The Presidency has described as false, reports that the responsibilities of the Chief of Staff to the President and the Secretary-General of the Federation (SGF) have changed.
In a statement, Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, maintained that under the Buhari II administration the role of Chief of Staff remains the same as it was under Buhari I.
According to him, the role of Chief of staff is to be an adviser to the President on any and all matters, as well as the line manager for all staff at the Presidential Villa.
Shehu said: “It is worth stressing that the role and responsibilities of the Chief of Staff and the method of communication and arranging scheduling between Cabinet members and the President are, in Nigeria, based on the US model, where the same system operates – and has done for decades – in precisely the same way.
“That role is to act as the head of the presidential administration at Aso Rock; to be an adviser to the President on any and all matters; to be the line manager for all staff at Aso Rock; and to manage appointments and scheduling for the President.
“In the traditional presidential system, it is a primary function of a Chief of Staff, which may vary according to the needs and desires of each President, to supervise key State House Staff, control access to the office and the person of the President, manage communications and information flow and this includes that which binds the relationship with the two other arms of government.
“During the President’s first term those were the responsibilities of the Chief of Staff, and they remain the same responsibilities today. There is no change”.
Mr Shehu also debunked reports that the ministers were being denied direct access to the president.
According to him, when President Buhari explained to ministers that they would be expected to communicate with him and arrange scheduling to meet with him primarily via the Chief of Staff, he did so because many of the Buhari (II) Cabinet ministerial appointments are new appointments and are therefore not expected to know how matters of liaising with the President operate.
“This is to stress that access to the President is open to ministers. It is not true that this is denied them in the Second Term.
“The Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) on the other hand is responsible for ensuring the effective coordination and monitoring of the implementation of government policies and programmes. All cabinet matters must go through him,” he said.
White House chief of staff John Kelly will be leaving by the end of the year, US President Donald Trump announced Saturday. That will make him the latest top official to exit the US leader’s inner circle.
Dozens of White House aides — from Attorney General Jeff Sessions to press secretary Sean Spicer to the chief of staff Reince Priebus — have either left or been sacked from their posts since Trump took office on January 20, 2017.
Here is a sampling of senior departures:
Chief of staff John Kelly
Kelly, a retired four-star Marine Corps general, has been credited with helping restore a degree of order to the often-chaotic Trump White House.
But in the process, he clashed with members of the Trump clan, and at times infuriated Democrats with his blunt comments.
Trump, who once said he wanted his aide to stay with him until the presidential election year of 2020, had made it clear of late that the relationship had chilled.
“At some point, he’s going to want to move on,” the president said in mid-November.
Indeed, Kelly, 68, made it clear he did not always love the job — one of the most vital in any White House, quipping, “God punished me, I guess.”
Attorney General Jeff Sessions
Sessions, a Republican senator from Alabama, was the first member of the Senate to back Trump’s insurgent bid in 2015 for the Republican presidential nomination.
After winning the presidency, Trump rewarded Sessions by naming him to head the Department of Justice.
But relations between the two quickly soured after Sessions recused himself from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into whether the Trump presidential campaign colluded with Russia to get him elected.
Trump personally attacked Sessions on several occasions for failing to protect him from the Mueller probe.
“I don’t have an attorney general,” Trump told Hill.TV in an interview in September. “It’s very sad.”
UN Ambassador Nikki Haley
Haley, who announced in October that she would leave the administration at the end of 2018, was a shining star of the administration from the start.
Thrust onto the international stage, she quickly became an astute advocate for Trump’s foreign policy, using forceful language against North Korea, Syria and Iran.
The former South Carolina governor was also unafraid to speak her mind, often in fairly undiplomatic language, and built a reputation for standing up to Trump when she felt it was warranted.
Her aggressive criticism of Russia won plaudits, even as she stepped beyond the position held by the WhiteHouse.
Her resignation announcement last month sparked speculation about her political future, though she denied any plans to challenge Trump in 2020, saying she would remain loyal to the president.
Environment chief Scott Pruitt
Environmental Protection Agency head Scott Pruitt’s tenure was beset by scandal, and Trump pushed him out in July.
A former Oklahoma attorney general with ties to fossil fuel industries, Pruitt was accused of using his position to enrich his own family’s lifestyle in violation of federal law.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson
Rex Tillerson was fired by Trump in March, ending a rocky tenure for the former Exxon chief executive as the nation’s top diplomat.
Tillerson was frequently at odds with the mercurial president. They notably disagreed on the Iran nuclear deal, from which Trump withdrew in May.
