Former Vice President and Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the 2019 general elections, Atiku Abubakar, has felicitated with children on the occasion of the Children’s Day marked world-over on May the 27th.
In a tweet on Wednesday, Atiku noted that the future would be determined by the impact we create in the lives of our children today.
He, therefore, urged Nigerians to continue to fine-tune the environment to offer our children the best, particularly in education.
The future would be determined by the impact we create in the lives of our children today. This is why, as a country, we must continue to fine-tune our environment to offer our children the best, particularly in education. #HappyChildrensDay -AA pic.twitter.com/yLK5zAXAP4
Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar has faulted the review of the 2020 budget by the Federal Government.
In a statement on Thursday, he noted that the government slashed the budget by 0.6 per cent, representing a reduction of N71 billion.
Atiku decried the inability of the nation to expand its revenue base through the non-oil sector, especially in the period when the price of crude oil was plunging.
He asked the government to prioritise the welfare of the citizens and be realistic in its review of the budget amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The former presidential candidate called for the reduction of the money allocated for the travels and feeding of the President and Vice President, adding that the budget for the renovation of the National Assembly should be scrapped.
According to him, the budgets to run the Presidency and the Legislature must be downsized as any budget reduction that is less than 25 per cent will not be in the interest of the country.
Atiku also asked the government to sell at least eight of the jets in the Presidential Air Fleet, reduce the salaries of political appointees, but leave the salaries of civil servants.
He stressed the need for a budget realignment and invest in critical sectors of the economy such as health, education, and infrastructure, among others.
Read the full statement below:
Nigeria Cannot Afford Luxuries During an Austerity
It is to my consternation that despite the crash in the price of oil, and the inability of Nigeria to expand our revenue base through the non-oil sector, the Federal Government of Nigeria has only seen fit to slash our budget by a mere 0.6%, from ₦10.594 trillion to ₦ 10.523 trillion. This represents a reduction of only ₦71 billion.
Putting politics aside, this is grossly insufficient and betrays the fact we have lost touch with the current realities in the global political economy.
For the avoidance of doubt, when this budget was presented to the National Assembly on Tuesday, October 8, 2019, it was predicated on a projection that our nation would generate crude oil production of 2.18 million barrels a day, at an expected oil price of $57 per barrel.
Today, that is no longer the case. Both our production, and the price of oil have been severely affected by the coronavirus pandemic, to the extent that we have unsold vessels, and our income has tanked by more than 50%.
Given that this is the case, how can anyone justify a reduction in expenditure of just 0.6%? We cannot be the only nation bucking the trend.
Saudi Arabia, a nation with a much stronger production capacity than ours and with a larger global market share, as well as foreign reserves that are 12 times ours, has slashed her budget by almost 30%. Ditto for other oil economies.
Nigeria cannot make up for the loss of expected revenue by taking out more loans and issuing out more bonds. Debt will be the death of our economy and bonds will put our people in bondage.
The best way out of this economic quagmire is to reduce our expenditure. And a 0.6% reduction is no reduction. It is only window dressing.
My counsel to the Federal Government of Nigeria is this: put Nigerians first and cut your coat, not according to your size, but according to your cloth.
Realistically slash the budget. Every pork barrel has to go. The billions budgeted for the travels and feeding of the President and Vice President has to be reduced.
The ₦27 billion budget for the renovation of the National Assembly has to go. The massive budgets to run both the Presidency and the Legislature has to be downsized.
The budget for purchasing luxury cars for the President, his vice, and other political office holders must be jettisoned. Leave the salaries of civil servants alone, but reduce the salaries of political appointees. Sell 8 or 9 of the jets in the Presidential Air Fleet.
Any budget slash that is less than 25% will not be in the interest of Nigeria. And beyond a budget slash, Nigeria needs a budget realignment, to redirect expenditure away from running a massive bureaucracy, into social development sectors like education, infrastructure, and above all, healthcare.
We must invest in the goose that lays the golden egg – the Nigerian people.
These are the types of sacrifices that we need in a time of crisis. We do not need empty gestures that will lead to empty treasuries.
