President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday officially endorsed Osagie Ize-Iyamu as the All Progressives Congress candidate for the September 19 governorship election in Edo State.
Buhari met with Ize-Iyamu at the Presidential Villa in Abuja, where he presented the party’s flag to him.
However, the People’s Democratic Party in the state has criticized the meeting, describing it as “ill-advised and a dent on the image of President Buhari, whose administration is known for the spirited fight against the hydra-headed monster called corruption, which has encumbered the development of our dear country for decades”.
Ize-Iyamu was led to the meeting by APC’s chairman of the interim caretaker committee, Mai Mala Buni.
The meeting took place against the background of a political crisis rocking Edo State House of Assembly. The crisis, sparked by the impeachment on Wednesday of the Deputy Speaker by members said to be loyal to governor Godwin Obaseki, led to a retaliatory move by a group loyal to Adams Oshimohole, former National Chairman of the APC, who impeached the Speaker and elected its own Speaker and Deputy.
On Thursday morning, security agents besieged the Assembly Complex in Benin City.
Ize-Iyamu, who on Thursday congratulated the factional Speaker, told reporters in Abuja refuted the claim that the election of the factional Speaker took place in his residence in Benin City.
“Let me debunk the statement that 17 members of the State House of Assembly sat in my sitting room, it is not true,” he said.
“Unknown to President Buhari and his advisers, the APC gubernatorial candidate is desperately in need of an endorsement from someone like the President, to shore up his battered image in Edo State and the larger court of public opinion that have followed Ize-Iyamu’s trial very closely,” PDP said in a statement by Chris Osa Nehikhare, member of the Edo State PDP Campaign Council.
He noted ht Ize-Iyamu is currently being tried for money laundering to the tune of N700 million. The matter is before Honourable Justice J. M. Umar at the Federal High Court in Benin City, Edo State, with suit No. FHC/BE21C/ 2016, he said.
“The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) filed the case preferring eight-count charges against him and four other accused persons bordering on alleged illegal receipt of public funds to the tune of N700 million for the purpose of the 2015 general elections, contrary to the provisions of the EFCC Act and the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act. His next court date is October 15th.,” the statement added.
“It is our considered view that associating with a man with this corruption baggage (alleged) compromises the integrity of the President’s fight against corruption and sends mixed signals to Nigerians, home and abroad as well as other nationals who have invested enormous faith in the President’s fight against corruption.
“The Nigeria we envisage under Buhari’s watch is one in which people like Ize-Iyamu, will be told in clear terms, to go and clear their names, before being seen with, or around the occupier of the exalted office of the president.
“This dangerous precedent, if set, will embolden other Nigerians with similar or worse charges to hobnob and organize hang-out sessions with the president in the days and weeks to come,” he concluded.
*Acts as Lead Arranger for $1.5 billion Facility to Boost Nigerian Oil Production and Government Revenue.
The United Bank for Africa Plc (UBA), the leading pan-African financial services group, has acted as the lead arranger of a consortium of Nigerian commercial and international banks in a $1.5 Billion Pre-Export Finance Facility for the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and its upstream subsidiary, the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC), it said Tuesday.
UBA said it is providing $200 million (Naira equivalent) to support investment growth and liquidity requirements. It said the facility will provide much-needed capital for investment in NNPC’s production capacity, which is of strategic importance to the Nigerian economy and the country’s leading source of foreign exchange earnings.
UBA’s position as Lead Arranger takes cognizance of the Group’s strength in structuring and deploying financing to the oil and gas sector, and the depth and liquidity of the Group’s balance sheet, according to the statement.
The $1.5 billion facility is structured in two tranches, the bank said. The first tranche of $1 billion, to be repaid over a period of five years, will be provided in dollars, with UBA acting as the Facility Agent Bank. The second tranche of $500 million, will be provided in local currency, over seven years, with UBA acting as Lead Bank, providing $200 million in Naira equivalent.
Both facilities will be repaid from an allocation of 30,000 barrels per day of NPDC’s crude oil. UBA has a strong track record in the resources sector across Africa, having facilitated oil prepayment deals with the NNPC, including its 2013 $100 million participation in the PXF Funding Limited transaction, and a further $60 million in the 2015 Phoenix Export Funding Limited transaction. In Senegal, UBA was responsible for the EUR 240m revolving crude oil financing facility for the Société Africaine de Raffinage and in Congo Brazzaville co-funded the $250m crude oil prepayment facility for Orion Oil Limited.
