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FG Spends N700m On ‘Ease of Doing Business’ Portal

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The Ministry of Mines and Steel Development (MMSD) has spent N700 million to develop an Integrated Automation and Interactive GIS Web Portal to improve `Ease-of-Doing-Business in the mining sector.

Dr Kayode Fayemi, the Minister, disclosed this at the launching of the portal on Thursday in Abuja.

Fayemi said the portal was a cutting edge initiative that leveraged technology for the innovation, efficiency and effectiveness in the mineral sector governance.

He said the overall objective of the project was to increase provision of reliable information and knowledge, to enhance promotion of investments in the sector, using the technology-driven innovation and to increase the sector’s GDP.

The portal was designed for mining investors to perform business processes such as online mining licences and mineral titles applications, online payment of royalties and fees, database for revenue drive and to block revenue leakages.

The portal is credible and timely information about the mining sector, performs and responds to online queries, business intelligence/analytics, reports and statistical data generation.

Mining investors could view all existing mining titles and track them anywhere in the world through the portal, access all agencies information, global mining news, live chat and document library, among others.

Lists of mining operators with valid licences and related minerals trade on private mineral buying centre and renewal of private mineral buying centres could also be accessed through the portal.

According to the minister, the portal is designed to serve as an input and decision support system to other entities of government (MDAs).

“This event is coming at a very auspicious time, on a broad scale; dividends of this administration’s commitment to turning around our economic fortunes,’’ he said.

He said Nigeria had moved up in the global market by 24 points in the ease of doing business index for 2018 in a recent report released by World Bank.

He said Nigeria was also ranked as one of the 10 most improved economies in the world.

Fayemi said 75 staff had been trained on GIS across the mining sector.

He said that operation of online application of mining title and licences issued by Nigerian Mining Centre Office, online application of licences and permit issued by Mines Inspectorate Department and GIS laboratory, among others, would commence in the first quarter of 2018.

Alhaji Abubakar Bwari, Minister for State, Mines and Steel Development, said the integrated web portal was conceived as a means of making information more accessible to players and the public alike.

Bwari said the initiative was to revamp the sector, as the ministry was moribund before himself and the senior minister assumed the sector.

According to him, government is a continuum and as long as subsequent administrations keep to track, mining will become the crown jewel of Nigeria’s economy.

Alhaji Mohammed Abbas, Permanent Secretary of the ministry, sought the support of the Ministry of Communication to assist with experts that would manage the portal effectively.

The ministers of communication, science and technology were represented at the event The Women in Mining and Miners Association of Nigeria also witnessed the event .

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NNPC, Marketers Stole N784Bn from Nigeria in 2017 – Senate

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Revelations were made in the Senate on Wednesday that the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and Independent marketers  duped Nigeria to the tune of N784.700 billion on surplus volume of fuel importation of about 5.9bn litres in 2017 alone.

 

The sum, according to the Upper Chamber, was the excess of fund lost by Nigeria to the sharp practices by NNPC and other importers who claim volume of fuel imported in excess of what they actually brought into the country.

 

The Independent newspaper reported that in expressing disgust about the fraudulent act, the Senate mandated its Committee on Petroleum Resources (Downstream) headed by Senator Kabiru Marafa to carry out thorough investigation on the alleged fraud.

 

The Parliament also expressed disgust over claims that the NNPC has been paying subsidy on imported fuel with the lawmakers questioning the source of the money being used for the payment.

 

The Senate noted that no such money was voted for the payment in the budget and therefore described it as illegal just like other unapproved spendings by the Executive arm of government.

 

With a strong threat to sanction any infraction, of the Executive using the dictates of the Constitution, the Senate demanded an immediate stop to any unappropriated spending henceforth, particularly as regards the illegal subsidy regime of N26 per litre being effected on fuel sales in the country.

 

The N784 billion fraud, according to revelations made to that effect in the interim report of the Senate Committee on Petroleum Resources (Downstream), which investigated the lingering fuel scarcity in the country, came about through five days surplus importation at 35million litres per day by NNPC on monthly basis totalling 60 days surplus importation in addition to marketers 109 days surplus supply.

 

The Committee, in the report stated thus: “NNPC said it is importing 30 cargoes of 30,000meric tonnes (minimum) of PMS monthly through the Direct Sale Direct Purchase (DSDP) scheme.

 

“This means NNPC is importing 30x 30,000x 1, 341= 1, 206,900,000 litres of PMS monthly.

 

“Therefore, at an average consumption of 35million litres/day, NNPC said the country consumes between 27-30 million litres/day from January to September and 30-40 million litres per day from September to December.

 

“From the above figures, NNPC monthly supply is supposed to last the country for about 35 days at 35million litres per day.

