Diverted PHCN Funds: EFCC Seizes N6.8bn From Jonathan’s Cousin, Firm

This is not the best of time for  Roberts Azibaola, a cousin to ex-President Goodluck Jonathan.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has frozen N6, 811, 846,443.05 found  in the accounts of some companies belonging to him and Bestworth Insurance Brokers Ltd.

The frozen cash was part of the N27, 188,232,208.20 benefits of the deceased staff of the defunct Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN), which were diverted.

This is coming a week after soldiers sealed off the construction site of    Kakarta Civil Engineering Limited owned by  him for alleged security threat.

The army authorities said the site shares boundary with the Lungui Barracks of the army on the Kubwa/Asokoro Expressway, Abuja.

Of the N27, 188,232,208.20, the sum of N951,637,223 was deducted as Value Added Tax (VAT)  and Wihtholding Tax and  paid through Diamond Bank and UBA Plc for direct credit to the Federal Inland Revenue Service(FIRS).

About N26, 236,594,986 was  allegedly looted by some top officials of the Jonathan administration, while  N1.8billion was spent on the purchase of vehicles for the Goodluck Jonathan Campaign Organisation.

The commission also confirmed yesterday the seizure of a N585million property which the Chief of Staff to the ex-President, Brig. Gen. Jones Oladehinde Arogbofa (rtd) allegedly bought with his  share of the diverted cash.

Another N1billion from the N26.236b cash was  allegedly paid  to Kebna Studios and Communication Nigeria Ltd controlled by a former Director-General of the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), Mr. Benjamin Ezra Dikki.

These highlights were contained in the findings of the EFCC in its ongoing probe of the alleged looting of the terminal benefits of the defunct PHCN.

Those under probe are Arogbofa; Dikki;  Kebna Studio and Communication Limited;  a former Accountant-General of the Federation, Otunla Dapo; the Managing Director of Kakatar Group, Azibaola Roberts; Director of Funds in the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation, Mohammed K. Dikwa; Innovative Alternative Limited and a top official of Bestworth Insurance Brokers Limited who was said to be on the run as at press time.

The EFCC said in part: “Sometimes in 2014, the above named conspired amongst themselves and used Bestworth Insurance Brokers Ltd to divert N27,188,232,208.20 from the Federal Government of Nigeria through the BPE.

“The said account was originally approved to be released to Great Nigeria Insurance Plc (GNIP) as Group Premium Insurance (death and accident) claim to the next- of- kin of ex-PHCN staff who died in service and those that suffered incapacitation to accidents.

“Both covert and overt  investigations aimed at determining the veracity of the information were discretely carried out into the Insurance Brokers Ltd domiciled with Skye Bank, Unity Bank and Keystone Bank.

“Efforts were also made to locate, identify and profile the operation of the company at both their Kaduna and Lagos offices.

“Consequent upon this, Benjamin Ezra Dikki (former DG of BPE) and Brig. Gen. Jones Oladehinde Arogbofa (rtd), erstwhile Chief of Staff to the President, Federal Republic of Nigeria were indicted in connection with N1.5b traced to their benefit. The totality of these efforts led to the following findings:

“That the FGN decided to privatize the PHCN through BPE. The proceeds from sales were remitted to the OAGF.

“That the Federal Ministry of Power and the Federal Ministry of Labour in a bid to resolve a dispute emanating from the staff of the PHCN over unpaid insurance claims diverted the matter to BPE which advised that the claim be paid from the proceeds of the privatized PHCN.”

The EFCC gave the details of how the fraud was perpetrated by convincing the National Council on Privatization (NCP)  to approve the disbursement of the funds.

The report added: “The National Council on Privatization (NCP) during its 3rd meeting held on 4th August 2014, amongst others, recommended the release of N27,188,232,208.20 to Great Nigeria Insurance Plc  as settlement of insurance claim which the President approved.

“Based on the above, on the 10th December 2014, the sum of N26,236,594,986 was released to Bestworth Insurance Brokers Ltd of J415 Ibadan Street, Kabba Road, Kaduna.

“The principal proprietor of the company is yet to be arrested and the sum of N951,637,223 only deducted FIRS VAT and WHY was paid through Diamond Bank and UBA Plc for direct credit to FIRS.”

