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DEBTORS’ ASSEMBLY: Southwest States, Excluding Lagos State, Owe Pensioners N330bn – Union

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Osun Assembly passes N138.2bn 2023 Budget 

…Osun leads with N145 billion unpaid pensions and gratuities***

 States in the Southwest geopolitical zone, excluding Lagos State, owe pensioners N330 billion in pensions and gratuities.

The Southwest Zone of the Nigeria Union of Pensioners (NUP), made the declaration in Ibadan on Wednesday at the end of its zonal meeting.

Its spokesman, Dr. Olusegun Abatan, told newsmen at the end of the meeting that Osun led the debtor states with unpaid pensions and gratuities amounting to N145 billion.

Gov. Oyebanji

He noted that the issue of unpaid pensions arrears and gratuities in Osun got compounded during the tenure of Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, as governor of the state.

He said there had not been any improvement since Aregbesola left the office of governor.

Abatan said that Ondo, Ogun and Ekiti states owed N58 billion, N55 billion and N40 billion, respectively.

He added that Oyo State owed N43 billion before Gov. Seyi Makinde took office in May 2019.

He noted that Makinde had paid about N11 billion out of the N43 billion owed by his predecessors.

Abatan noted also that Lagos State did not belong to the group of debtor states because it was the first to embrace the Contributory Pension Scheme.

He added that Lagos State pensioners were also lucky to have had responsible leaders in government that took pensioners’ issues seriously.

He said the union had mandated each NUP council to meet their respective governors and negotiate on how to reduce and settle the arrears and where necessary go to court.

Abatan appealed to NUP members in the geopolitical zone to vote wisely at the forthcoming 2023 general elections and elect leaders that would address pensioners’ challenges.

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Economy

Mines: FG averts Crude oil mistakes, bans Export of Raw Gold, others

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Mines: FG averts Crude oil mistakes, bans Export of Raw Gold, others

The Federal Government through a recently approved policy has banned the export of raw gold, gemstones and other mineral deposits.

The Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Mr. Olamilekun Adegbite, said this when he was being interviewed in a programme in Abuja.

He said the policy known as the “Down Stream Mineral Policy” was approved to avert the mistakes made in the oil and gas sector.

He said the enabling environment had been created for stakeholders in the mines and steel sector to add value to mineral deposits before exporting.

He said, “if you mine and you cannot process it yourself, you can sell it off to processors in Nigeria.

“These processors would either buy it off you totally or process and resell or they can process and return it to you.

“So that is the policy in Nigeria now because we do not want to lose jobs or wealth to other countries.”

 Adegbite said that when he came into office in 2019, one of the things he realised was that the mining sector was beginning to make the same mistake made in the oil and gas sector.

 `” You know what we do in the oil and gas sector.

“We export crude oil and import petroleum into the country by that we export all our jobs out.

 “So I said we cannot make the same mistake with mining so I started very early in 2019 to develop a policy called “Down Stream Mineral Policy, ”he said.

He said the approval of the policy by the Federal Executive Council was a milestone for the sector, saying it would go a long way in repositioning the sector.

While citing the numerous benefits of a mineral deposit called kaolin, the minister said the deposit, which abounds in Bauchi State was being used by the pharmaceutical industry.

He said, “people in the pharmaceutical, plastic, cosmetics and paint industry use kaolin”.

Adegbite said as a fallout of the policy, the government had set up demonstration policy centres in Bauchi and other places.

According to him, the plant in Bauchi cannot meet local demand but a demonstration that it is possible.

He called on foreign and local investors who do not want to invest in mining to invest in processing.

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Economy

Auditors Uncover Massive Payroll Fraud in PAP; Individual Receiving 33 Persons’ Stipends– Committee.

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Auditors Uncover Massive Payroll Fraud in PAP; Individual Receiving 33 Persons' Stipends– Committee.

The Strategic Communication Committee (SCC) of the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP) on Sunday stated that external and internal auditors recently uncovered a massive payroll fraud in PAP.

The SCC Chairman, an ex-agitator, Mr Nature Kieghe, said at a news conference in Yenagoa that the discovery showed an individual was receiving stipends of 33 persons through fraudulent means.

He said about 513 persons were linked to multiple payments, insisting that the new management of PAP was poised to reposition the scheme for optimum performance.

Kieghe said following the development, the Interim Administrator, Maj.-Gen. Barry Ndiomu (retd), immediately initiated verification of all beneficiaries of the programme as part of the ongoing investigation.

