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Lawmakers Budget Fresh N30bn For N’Assembly Renovation

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Lawmakers have budgeted an additional N30bn for the renovation of the National Assembly Complex in the 2024 Appropriation Bill.

The N30bn earmarked for the renovation of the building was part of the N344.85bn budgeted for the National Assembly after they raised their allocations from N197.93bn.

The N344.85bn, signed by President Bola Tinubu on January 1, is the highest ever allocated to the legislature.

The additional N30bn brings to N60bn the amount being spent on the renovation of the National Assembly complex.

The Senate President, Godswill Akpabio, who is also the President of the National Assembly, had on June 30, 2023, declared that Tinubu would in December, last year inaugurate the N30bn different ongoing projects at the National Assembly.

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Akpabio said, “The entire complex of the National Assembly is like a construction site due to ongoing general renovation work and fresh projects which would, on completion, be inaugurated by President Bola Tinubu in December this year (2023).”

The renovation was initially billed to be completed and delivered in August 2022 but the delivery date was later moved to January 2023 and then December 2023.

As of January 2024, the renovation of the National Assembly Complex is yet to be completed with skeletal work ongoing on the premises.

Our correspondent, who was at the site on Saturday, observed that the contractor, Visible Construction Company, was still at work.

An official of the construction firm, who spoke to our correspondent anonymously, said, “People keep blaming us for not finishing the project but those with the money have refused to release money to us.

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“How are we expected to finish the work without money? If money is released to our company, the project will be done in no time.”

Earlier during an oversight visit by the Senate Committee on Federal Capital Territory, the site engineer, Tajudeen Olanipekun, blamed “fluctuations in the value of naira to the United States dollar for the delay.”

This has hampered the importation of required materials and equipment, in addition to the need for more funds from the FCDA,” he said.

However, the Head, Public Relations, Federal Capital Development Agency, Richard Nduul, in June disclosed that N19bn had been paid to the construction company.

He said, “I would like to refer you to a recent press briefing by the Executive Secretary, Engr. Shehu Hadi Ahmad, just about three weeks ago, where disclosed that so far about N19bn has been expended out of the sum of N30bn being the cost of the contract awarded in 2021 to Messrs Visible Construction Nigeria Limited with a completion date of August 2023.

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“This project when completed, will bring the Complex to the status of a world-class parliamentary building that will ensure both the comfort, convenience and functionality of the complex,” Nduul added.

However, when our correspondent called Nduul to get an update on how much had been expended on the project, he said he was on sick leave.

He said, “Please call back on Monday so that I can get the records from the concerned department.”

In the same vein, our reporter reached out to the site engineer, Olanipekun for comment on the amount paid, but he refused to pick up his calls and even blocked our correspondent from reaching him.

He had also refused to reply to the text messages sent to him.

 

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Climate Change: Foundation Trains Students On Impacts, Adaption

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Group photograph of students, teachers and the foundation staff

In a bid to mitigating the effect of climate change in our society, a non-profit organisation, LILBECKKING DEVELOPMENT FOUNDATION in conjunction with The Social Change Nest, recently trained and enlightened students from selected secondary schools in Benin on how best to cope with the present situation.

INFO DAILY reports that the programme which was held at Leaders College, Ugbiyhoko, Benin, had in attendance: Stone Bridge Academy; Hallmark International School; Joyce Scholars Educational Centre, all in Benin city.

INFO DAILY also reports that 33 students and few teachers were trained and enlightened in the programme themed: ‘Youth Action on Clean Energy.’

Cross section of students trained during the training programme.

Enlightening the students, Secretary of the foundation, Mr. Destiny Aigbokhae, said climate change has significant impacts on youths and young people, hence the training.

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He said the focus was to train young ones so that they too “will be able to spread the message on climate change, it impacts and how best to adapt to it.”

Mr. Destiny Aigbokhae taking the students during the programme

According to him, “climate change does not just affect our lives alone, but it affects us socially and economically.”

Enumerating health risk, disrupted education, limited economic opportunities, inter-generational equity, etc, as impacts of climate change, Aigbokhae urged the society to embark on recycling of waste as a way of mitigating climate change.

He said to mitigate climate change, there’s a need for electrification of industrial processes; greater use of renewable energy and efficient means transport implementation.

 

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Wike Lists His Priorities As FCT Minister To British High Commission

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Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Nyesom Wike, has told the British High Commission in Abuja that security, agriculture and job creation are among the top priorities of the FCT Administration.

The minister made this statement when he received a delegation from the British High Commission in Nigeria led by the British High Commissioner, Richard Montgomery, on a courtesy visit to the FCT Administration on Tuesday.

The British High Commissioner had sought to understand the priorities of the FCT Administration for the development of the FCT in order to improve bilateral relations.

Responding, Wike said the creation of jobs, especially in the agricultural sector, is being prioritized to ensure that the teeming youth in the FCT are provided with a source of livelihood. He added that the FCT Administration, in line with the Renewed Hope Agenda of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, has also provided the necessary support to the security agencies to address the security challenges in the FCT.

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He said the ongoing provision of infrastructure in the Abuja city center and the Area Councils, apart from accelerating the development of the FCT, are also avenues for job creation for the youths who would be engaged during the course of the projects.

