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Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Nigerian newspapers headlines Thursday morning

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PMB Inaugurates C’ttee To Lift 100m Nigerians Out Of Poverty [LEADERSHIP]

President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday, in Abuja inaugurated the National Steering Committee (NSC) to oversee the development of the Nigeria Agenda 2050 and Medium-Term National Development Plan (MTNDP) to succeed Vision 20:2020 and the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) 2017 – 2020.

The NSC for the development of Successor Plans to Vision 20:2020 and ERGP will be jointly chaired by Mr Atedo Peterside and Dr (Mrs) Zainab Ahmed, the minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning.

Speaking at the inauguration, President Buhari in a statement by his special adviser media, Femi Adesina said: ‘’The main objectives of these Successor Plans are to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty within the next 10 years, particularly given the World bank’s projection that Nigeria will become the world’s third most populous country by 2050 with over 400 million people.’’

The President noted that it had become necessary to develop Successor Plans to the Nigeria Vision 20:2020 and the ERGP, which both lapsed in December this year, in order to ensure continuity and efficiency in the country’s development planning.

On the mandate of the NSC, President Buhari said it would oversee governance structure comprising the Central Working Group and 26 Technical Working Groups for the important national assignment.

‘’It is my expectation that the Steering Committee will oversee the execution of key deliverables, including recommending measures to ensure the continuous implementation of the Plans even after the expiration of the tenure of successive administrations – including legislation, if required.

‘’Such legislation may introduce much-needed rigour and discipline to

the nation’s development planning as well as institutionalise planned

outcomes for the future. I trust that our partners in the National

Assembly will support us in exploring these reforms, ‘’ he said.

President Buhari urged the National Steering Committee not to lose

sight of the important role Nigeria plays on the continent as well as

in the global community.

He said the Successor Plans must, therefore, be designed to sustain

national development, as well as support regional and global strategic

 

interests, as outlined in the African Union Agenda 2063, the ECOWAS

Integration Agenda 2050 and the Sustainable Development Goals 2030.

Underscoring the importance of national development planning, the

President said if carefully conceived and diligently implemented, it

can transform the economic fortunes of the nation.

‘’The Chinese experience is an example. It has resulted in lifting

over 700 million people out of poverty over the last four decades.

‘’Indeed, China’s track record of positive economic growth, since

1992, was only halted in the first quarter of 2020, due to onset of

the COVID-19 Pandemic.

‘’COVID-19 presents the world – and Nigeria – with a crisis as well as

an opportunity. The current global health and economic crises give us

an opportunity to think afresh and chart an optimal path forward, ‘’

he said.

 

I’m Ready To Testify Before Salami Panel – Malami [LEADERSHIP]

Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, (SAN) has expressed readiness to attend and testify before the Ayo Salami panel investigating the suspended acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu, whenever invited and if the need arises.

This is contained in a statement issued by Dr. Umar Jibrilu Gwandu, special assistant on Media and Public Relations, Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation (OAGF) and minister of Justice, which was made available to newsmen in Abuja yesterday.

According to the statement, Malami stated this at ‘The Morning Show’ programme of the Arise Television yesterday morning, while discussing the recent developments related to the Nigeria’s arbitration on the embattled P&ID contract agreement.

“Within the context of the rule of law, I have a responsibility as the Chief Law Officer of the Country as Attorney-General of the Federation and minister of Justice to assist whatever investigation taking place locally or internationally”.

“For your information , I have signed and executed around eight witness statements before the Commercial Court in UK which translated to the victory we are celebrating today”.

” I will in no way exercise any restraints as per honouring an invitation for the purpose of supporting any inquiry”.

“So, if Ayo Salami panel invites Abubakar Malami, SAN as a person or the Attorney-General of the Federation, for any testimony or any clarification, for any examination or cross-examination for that matter, Abubakar Malami will definitely and gladly within the spirit and context of rule of law be there to testify “.

and will submit myself

to be cross-examined within the context of the rule of law.”

Malami said his position is to be submissive to the rule of law,

maintaining that the rule of law component requires that when called

upon to clarify issues, be examined or cross-examined, Abubakar Malami

will wholeheartedly be there and gladly cooperate with the inquiring

 

institution. He said that indeed has been an attribute of the

government.

The Minister said that he has along the chain of arbitral process

submitted to uncountable invitations and responded to uncountable

requests to clarify issues and indeed executed uncountable witness

statements for the purpose of putting the record straight and the case

of Salami will certainly not be an exception.

 

I’m Ready To Testify Before Salami Panel – Malami [LEADERSHIP]

 

 

Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, (SAN) has expressed readiness to attend and testify before the Ayo Salami panel investigating the suspended acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu, whenever invited and if the need arises.

