​Reps exonerate SDG boss over alleged N26.9bn COVID-19 spending

The House of Representatives Committee on Sustainable Development Goals SDG has given the Office of the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Sustainable Development Goals, SSAP-SDGs headed by Princess Adejoke Orelope-Adefulire, a clean Bill over allegations that her office awarded N26.9bn COVID-19- related contracts.

The lawmakers said no such money was appropriated by the National Assembly for the procurement of materials following the Covid 19 pandemic.

The committee chaired by Rep. Rotimi Agunsoye said “it is important to correct the narrative in the public to avoid misrepresentation of projects carried out by the agency in the past years”.

Rep. Humpe Babatunde, stressed that “there was no basis for querying OSSAP-SDGs or Princess Adejoke Orelope-Adefulire over any irregularities in contract award or procurement of palliatives”, during the budget defence session, adding that “presentation made by her contained a detailed analysis of the projects implemented in the previous years, which is unusual of public officers”

According to him, “I think there is mischief in the report. Facts before us do not show that the SDGs Office participated in the procurement of palliatives neither were they queried for anything.

“As a matter of fact, members of the Committee believes that Princess Orelope-Adefulire led SSAP-SDGs has performed creditably well, brilliantly and was well commended by the members of the committee,”.

On the question raised on non-implementation of special intervention projects, the lawmaker said the information before the Committee revealed that the SSAP-SDGs cannot be blamed as funds for the implementation were yet to be released to her office by the Ministry of Finance.

“You don’t expect the SSA to execute projects when funds are not released. The Committee could not have queried her when we knew that the finance needed for the execution of the projects is not available to her.

“In any way, most of the Ministries, Agencies and Departments of government are also having problems executing the capital component of the budgets because of the shortfall in government’s revenue,” Humpe explained.

Rep. Uju Kingsley Imo State on his part said it is not possible for the agency to have spent 26billion without appropriation

“It is impossible for an agency to spend 26billion without appropriation by the National Assembly. We must set the record straight do as not to put the agency in the eyes of the public ”

The Vice Chairman of the Committee, Rep. Dr Zainab Gimba also faulted the claim, stressing that the House has not found Princess Orelope-Adefulire wanting in the discharge of her assignments and advised against peddling of fake news against her or her office as was done twice earlier in the year.

She is of the opinion that someone somewhere is probably disturbed by her outstanding performance and decided to malign her integrity by all means.

Representative Princess Mariam Onuoha representing Isiala Mbano/Okigwe Federal Constituency, also noted that Mrs. Orelope-Adefulire deserves commendation over the manner she has been handling affairs of SSAP-SDGs.

But she asked for location of more intervention projects in her constituency for the benefits of her people.

Recall that the members had at the end of the presentation by the SSA commended her and her Office for their outstanding performance, as well as the accuracy, accountability, transparency and detailed presentation of relevant documents submitted to the Committee.

The members also lauded the Office for standing out as one of the MDAs with 100 per cent completion of projects and without any debts from 2016 till date.

​Lagos Assembly begins 3-day public hearing for EndSARS victims

The Lagos State House of Assembly has met with some EndSARS victims from the Lagos Central Senatorial district to determine the level of compensation for the victims.

The Deputy Speaker, Wasiu Eshinlokun-Sanni, made this known during a three-day public hearing on the victims of the aftermath of the EndSARS protest in Lagos.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that the Speaker, Mudashiru Obasa, had on Oct. 26, constituted a nine-man Ad Hoc committee headed by Eshinlokun-Sanni.

The committee was to investigate the level of destruction of property and loss of lives with a view to determining compensation for the victims.

The Wednesday’s public hearing was attended by victims in the Lagos Central Senatorial District while Thursday and Friday will be attended by the Lagos East and Lagos West victims respectively.

Eshinlokun-Sanni, Chairman of the committee, said the terms of reference of the committee included to interface with all the victims, relevant stakeholders and community leaders and to ascertain the level of destruction.

The Deputy speaker said the purpose of the public hearing was also to ensure it brought succour and compensation by the government to the victims of the crisis.

“The committee has sent forms to the victims of the destructions across all the 40 constituencies in the state

“The House has been accepting submission of the forms, which will be the foundation of our consideration.

“We shall be leveraging on the knowledge and experiences of the experts such as architects, insurance, just to mention a few.

“They are to assess the details and make decisions on how to assuage the pains of our people,” he said.

Eshinlokun-Sanni said that the House was making a giant stride to complement other efforts and the House was garnered to display its indomitable resilience.

He said that the House had shown such character before and it was in its gene and would show it again when the need arose.

According to him, Lagos didn’t falter, instead, we rose and shone. This is another phase, another challenge, another setback, Lagos State shall rise again and shine brighter than ever.

