The Presidency has disputed the claims that $25 billion worth of oil contracts were awarded by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) or that such amount of money was missing from the agency.
The position of the Presidency was contained in a statement by Laolu Akande, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Office of the Vice President.
Akande said no contracts were procured by the NNPC based on the leaked memo of the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, though such impressions have been maliciously created in the past few weeks.
While responding to media inquiries on Sunday on the matter, Akande disclosed that a closer look at each of the said projects indicate clearly that “these are not procurement contracts”.
According to him: “When I tweeted on Thursday morning last week, I had indicated that the Vice President, while acting as President approved Joint Venture Financing arrangements.
But for some curious reasons, a few media reports used that tweet to report that I said the then Acting President approved N640 Billion worth of oil contracts. Such reporting is both false and misleading and therefore ought to be completely ignored by all seekers of truth.”
What is more important, Akande submitted, is that “when you look diligently at the referenced projects/transactions one by one, you will see, as NNPC has shown, that none of them was actually a procurement contract.
“Take both the Crude Term Contract and the Direct Sale, Direct Purchase (DSDP) agreements for instance, these are not procurement contracts involving the expenditure of public funds. Both transactions are simply a shortlisting process, in which prospective off-takers of crude oil and suppliers of petroleum are selected under agreed terms, and in accordance with due process.
It is therefore wrong and misleading to refer to them as though they’re contracts involving the expenditure of NNPC funds, or public funds of any sort. As you now know, the Honorable Minister of Petroleum Resources himself has in fact clarified that he meant to focus on administrative and governance issues, not red-flag any fraud – because no fraud exists in this matter.”
For both transactions, Akande said it is not true and also inaccurate to attach $10 billion and $5 billion values on them, adding: “Attaching monetary values to these contracts is an arbitrary act that completely distorts understanding of the situation.”
According to him, Nigerians ought to be informed clearly that “whenever there is a monetary value on any consignment of crude oil lifted in this country by any firm, the proceeds go directly to the Federation Account and not to any company.
In fact, the Buhari administration in the implementation of the TSA has closed down multiple NNPC accounts in order to promote transparency and probity.”
Akande also explained that even in compiling the shortlisting for the prospective off-takers of crude oil and suppliers of petroleum under agreed terms, “there were public placements of advert in the mass media seeking Expressions of Interest (EoI).
Bids were publicly opened in the presence of NEITI, DPR, BPP, Civil Society groups and the press. In some cases even, these events were televised live.
“For the sake of emphasis let me state clearly that both the Crude Term Contract and the Direct Sale and Direct Purchase agreements are not contracts for any procurement of goods, works or services, and therefore do not involve the use of public funds. Instead, they are simply a shortlisting of off-takers.
And unlike what has been reported in the media so far, it is important to set the records straight that the list of approved off-takers does not carry any financial values but simply states the terms and conditions for the lifting and supply of petroleum products.”
He also disclosed that the Ajaokuta-Kaduna-Kano Gas Pipeline contract “is a contractor-financed contract which has not yet been finalized or awarded; it is still making its way to the Federal Executive Council”.
There were also three presidential approvals given on Joint Venture financing arrangements, meaning loans to cater for cash call obligations.
One of these was okayed by President Muhammadu Buhari in 2015 and two by the then Acting President in 2017, Akande noted.
Lastly, on the NPDC, he said there is no contract in the $3 billion to $4 billion range as reported in the media.
“You can then see from the foregoing that the $25 billion being bandied in the media does not exist. There is no $25 billion missing,” Akande concluded.
Victor Osimhen Grabs Brace On 100th Appearance For Napoli
Victor Osimhen scored twice as Napoli were held to a 2-2 draw by Bologna at the Stadio Renato Dall’Ara on Sunday afternoon.
Osimhen opened the scoring for the Partenopei in the 14th minute.
The Nigeria international added the second 10 minutes after the break.
Bologna rallied to equalise afterwards, earning a share of the spoils.
The game was Osimhen’s 100th appearance across all competitions for Napoli.
The 24-year-old has scored 25 goals in 31 league appearances for Luciano Spalletti’s side this season.
Napoli will host Sampdoria in their last league game of the season next week.
Sanwo-Olu Unveils Official Portrait For Second Term
Executive Governor of Lagos State, Mr. Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu has unveiled his new official portrait ahead of May 29th inauguration for his second term in office.
In a statement released on Sunday and signed by his media adviser, Mr. Gboyega Akosile, the new portrait, which is expected to be hung in all government and non-government offices across the State from Monday 29th of May, shows Governor Sanwo-Olu in a traditional white Agbada, with a carton brown handmade cap with blue stripes that has become his brand identity.
The new portrait is a departure from the previous one where the Governor wears a blue suit, white shirt and blue tie.
The portrait was photographed by ace photographer Ademola Olaniran, who brought his depth of professionalism and creativity into the finished work.
The portrait can also be found on all the official social media handles of Mr. Governor, Lagos State Government and websites.
Chronicling Tokunbo Wahab’s Home Run In Education By Adeshina Oyetayo
Each person is a thread in the tapestry of creation but some people stand outside of the weave directing the thread and painting the pictures that become reality. Tokunbo Wahab, the immediate past Special Adviser on Education to the Governor of Lagos State, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, is one of the rare latter.
Undoubtedly one of the brightest but self-effacing stars in the first term of Sanwo-Olu’s administration, Wahab covets neither paeans nor rhapsodies for his commanding tour de force in the actualisation of Governor Sanwo-Olu’s vision for the rejuvenation of tertiary education as encapsulated under the ingenious T.H.E.M.E.S Agenda. And he is forever quick to counsel folk about his ordinariness while preventing them from dressing him in what he considers spurious cloaks of a ‘messiah,’ or ‘deity’ or ‘tin god.’