He explained that the audit and efforts of Ndiomu to clean the payroll was the reason some beneficiaries of the programme had yet to receive their monthly stipends, adding that all affected and genuine outstanding stipends would be paid after verifications.

Describing Ndiomu’s efforts as proactive, Keighe said upon assumption of office, the amnesty boss renegotiated all existing contracts with vendors and in the process saved N1.5bn for PAP.

He said: “Ndiomu initiated internal and external audits of PAP’s database. The auditors uncovered monumental fraud, especially in the payment of stipends where an individual is receiving stipends meant for 33 persons through fraudulent means. 

“The proactive interim administrator has ordered immediate verification of all delegates to be carried out next week. Delegates are to be rest assured that whoever is verified will be paid immediately. 

“Upon assumption of office, Gen. Ndiomu initiated plans to renegotiate the existing contracts with vendors. In the process, he has been able to save over N1.5bn.”

Keghie said Ndiomu had concluded plans to set up cooperatives to be managed by ex-agitators and supervised by consultants and experts in grant management.

“The ex-agitators will be given grants of over N500m and revolving loans. They are to take responsibility for the success of the cooperatives. International donor agencies will be involved in providing grants and aid. He has opened channels of discussions with the foreign loans,” he said.

He noted that five months after his appointment, Ndiomu had replaced the Train, Employ and Mentor (TEM) model with the Train, Empower and Exit (TEE) to allow empowered beneficiaries to exit the programme.

While observing that Ndiomu had shown more commitment, patriotism, and transparency in the management of PAP, Keighe said the PAP boss had also indicated interest to revive the vocational training centres for ex-agitators.

He said: “Ndiomu has concluded arrangements to complete the construction of the four vocational training centres located in Bayelsa, Rivers, Delta and Ondo states. The centres will be fully equipped with state-of-the-art equipment.

“Ndiomu is committed to the idea of transforming the lives of the ex-agitators through innovative and structured training schemes.”

He said it was imperative to inform members of the public that Ndiomu had not delisted anybody but working round the clock to sanitise the PAP register for the good of the ex-agitators and the Niger Delta region.

He called on aggrieved ex-agitators to suspend all their planned actions against the PAP management and support the efforts of Ndiomu to sanitise the programme.

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Economy

Editor’s Pick: No NIN, No train, as Abuja-Kaduna Rail service starts in 6 days

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Editor's Pick: No NIN, No train, as Abuja-Kaduna Rail service starts in 6 days

…Customers to provide phone numbers, National identification Numbers before buying tickets; Sambo travels the tracks to assure on Safety ***

The Federal Government says train services between the Abuja and Kaduna route will resume within seven days from Nov. 27. Customers must however provide phone and National Identification numbers before buying tickets.

The Minister of Transportation Mua’zu Sambo disclosed this on Sunday while inspecting the test running of the train route.

The Minister said that this was to enable passengers to get used to the new requirements for enjoying the train service.

He said: ”The issue of whether the train will start tomorrow or not, we have not said the train services will start tomorrow.

”I want to be very categorical about that. Now, we have introduced a new system before you buy a ticket.

”Your purchase of a ticket requires you to provide a phone number and a national identification number in order to profile because that is the beginning of the security checks.

”So, at any point in time when a train moves from one station to another, we know who and who is on board.

”If you don’t have a NIN you are not going to board our train. It is as simple as that.

”If you are a minor, an adult will pay for you and will register for you and an adult can only register for not more than four minors.”

Sambo added that: ”Now, we want to give sufficient time for the Nigerian public to listen to these and assimilate this new system, because if we start tomorrow, a lot of people will be disgruntled.

”Definitely between three, four, five days, certainly not more than a week.”

He assured Nigerians that 90 percent arrangements had been completed for the smooth commencement of the services.

Sambo added that the remaining 10 percent measures would be achieved in a couple of days for a smooth commencement.

”I think we are 90 percent ready as far as what we are set out to do is concerned.

”The remaining 10 percent I am sure would be achieved in the next couple of days for full resumption of train services.

”Certain concrete measures that are feasible include ticketing. Security starts from ticketing so now you don’t buy a ticket unless you have a valid phone number and you have a NIN.

”And if you are a foreigner you also have a means of identification you can use which is produced by the National Identity Management Commission.

”Having secured your ticket, you will not get access to the lounge until the machine reads the barcode in your receipt.

”Your details will show and your complete profile will show on the screen. Only then will you be allowed to go into the lounge. This is what we call customer profiling,” Sambo said.

According to the minister, there will be an increased number of security personnel some of which may not be wearing uniforms in order to guarantee the safety of passengers.

