in it so as to expand the Benue economy
Edited by: Ephraims Sheyin