During his brief stay at Foggy Bottom, Tillerson frequently found himself out of the loop and caught unawares by policy shifts announced in Trump tweets.
In one of his first public criticisms of the president since stepping down, Tillerson recently told a gathering in Texas that Trump was undisciplined, did not like to read briefing papers and sometimes asked him to do things that were illegal.
Trump shot back on Twitter that Tillerson was “dumb as a rock.”
Chief Strategist Steve Bannon
The architect of Trump’s nationalist-populist campaign and his election victory, White House chief strategist Steve Bannon was nicknamed the Prince of Darkness and the Shadow President.
His economic nationalism became the lynchpin of Trump policies, even as many of Bannon’s other ideas were rebuffed by policy rivals.
Bannon’s constant clashes with other advisors became untenable, as did his ties to the extreme right. Bannon left in August 2017.
Top Economic Advisor Gary Cohn
Gary Cohn, a former president of investment bank Goldman Sachs, resigned as Trump’s top economic advisor in March in protest against the president’s decision to levy new global trade tariffs.
A long-time Democrat, Cohn had always been an uneasy fit in an administration propelled to power by strident nationalism.
National Security Advisors Flynn, McMaster
Michael Flynn, a retired lieutenant general, was being investigated for his contacts with Russians and eventually pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI.
He lasted only 22 days as a national security advisor.
Flynn’s replacement, HR McMaster, also a lieutenant general, lasted barely a year.
He never really clicked with the president, who bristled at McMaster echoing the US intelligence establishment consensus that Russia meddled in the 2016 election.
The Yobe State Governor, Ibrahim Gaidam, has appointed his Chief of Staff, Saleh Abubakar, as the new Head of Service of the state.
A statement from the Secretary to the State Government, Baba Malam-Wali, said the new Head of Service replaces Dauda Yahaya who is due for retirement on April 10, 2017.
The statement read: “In 1999, he (Mr Abubakar) was appointed Deputy Permanent Secretary Administration, a position he held till 2004 when he was posted to the Ministry of Land and Survey as Deputy Permanent Secretary.
“The new Head of Service returned to the Governor’s Office in 2006 as Deputy Permanent Secretary Administration, till 2007 when he was appointed Permanent Secretary/ Chief of Staff to the Governor.
“Saleh Abubakar served as Chief of Staff to the Governor for a decade until his new appointment as Yobe State Head of Service by Governor Ibrahim Gaidam”.
The Imo State government says it has spent over40billion naira on its free tertiary education policy since inception four years ago.
The State Governor, Rochas Okorocha, made the disclosure at the Heroes Square in Owerri, the Imo State capital in southeast Nigeria.
He was speaking during the ongoing revalidation and verification exercise organised for Imo indigenes who are beneficiaries of the free education programme in all state-owned tertiary institutions in the state.
Addressing the students, Governor Okorocha who was represented by his Chief of Staff, Mr Uche Nwosu, noted that the state government has decided to concentrate on Imo indigenes and drop non-indigenes from the programme.
He explained that the state government has spent about 40 billion naira to sustain the policy, adding that it would have to drop non-indigenes from the scheme as Imo indigenes in other state-owned schools across Nigeria do not enjoy such benefit.
The governor, however, assured the students of the government’s commitment to sustaining the programme beyond the life of the present administration.
“Nothing less than 40 billion has been spent in the last five years to sustain this free education policy.
“But as you know, our Imo sons and daughters in other schools outside Imo State are not benefiting any similar scheme in their various schools and we can’t keep shouldering their expenses.
“Like the saying: charity begins at home; we need to take care of our own first before others. So we have decided to drop non-indigenes from the exercise,” he said.
Governor Okorocha explained further that the essence of the ongoing revalidation and verification of students was to generate the accurate data of students and to also ascertain that students enjoying the programme were majorly of Imo extraction.
“The idea of this exercise is to capture (those) who are exactly Imo State citizens and to build a data base of who they are, and to inculcate in them the fact that government is training them for free, despite the very lean resources that is available to the government.
“From the form, they have to go back to their villages and get endorsement from their traditional ruler and also get endorsement from the secretary of the CGC (that is President-general).
“By that, we will know that they are from so so and so local government (and) let me tell you that some of them don’t even know their local government.
“The free education has come to stay,” he noted.
Dreams Of Better Educational Standard
In an interview with Channels Television, some of the students said that the free education programme has actually helped them achieve their dreams of a better and higher educational standard without payment.
