The House of Representatives caucus of the People Democratic Party (PDP) has cautioned the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Ibrahim Tanko, against subverting the integrity of the judiciary on the selection of Supreme Court Justices ahead of the hearing of the presidential election appeal panel.
This was disclosed in a statement jointly signed by the PDP Caucus Leader, Kingsley Chinda, his deputy Chukwuma Onyema; Caucus Whip, Umar Barde, and his deputy, Muraina Ajibola. The PDP House caucus said the selection of Justices to hear the appeal of the party’s presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, must be in accordance with the conventional practice of admitting only the first seven most senior Justices of the Supreme Court.
The caucus insisted that the list must not go outside the following: ‘The CJN, Tanko; Justice Rhodes-Vivour, Justice Mary Odili, Justice Sylvester Ngwuta, Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, Justice Musa Muhammad and Justice Kumai Akaahs. The House PDP member stated categorically that the practice of selecting Justices to hear the appeal is expected to precede the hearing, going by age-long convention.
According to the caucus, “What isn’t conventional is the present attempt to influence Chief Justice Ibrahim Tanko, going by reports in the media, to subvert the age-long and time-tested practice, precedent and convention of selecting the most senior Justices of the Supreme Court to hear the presidential election appeal. Chief Justices of Nigeria, through time, have never in the selection of the Supreme Court‘s Election Petition Appeal Panel surrendered to the phony dictates of the ruling parties. We are proud to state here that never in our great party’s time in power did it or its personages dictate selection of panel members to Chief Justices, never!”
The PDP caucus recalled that in 2008 when President Muhammadu Buhari was defeated by late President Umaru Yar’Adua, and the former appealed the decision of the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal, the then CJN, Legbo Kutigi, empaneled Justices Katsina-Alu, Aloma Mukhtar, Dahim Musdapha, Walter Onnoghen, George Oguntade and Niki Tobi to hear the appeal that year.
The caucus added that he was never dictated to nor was any attempt made by the PDP to influence Kutigi who stuck to a conventional practice that consistently secured the seal of approval of past Chief Justices-Fatai Williams 1979; George Sowewimo 1983, and Muhammad Uwais 2003. The House members added that former CJN Katsina-Alu also followed Kutigi’s steps in 2011 and kept to the age-long conventional practice. They stressed that if there is any arm of government that regards precedents and practices as almost sacrosanct, it is the judiciary.
The PDP lawmakers said the Nigerian judiciary cannot reverse that internationally accepted practice of “starre decisis” just to please the All Progressives Congress (APC) government and serve the interest of a selected individual or group. The caucus noted that selecting the Supreme Court panel “isn’t about witch-pricking Justices who suck blood out of justice, isn’t about going outside the order of seniority to select Justices.”
The PDP House caucus stressed that it is about demonstrating and holding firm to the constitutional powers of the Supreme Court to conduct its own affairs and not succumb to pervasive power and corrosive external influences to sidestep precedents and “convention to provide legitimacy to the ruling party whose stock-in-trade is to ridicule the judiciary.” It said: “CJN Tanko must stick to precedents and conventions to preserve the integrity of the courts as the last hope of the common man and citizens of our great country.”
The Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) has requested the Federal High Court, Lagos, to declare as unconstitutional and, therefore, void the Freedom of Information (FoI) Act. The bureau, in a response to a suit filed by the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), seeking an order to compel the CCB to release public officials’ asset declaration forms, called upon the court to annul the legislation the group relied upon to make its request.
SERAP had earlier written CCB requesting copies of the asset declaration forms of President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo. It made the request after the bureau released the asset declaration form of the immediate past Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen, to a civil society group, Anti-Corruption and Research Based Data Initiative, which had petitioned the CCB, accusing the former CJN of false asset declaration.
However, besides seeking the nullification of the FoI Act, CCB is also asking the court to dismiss SERAP’s suit, saying that it is not under obligation to release asset declaration forms of public officials to the public. It argued that except Buhari and Osinbajo give their consent to release their asset declaration forms, it would not oblige any request to make them public.
In its written address opposing SERAP’s suit, filed on its behalf by Musa Usman and Fatima Ali, the CCB stated; “The asset declaration forms of the presidents, vice presidents, Senate presidents, speakers of the House of Representatives, state governors and deputy governors since the return of democracy in 1999 to 2019 are in the custody of the CCB. But the public officials have not consented to the disclosure of their asset declarations forms.”
The CCB’s response dated October 14, 2019, read in part: “The CCB is not obligated to submit assets declaration forms to any person. The forms are not publicly available. SERAP has not shown that it is in the public interest to disclose the information nor that such public interest overweighs the protection of the privacy of the presidents, vice presidents, Senate presidents, speakers of the House of Representatives, state governors and deputy governors since 1999 to 2019.”
It stated that asset declaration forms contained personal information about public officials and their properties, assets and liabilities and those of their wives/husbands and their children who were under the age of 18 years. The bureau added that it was not obligated to make available information relating to verification, which it said was an investigation activity to any citizen or institution.
It stated: “The provision of Freedom of Information Act relating to release of asset declaration forms is in open confrontation with the Constitution of Nigeria and therefore void. The constitution is the supreme law of the land and any law that is inconsistent with it shall to that extent be null and void. The power of the CCB to refer suspects to the Code of Conduct Tribunal is discretionary and the courts are circumspect in granting mandamus in respect of discretionary powers and in the circumstances of the case, SERAP has an alternative and effective legal remedy. This renders SERAP’s case incompetent.”
CCB said SERAP ought to have asked the CCB to investigate allegations of non-compliance with the Code of Conduct and where appropriate refer the matter to the tribunal for prosecution. “SERAP has failed to show that it has sufficient legal interest in the matter,” it added. The bureau said asset declaration forms were special documents that have been exempted by section 14 of the Freedom of Information Act, the same statute it said was unconstitutional.
Another objection raised by the bureau is that, “CCB can only make the forms available on the terms and conditions to be prescribed by the National Assembly. Those terms and conditions are yet to be prescribed.”
The trial judge, Justice Muslim Sule Hassan, had earlier ruled that “Going through the application filed by SERAP, supported by a 14-paragraph affidavit, with supporting exhibits, statements setting out the facts, verifying affidavits and written address in support, I am satisfied that leave ought to be granted in this case, and I hereby grant the motion for leave.”
Justice Hassan had granted the order for leave following the hearing of an argument in court on ex-parte motion by SERAP counsel, Adelanke Aremo. The suit, filed in June followed the CCB’s claim that it could not disclose details of asset declarations submitted to it by successive presidents and governors since 1999 because doing so “would offend the right to privacy of presidents and state governors.” In the suit, SERAP is applying for judicial review and to seek an order of mandamus directing and compelling the CCB to disclose details of asset declarations of all presidents and state governors since 1999.
“Asset declarations of presidents and state governors submitted to the CCB are public documents. Public interest in disclosure of the details of asset declarations sought by SERAP clearly outweighs any claim of protection of the privacy of presidents and state governors, as they are public officers entrusted with the duty to manage public funds, among other public functions. “A necessary implication of the rule of law is that a public institution like the CCB can only act in accordance with the law, as to do otherwise may enthrone arbitrariness,” SERAP said in an averment.
