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NDDC FRAUD: DON’T PULL WOOL OVER OUR EYES

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NDDC FRAUD: DON’T PULL WOOL OVER OUR EYES

By Stella Odife

The ongoing rumble in the jungle at the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) obviously exposes the rot and the level of grip the criminals have on us in our society. I weep for my country, Nigeria. I am not a fan of the federal legislators. This is not because I do not value their job but because they do not merit what they are paid for representing their constituencies. The ignorance of the constituents, no doubt, gives the legislators unfettered rights to misrepresent the constituents.

They rather represent their personal interests and yet, none of them has ever been recalled. I also do not so much appreciate them (federal lawmakers) because of the unnecessary burden created for the government in meeting the approved emoluments for the two Houses – House of Representatives and the Senate. I believe we should go the Parliamentary way of representation to cut cost of maintenance. At the moment, we have 360 House members and 109 Senators making it a total of 469. Each House Member takes approximately N25 million per month, while each Senator takes approximately N36 million monthly (according to Emir Sanusi), bringing it to a total of N432 million per annum for a Senator, and approximately N300 million per House member in a year. For a country that is saddled with a debt profile of $90 billion, for a country where no civil servant that has served the government for 35 years and risen to the highest level takes home more than N500,0000 per month, this cannot be normal.

The salary, emoluments and allowances of House members are very offensive, sickening and sound like a fairy tale, and yet it is true. Their case is for another study and I assure you it will follow soonest.

So, permit me to step down the House members’ discussion in this article as they are not the focal point. Let me not be guilty of what gave rise to this write up by falling prey to Prof. Kemebradikumo Daniel Pondei, acting managing director of NDDC, distraction. That is, using the House members as a shield for the monumental fraud NDDC committed under his watch within a space of four months. Back to the NDDC saga, one would have kept silent, had they not tried to intimidate, arrest and possibly eliminate the former acting chairman, Ms Joi Nunieh, a woman who was summoned to respond to issues, which she, as the immediate highest ranking officer, was in a position to give. Thanks to the Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike, the story would have been different today.

As the coordinator of a non-governmental organization (NGO) on women’s rights, Ms Nunieh’s predicament became an object of serious concern to us and our friends all over the world. And we thank the court for granting her fundamental rights not to be arrested without warrant and without any formal case against her. Women’s Organization for Gender Issues (WOGI), for instance, would want to hold responsible those who were quick to continue the delivery of palliatives to the same Police, which had sought to arrest her without warrant, should anything happen to her in the future. At this point, it is worthy to state that the NDDC boss, Professor Pondei, as well as Senator Cairo Ojuogboh and His Excellency, Godswill Akpabio, who is minister of the Niger Delta Commission, should stop pulling wool over our eyes on the NDDC saga. Yes, NDDC has been a cesspool of corruption since its inception and no one has bothered to check the recklessness of its management until now. But the main issue at stake is that Prof. Pondei and Co. travelers’ hands were caught in the pot of soup of NDDC, stealing all the ingredients in it.

Instead of them to be arrested, detained, investigated, prosecuted and jailed for stealing, they are trying to confuse the public. They are trying to tell us that the hands caught stealing from the NDDC pot between February and the end of June are not theirs but those of the House Committee members, who caught them in the act. It is grievously unfair if the system should allow the three musketeers –Pondei, Ojuogboh and Akpabio to go scot free, and use their “soup-soiled hands” to smear the committee members’ body. One had kept quiet until they put up the allegation against a Senator for a contract on the supply of chairs and tables by Pondei. For the unsuspecting public, Pondei did not tell the public that contracts are not awarded to the House members directly, but are taken to their constituencies.

What is true is that House committee members try to influence the award of contracts in favour of their constituencies. And there is nothing wrong with this as long as the contract is of importance to their area, and that it is executed, not abandoned after collection of money. And if a contract is not executed and the money for its execution has been disbursed, then there is need to go after the contractor/company that got paid. The veil of the company can be lifted should the need arise to know the beneficiaries or at least the owners of that company.

What irked one most is that Prof. Pondei rather went after a contract that was awarded before he was appointed Acting MD of NDDC, an office he assumed February this year. Between February 2020 to end of June 2020, Prof. Pondei awarded contracts well over N80 billion. No mention was made on any of those contracts. The Niger Delta people would want to know what the contracts are, who are the contractors and the nature of the companies. Having paid out so much amount of money, how far have the contractors gone in the execution of the contracts? Pondei’s action so far is like a drowning man clinging unto anything he can hold, either to save himself or drown with it. Nigerians should remember that it is the same Pondei, who told Niger Delta people or the public that they paid themselves well over N3 billion as palliative to be alive to serve them as if they are not paid salaries etc.