The EFCC said it has frozen about N6.8billion in more than nine  accounts and seized a N585million property from the ex-Chief of Staff.

It said: “Bestworth Insurance Brokers Limited maintains a corporate standard current Ac No. 1771645118 with Skye Bank Plc; Ac No. 0025251085; 0025860162; 0025872242 with Unity Bank and Ac. No 1040199787, 10052599665, 05102001142, 107102000361; 10440359482 with Keystone Bank Plc. An order has been obtained from a court of competent jurisdiction to freeze these accounts to aid recovery.

“Further investigation disclosed that the insurance broker distributed these funds to various companies including Kakatar Group controlled by Azibaola Roberts, a cousin to former President Goodluck Jonathan into whose account the sum of N2.5bn was paid.

“This commission has traced and frozen the sum of N2bn in the accounts at S/No (f) above in a related cased being investigated involving Kakatar Group while suspect charged to court.

“Additionally, the sum of N150m was traced to a property purchased by Brig. Gen. Jones Oladehinde Arogbofa (rtd), Chief of Staff to the former President Goodluck Jonathan.

“The said property was bought at N585m. Investigation has established money laundering offences against the suspect as more than half of the payments were  cash-based transaction. Property has been sealed pending conclusion of investigation.

“Similarly, the sum of N1bn paid in four installments was traced to Kebna Studios and Communication Nigeria Ltd controlled by Benjamin Ezra Dikki, former DG of BPE.

“The sum of N300million was equally traced to Dilly Motors Ltd who produced documents that indicated delivery of vehicles to the Goodluck Jonathan Campaign Organisation worth N1.8b and that part of these included the said money traced to the company.

“This commission has recovered 36 brand new vehicles and more than 100 motorcycles parked at a facility in Mabushi Area of Abuja. Investigation has established a direct link between the recovered vehicles and the N300m paid to Dilly Motors Ltd.

“Meanwhile, a credit balance of N2,004,846,443.05 traced to Bestworth Insurance Brokers Ltd. Skye Bank Acct No: 17711645118 has been frozen. Forfeiture proceedings shall be initiated for the purpose of full recovery.

“Other transfers made to accounts of Bestworth Insurance Brokers Ltd domiciled with Unity Bank Plc were also traced and the sum of N2,507,000,00 found in the accounts were frozen for possible recovery.

“The investigation is yet to be concluded. The development is however worrisome as persons entrusted with the keys to the nation’s treasury conspired amongst themselves to loot hapless citizens and the families of the deceased employees of PHCN of their much-needed benefit”.

Credit: TheNation

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$200bn Loot: EFCC Raids Abuja Office Of Dubai Property Firm, Arrest Top Officials

As part of the ongoing probe of the laundering of over $200billion loot in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) by former political office holders, operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission ( EFCC) yesterday stormed the office of a Dubai property firm, The First Group Company,  in Abuja.

The company is also being investigated for allegedly defrauding unsuspecting Nigerians by luring them to invest in real estate in Dubai.

A prominent Nigerian lost about $402, 000 (N136.6m) in a phony real estate transaction with the company, it was learnt.

Two officials of the company were arrested. They were undergoing interrogation at the anti-graft agency’s office last night.

Some documents and a Central Processing Unit (CPU) containing a list of high profile patrons were retrieved by the EFCC.

The EFCC team raided the company’s seventh floor office at the Bank of Industry building in the Central Business District of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) after obtaining a search warrant.

An EFCC source said: “Our operatives searched the office as a result of a plethora of complaints received through petitions from concerned Nigerians about the activities of The First Group Company, a real estate outfit incorporated in Dubai (UAE).

“We executed a duly endorsed search warrant and vital documents as well as CPU relevant to the facts in issue were recovered.

“They specialise in aiding and abetting money laundering and foreign exchange malpractices by top civil servants and Politically Exposed Persons (PEPs).”

The EFCC is working on clues that some former governors, ministers and top civil servants laundered money through the company to buy choice properties in Dubai, using such proxies, including their children and relations.

“Two employees of the company (an accountant and the senior client service/ legal executive) were arrested and are being interrogated,” the source said.

The investigation of the company is said to be in line with the agreement between the Federal Government and the UAE to trace about $200billion loot stashed away in the Emirate by ex-governors and ministers.

The source said the First Group Company was also being probed for allegedly swindling some Nigerians.

