The Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) has asked the Senate to help drive the recovery of N5 trillion yet to be recovered from debtors.
According to AMCON’s Managing Director, Mr. Ahmed Kuru, who led the management of the commission to appear before a technical session of the Senate Committee on Banking Insurance and other Financial Institutions in Abuja, stressed that some of the top debtors still hide under legal technicalities to tie AMCON in courts.
He maintained that a recovery of the huge sum will have a positive impact on the Nigerian economy which has been hit by the outbreak of the coronavirus.
“We want the 9th Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to pile pressure on some of our obligors through the Senate Committee on Banking Insurance and Other Financial Institutions under the leadership of Senator Uba Sani as Chairman.
“Some of these obligors are very important members of the society and, as distinguished senators, I know they have all it takes to intervene and even compel AMCON obligors to meet their obligation.”
Mr. Kuru stated that the support received from the legislature has been tremendous with the aid of the National Assembly to addressing some of the challenges in the 2019 Amendment Act, but needs to be done to recover the debt.
He stressed that the COVID-19 pandemic had an adverse effect on its debtors and the Commission is working on ways to provide moratorium for some of his loyal debtors.
“COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic has had a monumental impact on the globe and Nigeria in particular. Not only has it adversely affected the global economy, but the entire health system of the world has remained on its knees. AMCON, one of the institutions of government saddled with the responsibility of revitalising Nigeria’s economy is not immune to this monumental global disaster.
“The pandemic has impacted negatively on the various sectors of our economy, particularly the sectors, which AMCON is substantially exposed to, like Aviation, Oil & Gas, Manufacturing, and Retail sectors,” he stated.
The AMCON boss averred, “The continuous rise in inflation and Naira depreciation has also affected the purchasing power of the public thereby affecting obligor’s capacity to repay. Noting the untoward hardship caused by COVID-19 pandemic on most businesses and indeed the economy at large, the Corporation has begun consideration of granting moratorium to deserving obligors that had hitherto shown commitment/seriousness towards resolving their indebtedness. On our day-to-day operations, the Corporation has taken several measures to withstand and curtail the spread of this pandemic.”
He added that despite the challenges in recovering bad debt, the Commission has been able to recover N136.73billion in assets under management, with about N112.03bn worth of propriety assets as of August this year.
Reacting, Chairman of the Committee, Senator Uba Sani stressed that the tactics being employed by the debtors have been noted and the Committee will brainstorm on ways to address the challenges through policies and procedures, implementation strategies, and assets recovery in the heat of COVID-19 pandemic.
Senator Sani said the engagement with the management of AMCON has provided a window of opportunity for the committee to also address e continued reduction of the high rate of Non-performing Loans (NPLs).
He added that the provision for a Loan/Credit Tribunal will assist AMCON in its loan recovery efforts and the Senate will strongly consider all recommendations, which if strengthened, will further enhance the efforts of AMCON.
A petition has been addressed to the Senate alleging that the Interim Management Committee of the Niger Delta Development Commission mismanaged N6.25bn set aside for COVID-19 palliatives.
In a letter dated August 3, 2020, Chairman of the NDDC COVID-19 Palliatives Committee, Sobamabo Jackrich, described the management of the funds as “a show of shame and a scam.”
Jackrich said the money was “misappropriated and embezzled by the IMC of the NDDC and their Co-conspirators.”
“My findings is not only that the money cannot be accounted for,” he added, “but there is nothing on ground to show that the 6.2 billion naira of our hard-earned taxpayers money was invested for its original purpose which the President approved.”
Jackrich asked the National Assembly to probe and investigate the IMC, which is led by Prof. Kemebradikumo Pondei.
“The IMC should be made to explain the hijack of the Palliatives Distribution process and the sidelining of the inaugurated Palliatives Distribution Committee which was saddled with the task of Distribution of the palliatives in the nine Niger Delta states as approved by President Muhammadu Buhari,” Jackrich said.
The NDDC is currently under scrutiny for alleged financial misappropriation.
Prof. Pondei, who was appointed by President Buhari in February 2020, has publicly appeared before a House of Representatives investigative committee on NCDC along with the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio.