He said: ”The other thing is that for every journey the train is monitored every second and the train driver can see up to a certain distance.

”If there are any threats on the track, that would enable him march the break before getting to the perceived threat.”

Sambo explained that there would be a reduced number of trips on the route and as the traveling population picked, the number of trips would increase.

”But we will certainly not travel at night,” he said.

He further said that some other sensitive equipment that would not be disclosed had also been put in place to ensure the safety of life and property.

On fares, he said discussions were in place and the fares could be increased.

”My assurance to Nigerians is that even I will be using the train and other of my counterparts who have homes in Kaduna.

” In fact, from next week they will start using this train so I am giving Nigerians full assurance that a human being can give that this train is safe for them to use.

”There is absolutely nothing to fear. We have learnt from what has happened and life is about learning lessons and adopting measures with the lessons.

”As a responsible government, we have seen those lessons and we have devised appropriate measures to counter it.

”Like I always say that I was not going to allow this train to resume until everybody in captivity was released and to the glory of God I have achieved that.”

The train services along the corridor were halted due to terrorist attack on March 28 which led to loss of lives and kidnap of some passengers.

In the meantime, the Minister of Transportation, Mu’azu Sambo, has expressed satisfaction over the level of security measures put in place along the Abuja- Kaduna train route, ahead of the resumption of service after being shut down for eight months following attack by terrorists.

The Minister indicated this on Sunday in Kaduna during an inspection of security and other measures put in place to forestall subsequent attack that may occur in the course of plying the Abuja-Kaduna corridor after resumption.

Sambo also reiterated that the use of National Identification Number (NIN) is now compulsory for purchase of train tickets while adults can only use their NIN to register for not more than four minors, adding that it would also take care of ticket racketeering. 

The Minister also expressed confidence that the measures put in place is adequate enough for the train service to commence.

“There are sensitive equipment which we have deployed that I will not reveal. The other thing I can tell you is that for every journey, the train is monitored every second on the screen. 

”The train driver can see from a distance if there are any threats on the tracts that will enable him match the break long before getting to the threat, and that is why I am telling you confidently,” said the Minister. 

The Minister debunked the rumor that train services will resume on Monday, adding that the newly introduced measures will delay the resumption of business along the corridor for a few more days for passengers to get acquainted with the new protocol involved in train boarding before it will resume service.

“We have not said that train services will start tomorrow. I want to be very categorical about that. 

“Now, we have introduced a new system before you buy a ticket. The purchase of a ticket requires you to provide a phone number and a national identification number in order to profile you because that is the beginning of the security checks. So at any point in time when a train moves from one station to another, we know who is on boar

“If you don’t have a NIN you are not going to board our train, it is as simple as that. If you are a minor, an adult will register for you and an adult can only register for not more than four minors.

“Now, we want to give sufficient time for the Nigerian public to listen to these two requirements, to assimilate this new system. So if you go and start tomorrow, a lot of people will be disgruntled. Why didn’t they tell us that this is a new way of doing it? Why didn’t they give us adequate time to do it? So we want to give you adequate time. Definitely between 3,4,5 days, certainly not more than a wee

Sambo assures Nigerians that a smooth and secure train ride is guaranteed, also noted that the trains will not travel at night for now, while there is also going to be a review in train fare

“I can assure you that we are a very sensitive government and will consider the masses in the review of the train fare

We are not going to tell you what we have done. It is a security matter and I have no apologies for that.  

“We’ll be monitoring it on a daily basis and improve on wherever we find some snags.

“The ticketing called e-ticketing has already been contracted to a company called secure ID. That concession has gone through the entire concession process under extant laws, including approval by the Federal Executive Council. So that concession remains in place for the duration of the concession period, which I think is 10 years.

Sambo said that although only God can guarantee maximum security, he assured Nigerians that everything is in place to guarantee a secure and smooth train ride.

“We are not going to tell you what we have done. It is a security matter and I have no apologies for that. 

“We’ll be monitoring it on a daily basis and improve on wherever we find some snacks.

The Minister assured that Secured ID will continue to handle the e-ticketing service.

“The ticketing called e-ticketing has already been contracted to a company called secure ID. That concession has gone through the entire concession process under extant laws, including approval by the Federal Executive Council. So that concession remains in place for the duration of the concession period, which I think is 10 years.

The Minister was accompanied by the Minster of State for Transportation, Ademola Adegoroye; Minister of Water Resources Eng. Suleiman Adamu; Managing Director, Nigeria Railway Corporation Fidet Okhiria; Chairman Governing Board Nigeria Railway Corporation Ibrahim Musa amongst others.

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