A student said “because of the free education, I could achieve a lot in the medical school.
“I have not paid a dime since I got admission into the university (and) my siblings are here.
“If not for the free education, I don’t think there is a way we can do it but I just thank the government for giving us the free education”.
At the inception of the Governor Okorocha led administration in 2011, education was declared free at primary and post-primary levels in all public schools in Imo State.
The government subsequently extended the gesture to all the state-owned tertiary institutions on February 14, 2012, including the Imo State School of Nursing and Health Technology.
As an extension of the free education programme in November 2012, the government slashed the tuition fee of non-indigenes schooling in the state-owned tertiary institutions by 50%.
However, the revalidation and verification exercise is supposed to last for two weeks of which students are meant to take their forms to their traditional rulers and government liaison officers in their communities for identification and return the form to the state government within the specified period.
The Kwara State Governor, Abdulfatah Ahmed has kicked off the distribution of 850million Naira ward-based community development programme with the presentation of cheques to some of the benefiting communities.
The programme which is in partnership with the World Bank will see 58 communities across the three senatorial districts benefiting from the project.
At the project launch and cheque presentation ceremony for communities in Kwara State under the community and social development project in Ilorin.
The governor promised that the government would ensure all round development across the state to guarantee sustainable development in the rural areas.
The community and social development projects by the Kwara State government is aimed at embarking on a project for a community in which the community will specify the kind of project required, while ten percent of the total cost will be bear by the community, the state government will fund the ninety percent of whatever they required.
The state governor who was represented by the Chief of Staff, Abdulwahab Yusuf at the Government House said the community driven development would ensure inclusion, promote increased local democracy, participation and involvement in public affairs.
He explained that the project would ensure infrastructural development, reduce rural-urban migration and improve socio-economic development of the grassroots.
Also speaking, the State Commissioner for Planning and Economic Development, Wasiu Odewale said Kwara state is one of the 26 states including the FCT currently enjoying the benefits of community and social development project in Nigeria. He disclosed that out of 58 qualified communities, 41 would benefit from the first phase of the scheme.
The General Manager of the state community and social development agency, Mr. Micah Alabi had explained that the agency had intervened in and 112 communities across the 16 Local Government Areas, saying that 322 micro projects in education, water, health, rural electricity were fully funded, implemented and put to use in the communities.
The Government of Osun has said that the minimum requirement of the state for a sustainable and effective governance is a minimum revenue of 10 billion Naira monthly.
This disclosure was made in a communique issued at the conclusion of the retreat to review the 2017 budget proposal of the state in Ijebu-Jesa.
Osun government, in a bid to deliver on its promises to the people, concluded a three-day retreat designed to elicit robust and rigorous discussions along the line of the State’s revenue vis-à-vis budget performance in 2017.
Government, in the communique, stated that the performance of the 2016 budget, the draft 2017 budget proposal, performance of IGR and projects to be embarked and improved upon to catalyse economic growth among others were reviewed at the retreat.
Participants at the retreat were drawn from both the public and private sectors, comprising the Governor, Deputy Governor, Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Secretary to the State Government, Chief-of-Staff to the Governor, Head of Service, prominent citizens of Osun, former cabinet members of the State Executive Council and Heads of relevant MDAs of the State.
The communique held that for sustainable good governance of the state, the minimum that the state requires monthly is not less than N10 billion.
It added that the success of the proposed 2017 budget which is proposed to be a balanced budget is dependent on aggressive revenue drive that takes IGR to between five and six billion Naira per month.
It also stressed that budget estimates of the state should be driven by revenue and not expenditure in line with global best practices with the need to set up committees to: review existing revenue heads; determine genuine heads of revenues and conduct realistic assessments of what can be generated.
The communique read in part, “The proposed committees should be done within two weeks of the conclusion of the retreat. Quarterly review of revenue generation performance by all revenue generating agencies to appraise performance, identify challenges, propose solutions towards the attainment of revenue set targets.
“Mobilisation of the civil service to embrace efficiency and productivity as the essence and watchword for successful budget implementation in 2017. Effective coordination of all revenue generation activities in the state by Osun Internal Revenue Services (OIRS).
“Prioritisation of projects with a view to funding them at the appropriate time was also considered imperative and potential areas considered as quick-wins on the state’s IGR generation were identified for immediate exploration.
“State Asset Management Agency (O’SAMA) to be established for mapping, custody and management of all the state’s assets particularly land and vacant school properties across the State”.