One also would have kept quite had “Senator Ojuogboh not come out on national television to tell us that the House did not approve the payment of the scholarship of NDDC sponsored students, who are studying abroad, because the money for it was not appropriated. Can Ojuogboh then tell us whether the money for the air fare and Estacode paid them to go and see the students was appropriated by the House? Can he also tell Nigerians whether the palliatives they paid themselves were appropriated? Can the three musketeers tell us whether the money for palliatives given to the Police to arrest Nunieh was also appropriated by the House before they provided it? Another key question they must answer is: To whom were the contracts awarded during the lockdown? I ask these questions because Ojuogboh, to distort the issue of their reckless spending during the lockdown and after, came up with the blame of not paying the students’ school fees on the House members for their not appropriating the funds for it. The House members who were aware of this anomaly and wickedness on the students should be named and they should tell Nigerians why they could not appropriate money for the student’s scholarship. The main issue at stake is how Pondei, who only assumed office in February, ended up spending over N80 billion within four months, despite the lockdown and slow pace of business resumption within the said period. They should be made to refund the money or go to jail. They should be used as an example to stop scrupulous elements assuming leadership positions and getting away with all manners of fraud. All NDDC abandoned contract in Niger Delta area should be listed out and investigated and appropriate punishment should be meted out. House members found culpable should be exposed, removed from the House and made to face the law.

It is now a strategy for anybody called to give account of stewardship to use the implication of the House members in contract awards to get away with fraud and mismanagement. It is also a known strategy used by rogue leaders, who are called to account to “faint” at such hearings. But Pondei, Ojuogboh and Akpabio must not be allowed to continue the deceit by pulling the wool over our eyes. The final disturbing aspect of this whole saga is the moral or immoral, ethical or unethical effect it is having on the psyche of the average Nigerian, especially the youth. How can a youth in his/her late 20s or early 30s with a Master’s or Doctorate Degree be roaming the streets without a job, only to watch recycled politicians or professors plunder the commonwealth of their nation? Recall that the most famous Greek Philosopher, Socrates, was in 399 B.C condemned to death by drinking the hemlock poison because he was found “guilty of corrupting the minds of the youth.” If these plundering leaders were to be tried by the Greek jurisprudences of the Socratic era, most of them would have been decapitated for not only corrupting the youth but also raping the ethics, morality and future.

Barrister Odife, executive director, Women’s Organization for Gender Issues (WOGI) wrote from Abuja.

  • GuardianNg

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DOMESTIC VIOLENCE IN TODAY’S MARRIAGE; WHAT SHOULD I DO IF I’M IN SUCH CONDITION AS A BELIEVER?

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DOMESTIC VIOLENCE IN TODAY’S MARRIAGE; WHAT SHOULD I DO IF I’M IN SUCH CONDITION AS A BELIEVER?

Domestic violence is a violence or other abuse in a marriage.
Domestic violence could involve any body but I’m looking at it in a family setting between a man and his wife.

Domestic violence includes

  • Physical, verbal, emotional, economic, religion reproductive and sexual abuse.

Many people are going through a lot in marriages today, some Christan homes inclusive. This has caused a lot of harms in homes, churches and the society at large. So many women have lost their lives in the process,men inclusive but women are mostly at the receiving end. And they endure mostly even to the point of loosing their lives. This they do because of:

  1. The love they have for their spouse
  2. Because of their children
  3. What the society will say about them
  4. Because of their faith and religion.

Please when beating and sexual molestation becomes the case in your home, there’s need for separation.

Now in as much as the Bible frowns at divorce, I don’t think it’ll be reasonable for one to remain in an abusive marriage where his/her life is a stake. The same children you think about will still be maltreated, neglected and will be forced to face horrible situations the moment you are gone. The same society you are thinking of what they will say will still blame you for not speaking out on time. Your making heaven is even very slim because I don’t think your heart is clean in that condition. Your bad thoughts, unforgiveness and bitterness is enough to send you to hell. And instead of you to commit murder, I think you should separate if that’s the only option left.

Many women are going through alot. When a domestic violence involves life threatening abuses, there’s need for you to seek for help.

Many women have died in this process. Pls being born again doesn’t mean your brain should be suspended. Yes divorce is a sin but you shouldn’t die either because you are married. You are being asked to keep praying often times, yes but you could do that also while away. Many women are dying silently. Women please speak out in such conditions, don’t keep quiet. Make sure the problem is not from you. Make sure you are not the cause of it.

I have seen a woman beating blue black by her husband. Not once not twice. Infact the man always use cane,belt etc on her. And she’s asked to keep praying. What if she die one day? What if she couldn’t take it any longer and tries to defend herself and kill her partner in the process, what will be her lot?

Women should take the necessary steps the moment they see that things are getting out of hand.

Try to see how you could save the situation by involving your spiritual leaders, your both families,the people your partner respects so much and if there’s no changes please take a break while you pray and take the necessary steps to save your marriage.

Pls note that your being away is for the mean time. Even while away you are to remain and keep your body. It’s not a time to go about messing up. If you do that you are commenting sin. You are to maintain sexual purity. Even when your partner is doing otherwise. The only time remarriage is possible is when one partner is dead. See Romans 7:2,1cor.7:39.

Neighbors should as well look out for their fellow women/men. Please speak out for them. Some of them are in a tight corner and can’t help themselves.

