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Reps probe: Customs CG accuses NNPC GMD of 38million/ day subsidy scandal

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.. As CG demands NNPC clarification on 60million daily consumption figur.. as REPS committee Chair fault NNPC on 500 trucks smuggling PMS across border per day
..Demands trucks image from NIGCOMSAT

The Nigeria Customs Service ( NCS) Comptroller-General on Thursday countered the Group Managing Director (GMD) Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited on allegations of security agencies, churches and mosques aiding smugglers of petroleum products.The Customs CG faulted the NNPC Limited’s claim that the country consumes 60 million litres of petrol daily.

The Customs Comptroller-General, Hameed Ali, during a session with the House of Representatives’ Committee on Finance on Thursday, said if the company puts daily consumption of petrol at 60 million litres, why does it allow 98 million litres to be lifted daily.

“I remember that last year we spoke about this. Unfortunately, this year, we are talking about subsidy again. The over N11 trillion we are going to take as debt, more than half of it is going for subsidy. The issue is not about the smuggling of petroleum products. I have always argued this with NNPC,” Mr Ali said.

“If we are consuming 60 million litres of PMS per day, by their own computation, why would you allow the release of 98 million litres per day? If you know this is our consumption, why would you allow that release?” he asked.

“Scientifically, you cannot tell me that if I fill my tank today, or tomorrow, I will fill the same tank with the same quantity of fuel. If I am operating a fuel station today and I go to Minna depot, lift petrol and take it to Kaduna, I may get to Kaduna in the evening and offload that fuel. There is no way I would have sold off that petrol immediately to warrant another load. So, how did you get to 60 million litres per day?

“That computation, to me, is not believable, because scientifically you cannot tell me that if I fill my tank today, tomorrow I will fill my tank with the same quantity of fuel. And if I’m running a petrol station today, if I go to Minna depot and lift, and I’m taking to Kaduna, I may reach Kaduna in the evening and offload that product; there’s no way I could have sold that petrol immediately to warrant another load.”

That computation, to me, is not believable, because scientifically you cannot tell me that if I fill my tank today, tomorrow I will fill my tank with the same quantity of fuel. And if I’m running a petrol station today, if I go to Minna depot and lift, and I’m taking to Kaduna, I may reach Kaduna in the evening and offload that product; there’s no way I could have sold that petrol immediately to warrant another load.”

Mr Ali also opposed claims that the smuggling of petroleum contributes to the huge amounts being paid for subsidy.

“So, how did you get to 60 million litres per day? That is my question. The issue of smuggling, if you release 98 million litres in actuality and 60 million litres are used, the balance should be 38 million litres. How many trucks will carry 38 million litres every day? Which road are they following and where are they carrying this thing to?”

The deputy chairman of the House committee, Saidu Abdullahi, said the payment of subsidy has constituted a drain on the economy.
“As a government, we have not done well. We owe it to the people of this country to do what is right for this country. We are talking about over N6 trillion going for subsidy payment that almost doesn’t exist,” he said.

“You talk about 38 million litres which amount to about 500 trucks leaving our shores on a daily basis. We have an investment in NIGCOMSAT. Has there been any time that our satellite captured images of trucks leaving our shore?

“I think it is very clear that what is required is the political will to put a halt to this.

“We talk about insecurity. This is the real course of it. The money that is supposed to go into the provision of social amenities is going into private pockets. I think there is a need to work together to put a halt to this,” he said.

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NASENI lauds Gov. Idris for allocating land for Agric. Institute construction

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The National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure, (NASENI), has commended Gov. Nasir Idris of Kebbi for donating 10 hectares of land to the agency for the construction of an Agricultural Machinery Development Institute in the state.
The Director of Procurement of the Agency, Dr Muhammad Aliyu, gave the commendation after formal allocation of the land to  NASENI by officials of state government on Sunday in Birnin Kebbi.
Aliyu, who thanked Idris for providing the land at a choice area, explained that the  project would commence within the next two weeks.
H e assured that all engineering, architectural, civil and electrical designs had been completed.
”We have the bill of quantity ready and every approval needed from the government for the project has been obtained,” he said.
The director affirmed that funding for the project had been captured in the 2024 appropriation bill already assented to by  President Bola Tinubu.
”We will start with what we can accommodate this year and we will continue next year.
“We have funds to begin the basic infrastructural construction,” he assured.
Earlier, the Permanent Secretary, Cabinet Office, Alhaji Dahiru Zaki, who led other state government officials to hand over the 10 hectares of land to NASENI, explained that the land was earmarked for the agency in 2022 for the construction of the agricultural machinery center.
”The machinery center is to serve as a Regional Office for the production of agricultural equipment and we are happy that today, we have handed over the land to NASENI.
“I believe that Kebbi was selected in the North-West region because of its huge potentials in agriculture, particularly rice production and other crops,” he said.
Zaki expressed appreciation for the governor’s  kind gesture to the agency, tailored to provide job opportunities to youths and further bolster agricultural production in the state.
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Lassa Fever outbreak at Army Hospital sparks response 

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The recent outbreak of Lassa fever at the 44 Nigerian Army Reference Hospital, Kaduna, prompted a collaborative response with Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital (ISTH) and Federal Ministry of Health.

