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Hulu hires Google marketing veteran Kelly Campbell as CMO

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Alleged ₦81.2bn Tree Planting Scandal: House Committee Exonerates NAGGW

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The House of Representatives Adhoc Committee set up to investigate the utilisation of Ecological Fund released to the National Agency for the Great Green Wall (NAGGW), has absolved the Agency’s management of allegations of fraud allegations leveled against it.

The Honorable Ismaila Dabo-led Adhoc committee was set up in July, to investigate allegations of mismanagement of funds released to the agency from the Ecological Fund.

This followed a motion titled: “The Need to Investigate the Utilization of Ecological Funds Released to the Great Green Wall by the International Organizations from 2015 to Date; and All Federal Allocations to the National Agency for the Great Green Wall as well as all Contract Awarded to Various Contractors for the Project from 2019 to Date.” which was sponsored by Honourable Ali Lawan Shettima.

The House panel, in a report obtained by Vanguard, on Sunday, revealed that it reached the conclusion after considering oral evidence and reviewing documents made available to it by those who testified before the 15 member committee.

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At the inaugural sitting of the Adhoc Committee, the management team of the agency was invited to shed light on allegations that it spent ₦81.2 billion on the planting of 21 million trees across 11 frontline states.

The States listed were:  Kebbi, Sokoto, Zamfara, Katsina, Kano, Jigawa, Bauchi, Gombe, Adamawa, Yobe and Borno.

The House Committee equally queried the agency over discrepancies in some of its expenditures.

Director General/CEO of National Agency for the Great Green Wall (NAGGW), Dr. Yusuf Maina Bukar, in his presentation before the Committee in September,  denied the allegation while making clarifications on budgetary allocations to the agency.

He informed the committee that he assumed office in April 2022, and that berifiable records show that the sum of ₦53,425,423,874.34 was the amount released to the Agency from inception to July 2023,  as against the sum of N81.2 bn which the Agency was alleged to have spent.

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Bukar insisted the Agency has not acted outside its mandate in the implementation of its mandate.

According to him, not all of the ₦53,425,423,874.34 received were directly spent for tree planting activities as some uninformed persons would want Nigerians to believe.

He said, “The NAGGW cost of planting, from inception in 2015 to July 2023 is ₦5,145,735,470.15

“That the approximate sum of ₦7.2 billion balance in the Agency’s account are liabilities already committed to ongoing contracts that have already been awarded.

“All unutilized funds from capital appropriation are refunded to Federal Government TSA account at the end of the financial year where applicable.”

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The Honourable Dabo fifteen-man Committee in its report also faulted the claim that the agency received the sum of ₦81.2 bn noting that, “Evidence from the Hearing indicates that the NAGGW received a total sum of ₦53,425,423,874.34 (Fifty-three Billion, Four Hundred and Twenty-five Million, Four Hundred and Twenty-three Thousand, Eight Hundred- and Seventy-four-naira, Thirty-four Kobo) only from inception in 2015 to July, 2023.”

In the course of its investigations, the Committee also discovered that the Agency didn’t receive budgetary allocation for 2015; and that ecological funding was not released to the agency until 2019.

The House panel also discovered that, “the percentage of ecological funding going to the Agency was reduced from 15% provided for by the Act to just 5% with effect from January 2020 to date.”

The report acknowledged the paucity and untimely release of funds, inability to access foreign assistance and absence of a Governing Board as some of the factors hindering the performance of the agency.

The lawmakers equally expressed displeasure over the unilateral reduction in the statutory allocation to the agency by fiat, and urged government, as a matter of urgency revert the Ecological Fund releases to the agency back to 15 percent  as provided for by the NAGGW Act.

The report further read in part, “That the total sum of ₦20,168,363,662.18 (Twenty Billion, One Hundred and Sixty- Eight Million, Three Hundred and Sixty-Three Thousand, Six Hundred- And Sixty-Two-Naira, Eighteen Kobo) only being the shortfall of the reduction from Ecological Fund for January, 2020 to date, be immediately released to the Agency to fund its activities;”

Other recommendations contained in the report read : “Similarly, the Ecological fund office should calculate remit to the NAGGW the total sums due to the agency from the Ecological Fund from 2015 to 2018;

“Urge the National Agency for the Great Green Wall to as a matter of urgency include the frontline states of Adamawa, Bauchi and Gombe States in the fourth phase of the a forestation projects which is to commence soon.

“There is urgent need for the agency to undertake recruitment of staff, especially for its offices at the front line states;

“Need for a greater collaboration and synergy between the NAGGW and the Federal Ministry of Environment;”

“Urge the Federal Government to constitute a Governing Board for the National Agency for the Great Green Wall;

“Need for extensive enlightenment of the general public on the sustainable use of the forest for preservation.”

Aside from submissions by the Federal Ministry of Environment, the Central Bank of Nigeria, Office of the Accountant General of the Federation and the Ecological Project Office, the Committee also undertook on-the-spot assessment visit to projects sites in some of the frontline states, namely; Kano, Jigawa and Sokoto State.

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UNILORIN Extends POST-UTME Registration

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The University of Ilorin, Unilorin, has approved an extension of POST-UTME registration by one week to cater for days of technical hitches.

This is contained in a statement issued in Ilorin on Sunday by Mr Mansur Alfanla, the Registrar of the university.

He announced that the new deadline for registration is Dec. 17, 2023.

READ ALSO: UNILORIN Grants Staff Children 25% School Fees Discount

It would be recalled that the deadline of the POST-UTME registration was December 10, before the extension.

The registrar therefore advised intending candidates to register within the extended period as there would not be further extension.

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Disclose How Much Oil Nigeria Produces, Exports Daily, SERAP Tells NNPC

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The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, SERAP, has urged Mele Kolo Kyari, the Group Chief Executive Officer, Nigerian National Petroleum Company, NNPC, Limited to disclose how much oil Nigeria produces and exports daily within seven working days.

SERAP alleged that the NNPCL had failed to disclose the amounts of barrels of oil the country produces and exports according to information at its disposal.

The organization also asked Kyari “to disclose how much of the revenues generated from oil have been remitted to the public treasury since the removal of subsidy on petrol.”

READ ALSO: Publish Campaign Funding Sources, SERAP Tells Atiku, Tinubu, Others

This was disclosed in a letter signed by SERAP Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, noting there was a legitimate public interest in disclosing the information sought.

“Nigerians are entitled to the right to receive information without any interference or distortion, and the enjoyment of this right should be based on the principle of maximum disclosure, and a presumption that all information is accessible subject only to a narrow system of exceptions.”

“By Section 1 (1) of the Freedom of Information (FoI) Act 2011, SERAP is entitled as of right to request for or gain access to information, including information on the details of barrels of oil Nigeria produces and exports every day and the total amounts of revenues generated and remitted to the public treasury.”

READ ALSO: SERAP Drags Akpabio, Oshiomhole, Others To Court, Wants Their Salaries, Pensions Stopped

SERAP argued that the “Opacity in the amounts of barrels of oil the country produces and exports daily, the revenues generated and remitted to the public treasury would have negative impacts on the fundamental interests of the citizens and the public interest.”

The organization said it would consider appropriate legal actions to compel the NNPCL to comply with the requests in the public interest, if it did not get any response within seven days.

SERAP recalled that the former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, had last week alleged that “the NNPCL is failing to remit enough foreign exchange into the treasury despite the removal of fuel subsidy.”

According to the organization the NNPCL has a legal responsibility to promote transparency and accountability in barrels of oil the country produces and exports every day.

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