This is contained in a statement issued by Dr. Umar Jibrilu Gwandu, special assistant on Media and Public Relations, Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation (OAGF) and minister of Justice, which was made available to newsmen in Abuja yesterday.

According to the statement, Malami stated this at ‘The Morning Show’ programme of the Arise Television yesterday morning, while discussing the recent developments related to the Nigeria’s arbitration on the embattled P&ID contract agreement.

“Within the context of the rule of law, I have a responsibility as the Chief Law Officer of the Country as Attorney-General of the Federation and minister of Justice to assist whatever investigation taking place locally or internationally”.

“For your information , I have signed and executed around eight witness statements before the Commercial Court in UK which translated to the victory we are celebrating today”.

” I will in no way exercise any restraints as per honouring an invitation for the purpose of supporting any inquiry”.

“So, if Ayo Salami panel invites Abubakar Malami, SAN as a person or the Attorney-General of the Federation, for any testimony or any clarification, for any examination or cross-examination for that matter, Abubakar Malami will definitely and gladly within the spirit and context of rule of law be there to testify “.

and will submit myself

to be cross-examined within the context of the rule of law.”

Malami said his position is to be submissive to the rule of law,

maintaining that the rule of law component requires that when called

upon to clarify issues, be examined or cross-examined, Abubakar Malami

will wholeheartedly be there and gladly cooperate with the inquiring

 

institution. He said that indeed has been an attribute of the

government.

The Minister said that he has along the chain of arbitral process

submitted to uncountable invitations and responded to uncountable

requests to clarify issues and indeed executed uncountable witness

statements for the purpose of putting the record straight and the case

of Salami will certainly not be an exception.

 

APC, PDP in crossfire over petrol, electricity rates hike [THE NATION]

OPPOSITION People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) yesterday continued with their brickbats on the hike in price of petrol and electricity tariff.

While the PDP warned that the Muhammadu Buhari administration is risking the anger of the people with its policies, the APC accused the PDP of hypocrisy.

It recalled that the opposition and its presidential candidate in the 2019 election  – former Vice President Atiku Abubakar — campaigned vigorously on deregulation policy only to turn around to criticise the policy when it was introduced by the Buhari government.

PDP National Chairman Prince Uche Secondus, who spoke at the PDP campaign headquarters while addressing a group of party faithful who staged a peaceful protest against the petrol and electricity rates hike, said: “They made several promises, including reducing the pump price of fuel and allowing the refineries to work. They made firm commitments and promises to the people.

“They also promised that the naira will be equal to one dollar. They made all kinds of promises, including creating employment for all our youths and that power problem will be a thing of the past within six months. I don’t have to go on and on, you are all aware of all the promises they made.

“I want to ask Nigerians whether they have fulfilled their promises or not. It is a colossal failure. Every responsible government must be very careful in making promises.

“They made these promises in 2015 when a bag of rice was 8,000 naira. Today, a bag of rice is 35,000 naira. Are we better off? Have they improved on the economy? The situation in Nigeria is pathetic, it has worsened.

“They have no idea at all, there is no hope. Only yesterday (Tuesday) they gathered and called the ministers together. And Nigerians were watching and thought that they would profer a solution and give hope to the people. But like the story of the lizard, Nigerians are in pain, but we watched them clapping for themselves.

“On the issue of the insecurity, by 2015 it was only the northeast. But today, insecurity has engulfed all sections of this country.

“Our people are dying, no more farmlands, our people are dying of hunger, poverty, from herdsmen, the crime rate has risen to the highest level.”

The PDP chairman said the party’s position represents the position of the ordinary Nigerian people, the silent majority.

Secondus called on the government to stop propaganda, and face governance, saying that “if they continue this way, they will see the anger of the people”

He urged the administration to allow the private sector drive the economy because the government has failed to deliver.

“That is what is happening in other countries. All civilised countries in the world, it is the private sector that drives the economy.

But the APC described the condemnation of deregulation policy of the Federal Government by the PDP and Atiku  as the height of hypocrisy.

The party noted that Atiku’s outburst   portrays him “as a man that should never be trusted.”

APC  Deputy National Publicity Secretary, Yekini Nabena, in a statement said: “as genuine patriots, reputable groups and organisations, make honest contributions to the reactions about the deregulation of electricity and petrol prices, we receive with some amazement comments attributed to the PDP, and Alhaji  Abubakar, condemning the decision of the Buhari administration to deregulate the PMS sector.

“The PDP and Atiku’s reaction to what has been adjudged an inevitability by many experts clearly depicts the height of hypocrisy demonstrated by them on many issues relating to the progress and wellbeing of Nigeria.

“Worrisome is the action of the PDP’s presidential candidate in the 2019 general election

“Atiku’s  comments clearly reveals his two-facedness and portrays him as a man never to be trusted.  This stems majorly from the fact that he was part of the government that created the “corrupt petrol subsidy” monster and also the chaos in the electricity sector.”

