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Reps Berate BPP For Ineffective Handling Of Procurement Audits

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The House of Representatives on Thursday, accused the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP), of ineffectively handling its mandate of conducting procurement audits of government agencies.

The House Committee on Procurement, during its 2021 budget defence session for the BPP, noted with dismay, that out of over 800 agencies of government, only 32 have been audited in the past four years.

The Committee disclosed that in line with the establishing Act of the BPP, the procurement audit reports of every agency ought to reach the National Assembly at least once in a year.

It said in spite of the humongous yearly budgetary provisions for the purpose, the Bureau has failed to utilize the funds for the purpose.

The committee frowned that the Bureau during its 2020 budget performance was unable to produce procurement audit reports to guide the proceedings ahead of the 2021 appropriation exercise.

It accused the Bureau of engaging in frivolous activities rather than concentrate on those of Surveillance, Monitoring and Evaluation and Supervision of all agencies of government to ensure compliance with public procurement, which comprised its core mandate.

Rather, it said the BPP was engaging in sporting activities, buying of computers and softwares, unnecessary local and international travels, as well as unfruitful money spinning training programmes for staff, in spite of evidences that most of its works were handled by consultants.

The committee directed the BPP to with immediate effect ensure that procurement audit reports covering four years from 2016 to 2019, were made available to it, and that henceforth, the reports must be made available as required by law.

It worried that the period of this failure covered from inception of the administration of the present Director General, (DG) , Mamman Ahmadu till date.

“We are shocked as a committee that we dontveven have materials to work with”, Hon Ossai Nicholas Ossai, a member of the committee lamented.

They insisted that a technical committee must be set up investigate the application of all budgeted funds to the BPP since 2016, demanding also that the DG submits all audit reports from 2016 to 2019 before end of the year.

They held that the action of the DG not conducting procurement audits of the agencies was a clear infraction of the law, which must not be tolerated.

The committee asked the DG if his Bureau received capital appropriation for procurement audits since 2016 to 2019, but the DG and his team claimed they were not sure.

In a bit to defend himself, the DG told the committee that procurement audit exercises were ongoing by different agencies of government.

“We have engaged some consultants to carry out audit. We have our own way of carrying out audit”, Ahmadu said.

He assured that he would make available detailed reports to the committee, pleading with the committee for understanding and good working relationship.
In presenting his agency’s 2021 budget estimate of almost N1.5billion, the DG told the committee that he was again, looking for N100million for computers and computer softwares, as against N70 million it got in 2020.

The committee was worried that in spite of the huge budgetary provisions for Information Communication Technology (ICT) to the agency, it was still seeking huge amounts for local and international travels, amid the gains that COVID 19 pandemic brought.

The agency also sought N12million for sporting activities, with members worrying what a procurement agency needed to do with such an amount in the name of sports.

However, the budget was approved by the committee presided by its Chairman, Nasir Ahmed, following request by members that to take the 2021 budget as submitted.

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NAICOM Licences Seven New Insurance Firms 

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Commissioner for insurance, Sunday Thomas and representatives of the newly licensed insurance outfits in Abuja on Friday.

By Sola Alabadan

The National Insurance Commission (NAICOM) issued operational licences to seven insurance companies in Abuja today, in line with Market Conduct & Business Practice Guidelines.

The new insurance firms are Heirs Insurance Limited (General), Heirs Life Assurance Limited, Stanbic IBTC Insurance Limited (life), Enterprise Life Assurance Company, FBS Reinsurance Limited, Salam Takaful and Cornerstone Takaful Insurance Company Limited.

The Commissioner for Insurance, Sunday Thomas, who gave the operational licences to the five firms at NAICOM Head Office, said the Commission has issued operational licences to the firms to operate insurance business.
According to him: “The National Insurance Commission (NAICOM) received applications from the under listed companies for registration as Insurance and reinsurance Companies to transact insurance and reinsurance business in Nigeria.
“In fulfillment of the statutory provisions of extant laws for the registration/licensing of insurance Companies, the general public is hereby informed that the Commission has commenced the process of registering the companies.
Consequently:” Heir Insurance Limited (General) has picked, Olaniyi Stephen Onifade as its Managing Director, Stanbic IBTC Insurance Limited, picked, Akinjide Orimolade as Managing Director; Heirs Life Assurance Limited picked Abah Okoriko and Enterprise Life Assurance Company Nigeria Limited picked Fumilayo Abimbola Omo.

