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Era of funding projects without monitoring over, says budget Minister

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Minister of State for Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mr Clement Agba PHOTO: Twitter

ICPC Drags Rep Member To Court Over N1.6m Bribe

The Minister of State, Budget, and National Planning, Prince Clem Ikanade Agba has assured that the days of putting money into projects without monitoring and evaluation were over.

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Agba gave the assurance in Kaduna while declaring open a four-day Capacity Building workshop for Departments of Planning Research and Statistics (DPRS) and Monitoring and Evaluation officials of MDAs.

The minister expressed the federal government’s readiness to strengthen monitoring and evaluation systems in the execution of projects and programmes funded from the annual budgets in order to ensure transparency and accountability in governance.

Meanwhile, a member of the House of Representatives, Hon. Oghuma Johnson Egwakhide, has been charged to court by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), for collecting N1.6 million bribe from three contractors.

This was contained in a statement from the Spokesperson of the Commission, Azuka Ogugua.

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ICPC, in a four-count charge, filed before Justice Adebukola Banjoko of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Jabi, said the member who represents Etsako East/West/Central Federal Constituency, Edo State, in the National Assembly, allegedly collected kickbacks from contractors handling school projects in the state.

At the workshop, organised by the Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning in collaboration with United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Agba, who was represented by the Director, International Cooperation in the Ministry, Mrs Elizabeth Egharevba, said that strengthening monitoring and evaluation systems was key to President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration as it would help the government to know “what works and doesn’t in policy design and implementation.”

He maintained that building capacity for monitoring and evaluation systems at all levels of government would improve the government’s overall performance and accountability to the citizens.

In his opening remarks, the Director, National Monitoring and Evaluation in the Ministry, Dr. Zakari Lawal, said the workshop was apt and timely given the ongoing protest by the ‘EndSARS’ protesters “demanding accountability, transparency and the rule of law, which forms the significance of monitoring and evaluation systems.”

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Lawal harped on the importance of effective communication in any organisation, noting that most of the agitations of the citizens would have been addressed if the government was effectively communicating the processes, implementation, and state of the country’s economy to the masses.

He advised low and middle-class civil servants to embrace capacity building to positively affect the civil service system while urging the directorate-level officers to adequately mentor their subordinates.

Speaking on behalf of other participants from the States, the Director M&E, Ministry of Budget and Planning, Gombe State, Mrs Rose Edward, expounded the importance of M&E systems, especially at State levels, where citizens are not asking questions. She informed participants that Gombe State had commenced the process of developing a 10-year M&E plan.

The charge sheet revealed that Egwakhide, who had sponsored the construction of one block of three classrooms at Fugar Mixed Secondary School, Etsako Central Local Government Area, as part of his constituency project in 2018, demanded kickbacks of 10 percent from the N16.5 million contract sum.

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He was alleged to have then collected N1.6 million from Feola Ventures Nigeria Ltd, the company handling the project as a bribe after the award of the contract by the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing.

The Commission told the court that his actions amounted to receipt of gratification and abuse of office in violations of Sections 10 and 19 of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2000, and punishable under the same act.

Egwakhide pleaded not guilty when the charge was read to him. His counsel, Samuel Sibiri (SAN), prayed the court to grant him bail on self-recognition.

The prayer was not opposed by ICPC lawyer, Adesina Raheem. He however pleaded with the court to grant the accused bail in such terms that would effectively secure his attendance in court.

The trial judge consequently admitted him to bail in the sum of N20 million with two sureties in like sum. The sureties must be resident of Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, and should be gainfully employed, the court said.

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