It contended that CCB did not have reasonable grounds on which to deny its FoI request, as it was in the interest of justice, the Nigerian public, transparency and accountability to publish details of asset declarations by presidents and governors since the return of democracy in 1999. The organisation said disclosing details of asset declarations of public officers such as presidents and governors would improve public trust in the ability of the CCB to effectively discharge its mandate.
It said: “This would in turn put pressure on public officers like presidents and governors to make voluntary public declaration of their assets. The right to receive information without any interference or distortion should be based on the principle of maximum disclosure and a presumption that all information is accessible subject only to a narrow system of exceptions.” It argued that it was a settled principle of law that details such as asset declarations of presidents and governors should be disclosed if there was an overriding public interest in having access to such information, which it said was clearly so in this matter.
SERAP said: “Democracy cannot flourish if governments operate in secrecy, no matter how much open discussion and debate is allowed. The very nature and quality of public discussion would be significantly impoverished without the nourishment of information from public authorities such as the CCB and to guarantee freedom of expression without including the right to know would be a formal exercise.
“The CCB has an obligation to proactively keep, organise and maintain all information or records about their operations, personnel, activities and other relevant or related information or records in a manner that facilitates public access to such information or record. “Given that many public officers being tried for or convicted of corruption are found to have made a false declaration of their assets, the CCB should no longer allow politicians to undermine the sanctity and integrity of the asset declaration provisions of the constitution by allowing them to continue to exploit legal gaps for illicit enrichment.”
As the Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) commence the defence of their 2020 budget, the various committees of the Senate Thursday barred the media from covering the proceedings.
The committees’ decision was conveyed to news men by the Senate Committee Chairman on Media and Publicity, Senator Dayo Adeyeye, who said that sensitive issues cannot be discussed in the presence of press men.
Journalists were barred from covering the budget defence of the following MDAs — Federal Inland Revenue Services, National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, Ecology Department, Public Accounts Committee, Air Force, Petroleum Down stream, Diaspora and the Non Governmental Organisations, Primary Health care and the Federal Ministry of Health, Federal Capital Territory and the Department of Local Content.
After the Senate Committee on Public Accounts welcomed the Auditor-General of the Federation and look into his 2020 budget, journalists were asked to leave.
The same situation played out in the Committee on Power and the Committee on Ecology and Climate Change.
The Committee on Defence also asked newsmen to leave at some point.
Confirming that media is not needed during the budget defence, the Senate Committee Chairman on Media and Publicity, Adeyeye, who is also the spokesperson of the Senate, said that the media would constitute a distraction during the budget defence.
He said: “The budget defence will not be done in the direct presence of the media. It will constitute a distraction when sensitive issues are being discussed. Serious issues cannot be discussed openly like that. Like the nitty gritty of the budget cannot be discussed in the open.
“When President Buhari was preparing the budget, the media was not involved. It was after the budget was ready that he read it at the joint session of the National Assembly. So, it is when the budget defence is concluded that the media can be briefed on the account
“The chairmen and members of the various committees can brief the media after deliberations and the media would be told what was discussed. The budget defence should not be done in the full glare of the media. No. I don’t think so. This is like playing to the gallery.”
Confirming his position, a member of the Committee on Media and Publicity, Senator Sandy Onuh (Cross Rivers), said: “In governance, there is the secrecy oath. If there is no secrecy, why is that law there, it ought to have been abrogated. There is need for you to do your job without any distraction.”
When Senator Adeyeye was asked whether this is the new position of the 9th Senate as it contradicts the stand of the 8th Senate on budget defence, he said: “No. This is not our policy but there is the need to avoid distractions on serious issues.”
He also denied any knowledge of the job sharing scandal rocking the Senate. He said: “I’m not aware of it. I have not read the newspapers since Wednesday and I was not in town. I am not aware. I will investigate and brief you later.”
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has described as “repressive the decision of the Federal Government to impose a N5000 fee for renewal of the national identity cards.”
In a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, the party said that the “very idea of ID card fee by the President Muhammadu Buhari administration is reprehensible and completely offensive to the sensibilities of Nigerians as free citizens.”
The main opposition party maintained that imposing “such unwarranted and unjustified levy on Nigerians for internal social safety instrument amounts to wicked fleecing as well as stripping of their constitutional rights in their own nation.”
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has cautioned Nigeria and other African countries against their rising level of indebtedness to China, stressing that the non-Paris Club creditors, “create some instability or some vulnerabilities.” The warning came as Nigeria’s debt profile rose from N24.95 trillion to N25.7 trillion in the last three months. One year ago, it was N22.38 trillion.
The development showed that between April and June, the country’s obligations rose by N750 billion, and increased by N3.32 trillion when compared with the debt figures as of June 30, 2018. Government has, so far, paid more than N800 billion in servicing the multiple obligations, which cut across domestic and foreign deals in the first half of 2019.
Total domestic debts stood at N17.38 trillion, with the Federal Government having more than three-quarters of the stockpile. These include FGN Bonds, N9.69 trillion; Nigerian Treasury bills, N2.65 trillion; Promissory Notes, N708 billion; FGN Sukuk, N200 billion; Nigerian Treasury Bonds, N126 billion; Green Bond, N26 billion; and FGN Savings Bond, N10.4 billion.
On the other hand, the external debt components are made up of multilateral deals worth $12.7 billion; bilateral, $3.3 billion; and commercial, $11.2 billion. Among these external debt obligations, the World Bank Group, China and Eurobond are top creditors, with over $23 billion claims on the country.
With the deficit plans in the ongoing 2019 budget, analysts warned that the country’s debt could hit N27 trillion by the end of the year. The debt sojourn has appeared endless amid a shallow diversification and economic challenges. Besides, the proposed 2020 budget has more than an N2 trillion deficit to be financed by further borrowing.
The IMF also said the present global financial conditions due to the trade dispute between the United States and China, the shift towards a more dovish monetary policy stance in most developed countries, among others, present opportunities for Nigeria and other low-income countries.
The Financial Counsellor and Director, Monetary and Capital Market Department, IMF, Tobias Adrian, while responding to a question during a media briefing on the Global Financial Stability Report (GFSR) at the ongoing IMF/World Bank Annual Meetings in Washington DC; said investment flow to Nigeria and other countries in sub-Saharan Africa has been strong and is expected to reach record high this year.
“Global financial conditions are favourable to countries such as Nigeria, at the moment. Issuing bonds in hard currency and the domestic currency is possible because of favourable global financial conditions. And of course, what is key is what countries such as Nigeria are doing with those borrowed funds. Undertaking structural reforms to develop the economy is also key at this point in time,” Adrian stated.
Responding to a question on the elevated external debt levels in Nigeria and whether the federal government should shift to more of domestic borrowing, Adrian said: “Both domestic and external debt markets are important for economic growth and development and both markets should be well developed; but of course, any borrowing has to be managed in a responsible manner. There are both costs and benefits.
“So, borrowing can be helpful for economic growth and investment, but it can also be dangerous when negative shocks arise. So, we have done a lot of work in the IMF on debt sustainability and debt management and we have a host of recommendations of how to manage debt in a responsible manner.”
Also speaking, the Deputy Division Chief, Monetary and Capital Markets Department, IMF, Mr. Evan Papageorgiou, stressed the need for the federal government to ensure prudent debt management.