In times of austerity, no nation, not the least a mono-product economy, such as ours, should be living in luxury at a leadership level.
The All Progressives Congress (APC) has reacted to suggestions by former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar to the Muhammadu Buhari-led administration on the need to diversify Nigeria’s economy.
According to a statement signed on Saturday by the National Publicity Secretary, Lanre Issa-Onilu, the party welcomed his opinion and expressed sincere thanks for the suggestions
They, however, said they were surprised that the former Vice President failed to acknowledge the efforts that the administration has made in the last five years towards diversification of the economy and the “many positive gains” it has yielded.
According to the statement, as far back as 2016, President Muhammadu Buhari had launched the Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP), an intervention policy primarily aimed at giving farmers access to finance.
Also, the APC noted that part of the efforts of the President Buhari-led administration to boost agriculture is the massive successes recorded in the local production of fertilisers.
The party insisted that the contributions of agriculture to the overall Gross Domestic Product (GDP) have consistently been on the increase and is being captured by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) in the last four years.
Abubakar had, in an article published on April 30, warned against Nigeria’s reliance on oil, saying that the country will never be industrialised by depending on crude oil.
In the post captioned “How to Pull Nigeria from the Brink,” he called on the Nigerian government to look into the agricultural sector as a way of shoring up revenue in the face of dwindling oil fortunes.
But the APC said his claims were perhaps an oversight or a blatant attempt not to admit the “truth” of the administration’s successes.
The party also faulted Atiku’s comments on the issue of the border closure which he described as an “insane” policy.
“Alhaji Atiku Abubakar may wish to know that the policy he has unfortunately chosen to label as “insane” has led to a significant spike in rice production across the country, opening up of hundreds of rice mills, indigenous manufacturing firms are sourcing their raw materials locally, boom in poultry farming, with Nigerians now patronising locally made food items like never before and, in the process, boosting the income of farmers and local producers,” the statement read in part.
It added: “It is heart-warming to know we are coping well as the Coronavirus pandemic and the resultant lockdowns are testing our country’s capacity to feed itself. We have been able to meet the pandemic induced surge in demand for foods only because the APC administration has been implementing policies targeted at expanding the capacity of our farmers and the other players in the allied industries.
“We ask Atiku Abubakar; where would we have gotten the farm produce for palliatives and feed our people during the lockdown if we had not taken the courageous route of looking inwards while curtailing sabotage from neighbouring economies?
“In the areas of plugging revenue leakages, curbing waste, diversifying and growing the economy, budgeting, borrowings, ease of doing business, support of Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs), the President Muhammadu Buhari government is matching electoral promises with actions”.
The Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has awarded the sum of N5 million against the 2019 Presidential Candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, and his campaign director, Dr Bukola Saraki, over unauthorized use of the photograph of a Lagos-based trader, Mrs Amuda Adeleke, on their campaign billboard.
Justice Ayokunle Faji, who made the monetary award in a judgment delivered on Monday, said the N5m would be jointly and severally paid by Atiku, Saraki, the PDP and Peter Obi, who was Atiku’s running mate during the election.
In a fundamental rights enforcement suit brought before the court, Adeleke through her lawyer, Kingsley Iheakaram, said the defendants used her photograph on their campaign billboard without seeking her consent.
Adeleke also explained that in December 2018, during the build-up to the 2019 general elections, agents of the Atiku Abubakar Organisation, led by Saraki, came to Oyin Jolayemi Street, Victoria Island, Lagos to campaign and mobilize support for Atiku and his running mate, Obi.
She said Saraki and his team engaged people on the street, including herself. Adeleke said she saw members of the campaign train taking photographs during the engagement with the crowd and she thought it was merely to preserve the memory of the event.
She was, however, shocked when she began to receive phone calls from those who knew her, calling her attention to her photograph on the PDP campaign billboards in Lagos, Abuja and elsewhere.
“All my friends who saw the campaign billboard said it portrayed me as a woman stricken with poverty who had lost all hope and was prepared to commit suicide,” she said.
The trader said the unauthorised use of her photograph for the PDP presidential campaign caused her embarrassment.