President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan has given assurance that the Senate will ensure that every part of Nigeria will continue to receive a just and fair deal.
“I want to assure you that the Senate will always stand by National interest,” Lawan told a delegation of the Ohanaeze Ndigbo, an Igbo social-cultural association from the South East of the country.
“We believe in the unity and the need for every ethnic group, every religious persuasion to have a very fair deal within the country.
“We will work with your representatives from the South East, particularly from Ibo land. We will do everything to support them and they are representing you very well in the Senate,” Lawan said.
The group was led by its Secretary-General, Dim Uche Okwukwu on a courtesy call on the Senate President at the National Assembly in Abuja on Thursday.
The Senate President said notwithstanding their different political platforms, the national interest has remained their guiding principle in the National Assembly.
The Senate President assured his guests that the Federal lawmakers would always support what would give them the kind of inclusion and sense of belonging in the southeast.
“We can see the commitment of the Federal government under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari in ensuring that every part of Nigeria gets some infrastructure development,” Lawan said.
The Senate President drew the attention of his guests to the progress on the second Niger Bridge and compared it with the unfulfilled promises of the past on the project.
“This administration may not talk too much but it is doing a lot across the country with very little resources. Not like the plentiful resources the previous administration had.
“And of course, you have mentioned the appointments that you have as well and indeed there should be many more. As soon as the opportunities become available for more people of Ndigbo extraction to be appointed, I’m sure the President will do that and the administration will do that.
“It is in the public interest and it is in the interest of the administration and the party because it is when you are fair to people that they can give you support as an administration or vote you in, if you are a political party. And these are things that should be taken as given.
“So we will ensure that you continue to receive justice and fairness even in appointments.
“I believe there is a need for peaceful co-existance in all parts of the country. Where we have misunderstood, the best way to go is to dialogue and find solutions to our disagreement.
“If someone feels he has a just cause or reason to seek redress in court, this is a democracy but the best way to resolve issues often is not going to court especially in a country like ours where we can do better if we dialogue more.
“I don’t know the essence of this court action but what is important is for me to assure you again that the National Assembly, particularly the Senate, will always ensure that you are given and every part of the country is given a sense of belonging.
“What is due to every part of this country should go there and that is why there is representation in the first place.
“If you have any concern, you have your representatives or you can simply write to the National Assembly, the two chambers if you like, to say that these are the issues we feel concerned about and you want the National Assembly to address them or if you feel it is better handled by the Executive side of government, you are free to do so to air your concerns.
“I am sure that this administration under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari will continue to work hard to provide for every part of this country within the limited resources that we have,” Lawan said.
Earlier, Dim Uche Okwukwu who spoke for the delegation said the mission to Abuja was to congratulate Lawan as Senate President on behalf of the Igbo nation.
“Ndigbo are proud of you and the leadership of the National Assembly. We are aware that without your total support for President Muhammadu Buhari, the ongoing infrastructural projects across the length and breadth of Igbo land would be impossible.
“Mr. President, we are not unaware that presently, a misguided person, without the mandate and authority of the Ohanaeze Ndigbo joined some others to sue the government. Therefore, we wholly dissociate Ohanaeze Ndigbo and indeed Ndigbo from that stillbirth suit. It will certainly fail,” Okwukwu said.
The Senate ad hoc committee investigating financial recklessness in the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) on Thursday said the agency had spent N1.3 trillion within four years, with some of the spending unlawful.
The committee revealed the figure during the presentation of its investigative report before the Senate days after the acting NDDC Managing Director, Prof. Kemebradikumo Pondei, slumped at a public hearing.
In the report read by the Senate Committee Chairman, Senator Olubunmi Adetunmbi, the NDDC spent the N1.3 trillion between 2015 and May 31, 2019.
Many of the expenses, Adetunmbu said, were extra-budgetary.
He added that the Committee observed process errors and infractions, as well as substantial payments, were made to staff in the form of unjustifiable allowances.
He said the committee observed process errors and infractions, as well as substantial payments, were made to staff in the form of unjustifiable allowances.
The investigation further revealed that the NDDC paid 4.9 billion Naira to staff for numerous allowances including COVID-19 relief, tour duty allowances, overseas travel, and international scholarships.
