From Uche Usim, Abuja

The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) said it was not involved in the collection of signature bonuses (funds) paid by oil companies to the Federal Government upon their successful bid for oil blocks.

Speaking on the oil revenue collection process at a hearing of the House of Representatives Ad Hoc Committee on Oil Prospecting Licenses (OPLs) and Oil Mining Leases (OMLs) yesterday, the Group Managing Director of the NNPC, Dr. Maikanti Baru, said the corporation had no role in the collection of signature bonus.

According to the GMD, who was represented by the corporation’s Chief Operating Officer, Upstream, Mr. Bello Rabiu, it was the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), not the NNPC, that was saddled with the responsibility of taking receipts of signature bonuses and royalty.

The GMD, however, said the arrangement allowed NNPC to lift the royalty oil from Production Sharing Contracts and remit the proceeds to the DPR, adding that confirmation and reconciliation of royalty payments to the sister agency were carried out at the monthly meeting between the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation and revenue generating agencies.

NNPC assured the Ad Hoc House Committee that it would furnish it with all information on its royalty remittances from the PSCs to the DPR from 1992 till date.

On his part, Chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee, Hon. Gideon Gwani, said the committee decided to invite all the agencies involved in the collection of oil revenues and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to resolve the claims and counter-claims regarding the whereabouts of some signature bonuses and other revenues from some OPLs and OMLs.

He explained that the committee was mandated by the House of Representatives to investigate the award of all OPLs and OMLs granted to oil companies by the Federal Government, to, among other things, ascertain whether due process and guidelines for the acquisition of oil and gas assets were complied with.

Other agencies invited for the hearing included the DPR, CBN, Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation and the Petroleum Technology Development Fund.

IPCR: FG warns against inciting preaching, hate speech

From Magnus Eze, Abuja

The Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution (IPCR) has cautioned against the trend of inciting preaching, hate speech and irresponsible use of the social media in the country.

The agency noted the negative implications of these practices to peace, social cohesion and good governance in Nigeria; pointing out that it was particularly disturbed that religion, as an age-long guarantor of peace, was being deployed by some preachers to undermine the peace and stability of the country.

A statement by Mr. Abu Michael, Media Assistant to the IPCR Director-General, described the trend as a total negation of the sacred books of the two major religions, Christianity and Islam, which propagate peace and good neighbourliness.

It urged Nigerians to eschew actions and utterances that could jeopardise the demonstrated commitment of the Federal Government to secure the lives and property of the citizenry.

“The emerging phenomenon of irresponsible preaching and unwarranted utterances by some clerics is one which every responsible Nigerian must work hard to discourage. History has shown that the spinning of hate speeches by people who should be leaders and custodians of peace in the society is a recipe for social catastrophe that does no one good,” the statement said.

IPCR commended the media for their positive role in sustaining democracy in the country, but advised them to desist from publishing provocative information capable of fuelling crisis in the society.

It therefore called on the media to embrace the constructive path of peace journalism and conflict-sensitive reportage.

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It also urged social media influencers and users to promote harmonious living and positive mobilization of the masses, because it was only in an atmosphere of peace and tranquillity that the economy can grow jobs for the teeming youths.

TETFund:  Private varsities ‘not eligible for research fund’

From Fred Ezeh,  Abuja

The Executive Secretary, Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund), Dr. Abdullahi Baffa, has maintained that private universities stand no chance of benefitting from research fund being provided by TETFund, claiming that such would violate the Act establishing the fund.

Baffa, who addressed journalists in Abuja, said that the TETFund establishment Act specifically recognised public universities, polytechnics and colleges of education as beneficiaries of TETFund, and any tertiary institution that falls outside that category is not qualified to be a beneficiary.

He supported any attempt to further review the Act, but warned that any attempt to increase the number of beneficiary institutions would significantly dilute the impact that TETFund is making.

Baffa, however, criticised the practice in the past where lecturers were sent by their institutions to study in “mushroom and bottom-of-the-league” universities abroad under the TETFund Academic Staff Training and Development intervention programme.

“We have put a stop to that practice,” he said, adding that, henceforth, TETFund would only spend money to train scholars in top-of-the-league universities across the world.

“But in doing that, we must consider the interest and priority of our country in trying to know what these scholars are studying and where they are going.”

NASENI: Agency develops e-voting machine

From Magnus Eze, Abuja

The National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure (NASENI) yesterday displayed a solar-powered electronic voting machine that it developed, saying that the invention would aid the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and state electoral commissions conduct hitch-free elections in Nigeria.

Presenting the e-voting machine to the Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, in Abuja, the Executive Vice Chairman of NASENI, Prof. Mohammed Haruna, said the device would also enable Nigerians in the Diaspora to vote for the candidates of their choice.

Haruna explained that the machine was also capable of making provision for real-time election result as voting progresses across the country. In addition, it would eliminate ballot box snatching, thuggery and violence during elections.

“It has provision for Diaspora voting, it in-corporates facial recognition, makes provision for radio frequency identification and options of voters identification in addition to thumbprint and card reader,” he said.

Responding after the demonstration, the minister said, apart from helping the nation conduct free and fair election, the device could also help in conducting all  elections same day as is being done in many advanced countries of the world.

Nigerians in Diaspora have been clamouring for the opportunity to participate in the electoral process.