“So many unsuspecting Nigerians have fallen victims of their antics by parting with their hard-earned money running into millions of dollars. Iinvestigations into the allegations are ongoing,” the source added.

Under searchlight for stashing funds or acquiring properties in Dubai are seven ex-governors, six former ministers, a former presidential aide implicated in the $2.1billion arms deals, ex-military chiefs under probe, agents / fronts of some of these public officers and about five chieftains of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), who are undergoing interrogation.

A Federal Government team, comprising the Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, Mr. Abubakar Malami, EFCC Chairman Ibrahim Magu and detectives from the anti-graft agency some months ago met with their UAE counterparts to collate  intelligence notes on the PEPs.

President Muhammadu Buhari in January signed a “Judicial Agreement on Extradition, Transfer of Sentenced Persons, Mutual Legal Assistance on Criminal Matters, and Mutual Legal Assistance on Criminal and Commercial Matters, which includes the recovery and repatriation of stolen wealth with UAE.”

Calls were made to both the Abuja office and Dubai Headquarters of the affected office last night but these did not how through.

While Dubai line  +97144550100 was on automatic answering machine, the Abuja lines of +2349903600 and +23494611454  did not connect.

Although some of the cases involving The First Group were handled by Barrister Ismail Muftau from Jackdon, Etti and Edu, it was difficult to get the counsel when this newspaper went to bed.

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Chinese Firm Reveals How Obasanjo Awarded $841.6m Rail Project Without MoU

The Project Manager of a Chinese civil engineering and construction company, Etim Abak, on Monday told the Senate Committee on the Federal Capital Territory that former President Olusegun Obasanjo awarded the Abuja Rail Project in 2007 without an engineering design or a Memorandum of Understanding.

The Minister of FCT and current governor of Kaduna State, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai, allegedly signed the $841.645,898m contract based on an uncalculated estimate.

The committee was also told that the contract, which was for 60.67-kilometre rail project, was inflated by $10m per km and that the length was later reduced to 45km without refund of the cost for the 15.67 km that was dropped off from the project.

The Senate committee, led by Dino Melaye, who were at the site of the project to carry out oversight functions, therefore, demanded the refund of $195,878,296.74 being the amount for the 15.67km that was cut out, from the Chinese firm handling the project.

Abak told senators that the contract was signed by the then FCT minister without design and MoU, and that it was carried out based on conceptual design.

Abak said, “The contract was awarded based on conceptual design and estimates were not properly done. There was no formal design submitted and rail bridges and crossover bridges were not captured in the contract.”

Melaye said his findings revealed that the rail project was inflated by over $10m per km and wondered why such an act was perpetrated by the handlers of the project.

The senator added that the contract sum was $841.645,898m and that the project completion period was 48 months while the scope of work was 60.67km standard gauge, with double railway tracks and associated permanent way within the FCT.

He wondered why the 60.67km project was later reduced to 45. 245km without reduction in its cost.

He said, “Now, you have reduced the length of the standard gauge from 60.67km to 45.245km, meanwhile, there is no concomitant reduction if you juxtapose the length in kilometres and the reduction in terms of the cost.

“If we are to spend $841m for 60.67km and now you have reduced to 45.245km and the only reduction in terms of monetary value is from $841.6m to $823m and with a reduction of just about $17m, that to me is not commensurate to the reduction in terms of length.

“The Federal Government has so far invested N31.5bn and another N7.6bn from the SURE-P fund and if you put these together, we have altogether N39.1bn invested in the rail project, leaving the balance of N113. 233,155.32.

“The N3bn proposed in the 2016 national budget for the FCT was for the rail project. If you look at this, I would want to say that I did a personal research and looked at rail construction of the same specifics, of the same technology across the globe and one cannot but complain that the cost of railway project in Nigeria is on a very high side.”

He wondered why it was costing the Federal Government so much to construct a railway of just 45 km unlike the construction of the same specifics across the globe.

He questioned the rationale behind the government’s loan of $500m from Exim Bank of China for the project, saying that the money which the Federal Government had so far injected into the project was enough to execute the entire project.

He said, “From my own calculation, in fact, from my comparison with other rail projects across the world, the Federal Government investment in this project is enough to execute the project without taking a loan as high as $500m from China.