Prof. Reuben Eifediyi, Chief Medical Director, Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital, and lead of the response team, said this in an interview with News Agency of Nigeria on Sunday in Abuja.

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (NCDC), confirmed that Lassa Fever was responsible for the death of three health workers and one patient at the 44 Nigerian Army Reference Hospital, Kaduna, (44 NARHK).

Four of the six blood samples from suspected cases at the hospital sent to the Bayero University Teaching Hospital, Kano, were confirmed for Lassa Fever.

While 25 close contacts of all the cases were being monitored and were placed on prophylactics (preventive medication). 

Eifediyi said that the outbreak resulted in the deployment of a specialised emergency response team, which was made up of experts in Lassa fever management and infection prevention.

He said that though there were initial challenges, including inadequate resources and staffing, the response team successfully contained the outbreak through real-time laboratory testing, isolation, and treatment of confirmed cases.

“Real-time PCR testing was conducted, leading to the identification and treatment of confirmed cases.

“Three confirmed cases were successfully treated and discharged, with no further fatalities, “ he said.

He said that the incident underscored the importance of effective partnerships and rapid mobilisation of expertise in addressing public health emergencies.

He said that health workers at the hospital went through training on Infection Prevention and Control (IPC), measures.

He recommended structural improvement, staffing, training, equipment provision, and hygienic measures.

He also made recommendations for capacity building and the establishment of a biosafety molecular laboratory at the hospital.

 Lassa fever is an acute viral hemorrhagic illness transmitted to humans through contact with food or household items contaminated by infected rodents or contaminated persons.

Its symptoms include fever, headache, sore throat, general body weakness, cough, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, muscle pain, chest pain.

In severe case, there are unexplainable bleeding from ears, eyes, nose, mouth, and other body openings.

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Why some airlines are avoiding Nigeria’s airspace – NAMA

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Many airlines are avoiding Nigeria’s airspace because of difficulties encountered in communication with air traffic controllers, the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) confirmed on Sunday in Lagos.

Its Managing Director, Mr Farouk Umar, told newsmen at Ikeja that the agency was consequently eyeing more investments to rejuvenate the communication systems to match emerging air traffic trends.

He explained that there was the need to improve the weak communication system, which had been demand-saturated as the industry grew and more routes were opened.

He said huge investments were required of the Federal Government as more routes opened needing more stations to have signals to cover the entire country.

He added that the presidency recently budgeted N40 billion to address some of the issues at the airports, but the money had not been accessed.

Umar assured that as soon as money was made available, the agency would tackle critical safety challenges at the various airports.

“The entire communication network has been re-designed to ensure that every blind spot is covered because if one system fails today, air traffic controllers would not notice.

“We realised also that our radios are working well and well-positioned and we have addressed the challenges we met on ground, but then, we are still having issues.

“The issues have nothing to do with our radios, but with electricity supply which had been a national challenge that government had been working assiduously to fix.

“We have decided to deploy solar energy to some of our facilities to complement electricity supply from the national grid and from generators so that they can function well,’’ he said.

Umar noted that the International Civil Aviation Organisation frowned at even a second’s blackout at any airport and Nigeria could not afford to flout the regulation.

“For an average electronic system, the lifespan is about 10 years. Most of the communications electronics at the airports have been working for the past 15 years to 20 years. Their performance would be below standard, expectedly.

“We are replacing some of the equipment and we have done almost 80 per cent. The contractors are still working, however,’’ he assured.

Umar also told newsmen that Terminal Control Centres (TRACON) were still having challenges because since 2014, there had not been enough spare parts to fix the obsolete equipment there.

“The Federal Government has approved the modernisation of the TRACON system. 15 per cent of the fund has been paid and we are hopeful that more installations will start soon.

“We are also hopeful that at the end of it all, the system will go back to optimal performance,’’ he said.

Umar lamented that NAMA had been charging airlines N11,000 as navigation fee per flight since 2008 when fares for local flights were N16,000, whereas airfares had risen to N150,000.

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