“Nigeria has a large exposure to non-resident holders of domestic debt, particularly with central bank bills and then as we understand in the central bank bills, there are lots of higher redemptions or those that have to deal with more rollovers in the coming quarters, and so managing those risks, particularly with respect to local currency and the behaviour of non-resident investors is very important,” he added.
While also responding to a question at a separate media briefing on the IMF’s Fiscal Monitor, the Assistant Director, Fiscal Affairs Department, IMF, Cathy Pattillo, reiterated the need for a comprehensive reform package in Nigeria in order to increase non-oil revenue. This, according to her, would also provide the opportunity for more investments in infrastructure. Pattillo, however, welcomed move to enhance non-oil revenue in the country.
There are growing concerns that the insurgency in the Northeast is being prolonged by massive external funding from fundamentalist groups and foreign nations, forcing former president, Olusegun Obasanjo to add his voice to these concerns, saying foreign funding for Boko Haram has risen to 50%.
Speaking at the President Woodrow Wilson Centre in Washington DC on “Managing Nigeria’s Diversity Amidst Rising Ethno-religious Tensions,” OBJ in a video of the event, revealed that foreign funding for Boko Haram had reached 50% compared to 10-15% as at 2011. He said when he first inquired from intermediaries about Boko Haram’s external support; he was informed that it was just about 10-15% as much of their funding was local then.
However, upon recent inquiry, the former president said he was told external support for Boko Haram is now 50%. “Let me say this, the issue of Boko Haram is an internally generated issue. When I went to Maiduguri, I asked how much was Boko Haram externalized and the man, who was talking to me, the middle man between me and Boko Haram leadership, who were out of the country, said may be 10 to 15% and I said how do you know.
“He said he knew the leaders; they are not men of any means and that they are bringing in some new weapons and that somebody must be paying for those weapons; either Nigerians, who have the resources, or some external resources. Now if that is the case, we are in danger.”
Obasanjo’s assertion came as top military sources expressed concerns that the war against insurgency is prolonged by foreign funding and interference. Intelligence sources also confirmed to Huhuonline.com that the possession of sophisticated weapons like drones for logistics and medical supplies showed signs of funding by foreign interests. “We have seen these types of automatic weapons when they are dislodged or killed. These are not ordinary weapons; they are sophisticated machine guns and rifles and sometimes they have tanks that are not our tanks. We have seen weapons with numbers that show that they were not just sourced through the black market but directly supplied by known arms manufacturers from particular countries,” a military source said.
The source stated that investigations had shown some foreign-based NGOs were being used to supply fuel, food and medication to insurgents under the guise of humanitarian aid. “Physical and documentary evidence that indicate foreign funding for these people (insurgents) are everywhere and those who should know are aware of it. Are you not aware of the ties between ISIS, ISWAP and Boko Haram? Do you not know that ISIS is funded by some nations and that is the same with this insurgency war? How do you even buy a single bullet as a non-state actor without significant funding?” the source asked.
The anti-graft agency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has also raised the alarm that some NGOs operating in the North-east were keeping over 50 bank accounts and warned banks to desist from such practice or face the wrath of the law.
“Now look at this scenario. Go to Maiduguri. Foreign Non-governmental Organisations have booked all the hotels there but here is the most interesting part. They paid to stay in hotels in Maiduguri for 10-15 years. “How do you explain that? So, they and their backers are working to ensure that the war never ends,” the source added.
A Boko Haram fighter recently killed in Gubio by troops of the Nigerian Army was reportedly carrying an identification card of a France-based NGO, Première Urgence Internationale. He was identified as a pharmacist working with the French NGO but allegedly had direct dealings with Boko Haram.
Foreign interest in oil deposits around Lake Chad is also believed to be fueling the insurgency. Another security source confided to Huhuonline.com that some countries were scheming for the oil and funding the insurgency as a way of mounting pressure on Nigeria in order to secure a stake.
A military source who spoke against the backdrop of the recent announcement by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) that it just discovered oil in the Northeast said: “If Nigeria starts her own exploration, it would be against French interest. The topography of the area where you have the crude oil deposits is tilted towards Nigerian side and when Nigeria starts exploration, they will lose out.”
However, in a bid to boost the morale of troops on the frontlines, President Muhammadu Buhari ordered service chiefs to take urgent steps to settle the outstanding entitlements of soldiers fighting the insurgents as well as the welfare packages for their dependents.
Also, a group, National Democratic Front (NDF), has criticized the Chairman, Senate Committee on Army, Senator Ali Ndume, over his claim that 847 soldiers were killed by insurgents in the last six years.
NDF faulted Ndume of insensitivity to the plight of families who lost soldiers in the war. It also accused him of having links with the insurgents by the way he has spoken.
In a statement by its Secretary General, Dr. Bolaji Abdulkadir, the NDF reckoned it was time to address Ndume’s alleged inglorious role in the Boko Haram conundrum. It said: “The National Democratic Front is constrained in light of the shameful and dishonorable statement credited to Senator Ali Ndume, the senator representing Borno South Senatorial District of Borno State, wherein he mischievously stated that over 847 soldiers had been killed by Boko Haram and buried in Borno cemetery.
“The statement credited to Senator Ali Ndume is not only mischievous. The National Democratic Front views his utterances as insensitive and an affront to the sensibilities of those whose families and relatives have been affected in one way or the other by the Boko Haram crisis.”
Kidnappers free Abducted Kaduna School Principal after collecting ransom
Mr. Francis Maji, principal of Government Technical Secondary School in Maraban Kajuru, Kajuru LGA in Kaduna, abducted seven days ago, has been set free by his abductors. Family sources said he was released on Wednesday night after the payment of undisclosed sum of money as ransom.
“We thank God that he is back home safely. He was released yesterday (Wednesday night) after the payment of ransom. This is the second time this is happening to the family. About two years ago, his wife was kidnapped. This is very unfortunate. The family is in a trauma, but we are grateful that he is back home” the source said.
Maji was abducted by gunmen on October 10, when gunmen invaded his residence in the school.
Family sources told Huhuonline.com that after the kidnappers collected the ransom, they dropped the principal at a location and he hired a commercial motorcycle which brought him home.
Yakubu Sabo, spokesman of the Kaduna police command, could not be reached as his phone was switched off.
Despite growing concerns about the state of insecurity in Nigeria’s political capital, Abuja, the security director of the Federal Capital Territory, Adamu Buba Gwary, on Wednesday struggled on television to provide the emergency numbers of the city.
In what was an awkward moment, Gwary, who was representing the FCT Minister, Mohammed Bello, couldn’t give the dial-in number for Abuja residents to call in the event of an emergency. He was on the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) to talk about the security situation in the city.When asked by the presenter, Kingsley Osadolor, to supply the emergency numbers for Abuja, Gwary said “there are different numbers for different forums. But I don’t have them now. ”
Senate President Ahmed Lawan had expressed concern on Tuesday about the level of security challenges in the FCT, in a meeting that involved the National Security Adviser (NSA), the Director-General of Department of State Service (DSS) and the Inspector General of Police (IGP) who was represented by his assistant.
There has been a spate of kidnappings and banditry in the Abuja. On Monday, gunmen killed a resident pf Yebu community in Kwali area council in Abuja and abducted his two children. Bala Ciroma, the FCT police commissioner, who was also on the show, tried to help out in the situation by stating the number was 112. But the director had earlier said the Abuja call centre has its own emergency numbers.