Curiously, the payment for overseas travel and scholarship was during the lockdown and cessation of flights abroad.
The committee also observed that the ministry of Niger delta is culpable if negligent supervision of the NDDC.
It further noted that the performance of the interim management committee IMC is a major issue as the record of the IMC has not shown any record of prudence and it should be dissolved.
The committee also raised an alarm over the forensic audit called for by President Buhari, stating that it is at a rudimentary level with the recruitment of the auditors still underway even after eight months.
The Senate has called for the review of the Power Sector Reform Act 2005.
This was a decision taken by the Senators on Wednesday during plenary.
The Senators are of the view that the reform of the sector will consolidate the roles of regulators and policymakers; bridge existing gaps in the legal and regulatory framework, and cater to post-privatization operational issues in Nigeria’s power sector.
The position of the Senate was contained in resolutions reached following consideration of the report of the Senate Committee on Power on “Addressing Nigeria’s Power Problems.”
Chairman of the Committee, Gabriel Suswam (PDP – Benue North East), in his presentation stressed the need for more consumers to be metered to avoid estimated billing.
He added that the Federal Government’s intervention since the privatization of the power sector in 2012 till date – amounts to N1.5 trillion – a sum used to fund tariff shortfalls that ensured Generating Companies (Gencos) and their respective suppliers were paid for energy delivered and consumed.
Contributing to the debate, Senator Sam Egwu (PDP – Ebonyi North), while lamenting the “decay” in the power sector, described the privatization process that led to the sale of government assets as “faulty and highly compromised.”
The Senate Chief Whip, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu, on his part called for the outright discontinuation of subsidy payments on electricity by the Federal Government to Distribution Companies (DISCOs).
The Senate in its resolutions, accordingly, resolved that the Cost reflective Tariffs Principle be reviewed and revisited to ensure that the Electricity Distribution Companies (DISCOs) pay for the full amount of power they receive from the Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading Plc (NBET).
As a way of bridging the gap in remittances to the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), the Senate urged Ministries, Departments and Agencies of Government (MDAs) to make provision for payment of all outstanding debts and liabilities owed to DISCOs, as well as accommodate budgetary provision for anticipated consumption for the 2021 Appropriation year.
The upper chamber while kicking against the bill on criminalizing estimated billing, called for the immediate removal of the increased customs duties of 35 percent to allow Meter Asset Providers (MAP) clear meters stuck at the port.
According to the Senate, rather than continue to pay for consumption, the Federal Government should consider an intervention that would see to the purchase of customer meters as a way of fulfilling its 40 percent shareholding in the Discos.
As way of insulating the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission against political interference, the upper chamber resolved that the regulatory body be empowered and allowed to carry out its functions in a way that guarantees that it is not distorted.
It also called on the Federal Government to consider recruiting 320 additional manpower for the Nigeria Electricity Management Services Agency (NEMSA) to carry out technical inspection, testing, and certification of all categories of Electrical installation across parts of the country, as well as provide nationwide metering inspection services.
The Senate has confirmed the appointment of 40 persons to serve as ambassadors of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
The nominees comprise 39 Non-Career Ambassadors and one Career Ambassador respectively.
This was confirmed in a statement issued on Wednesday by the Special Assistant to President of the Senate, Ezrel Tabiowo.
According to the state, President Muhammadu Buhari on July 1 in a letter requested the upper chamber to confirm the appointment of 41 Non-Career Ambassador-designate.
They are Umar Suleiman (Adamawa), Kelvin Peter (Adamawa); John Usanga (Akwa Ibom); Elejah Onyeagba (Anambra); Abubakar D. Ibrahim Siyi (Bauchi); Philip K. Ikurusi (Bayelsa); Tarzcor Terhemen (Benue); Paul Oga Adikwu (Benue) and Al-Bishir Ibrahim Al-Hussain (Borno).
Others include Monique Ekpong (Cross River); Oma Djebah (Delta); Ominyi N. Eze, Ebonyi (Ebonyi); Yamah Mohammed Musa (Edo); Maj. Gen. C. O. Ugwu (Enugu); and Dr. Hajara I. Salim (Gombe).