“From our research and it’s very simple, the world is now a global village. As you are sitting here now, on your phone you can google, even in India and Egypt.

“Fortunately, one of those projects in Zambia was also done by this same company, CCE. We have six countries and the average cost per km, none is above $4m per km. Why is the Nigerian project costing $13.8m approximately $14m?”

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EFCC Recovers N4.3b From Oil Firm

The ongoing investigation by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission into the operations of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation yielded fruits with the recovery of $14m oil funds from one of the companies operating in the upstream sector of the nation’s economy.

But the name of the oil firm was kept under wraps last night because it has some outstanding obligations to the Federal Government.

Some oil firms are also under probe for evading payment of royalty to the government.

It was learnt that the anti-graft agency may arrest and prosecute tax or royalty evaders.

A top source in EFCC, who spoke in confidence, said: “The commission has recovered over $14 million USD (about N4,380, 295,866.00) for the Federal Government, being crude oil royalty which was supposed to have been paid between 2011 and 2012 by an oil and gas company operating in the upstream sector.

“The money was paid into the Federal Government’s account with JP Morgan Chase on January 29, after EFCC waded into the matter of recovering taxes due to the Federal Government.

“The investigation of tax defaulters in the oil industry is continuing, warning that those who failed to pay up stand the risk of arrest and prosecution for tax fraud.”

The Acting Executive Secretary of Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI), Dr. Orji Ogbonnaya Orji, had, at NEITI-Companies’ Forum in Lagos in December,  said 42 oil and gas companies paid $293 billion to the Federal Government between 2006 and 2012.

The cash came from the companies as taxes, royalty, dividends etc to government during the period. The breakdown is as follows: $44.7 billion (2006); $43.7 billion (2007); $60.4 billion in (2008);  $30 billion( 2009); 2010 ($44.9 billion);  $68.4 billion (2011); and $62.9 billion (2012).

The Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) in March 2015 alleged that independent oil and gas companies had been defaulting in royalties and taxes.

In a 146-page report, the Nuhu Ribadu Committee on Petroleum Revenue Special Task Force said oil ministers between 2008-2011 handed out seven discretionary licences, but about $183 million in signature bonuses were missing.

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How Metuh’s Firm, 77 Others Got N1.4b For Fictitious Contracts – Witness

A Federal High Court in Abuja heard on Tuesday how the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) paid N1.4billion to 78 firms including Destral Investment Limited owned by the spokesman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Olisa Metuh, non-existing contracts.

The information is contained in a document – an electronic mandate – tendered before the court by the prosecution in the trial of Metuh before Justice Okon Abang.

The document, tendered through an official of the ONSA, Bali Ndam, was said to have been issued by former NSA, Sambo Dasuki, to the Abuja branch of the Central Bank of Nigeria, authorizing payment of various sums of money running into N1.4billion.

“What is written on the document is payment for security services,” Ndam, a Legal Adviser at the ONSA, said while testifying in the case. Ndam was led in evidence by lead prosecution lawyer, Sylvanus Tahir.

Although the prosecution accused Metuh of receiving N400million from the ONSA for the presidential campaign of the PDP, Ndam, when confronted with the document by Metuh’s lawyer, Onyechi Ikpeazu (SAN), read out the document, where it stated that the ONSA paid Metuh for providing “three operational vehicles.”

Ndam, who testified as the third prosecution witness, said investigation into the arms scandal was informed by a petition from the incumbent NSA, Babagana Monguno, dated November 28, 2015.
– TheNation
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Our Commitment To Immunisation Still Firm, Tambuwal Tells Bill Gates, Others

Sokoto State Government will continue to collaborate with other stakeholders and development partners to expand access to immunisation and ensure rapid reduction in cases of child and maternal mortality in the state.

Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal made the pledge Wednesday in Kaduna at the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and six other states in the North.

He said already, an amendment to the State Primary Health care law has been effected which brought together all agencies in that sector under one roof.

He said cases of rejection of vaccines have fallen drastically over previous years, while religious and traditional rulers have been involved in sensitisation to enhance effectiveness.

Tambuwal reaffirmed the commitment of his administration to achieving success in immunisation, saying so far, the government has paid about N150m as counterpart funding for various interventions in the health sector.

