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NIGER DELTA NEWS

Stakeholders raise concern over closure of Bayelsa Diagnostic Centre

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…equipment allegedly stolen

Yenagoa—When former President Olusegun Obasanjo, on Friday 16 February 2018, commissioned the Bayelsa Diagnostic Center, it elicited cheers from Bayelsans since the state has been lacking a world-class diagnostic facility.

Upon its commissioning, a Public Private Partnership (PPP) deal was said to have been entered with Oyesis Global Network Nigeria Ltd for the operation and management of the facility.

A Bayelsan who craved anonymity in a chat with our reporter recalled that the diagnostic center was functioning until May 2020, three months after Senator Douye Diri succeeded Senator Seriake Dickson as governor because the government allegedly declined to fulfill its part of the partnership agreement.

“That this facility which the former administration managed and kept functional such that people from all over the country found it reliable and a favourable alternative to travelling overseas, is now being left to rot.

“Till date, there are rumours of the centre being vandalized and pieces of equipment allegedly carted away. Let the commissioner for health whose oversight encapsulates this facility, present documentary facts of these allegations.

“Why haven’t the consultant operators been invited for interrogation,” the source asked.

Bearing his thoughts on the development, foremost environmental activist, Comrade Alagoa Morris in an interview with a mangrovepen.ng reporter expressed concern that since its creation, no PPP arrangement has favoured the state.

According to him, “this goes to show that some Bayelsans are bringing in these partners to tie Bayelsa money down. They do the partnership in such a way that it will always be disadvantageous to Bayelsa State.

“They want to short-change and steal from the people of Bayelsa State and that is why the civil society and faith-based organizations should be involved when such partnerships are to be signed.”

Alagoa who called for an investigation into the rumored stealing of equipment from the facility urged the government to look at the inventory of equipment stocked in the facility to know how many have been stolen.

He urged the Bayelsa State House of Assembly to carry out proper oversight functions in unravelling the reasons behind the closure of the facility.

Alagoa also admonished Governor Diri to “take steps to adjust any agreement signed with the partners to make sure the facility functions as it ought to be.”

On his part, Dr. Tokpo Coronation, the Bayelsa State Organizing Secretary of the All Progressives Congress (APC) berated the state government for allowing the facility to be shut down.

He argued that Diri has paid deaf ears to the hues and cries of Bayelsans about the facility on which billions of naira in state funds were spent.

His words, “I think the state of the art equipment in that facility has been carted away. Bayelsans are now being denied the opportunity to get top-notch diagnostic services.

“Shamefully, we have a government in the state which is too lily-livered to demand accountability for what has happened to the Bayelsa Diagnostics Centre.

“We are very unfortunate with leadership as a state. Mind you, the Diagnostics Centre is not the only project that has been abandoned just after a year or so of its use.

“The Bayelsa State Airport which gulped over 80 billion naira is currently being abandoned. Several internal roads within the state capital, Yenagoa were half done, others were only about 30 percent done by the previous administration and left to erode.”

Coronation also tasked Bayelsans to demand accountability from the state government for all the funds expended on projects.

All efforts to get the reaction of the Bayelsa State Commissioner for Health regarding the diagnostic center were futile as of the time of filing this report.

NIGER DELTA NEWS

Newspaper publisher retracts defamatory publication against, ex-Maritime University VC

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Yenagoa—The Publisher of Eagle Eye Newspaper, Daboikiabo Warmate has retracted a defamatory publication against Prof. Ongoebi Maureen Etebu, former Vice Chancellor, Nigeria Maritime University, Okerenkoko, Delta State.

It will be recalled that the publisher of Eagle Eye Newspaper made a publication alleging that Prof. Etebu diverted N1.8b meant for staff salaries and welfare through profiteering from ghost workers on the payroll.

He also alleged that she hurriedly covered the looting by conducting a recruitment in November 2019 and backdated to April 2019.

But in a retraction that was made available to newsmen in Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital, Warmate said the publication was false.

He explained that the decision to retract the publication is as a result of a pending case wherein Prof. Etebu sued him and three others in a Delta State court.

