… as federal lawmakers drill her over other unauthorized spendings
The Acting Director-General of the Nigeria Pension Commission (PenCom), Aisha Dahir-Umar has been queried by the House of Representatives on how the finances of the government agency was managed. PenCom boss was accused of flouting the law by spending funds without the approval of the National Assembly.
According to the House of Representatives, the management of PenCom made it a habit of spending funds from the Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) of the commission without following due process as enshrined in the Nigerian constitution.
Funds spent without approval: The lawmakers disclosed that the management of PenCom spent N2,138,440,241.57 from the Internally Generated Revenue of the commission on ‘Admin Expenses’ without the approval of the National Assembly.
The commission was also faulted by the members of the House Committee on Pensions headed by the lawmaker, Alhassan Rurum, for disbursing N369,688,000.00 from the Commission’s Internally Generated Revenue on ‘Miscellaneous Expenses’.
PenCom’s numerous unapproved spendings include over N5 billion spent on the salaries of about 380 members of staff within the first eight (8) months of the year 2019 and the N731,477,627.90 spent on ‘Capacity Building Costs’, as well as N1,831,275,331.00 spent on ‘Operational and Monitoring Expenses’, all of which were not approved by the National Assembly.
Honourable Alhassan Rurum kicked against this pattern of spending at the budget defence session with Dahir-Umar and other members of the management of the commission.
Lawmaker approval not needed: According to the committee, PenCom claimed that the commission didn’t need the approval of the lawmakers. The excuse didn’t sit well with the lawmakers who said the management team of the commission must explain to the committee why it claimed that “it is the right of the Commission to start spending its Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) without further recourse to the National Assembly as soon as Mr President signs the Appropriation Act into Law, even when the IGR does not form part of the Appropriation Bill in the first place.”
In a report by The Nation, Dahir-Umar responded to the queries at the budget defence, but the lawmakers insisted on seeing the documents where approvals were given for the funds disbursed by PenCom; evidence of appropriation for the 2019 spending; as well as the cash flow analysis for the Internally Generated Revenue already spent by Monday, December 9, 2019.
HealthPlus crisis: Alta Semper directors reported to Police for trespassing
HealthPlus has made a formal complaint to the Police following its ensuing battle with Alta Semper.
Nigerian Pharmacy Chain, HealthPlus Ltd which is in a battle for control with private equity firm Alta Semper Capital took a new twist as Health plus reported Alta Semper directors to the police last week, as observed in a document seen by Nairametrics.
In a letter sent to the Assistant Inspector General of Police on the 25th of September, HealthPlus stated, “We had the presence of unknown persons around our head office locations.”
The locations stated were 4 HealthPlus branches in Lekki, Lagos.
HealthPlus stated further, “We are aware that there are unauthorized and illegal plans by certain persons to take over our company premises to steal sensitive company property and assets, and ultimately take over operations of the company”
The 4 persons mentioned by HealthPlus are; Zachary Fond and Ivan Genadiev (both Alta Semper Directors), Ernest Eguasa, CFO of company and an unidentified middle-aged white man.
Explore the Nairametrics Research Website for Economic and Financial Data
Niarametrics reported last week that HealthPlus Limited appointed Chidi Okoro as Chief Transformation Officer.
However, the announcement set off a chain of allegations and counter-accusations, including online media mudslinging with both sides trying to court public sympathy for who is in control of the company.
P&ID dispute: UK Court orders $200 million guarantee to FG
Nigeria’s Foreign Exchange Reserves was boosted after a London Court ordered the release of $200Million placed as security in the case against P&ID.
A London Commercial Court has ordered the release of a $200 million guarantee as security to be paid to the Nigerian government in the P&ID $10 billion Arbitral Claim.
This was disclosed in a social media statement by the Central Bank of Nigeria on Tuesday.
Nigeria's Foreign Exchange Reserves was this morning boosted by over $200Million when the London Commercial Court ordered the release of the $200Million guarantee put in place as security in respect of the execution of the much discredited P&ID $10 Billion Arbitral Claim.