The emergency numbers were however later supplied to the security director off camera and he was allowed to read them out on camera. He gave out the numbers as 08099936312, 08099936313, 08099936314, 070806315100. The fourth number, however, is more than the standard 11 digits.
Multiple award-winning Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has been named as one of the 100 Most Influential People of African descent by the Africa Report. Adichie is number four on the list, and is the only other Nigerian on in the Top 5 apart from Aliko Dangote who is number one.
She is also the only woman in the Top 5. Adichie is followed on this list by number 5, Trevor Noah, South-African born television personality and comedian who is one of the leading talk show hosts in the US, having taken over from Jon Stewart on the award-winning “Daily Show”.
In a series of articles published on their platform, The Africa Report, a highly credible publication, named the top Africans “who control the levers of power across politics, business and the arts: from billionaire barons to unpredictable peacemakers and soft-power superstars”.
The Africa Report said of Adichie that she “continues her stratospheric ascent and is as often seen behind a mic as in print these days – engaging audiences about racism, sexism and the human condition.” She has received numerous awards and recognitions, including in 2008, a Macarthur Fellowship, popularly known as the Macarthur Genius Award. She also received fellowships at Princeton University and the Radcliffe Institute of Harvard University.
Her books have been translated into over 30 languages and are used in school curriculums around the world, including Nigeria. They have won numerous prizes, including the Commonwealth Prize for her first novel, “Purple Hibiscus”. Her second novel, “Half of a Yellow Sun” was awarded the Orange Prize for Fiction (subsequently renamed the Baileys’ Prize), which is the worlds’ top award for female writers- and in 2015, “Half of a Yellow Sun” won the “Best of the Best” Prize, awarded to the best of the ten Prize winners over the previous decade.
“Americanah”, among other awards, won the U.S. National Book Critics Circle Award, which is the most prestigious literary award because it is awarded by professional book critics. “Americanah” is now being adapted for TV, and HBO recently commissioned a 10-episode series of “Americanah” to be produced by Lupita Nyong’o and Brad Pitt’s production company Plan B, in which Nyong’o will star.
Adichie’s TED talk, “The Danger of a Single Story” is one of the most viewed TED talks of all time. Her other TED talk, “We Should All Be Feminists” started a global conversation about feminism, and was sampled by Beyoncé for her song “Flawless”. It also led to a collaboration with Christian Dior Couture, which launched a limited-edition T-shirt in 2017 inspired by her talk.
In October 2018, she was awarded the PEN Pinter Prize, named in honor of playwright and Nobel Laureate Harold Pinter. With many of these awards, including the Orange Prize, the Macarthur Fellowship, the National Book Critics Circle Award, and the PEN Pinter Prize, she has the distinction of being the first Nigerian and in fact, the first African, to receive these recognitions.
Adichie is admired by many global leaders and influencers, including Barack and Michelle Obama, Hillary Clinton, and Oprah Winfrey. Barack Obama called her “one of the world’s great contemporary writers”; and Hillary Clinton has written that “she has the rare ability to sum up even the biggest societal problems swiftly and incisively”.
In addition, she has received 14 Honorary Doctorate degrees from leading universities around the world, including from one of her alma maters, Yale University; has spoken at some of the most influential global institutions such as the United Nations General Assembly, and is known for her courageous speaking out against injustice. Adichie’s influence transcends writing, with the New York Times calling her “the rare novelist to become a public intellectual”.
She is also widely seen as a style icon, has been featured on covers and features in numerous top global fashion and style publications, and was included in Vanity Fair’s International Best Dressed List in 2016. Later that year, she was named as the face of British beauty brand Boots No7. In May 2017, the author launched her own project, “Wear Nigerian,” to promote Nigerian brands and designers.
Adichie is committed to assisting young aspiring writers, and 11 years ago, founded an Annual Writers Workshop in Nigeria for which applications come from around the world. The late literary titan, Chinua Achebe said of Adichie when she was starting out: “We do not usually associate wisdom with beginners, but here is a new writer endowed with the gift of ancient storytellers…Adichie came almost fully made”. Her deep love for her people and country is evident in her work and in 2011, the Nigerian Government, through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, awarded her the Global Ambassador Achievement Award.
Also included in The Africa Report’s list are Chief Executive Officer of leading global bank Credit Suisse, Tidjane Thiam (Cote D’Ivoire); Chairman of the largest media group by market capitalization outside the US and China, Koos Bekker (South Africa); and the current Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Abiy Ahmed. Other Nigerians on the list include General Overseer of Redeemed Christian Church of God Pastor Enoch Adeboye, award-winning artiste and record label executive Davido, leading global banker Adebayo Ogunlesi, and tech entrepreneur Iyinoluwa ‘E’ Aboyeji.
First lady and the wife of Nigeria’s president, Aisha Buhari, has confirmed that she was the one speaking angrily in a video that went viral after she was denied access to an apartment at the presidential villa by the family of Mamman Daura, Buhari’s nephew.
“I was the one in that video and the person you see standing at my back are my security personnel,” Mrs. Buhari said in an interview with BBC Hausa. It was Fatima, the daughter of Mamman Daura that shot the video in front of my security and everybody there. She was actually recording the whole thing right in front of me and was laughing and mocking me.”
Aisha was reacting to a BBC interview granted by Daura’s daughter who said the president’s wife attacked her and her sister inside the presidential villa. Fatima confirmed to BBC that she was the one that recorded the video of the first lady but denied releasing it to the public. She said she recorded the video as proof to show her parents that Mrs Buhari confronted her violently
Fatima said the president’s wife came to the apartment known as glasshouse after they were asked to vacate it for the president’s son Yusuf when he returned to the country from his treatment in Germany. Yusuf had sustained injury from a bike accident.
Fatima said they were packing their belongings when the Mrs Buhari stormed the apartment and was shouting angrily. “I was in an inner room in the house while my sister was in an outer one close to the main gate of the apartment. So my sister went out before I could come out.
“On getting there, it was the wife of the president. When she came, the door was locked and she picked a metal chair and broke the door. I have sent the picture to you. My sister that went out was almost hit by the chair. She threw the chair which broke through the door and almost hit my sister.
“I was so shocked and afraid of getting there because she was shouting and reigning abuses words and saying we should move out of that apartment. That she has never seen this kind of thing before. I then went back and picked my phone because if one is to say that she acted that way, no one would believe it without a proof. She has already been saying a lot of things depicting that she is being suppressed.”
Mrs. Buhari, however, said Daura’s family acted the way they did because Buhari had “sacked” them from the house. “They did that because my husband sacked them from the house. He told them to get all their belongings and leave the house for my son (Yusuf) to occupy. I left them and wanted to get to one of the rooms but they prevented me from getting through, I left them and took another way yet I met the store locked.”
Following the disagreement that between the federal government and labour unions over the implementation of the N30,000 national minimum wage, the House of Representatives has promised to resolve the impasse.
Labour is demanding 29% salary increase for officers at salary levels 07 to 14 and 24% adjustment for officers at salary grade levels 15 to 17, while the federal government had presented to labour a proposal of 11% salary increase for officers at grade levels 07 to14 and 6.5% adjustment for workers at grade levels 15 to 17, a situation which has created disagreement between the two parties.