 

Determination to salvage Edo and Agric sector [THE NATION]

RECENT scenarios may have brought to light the intentions of investors and deceptions at play in the agricultural- rich Edo State.

In resonance to some resounding revelations, a close study of the Edo-born billionaire businessman and supporter of the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, in the September 19, 2020 governorship election, Captain Hosa Well Okunbo, and his statement which expresses his overwhelming concern for the future of his home state (Edo), may have come in handy.

Studying Okunbo’s lamentations

The business mogul, who spoke with media executives in Abuja, revealed his conviction that the state if properly govern can boost of a sustainable future for her populations. To this end, he is determined to invest his hard-earned resources to support anyone with the right vision to create that enviable future.

Apparently, Captain Okunbo further showed his commitment to the salvation of the state when he clearly stated that his support for the APC candidate was more of a charity work instead of investment as is usually the case in Nigeria politics.

When asked how he intends to recoup the money he is using to support the APC candidate. His answer was quite revealing. Hear him: “People have asked me this question and what have I told them is ‘Red Cross’, what do I mean, ‘Charity’.

“If today, I am supporting Osagie Ize-Iyamu to liberate my state, tomorrow how can I expect something from a state that they have riddled with debt? Our children have been mortgaged and you said I should not talk. Let me tell you, I have worked all my life, I am 63 years old and if I do not have money kept away that I can use in the day of danger, then I have failed. Osagie is a beneficiary.

“If I dare go to him after he wins to say Old boy, how about the money that I spent, that will be the beginning of our fight. So I am very conscious.”

Speaking from an insightful perspective, the billionaire businessman anchored the state’s prosperity on its abundant agricultural business potential. Asked why the APC candidate, Ize-Iyamu will deliver in this aspect, he said, “I have met with Ize-Iyamu, he has also shown me the vision he has for the state. He calls it the Simple Agenda. He also has the vision of farming and he is a farmer, he is very passionate about the agenda.”

Expressing confidence in the agriculture revival agenda, he said, “I believe the only thing that has not been exploited to the benefit of Nigeria and our children is farming. We have arable land everywhere, farming will take a lot of our children  off the streets. And it is one of the agenda he is passionate about.

“Godwin also spoke to me about Farming in 2016 but where is the farm?I’ve sat down with Pastor and he believes in farming because through farming, the people will be empowered and our youth will be engaged. He has the same vision as I have about farming.”

The issue

However, it’s important to state that the incumbent, Governor Godwin Obaseki, who is currently contesting under the platform of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), had equally paraded a similar vision during his campaign in 2016. But the question that readily comes to mind at this point is how much of this promise was kept.

An independent investigation carried out indicated that despite the vast arable lands for the production of various agricultural products in commercial quantity in Edo State, the state, especially in the last three years has remained in the doldrums with little or no achievement recorded in terms of agricultural economic viability.

Three bank CEOs quit NESG Board over stance on CBN’s economic interventions [THE NATION]

CHIEF Executive Officers (CEOs) of three prominent banks have resigned their membership of the Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG) board.

They resigned on Wednesday in protest against the NESG’s position against some of the measures taken by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to stabilise the financial system and fast-track economic recovery.

The apex bank had also initiated a chain of policies to mitigate the negative impacts of the Coronavirus pandemic on Nigerians.

Those who resigned from the NESG board are United Bank of Africa (UBA) Plc Group Managing Director Kennedy Uzoka; First Bank of Nigeria (FBN) Plc Managing Director Adesola Adeduntan and Sterling Bank Plc Managing Director Abubakar Suleiman.

Suleiman runs Sterling Bank, where Asue Ighodalo, who is the chair of the NESG board, also serves as Chairman.

Apart from Ighodalo, others on the NESG board are: Niyi Yusuf (Vice-Chairman);  Mrs. Onyeche Tifase (Vice-Chairman) and  Laoye Jaiyeola (CEO).

On Tuesday, the NESG criticised CBN’s intervention policies as not being in the interest of the economy.

The resignation of the NESG Board members is believed among financial experts to be the confirmation of the eroding credibility of the private sector-led think tank and policy advocacy group under the current leadership.

It was learnt that the NESG management’s criticisms of President Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government policies and the Godwin Emefiele-led CBN have created disagreements among its members.

It was gathered that the group’s Tuesday statement entitled: “Matters of Urgent Attention”, which did not have the input of members of the Board, draw the ire of members and triggered the latest uproar.

In a report, the NESG said since the inception of this administration, agriculture and the need to ensure zero hunger for Nigerians have received considerable attention.

But the group added that despite the budgetary allocations and huge sums of money disbursed by the CBN through the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP), a huge gap remains in meeting the food requirements.