With this publication made by Warmate, Prof. Etebu has been exonerated on allegations of embezzlement and fraud.
Read also: Digital institute calls for implementation of Freedom of Information Act

The retraction reads:

“On the 5th day of July 2020 I published a news article with the headline “Re: Prof. Maureen Etebu fingered in N1.8 billion fraud” in an online news platform known as Eagle Eyes, wherein I alleged that Prof. Ongoebi Maureen Orubide Etebu defrauded the Nigeria Maritime University, Okerenkoko, Delta State to the tune of N1, 800, 000, 000.00 (One Billion, Eight Hundred Million Naira) which was meant for staff salaries and welfare through profiteering from ghost workers on the payroll, and covered the looting by hurriedly conducting a recruitment in November 2019 but back-dated to April 2019.

“I hereby state that the news article is false and hereby retract same and render an unreserved apology to Prof. Ongoebi Maureen Orubide Etebu for all the inconveniences the publication has caused her, her career and family.”

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NIGER DELTA NEWS

Bayelsa east leaders write Buhari, chides Diri over alleged plans to locate new federal university in Yenagoa

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Yenagoa—Some concerned leaders in Bayelsa State have alleged that there are plans by the state governor, Senator Douye Diri to clandestinely offload “illegally” employed staff of the Bayelsa Medical University in connivance with the vice-chancellor of the institution, Professor Ebitimitula Etebu, mangrovepen.ng has gathered.

They also alleged that the plot is orchestrated to prevent the Bayelsa East senatorial district made up of Brass, Ogbia and Nembe Local Government Areas, from having a fair opportunity at the proposed Federal University of Medical Sciences to be cited in the state.

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The leaders made this known in a letter written to President Muhammadu Buhari by their solicitor, Chinonso Nwosu, Esq.

While stating that they are not opposed to the Federal Government citing the institution in Bayelsa State, their position is at variance with the alleged proposal of the governor to locate it in Yenagoa, the state capital.

According to them, they are of the view that the people of Bayelsa East Senatorial District who have been the backbone of support for the present APC-led Federal Government and who are in urgent need of a higher institution should be considered, and not the Governor’s choice of Yenagoa.



“In this context, it may please Your Excellency to bear in mind that the Governor’s senatorial district already has the premier state University, the Niger Delta University, the Federal Polytechnic Ekowe, the Bayelsa Medical University as well as the International Institute of Tourism and Hospitality both established by his predecessor.

“His predecessor, Sen. Henry Seriake Dickson who now represents Bayelsa West Senatorial district at the National Assembly in his time, built the University of Africa Toru-Orua, his hometown in Sagbama LGA, the Bayelsa Polytechnic Aleibiri in Ekeremor LGA and equally relocated the Bayelsa College of Education from Okpoama in Brass LGA to Sagbama town in his senatorial district while the Maritime Academy he proposed in Okpoama, Brass LGA, didn’t see the light of day.

“Upon establishing the Bayelsa Medical University in Yenagoa, the former Governor stated publicly that a proposed campus for nursing and other courses will be in Nembe and our clients are in possession of the records where he stated such with his deputy by his side in the person of Rear Admiral Gboribiogha John-Jonah (Rtrd) who hails from Nembe, but this also did not materialize but instead our clients have information that the current governor has relocated the said school of nursing to Sampou, his community,” they stated.
Read also: Amnesty Office publishes names of beneficiaries with multiple account numbers
The leaders who revealed that the only area in Bayelsa State that needs the intervention of a federal tertiary is the Nembe-Brass axis of Bayelsa East Senatorial district commended Senator Degi Eremienyo for moving a bill seeking to establish a federal college of education in Nembe.

The letter also stated that “If a new Federal Medical University is being contemplated in Bayelsa State, our clients feel that the fair and the right thing to do on account of all of this, is to cite it in that axis.

“Our clients stated that they have enough land and facilities which can serve as takeoff so it can boost the development of their part of the state. Further, both the NDDC, NCDMB and the oil companies operating in that area can support the Federal government.

“Haven known the intentions of Governor Diri, it is our duty to notify you that his reasons are not altruistic and are not made in good faith but made once again to the disadvantage of our people.

“The governor can and ought to donate any other facility in Nembe or Brass like the facilities for the proposed Maritime University by his predecessor in Okpoama, Brass or the facilities in Bassambiri, Nembe which could have been used for the approved Federal College of Education in Nembe.

“There are several allegations of corruption and mismanagement as well as reports of irregular contracts, unfair and improper employments and engagements in the Bayelsa Medical University and these cannot be deceitfully dumped on the Federal Government.”

They further alleged that there are plans to offload the state’s liabilities in the Bayelsa Medical University to enable the Governor and the vice chancellor of the Medical University to commence the construction of another University in their Local Government Area.

