Immediate past Governor of Lagos State, Akinwunmi Ambode on Tuesday shunned the 16-man House of Assembly Committee set up to investigate alleged shady activities of his administration, even as some commissioners who served under his administration indicted him.
The Lagos State House of Assembly is investigating the former governor in the purchase of 820 mass transit buses at about N7 billion which was not approved by the House and other issues.
The Assembly had last week threatened to issue a warrant of arrest on the governor if he refused to appear before the committee to defend himself.
The committee is chaired by Hon. Fatai Mojeed.
Apart from Ambode, his former Commissioners for Finance, Akinyemi Ashade and Special Duties, Seye Oladejo were also absence.
However, Ashade and Oladejo wrote to the House explaining that they would not be available.
Speaker of the House, Mudashiru Obasa said the Assembly would have to send Ambode invitation publicly through newspaper publication and that if he did not still appear, the next option was to issue a warrant of arrest on him.
Submissions by Ambode’s aides who appeared before the committee indicated that they were not carried along in the awards of contract with due process allegedly breached.
Olusegun Banjo, former Commissioner for Economic Planning and Budget, during Ambode’s administration said the purchase of the 820 buses by the former governor was not rooted through his ministry.
According to him, he became commissioner in February 2018, and that he did follow the system he met on ground, which was responsible for shady transactions on the buses that were procured.
He explained that “The way the ministry is structured, it did not allow us to function well. The N24 billion did not come to my ministry. We didn’t have a running system. As a commissioner, I could not approve one naira. All the MDAs approached the Governor directly.”
Banjo added that lots of things were done under Ambode’s administration without the knowledge of commissioners, which showed lack of transparency.
He said there was no provision for the purchase of the 820 buses in the 2018 and 2019 budgets and that no Vote Of Charge (VOC) was issued from his office for the purchase. “I never approved any VOC for it,” he said.
On unbudgeted funds, he said, “I don’t know what happens to unbudgeted funds when it comes because the ministry of finance does not inform my ministry, we don’t have a running system”.
However, Banjo said that he would make available to the House his handing over notes where he identified the lapses in the system and ways to address the them.
Accountant-General of the State, Mrs Shukrat Umar, when asked if the budget for the purchase of the buses was approved by the State Executive Council.
“The State Treasury Office acted on Exco’s approval. The buses were in line with Exco’s approval. I would not know whether the Paris Refund Club was discussed or not,” she said.
The Imota rice mill, light-up Lagos project and procurement of LASEMA Rapid Response equipment and engagement of the consultants were all done under shady circumstances as revealed by the heads of the MDA’s who were questioned by the committee members.
Former Commissioners for Agriculture and Energy, Toyin Suarau and Wale Oluwo said many the projects, including the Oshodi interchange and others were never captured in the state budget.
Pantami to Nigerians: Embrace local content policy
The Honourable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Ali Ibrahim (Pantami) FNCS, FBCS, FIIM, has urged Nigerians to embrace and implement the provisions of the Nigeria Local Content Policy of the Federal Government in Ministries, Departments, Agencies(MDAs) and private sector.
Pantami said this on Thursday at the 3rd Local Content Roundtable and Technology Fair held at Transcorp Hilton in Abuja.
The Minister, who was represented by Mr Tope Fashedemi, Director, eGovernment Department of the Ministry, reiterated that the Ministry of Communication and Digital Economy instituted the Local Content in ICT Policy by developing and launching the Guidelines for Nigeria Content Development in ICT on December 2013.
He added that, Office for Nigeria Content Development in ICT (ONC) was strategically created to drive the Policy under the supervision of National Information Technology Development Agency, (NITDA) to ensure nationwide adherence to the specific focus on four areas of ICT namely: Services, Software, Human Capital Development and Hardware.
“The recent change in the Ministry’s name by Mr President was an upshot of the fact that ICT is presently one of the key pillars of our economy in terms of contribution to the nation’s Growth Domestic Product (GDP), and Digital Economy Policy has the potential to increase revenue and block leakages, lead to creation of new jobs and employment opportunities, pave way for e-Government to engender efficient and effective service delivery, and general empowerment of the people”, the Minister said.
In his remarks, the convener of the event, Bimbo Abioye and Group Managing Director of FinTrak Software said that the focus of gathering is to unmask the solutions that have been tested in both private and public sector of the economy.
“The focus of this roundtable discussion is to bring to light the solutions that has been tested in both private and public sectors of the economy and to ensure that we begin to patronise solutions that are developed in Nigeria to strengthen our capacity, stem the tide of foreign exchange outflows and provide employment for our teaming youths,” he added.
The Lead Facilitator, Mr. Inye Kemanbonta, a Consultant with NITDA, highlighted the role of government policies in promoting the indigenous ICT companies and building capacity of public servants, policy makers and entrepreneurs in local content issues.
He however advocated for the removal of grey areas and public misconceptions about the Local Content Policy of Government, while urging government to spend public funds to purchase domestic products for its own use and to develop an indigenous industry.
President of Certified Computer Manufacturers of Nigeria (CCMON), Engr. Adenike Abudu, in her goodwill message pleaded with government to strengthen her will to fully implement Local Content policy. Adding that, “we use this opportunity to remind government that the success of its policies is highly dependent on its action and inaction.”
