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Death toll in Italy storms rises to nine

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…As NNPC says Nigeria has no plan to increase petrol price***

The death toll from fierce storms battering Italy has risen to nine, civil protection authorities said Tuesday, as wild weather caused schools to close and trapped dozens of tourists in the north of the country.

With ferocious storms lashing the country, winds reached up to 180 kilometres an hour (110 mph) in some areas, toppling trees and causing flooding.

Five people were confirmed dead on Monday.

In addition, authorities Tuesday reported a woman died when her home was engulfed by a mudslide and rocks in the northern region of Trentino, a man was killed in the northeastern region of Veneto when by a falling tree, and a firefighter died during relief operations in South Tyrol.

Elsewhere, a man was killed while kitesurfing on Monday afternoon near the town of Cattolica on the Adriatic coast, with the local press saying strong winds had blown his board into the rocks.

A man is also missing at sea off Calabria in the southwest, after his boat was discovered empty washed up on the rocks along the coast.

Italian media have also reported that around 170 people, tourists and hotel staff, were stranded by heavy snowfall at the Stelvio Pass on the Swiss border.

In the northern, canal-ringed city of Venice, rain-soaked tourists were barred from St. Mark’s Square on Monday as local authorities said the “acqua alta” (high water) peaked at 156 centimetres (61 inches).

The waters have only topped 150 centimetres five times before in recorded history.

Genoa’s airport is set to remain closed until 1300 GMT as authorities clear the runways of detritus carried by the heavy rains, wind and tides.

Schools in the city are also closed for the day, with Rome and several other regions also halting classes due to the weather.

In the meantime, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) says it has no plans to increase pump prices of petroleum products, especially petrol.

The corporation disclosed this in a statement signed by its spokesman, Ndu Ughamadu, on Tuesday.

He said though NNPC, since October 2017, had been the sole importer of petrol into the country, the government had no plan to review the market prices of products either upwards or downwards now.

He cautioned Nigerians against spreading false news, and urged those doing so to be wary of the impacts their behaviour could have on the prices of petroleum products especially petrol as the festive period draws near.

According to him, if not checked, the rumours of unsubstantiated price review can lead to artificial scarcity and hoarding of products by consumers.

This, he added may result in unwarranted queues and suffering of Nigerians at fuel stations.

Mr Ughamadu urged members of the public to report any station that sells PMS above the N145 recommended price to the offices of the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) nationwide.

“The Department is authorised to monitor and regulate the Industry’s activities,’’ he added.

He reiterated the recent statement of the NNPC Group Managing Director, Maikanti Baru, that the corporation had 37 days stock of PMS in the country.

He added that the corporation had mapped out strategies to ensure that Nigerians have a hitch-free festive period.

Additional report from AFP

Economy

Sanitary Pads: Reps Query Minister Over N65m Spent On New Year Party, Others

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 The Minister of Women Affairs, Mrs Uju Kennedy-Ohaneye has drawn the ire of the House of Representatives following the unguarded manner she allegedly spent monies which included expenditures of N45 million for a New Year party and, N20 million for sanitary pads.

The House of Representatives which has now queried the minister, also frowned on her other unrelated expenditure which includes N1.5 million for vehicle fuel.

Rep. Kafilat Ogbara, Chairman, House Committee on Women Affairs, led the interrogation of the Minister, over the non-payment of N1.5 billion to contractors despite the fund release in Abuja.

She said that the investigative hearing was aimed at uncovering the truth and not witch-hunting the Minister and the officials of the ministry.

The committee also investigated the alleged diversion of funds meant for contractor payments, following a petition from contractors.

The committee also sought clarification on funds appropriated for the African First Lady’s mission and the whereabouts of the N1.5 billion meant for contractor payments.

The minister however denied the allegations of misappropriation, overspending, and non-payment to contractors.

The procurement officer confirmed contractors’ claims, and the Director of Finance and Administration acknowledged only paying approved contracts.