However, the Chairman, House committee on Labour, Engr. Muhammed Wudil, during the inaugural session of the committee, stressed that labour leaders were supposed to meet with the committee Tuesday, but for an official engagement involving the labour leaders with officials of the federal government, his committee would have waded into the matter Tuesday. He therefore promised to convene a meeting with labour union leaders soon to achieve the objective.
Ahead of Wednesday’s make or mar negotiation between the federal government and organized labour, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, has asked the unions not to contemplate any action that may adversely affect the economy of the country. Ngige said: “Labour should not try to intimidate government by threatening industrial action.”
He said the threat by labour to embark on industrial action if the dispute on the full implementation of the new minimum wage is not resolved amounts to forcing government’s hands which will not work.
Speaking while receiving the leadership of the National Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE) in his office, Ngige said that any national strike at this time will shut down the economy and further have a negative impact on the lives of Nigerians.
The minister said that the leadership of organized labour should not misinform workers on what minimum wage consequential adjustment is all about, adding that the issue is clearly different from undertaking a wage structure review which the federal government has already set up another committee to address.
Speaking on why the government may not accede to the demands by the Joint Nigeria Public Service Negotiating Council (JNPSNC) in approving 29% wage increase for workers on grade levels 7-14 and 24% for those on grade levels 15-17, Ngige said the ratio of proposed recurrent expenditure to capital expenditure in the 2020 national budget is very discomforting.
According to the minister, recurrent expenditure in the proposed budget for 2020 stands at 76%, while capital expenditure is 24%. He also put the amount budgeted to take care of the new minimum wage consequential adjustment for federal public service workers at N160 billion. Ngige said that the federal government negotiating team will be trying to seek the undertaking of the unions to accept a deal to end the minimum wage as the meeting reconvenes later Wednesday.
First Lady, Mrs. Aisha Buhari, has apologised to her children, family and Nigerians over a leaked video, which showed her aggressively shouting on top of her voice inside the State House, Abuja. The video, which was recorded and leaked by Fatima, daughter of President Buhari’s nephew, Mamman Daura, was recorded when Mrs. Buhari wanted to eject the Daura family from the Presidential Villa.
A statement by her Director of Information, Suleiman Haruna, said the first lady was deeply sorry over the embarrassment the video had caused her family and concerned Nigerians, while receiving wives of governors who paid her a visit at State House.
“Commenting on the videos circulating on social networks, Mrs. Buhari extended her apology to her children, her immediate family members and all well-meaning Nigerians over the embarrassment that the videos had caused,” Haruna said. Haruna also said Aisha expressed appreciation to her husband for approving a new set of aides to assist her in the discharge of her various responsibilities.
He said earlier, the First Lady of Borno, Mrs. Falmata Umara Zulum, who represented Northern First Ladies’ Forum and Mrs. Betsy Obaseki, who represented Southern First Ladies’ Forum made submissions at the meeting.
“Mrs. Zulum said they were at the Villa to welcome her back after a long absence, and expressed their unalloyed loyalty and support to her initiatives especially through the Future Assured Programme, which she said has made her a role model even to other African women. Mrs. Obaseki on her part said they received news of the First Lady’s return with great excitement, praying God to continue to protect her. She used the opportunity to thank the President for approving additional special assistants for her, saying this is an indication of the regard he has for her work,” he said.
The statement also said Mrs. Buhari told her guests that she had acquired 2.7 hectares of land for the construction of a regional secretariat for the African First Ladies’ Peace Mission (AFLPM). It added that the Mission, which was established after the Beijing Conference of 1995, has been in the custody of Nigeria, with the leadership rotating among African first ladies.
“I have successfully secured 2.7 hectares of land in Abuja for this purpose and the foundation laying will soon be conducted in the presence of African First Ladies,” Haruna quoted Mrs. Buhari.
The apology came after President Buhari approved the appointment of new aides for the first lady’s office. Haruna, said the President approved the appointments of Dr. Mairo Almakura as Special Assistant on African First Ladies Peace Mission (AFLPM); Muhammed Albishir (Special Assistant on Organisation of African First Ladies for Development (OAFLAD) and Wole Aboderin (Special Assistant on Non-Governmental Organisations.
Others are, Aliyu Abdullahi (Special Assistant on Media and Publicity; Zainab Kazeem (Special Assistant on Domestic and Social Events) and Funke Adesiyan (Personal Assistant on Domestic and Social Events). The appointments take immediate effect.
To avert a nationwide industrial action by the organized labour, the federal government yesterday shifted ground with a new proposal for minimum wage consequential adjustment from 11% to 17% for workers on grade levels 7 to 14 and from 6.5% to 12% for those on grade levels 15 to 17. This new offer followed protracted negotiations between the workers and the government team.
However, the workers who had insisted on 29% wage increase for workers on grade levels 7 to14 and 24% for those on grade levels 15-17, did not immediately accept the new offer. The unions also last night shifted ground from 29% to 25% for levels 7-17 and from 24% to 20% for levels 15 to 17. The labour unions had threatened to embark on strike from today following the deadlock in talks with the federal government on consequential adjustment of the minimum wage.
Addressing journalists at the end of the six hours of talks yesterday, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, said the meeting had been adjourned till today to enable both sides to address contentious areas. He said the discussion was friendly, adding that there was no fight.
The federal government’s delegation was led by the Head of Service, Folasade Yemi Esan, who also told journalists that “we have a fruitful deliberation; both sides have made concessions. There are still some grey areas but by the grace of God everything will be resolved.”
Amaechi Asugwuni, Deputy President of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), who led the labour delegation, said negotiations were ongoing, adding that adjournment became necessary to address some grey areas. “We will meet tomorrow (today). So, far there are signs of commitment but we believe that government will need to shift ground in order to meet our demands,” he added.
Meanwhile, Ngige has asked the unions not to contemplate any action that may adversely affect the economy of the country. He said the threat by labour to embark on industrial action would amount to forcing government’s hands, which would not work.
While receiving the leadership of the National Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE) in his office, Ngige said any national strike at this time would shut down the economy and further have a negative impact on Nigerians. “Labour should not try to intimidate government by threatening industrial action,” he stated.
The minister said the leadership of the organised labour should not misinform workers on what minimum wage consequential adjustment was all about, adding that the issue is clearly different from undertaking a wage structure review, which the federal government has already set up another committee to address.
Speaking on why the government may not accede to the demand by the Joint Nigeria Public Service Negotiating Council (JNPSNC), in approving 29% wage increase for workers on grade levels 7-14 and 24% for those on grade levels 15-17, the minister said the ratio of proposed recurrent expenditure to capital expenditure in the 2020 national budget is very discomforting.
According to the minister, recurrent expenditure in the proposed budget for 2020 stands at 76% while capital expenditure is 24%. He also put the amount budgeted to take care of the new minimum wage consequential adjustment for federal public service workers at N160 billion.
However, as part of efforts to break the deadlock in talks between the federal government and labour, the House of Representatives has promised to intervene. The Chairman, House Committee on Labour and Productivity, Mr. Ali Wudil Mohammed (APC, Kano) stated this during the inaugural session of the committee and a dialogue session with the leadership of the NLC and the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC).