President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, has charged the Committee on Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to engage relevant stakeholders with a view to reforming Nigeria’s Electoral Process.
Lawan gave the charge in his remark after referring the confirmation of the nomination of Dr. Chukwuemeka Chukwu for an appointment as a Resident Electoral Commissioner to the INEC Committee.
According to Lawan, the reform of the country’s electoral process by the National Assembly must be carried out with a view to meeting the expectations of Nigerians.
“We must ensure that we work so hard and assiduously on the electoral reforms.
“This is one way of ensuring that we collect all the different submissions from different stakeholders.
“Our Committee on INEC together with major stakeholders should start working on this as quickly as possible, to ensure that we are able to meet the expectations of Nigerians regarding electoral reforms,” Lawan said.
The Senate President also gave the Committee four weeks to submit its report on the appointment of Dr. Chukwuemeka Chukwu as a Resident Electoral Commissioner for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
In a similar vein, Senator Lawan, on Tuesday, urged the Executive arm of Government to work on the estimates for the 2021 budget to ensure its timely presentation to the National Assembly by the end of September this year.
Lawan stated this in his remarks after referring President Muhammadu Buhari’s 2021 – 2023 Medium Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy Paper request to the Senate Committees on Finance; and National Planning for further legislative work.
The Senate President while charging both Committees to engage the Ministry of Finance, Budget, and National Planning on the MTEF/FSP request, stressed the need for the panel to lend its support where necessary to Revenue Generating Agencies towards meeting expected revenue targets.
The Committees were given four weeks to report back to the Senate.
The Senate has passed a bill to give legal backing to the establishment of the Nigerian Army University, Biu, Borno State.
The passage of the bill followed a clause-by-clause consideration of the report of the Committee on the Nigerian Army during plenary on Tuesday.
Chairman of the Committee, Senator Ali Ndume (APC – Borno South) said the Committee while undertaking legislative work on the bill, took into consideration “areas that are in conflict with other extant laws, those that have security implication and those that are ambiguous.”
According to the lawmaker, the University with the passage of the bill into law, “Would promote research and other means of advancement of knowledge and its application to military hardware and software, social, cultural, economical, scientific, and technological situations.”
Senator Ndume noted that the institution would cater to the development of middle and high-level manpower in the area of technological empowerment for civilians, appreciation of military policies, logistics, and strategies.
In a similar development, the Senate also moved to address the issue of out-of-school children by calling on the Federal Ministry of Education to intensify its sensitization and advocacy programmes; and engagement of traditional and religious scholars on the plight of Almajiris, the need to enroll them into the universal basic education system.
The call was contained in the recommendations of the report by the Senate Committee on Education (Basic and Secondary) on the need to integrate Almajiri Education into the Modern System of Education in Nigeria.
Vice-Chairman of the Committee, Senator Akon Eyakenyi (PDP – Akwa-Ibom South), in her presentation observed that “the Almajiris, who are predominant in the North, constitute the larger number of out of school children roaming the streets begging for alms and food in Nigeria, and therefore are covered by the intervention policy and programmes of the Federal Government through the Universal Basic Education Act, 2004.”
Senator Eyakenyi said, that “the implementation of the UBEC Act, 2004 requires maximum collaborations with the state governments and indeed the domestication of the Act through the State Legislatures.”
She explained that Nigeria had obtained $611 million dollars from the World Bank Financed Programme – Better Education Service Delivery for All (BESDA), as a credit to specifically address the problem of Out of School Children.
The lawmaker, however, stressed that “optimal operation and implementation of the BESDA Programme as being anchored and implemented by UBEC in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Education and participation of key Education Agencies, require improved Federal-State-Local level Communication, coordination and collaboration to succeed.”
Meanwhile, the Senate has confirmed the nomination of Barrister Idahagbon Omoregie as a commissioner representing Edo, Ekiti and Ondo states in the Federal Civil Service Commission.
Also confirmed was the re-appointment of Engr. Umaru Danbatta as Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).
The confirmation of both nominees followed the consideration of the reports of the Senate Committees on Communications; and Establishment and Public Service.
