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Business

SERAP gives FG 7 days to disclose details of payment of N729bn to 24.3m Nigerians

SERAP has asked the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs to publish details of proposed payments of N729 billion to 24.3 million poor Nigerians.

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Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has asked the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disasters Management and Social Development, Sadia Umar-Farouk, to publish details of proposed payments of N729 billion to 24.3 million poor Nigerians for a period of 6 months.

The non-governmental organization also wants the government to provide details of the mechanisms and logistics for the payments, list of beneficiaries, how they have been selected, projected payments per state and whether the payments will be made in cash or through Bank Verification Numbers or other means.

This disclosure is contained in a statement that was issued by SERAP and seen by Nairametrics.

In the statement, SERAP also urged the minister to “Explain the rationale for paying N5,000 to 24.3 million poor Nigerians, which translates to five-percent of the country’s budget of N13.6 trillion for 2021, and to clarify if this proposed spending is part of the N5.6 trillion budget deficit.”

According to the statement, in the Freedom of Information request dated January 23, 2021 and signed by SERAP deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare, the organization said: “Publishing the details of beneficiaries and selection criteria, as well as the payment plan for six months would promote transparency and accountability, and remove the risks of mismanagement and diversion of public funds.”

SERAP said: “Transparency and accountability in the programme would improve public trust, and allow Nigerians to track and monitor its implementation, and to assess if the programme is justified, as well as to hold authorities to account in cases of diversion, mismanagement and corruption.

SERAP also urged Ms Umar-Farouk to invite the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) to jointly track and monitor the payments.

The FoI request from SERAP, partly reads, “We would be grateful if the requested information is provided to us within seven days of the receipt and/or publication of this letter. If we have not heard from you by then, SERAP shall take all appropriate legal actions under the Freedom of Information Act to compel you to comply with our request.

Providing support and assistance to socially and economically vulnerable Nigerians is a human rights obligation but the programme to spend five-percent of the 2021 budget, which is mostly based on deficit and borrowing, requires anti-corruption safeguards to ensure the payments go directly to the intended beneficiaries, and that public funds are not mismanaged or diverted.

Several questions remain as to the implementation and monitoring mechanisms for the payments, and whether this is the best and most effective way to spend N729bn to support socially and economically vulnerable Nigerians.”

“Our requests are brought in the public interest, and in keeping with the requirements of the Nigerian Constitution 1999 [as amended], the Freedom of Information Act, and UN Convention against Corruption, African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption, and African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights to which Nigeria is a state party.

By Section 1 (1) of the Freedom of Information (FoI) Act 2011, and Article 9 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, SERAP is entitled as of right to request for or gain access to information, including information on details of beneficiaries of the direct payments of N729bn.

“By Section 4 (a) of the FOI Act, when a person makes a request for information from a public official, institution or agency, the public official, institution or urgency to whom the application is directed is under a binding legal obligation to provide the applicant with the information requested for, except as otherwise provided by the Act, within seven days after the application is received.

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By Sections 2(3)(d)(V) & (4) of the FOI Act, there is a binding legal duty to ensure that documents containing information including information on details of payments of N729bn to N24.3 million poor and vulnerable Nigerians are widely disseminated and made readily available to members of the public through various means.

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“The information being requested does not come within the purview of the types of information exempted from disclosure by the provisions of the FOI Act. The information requested for as indicated above, apart from not being exempted from disclosure under the FoI Act, bothers on an issue of national interest, public concern, interest of human rights, social justice, good governance, transparency and accountability.

What you should know

  • It can be recalled that the Minister for Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Ms Sadia Umar-Farouk, had last week disclosed that the Federal Government would pay about 24.3 million poor Nigerians N5,000 each for a period of 6 months.
  • She revealed the plan at the inauguration of the Federal Government’s emergency intervention database for the urban poor, saying that the payments would serve as a cushion for those further impoverished by the Covid-19 pandemic.

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Chike Olisah is a graduate of accountancy with over 15 years working experience in the financial service sector. He has worked in research and marketing departments of three top commercial banks. Chike is a senior member of the Nairametrics Editorial Team. You may contact him via his email- [email protected]

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Business

 Onitsha River Port set to receive 1000 containers from Lagos next week

The National Inland Water Ways Authority says1000 containers from Lagos will arrive Onitsha river port.