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FG Signs MOU With Chinese Firm, Huawei To Create 2000 Technology Trainee Positions

Creating an enabling environment for businesses to thrive and flourish is one of the key priorities of the Buhari administration meant to spur the growth of the economy and create opportunities for gainful employment.

This view was expressed earlier today by the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, at the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the federal government and a leading Chinese technology firm Huawei in his office. The MOU provides 2000 Information and Communication Technology, ICT trainee jobs to young Nigerians next year under the “Huawei’s Seeds for the Future program.”

According to the Vice President who was joined by the Minister for Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige and Communications Minister, Barrister Adebayo Shittu, “ICT is one of the quickest ways people can get decent jobs, so we think this is absolutely important.”

Continuing, he said “in the change agenda, how to grow the economy is important, and we want to create ICT hubs and support existing ones. We thank Huawei for this initiative of advancing technology in Nigeria, apart from the job creation itself.”

Observing the current poor rating of Nigeria in the global rankings of business environments, the Vice President disclosed that the president has already given the Trade, Industry & Investment Minister the task of addressing the challenges of doing business in the country.

At an event also attended by the Chinese Ambassador Mr. Gu Xiaojie, the Vice President said the relationship between Nigeria and China is a strategic one, and urged Chinese investors and business leaders to consider Nigeria for manufacturing plants. He said the Chinese investors “should encourage not just the selling, but also the manufacturing of products in Nigeria.”

This he said would lead to the mutual prosperity for both countries.

According to the Chinese envoy, China is in partnership with the Buhari presidency in the “change” agenda, listing the nation’s plans to be involved in such areas like Agricultural modernization, industrialization, infrastructure, trade and investment, poverty alleviation, and peace and security among others.

Nigeria’s Ministers for Labour and Communications, whose ministries would select the 2000 trainees, signed the MOU on behalf of the federal government while Mr. Richard Cao, the Vice President of Huawei West Africa signed for the Chinese Information Communication and technology firm.

Both ministers commended the initiative, with Ngige saying “China has blazed the trail,” with the job creation MOU with the Buhari presidency, and Shittu in a similar vein praised the effort and asked the Chinese people to consider setting up a technology institute or polytechnic in Nigeria.

According to Cao, “Huawei has long been committed to developing Nigeria’s ICT sector, and is working hard to build a Better Connected Nigeria. At the same time as delivering cutting-edge ICT technologies and services to Nigeria, we are also committed to fostering a skilled local ICT workforce.”

He added that “as a leading global supplier of ICT products and solutions, Huawei will continue to share its global experience in the development of the ICT industry with the Nigeria government. We hope to become a strategic partner to the Nigeria government in the future ICT planning and development, and will continue to expand our contributions and training programs in Nigeria.”

The ICT training initiative strives to create a platform to nurture work-ready ICT Experts by providing authentic ICT industry-relevant education.

The Chinese firm also introduced a group of Nigerian ladies it has selected to embark on an ICT training mission to China to the Vice President, who praised the idea saying it promotes women empowerment and advances Girl-Child education, both concepts which are dear to the Buhari administration.

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Buhari’s 100 Days: Placing Nigeria On The Firm Path To Recovery – Bola Tinubu

Three months ago, the course of Nigeria’s future changed for the better. The All Progressives Congress won a historic election. Tired of the broken promises and damaged public institutions wrought by sixteen years of Peoples Democratic Party’s misrule, the people demanded change.

By virtue of the election, the people reclaimed the primacy of their sovereign will. They demanded that government should serve them before serving itself. That proclaimed that government for the people was not only possible in this land but that its establishment was overdue. The breath of hope was restored to the body politic. On that day, we all stood more proudly and more eager to walk into the new day that had come.

But change is not made simply by winning an election or ejecting a few bad seeds from office. Change requires the careful removal of the rotted timber that has made national governance such a rickety structure. It requires the bold articulation yet wise implementation of a vision and supporting policies, programs and projects aimed at making our country better, making our people’s lives better.

Change does not tolerate the high rates of poverty and joblessness that insult our national potential and reduce the lives of too many Nigerians. The change we seek will revive this economy in a way that creates jobs and lifts Nigerians out of poverty that all may enjoy the dignified and secure life promised us.

