Senate to probe Igali over alleged N3.5b scam
Investigate abandoned N500m TV projects
BARELY a week after the Permanent Secretary in the Power Ministry, Godknows Igali, disclosed that N2.74 trillion had been spent in the drive for better electricity supply since 1999 without anything to show for it, the public servant himself is to be investigated over some alleged scams in the sector.
The Senate has received a petition accusing Igali of diverting N3.5 billion meant for payment of beneficiaries of the National Power Sector Apprenticeship Scheme (NAPSAS), The Guardian has learned.
In a petition submitted to the Chairman of Senate Adhoc Committee on Power, Abubakar Kyari, NAPSAS alleged that the ministry recruited 7,200 youths for the apprenticeship scheme which was expected to last for six months, but stopped abruptly.
According to the petition, each participant in the scheme was expected to be paid N20, 000 stipend monthly for six months, after which they may be absorbed into the power sector, but that is not to be at the moment due to alleged failure of the perm sec to implement the programme to the fullest, even after N3.5 billion had been budgeted for it since last year.
The petition was signed by leaders of the participants in the training scheme, Onyemelikeya Chukwuma and Balogun Tirimisiyu. They said: “It is in view of the foregoing that we, the ad hoc excos of the NAPSAS trainees, plead with your esteemed committee to:
• Investigate, with a view to ascertaining the veracity or otherwise, the allegation of fixing of the funds meant for this programme by Ministry of Power (under Ambassador Godknows Igali) and NAPSAS (under Mrs. Sybil Williamson, the coordinator) in interest-yielding accounts in Aso savings/Loans and other commercial banks in Abuja. And if found to be true, who authorized the fixing and for what purpose?;
• compel Igali to refund the balance of N2000 to each of the trainees paid in February 2015 and to explain why they were paid N18,000 as against N20,000 budgeted for each trainee. And to pay all the trainees their allowances from February to June 2015, including the accrued interest!;
•compel the permanent secretary to explain why other trainees outside Abuja were not paid in February, and all the trainees, other months till date. Also, what has happened to the funds meant for these payments, for these past months?;
• investigate why, despite the fact that less than half of 7,400 trainees budgeted for are actually undergoing this exercise, NAPSAS and Federal Ministry of Power keep bandying that figure (7,400) as the number being trained. We suspect that this is a ploy to misinform Nigerians in order to divert/misappropriate the remainder of funds meant for the programme, especially in view of the change in government and the new administration may not have indicated interest in continuing the programme!;
• run a background check of the personality of the Coordinator of NAPSAS Programme, Mrs. Sybil Williamson, especially during her sojourn in the UK. We attached forthwith some findings of one Mrs. Sybil Williamson, a Nigerian, whom we think relates to her person and we are seriously worried why such a character, if she is the one under reference, should be allowed to coordinate such a sensitive programme that requires high degree of personal integrity and financial transparency;
• compel Mrs. Williamson to explain her recent statement during NTA interview on Friday 4th September 2015 that they (NAPSAS) have successfully completed the training of first batch of the trainees and had paid them all, even when she is aware that such insinuation is a deliberate act of deception of the innocent public;
• compel Ambassador Igali to tell Nigerian public the names and contacts of over 600 NAPSAS trainees whom he claimed to have completely trained and offered employment through the DISCOS. He claimed this through one Mr. Oyedeji of Ministry of Power as reported by Daily Trust of September 1, 2015; and
• compel Igali to step aside as the permanent secretary, Ministry of Power, while the investigations are on.” The petitioners said: “Finally, we also note here that Ambassador Igali and Mrs Williamson have resorted to misinforming the public that non- genuine trainees and some wrong people with MSc. and Phd, who ride in all sorts of cars, have found their way into the programme and they are trying to fish them out, also that some of the trainees submitted wrong account details and that is why they have not paid them.
This is contrary to what they had told us before now (as well as our observation) as reason our payment could not be made, as we have stated them in this letter. “In conclusion, a lot of things are obviously amiss with the handling and handlers of this programme which should be thoroughly unearthed.
That is the reason we invite your committee to move in. We shall continue to challenge systems that encourage poverty and corruption!” The petitioners explained that “NAPAS is a capacity building programme that was initiated by the Federal Government, through the Federal Ministry of Power, for various categories of unemployed Nigeria youths, in November 2014 with the overall purpose of bridging skilled manpower gaps currently experienced in the power sector. “In the programme guideline, it was stipulated that the total number of participants will be 7400 from across the federation, with 200 participants each to be drawn from the 36 states and the FCT.”
Also yesterday, the Senate President Bukola Saraki said the Upper Chamber would begin a thorough investigation of circumstances that led to the abandonment of the National Assembly television worth over N500 million.
Located inside National Assembly premises, the television project was initiated to give publicity to parliamentary activities in the country, particularly those of the Senate and House of Representatives.
It was gathered that a broadcast licence has been obtained for the studio which is yet to take off. It was one of the projects inspected by Saraki last week.