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AGF denies making payments on behalf of MDAs

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The Accountant General of the Federation (AGF), Dr Oluwatoyin Madein has clarified that her office does not make payments on behalf of government agencies.

Madein made the clarification in a statement by Bawa Mokwa,
Director, Press, Office of the Accountant General of the Federation (OAGF) in Abuja on Saturday.

According to Madein, the OAGF does not make payments for projects and programmes implemented by Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of the Federal Government.

She was reacting to media reports concerning a request from the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, and Poverty Alleviation for payment of grants to vulnerable groups in some states of the federation.

She said that allocations were released to self-accounting MDAs in line with the budget, and such MDAs are responsible for the implementation of their projects and payments for such projects.

Madein said that, although her office received the said request from the ninistry, it did not carry out the payment.

“The Ministry was, however, advised on the appropriate steps to take in making such payments in line with the established payment procedure,” she said.

She said that in such situations, payments were usually processed by the affected miniseries as self-accounting entities.

Maiden said that no bulk payment is supposed to be made to an individual’s account in the name of “project accountant”.

She said that such payments should be sent to the beneficiaries through their verified bank accounts.

Madein reiterated her determination to uphold the principles of accountability and transparency in the management of public finances.

She advised MDAs to always ensure that the requisite steps were  taken in carrying out financial transactions.

The clarification is connected with the current probe of the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation.

President Bola Tinubu recently approved the suspension and investigation of Halima Shehu,  National Coordinator of the National Social Investment Program Agency (NSIPA), over alleged financial impropriety  of about N30 billion.

Shehu, however, reportedly told her investigators that that she moved the N30 billion she is accused of embezzling to other accounts because the minister, Dr Betta Edu, wanted to embezzle it.

She reportedly said that Edu had already misappropriated N585 million by transferring the sum to a private bank account.

In a letter that has since leaked to the public, Edu asked the AGF to transfer N585 million to the said private bank account in UBA, belonging to one Oniyelu Bridget Mojisola.

Reacting, Edu said that the N585 million grant for vulnerable groups was approved, adding that the funds were meant to be grants for vulnerable groups.

She said that the transfer of the N585 million followed due process.

According to the minister,  Mojisola, whose bank account was stated to receive the payment, is the project accountant for the Grants for Vulnerable Groups (GVG) scheme.

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BDCs committed to checkmating attack on the Naira – ABCON boss

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The President, Association of Bureau De Change operators of Nigeria (ABCON), Aminu Gwadabe, says the BDC operators are committed to wading off attacks on the Naira by speculators.

Gwadabe said this in an interview with journalists on Wednesday in Abuja.

According to him, ABCON, as a self-regulatory body, has platforms to check excesses of BDC operators.

“We have inaugurated state chapters whereby we can have a data repository of participants in the forex market.

“This is for the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) to understand this market and to know the participants, give them a simple registration,” he said.

Gwadebe said that what the foreign exchange market needed was a kind of harmonisation; a centralisation and KYC to know all participants in the business.

“This will enable the CBN to track other players in the market other than the BDCs and their levels of involvement.

“The BDCS are collaborating with the regulatory authorities for physical verification of offices using technology.

“We want to balance international obligations with our own objectives. International obligations are templates that have been built without our input.

“We are coming with our own template to balance it. We have seen some illegal economic behaviour, and the CBN and the security agencies are aware, and I am sure they will nip it in the bud,” he said.

He said that the recent wave of depreciation of the Naira was of concern to the BDCs operators.

“I am happy that the authorities, and even the BDCs as operators, have identified the peer-to-peer (P2P) platform.

“The P2P is a platform like the Binance, where speculators use the dollar to buy USDT, a stablecoin that is pegged at one to the dollar.

“As long as Binance and such other platforms continue to be profitable, the Naira will continue to depreciate.

“There are many of them in the system. Binance has been nipped in the bud, but there are still many. They are online platforms with no registration, no restrictions,” he said.

Gwadabe said that the CBN and the security agencies were already aware of the antics of the platforms.