The chairman told committee members that the labour leaders sent a letter informing the committee of their inability to honour the invitation. He added that the ongoing negotiation between the federal government and the organised labour made it impossible for the labour leaders to honour the invitation. Mohammed said the committee received a letter from the NLC asking them to reschedule the meeting for another day.
He said the intention of the committee was to meet with the leadership of organised labour to hear from them before meeting with Ngige, with a view to finding common ground and preventing a possible strike by workers. He therefore said despite the meeting not holding, the committee would make effort to meet with all the stakeholders to address the issues in contention.
After saying two years ago that the Islamist terrorist group, Boko Haram had been “technically defeated” even as the group continued its resurgence and continues to wreak havoc in the war-ravaged Northeast, President Muhammadu Buhari Wednesday made another bold declaration, saying his administration’s efforts to combat insecurity in the country has resulted in Boko Haram terrorists being “substantially defeated.”
“The nation is appreciative of the gallantry and sacrifices of officers and men of our Armed Forces in the campaign against insurgency and other internal security operations. This has led to the return of normalcy in affected parts of the nation,” Buhari said at the launch of the 2020 armed forces Remembrance Day emblem. The Boko Haram terrorists have been substantially defeated and degraded to the extent that they are only daring soft targets.”
The Nigerian president urged the country’s security operatives to protect innocent Nigerians, who he said are soft targets. Buhari’s claim on the Nigerian military’s ‘defeat’ of Boko Haram insurgents has been subjected in different contexts since his election in 2015. The president in 2015 promised to curb insecurity in the country. And he subsequently said his administration was winning the war against the insurgency.
Nigeria’s information and culture minister Lai Mohammed had also claimed that Boko Haram has been “technically defeated.” Despite the president’s claim, Boko Haram and other insurgency groups have continued to attack communities and villages in Nigeria’s northeast, killing, displacing and kidnapping Nigerians, including school children.
“We shall not rest until all our displaced persons are safely resettled into their communities without fear of further attacks,” Buhari said, adding: “…the peace and security of Nigeria is non-negotiable and the security agencies must continue to do their work diligently.”
The Nigerian president assured the security personnel that his administration will continue to provide necessary logistical support to ensure that the Armed Forces operate with the best modern warfare equipment while addressing the issues of their welfare.
Buhari stated that his government will remain steadfast in developing alliances with neighbors and friends in the international community for the total defeat of the insurgents. “The task of resettling and rehabilitating our citizens as well as the reconstruction of territories affected by the war will continue to be one of the priorities of this Administration,” Buhari said.
The national chairman of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Adams Oshiomhole, has accused Gov. Godwin Obaseki of Edo of anti-party activities, saying the governor is fomenting chaos to create disaffection in the state chapter of the APC, insisting that Obaseki had already perfected plans to dump the APC ahead of next year’s governorship poll. He has challenged Obaseki to focus on service delivery and good governance to the Edo people rather than blackmailing his personality.
“We have it on good authority that the governor (Obaseki) intends to create disaffection and crisis in the state, APC and probably dump the party for another party. That is why; he has embarked on this brigandage which Edo people will resist. So, he should stop blackmailing me and face governance which is why Edo people voted him into power,” Oshiomhole said in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Simon Ebegbulem, in Abuja.
But Governor Obaseki charged Oshiomhole to observe protocols while visiting Edo state. Obaseki, who spoke through his Special Adviser on Media and Strategy, Crusoe Osagie, denied knowledge of the alleged attack on Oshiomhole’s residence in Benin City last Saturday. He recalled how Oshiomhole threatened to make Edo state ungovernable, adding he was planning to escalate the security situation in the state to make good his threats.
“Whenever he wants to come to the state, he does not inform the governor, the police or the DSS but the thugs. As a former governor, he ought to inform the governor and security agencies each time he desires to visit the state. The Commissioner of Police (CP), Dan Mallam Muhammed, has declared the state peaceful, but Oshiomhole and his cohorts are bent on making it ungovernable. Try as they would, l know the governor and security agencies would not allow that. As a former governor, Oshiomhole should not undermine the capacity and integrity of the police unless otherwise he is looking for anarchy,” he stated. He charged government functionaries and political office holders to be circumspect in their comments on the allegations of attack on Oshiomhole’s residence in the state.
But in a swift reaction, Oshiomhole indicted the Police Commissioner, saying he has now become a willing tool in the hands of desperate politicians in the state, insisting that Obaseki had already perfected plans to dump the APC ahead of next year’s governorship poll. In a statement, Oshiomhole claimed the resolve by Obaseki to fan the embers of discord in Edo state among supporters of the party was aimed at achieving the objective. Oshiomhole, who spoke through his media aide, Simon Ebegbulem claimed Obaseki must have picked a quarrel with him over his enviable records in the state.
Meanwhile, a former chairman of Ovia North East Council Area, Faustain Ovienrioba yesterday said he and his over 3000 supporters were ready to work towards ensuring success for Obaseki’s re-election. Ovienrioba who led his supporters back to the APC declared his intention at a meeting with Deputy Governor, Philip Shaibu, saying his support for the party was total. He noted that next year’s governorship election would be a walkover for Obaseki in view of the governor’s pedigree, saying continuity for Obaseki was non-negotiable due to APC’s development strides in the state.
Also, APC leader in the Council Area and Commissioner for Local Government and Community Affairs, Monday Osaigbovo, said people were proud of Obaseki’s development strides and would return him for a second term. Speaking, Shaibu noted that the progress so far made in the state would not be put on reverse gear by anybody or group of persons. He stated that the decision of the former PDP members to defect and align with the state government at a time when there was crisis in the APC showed that government does not reverse its policies because of people who do not understand what leadership entails
Besides, the governor yesterday sacked all political appointees in the state’s 18 councils. A government statement said all special advisers, senior special assistants, secretaries to the local governments and supervisory councilors were affected. Earlier this month, Obaseki sacked over 300 political appointees while four council chairmen, namely Eghe Ogbemudia (Egor); Patrick Aguinede, (Esan West); Alhaji Yakson Musa (Etsako West); and Aremiyau Momoh of Etsako East had been suspended for alleged corrupt activities.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Wednesday arraigned Abdullahi Babalele, a son-in-law of the former vice president Atiku Abubakar at a Federal High Court in Lagos.
Babalele was arraigned on a two-count charge of money laundering. He pleaded not guilty to the charges. His lawyer Mike Ozekhome (SAN) pleaded the court to grant him bail.
But the judge Justice Nicholas Oweibo ordered Babalele to remain in police custody pending the hearing of his bail application on Thursday.
The prosecutor, Rotimi Oyedepo, said Babalele committed the offence early this year. Oyedepo said about $140,000 was paid into Abdullahi Babalele’s account without going through a financial institution.
The sum exceeds the amount authorized by Law and is thereby an offence under Section 18(c) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 as amended and punishable under Section 16(2)(b) of the act.
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has asked the National Assembly to investigate and sanction President Buhari for assigning official facilities in the Presidential villa to unauthorized persons that have no official roles in governance.
The PDP also described the fight between the First Lady, Aisha Buhari and the President’s cousins, over rooms in the Presidential villa, as distasteful, saying the development further underlined the managerial ineptitude and leadership failures of the Buhari Presidency.