Gangling and genial, generous and god-fearing, everybody seems to love the successful lawyer-turned-public servant for his humility, generosity of spirit, and fierce loyalty to the success of Governor Sanwo-Olu.
Beneficiaries of his exceptional humaneness in private and public offices frequently have wonderful stories to share from their encounters with him. However brief or extended the encounter is, Wahab snatches grief or gloom from acquaintances and replaces it with joy and joie de vivre because he sees a relative in everyone. He believes humanity is one large family divided along race, religion, and other bigoted lines and his response to this defies the depths of human failings and pretensions of altruism.
His first emergence on the political circuit in Lagos State was as a governorship aspirant in 2014 in the All Progressives Congress. He was 42 years old with lush, emergent grey beards that accentuated his smouldering, boyish visage.
Apart from fellow lawyers, social collaborators, and a sprinkling of media people, the Epe-born University of Benin graduate was barely known. Yet, he aspired to govern Lagos State! His mantra was – “Think Lagos for a tomorrow that works.” It was an audacious and astonishing move that generated a lot of discourse in the media space. Wahab did not get the ticket but he had already announced himself to those that matter in the political configuration of the state and the party at large.
Fast forward to 2019; Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu appointed Wahab as his Special Adviser on Education, charging him to steer and supervise his vision for tertiary institutions in Lagos State. Wahab went full gung-ho into the assignment, cutting large swaths through the convolution that is the tertiary education ecosystem while earning his principal accolades from far and near.
Until 2022, Lagos had just one university – the Lagos State University. Yet, statistics from the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board revealed that in 2020, out of 574,782 candidates that applied to sit the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination from the six states in the South-West, Lagos State alone accounted for almost half of the figure at 240,829. LASU couldn’t admit more than 5,000 at a go, yet the applications were very high. It was a ticking time bomb.
Conversely, Wahab said, “Ondo has three (higher institutions) and Ogun has two. Not until recently when Osun and Oyo states went their separate ways on the Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, Ogbomoso, the two also had more than one state-owned university. The implication is that our students from Lagos continue to struggle to gain admission to universities because other states usually introduce classification based on indigeneship.”
With just a tenacity of purpose and a terrier devotion to the belief that Lagos State, with its growing youth population, deserved more than one university, Wahab worked round the clock, consulted extensively, and networked widely to ensure that the state’s bid to get two more universities accredited by the National Universities Commission was achieved.
On February 8, 2022, the NUC, the regulatory body in charge of universities in Nigeria, approved the take-off of the two new specialised universities in Lagos State. While the Adeniran Ogunsanya College of Education and the Michael Otedola College of Primary Education morphed into the Lagos State University of Education; the Lagos State Polytechnic was upgraded to the Lagos State University of Science and Technology.
For Wahab, the approval and eventual take-off of the universities remains a veritable home run, the culmination of many years of hard work, and a fulfilment of one of Governor Sanwo-Olu’s cardinal promises to Lagosians to give the youths more access to affordable and qualitative varsity education.
He did not just help to birth new higher institutions, Wahab is also helping products of the state’s tertiary institutions to adequately prepare for the world of work with the Jobs Initiative Lagos which aims to fill the documented gaps in the current curriculum that is essential in the employment market and enhances the employability of graduates in Lagos.
The programme is a spin-off of the Ready-Set-Work initiative, an employability and entrepreneurship program aimed at preparing final-year students for immediate entry into the workforce as employees and employers of labour by equipping them with the knowledge, soft skills, business tools, and a mindset reorientation to the world of work.
It runs alongside the digital skills campaign, ‘Digital Skills Initiative Lagos’, launched in 2020 during the COVID-19 lockdown to empower young people in the state with digital skills that will invariably position Lagos as the Tech Hub of Africa.
Even more symbolic is the turnaround in LASU, which was infamous for its fractious transition of power. This time, a new vice-chancellor, Prof. Ibiyemi Olatunji-Bello, was appointed in a transparent and seamless, and applause-worthy process.
With the strong backing of Governor Sanwo-Olu, LASU did not join the months-long Academic Staff Union of Universities strike.
More than four decades after it was established, LASU is set to become a residential tertiary institution as the state government, under the Public-Private Partnership has signed a Build, Operate and Transfer agreement with six property developers to construct 8,272 units of hostels in the school’s premises.
Not forgetting that Wahab masterminded the collaboration between LASU and Cornell University, New York, for 16 professional certificate programmes to be run by the two institutions.
Wahab said then that the decision to collaborate with Cornell University rated as one of the leading universities globally, was borne out of the desire to keep and sustain LASU’s pedigree and high academic profile as the second-best university in Nigeria and one of the best 600 in the world.
He added that the establishment of LASU/Cornell University Postgraduate Professional Certificate Programmes was aimed at giving prospective students across the country an opportunity to gain global skills and professional expertise that will not only make them relevant and employable but globally competitive in the 21st Century digital economy.
At the risk of sounding clichéd, Wahab has redefined the tertiary education landscape of Lagos State and inadvertently written his name in gold with his robust catalogue of achievements in the all–important sector.
For Wahab, the dissolution of the Sanwo-Olu administration last Wednesday, May 24, was the end of an impactful era, but for a man who sees the hydraulic lifts on which his public career is being hoisted and the machinery that is steadily and surefootedly wheeling him to the centre stage, May 29, 2023, or the days after, will signal, ceteris paribus, the beginning of an even more impactful era. Take a bow, Toks!
Oyetayo, a Lagos-based media executive, can be reached on social media via @shynewriter
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