Confab procedure rules drafted, for adoption Monday • Group condemns delegates’ demand for extra allowance


Culled from The Guardian Mobile

Friday 21st March, 2014
AS delegates to the National Conference prepare to resume for serious business on Monday, the Secretariat has completed the draft of the rules for the modus operandi and course of action.

The Assistant Secretary, Media and Communications, James Akpandem, in a statement Thursday in Abuja said the “draft Rules of Procedure for the National Conference to delegates will enable them prepare for the debate, ratification and subsequent adoption on Monday, March 24, 2014 when the plenary resumes.”

Akpandem, who did not make clear what is contained in the rules, said it is expected that the delegates will adopt it and “when adopted, the provisions will form the official rules of proceedings for the Conference.”

The statement also noted that a copy of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria was also made available to delegates on Thursday as indicated during the inaugural sitting by the Chairman of Conference, Justice Idris Kutigi.

Other conference materials were also given to the delegates in suitcases with their names tagged on them.

Meanwhile, a former governor of Anambra State Chukwuemeka Eziefe, has urged the media to be objective in their reportage of activities at the conference, as he decried the report in some media that there was a “disputation on religious grounds.”

In a statement made available to The Guardian yesterday in Abuja, Ezeife who is also a delegate said “I was in the first meeting of the Conference on Tuesday, I am sorry for the patriotic Nigerians who must have been shocked and disappointed by the clearly negative reporting of the proceedings on Tuesday.

“The mood of the Conference can best be gauged by the thunderous applause which greeted Governor Segun Osoba’s suggestion that delegates should try to see themselves as first Nigerians. My surprise is the uniformity of the negative reporting,” he said.

Meanwhile, a civil rights group, Coalition Against Corruption Leaders (CACOL) has condemned alleged demand by some delegates that the Federal Government should pay allowances to their aides in addition to the huge personal allowances government is paying them.

The group in a statement by its Executive Chairman Debo Adeniran chided the delegates who he described as insensitive and being carried away by lust for material gains as against lust to seek solutions to the myriads of problem facing the country which formed the sole reason for their presence at the Confab.

CACOL said it was unfortunate that these delegates were making demand for extra allowance when some of their colleagues at the Confab like Tunde Bakare and Olisa Agbakoba had announced that they were forfeiting the legitimate ones government approved for them.

Reps tackle Okonjo-Iweala over missing N24b Police Pensions Fund

Adamu Abuh and Terhemba Daka (Abuja)

The House of Representatives has accused the Finance Minister, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala of misleading the nation on the alleged missing N24 billion Police Pensions Fund.

The House through its Committee on Public Account also accused the minister of using fake documents as a cover up to distance herself from the fraudulent act, restating its earlier position that the amount was actually missing.

Meanwhile, the House yesterday resolved to beam their searchlights on the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke for allegedly spending N10 billion to maintain a Challenger 850 aircraft at the expense of the public.

The House presided over by Aminu Waziri Tambuwal also passed another resolution mandating its Committee on Gas to investigate the alleged non-remittance of funds accruing from NLNG Bonny to the federation account from 2004 till date and make appropriate recommendations.

The Solomon Adeola Olamilekan-led committee thereby challenged the Finance Minister to a public debate over the matter.

At the resumed hearing on the matter yesterday, Olamilekan noted that the minister was either ignorant of the facts of the transactions or must have deliberately faulted the findings of the committee to mislead the nation.

In attendance at the committee’s session were the Director General of Pension Transitional Arrangement Department (PTAD), Mrs. Nellie Mayshak and her team, and the representatives of the office of the Accountant General of the federation.

Olamilekan noted: “We invited you people to appear before this honorable committee on this serious transactions involving tax payers’ money running into billions of naira and the new Director General of Pension Transitional Arrangement Department was honest enough to say that she just took over and that there was no document to back up the disbursement of the N24 billion.

“We further requested for more documentation in order to get to the root of the matter only for the minister to come up with a press statement that the money was not missing.

“We challenge her to a public debate where all the media houses will be present and will be live on all television stations, so Nigerians will know whether the N24 billion was missing or not.”

Continuing, Olamilekan (Lagos: APC) noted: “All these documents being brandished around in defence of the missing N24 billion are fraudulent, forged and fake and cannot stand the test of time.”

Olamilekan, thereby demanded for the statements of bank accounts detailing the inflows and outflows of the account which the money was lodged at the First Bank of Nigeria Plc, between 2009 and 2012, which must be duly signed by the bank as its officials might be invited by the committee to give evidence on operations of the account.

He further directed that all the relevant documents on the money to convince the committee that it was not missing should be brought before it on March 26, 2014.

The committee had faulted a Director in the office of the Accountant General of the Federation, Mr. Salau Suberu, who stated that following a directive that all unspent money should be returned to the treasury by December 31, there was a mop up on December 31st 2012 in the account of the Police Pension fund.

Suberu further informed the committee that as a result about N29 billion was mopped up and that the amount was diverted to finance other capital projects.

But the committee ruled that the submission was different from that of the Finance Minister who claimed that the account was frozen when it was discovered that it was in excess and was later paid into the Federation Account as unspent money.

The motion on the non-remittance of monies to the Federation Account was initiated by Aminu Suleiman (Kano: PDP) and Babatunde Adejare (Lagos: APC) who drew the attention of their colleagues to the issue. They claimed that the private jet is solely for Diezani’s personal use and those of her immediate family.

Moving the motion entitled “Urgent Need to Investigate the Waste of Resources on the Arbitrary Charter and Maintenance of a Challenger 850 Aircraft for Non-Official Use”, Adejare claimed that based on reliable evidence, the Petroleum Minister has been committing the sum of €500,000 (N130 million) monthly to maintain the aircraft.

The lawmaker, who described the act as appalling, further claimed that in just two years, the minister had committed at least N3.120 billion.

Stating that Section 88 (2) (b) of the 1999 Constitution empowers the National Assembly to expose corruption, inefficiency or waste, he claimed that the colossal waste is currently estimated at N10 billion, which include the payment of allowances to the crew for the trips, hanger packing and rent based on the lease agreement.

He described the expenditure as a clear violation of the Fiscal Responsibility Act and all other laws on fiscal discipline.

Canvassing the support of his colleagues, Adejare argued, among others, that “In these days of scarce national resources where public finance is shrinking in the face of ever increasing national needs such as roads, health, education and power, amongst others, an official of government could waste public funds on such luxury as chartering a Challenger 850 aircraft for extra official use; and “That in recent times, most states have been facing acute shortage of allocations due to dwindling national revenue, which has reduced the quality of governance and deprived the people of dividends of democracy.”

Shortly after Hassan Badawi threw his weight behind Adejare’s prayers, Tambuwal said there was no need dissipating energies on the issue since the Committee on Public Accounts is already probing the allegation.

He directed the Solomon Adeola Olamilekan-led committee to speed up the investigation and report back to the House within three weeks.

In his motion, Suleiman alleged that the NLNG had breached the provisions of section 162 Sub section 10 of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, that stipulates that revenue, which means any income or return accruing to or derived by the government of the federation from any source be remitted to the federation account.

Suleiman further alleged that the unpatriotic actions of those in charge of the NLNG Bonny from 2004 till date has resulted in loss of huge revenue that ought to be shared to all tiers of government from the federation accounts for both recurrent and capital development.

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