Other participants in the NNPC deal include Standard Chartered Bank, Afrexim Bank, Union Bank and two oil trading companies, Vitol and Matrix.
Speaking on this most recent support for the Nigeria’s petroleum industry, UBA Group Chairman, Tony O. Elumelu stated “This has been one of the most economically challenging years that Nigeria has witnessed. With the sharp drop in the price of oil and the ensuing hardship that followed the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, the private sector must come together and contribute meaningfully to the economy.
“This facility is clear evidence of this – UBA is providing investment that will significantly improve Nigeria’s production capacity and in doing so also demonstrating the strength, depth, and sophistication of our commercial banking capability. I believe that together, working with governments, we can create more jobs and more wealth for people, not only in Nigeria, but across Africa.”
The United Bank for Africa is one of the largest employers in the financial sector on the African continent, with over 20,000 employees and serving over 20 million customers. UBA operates in 20 African countries and globally in the United Kingdom, the United States of America and France, providing retail, commercial and institutional banking services, leading financial inclusion and implementing cutting edge technology.
In The Spotlight
Like a melodrama in a badly scripted movie, the ominous threat by Christians in the southern part of Kaduna State to take the laws into their hands and embark on self-defence, ostensibly because the state government, to which they submitted their security under the social contract, has failed or refuses to act to protect them, poses a clear and present danger to the continuous corporate existence of Nigeria as a nation. If Governor Nasir El-Rufai and his security chiefs do not appreciate the enormity of the challenge before them, the increasingly confrontational posturing of the Congress of Northern Nigeria Christians (CNNC), is a warning salvo that Christians are running out of patience with the present status quo and will no longer stand idle by and watch as their communities are being devastated by marauding bandits and Fulani herdsmen. El-Rufai must stop playing the ostrich and come to terms with the gravity of the looming crisis and take immediate action to halt the descent into anarchy.
At least 19 lives were lost yesterday after Fulani herdsmen attacked five communities in Zangon Kataf LGA of Kaduna State. Those killed were said to be mainly women and children who were either shot or slaughtered. Many others sustained serious injuries and were rushed to the hospital. The attacks took place despite the 24-hour curfew imposed by the state government on Zangon Kataf, Kauru, Jama’a and Kaura LGAs to stop persistent attacks, which have led to killings and destruction of property. Sources said besides the killings, the Fulani bandits also torched several houses. Rightly or wrongly, the fact that not a single individual has either been arrested or prosecuted despite the havoc they have wrecked in many Christian communities across Kaduna state, smacks of official complicity, and reinforces the growing perception of a hidden agenda that borders on Islamization of Nigeria.
The frosty relationship between the Christian community and the Kaduna state government exploded in the open after the Congress of Northern Nigeria Christians (CNNC), at a press conference in Yola, Adamawa State, warned the federal government that it would not hesitate to mobilize Christian youths in the country to defend their brethren against Fulani herdsmen and bandits, if urgent actions were not taken to end “the genocide” in the predominantly Christian southern Kaduna. According to Daniel Kadzia, CNNC national youth leader and president of Coalition of Christian Groups for Good Governance (COCGOG), the federal government and Governor El-Rufai have failed in their responsibility to end the killing of Christians in Kaduna.
He said El-Rufai’s comments on the latest round of killings in southern Kaduna, is a pointer that Kaduna state government was deliberately playing politics with the lives of Christians in the state. “The killings in Jos during former Governor Joshua Dariye, where a state of emergency was declared by then President Olusegun Obasanjo, was child’s play compared to the level of killings going on in southern Kaduna. So, if not politics, the governor has proven that he is incompetent and the president is supposed to do the necessary thing by declaring a state of emergency in Kaduna,” Kadzia stated. Feeling their backs on the wall, Kadzia warned that, Christian youths, who constitute over a quarter of Nigeria’s population, will be mobilized to defend Christians and their faith.
Undoubtedly, the killing of innocent Christians in Kajuru and other parts of southern Kaduna is already threatening the peace and unity of the country and it would be dangerous to allow Christians to embark on self-defence as this will only exacerbate the cycle of violence where neither Muslim nor Christian communities will be winners; they will all be losers. While El-Rufai claims to have done so much to end the carnage, the latest round of killings, following several similarly gruesome killings in the past, have reinforced the palpable despair that the invasive terrorism-related carnage is far from ever abating. Moreover, given the multi-dimensional tractions of violence by Fulani herdsmen, and its tendency to reverberate in other parts of the country, there is a gradual entrenchment of human indignity or low premium on life in Kaduna State. The government of the day at all levels has its job well cut out: Save Nigeria from the rampaging herdsmen.