Change is not weakening our military to the point where it is too demoralized and ill-equipped to protect our people from terrorist violence.Change is energizing that military with new leadership, better war materiel and the firm mandate to rout Boko Haram. Change is establishing peace and security so that the hundreds of thousands of displaced Nigerians may return home in contemplation of rebuilding their lives in ways better than what was before. And change means fighting corruption in all of its manifestations instead of consorting with it. No longer shall the public treasury, meant for the wellbeing of the many, be treated as the private reserve of the few.

Nigeria is now 100 days into President Buhari’s leadership. It is clear that he has begun the change Nigeria needs. He has shown the decisiveness, the incorruptibility, security acumen and progressive vision we voted for. He has brought the leadership we desperately need. I shudder to think where we might be had the prior administration been allowed to govern even 100 days more, let alone another four years.

First, Buhari has turned the table against Boko Haram. He has not hesitated to take the fight to the terrorists, destroying their hideouts, capturing their fighters and equipment while taking the military initiative away from them. They are on their heels and on the run. To get to this better position, he dismissed general officers who had lost heart and were too hesitant to confront Boko Haram, replacing them with new military commanders selected not on regionalism or favoritism but on the strength of their military leadership and fighting spirit.
Asiwaju Bola Tinubu

Asiwaju Bola Tinubu

The president strengthened our security partnerships with Chad, Niger, Cameroon, and the United States to build a much stronger regional and international coalition to uproot the terrorists. He continues to reach out to other nations to further strengthen that coalition. We are no longer a junior partner in a fight that mostly takes place on our soil. Because of President Buhari, we are at the head of this multilateral effort, driving it forcefully to successful conclusion. We are already seeing improvements in safety across the Northeast as Boko Haram retreats and retreats. Buhari will not relent until there is no more Boko haram left to fight.

Buhari is also tackling corruption. Hehas already shown dozens of corrupt officials the exit, demonstrating that he will not tolerate corruption in his government. He is busily plugging the loopholes in the system to prevent the wholesale thievery so common under the predecessor government.The idea of a single federal government account is one such corrective measure. Moreover, he is studiously tracking where much of the stolen funds went. He is doing this that he may recover these public funds and bring to book those who purloined them.

He will return that money to the people, using the funds to build schools, roads, and hospitals that Nigeria needs.

The President is also taking steps to pull our economy from the dangerous brink where the PDP left it and then to strengthen and diversify the economy that it may provide jobs and prosperity to all who are willing to work to improve their lot. He has fought and already cured much of the indiscipline and subterfuge that plagued the operation of our refineries and power system. Just in the first hundred days, refinery production has increased reasonably, lowering the cost of fuel importation and thus spurring greater economic activity. He also has improved electricity production by holding the power companies accountable.

By approving a package of emergency fiscal and financial relief, he has stopped the slide of numerous states into economic depression and imminent bankruptcy. By enabling the payment of back salaries to state government civil servants, he has saved millions of Nigerians from sinking into the hunger and poverty. Moreover, the funds paid to these people will be used to purchase goods and services thus energizing local economies that were becoming flaccid due to lack of aggregate consumer demand. The former government should have taken this step months ago, even before the election.

However, it let a bad situation fester into impending calamity. Had that government remained in office, it would have allowed the states to slide into bankruptcy, triggering a financial crisis that would have engulfed the banking system if not the entire economy. In his first 100 days, President Buhari staved the financial paralysis of the states and, as such, may have prevented a sudden and crippling financial crisis. Gone are the days of rebasing falsehood and brazen theft from our treasury.

In coming weeks, he will reveal his budget. The budget will go far toward honoring his campaign promises to boost domestic industries, improve our schools to prepare our children for the jobs of tomorrow, and invest in infrastructure that will make Nigeria a better place to run a farm, build a factory, drive your car, drink the water, construct a home, and create jobs.

We have still a lot of work to do. While reeling, Boko Haram is not completely defeated. Ourstolen girls are not back, and too many from the North East are still unable to return home. With regard to corruption, we must not only recoup stolen money, we must rediscover lost public ethics. We need to establish the mindset that corruption is criminal and evil and do away with the mentality that has treated it as correct public etiquette. While actions have been taken to thwart imminent crisis, much needs to be done to place the economy on solid footing over the longer haul. I look forward with great optimism and enthusiasm to the government coming forward with plans to create jobs, modernize our infrastructure and diversify the economy so that our industrial sector may attain greater prominence.