It would be recalled that the committee had at its last sitting summoned the minister to appear before it to explain the rationale behind the non-payment.

The committee also ordered the stoppage of all 2024 contract processes by the Ministry of Women’s Affairs until the whereabouts of the money for the said contracts are determined

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Economy

LASU: Town, Meets Gown Next Tuesday, To Make Rails Transportation More Meaningful

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LASU: Town, Meets Gown Next Tuesday, To Make Rails Transportation More Meaning

…NRC Boss, Engr. Okhiria is Pointman

The Town and the Gown will on Tuesday converge at the Lagos State University (LASU), in a mutual fusion of quality and sustainable ideas, as the Managing Director, Nigeria Railways Corporation speaks on where the eggheads necessarily need to intervene, for the overall benefit of the nation.

NRC Boosts Passenger- Safety With  Strong Armed Forces Collaboration 
Engr. Fidet-Okhiria

Prof. Bamidele Badejo who is now back in LASU, confirmed this to the Maritime First, highlighting that Engr. Freeborn Okhiria would meticulously dissect a critical issue, titled: ‘From Exclusive Clause To Concurrent List: Potency for sustainable rail infrastructure development in Nigeria and the Lagos State example.

Oluwaseun Osiyemi, the Lagos State Commissioner of Transport, will be in attendance; at an event which will flag off by noon prompt, Tuesday 16th, July 2024, at the Femi Gbajabiamila Conference Centre.

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Reps Probe Cbn’s N1.12trn Anchor Borrowers Scheme, NIRSAL’s N215b Loan

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Reps Probe Cbn’s N1.12trn Anchor Borrowers Scheme, NIRSAL’s N215b Loan

The House of Representatives has ordered probes into the N1.12 trillion anchor borrowers scheme, an initiative of the Federal Government’s interventions and agricultural funding through the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

Also included in the probe are the Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL), the Bank of Industry (BoI) and other agencies.

The resolution followed the adoption of a motion by Rep. Chike Okafor (APC-Imo) on the floor of the House in Abuja on Tuesday.

Presenting his motion, Okafor linked the growing food scarcity and malnutrition in Nigeria to the alleged mismanagement of agricultural funds intended for agricultural development in the country.

He said the Federal Government had expended N8 trillion in 8 years on various schemes and interventions in the last eight years with the view of making food available for millions of Nigerians.

He added that the alleged mismanagement, misapplication of funds and abuse of the programmes had left Nigeria with the twin challenges of food scarcity and malnutrition.

Okafor said that funds advanced to end users of the various Federal Government interventions had also been allegedly misused, misapplied and channelled to non-farming and non-agricultural purposes.

This, he said, was responsible for the current acute scarcity of food in the country.

Adopting the motion, the House mandated the Committee on Nutrition and Food Security as well as the Committee on Agricultural Production and Services; Agricultural Colleges and Institutions and Finance, to probe

The Committees were mandated to thoroughly investigate CBN’s alleged mismanagement of the Anchor Borrowers Program (ABP) for which ₦1.12 trillion was to be disbursed to 4.67 million farmers.

The farmers were said to be involved in either maize, rice or wheat farming through 563 anchors.

The committees are to look into NIRSAL’s disbursement of ₦215,066,980,274.52, to facilitate agriculture and agribusinesses.

The House gave the committees four weeks to report back to the House.

The house also mandated the committees to equally assess how the Bank of Industry (BOI) disbursed N3 billion to 22,120 smallholder farmers through the Agriculture Value Chain Financing (AVCF) Programme.

The committee is also to investigate the handling of the N5 billion loan facility to the Bank of Agriculture (BOA) for livestock farmers across the country.

This will include the management of the National Agricultural Development N1.6 billion Recovery Fund for the Ginger Blight Epidemics Central Taskforce (GBECT).

This is for the control of Blight disease in Ginger, among other interventions. 

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ADEBAYO SARUMI: Doyen of Maritime Industry Marks 80th Anniversary, Saturday 

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