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$16bn power scandal – The Nation Newspaper

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• We are happy the EFCC is now to probe the expenses

We are encouraged by the report that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is set to commence the probe of the $16 billion allegedly spent by the administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo on the power sector. With good faith and demonstrable professionalism, there is a fair chance that the riddle that has hitherto surrounded those expenditures will finally be cracked and a definite closure put on that sordid episode in the nation’s public finance history.

Why is the probe important at this time? First, we understand that there is no such thing as a statute of limitation against criminal behaviour, just as a possible closure of that sordid chapter would be deemed inconceivable without full accounting for that tragic episode under which those entrusted with public duty used the cover of an emergency to fleece an unsuspecting nation to the tune of billions of dollars.

Second, there is need to punish criminal behaviour if only to send the signal that actions carry consequences, whether now or in the future. Third, it is our view that when such incidences are properly documented for posterity, there is a fair chance that aspirants for public office can learn from them.

To those who see the probe as either needless or a witch-hunt, we can only invite them to weigh the entire saga on the scale of public policy; only then would they see the incalculable injury done to the entire citizens and the country’s institutions, as against the private gains of a greedy, irresponsible few. In any case, fears of witch-hunt are best addressed, not by shirking in the public duty of calling those individuals to account for their stewardship, but to avail them of opportunity to present their side of the case in an open and transparent manner.

We say this because the power sector scam has remained one major issue in our public life that continues to present intriguing riddles than answers, even when the issues should ordinarily be quite straightforward. Whereas Nigerians were told that billions of dollars were spent on the power sector, the outcome has been one of regression on actual delivery on a scale that defies comprehension. Far from letting bygones be bygones, the citizens need to understand what went tragically wrong; and given the scale of the alleged malfeasance, the EFCC would seem in the best position at this time to ensure that citizens not only get to know all the details but also to have the last word.

How much did the so-called National Integrated Power Project (NIPP) gulp?  We are aware that various figures have been bandied depending on who is giving the figures. The late President Umaru Yar’Adua told the nation that that the NIPP gulped $10 billion; his special assistant on power sector, Folusheke Shomolu, who also served Obasanjo in the same capacity, was given the boot when he publicly contradicted his boss. Even the much-hyped probe by the Ndudi Elumelu-led house committee on power which, unfortunately, also got itself mired in alleged bribery scandal came up with about $13.28 billion as against former house speaker Dimeji Bankole’s earlier figure of $16 billion.

With the EFCC probe, Nigerians will, hopefully, have the conflicting figures reconciled. More than that, we expect the body to finally lift the mask off the faces of the abusers of our common wealth and subsequently, to put them through an expeditious process of trial, all in an effort to put the sordid chapter behind us.

To proceed, the EFCC might find some of the findings of the Ndudi Elumelu committee useful. We refer to its finding that payments on all NIPP were made without following due process, how officials rushed to pay contractors in full even before engineering design for the projects had been completed and approved, how overpricing and systematic over-scoping of projects to inflate costs, among other abuses, were the order of the day. Nigerians, surely are interested in knowing the extent to which the rules guiding the approvals were breached and those responsible for them; and those contractors who collected billions and failed to deliver. We expect the anti-graft body to leave no stone unturned in the bid to unearth the whole truth.

Nigeria

Gov AbdulRazaq urges youths to shun drug abuse, other vices

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Gov AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq of Kwara has called on Nigerian youths to shun drug abuse and other vices that could hinder them from realising their lifetime ambitions.

AbdulRazaq made the call on Wednesday when he received members of the state chapter of Scouts’ Association of Nigeria (SAN), led by its Commissioner, Deacon Olabisi Afolayinka, at the Government House, Ilorin.

The governor, who recalled, with nostalgia, his days as a scout boy in Capital School, Kaduna, said that the organisation had contributed immensely to nurturing youths to become good citizens and contribute to the development of the country.

“This is an association that prepares youths on how to be good citizens and how to relate with their fellow countrymen.

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“These are virtues that the youth of today should maintain. In our own days as youths, there were no rampant cases of drug abuse,” he said.

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The governor urged the youth to use their energy for productive ventures and join the organisation to make positive contributions to society.

AbdulRazaq, who was made the organisation’s Ambassador of Peace, promised to live up to expectations by giving necessary support to the body through relevant government agencies.

Earlier in his remarks, Afolayanka said that the constitution of the body automatically made the governor of any state its patron and the president grand patron.

He commended AbdulRazaq for the audience granted the association, saying that this was the first time any governor would be hosting them in the state in the last 21 years.

Afolayanka said that the association was founded to build young boys and girls to make useful contributions to the country.

The SAN commissioner noted that cultism and other vices were not rampant in schools in the past when the scouts held sway.

He urged the governor to continue to support the association for effective discharge of its responsibilities in the state.

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Nigeria

NYSC: Bwari assures Corp members improved welfare

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The Chairman of Bwari Area Council, Mr John Gabaya has assured members of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) of his administration’s readiness to improve on their welfare.

Gabaya gave the assurance when representatives of the FCT NYSC Secretariat, and some members of the NYSC 2019 Batch B’, paid him a courtesy visit on Wednesday in Abuja.

Gabaya, who appreciated the team for the gesture, said that it was the duty of the council, as host of the NYSC Orientation Camp in the city to ensure it gave the Corps maximum support.

