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Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, (INEC) Professor Mahmoud Yakubu has said the sum of N1bn would not be enough for it to conduct outstanding elections next year.

He expressed his reservations on Thursday while speaking at budget defence before the Joint Committee of Senate and of Representatives on INEC.

In the 2020 Budget estimate presented by Muhammadu , the sum of N40bn was announced as statutory allocations for the Commission for recurrent and capital expenditures.

The INEC chairman told the Committee that the Edo and Ondo states governorship elections were scheduled to be conducted next year. He also insisted that other supplementary elections might arise.

Professor Yakubu said apart from increasing the allowance of his workers, he was determined to increase their wages in order to motivate them to rebuff inducement from desperate politicians.
He disclosed to the Committee that about 205 staff of the Commission were placed on half salary following their investigation by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission after the outcome of 2015 elections.

He pleaded with the Committee led by former Kano state governor Senator Kabiru Gaya to push for the passage of the Electoral Offences Act into law for the take-off of the Electoral Offences Tribunal.

He said: “On electoral offences, we don’t have the capacity to investigate, we can only collaborate with Police. Only recently, we received 16, case files from the Police. But we can’t prosecute.

There is the pending Electoral Offences Act to facilitate the Electoral Offences tribunal, let the bill be passed so that all violators, including our staff, can be prosecuted.”

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Senator Gaya decried the decrepit shape of INEC state offices across the country.

The INEC chairman said its allocation for maintenance of offices was often overstretched as a of violence as he revealed that 16 of its offices at local councils and states were bombed during last general elections. “They aren’t administrative but collation centres.”

The Joint Committee picked a hole in the INEC extra-budgetary spending without appropriation.
Honourable Babangida Ibrahim representing Malumfashi/Kafur federal constituency of Katsina frowned at abnormalities in the expenditures of the Commission.

He said: “If you look at the on the budget performance, you will see that there are abnormalities, look at the front page group life insurance, the approved budget is N500m your expenditure is N628million, there is a N128 extra-budgetary approval.

“If you look at overhead cost, the approved budget is N41,7bn if you look at the actual expenditure, it is N43.16n there are a lot of similar allocations where the expenditure is more than the approval of the budget.”

He called on the chairman of the Commission to explain if it were as a result of other sources of income.

In his response, Professor Yakubu told the Committee that the Commission’s budget status gives it the flexibility to move funds from one head to another in its bid to meet with the demands of its mandate.

“There are some activities we needed to undertake constitutionally and they are time-bound. At that time we received no money for the general elections. and we operate a one-line budget. Recall that, if you look at the appropriation act of 2018, the only you see there N45.5bn and we have to prioritise and re-prioritise within the envelope, we did not go outside the envelope. It was just a very difficult thing for us, I understand the point made by Honourable Babangida, honestly, it has been recurring, the argument here is that we moved funds from one head to another and did we now apply for virement?

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“That is what I think it is leading to. It was almost impossible for us to conduct the 2019 general elections without looking at the budget and operating within the envelope allotted to us.

“You will not see this kind of thing happening in 2019, in 2020 it is not there, it was just a sheer pressure to accommodate these activities, biometrics and the pre- activities, I thank God for the framers of our constitution is that we are on the one-line charge, we did not operate outside the envelope.

“Our assumption is that there is room for some flexibility in that respect that is when the envelope is given and the budget is appropriated, all you see is a one-liner. I completely understand the point that you are making, but I hope you understand the tremendous pressure we were under.”

At a separate meeting with Forum of State Independent Electoral Commissions of Nigeria (FOSIECON ) who paid him a courtesy visit, Professor Yakubu called for the review of laws governing the conduct of local government elections to guarantee financial autonomy of the SIEC. He equally advocated for uniform laws guiding the operation of the State Independent Electoral Commissions.

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He said: “We need modern law to guide and govern the conduct of local government elections in the country, that draw to a considerable extent from the national electoral legal framework.

“The second issue we need to together is the independence of SEIC. Independent of SIEC cannot be guaranteed where there is no financial independence.