 

Ohanaeze to PDP: pick Igbo candidate for President in 2023 [THE NATION]

THE Ohanaeze Ndigbo Youth Council Worldwide (OYC) has alleged moves by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to pick its presidential candidate for the 2023 election from the north.

It cautioned the opposition party against such action, saying Igbo President in 2023 is non-negotiable.

President-General of the group Mazi Okechukwu Isiguzoro and Secretary-General Mazi Okwu Nnabuike, advised Igbo politicians against accepting the vice-presidential slot.

The group said it was alarmed that  despite voting massively for the PDP since 1999, the party might be treating the  Igbo as “cows that must not only be milked but used to death.”

In a statement, the group said: “The OYC is irrevocably committed to the advancement of the Igbo nation. In the struggle to protect, promote and prosper the life and livelihood of the average Igbo man, the council will speak with courage and act with wisdom.

“The OYC is committed to the idea that the Igbo man would thrive best in a restructured Federal Republic of Nigeria. What the Igbo man seeks is not a helping hand. The Igbo man demands a level playing field.

“The Igbo man in Ihiala or Zungeru or Potiskum has invested his faith in Nigeria. He wants from Nigeria the sense of belonging of a first son—a shared sense of belonging with the Fulani and the Yoruba. He wants a platform for the maximisation of his God-given potential.

“While the OYC is pushing fiercely for devolution of power to the regions and resource control, the council will keep its eyes on 2023. It is not because an Igbo Presidency will solve all that bedevils the Igbo. But an Igbo Presidency will assuage and comfort, will offer that sense of belonging, and will pursue devolution of powers and industrialisation.

“While watching the events leading up to 2023, the OYC has observed some troubling developments.

“Igbos have voted massively for the PDP since 1999 but it appears that the PDP regards the Igbos as cows that must be milked and used to death. The PDP is making subterranean diabolical plans to retain power in the North in 2023.

 

Doctors to get N4b training allowance within two weeks [THE NATION]

TWO-WEEK timeline was on Wednesday set for the payment of N4 billion Medical Residency Training cash to striking resident doctors, Accountant-General of the Federation (AGF) Ahmed Idris confirmed on Wednesday.

He said he was given the task to effect the quick disbursement of the cash to beneficiaries.

This, among other agreements, set the tone for the likely call-off the National Association of Resident Doctors’ (NARD’s) strike, which began on Monday.

NARD President Aliyu Sokomba stated that the National Executive Council of the association will meet within the next 24 hours to decide its next line of action.

Speaking at the end of a meeting between representatives of the Federal Ministry of Health, Nigeria Medical Association (NMA), National Salaries, Income and Wages Commission and Office of the AGF, Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, stated that the striking doctors expressed satisfaction on the progress made on their demands.

The minister said all the representatives mentioned above signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) at the end of yesterday’s meeting.

The MoU was signed by Dr. Aliyu and Dr. Bilqis  Muhammad (NARD’s President and Secretary-General); NMA’s Secretary-General Dr. Ekpe Philips Uche; AGF  Idris; Federal Ministry of Health Permanent Secretary, A.M. Abdullahi; Ministry of Labour & Employment Dr. Yerima P. Tarfa; Minister of State for Health Dr Olorunnimbe Mamora; Minister of State for Labour and Employment Festus Keyamo and Senator Ngige.

Ngige, who read the outcome of the meeting to reporters, stated that President Muhammadu Buhari has approved additional N8,901,231,773.55 to pay up the large chunk of the June 2020 COVID-19 allowance to all medical health workers.

 

Nigeria borrowed N18.89tn under Buhari – Report [PUNCH]

Nigeria’s debt public debt hit a total of N31.01tn at the end of June, the Debt Management Office announced on Wednesday.

This means that in the last five years under the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), the country’s debt rose by N18.89tn.

As of the end of June 2015, one month after the present regime came into power, the country’s debt profile stood at N12.12tn.

This means that within a period of five years, the nation’s debt profile rose by N18.89tn.

It also means that the country’s debt profile has risen by 155.86 per cent within the five-year period.

Nigeria’s total public debt stock includes the debt stock of the Federal Government, the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory.

However, most of the debts were contracted by the Federal Government.

The Central Bank of Nigeria had on Tuesday released some data showing that the Federal Government’s component of the country’s debt stood at N24.52tn as of March 31.

A statement issued by the DMO on Wednesday indicated that the debt increased by N2.38tn within a space of three months.

For the country’s public debt stock as of June 30, 2020, the DMO said, “The data show that in naira terms, the total public debt stock which comprises the debt stock of the Federal Government, the 36 state governments and the FCT stood at N31.009tn or $85.897bn.

“The corresponding figures for March 31, 2020 were N28.628tn or $79.303bn.”