In a statement issued by its national publicity secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, it said, “The chaos in the Villa further exposes the Buhari Presidency’s poor management of issues and highlights why it has failed to deliver on any of its responsibilities in governance, thus leaving our nation in a shambolic situation in the last five years.”
Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday urged various groups to access government interventions, loans and schemes to promote agriculture with a view to ending poverty in the country.
Buhari, who was represented by Vice-Chairman, National Food Security Council, Governor Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi State, made the appeal during the second National Unity Food Fair, organized by National Council for Women Societies (NCWS).
At the summit with the theme, “Subsistent Farming to Mechanization at the Grassroots,” the President said funds were available for various groups to access, adding that the funds, when fully accessed, will promote agriculture, reduce importation of agricultural produce, livestock and reduce unemployment in the country.
“The money is there because we have instructed the CBN to make money available for agri-business. Groups should come out and request for agriculture funding because the funds are available. Nigerian food is the best in the world, let us grow what we eat and eat what we grow so that we can end poverty. Food security will also end unemployment,” he said.
President Muhammadu Buhari Thursday in Abuja ordered a forensic audit of the operations of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC). The president gave the order in reaction to persistent criticisms of the operations of the organisation from 2001 to 2019.
Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, in a statement, said the president’s order came while receiving a delegation of leaders from the nine states that make up the Niger Delta led by Governor Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa State.
According to him, Buhari told the delegation that what is currently on ground in the Niger Delta region does not justify the huge resources that have been made available to the NDDC.
“I try to follow the Act setting up these institutions especially the NDDC. With the amount of money that the Federal Government has religiously allocated to the NDDC, we will like to see the results on the ground; those that are responsible for that have to explain certain issues.
“The projects said to have been done must be verifiable. You just cannot say you spent so much billions and when the place is visited, one cannot see the structures that have been done. The consultants must also prove that they are competent, “Adesina quoted the president. He also said Buhari admitted that developing the Niger Delta area required enormous resources when compared to other parts of the country with firmer lands.
“I am acutely aware, with my experience, that projects in your area are very expensive; that is why if any job is given, we must make sure that the company is competent and has the capacity to do it well with experienced consultants,” he also quoted Buhari. Adesina also said the president pledged to wait for the report of the audit before deciding on the next line of action regarding the organisation.
According to him, Dickson had earlier expressed the disappointment of other governors over the operations of the NDDC, saying they are characterized by poor choice of projects, shoddy handling, uncompleted jobs and lack of required support for the efforts of the states and local government administration in the region covered by the organisation.
“He, therefore, called for the repositioning of the NDDC in order to achieve the objectives for which it was set up,” Adesina said.
President Muhammadu Buhari has restricted the number of international trips abroad by ministers and permanent secretaries to not more than two in a quarter. Also affected by the new directive are the chairmen of Extra-Ministerial Departments, chief executive officers of government agencies and directors.
A statement by the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (OSGF) on Wednesday, said the new rule must be complied with except with express approval of the president. The statement, which was signed by the Director of Information OSGF, Willie Bassey, also said when a minister is at the head of an official delegation, the size of such delegation must not exceed four persons, to include the relevant director, schedule officer and one ministerial aide.
Every other delegation below ministerial level must be restricted to a maximum of three. The statement said President Buhari approved the new measures for immediate implementation as a policy designed to curb leakages and instil financial prudence in the management of government resources.
Similarly, government also warned that all public funded travels (local and foreign) must be strictly for official purposes and highly essential statutory engagements that are of benefit to the interest of the country. Such trips must also be backed with documentary evidence.
In compliance with the new directive, the government said that international travel days will no longer attract payment of estacode allowances as duration of official trips must now be limited to only the number of days of the event as contained in the supporting documents to qualify for public funding.
“For class of air travels, the president has approved that ministers, permanent secretaries, special advisers, senior special assistants to the president, chairmen of Extra-Ministerial Departments and chief executive officers of parastatals who are entitled, to continue to fly business class while other categories of public officers are to travel on economy class,” the statement said. To give weight to the new policy, the Auditor-General of the Federation has been directed to treat all expenditures that contravene these guidelines as ineligible.
The statement added that henceforth, all MDAs, are now required to submit their yearly travel plans for statutory meetings and engagements to the OSGF and the Office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation for express clearance within the first quarter of the fiscal year, before implementation. The affected officials are also required to make their presentation using the existing template and also secure approvals on specific travels as contained in the plan, from the appropriate quarters.
The Nigerian Army yesterday asked Chairman of Senate Committee on Army, Senator Ali Ndume, to prove his claim that 847 soldiers had been lost to the Boko Haram insurgency in the last six years. Ndume, who spoke with reporters after the Senate plenary to the debate on the general principle of the 2020 budget proposal, said the casualty figure was sourced from military authorities last week. But the military said the senator needed to substantiate his claim, even as it would not take issue with the federal legislator.
He said: “The casualty figure of 847 was gotten from the Army last Thursday when the National Assembly joint Committee on Army visited the war theatre in Borno State. The Boko Haram insurgents don’t only attack civilians but the military as well. So far, from the record we saw in the cemetery, I think we lost over 847 soldiers – by their record there and that is from 2013 till date.”
He dismissed claims that the military authorities organised mass burial for soldiers lost to insurgency in the North-east, saying Nigerian army will never do that. “In fact, if any of the soldiers is missing, they go out to search and get the person before declaring whether or not he is dead and even if he is dead, they make attempts to retrieve the body and inform his family before carrying out the necessary burial rites,” he said.
Speaking on the objective of the committee’s visit, the committee chairman stated that it was aimed to have a true picture of operations in the North-east zone. “We even visited the cemetery because as you know, there have been reports of mass burial by the armed forces. We went to see how well-kitted the soldiers are and also visited the army hospital that was attacked twice,” he said.
According to him, the commitment of Nigeria’s Armed Forces is commendable; especially with the conditions they find themselves and still decide to sacrifice their lives for the country. The former Senate leader wondered why with the kind of challenge being faced by the military to tackle the Boko Haram menace in the North-east, the federal government has continued to underfund the Ministry of Defence annually.
Ndume said: “We are in a war; when you are in a war situation and you are budgeting N10.33 trillion and you are allocating less than one per cent to defence, does that show that you are serious about it? Defence is allocated N100 billion. I was hoping that it’s 10 per cent. One per cent of N10.33 trillion should be N130 billion but I later discovered it was less than one per cent of the 2020 budget proposal.
“More than half of the budget is given to security. It is worth it because without it, all these things that you are doing – infrastructure, hospitals – will not work. “Better kits, bullet-proof vests, and better riffles cannot be provided for with the sum of N100billion. The war is won but Boko Haram needs to be defeated.” He added that Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the North-east were moving from unsafe zones to what they think were a safe zone and that was putting more pressure on the government.
On international support to tackle the insurgency, Ndume said international communities had requested from donor agencies $848 billion for this purpose, adding that, the international communities that were not affected, had so far donated $547 million – over N140 billion – while the Nigerian government is budgeting N38 billion for North East Development Commission (NEDC). The Senate, he also said, would look into the allegation that Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) in that area were conniving with the insurgents – providing them information, logistics and so many things.