Eshinlokun-Sanni clarified the difference between the House’s committee with that of the judicial panel set up by the Gov. Babajide Sanwo-olu.

He explained that the judicial panel was meant to unravel the brutality by the police and what transpired during the shootings at Lekki.

He said: “After the Lekki incident, we cannot leave our people, we should find ways and means of mitigating their losses.

“The primary purpose of the government is to secure lives and property. When such happens, the government must take control and mitigate the suffering of the people.

“The work of our committee is to see how the events after the Lekki shootings affected our people and how we can put them back to work so that they will not suffer more losses.

“Already, we had COVID-19 pandemic in the nation and in the state during the year,” he said.

The deputy speaker explained further that where the victims had insurance cover, they would be compensated and if they didn’t have they would still be compensated.

A victim, Mr Olugbenga Oresajo, whose shopping mall was destroyed urged the committee to give timeline that would stipulate when the whole process would end.

Shade Salami, a community leader, advised that the perpetrators of the carnage should be brought to justice to serve as deterrent to others who might have such sinister motives.

Adeola Alaka from Bode Thomas said the areas that were affected should be barricaded to distinguish them from other parts in the same vicinity not damaged.

​Osinbajo harps on importance of peace, mediation in Nigeria

The pursuit of peace and mediation in resolving some of the challenges in the country today is worth the while and useful according to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN.

Prof. Osinbajo was speaking while receiving a delegation from the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue, HD, at the Presidential Villa today.

“Every discussion around peace and mediation in solving some of the security challenges that we have is one that we consider of utmost importance given where we are today,” the VP stated, noting the work of the organization which has been in the country since 2013.

Prof Osinbajo stressed the need for collaboration with such an organization in order to address some of the problems in the country, and welcomed a notable feature of the Centre engaging and employing local people in the work of peace and mediation in their own communities and country.

Said he: “it is important that those that mediate are home grown like yourselves, those who have an understanding of the space, who have more or less grown up here, worked here, because they understand the issues.”

He further added that, “I am glad to see a strong team of professionals and diplomats; people who have an understanding of our society and what the issues are. This will greatly help the quality of the work.”

The VP also acknowledged that the Centre has been working with the Federal Government on the National Livestock Transformation Plan, noting that it was an important aspect of the Federal Government’s programme in resolving the farmer/herder clashes.

He disclosed that many States have now subscribed to the NLTP and the funding would soon be made available to pilot the plan.

Indeed some of the States would begin the pilot of the NLTP. The States are Adamawa, Gombe, Plateau, and Nasarawa and the FG would be working with the Dutch government and a Dutch consortium for the pilot.

Speaking earlier the head of the delegation, Country and Programme Manager, Mrs Millicent Lewis-Ojumu explained that HD operates at all levels from the communities to the States and National levels

She added that HD works on developing Alternative Narratives against forms of extremism in approaching mediation of conflicts.

Other members of the delegation include Ambassador Akin Fayomi, Alhaji Ibrahim Sale Hassan and Mrs Zigwai Ayuba.

Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue is an independent diplomacy and mediation organization with headquarters in Geneva Switzerland, founded on the principles of humanity, impartiality and independence working to prevent, mitigate and resolve conflicts through diplomacy, dialogue and mediation.

​Northern govs not against SARS disbandment — Lalong

The Northern Governors Forum yesterday said contrary to some misconceptions in some quarters, it was not against the recent scrapping of the defunct Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).

Chairman of the forum and Plateau State Governor, Simon Lalong made the clarification in Kaduna during the inauguration of a committee on Youths and Civil Societies.

“The Northern Governors Forum is not against the disbandment of SARS as misconstrued in some quarters. We rather caution against the blanket condemnation of the police that can erode the confidence and zeal of the hardworking and honest ones in performing their duties of protecting lives and properties,” he said.

Governor Lalong also reiterated the commitment of the forum to tackling the several challenges facing the region.

For the governor, the forum would collaborate with Federal Government and security agencies to address the issues of banditry, terrorism, kidnapping, and other criminal activities.

“We must tackle the current challenges of insecurity in the region which is dominated by insurgency, kidnapping, banditry, rape, child abuse and trafficking and other conflicts.

“We shall continue to work with the Federal Government and security agencies to tackle crime and criminality. That is why we have supported a comprehensive reform of police architecture in the country,” he said.

The committee is headed by the Emir of Zazzau, Alhaji Nuhu Bamali, and has the Minister of Women Affairs, Pauline Tallen, and representatives of youths from the 19 northern states and FCT, religious groups, and civil societies as members.

The committee’s terms of reference include working out various ways of engaging the youths in the north at all levels, prioritize different programmes for youth development and identify and develop different platforms for youth inclusion in the governance in Nigeria and the north in particular.