The debt office explained that the increase in the debt stock by N2.381tn or $6.59bn was accounted for by the $3.36bn budget support loan from the International Monetary Fund and new domestic borrowing to finance the revised 2020 Appropriation Act.

It said this includes the issuance of the N162.56bn Sukuk and promissory notes issued to settle claims of exporters.

The debt office said, “The DMO expects the public debt stock to grow as the balance of the new domestic borrowing is raised and expected disbursements are made by the World Bank, African Development Bank and the Islamic Development Bank which were arranged to finance the 2020 Budget.

“Recall that the 2020 Appropriation Act had to be revised in the face of the adverse and severe impact of COVID-19 on government’s revenues and increased expenditure needs on health and economic stimulus, among others.”

It stated that additional promissory notes were expected to be issued in the course of the year.

This and new borrowings by state governments were also expected to increase the public debt stock, the DMO explained.

A breakdown of the country’s total debt showed that the external component amounted to N11.36tn or 36.65 per cent of the total debt.

This leaves N19.65tn or 63.35 per cent of the country’s debt portfolio as the domestic component.

The external debt commitment of the Federal Government alone stood at N9.82tn or 31.68 per cent of the total debt profile.

On the other hand, the external debt commitment of the states and the FCT stood at N1.54tn or 4.96 per cent of the total debt commitment.

The domestic debt of the Federal Government only stood at N15.46tn or 49.84 per cent of the national total debt.

The states and the FCT, on the other hand, owe domestic debt of N4.19tn. This is equivalent of the 13.51 per cent of the nation’s total debt commitment.

On the whole, the Federal Government owe N25.28tn while the subnational governments owe N5.73tn.

In proportional terms, the Federal Government holds 81.52 per cent of the nation’s total public debt while the subnational governments hold 18.48 per cent of the country’s total debt.

The growing size of the nation’s debt profile can be seen in the growing size of the debt servicing commitment.

In the first six months of the year, the country spent N921.93bn on domestic debt servicing.

An analysis of the commitment shows that N251.35bn was paid on domestic debt servicing in January; N158.12bn in February; N199.66bn in March; N228.32bn in April; N37.87bn in May and N46.61bn in June.

The government had earlier indicated that a total of N1.57tn was spent on servicing both external and domestic debts in the first six months of the year.

Experts have recently been raising alarm on the high cost of debt servicing, especially when compared to expenses on capital projects and dwindling revenues.

 

I’ll confront Makinde over Ekiti PDP leadership, others –Fayose [PUNCH]

The former governor of Ekiti State, Ayodele Fayose, has warned the Oyo State Governor, Seyi Makinde, against tampering with the leadership of Peoples Democratic Party in South-West states.

Fayose insisted that the Oyo governor had no right to interfere in the local politics being played in each South west state despite being a zonal leader of the party.

The former governor said this on Wednesday when he led the national delegates of the PDP, including the chairmen of the party in Osun, Ekiti, Lagos, to Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital.

Fayose stressed that Makinde, who was a zonal leader of the party due to his position as the only governor in South-West, should allow every state to be governed by its local leaders.

Fayose said, “There has been a reasonable cold war about who and who become the executive of the zone. Governor Makinde has demanded that the zonal executive be sacked and a caretaker be foisted on the zone, which the party did.

“The fact that there is a sitting governor does not say I should go to another man’s state. Nobody should come to my state; if you come to my state, I will face you squarely. I will continue to respect him because he is my brother; I love him so much and I was part of his emergence.”

Earlier, the party in Ogun State had taken over the party secretariat barely a month after the leader of a faction of the party, late Buruji Kashamu, died.

The other faction led by Sikirullahi Ogundele took over the secretariat from Kashamu faction in a peaceful manner and held a zonal meeting afterwards.

Meanwhile, rising from the meeting, a communiqué was issued and signed by the four state chairmen of PDP in South-West, which include Deji Doherty (Lagos); Sikirullahi Ogundele (Ogun); Sunday Olatunde Akanfe (Osun); and Bisi Kolawole (Ekiti).

The leaders of the party in the South-West region led by Fayose resolved that no state should be ruled or governed by another.

In a related development, a National Assembly member, Senator Biodun Olujimi, on Wednesday accused Fayose, of surreptitiously moving against Makinde.

The senator representing Ekiti South Senatorial District, who spoke in Ado Ekiti at a meeting of her faction of the PDP, said, “Makinde is the symbol of the party in the South-West.

“So, anything that must come from the zone must come through him. Fayose and his conspirators’ visit to Uche Secondus was nothing but recreational. I can take anybody to the national secretariat of the party and we take pictures.”

 

Soldiers dragged Benue warlord, Gana, out of govt convoy before he was killed – Community leader [PUNCH]

More facts on Wednesday emerged about how a notorious militia leader in Benue State, Terwase Akwaza, aka Gana, was killed  by the military on Tuesday despite embracing amnesty.