President Muhammadu Buhari has written to the Senate to seek approval of the 2021 – 2021 Medium Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy Paper.
The MTEF/FSP document forwarded to the National Assembly for consideration and approval was accompanied by a letter read during plenary on Tuesday by the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan.
The letter reads: “It is with pleasure that I forward the 2021 – 2023 Medium Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy Paper (MTEF/FSP) for the kind consideration and approval of the Distinguished Senate.
“Let me seize this opportunity to express my deep gratitude for the cooperation, support, and commitment of the leadership and distinguished members of the Senate in our collective efforts to sustain the restoration of the January – December financial year.
“In line with our commitment, we have worked very hard to achieve an earlier submission of the MTEF/FSP. This is to allow the National Assembly enough time to perform its important constitutional duty of reviewing the framework.
“I herewith forward the 2021 – 2023 MTEF/FSP as the 2021 budget of the Federal Government will be prepared based on the parameters and fiscal assumptions of the approved 2021 – 2023 MTEF/FSP. I seek the cooperation of the National Assembly for expeditious legislative action on the submission.”
The Senate also on Tuesday received another request from President Buhari for the confirmation of Dr. Chukwuemeka Chukwu as Resident Electoral Commissioner representing Abia State.
“Pursuant to paragraph 14 (3) of Part one of the third schedule to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended, I am pleased to forward for confirmation by the Senate, the appointment of Dr. Chukwuemeka Chukwu as Resident Electoral Commissioner representing Abia State in the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC),” President Buhari’s letter reads.
Meanwhile, President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, announced the appointment of Ibrahim El-Ladan as the Acting Clerk of the Senate.
According to him, Ladan was appointed Acting Clerk of the Senate on Friday, July 17, 2020.
The Senate has insisted that the National Directorate of Employment (NDE) will carry out the special public works programme which will be supervised by the Ministry of Labour.
The lawmakers also insisted that they will execute its oversight function on the implementation of the public works programme by the NDE in line with the appropriation act, the constitution and other enabling laws.
Chairman, Senate Committee on Judiciary, Senator Opeyemi Bamidele, in a motion on Tuesday said the resolution was taken by the Senate, sequel to motion through a point of order.
According to the Senate, the amended 2020 Appropriation Act is binding on all government agencies and the appropriation of N52 billion for the public works programme should be implemented accordingly.
Senator Bamidele drew the attention of the Upper Chamber to the claims by the Minister of State for Labour, Festus Kayamo who said the President Muhammadu Buhari had asked him to proceed with the recruitment.
He noted that Keyamo has erred in law by taking over an assignment which was constitutionally assigned to the NDE through the Revised 2020 Appropriation Act.
Senators Walk Keyamo Out Of Meeting
Earlier in June, a drama played out as some senators walked the minister out of a meeting.
The lawmakers had invited Keyamo to give details of the Special Public Works Programme where 774,000 people would be recruited by the Federal Government under the National Directorate of Employment (NDE).
During the meeting which was held at the National Assembly in Abuja, members of the Senate and House of Representatives Joint Committee on Labour sought to find out the method of selection of a 20-man committee from each state for the programme.
N52 billion has been allocated for the Special Public Works Programme in the 2020 budget.
Mr Keyamo accused the lawmakers of wanting to sabotage the recruitment process despite receiving 15 per cent jobs slots.
The NDE, according to the lawmakers, is meant to implement the recruitment under a special works programme.
If the trend continues, Senator Ndume expects that there will be dire consequences for the country.
Over the last few years, and as Nigeria struggled to end the Boko Haram insurgency, fight banditry, kidnapping, and several security challenges, the service chiefs have faced heavy criticism.
There have also been several calls from different quarters for their removal including from lawmakers.
Under the 8th Assembly, there were repeated calls for a shakeup of the nation’s security setup including the removal of the service chief.
The 9th Assembly has also not spared them of criticism. President Muhammadu Buhari, has, however, opted against showing them the door, a move that has also been criticised by the opposition and several prominent Nigerians.
In June, amid outrage over an upsurge in attacks by bandits in several parts of the country, especially in the North West and the President’s state Katsina, the President warned the service chiefs that excuses will no longer be tolerated.