She, therefore, asked the court to award N45m against the defendants for infringing on her fundamental right to privacy as enshrined, in the 1999 Constitution.
Justice Faji gave judgment in her favour and subsequently awarded N5 million only against the defendants.
According to Atiku, the death of critical medical personnel in the frontline is an unconscious compromise in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
He, therefore, stressed the need to intensify the supply of all necessary items, including Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to ensure the protection of medical personnel.
Dr Chugbo died at the isolation ward of the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LUTH) after contracting coronavirus from a patient he was said to be managing in a private hospital.
The Chief Medical Director of LUTH, Professor Chris Bode, said the doctor was brought into the facility late on Monday, after showing severe symptoms.
He added that Chugbo once worked with LUTH before going into private practice.
Dr Yakubu, on the other hand, died of coronavirus days before he was confirmed positive in Daura, a town in Katsina State.
The state governor, Governor Aminu Masari, told reporters earlier in April that the doctor was hospitalised at the Nigerian Air Force Reference Hospital for about two hours before he died, following his return from a trip to Lagos.
A son of former Vice President Atiku Abubakar who tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19), Mohammed, has shared his experience battling with the virus.
Mohammed, who spoke in a video made at the Abuja University Teaching Hospital where he is being treated, said he was initially nervous and had a high level of anxiety coupled with being the first recorded case in Abuja.
He, however, expressed optimism that he would be discharged soon.
In a video his father shared on Thursday via Twitter, Atiku’s son said, On the 20th of March, I tested positive for COVID-19 and later that night I was brought to the isolation centre at the Abuja University Teaching Hospital in Gwagwalada. I’ve been here for about twelve days and I hope to be out soon. Perhaps when my next test is taken and the results are favourable, I will be on my way out, hopefully.
I decided to make this video so I can speak about my experience and I hope it will be of value to people out there, Nigerians in particular.
In the first few days when I came here, I was asymptomatic but I was nervous. I had a high level of anxiety and a little bit of trauma, it was a fairly difficult few days especially being the index case in Abuja. I think that was the main challenge.
But day by day, I grew stronger thanks to prayers and support I got from a vast array of Nigerians, many people I don’t even know but of course my family and friends, associate have been supporting.
Mohammed also urged Nigerians to avoid fake news which he said compounds health issues of people, especially those that are vulnerable.
He said, But one thing I will like to speak to Nigerians on my experience is about fake news. Fake news is very bad. It compounds your problems if you are in a vulnerable situation.
Perhaps coming from a politically exposed family, I didn’t really feel that pain as much but for people who are more vulnerable. It could really affect their health and their immune system as well.
So let me urge people out there to be very circumspect with how they treat information. Let them be careful about spreading information that is false. These things aggravate health conditions.
He appreciated the health workers on the frontline and government authorities for doing their best and advised Nigerians to come together to fight coronavirus regardless of their social, religious or political differences.
President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday commended the public-spiritedness of some wealthy Nigerians and organisations for standing up to be counted in the battle against the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
In a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, the President thanked members of the Nigerian Private Sector Coalition Against Covid-19, for their contributions in the sum of billions of naira to curb the spread of the disease in Nigeria.
They include former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, Aliko Dangote, Abdulsamad Rabiu of BUA Group, Femi Otedola, Tony Elumelu (United Bank of Africa), Herbert Wigwe (Access Bank), Segun Agbaje (Guaranty Trust Bank) and Jim Ovia (Zenith Bank).
He noted that UBA donated the sum of N5 billion to Nigeria and Africa, while the former Vice President pledged N50 million.
According to the President, First Bank is partnering with the government, the United Nations, and innovative technology firms to provide e-learning solutions to at least one million children under the ‘Keep Them Engaged, Keep Them Safe’ initiative.
He commended every other helping hand that has been lent by individuals, groups, and organisations, which may not necessarily be in the public domain, praying that God who sees all things would abundantly recompense.
President Buhari, however, recommended the laudable strides to other high net-worth Nigerians and organisations.
He stressed that collectively, Nigeria would overcome the challenges brought by the pandemic, and chart a new course in nationalism and brotherhood.
Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar has asked the Federal Government to pay each household in ten thousand naira (N10,000) as a supplement for foodstuff within the period in which many are confined to their homes.
The presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) made this call on Wednesday when he donated N50million as relief fund to support the Federal Government’s battle against the coronavirus pandemic in the country.
Atiku stated that it is incumbent on the Federal and state governments to provide palliatives to the Nigerian people to enable them to survive, even as they abide by these necessary measures put in place for their own safety.
According to the elder statesman, “At an approximate 30 million households or thereabouts, the government should devise modalities to distribute N10,000 as a supplement for foodstuff to each household, among other palliative measures, with no one left behind”.
Atiku, in a press statement he personally signed on Wednesday, said his contribution will help “form part of the stimulus package.”
He praised the Federal and State Governments for taking precautionary measures in containing the spread of the virus within the nation.
Despite the measures, however, the former presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) asked governments at all levels to “provide palliatives to the Nigerian people to enable them to survive, even as they abide by these necessary measures put in place for their own safety.”
According to him, “a large percentage of our people do not have the financial capacity to withstand long periods of self-isolation and even lockdown.”
As the coronavirus pandemic ravages the world, I applaud the various Nigerian state governments who have proactively taken measures, such as issuing stay at home orders, and shutting down non-essential markets and other places of mass gatherings, while also giving guidelines for social distancing.
However, we must accept the fact that much of the Nigerian public have a subsistence existence. A large percentage of our people do not have the financial capacity to withstand long periods of self-isolation and even lockdown.
It is, therefore, incumbent on the Federal and state governments to provide palliatives to the Nigerian people to enable them to survive, even as they abide by these necessary measures put in place for their own safety.
At an approximate 30 million households or thereabouts, the government should devise modalities to distribute N10,000 as a supplement for foodstuff to each household, among other palliative measures, with no one left behind.
It is thus time for the National Assembly to reconvene in an emergency session, perhaps by teleconference (in line with the demands of social distancing), to legislate a Stimulus Package Act that will cater for all Nigerian citizens.
I also call on all Mobile Telephony Companies in Nigeria to urgently develop mobile money platforms so that the government can reach the unbanked with financial assistance. I also urge these telecommunications firms to offer each of the 100 million mobile phone lines in Nigeria free credit of at least ₦1500 per mobile line, so that Nigerians who show symptoms, or those who just want information, can call the nearest available health facility, or even an ambulance service, as the case may be.
I commend all individuals and corporate organisations who have one way or the other provided some form of relief for the Nigerian people. This is what makes Nigeria great, when we help each other at such crisis times as this, irrespective of any differences. I further call on more corporations and individuals with capacity, to assist the public in these trying times.
To this end, Priam Group pledges N50 million on my behalf as my humble contribution to a relief Fund that will form part of the stimulus package.
The attack which occurred on Friday is the latest in a series of attacks in the state and in the northeast by Boko Haram insurgents.
According to some local sources, on arriving at the community, the insurgents began to shoot sporadically as they exchanged fire with security operatives and local vigilante officials on the ground.
The Police Public Relations Officer in Adamawa State, Suleiman Nguroje, who confirmed the attack to Channels Television, disclosed that on hearing the news, policemen and other security personnel were immediately drafted to Gombi town and its environs, to prevent the insurgents from gaining access to the town.
The presidential candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in the 2019 election, Atiku Abubakar, has described the Supreme Court’s declaration of Douye Diri as the govenor-elect of Bayelsa State as an indication that power belongs to the people.
The Supreme Court had on Thursday, sacked David Lyon and Biobarakuma Degi-Eremieoyo as the governor-elect and deputy-governor elect of the oil-rich state respectively.
While reacting to the verdict, Atiku in a statement on his Twitter handle, expressed joy at the court’s declaration.
Atiku stated that the ruling is a confirmation of the peoples mandate on Diri and the PDP, adding that he is confident the incoming leader would do well.
“I received the verdict of the Supreme Court, declaring the candidate of the PDP in the Bayelsa state gubernatorial elections, Senator Douye Diri, as the duly elected Governor of the state, with gladness,” he noted.