According to him, they are more of an illegal economic behaviour, and the people behind them have no patriotism in them.

“People have turned dollars to be an asset; to be a commodity of trade that is why those platforms continue to thrive.

“We have seen where people are buying dollars into their domiciliary accounts to finance these schemes.

“A lot of millions of dollars are going out from the system. It is one USD to one USDT. The market can be liquid.

“Binance alone has four billion dollars liquidity and more than two million transactions.

“Most of them source money to finance their transactions from the open market, and that is one of the reasons why Naira is depreciating,” he said.

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Agro-cargo airport will improve economy of Ogun — Assembly members

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By Omobolaji Adekunle, Abeokuta

Members of the Ogun State House of Assembly Committee on Works and Infrastructure have conducted an assessment visit to the State Agro-Cargo International Airport, Iperu, positing that the project upon completion and take-off would further improve the State’s socio-economic values.

Members of the Committee led by the Chairman, Hon. Adegoke Adeyanju, who were conducted round the facility by the Project Manager of Craneburg Construction Company, Nicholas Mfarrej, opined that the project possessed enormous economic potentials that would add value and attract investment opportunities to the State.

Adeyanju, in company of the Minority Leader, Lukman Adeleye, Olusegun Kaka, Lukmon Atobatele, Damilola Soneye and Wasiu Ayodele lauded the State Governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun’s ingenuity for initiating the project, stating that the level of work done by the contractor was commendable.

Taking the lawmakers round the facilities, the Project Manager, Nicholas Mfarrej said that the project was over 80 percent completed, assuring that it would be delivered within a record time.

Mfarrej also took the Assemblymen to other facilities within the airport including the warehouse, passenger lounge, control room, crew room, cargo warehouse, runway, control tower, apron, watch tower, fire station and administrative building amongst others.

He noted that adequate quality control measures with modern engineering techniques were being deployed at every phase of the construction of the project.

In another development, the lawmakers visited the damaged portion of the collector drainage on the Ojumele-Ajegunle Road in Makun-Sagamu, which was being rehabilitated, tasking the residents of the area to embrace maintenance culture of the project, thereby desisting from indiscriminate dumping of refuse that often silt up the drainage.

The Chairman called on the State Ministry of Environment, as well as Urban and Physical Planning to put in place measures towards checkmating the excesses of residents who often violated environmental and building regulations, causing impediment hindering the flow of water into the drainage, especially during the rainy season.

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Sokoto Assembly adopts motion to establish Skills Centre for Displaced Widows

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The Sokoto State House of Assembly, on Wednesday, approved a motion advocating for the establishment of an Educational and Skills Acquisition Centre to support widows displaced by banditry and other security challenges in the state.

 The motion, which was moved by Alhaji Abubakar Shehu (APC- Yabo) and seconded by Alhaji Atiku Liman (PDP-Silame), also urged the state government to repurpose the Sultan Maccido Waqf Centre for the initiative.

Shehu highlighted that the Sultan Maccido Waqf Centre, originally established by the State Zakkat and Endowment Commission in collaboration with Qatar Charity Organisations, could serve the purpose effectively.

He stated the importance of empowering widows and their children, emphasising the need to transition them from dependency to self-sufficiency.

“The conversion of the Centre into an Education and Skill Acquisition Centre for widows and children displaced by banditry is crucial to empower them economically and prevent them from becoming a liability to the society,” he stated.

The lawmaker expressed concern about the sight of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the metropolis, often seen begging without access to economic activities or education.

He said the proposed center would offer training in various skills such as catering, knitting, tailoring, cream making, welding, mechanics, carpentry and building, among others.

Shehu emphasised that funding for the centre should be a joint responsibility of the state government, Zakkat Commission, international donors and individual contributions.

Contributing to the discussion, Alhaji Bello Idris (APC-Gwadabawa North) stressed the importance of conducting a comprehensive census of IDPs in the state to ensure proper support and utilisation of the centre once established.

Following deliberations, Speaker Alhaji Tukur Bala conducted a voice vote, and the motion was unanimously adopted by the lawmakers.

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