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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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NERC: Over 1m Electricity Consumers Have Received Prepaid Meters

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Labour Warns FG Against Electricity Tariff Hike 

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The Nigeria Labour Congress faulted plans to allegedly sell the Transmission Company of Nigeria, saying it will lead to an increase in electricity tariff.

The NLC President, Mr Ayuba Wabba, said this in a statement titled, “This Kite will not Fly’’ on Friday.

Wabba explained that instead of allegedly planning to sell the transmission company, FG should focus on improving the electricity supply.

He described the attempt to hand over the TCN to a few ‘privileged’ Nigerians as self-serving, obtuse, odious, morally reprehensible and criminal.

The NLC president said, “The TCN is a strategic economic asset of immense national security implications. This is because the TCN traverses all nooks and crannies of Nigeria.

“It will be wrong that our country will be deliberately exposed to an avoidable vulnerability and thus, provide an opportunity to others to restrain the Nigerian state.

“We apprehend that the planned sale of the TCN is only an attempt to further confound the people and concurrently raise electricity tariff. Unfortunately, this time around, Nigerians have had enough.

“The government cannot promise improved power supply to consumers by the planned sale of TCN. The under-the-table scheming as transparent privatisation cannot pass muster.

“It is an unsavoury narrative for our country, that even the privatised assets, which have survived the rapacity of the new owners, have been turned into unrealisable collaterals for unpayable loans.

“This constitutes a bone stuck in the throat of financial institutions and sundry creditors.”

Wabba explained that the plan would “fundamentally weaken the security of the nation and above all, deprive the people of their age-old investments in the commanding heights of the Nigerian economy”.

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FG To Consider Death Penalty For Rail Vandals – Amaechi

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The federal government says it may consider a death penalty for vandals of critical railway equipment in the country.

Rotimi Ameachi, minister of transportation, stated this on Monday, during a town hall meeting on “protecting public infrastructure” in Abuja.

On May 8, the Nigeria Railway Corporation (NRC) announced the arrest of two persons suspected of vandalising rail tracks along the Kaduna-Zaria rail line.

Few days later, suspected vandals were arrested for destroying and carting away tracks and rail rods laid on a section of the Warri-Itakpe rail line.

On May 16, the Kaduna state police command said it arrested five suspected rail-trail vandals at Dalle Village of Jema’a LGA and recovered two trucks loaded with locomotive railway sleepers.

After the Warri-Itakpe incident, the senate asked the federal government and security agencies to ensure that those caught vandalising rail lines across Nigeria are given maximum punishment without a fine.

”I am not quantifying the material cost; what I am quantifying is the lives that will be lost,” Ameachi said at the town hall meeting.

“Imagine that a driver of a rail track is driving and suddenly bumps into a track that has been severed, what happens? It will derail.

“If it derails, can you quantify how many passengers that would have died in the course of one man thinking he is making money?

”Some people have recommended that since these people are killing people, if an accident happens people will die, so we should go back to the National Assembly and pass a law that does not only criminalise the action but consequences should be death.”

The minister also said track vandalism is carried out in collaboration with foreign partners.

”In Jos, they arrested a Chinese company that bought those tracks from them, went to court and found them guilty and fined them N200, 000. So there must be consequences as N200,000 is not enough,” he added.

“Lagos and the Western District recorded one, North Western 31, Northern District 10, North Eastern 43, Eastern 36 and North Central 50 incidents of vandalism. Abuja-Kaduna has 13, Warri-Itakpe 2 and Lagos -Ibadan nill.”

Amaechi, who frowned at traders selling items on railway tracks, especially in Port Harcourt and Lagos, advised individuals engaging in the practice to desist or face the penalties.

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