A community leader, who confided in one of our correspondents in Makurdi, the state capital, said Gana was in a government convoy when he was dragged out of a car by soldiers at a checkpoint in Gbitse,  near Yandev roundabout in  the Gboko Local Government  Area of the state.

The  community  leader said the militia leader  was thrown into a military vehicle and driven away.

The Commander  of Operation Ayem A Kpatuma,  Major General Ali Gadzama, had on Tuesday told Channels Television that Gana was killed in a  gun battle with soldiers.

But it was gathered that the militia leader  had   between 11am and 2pm on Tuesday  at the Katsina Ala Stadium in the presence of prominent indigenes of the Sankera District of the state, including the First Class Chief of the area , His Royal Highness, Abu Shuluwa, embraced amnesty.

The  Sankera zone consisting of  Logo, Katsina-Ala and Ukum local government areas has been the worst had hit by the activities of Gana and his gang since 2009.

Recall that the militia leader and others had  in  the state Government House in 2015  surrendered no fewer than 200 guns including AK-47 riffles.

But the peace move was  thwarted after the killing of   the Senior Special Assistant to the state Governor on Security,  Denen Igbane, in 2016.  After the incident,  the militia  leader went back to the bush.

The  community leader, who confided in The PUNCH, said the latest peace move efforts were initiated by some prominent indigenes , who urged Gana to drop arms and embrace peace.

He  said, “He (Gana) actually came out because of the assurance given by the prominent indigenes and traditional rulers and he was not armed when he was dragged out of the car and taken away to be killed.

“The militia leader sat in-between the Chairman of the Katsina-Ala Local Government Area, Alfred Atera, and a priest in one of the cars in the government convoy.”

According to the source, the convoy was stopped by soldiers at a checkpoint in Gbitse on its way  to Makurdi.

He stated, “As soon as we got to the  military checkpoint, some soldiers who spotted Gana had to pull down  the priest, drag Gana into their waiting vehicle and zoom off.”

Meanwhile, there were fears in the  Sankera zone on Wednesday as residents thought that members of Gana’s gang could carry out attacks on the area.

 

Buhari did not lie to Trump [PUNCH]

On Tuesday, at a ministerial performance retreat in Abuja, Nigeria’s President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), told an interesting story about his USA counterpart, Donald Trump. Given how taciturn he could be, those rare moments when he tells stories about himself are useful insights into his mind. According to Buhari, he was at the White House, (and he took care to note he was the only African among the least-developed countries that got an invite), at the Oval Office, he said Trump looked into his face and asked him, “Why are you killing Christians?” Buhari said emotion surged inside him, but he managed to restrain himself. He said he told Trump the problem had a long history, and that the issue was neither about religion nor ethnicity. Instead, it was a “cultural issue.”

It is tempting to disagree with Buhari, but when you ponder it, he was quite right. Like many western Christians who think every instance of violence in Nigeria is a case of “Muslim killing Christians,” Trump must have been misinformed. The reality is much simpler. There is no “religious violence” in Nigeria. People are not being killed because of their faith. What takes place in Nigeria, and frequently too, are crimes of impunity. People are killing people because we have -and always did — a government that lets them get away with it. On that score, Buhari is right that it is a cultural defect. Except also, he was characteristically untruthful when he started blaming things like “climate change” and “population growth.” Those might be contributing factors, but they are also the excuses by a leader who cannot face the truth. The massacres keep recurring because those who perpetrate them are certain they will get away with them.

Look the case of Boko Haram members and how they have been handed an undeserved amnesty. These are people that have killed thousands of Nigerians, including the servicemen deployed to fight them. They have unsettled millions of lives such that some people do not have the hope of ever returning home anymore. Those people, now unfortunately labelled “Internally Displaced Persons,” face a fate that is self-reproducing. Boko Haram has destroyed a valuable portion of Nigeria’s moral fabric. They have caused chaos and instability in our socio-political life and even demoralised institutions. What did our leaders say they will do to them? They will pardon them. The Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, even proposed to send them to school abroad. Yes, and at the expense of the same nation they had helped destroy.

The other day, Senator Ibrahim Gaidam of Yobe State addressed a press conference where he made a case for Boko Haram members. He even had the temerity to state that he could not wait to see these terrorists enter “politics, religion, and society.”

In a society where maniacs are so indulged, why would violence stop? We have had countless instances of “religious violence” in Nigeria, but we have not had a matching number of trials and sentencing of the perpetrators. I agree with Buhari that violence in Nigeria is a cultural issue because our national culture has been to look the other way. If you are from a place like Kaduna, you can even get paid for all the violent acts you commit, and the governor will have no qualms saying so in public. Nigeria has no notion of justice and morality. The best we do is to appease genocidal maniacs.