“We will look at whatever we can do to work to ensure financial independence for the SIEC that will enormously help the conduct of elections.”

He assured members of the Forum of his Commission cooperation to facilitate free, credible elections at all levels.

Earlier in his remarks, chairman of the Forum, Justice Igbozuruike Akomas, said they were at INEC headquarters to facilitate the implementation of MoU and proposals they entered into with INEC last year.

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Abass Sulaiman Adegoke, well known as Adegoke is a student of Federal Polytechnic Ede studying Civil Engineering, He is a media enthusiast, loves traveling, and has a special interest in personal development.

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We Sacked Vice Chancellor Over Financial Recklessness, Says UNILAG Governing Council *It Is All A Charade-VC

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Report of panels of investigation set up by the Governing Council of the University of Lagos (UNILAG) allegedly found the Vice Chancellor, Professor Oluwatoyin Ogundipe, guilty of spending university funds recklessly and without due process and this led to his removal.

However, in the documents in possession of Tribune Online, Ogundipe denied the allegations against him, alleging that all that the Governing Council, led by Dr. Wale Babalakin, did was a charade.

Babalakin had enumerated some of the alleged infractions by Ogundipe to include spending N49.4 million on the renovation of his official residence without the approval of the Chairman of the Governing Council.

“The university’s bursar also spent N41,817,638.32 on the refurbishment of his own . The former Registrar spent N16,123,505.00 on the renovation of her own .”

According to Babalakin, it was only after the Council set up a committee headed by a Dr. Saminu Dagari that the expenses were discovered.

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“They were never brought to the attention of either the Finance and General Purposes Committee or the Council or even the Pro-Chancellor.

“These are simply criminal offences. Even the of the Federal Republic of with his enormous executive powers would not unilaterally and arbitrarily spend public money without the approval of the National Assembly.”

Ogundipe was also accused of making a deputy vice chancellor who had been involved in the award of the contract for the construction of the library chairman of the committee that also investigated the collapse of the building.

“The Vice-Chancellor’s action was untenable and totally disgraceful. Obviously, there was a plan to conceal the facts and protect the persons involved.

“Professor Fogam investigated the case and discovered that the whole process was done in flagrant disregard of the Council and the Federal Ministry of Education,” the council said.

Responding to the allegations, Ogundipe said Dagari in an audio recording told members of his committee that the overall goal of setting up of the committee was to indict the vice-chancellor and the bursar and subsequently have them suspended from .

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He said the committee was allowed to conduct its investigation endlessly.

“The committee spent over six months on the assignment, sat for over 40 times and in the process, incurred a bill of over N7 million by way of sitting allowance, hotel expenditure as well as feeding at meetings.

“It is also important to point out here that the External Audit Firms appointed by Council for the regular one-year audit of the University’s finances only costs the university N5.2 million only.

“Simultaneously within this period, the Pro-Chancellor had authorised an External Audit firm of his choosing to look into the books of the university for which he paid from his personal account.

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“The report of his External Auditors had noted the standard kind of audit report showing some weaknesses in some of the internal control but did not detect fraud. They also made their recommendations as appropriate in a report.

“It would appear that the whole idea of setting up the committee was a charade.”

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JUST IN: NCAA approves reopening of Asaba International airport

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The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has approved the re-opening of the Asaba International Airport for commercial operations.
The approval was conveyed to the Delta State Government following the inspection of Asaba International Airport last week by officials of the NCAA to ascertain the level of preparedness for its re-opening pursuant to the Federal Government’s lifting of the ban on local Air Travel.
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The NCAA in its letter conveying the approval stated that the Asaba International Airport had satisfactorily fulfilled the requirements of the COVID-19 restart guidelines and protocols and therefore had been granted the authorization to resume normal operations.
In his remarks Secretary to the Delta State Government, Mr. Chiedu Ebie thank the management of the NCAA for their promptness and professionalism and assure air travelers using the Asaba Airport of the continued commitment of the Delta State Government to the provision of modern facilities for the effective and efficient operation of the Airpo

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