They urged Buhari to call the Honourable Minister of Health, the Permanent Secretary and other top officials of the Ministry of Health who are purportedly conniving with the Governor and the Vice Chancellor against the interest of the people of the state and particularly of the Federal University Otuoke and the Brass-Nembe people of Bayelsa East Senatorial district to order.

“Our clients on their part, shall mobilize and sensitize their people and their representatives as well as possibly take legal actions as appropriate,” they said.

The Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Mr. Daniel Alabrah and the Commissioner of Education, Hon. Gentle Emelah were yet to react when contacted by our reporter at the time of filing this report.

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NIGER DELTA NEWS

Amnesty Office publishes names of beneficiaries with multiple account numbers

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Port Harcourt—The Presidential Amnesty
Programme (PAP) has published a list of over 513 names of beneficiaries with multiple account numbers linked to their Bank Verification Number (BVN).

According to the Amnesty Office, the discovery was made following a verification exercise carried out on the payment list of beneficiaries of the Programme said to be on the orders of the current Interim Administrator, Major General Tariye Ndiomu (rtd).

The PAP’s office in a publication signed by the programme’s Chief of staff, Mr. E. Bel-Gam, however, directed those whose names have been shortlisted to “report to one of the three of its offices in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, Port Harcourt, Rivers state or Abuja, the nation’s capital with their BVN, National Identification Number (NIN) and banking details for further verification.”

The list of the names of beneficiaries of PAP with multiple account numbers

Recall during the weekend, the Strategic Communication Committee (SCC) of the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP), disclosed that external and internal auditors recently uncovered a massive payroll fraud in PAP.

According to Daily Report Nigeria, the SCC led by its Chairman and ex-agitator, Nature Dumale Kieghe, in Yenagoa, said according to the discovery, an individual was receiving stipends of 33 persons through fraudulent means.

He said about 513 persons were linked to multiple payments, insisting that the new management of PAP was poised to reposition the scheme for optimum performance.

Dumale said following the development, the Interim Administrator immediately initiated verification of all beneficiaries of the programme as part of the ongoing investigation.

He explained that the audit and efforts of Ndiomu to clean the payroll were the reason some beneficiaries of the programme had yet to receive their monthly stipends adding that all affected and genuine outstanding stipends would be paid after verifications.

Describing Ndiomu’s efforts as proactive, Dumale said upon assumption of office, the amnesty boss renegotiated all existing contracts with vendors and in the process saved N1.5bn for PAP.

He said: “Ndiomu initiated an internal and external audit of PAP’s database. The auditors uncovered monumental fraud, especially in the payment of stipends where an individual is receiving stipends meant for 33 persons through fraudulent means.

“The proactive interim administrator has ordered immediate verification of all delegates to be carried out next week. Delegates are assured that whoever that is verified will be paid immediately.

“Upon assumption of office, General Ndiomu (retd) initiated plans to renegotiate the existing contracts with vendors. In the process, he has been able to save over N1.5bn”.

Dumale said Ndiomu had concluded plans to set up cooperatives to be managed by ex-agitators and supervised by consultants and experts in grant management.

The ex-agitators will be given grants of over N500m and revolving loans. They are to take responsibility for the success of the cooperatives. International donor agencies will be involved in providing grants and aid. He has opened channels of discussions with the foreign loans,” he said.

Dumale noted that five months after his appointment, Ndiomu had replaced the Train, Employ, and Mentor (TEM) model with the Train, Empower, and Exit (TEE) to allow empowered beneficiaries to exit the programme.

While observing that Ndiomu has shown more commitment, patriotism, and transparency in the management of PAP, Dumale said the PAP boss had also indicated interest to revive the vocational training centres for ex-agitators.

He said: “Ndiomu has concluded arrangements to complete the construction of the four vocational training centres located in Bayelsa, Rivers, Delta, and Ondo states. The centres will be fully equipped with state-of-the-art equipment.

“Ndiomu is committed to the idea of transforming the lives of the ex-agitators through innovative and structured training schemes.

“It is imperative to inform members of the public that Ndiomu has not delisted anybody but is working round the clock to sanitise the PAP register for the good of not only the ex-agitators but also the Niger Delta region”.

Dumale called on aggrieved ex-agitators to suspend all their planned actions against the PAP management and support the efforts of Ndiomu to sanitise the programme.

It was also reported that on Thursday, Ex-Militants under the phase 1&2 of the Amnesty Programme, blocked the East-West road and the toll gate to Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital, over the delisting of over seven thousand delegates of the programme.

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