In 2016, an Igbo woman, Bridget Agbahime, was killed by a so-called religious mob in a market in Kano. Even though her husband, Mike, identified the five killers, a magistrate court set the alleged killers free. Her murderers even got emboldened enough to threaten her husband’s life. The poor man had to run back to the East. There is no day I think of that story that I do not get enraged at Nigeria. What kind of country is this one? How hard could it have been convicting suspects who murdered in a marketplace and in broad daylight too? But Nigeria would not do anything to those people. The killers knew it, and that was why they could attack the woman in public. To say their actions were motivated by religious zeal is to miss the point. They knew aforehand that there was no punishment for their offence, simple.

That was how secondary school students in Gombe State could attack and kill their teacher, Christiana Oluwatoyin Oluwaseesin. Over the years, Nigeria has nurtured a group of entitled citizens that have come to believe they have the power of life and death over others. In 2011, when Buhari lost an election, you know how many Nigerians his devotees sacrificed to process their loss? Nigeria did not prosecute them. Life just went on as usual. For each orgy of violence that Nigeria overlooks, these people get more empowered, and they impress that knowledge upon the rest of us by doing more violence. We keep feeding the monster, and even now that it has grown hydra-headed and eating its master’s children, we still cannot face the truth. Buhari is hiding under abstract issues like “culture,” “climate change” and “population growth.”

Unfortunately, the rest of us too has been socialised into a culture where we were taught to never go against some people’s religious sensibilities because they are always on a short fuse. It was miseducation because it did not lead us to respect other people’s faiths. It only taught us to indulge criminals. That was why in 2016, when a Lagosian, Joe Chinakwe, was attacked by some people for naming his dog “Buhari,” he ended up being the one arrested. The police spokesperson that addressed a press conference on the issue, one Abimbola Oyeyemi, forgot his duty as an enforcer of law and order. He said Chinakwe had to be arrested because “the average northerner will feel bad over such a thing.” You have to wonder how it became the job of a policeman to justify crime on the grounds of cultural sensibilities. Well, that was because he had internalised the nonsense that some people deserve to be protected even at the expense of others’ constitutional rights. The same mentality was at work when a lawyer, one S.S. Umar of Zoo Road in Kano, wrote to the police and asked that an atheist, Mubarak Bala, be arrested otherwise they would kickstart violence. The police promptly obeyed! How better could the police have demonstrated that they have been neutered by these reactionary forces than the zeal with which they did their bidding?

 

APC, PDP in fresh war of words [SUN]

Verbal war between the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressives Congress (APC) continued, yesterday, as the opposition party dismissed the ruling party as as a “colossal failure” saying the government has failed to fulfil any of its campaign promises.

PDP National Chairman,  Uche Secondus,  who addressed journalists in Abuja said President Muhammadu Buhari’s directive to ministers to project the achievements and policies of the administration was unnecessary claiming there was  none in the five years it has been in office to showcase.

The opposition leader said prior  to the 2015 general elections, the APC made several promises to Nigerians but noted that it has not been able to fulfil any of them.

He added that rather than improve the lot of the citizens, the administration has imposed more hardship,  especially  with  the recent increase in the pump price of fuel and electricity tariff.

“They made several promises including reducing the pump price of fuel, allowing the refineries to work, they made a firm commitment and promise to the people.They also promised that Naira will be equal to one dollar,  create employment for all our youths and power problem will be a thing of the past within six months.

“I want to ask Nigerians whether they have fulfilled their promises or not.? It is a collossal failure. Every responsible government must be very careful in making promises.

“They made these promises in 2015 when a bag of rice was  N8,000. Today, a bag of rice is N35,000. Are we better off? Have they improved on the economy? The situation in Nigeria is pathetic. It has worsened. Our people are going through pain, hardships and sorrow. And this government is clueless.”

Secondus added that only yesterday (Tuesday) they gathered and called the ministers together. And Nigerians were watching and thought that they would proffer a solution and give hope to the people. But like the story of the lizard, Nigerians are in pain, but we watch them clapping for themselves.

“What have they achieved? They have zero. Nigeria has become the headquarters of poverty in the world. In all ramifications, transportation, health sector, education is a colossal failure. On the issue of security, by 2015 it was only North East. But today, insecurity has engulfed all sections of this country. Our people are dying, no more farmland, our people are dying of hunger, poverty, herdsmen, the crime rate has risen to the highest level…

“We sympathise with President Buhari and APC because all they require to do was to hire competent Nigeria to help them. They are clueless and they have failed.”

However, in a swift reaction, APC described the criticisms of the PDP and former vice president, Atiku Abubakar, of the deregulation of electricity and petrol by President Buhari as unpatriotic.

Deputy National Publicity Secretary, Yekini Nabena, in a statement, wondered why Atiku who had supported the initiative would make a U-turn, adding that his sudden opposition clearly revealed his two-facedness and portrays him as man not only acutely lacking in integrity but one that should never be trusted.