I salute and accept the deliberate painstaking slow fix of this government which is meant to set a stronger foundation for quick economic recovery. The effort to stem the primitive pilferation of our commonwealth must attain national priority. The Buhari administration is committed to building a new country.

Looking at the fragile vehicle they inherited and at the harsh terrain they have been able to navigate, I could not be prouder of what the President, the Vice President and their team have done thus far. If they continue in this manner, they would have done more than justify the people’s faith in them. They would have placed Nigeria on the path to its better self. We cannot ask any more from them than that.

Bola Ahmed Tinubu is a former governor of Lagos State
Twitter: @AsiwajuTinubu

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Falomo Shopping Centre: Our Case Against Lagos Gov Ambode- Elumelu’s Firm

The management of Afriland Properties Plc, a firm being promoted by former UBA boss, Tony Elumelu has disagreed with Lagos state governor, Akinwunmi Ambode over the latter’s claim that the contract between the state government and the firm on the notes with concern, recent reports redevelopment of Falomo Shopping Centre, Ikoyi Lagos.

While Ambode announced on Wednesday that the concession contract with the firm has been terminated because it paid only N50 million for a 50 years lease, the property development company in a statement today by its MD/CEO Uzo Oshogwe, said the governor’s claim was not true.

The statement which is a response to media reports on the governor’s claim reads in part: “These unverified reports have implied that, the contract with the Lagos State Development and Property Corporation (LSDPC) was terminated on the grounds that the concession terms are “grossly detrimental” to Lagos State and its residents.  The reports also claim that Afriland Properties Plc only made a payment of N50 million for a 50-year lease of the government-owned land.

“Though the authenticity of these reports is unconfirmed, Afriland strongly refutes the suggestion that it has engaged in any misconduct or that the transaction is in any way detrimental to the people and government of Lagos State.

“We are strongly committed to creating a world class project, which will act as an economic magnet for central Lagos, creating opportunities for Lagosians and which crucially has been structured to ensure ongoing value will accrue to Lagos State and to Lagosians. The contract was negotiated transparently and in accordance with best practice.

“Afriland Properties PLC and the Lagos State Development Property Corporation (LSDPC), acting on behalf of the Lagos State government, established a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) which is jointly owned by the parties for the specific purpose of developing the Falomo project.

“Under the terms of the agreement, the SPV- Falomo Shopping Centre Development Company Ltd – was granted a concession to, amongst other things, develop, build, operate and maintain the Project on a Build, Operate and Transfer (BOT) basis.

“Afriland paid N50m (fifty million naira) to LSDPC as an expression of interest in the redevelopment project. The LSPDC will receive a 35% interest in the SPV for its land contribution and through this significant Equity Holding, will continue to receive significant ongoing value.

“Afriland is obliged to fund the entirety of the development costs which is projected to exceed N30 billion without recourse to the Nigerian taxpayer. The new facility will comprise a state-of-the-art shopping mall, office complex and generous parking facilities.

“Afriland has consistently adhered to the terms of its agreement with LSDPC, as outlined in the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) and Joint Venture Agreement that were signed and executed by the aforementioned parties.

“Furthermore, all value to be derived from the creation of this world-class commercial venture will be held in, and enjoyed by Lagos State and its residents. The development will ultimately revert to the state upon expiration of the lease.

“Apart from delivering an environment that befits the city and is consistent with the government’s goal of an aesthetically pleasing skyline, the Falomo site will be home to thriving businesses that will contribute significantly to the Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) of the state.

“As an organization, Afriland Properties Plc and its affiliated companies have always upheld the values of integrity and excellence. We have nothing but the utmost respect for the dictates of the law and till date, have acted accordingly. As such, we are unequivocal in our belief that our sincere intentions for this landmark project will be validated in due course.

“As a significant investor in Nigeria and one which is committed to ensuring value creation within the country, we would underline the importance of creating a business environment that is based on transparency, contractual certainty and social partnership. At a time when Nigeria urgently needs to diversify its economy and attract broad based foreign direct investment, the rumours we have identified do little to promote the National interest or create the business environment our country needs.”

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IT Firm Denies Receiving N78 Million For Fashola’s Website, As Nigerians

The IT firm named by the Lagos State procurement office as receiving N78 million for the upgrade of former Governor Babatunde Fashola’s personal website, has denied being paid the amount.