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He acknowledged the fact that the camp in Kubwa, was faced with infrastructure challenges, adding that efforts would be made to amendments it and bring succour to the corps members.

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“The council, in its capacity, alongside the management of the scheme, would meet and discuss how it would make the development feasible including our best effort to add a little raise to their allowance,” Gabaya said.

Earlier, the NYSC FCT Coordinator, Mrs Waleeda Isa, said the visit was to acquaint its officials with the new administration of the council as host of the orientation camp.

Isa decried the sorry state of infrastructure at the NYSC camp, saying “their lodge in the camp is dilapidated and needs attention”.

“Also, it would go a long way for those who serve under the council, if your administration can kindly add a little to their allowance to augment what the Federal Government is giving them.

“We will be honoured if you make these efforts so that we feel your presence and know that you have us at heart,” she said.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the NYSC 2019 Batch B’ corp members have reported and would be inaugurated at the orientation camp on Aug. 22.

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Nigeria

Lagos govt boosts MCC services in Eti-Osa Tribune Online

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THE Lagos State Government says it has completed yet another Maternal and Childcare Centre (MCC) located in Eti-Osa Local Government Area of the state to increase residents’ access to qualitative maternal and child healthcare.

The state Commissioner of Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi, made this known on Wednesday in Lagos during an advocacy meeting with community leaders and residents of Badore.

Abayomi was represented by the Director of Projects, Ministry of Health, Dr Olusola Oduwole.

He said that the continuous implementation of strategic maternal child survival interventions, policies, programmes and projects by the government was geared toward the reduction of maternal and child mortality in the state.

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According to him, the local and national statistics of maternal and child mortality and morbidity rate are of utmost concern to the government hence, the adoption of various strategies to combat it.

“One of these strategies is the construction of MCC, a specialised healthcare centre for mothers and children.

“It is aimed at taking maternal and child healthcare closer to the people by reducing the travel time and improving the quality care to the highest possible standard,” the commissioner said.

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Abayomi said that the MCC was located on Ogombo Road along Abraham Adesanya Estate in Eti-Osa local government area.

According to him, the facility is a four-floored 110-bed complex designed to respond to maternal and child health issues.

“It will provide quality services for the restoration, improvement and promotion of the health and well-being of women, babies and children in the local government area and adjoining communities.

“It has two theatres where surgeries can be done; consulting rooms; treatment rooms, antenatal and postnatal wards; baby nursery; pharmacy, laboratory and offices, among others,” he said.

Abayomi said that the construction of MCCs in the state was designed to stem the tide of maternal deaths which occurred as a result of delivery by unskilled birth attendants, haemorrhage, infection, obstructed labour and malaria, among others.

He said that women should not die in the course of life procreation process.

“The concept of the construction of MCCs was mooted with the conviction that these interventions will impact positively on the health indices of our mothers and children who constitute a significant percentage of clients attended to at public health facilities.

“The Eti-Osa MCC will commence operation before the end of the week and will serve as a referral centre to all primary health facilities in Eti-Osa local government and accompanying communities.

“It will yield the much desired and anticipated impact towards the reduction of maternal and child mortality in the area,” the commissioner said.

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Nigeria

Psychiatric resident doctors vow to continue strike %

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THE Association of Resident Doctors, Federal Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital, Yaba, has resolved to continue its ongoing indefinite strike demanding for optimal mental healthcare for patients.

The President of the association, Dr Afeez Enifeni, said in a statement on Wednesday, in Lagos, that the strike would continue until the management addressed the work experience of the overworked doctors.

Enifeni said that the doctors had on Aug. 19 held a meeting to review the current industrial action.

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The doctors accused the hospital management of being insensitive to the plight of the in and outpatients, who according to him, are receiving suboptimal mental health services.

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“The hospital management has blatantly refused to replace the annual exit of resident doctors for the past four years.

“Instead, they have let patient load and clinical work increase significantly for hapless resident doctors whose health and academic pursuits have suffered irreparably.

“In light of the above, the management’s insistence on employing only five locum doctors is highly provocative of our demands.

“It hardly improves the status quo which already puts overworked resident doctors at the brink of academic failure, health challenges and malpractice suits,” he said.

He urged President Muhammadu Buhari to prevail on the hospital’s management to do the needful in line with the administration’s next level agenda.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that the resident doctors had embarked on an indefinite strike on July 31 over non-employment of more resident doctors at the hospital.

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Nigeria

AIDS: Society says self-stigma more destructive than HIV/AIDS

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THE Coalition of Civil Society Network on HIV/AIDS in Nigeria (COCSNHAN) on Wednesday said that self-stigma was more destructive to people living with HIV than the disease.

Mr Ikenna Nwakamma, first Co-chairman of the society, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja that it was the major reason people living with HIV default from treatments.

Nwakamma, who called for the incorporation of mental health services in the national HIV programme, said it was imperative to rescue patients from the dangers of self-stigma.

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“Very important, the issues of self-stigma is hardly talked about and that is even more destructive; it is the major reason people living with HIV default in their treatment,” he said.

The society’s co-chairman explained that mental health would make people living with HIV become co-managers of their health.

According to him, mental health problems among people living with HIV is the new epidemic and we must deal with it squarely.

Nwakamma restated the plans of the society to set up a monitoring system that would capture and report cases of stigma and discrimination in health facilities.

He promised that any identified case would be used to send a strong warning to others.

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