“The PDP and Atiku’s reaction to what has been adjudged an inevitability by many experts clearly depicts the height of hypocrisy demonstrated by them on many issues relating to the progress and wellbeing of Nigeria.

“Worrisome is the action of the PDP’s presidential flag bearer at the 2019 general elections. It’s rather unfortunate if truly, the comments reported by a section of the media, condemning the removal of petrol subsidy, is attributed to Atiku Abubakar.

“Atiku continues to justify the majority of the Nigerian people who rejected him at the polls. This stems majorly from the fact that he was part of the government that created the “corrupt petrol subsidy”  monster and also the chaos in the electricity sector.

“A further portrayal of Atiku’s hypocrisy was his pretentious promise to deregulate the downstream petroleum sector by privatising the NNPC. Atiku made the sale of NNPC to his friends and the deregulation of both the PMS and the electricity sector the hallmark of his 2019 presidential election misadventure.

“Judging from its background as a party that instituted the very corrupt subsidy regime in the petrol sector, the PDP lacks the moral credentials to question an honest and transparent move by the Buhari-led administration to find lasting solutions to the problems caused by the party in the years that it led the affairs of the country.

“Describing the deregulation of the price of petrol by the APC-led government as callous and cruel is rather sarcastic and tongue-in-cheek, given the pain and anguish suffered by Nigerians on long queues at petrol stations when the PDP-led government presided over a very corrupt subsidy regime.

“It is, therefore, laughable that the same set of people will turn around and condemn decisions taken to fix the mess they created in the system. The PDP’s outburst indeed exposes once again its real fraudulent character and plot to patronise Nigerians and make them suffer in perpetuity by keeping a fraudulent subsidy arrangement that feeds a few individuals at the expense of the masses.

“Judging from the foregoing, the PDP, Atiku Abubakar, and comments attributed to them should not be taken seriously as they simply lack the decency required to guide Nigeria and Nigerians to the path of prosperity and progress.”

He claimed that “the drive to deregulate the oil sector, the petroleum products pricing template now reflects competitive and market driven components which has in turn freed up cash to fund the ongoing development of critical infrastructure across the country.”

 

Edo, Ondo: CJN inaugurates 85 judges for election petition tribunal [SUN]

Chief Justice of Nigeria(CJN), Justice Tanko Ibrahim, will today inaugurate 85 judges that will entertain petitions that may arise from the forthcoming governorship elections in Edo and Ondo states.

The tribunal members were constituted by the President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Monica Dongban-Mensem in line with her powers under the constitution.

Section 1(3) of the sixth Schedule of the 1999 constitution, empowered the President of the Court of Appeal Court to appoint election tribunal Judges.

Election tribunals are established pursuant to Section 285 of the Constitution, as amended, and Section 133 of the Electoral Act 2011, as amended.

Section 133 (3) of the Electoral Act specifically makes it mandatory for  election petition tribunals shall be constituted not later than 14 days before an election is held, under Section 258 (6) of the Constitution, the tribunal, must deliver its judgment in writing, within 180 days from the date a petition is filed.

A statement by the Public Relations Officer at the Court of Appeal, Sa’adatu Kachalla, disclosed that the swearing in ceremony will take place at the Supreme Court.

While the Edo State governorship election is billed for September 19, the Ondo poll is fixed for October 10.

The statement further indicated that some of the judges will handle cases from by-elections scheduled by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

It said Justice Dongban-Mensem would thereafter organise a one-day training for the 85 judges, on Election Petition Tribunal.

 

Tension as water level rises in River Niger [SUN]

There is tension among residents of communities along the shores of River Niger in Delta State as water level continues to rise.

The rise in water level has been exacerbated by a sustained downpour in the last few days in the coastal areas, heightening fears of excessive flooding in the coming days.

The Nigeria Meteorological Agency has already predicted heavy flooding in coastal states including Delta, and has urged residents in low land areas to relocate to safer places.

Reacting to fears among residents in Ndokwa East Local Government Area of Delta State, chairman of the council, Juan Governor urged the residents to urgently relocate

The council chairman who spoke in Aboh during a meeting with Ndokwa East Elders Forum and Councilors, said indigenes should not wait for the last minute before making moves.

He tasked councilors to sensitise people in their various wards to avoid being cut off by the flood thereby making the task of evacuation difficult for the State Emergency Relief Agency (SEMA).

The governor said a quick response would ensure their safety, stating that SEMA may delay in the rescue mission as they have a broad area to evacuate people from throughout the state.

The councilor representing Ward 04, Tony Azuka, said they would do their best to sensitise the people.

Investigation revealed that most communities in the locality, especially Abala, Utchi and Onyia, are always cut off by flood during rainy season.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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