There are still fundamental issues that the killings by the Fulani herdsmen raise and which can no longer continued to be ignored. Given the sadistic patterns of killings of Christians in Kaduna, many Nigerians have come to the conclusion that there is something more sinister going on than mere clashes between Christian farmers and Muslim cattle breeders. The situation in Kaduna has curiously become the third national security crisis in a country still smarting from the debilitating effects of Boko Haram insurgency in Northeast and Niger Delta militants. This is worrisome. What is better known but not said is that the Kaduna State and the Federal government are not making any concerted effort to halt what some have described as genocide against Christians in Kaduna. This is sad. No doubt, the snowballing fallout has far-reaching consequences on Nigeria’s image and, logically, has hampered local productive forces and the inflow of direct foreign investment. It is just as well that the Institute for Economics and Peace, Global Terrorism Index (GTI) named the Fulani herdsmen as the fifth deadliest terrorist group in the world.
Coincidentally, the activities of these herdsmen, including the attacks against Christians in Kaduna and elsewhere in the country have grown in provocative proportions since President Muhammadu Buhari took office in 2015. Apart from threatening Christians in the country, in a rather vexatious manner, the implicit complicity of local and federal authorities with the antics of these arrogant merchants of death and violence is irresponsible and provocative. There has been no reprimand from El-Rufai besides imposing curfews which the bandits exploit to maximum effect; staging attacks under the cover of darkness. Also, the security agencies have conveniently sealed their ears and looked the other way while Christians are being massacred with impunity and reckless abandon. What narrative is Governor El-Rufai promoting? The standing view is that El-Rufai is willy-nilly promoting the sectarian interests of his kinsmen above and over the public interest. This is dangerous and a threat to the much-needed national cohesion. Such double standards by El-Rufai in dealing with the carnage in Southern Kaduna sow seeds of disunity and distrust and lack of faith in peaceful coexistence the state.
Sadly, since El-Rufai came to power, there has been a deep disregard for the sensibilities of the constituent parts of the cosmopolitan Kaduna state as reflected in appointments to sensitive offices at the state level. No government in the history of Kaduna state had been so clannish, insensitive and sectional in appointments, siting projects and body language as the Buhari administration. It is this clannishness that has given gumption and vent to the attacks against Christians, that are capable of setting Kaduna and the nation ablaze.
If, and whenever he decides to return to the job the people of Kaduna elected him to do, El-Rufai should work to redeem his image in the remaining years of his administration. He has frittered away the goodwill, which brought him to power by allowing rapacious extremists and religious bigots and ethnic jingoists to hijack and foist a sinister parochial agenda on the people of Kaduna state. Murderous herders have remained a constant security threat to lives and property in Kaduna and unless the eccentric governor rises to the challenge, there could be unforeseen repercussions from Christians across Nigeria. Certainly, that would be unfortunate. The people of Kaduna need peace, security and mutual understanding to thrive. El-Rufai would be wise to put Kaduna first and ensure the corporate existence of the state because Kaduna as a state will outlive El-Rufai as governor. However, the history of genocide against Christians in southern Kaduna will remain part of his legacy. How El-Rufai wishes to be remembered is dependent on how he pilots the affairs of Kaduna going forward, given his unbridled ambition for the presidency in 2023. Nigerians are watching.
In The Spotlight
The Diaspora Chapter of Government Girls' Secondary School/Methodist Girls' High School Alumni Association has donated one thousand Clinical Face Masks to the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital in Port Harcourt.
According to the Association, the gesture is their own way of supporting the Rivers State Government effort towards the fight against COVID-19. Dr. Dan Jumbo, the Deputy Chief Medical Director of the Hospital received the face masks from Mrs. Mildred Medinus, the Association's representative.
While delivering the masks, Mrs. Medinus said the Association stands in solidarity with the people of the Rivers State of Nigeria during this difficult time. The President of the Association, Dr. Anne Medinus Benibo, said "The goal of the Association is to advance the mutual welfare of GGSS/MGHS and its alumni in the Diaspora. This donation is made towards the fulfillment of its second objective which is to promote and elevate the stature of their Alma Mater within the community through various programs. We proudly support the efforts of the COVID-19 Center of the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital in Port-Harcourt, the home of our Alma Mater which mothered us for years. Our experiences at GGSS, a public school which evolved into MGHS, a private parochial school, shaped us and built in many of us virtues like the courage of our convictions.”