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 Onitsha River Port Set To Receive 1000 Containers from Lagos Next Week

The National Inland Water Ways Authority has made public its intention to move 1000 containers from Lagos to Onitsha river port.

The statement was made on Thursday by Jibril Dardau the NIWA general manager of Corporate Affairs.

Mr. Jibril Dardau was speaking of the backdrop of an earlier statement made by the executive director of NIWA Mr. George Moughalu. Mr. George Moughalu said the agency is targeting about 1,000 containers to be hauled per trip from Lagos ports to Onitsha River Port within the maximum duration of 4 days.

Moghalu added that NIWA is engaging the Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA) and other stakeholders to facilitate the commencement of the cargo haulage.

NIWA in an official statement articulated the practical modalities involved in the new initiative. It also mentioned the third party companies it would work it during the operation.

“The idea of hauling containers via Burutu Ports to Onitsha River Port is to deliberately avoid the two small bridges of Gbarekolo and Bumandi,

“Because the two bridges are too tiny and shallow for sea moving badges or vessels to ply through, that is why the company (ACTL) is considering the route from Lagos ports to Burutu Port then to Onitsha River Port as the final destination,” the statement added.

What to know

  • The Recent initiative by the National Inland Waterways Authority is aimed at reducing the gridlock at the Sea Ports in Lagos.
  • The Nigerian Government has been accused of intentionally marginalizing the Southeast region by neglecting their Maritime sector.

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Business

Sanwo-Olu commissions 1.4km Pen Cinema, Agege flyover

Governor Sanwo-Olu has commissioned the 1.4km Dual Carriageway Flyover Bridge in Pen Cinema Junction, Agege.

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The Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, on Friday officially commissioned the 1.4km Dual Carriageway Flyover Bridge in Pen Cinema Junction, Agege.

This is part of the effort by the state government to reduce the gridlock and improve the traffic situation on that axis.

During the commissioning of the project, Sanwo-Olu said that the flyover would reduce travel time and save man-hour that would have been otherwise lost to traffic on the road.

According to a report from the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), the Governor said it would provide a better riding surface, leading to reduced maintenance cost; boost interconnectivity and generally make life more meaningful to commuters in the state.

What the Lagos State Governor is saying

Sanwo-Olu said, ”One of the most critical challenges being experienced on a daily basis by residents/road users along the Agege Pen Cinema area over the years is the heavy traffic volume occasioned by the geometric increase in traffic.

Residents and road users along this area have clamoured for a solution to the suffocating nature of the perennial traffic gridlock occasioned by the huge human and vehicular traffic, flowing through this intersection.

”To address the challenge of this huge traffic burden, our administration decided to continue with the construction of a Precast and Pre-stressed Reinforced Concrete Dual-carriage Flyover and Ramp, with road works, across the Agege Pen Cinema Intersection which was then at about 20 per cent completion.

”This is in line with the first pillar of the T.H.E.M.E.S Agenda which targets the provision of roads as a critical infrastructure that will support economic activities.

“It will also enable commercial interactions and ensure ease of commuting from one part of the state to another through the elimination of traffic gridlocks,” he said.

While speaking at the occasion, the Special Adviser to the Governor on Works and Infrastructure, Mrs Aramide Adeyoye, said that the project in its entirety consisted of a dual carriageway 1.4km Flyover Bridge component with two lanes of 3.65m width each in either direction with ramps, including the rehabilitation of five adjoining roads.

She said that the construction of a flyover across the Pen-Cinema intersection in addition to the spur linking old Abeokuta road which was conceived in September 2017, was seen as the solution to the transport/traffic problem on that axis.

What you should know

  • The Agege Pen-Cinema Flyover project was started by the immediate past administration of the former Governor Akinwunmi Ambode in December 2017.
  • The project is expected to crisscross Oba Ogunji Road and Pen Cinema area and over the railroad, terminating at the Agunbiade Street or Oke-Koto area of the Agege community. The bridge also extends to the old Abeokuta highway into Abule Egba.
  • The flyover which was conceived to solve the perennial traffic on that axis has a total length of approximately 1.4 Kilometres and it is designed to have streetlight facilities and pedestrian walkways.

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