“FBS Reinsurance Limited is led by the former Commissioner of Insurance, Fola Daniel. FBS is bringing together professionals with proven experience from the brokerage and underwriting units of the industry including Bala Zakariyau, the former managing director of Niger Insurance who currently plays in a support unit of the Nigerian aviation industry, Ahmed Olaniyi Salawu of the Standard Insurance Consultants, and Wole Oshin Bankole of the Custodian Investment Plc that has just taken a plunge into the property sector by taking a large chunk of the United Property Development Company, a subsidiary of the UACN Plc.
“These crops of professionals represent those with firm beliefs that there is a big insurance potential in Nigeria and indeed, the African continent. Others are Ebele Ofunneamaka Okeke, from Nnewi North, Anambra who rose to the position of the Head of Nigerian Civil Service before her retirement, and also, Yusuf Hamisu Abubakar, a lawyer, and an accomplished administrator and businessman with vast experience at the senior executive level in power and communication sectors.
“The reinsurance firm is required to pay the new N20 billion capitalisation stipulated by the commission under the reform exercise for it to start a business in the industry.”

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Power: FG Ready To Support DisCos’ Initiatives – Minister

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Mr Saleh Mamman, Minister of Power, says the Federal Government is ready to support any initiative by electricity Distribution Companies (DisCos) aimed at addressing the challenges facing the power sector.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Mamman spoke at the inauguration of Eko Electric Distribution Company’s (EKEDC) Supervisory Control And Data Acquisition (SCADA) System on Thursday in Lagos.
Mamman said : “I felicitate with and commend the EKEDC’s Board of Directors and management for this milestone.
“SCADA is one of the most advanced technologies in the power distribution business globally and I am optimistic that this event will translate to improved service delivery within EKEDC’s network.
“The inauguration of this SCADA system will help EKEDC monitor and respond quicker to faults and reduce the outage durations which would improve quality of service delivery to customers.”
According to him, the SCADA project will help the DisCo meet its set objectives under the recently executed Service Level Agreements with the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN).
He said the project would provide access to real time data that enables distribution system operators to make informed decisions that improve reliability and availability, consistent with the targets of the Service Based Tariff (SBT) regime.
Mamman said the FG was working assiduously to address the challenges of the power sector through initiatives such as the National Mass Metering Programme, the Siemens AG Power Project and upgrade of power infrastructure across the country.
Earlier, Mr Adeoye Fadeyibi, Managing Director, EKEDC, thanked the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for its support to the Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry which paved way for the SCADA project.
Fadeyibi said : “SCADA is a centralised computer system which represents the evolution of our network operations from the present physical monitoring, remote coverage and relay of network information.
“By contrast, SCADA innovatively gathers real time information, identifies loopholes or breaches in the network and transfers this data back to a central site where the necessary analysis and control is carried out.
“The result of this analysis is then displayed in a logical and organised fashion. The project involves monitoring, control, fault tracking, data analysis and operations optimisation of our high-tension network.
“As part of Eko DisCo’s effort to improve operational efficiency, revenue generation and reduction of our Aggregate Technical Commercial and Collection Losses, we have implemented the SCADA project to automate our electric power distribution network across our franchise coverage area.”
He said the achievement by the DisCo showed that the FG’s Power Sector privatisation programme was a laudable decision, as it had completely transformed the sector and the Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry.

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Emirates Offers Travellers $500,000 Multi-risk Travel Cover 

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Emirates airlines has announced that it will provide travellers a multi- risk travel cover worth $ 500 , 000 on top of its current COVID-19 cover.
The airline stated that the new multi- risk travel insurance and COVID-19 cover will automatically apply to all Emirates tickets purchased from December 1 , and extend to Emirates codeshare flights operated by partner airlines , as long as the ticket number starts with 176.
Emirates Chairman and Chief Executive , Ahmed bin Al Maktoum was quoted as saying , “ Emirates was the first airline to offer complimentary global COVID -19 cover for travellers back in July , and the response from our customers has been tremendously encouraging.
“ We have not rested on our laurels and instead continued to look at how we can offer our customers an even better proposition. We are very pleased to be able to now provide this new multi- risk travel insurance and COVID – 19 cover , which is another industry first, to all our customers.”
He added, “ We aim to give our customers even more confidence in making their travel plans this winter and moving into 2021 by the launch of this feature .”
Highlights of the coverage include out -of – country emergency medical expenses and evacuation up to $ 500 ,000 , valid for COVID -19 ( contracted during the trip ) and other medical emergencies while travelling abroad.
It also involves trip cancellation up to $ 7 ,500 for non- refundable costs if the traveller or a relative ( as defined in the policy ) is unable to travel because they are diagnosed with COVID- 19 before the scheduled trip departure date , or for other named reasons – similar to other comprehensive travel cover products.

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