Stay tuned for the next post on this same topic!

Say no to domestic violence.

What’s your take on this? Share your opinion.
Will you allow your daughter, sister, brother,son go through domestic violence?
What will you have them do;the abused?

By Chika Helen Nwabueze’

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LEKKI SHOOTINGS: SANWO-OLU HAS LOST CREDIBILITY, SAYS FSD

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LEKKI SHOOTINGS: SANWO-OLU HAS LOST CREDIBILITY, SAYS FSD

By Oladimeji Ramon

A group, the Federal Social Democrats, says the credibility and integrity of the Lagos State Governor, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu, have been diminished by the alleged shooting of #EndSARS protesters by soldiers at the Lekki tollgate on the night of October 20.

According to the group, the Lekki incident has eroded the admiration that Sanwo-Olu won with his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The group, in statement on Sunday signed on its behalf by Olutola Mobolurin, also condemned the harassment of #EndSARS protest leaders through the freezing of their bank accounts and stopping them from travelling outside the country.

The FSD’s statement was titled, ‘Statement by the Federal Social Democrats On the #EndSARS Movement and Violence in the Wake of Lekki Shootings.’

The group said, “Governor Sanwo-Olu, who before now has been credited with responsible and energetic response to the COVID-19 pandemic, has by this one act lost his credibility and integrity for many. He has a big task in regaining the confidence of the public and youths; his credibility gap surrounding what happened at the Lekki Toll Plaza is not helped by the insensitive bluster of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu at the governor’s residence stating that those who were injured and presumably those who died had questions to answer.”

Though the group condemned the destruction of public assets and looting that trailed the shootings at the Lekki tollgate, it said the mayhem pointed to the alienation of a large number of youths from society by government.

It said, “The so-called hoodlums are the youths that have been denied any stake in society by the self-dealing and state capture that have characterised governance over the last 30 years. Millions of our youths have been uneducated, unemployable and with no meaningful social safety net. Even for the millions who are educated and skilled, long-term unemployment has been their experience in the Nigerian prebendal political economy that serves primarily the interests of public office holders and their cronies.

“Some of the ‘hoodlums’ responsible for the trashing of Lagos are the youths and ‘the toughies’ that many politicians have over the years employed to subvert the democratic process through intimidation of voters and perpetration of violence during elections.”

The group said the organisers of the #EndSARS protests deserved commendation for the resourcefulness, transparency and accountability which they demonstrated.

The group condemned “the growing reports of compilation of names of the assumed leaders and facilitators of the protests for government reprisals.”

It said, “Those that are being targeted are reportedly being prevented from travelling outside Nigeria while accounts of some have been frozen. This is hardly the hallmark of a democratic government that is interested in dialoguing with the youths or learning positive lessons from the #EndSARS protests. It is also a violation of the spirit of government’s acceptance of the 5 for 5 agenda. The President should stop all these acts of witch-hunt.”

The FSD solicited support for the Lagos State Government to rebuild and replace the vandalised public assets.

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APPOINTMENT OF WTO CHIEF IN DOUBT AFTER KEY MEETING CANCELLED

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APPOINTMENT OF WTO CHIEF IN DOUBT AFTER KEY MEETING CANCELLED

• Nigeria’s Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala had been expected to be confirmed as leader on Monday

By Richard Partington

The race to find a new leader of the World Trade Organization has been thrown into renewed uncertainty after the cancellation of a key appointment meeting following the US presidential election.

The Geneva-based WTO, which acts as an international arbiter for trading disputes, said it had put off a meeting scheduled for Monday that had been called to appoint Nigeria’s Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as its next director general.

Donald Trump’s administration opposed her selection in one of its final acts before the US election, despite the former Nigerian finance minister securing the overwhelming backing of the WTO’s 164 members.

The special meeting of the trade body’s general council had been convened to take a formal decision on the appointment. Officials had been set to put forward Dr Okonjo-Iweala as the candidate most likely to attract a majority, after most countries expressed a preference for her over South Korea’s Yoo Myung-hee.

Okonjo-Iweala had moved a step closer to becoming the first woman and the first African to be director of the global trade watchdog after securing backing from the EU, China, Japan and Australia. Liam Fox, the leading Brexiter and former international trade secretary, had run as the UK government’s preferred candidate but failed to win enough support from other countries to reach the last two in the process.

Trade experts said Joe Biden defeating Trump in last week’s election may have led to countries calling for a delay in the WTO leadership race, with the aim of securing the Biden White House’s backing for Okonjo-Iweala after he takes charge in January.

The delay in selecting a new WTO director general comes at a fragile moment for the world economy amid the second wave of Covid-19, and after years of criticism of the WTO and calls for reform from Trump.

The WTO said the meeting would be postponed until further notice, during which time the organisation would continue undertaking consultations with delegations from countries around the world to pick a new leader.

It said in a statement: “For reasons including the health situation and current events, delegations will not be in a position to take a formal decision on 9 November.”

  • TheGuardian

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