According to him, “I have been critical about this and people have told me to be careful but it has come out now that one or two of the so-called NGOs operating in the North-east are actually aiding and abetting and supporting the insurgents but we will do an investigation and we will hear if we have the evidence. “So far, we have evidence. We just want to make it credible. The evidence are there and the common questions are even there. I have asked them before – when Chibok girls were released, we were very happy.”
But in a swift response, Army’s spokesman, Colonel Sagir Musa, asked the senator to provide evidence of the killings. “If he says so, then he should substantiate. What is his source? Let him provide it,” Sagir told The Cable. Also responding to the issue, the spokesman of Defence Headquarters, Col. Onyema Nwachukwu, said: “Regrettably, at the moment, I am not able to ascertain the statistics of fatalities of the ongoing counter terrorism and counter insurgency operations in the North-east.
“However, I can emphatically say that we are at war in the North-east and our victory so far over the terrorists is at a price. We’ve had human and equipment’s casualties in combating terrorism and insurgency. The Armed Forces has paid the supreme price to defend the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Nigeria, as well as guarantee the protection and safety of Nigerians
Chairman of Oyo State National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), Asubiojo Olajuwon, has been detained at the State Criminal Investigation Department (SCID), Iyaganku, Ibadan.
Olajuwon was said to have been arrested inside the premises of Federal Co-operative College, Eleiyele, at the weekend while holding meeting with other executive members of the association.
One of his aides, who spoke with The Guardian, alleged that some people, who claimed to be close to Governor Seyi Makinde, led police to the school where he was holding meeting and was subsequently arrested.
“He felt that he had no skeleton in his cupboard and follow them only for them to tell him that he would not be released if certain conditions are not met.
“That Saturday night, we tried our best but we could not meet the condition. On Sunday, they wasted our time. We are here again now. He has spent two nights here. We don’t even know what his offences are,” the aide said.
The State Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Olugbenga Fadeyi, who confirmed the arrest, said a petition was written and being investigated by CID to unravel the issue.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has projected that Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth will remain lackluster in 2019. The fund stated this in its World Economic Outlook (WEO) for October 2019, released on the sidelines of the ongoing IMF/World Bank annual meetings in Washington DC, United States. GDP growth in Nigeria stood at 1.94 per cent as of the second quarter of 2019.
“Growth in low-income developing countries remains robust, though growth performance is more heterogeneous within this group. Robust growth is expected for non-commodity exporters, such as Vietnam and Bangladesh, while the performance of commodity exporters, such as Nigeria, is projected to remain lackluster.
“In sub-Saharan Africa, growth is expected at 3.2 percent in 2019 and 3.6 percent in 2020, slightly lower for both years than in the April 2019 WEO. Higher, albeit volatile, oil prices earlier in the year have supported the subdued outlook for Nigeria and some other oil-exporting countries in the region, but Angola’s economy—because of a decline in oil production—is expected to contract this year and recover only mildly next year.
“In South Africa, despite a moderate rebound in the second quarter, growth is expected to be weaker in 2019 than projected in the April 2019 WEO following a very weak first quarter, reflecting a larger-than-anticipated impact of labour strikes and energy supply issues in mining, together with weak agricultural production,”
With an appeal by the presidential aspirant, Atiku Abubakar, awaiting determination at the Supreme Court, his party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) yesterday intensified the fight to assert their credibility before Nigerians.
The Spokesman for President Muhammadu Buhari, Garba Shehu, fired the first round in a write-up dubbed “Nigeria’s opposition is missing,” where he claimed: “The opposition is close to reneging completely on the compact it holds with the voters.” This, according to Shehu, amounts to “dereliction of duty.”
He said rather than “scrutinise” the business of governance and “hold the government to account,” the opposition has busied itself with fake news and the pursuit of legal redress, which he termed “lawfare.”
Atiku and PDP recently filed a 66-ground appeal at the apex court, following the verdict by the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal, which upheld Buhari’s victory in the February 23 presidential poll.
“The opposition’s over-excretions are leaving a mess for the elected government to clean up,” Shehu lamented, affirming: “Last week, they opened their next salvo in lawfare by taking they are the exact same, fatally flawed case to Nigeria’s Supreme Court. We must sincerely hope the opposition has the wherewithal to appreciate they will fail once more, given the facts and the math remain the same.”
APC spokesman, Lanre Issa-Onilu, jumped into the fray, declaring: “As a party that believes in democracy and progressive politics, we cannot pretend any longer. Democracy cannot be said to be fully operational in a situation where the supposed ‘main’ opposition party, PDP, has become a joke, irresponsible and rudderless.”
Issa-Onilu, in a statement, said: “There is a lot to gain by our democracy and our country in an atmosphere of robust engagement by responsible and patriotic opposition. The political system we practise has important roles for the political parties outside of power. The system envisaged that such parties would provide alternative viewpoints and put the governing party on its toes.
“Instead, the PDP and their minions have in the name of opposition continued to distract the government and Nigerians with their post-election delusions, salacious fictions, conjured rifts in government circle and, of course, the lowest of it all, the pathetic and senseless Jubril of Sudan malicious tale, among other fake news. Tragic!”
He added: “As the current administration tackles our national challenges, and at a period we all should focus on issues of nation-building, the best PDP and its acolytes are offering is a distraction. While the PDP wallows in its obscene conduct, Nigeria under the President Muhammadu Buhari-led APC administration will continue to consolidate on its status as Africa’s largest economy.”
But the opposition party countered the accusations, maintaining: “The PDP does not contain certificate forgers. It is not the party of people who are contrivers. Our political party is relating directly with Nigerian people and we are working assiduously to make sure that democratic tenets of our nation are not only entrenched but seen to be entrenched in our nation.”
At a news conference, PDP spokesman, Kola Ologbondiyan, said the party would not have space to respond to the gimmicks of “former democrats who went around the nation and brought a despot into a democratic order,” and would, therefore, ensure “the mandate which was given to Atiku and has been stolen is restored to us.”
He said: “Neither do we have space to engage in verbal discussion with characters who are known to be pillaging and stealing directly from the patrimony of our nation. As such, we are not going to respond to the innuendos such characters are bandying.”
He said because of the emptiness of the ruling party, the PDP decided to create an alternative government, to make suggestions on how good governance should be entrenched.
“PDP has been carrying out that responsibility. As far as APC needs to know, our nation has survived dictators. We have succeeded as a people to ensure that those who seek to rule us without our consent do not succeed. And as such, it is strange and totally unacceptable that the APC and the Buhari presidency will, within its whimsical thinking, claim that Nigeria will become a one-party state.
“This country is a resilient nation and no individual no matter how highly placed in the past has succeeded in reducing us to a nation of cowards. Even today, it will be unacceptable to Nigerians to be so reduced. So, PDP will continue to play its opposition role and we will play it successfully.”
The PDP further faulted alleged moves by the government to gag the media. It warned: “This dictatorial pathway which the Buhari presidency seeks to impose if allowed, will herald the gradual emasculation of freedom of expression, repression of a free press, infringements on the rights of citizens and foisting of siege mentality on the people.”
It said the decision by Buhari to impose stringent regulations on online media and broadcast organisations, as recently announced by the Minister of Information and Culture Lai Mohammed, is completely obnoxious, anti-democratic, and a direct violation of statutory rules governing media practice and freedom of expression in Nigeria