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FG PROBES NIGERIA @ 50 EXPENDITURE

By NBF News
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The Federal Government yesterday said all monies spent on the Nigeria at 50 celebrations will be accounted for.

It has also lamented that Nigeria loses three per cent of the Gross Domestic Product to Road Traffic Crashes (RTC), adding that for the country to be among the top 20 countries with safest road transport by 2020, the road signs and signals and road traffic rules must be globally acceptable.

The National Assembly had approved N6.6 billion for the celebrations reviewed from N10 billion following public outcry to the bogus budget describing it as wasteful amid pressing economic problems.

The Minister of Information and Communications, Dora Akunyili, disclosed this when she briefed newsmen at the end of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) in company with her Ministry of Labour counterpart, Chukwuemeka Nwogwu, and Labaran Maku.

She said President Goodluck Jonathan had set up a committee to examine the causes of the observed lapses with a view to correcting them in future events.

It would be recalled that the President was publicly embarrassed on the award night to 50 distinguished Nigerians when the representative of Lillian Jean, the lady that wrote our first national anthem, was missing and he ended up shaking his own hands instead.

'We intend to commend those that have done well and reprimand those that did not do their work. He (Jonathan) said we need to clinically examine all that happened so as to enable us improve in future. All monies spent will be accounted for by all those the monies were given to, to make for transparency and proper accountability,', Akunyili said.

The minister said Council was impressed to learn that visiting heads of states and governments, who were carried away by the parade were unaware of the bombings that happened close to the Eagles Square.

She said President Jonathan reassured council members that the securities would do everything to fish out the perpetrators of dastardly act of October 1.

'He assured council of government's continued commitment to safeguarding lives and property of Nigerians and foreigners residing in Nigeria. Mr. President requested for a one-minute silence in honour of our brothers and sisters that lost their lives during that unfortunate incident.

'Secretary to Government Federation (SGF) reiterates unflinching support of council members for the president in his onerous task of steering the ship of the nation. He urged Mr. President never to be distracted by what happened. He reported that even though we faced a lot of challenges the golden jubilee celebrations were successful.'

Meanwhile, the Council approved Global Environment Facility (GEF) grant  in the sum of $6.8 million (N1.034 billion) to support the  proposed scaling up of sustainable land management SLM practice knowledge and  co-ordination project of the federal government.

According to Akunyili, the project is an increment grant, main-streamed into Fadama 111 Development Project.

The objective of the project is to improve the enabling environment for  scaling up  sustainable land management in capacity building communication and  information support as well as monitoring and evaluation activities. The project would be co-ordinated/supervised by the National Project Support Unit (NPSU) of Fadama 111 housed in the lead agency, Ministry of Agriculture and  Rural Development over a period of 3years and 6 months and will cover 30 states  and the federal capital territory.

'The grant of $6.8 million would be shared to the 30 participating states on the same terms and conditions offered by the GEF to federal government Six states, Imo, Kogi Ogun, Bauchi, Kebbi, and Kwara are already benefiting from a  similar grant under Fadama 11 GEF programme and are therefore, excluded from the  new arrangement.

'After deliberation, Council approved that the Ministry of Finance executes the  grant agreement on behalf of the federal government of Nigeria. Council also directed the Attorney- General of the federation and Minister of  Justice to issue the legal opinion required to render the grant effective.'

Council also approved President Jonathan's  memo seeking approval for Nigeria's accession to the Vienna Convention on Road Signs and signals of 8th November, 1969 and the Geneva Convention on Road Traffic of 19th September, 1949.

'Having considered the benefits, Council approved Nigeria's accession to the two Conventions. The Federal Road Safety Corps as the leading Government Agency in road safety y is expected to meet the reduction target of road traffic crashes deaths by 50 per cent by 2015.

'Nigeria cannot afford to continue to lose such a percentage (3%) of her Gross Domestic Product to Road Traffic Crashes (RTC). For Nigeria to be among the top 20 countries with safest road transport by 2020, our road signs and signals and road traffic rules must be globally acceptable', Akunyili said.

Also, the President through a note appraised Council of the challenges relating to tax payments and remittances from the Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to the Federal Inland Revenue service (FIRS) which have adversely affected the revenue generation efforts of government.

Council therefore, directed that henceforth, all contracts awarded by council should be supported by properly issued Tax Identification Number (TIN) and with Tax Clearance Certificates (TCCs) authenticated by the FIRS. All Ministries Departments and Agencies (MDAs) should clear the backlog of tax arrears incurred by them.

Council also approved that the National Action Plan on Employment Creation (NAPEC) be adopted as a strategic national working document and incorporated into our national development.

The council also approved that all memoranda to the council for the contract awards by all ministries, departments and Agency (MDAs) should indicate, by mandate, the local employment content implication of the project or programme.

The approvals came after the minister of labour and productivity presented a memo seeking the council's approval for the adoption of the National Action Plan on Employment Creation as a strategic working document to be incorporated into our national development plans.

The council stressed the need for the NAPEC to be implemented in a coordinated and coherent manner to ensure success and that the National Employment Council (NEC) was created and appropriately positioned to ensure implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the NAPEC.

The Minister of Labour also sent a note to the council appraising it of the Nigeria's participation at the 99th Session of the International Labour Council which took place in Geneva, Switzerland from 2nd to 18th June this year.

He said that Nigeria stands to derive a lot of benefits from her participation in the conference.