Info Access Plus Limited said its quotation for the job was N12.5 million, and that the state eventually spent N10 million.

The figure contradicts details released by the Lagos State procurement office, first reported by the budget analytic firm, BudgiT.

The listing shows N78 million was spent on the website.

Curiously, for a company that specialises on building and upgrading websites, a Google search for Info Access Plus, revealed that Info Access Plus Limited has no website of its own.

According to information technology experts, www.tundefashola.com, created by the firm for the former governor, is a WordPress website and an upgrade could not have cost more than N300, 000.

The news of the expenditure has elicited outrage from Nigerians, with many using their social media accounts to lambast Mr. Fashola, widely seen as one of few upright politicians who could be given a cabinet position by President Mohammadu Buhari.

Mr. Fashola’s spokesperson, Hakeem Bello, did not respond to PREMIUM TIMES’ request for comment.

In its reaction, the IT firm, Info Access Plus Limited, questioned the motive of the procurement office in releasing details of the spending.

The firm also denied that the website was for Mr. Fashola as an individual, saying it was for the “governor of Lagos State.”

It also denied receiving N78 million for the job, yet, the firm compared the website with other internet products delivered at millions and even billions of dollars.

Read the statement below:

Our attention is drawn to the twitter campaign alleging that the Lagos State Government (LASG), led by His Excellency, Babatunde Raji Fashola, SAN spent Seventy Eight Million Naira (N78M) to upgrade the www.tundefashola.com web site, a site dedicated to giving citizens unfettered access to the Governor’s daily activities and open access to information. It is imperative to state here that, the website in question is not Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola’s personal website but an official website which reports and documents his official activities as a way of socially accounting for his stewardship to the people of Lagos State. This initiative of having an official website for the Governor was to build on the earlier commitment to open access which saw Governor Fashola being the first serving governor to publish his telephone number on the pages of newspapers. As pressure mounted on that number, the website and all of its social media handles became alternative platforms for people to directly engage with their elected governor.

While we do not hold brief for the Lagos State Government, the selective loading of contracts awarded and executed by the Lagos State Public Procurement Agency is itself suspect and aimed at a pre-determined end. The statement of the Contract Line Item and the cost ascribed on the website of the agency are therefore misleading and mischievous.

For avoidance of doubt, we are by this medium therefore laying bare the facts for the public:

Introduction

The former Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, SAN, set out to streamline easy access to himself, while in office and to document his activities for the citizens.

From 2008 and up till May 29, 2015, the www.tundefashola.com web site has processed thousands of press releases/speeches, more than 6 million pictures, thousands of videos to generate world class, content-rich online information collaterals for the former Governor of Lagos State, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, SAN.

The same www.tundefashola.com web site provides great opportunities for the Lagos State Government, as it collates all activities of the Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, SAN, and his government during his two terms.

What Did LASG Get For the alleged “N78M”?

  • N12.5m was quoted for the upgrade of the www.tundefashola.com web site, which includes complete re-design of all the hundreds of page templates. Meanwhile, the LASG spent less than N10m on this and not N78M being bandied on the social around.
  • Info Access Plus Limited will provide free technical support for the entire life cycle of the web site.
  • Info Access Plus Limited will manage the contents of the site, which consist of press releases, speeches, photos, videos, etc for one year.
  • Info Access Plus Limited developed and managed the first and only web-based 1-year Countdown Clock to May 29, 2015 on a 24-hourly basis off the back of this same service cost for a period of 1 year from 2014 to May 29, 2015.
  • Info Access Plus Limited developed mobile apps for the top four platforms, namely Apple iOS, Google Play, Microsoft Windows Phone 8 and Blackberry World off the back of this same service cost.
  • Info Access Plus Limited will provide free technical support throughout the life cycles of all these mobile apps also off the back of this same service cost.

For the Records

  • In addition, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, SAN, personally paid for the www.brforg.org web site, even when he was the Lagos State Governor. He felt that www.brforg.org is the online presence of his Non-Governmental Organization, BRF Organization. Again, we state for the records, that the website in question is the official website of the Governor of Lagos State and not Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola’s personal website as being disparagingly alleged by the campaigners.

Quality Software Development Takes Serious Effort, Time and Resources

Signed on Behalf of Info Access Plus Limited

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