 

“The marketers on the other hand received from government about N1.669,180,182 billion at CBN rate of N305 to a dollar to import PMS from January to August 2017. This means that marketers were supposed to bring into the country about 3.8bn litres of PMS at landing cost of N133.

 

“In other words, marketers supply were supposed to serve the country for about 109 days at 35million litres daily in 2017.

 

“The implication of the foregoing is that NNPC has five days surplus every month, 60 days surplus in a year, added to the marketers’ 109 days supply, totalling 169 days supply surplus at 35million litres /day or 5.9bn litres which when multiplied by N133 subsidised landing cost per litre amounts to N784.700bn”, the report read.

 

Senator Kabiru Marafa, who read the Committee’s report, alleged further that the fraud arose from emergence of subsidy regime in the sector again, similar to the sharp practices carried out in the past through bogus volume of fuel importation.

 

Though the Senate, based on observations made by senators that the report did not capture the subsidy fraud going on in the sector adequately, returned it to the Committee for more thorough job.

 

However, the Senate President Bukola Saraki praised the Committee for unearthing the 5.9 billion litres volume importation fraud.

 

“The biggest fraud in the oil sector over the years under subsidy regime is not even the subsidy itself but that of volume through bogus claims that will be increasing from year to year.

 

“It is in the light of this that I will ask that, in line with submissions made by many of the senators here today, that thorough probe should be carried out by the Committee on the 5.9 billion litres surplus supply while the Senate Committee on Public Accounts, SPAC, should investigate the illegal subsidy regime as regards its authorisation and appropriation,” he said.

 

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Gov. Ambode’s Phone Line Cloned, 2 Men Docked

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Akinwunmi Ambode, Lagos governor

Two men, who allegedly cloned the official line of Lagos governor Akinwunmi Ambode, to defraud the State Government of N50 million, appeared before Justice Sedoten Ogunsanya of Igbosere High Court, Lagos on Tuesday.

 

The defendants – Rilwanu Jamiu and Balogun Oyewole – are standing trial on a three-count charge bordering on possession of fraudulent document and impersonation.

 

The first prosecution witness, Abimbola Umar, the State’s Accountant General, while testifying before the court, revealed how she received a text message from the suspects, on February 10, 2016.

 

She said that the text message, which seemed to be from Governor Ambode, directed her to transfer the sum of N50 million to a designated Keystone Bank account.

 

Umar, who was led in evidence by the State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Adenijii Kazeem, said she found the message suspicious and highly irregular of the official accounting protocol.

 

She said: “I decided to bring the message to the attention of the Governor, who, after distancing himself from it, ordered immediate investigation into the matter.”

 

After Umar’s testimony, the prosecution called another witness, Wale Odu, Director State Service, Lagos State Command, to give evidence in the case.

 

In his testimony, Odu said that the investigation leading to the arrest of the defendants was conducted by his team at the DSS.

 

According to him, the investigation revealed that the second defendant (Oyewole), was one of the directors and shareholders of a firm, Clayder Ltd, into whose Keystone Bank account the N50 million would have been paid.

 

After listening to the testimonies, Justice Ogunsanya adjourned the case until February 14 for continuation of trial, and ordered that the accused be remanded at the Kirikiri Medium Security Prison.

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PTAD lauds Impact of Technology in Pension Verification

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Mrs Sharon Ikeazor, Executive Secretary, Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate (PTAD) says the deployment of technology has made pension verification seamless.

Few years ago, when PTAD was still doing manual verification of retirees many of them were dying in the process.

PTAD deployed 45 functional laptops, 20 scanners, 20 webcam cameras, 20 thumb-print capturing machines and five printers.

Ikeazor made this known to newsmen when he officially declared open the verification NITEL and MTEL pensioners in Enugu on Wednesday.

She said the directorate was fully automated, adding that PTAD staff had been well-schooled and vast on how to operate the new devices.

“As I speak to you, we have our internet server here and all its necessary attachment to ensure seamless exercise and to key- in information instantly.

“The directorate had over the years invested heavily on modern technology that will make our work and service to the people very seamless and real-time,’’ she said.

The executive secretary said that through the help of technology PTAD was now doing mobile verification for sick and incapacitated pensioners.

“We have collected the phone numbers of sick pensioners and their contacts; and our staff will do mobile verification for them by going to where they are to capture them electronically,’’ she said.

Sharing his experience, one of the pensioners, Mr Emeka Offor said that it only took him less than 10 minutes for his name and vital information; his picture and thumb-print captured and scanning of his document to be captured.

“I must commend President Muhammadu Buhari for his care for pensioners and equipping PTAD with modern gadgets to function optimally,’’ he said.

PTAD is verifying 22,000 pensioners of NITEL and MTEL in seven centres across the nationwide and at each of the centre, it will take eight days to conduct the exercise.

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