According to him, “Senator Douye Diri had cause to visit with me before the elections and received my blessings and counsel. I am fully satisfied that he has what it takes to make Bayelsa the ‘glory of all lands’. His intellect, personality and character, are a credit to Bayelsa and the PDP.”
He advised Douye to use the “opportunity to show Nigerians that power belongs to the people, and we must make good use of this opportunity.”
Furthermore, the former Vice President called on the people in Bayelsa to back their new leader to bringing development and prosperity to the state, as he lauded the Supreme Court for showing “consistency in its judgments.”
A five-man panel of the apex court led by Justice Mary Peter-Odili earlier on Thursday ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to withdraw the Certificate of Return issued to the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate as the winners of the November 16, 2019 governorship election in the state.
The court ordered INEC to issue a fresh certificate of return to the candidate of the party with the next highest votes and with the required constitutional spread of votes in the results of the election, which are the PDP’s.
A Federal High Court in Lagos has refused to consolidate the trials of Uyiekpen Giwa-Osagie and Abdullahi Babalele, the lawyer and the son-in-law to former Vice President Atiku Abubakar.
In a ruling delivered on Monday, Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke said since there was no provision in the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015 empowering him to turn down a case assigned to him by the Chief Judge of the court, he could not reject Babalele’s case.
He also said he could not consolidate the two matters because there was no legal provision for the consolidation of criminal cases.
“The court will try both charges separately,” Justice Aneke held.
He, therefore, adjourned the cases until April 2, saying he was not sure whether he would be transferred from Lagos to another state.
Justice Aneke explained that the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice John Tsoho, had given an instruction to judges not to open new trials pending the conclusion of the arrangement for judges’ transfer.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had charged Giwa-Osagie and Babalele with laundering money during the 2019 general elections, in which Atiku was a presidential candidate on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
While Babalele was accused of laundering $140,000, Giwa-Osagie was charged alongside his brother, Erhunse Giwa-Osagie, with the offence of laundering $2 million.
The defendants were first arraigned separately before a vacation judge, Justice Nicholas Oweibo, on August 14 during the court’s annual vacation.
They, however, pleaded not guilty and were granted bail by the court.
After the court resumed from the vacation, Babalele’s case was assigned to Justice Aneke while the Giwa-Osagie brothers’ case was assigned to Justice Chuka Obiozor.
At the instance of the defence counsels, Norrison Quakers and Ahmed Raji, who wanted a joint trial of all the defendants, Justice Tsoho ordered the transfer of Babalele’s case to Justice Aneke.
They then asked Justice Aneke to consolidate the two cases, so that the defendants could be jointly tried.
The lawyers claimed that the facts in the charges were essentially the same and it was better to consolidate the cases before one judge.
But counsel to the EFCC, Rotimi Oyedepo, challenged the transfer of Babalele’s case from Justice Obiozor to Justice Aneke and also opposed the application to consolidate the two cases.
Oyedepo said, “We are protesting that we have written a letter to the Honourable Chief Judge for a reassignment of the case to the former judge, Justice Obiozor.
“There is nothing connecting the case pending before this court and this case. It is going to be dangerous things if we allow this.”
“During the vacation, two cases were assigned to Justice Obiozor; this one and that of Professor Maurice Iwu but they were both transferred,” he added.
The EFCC counsel, therefore, urged the court to adjourn the matter so that it can be reassigned to the former judge.
The anti-graft agency had accused Babalele of “procuring Bashir Mohammed to make cash payment of $140,000 without going through any financial institution.”
Oyedepo alleged that the money exceeded the threshold stipulated by the money laundering law.
According to him, Babalele made the transaction on February 20, 2019, in contravention of Section 18 (c) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 and was liable to be punished under Section 16(2)(b) of the same Act.
But Babalele pleaded not guilty to the two counts pressed against him.
In their joint arraignment, the EFCC accused the Giwa-Osagie brothers of conspiring with each other to make cash payment of $2 million without going through a financial institution.
It said the transaction violated the provisions of Sections 18(a) and 1(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011, adding that the defendants were liable to be punished under Section 16(2)(b) of the same Act.
However, they also pleaded not guilty to the two counts filed against them.