— Central Bank of Nigeria (@cenbank) September 29, 2020
Nairametrics reported earlier this month that The Federal Government secured a landmark victory in its bid to overturn a $10 billion arbitration judgment award against it in a case against Process and Industrial Developments (P&ID).
The Court said that Nigeria has established a strong prima case that the contract was procured by bribes paid to insiders as part of a larger scheme to defraud Nigeria. He said that there is also a strong prima face case that the P&ID’s main witness in the arbitration, Mr Quinn, gave perjured evidence to the tribunal, and that contrary to that evidence, P&ID was not in the position to perform the contract.
In today’s statement, the CBN said, “Nigeria’s Foreign Exchange Reserves was this morning boosted by over $200Million when the London Commercial Court ordered the release of the $200Million guarantee put in place as security in respect of the execution of the much discredited P&ID $10 Billion Arbitral Claim.”
“The court also awarded a £70,000 cost in favour of Nigeria in addition to an earlier award of £1.5m.”
On January 31, 2017, an arbitration tribunal had ruled that Nigeria should pay P&ID, the sum of $6.6 billion as damages and breach of contract after a 2010 deal for a gas project in the Niger Delta part of Nigeria collapsed. The pre and post judgement accrued interest of 7% has seen the amount standing against Nigeria, rise to almost $10 billion, an amount that will be a serious dent on the country’s external reserve.
FG to revitalize rice farms in rice producing regions
The Minister stated that rice production is expected to increase as the government continues to revitalize rice farmers.
The Federal Government has stated that Rice Farms in Anambra State and other regions will be revitalized to boost rice production, create jobs and also improve the living standard of the people in the State and the region.
This was disclosed by the Minister of State, Agriculture and Rural Development, Hon. Mustapha Baba Shehuri, during the assessment of Federal Government Rice Farms/Mills in Omor and Umerum in Anambra State.
Given the importance of rice as a staple in Nigeria, the Minister stated that the Federal Government is taking steps to achieve self-sufficiency in rice production, and this is evident in the policies of the government in achieving food and nutrition security, import substitution and promotion of inclusive economic growth across all sectors of the economy.
Government Policy Interventions in Agriculture and Rural Development has helped to develop the rice sector, and these interventions include the provision of farm inputs such as agrochemicals, organic fertilizers, knapsack sprayers, planting & harvesting equipment such as reapers, mini combine harvesters, threshers at a subsidized rate in order to increase productivity.
The Minister added that these policies have not only increased the quantity of rice produced annually but interventions through the provision of modern rice milling machines to small/medium scale processors, has also helped to improve the quality of Nigeria milled rice to international standard.
However, Nigeria’s rice consumption still holds higher than production, but government interventions through myriads of policies have increased rice production from 4.8 million metric tons of milled rice in 2015 to over 6 million metric tons by 2019 with a huge reduction in the nation’s deficit. Hon. Mustapha Baba Shehuri explained that production is expected to increase as the government continues to revitalize rice farmers.
Shehuri said that ”the Ministry has established 23 Paddy Aggregation Centers nationwide to aggregate and store paddy. The centres were given to members of the Paddy Dealers Association of Nigeria (PRIDAN) under the public-private partnership arrangement”.
In like manners, there will be the dissemination of modern rice production and processing technologies, through capacity building of farmers and processors directly and also in conjunction with the international donor agencies such as Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), German International Cooperation (GIZ), International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), Competitive Africa Rice Initiative (CARI), AfricaRice.
He reiterated that the Ministry is currently responding to the challenges of food availability posed by the COVID-19 pandemic by supporting smallholder farmers nationwide with various inputs including certified seeds of improved varieties of food crops such as rice, maize, sorghum, wheat, orange-flesh sweet potato, groundnut cowpea, soybean, yam, as well as cash crops like cashew, cocoa, sesame, oil palm, gum Arabic. Others include herbicides, pesticides and agricultural machinery such as rice reapers, transplanters, power tillers motorized sprayers and processing equipment.
These interventions are expected to alleviate the effect of the pandemic on farmers and ensure that they keep producing food for the country.