The communique also emphasised that for effective implementation of the Land Use Charge Law, it is resolved that Local Government staff should be trained and engaged for the identification, enumeration, categorisation of properties, and service of assessment notices.
It also noted that abattoirs should be set up across the state with private sector involvement to enhance health and sanitation.
At least 400 officers of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) have been trained on how to handle various types of weapons.
The training comes as part of measures to complement the effort of the Nigerian Armed Forces in tackling insecurity in Nigeria.
The exercise was conducted by the 22 Armoured Brigade of the Nigerian Army, Sobi in Ilorin, the Kwara State’s capital.
Speaking on Wednesday at the passing out ceremony of the second batch of the 200 officers, the Brigade’s Chief of Staff, Colonel Ola Falade, who represented the Commandant, sought more roles for the NSCDC, especially in the area of Nigeria’s internal security.
He said the corps were trained in weapons handling and expressed the confidence that they could now handle the weapons professionally.
Colonel Falade noted that the NSCDC could complement in tackling insecurity, saying they could take over most of the internal security operations while the military would focus on more serious challenges.
He pointed out that Nigeria could emulate other developed countries where the military deals with major challenges facing the country.
The Kwara State Commandant of NSCDC, Awili Pedro, said the training would be a continuous process for the officers of the NSCDC.
Some of the graduating participants expressed their gratitude to the Federal Government and the NSCDC for giving them the opportunity to take part in such training.
They expressed hope that it would make them more disciplined in all ramifications.
The Nigerian Army has accused members of the Shiites Islamic sect of attacking soldiers with dangerous weapons during the bloody clash between the Army and the Shiites in Zaria.
The Army stated this on Monday at the ongoing investigation into the clash by the Judicial Commission of Inquiry set up by the Kaduna State government.
During his submission before the commission, the General Officer Commanding, 1 Division, Major General Adeniyi Oyebade, alleged that the Shiites attacked soldiers with dangerous weapons on that fateful day.
He added that the situation prompted his men to apply relative force in order to restore law and order in Zaria.
The GOC also explained why the Army did not notify the Police during the incident on December 12, 2015, before its arrest of the leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria, Sheik Ibrahim El Zakaky, since the matter is a civil one.
The Director General of Kaduna State Inter-Faith Agency, Namadi Musa, had told the commission that he received a total of 347 dead bodies for burial at Mando area in the outskirt of the state capital.
Conflicting Death Figures
Meanwhile at the ongoing investigation, differing figures of those allegedly killed in the incident are being presented, as the Nigerian Army could not give an actual figure.
A medical officer from the Nigerian Army Depot Medical Unit, who also played a major role in the burial of the deceased, Major Uche Agulanna, told the commission that contrary to the government’s disclosure that 347 corpses were buried in mass grave, he handed over few corpses to the representative of the state government.
When cross-examined by counsel to the commission to give the actual figure of the dead, Major Agulana said that he did not keep the record of the deaths as he was busy trying to save lives that were brought into the hospital.
Amnesty International says Nigeria’s army killed hundreds of men, women and children from a minority Shiite Muslim sect last December.
The group said more than 350 people were believed to have been unlawfully killed by the military between December 12 and 14.
Amnesty Director, Netsanet Belay, said: “It is clear that the military not only used unlawful and excessive force against men, women and children, unlawfully killing hundreds, but then made considerable efforts to try to cover-up these crimes”.
Amnesty said it carried out research in February 2016 during which 92 people were interviewed, including alleged victims and their relatives, eyewitnesses, lawyers and medical staff.
Army Denies Claims
The Nigerian army has denied the claims.
A spokesman for the military, Colonel Sani Usman, said the Amnesty report lacked credibility.
Colonel Usman said the report was a hasty, one-sided and biased report aimed at arriving at a predetermined objective.
“They must allow the inquiry and all other relevant agencies to complete and submit their reports before jumping to conclusions,” he insisted.
Amnesty’s report relates to events in the northern city of Zaria in Kaduna State where the Army has said the Islamic Movement in Nigeria tried to assassinate its Chief of Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai, when members of the sect blocked his convoy.
The groups is making the claims, a week after the Kaduna State government said no fewer than 347 dead bodies were given a mass burial after the violence clash between members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria and the Nigerian Army which occurred in Zaria on December 12, 2015.
The Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Balarabe Lawal, gave the testimony when he appeared before the Judicial Commission of Inquiry set up by the State government to investigate the cause of the incident.