Mr. Emmanuel Bassey, the Executive Secretary, Africa ICT Foundation promised to support the Nigerian government by his Foundation’s objective of training and empowering 200,000 Nigerian youths annually across the six geo-political zones on software development and other Digital skills.
NITDA to enhance Nigerian youths’ potentials with IT – DG, Abdullahi
The Director General, National Information Technology Development Agency(NITDA), Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi, said that the time to harness the huge potentials of Nigerian youths in Information Technology is now. According to him, “this is a sure way to achieve the goal of diversifying the country’s economy”.
Inuwa made these remarks during a panel discussion at the seminar on Science and Technology organised by National Defence College, with the theme, “Promoting Science and Technology for Rapid National Development in Nigeria on Thursday”.
The DG said that, NITDA, as Government Agency in charge of developing and regulating IT in the country is working tirelessly to ensure that Nigerian youths unlock their potentials in the field, hence making resources available in achieving the targets of economic diversification.
“As a regulator, NITDA is working hand-in-hand with other relevant governments’ agencies to ensure that Nigerian youths discover their potentialities in IT sector. We have programmes underway and what we all need now is to harness these programmes, use available resources to diversify the economy to a digital economy, he said.
The DG further stated that the Agency has already set up seven pillars that are interwoven to assist the government in achieving its goals of sustaining the economy through digital interventions.
He said, “we have created regulations aimed at providing 3,000 jobs through this scheme, which is going to be a milestone to the agency.”
“Nigeria is at the top of other African countries in data consumption with over 111.6million active internet users, this is a huge coverage. The internet has changed everything, from the way we work to how we interact with people. Looking at these figures, we can use necessary measures to unlock the potentiality in our youths to Economic Recovery Growth Plan,” the DG said.
Earlier, in his welcome address, the Commandant, National Defence College, Rear Admiral M. M. Kadiri, said that Africa can learn from experience of others like India and China to meet food, health, energy and transport needs by developing a sound technological and industrial base.
He however noted that, Africa needs to increase a capacity to learn from advanced countries and imbibe their best practices in the Science and Technology field.
He also advocated for using technology in a good way, to help in advancing Nigeria’s economic prospect.
Rear Admiral Kadiri also commended the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari for making the application of Science and Technology, especially in the development sphere, a priority.
In a spate of cybercrime, the Commandant said that if technology is used correctly, it can be extremely helpful in furthering the prosperity of economies of any country. “The importance of Science and Technology is undeniable because it has solved problems of mankind in diverse ways”, he said.
– SOURCE: NITDA
IPPIS: ASUU suspends proposed strike
The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has suspended its proposed strike over Federal Government’s directive to enroll its members into the Integrated Payroll Personnel Information System (IPPIS).
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reported that when President Muhammadu Buhari presented the 2020 budget proposal before lawmakers on Oct. 8, 2019, he vowed that Federal Government Employees not captured on the IPPIS platform by 31st Oct. 2019 would no longer be receiving their salaries.
ASUU President, Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi, in a phone interview, noted that the union had decided to maintain status quo, pending further meetings.
ASUU had at different fora rejected the deadline, stating that universities operated differently from the civil service and should, therefore, not be seen as appendages of ministries, departments and agencies of government.
“What we have been saying is that the reaction of our members will depend on what happens in the government. Our members will meet at the appropriate time to take appropriate decision.
“The Senate has intervened in the matter and we are engaging the Senate, the Senate has appealed to us for now, When they pay other workers, they pay them also.”
According to him, the union is proposing another template which would factor in the peculiarities of the universities and promote their interest.
“The point we are making is that we have visited the Senate President, told him that there is an alternative to IPPIS, the IPPIS as we see it, will not promote the interest of the university, there is no university or country in the world where the payment of university workers is centralised with the government.”
On the World University ranking, Ogunyemi stressed that enrolling its members would affect Nigeria’s status, and discourage visiting lecturers come into the system.
“IPPIS will affect our ranking, because now scholars from different parts of the world will not be encouraged to come to Nigeria.
“Imagine somebody come for short six months and because of IPPIS he is not paid from three to four months, whereas, if they are domesticated in the universities, ASUU will pay them.
“Any university can attract scholars from any part of the world and you do not expect scholars to come from India, China, Australia, America or UK and be coming into Abuja to enroll in IPPIS.
“It is ridiculous, and that is what the autonomy means, that universities should govern their personnel, and their pay role system.
“We are saying it is not safe, we are going to become a laughing stock among committee of universities.
“In Ghana, there is something like IPPIS, but universities are not part of it. There is nowhere in the world that payroll is centralised and managed by consultants.”
He, however, noted that what the union wanted was a “Governing Council’ that would govern and manage the payroll of ASUU members.
“If government does that, it is the council that the government will hold responsible, that is what the law says, and where a council is found to be corrupt, or incompetent, that council should be dissolved and another council should be put in place.
“Our proposal is that there should be a mechanism that will enable the government to monitor the payroll system and the personnel. At the appropriate time, we will release it to the Nigerian public.
“The mechanism, when we centralise the payroll system of academics in Nigeria, you are taking a risk, cyber criminals can break into it at any time.
“There is nothing you put on the internet that cannot be hacked and that is not accessible in any part of the world.”
He stressed that the IPPIS will erode autonomy of the union, noting that the universities are unique environment, and are called “universal cities, because they are universal market places of ideas.”
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