According to the Minister, “When you say priority, creation of jobs is key. If you are not able to create jobs, of course, you know what that will mean for the teeming youths. So, we believe that the creation of jobs is not only in the white-collar sector. Through these activities, many of the youths are employed.

“If you go to the area councils today, there are lots of jobs going on that have created opportunities for the youths to be employed. So, the creation of jobs is a priority for this administration.”

Stressing that the FCT has vast arable lands for agriculture, the FCT Minister also expressed the readiness of the FCT Administration to collaborate with investors in the agricultural sector to create employment for youths and promote food security.

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We have to remove the youths from the streets. So, we believe that in partnering with investors in the area of agriculture, that will also create jobs. So, that, in fact, to us, is a major priority. We will be interested if we can see partners in these areas,” the minister stressed.

Wike also added that the FCT is open to investments and collaborations in the tourism sector to make the city a major tourist attraction.

Speaking further on the security challenges in the FCT, the Minister stated that remarkable improvements have been achieved in the last few months due to the level of support and commitment of the security agencies.

The FCT Minister, who blamed the heightened insecurity in the FCT in the recent past on the activities of kidnappers and bandits, from the states sharing borders with the FCT, noted that the security agencies have done quite well to tame the activities of the bandits and other criminal elements.

He expressed confidence that the improved security in the FCT will also increase investors’ confidence in the nation’s capital.

We cannot say that we have been able to solve all the problems, but it is important to know that we are making progress, particularly on the issue of security, which has been a source of concern, not only to residents but the diplomatic community,” Wike said.

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Alleged Diversion Of Palliatives: Sacked Kogi Council Boss, Atawodi Breaks Silence

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Hassan Atawodi, the sacked Transition Chairman of Ofu Local Government Area, has opened up on why he was removed.

The Secretary to Kogi State Government, Folashade Arike Ayoade, had on Monday announced the sack of Atawodi in a statement by Governor Ahmed Usman Ododo, for allegedly diverting palliatives meant for his local government.

Speaking to journalists on Tuesday, Atawodi said he was removed from office courtesy of some political leaders who do not like him.

He added that the palliative meant for Ofu LGA was not handed over to him, saying, “How can I divert what was not given to me?”

While noting that it was a gang-up against him, as there was no time he diverted any palliatives meant for his people, Atawodi stressed that he was denied the clearance letter that would have allowed him to collect the palliative.

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“My travails began from the first day I was appointed, possibly because I was not the choice of some alleged power brokers in my local government. After signing for the palliative for Ofu, the next day I could not get the clearance letter because of orders from above.

“Upon assumption of office, I appointed my five aides and six special advisers. Later, they reported me to the powers that be that I made the appointments without consulting them.

“They went to the extent of sending pictures of somebody I appointed to say he was a member of an opposition party.

“I was asked to meet with the Leader of the local government in the company of the House of Assembly member, the local government, and the zonal party chairmen, which I did and asked that they should please forgive me, following their report, with a call on them to please join me so that we can work together.

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“Following my appeal to those who reported me over the appointment, I was asked to dissolve the aides I appointed, which I did by going on air as promised and dissolved all the SSAs.”

The former Transition Chairman said he is innocent of the allegations of diversion of palliatives leveled against him, calling on the State Governor of Kogi State to look into the matter critically, as the said palliative was never handed over to him.

Continuing, he said, “I was not given a palliative to share. On hearing about the palliative, I went to the Commissioner for Humanitarian Affairs, who said there is an instruction for me not to be given the palliative.

“The ommissioner asked me to put a call across to the Deputy Governor before it could be released. I called from the morning through till about 4:00 pm on the said day, without my calls being picked.

“I later went back to the Commissioner, who said the Deputy Governor is yet to call. I had to leave to return the following day.

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“The next day, upon arrival at the Government House, I saw the DLG, SLG, and the APC Chairman for my local government. The commissioner said he has been directed to release the palliative to them.

“I was asked by the Commissioner to remain calm, particularly that with the several leaders I have in my local government, he doesn’t think I should bother myself with how the palliative would be shared.

“After they moved the palliative from the Muhammadu Buhari Civic Centre, I called the DLG to ask about the whereabouts of the palliative, that is the 1200 bags of rice. He said it was off-loaded at the residence of the Zonal Chairman in Ejule. I asked if it was safe there, as I would have guaranteed that if brought to the Local Government Secretariat, it would be safer and would reach the intended beneficiaries.

“I was at the Governorship Tribunal in Abuja yesterday when somebody called me to inform me that a letter of replacement was being typed to replace me, after which I was later told that I had been replaced.”

While the former Transition Chairman said he has taken the power play against him as the will of God, he lamented that he was surprised to read on social media that his sack was connected with the alleged diversion of palliatives that were never given or handed over to him.

“My hands are clean, and I know that my God will fight for me. Since my assumption, it’s been one battle to another. The DSS are all aware of my travails.”

The former Transition Chairman called on Gov. Ahmed Usman Ododo to constitute an investigation into the reason behind his removal, pointing out that it could not have been over a palliative that was not handed over to him.

 

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