Ezekwesili Seeks Public Conversation On Nigeria’s Economy

Oby Ezekwesili, NigeriansA Former Minister of Education, Dr. Oby Ezekwesili, has asked the Federal Government to do more in engaging the public and key stakeholders on its economic strategies.

The former Vice President of the World Bank made the call during an interview on Channels Television’s political programme, Sunday Politics.

She stated that for Nigeria to get it right, especially in walking out of recession, President Muhammadu Buhari needs to change his stand on the nation’s foreign exchange policies and focus more on issues germane to productivity.

Confusion With FX Policy

“I believe that fundamentally, there are serious issues of economic philosophy that are still very unclear. I think the government is still struggling.

“When you look at the FX (foreign exchange) policy, it is harmful to the economy and the reason that we have the FX policy we have today is simply because our President is completely sold on the idea that you can determine the nominal value of the naira to the dollar and once you can get it very low, everything will be fine.

“We now see that nominal exchange rate is not the most importance factor; it’s the productivity of your economy that matters.

“There’s not been a real public conversation on the economic strategy of the administration (and) that needs to happen.

“I think the economic team needs to try one last time to see if the President would understand that the retrogression that we have seen in the economy can be clearly traced to the confusion with the FX policy,” the former minister explained.

BBOG Wants More From Armed Forces, As Nation Remembers Fallen Heroes

obiageli-ezekwesiliAs Nigeria remembers its fallen heroes, the co-convener of the Bring Back Our Girls (BBOG) group, Dr. Oby Ezekwesili, has demanded for greater accountability within the army to boost confidence of Nigerians.

Dr. Ezekwesili also asked relevant authorities to put significant reforms in place and ensure that soldiers were adequately funded.

“Our focus on the military and our demand for accountability from our military is due to the necessity to properly resource our soldiers. You cannot have resources that go to our military that ends up in private pockets.

“They must go towards the expenditure originally intended.

“Our military must be a cutting-edge technologically strong military. It requires resources. They should not be stolen but properly utilised to ensure that we have all  the equipment, weaponry, logistics that our soldiers need to effectively conduct themselves against the enemies.

“The military, as an establishment, needs significant reform. In a democracy after militarisation the military would need to build confidence with the society. The checkered history that we have had with the military as an establishment means that it sometimes colours the way that we perceive the human being, the soldier,” she told Channels Television.

The BBOG is also suggesting that the celebration of the nation’s fallen heroes should also include catering appropriately for the welfare of the families they left behind.

The group has had a week-long protest, with several demands from the government, resulting in an invitation from the government for a guided tour of the nation’s northeast were over 200 schoolgirls were abducted in Chibok community.

At the protest held on their usual Unity Fountain ground, members of the BBOG campaign group had in addition to demand for more efforts from the government and military to ensure the release of the remaining abducted Chibok girls, pushed for soldiers’ welfare.

Dr. Ezekwesili, told Channels Television that the focus of the third day gathering was to press for a better welfare for soldiers and officers of the Nigerian Army.

BBOG Reconvenes, Focuses On Poor Governance And Corruption

BBOG, Military, Chibok GirlsThe Bring Back Our Girls (BBOG), campaign group, is seeking to draw attention to poor governance and corruption in Nigeria.

The group which has on Wednesday, reconvened in a third day of protests, said they are out again on the streets to call attention to what they term the increasing effects of bad governance and corruption in the country.

They met at their usual spot, the Unity Park, Abuja, while calling on the authorities to probe all office holders accused of corrupt enrichment.

The co-convener of the group, Dr. Oby Ezekwesili, told Channels Television that the members are concerned about the growing reports of such corrupt officials.

She said that the group is also pressing for the return of the remaining Chibok girls, which has been the core of the campaign.

On Tuesday, the BBOG focused on better welfare for the soldiers in the northeast.

1000th Day

It became 1,000 days on January 8, since 276 girls were abducted by Boko Haram militants from Government Secondary School, Chibok, Borno state.

Some of them have since been released while others managed to escape, but at least 195 girls are still in captivity.

Their abduction drew international attention to the activities of the armed group in Nigeria’s north-east region, with several world leaders including former British Prime Minister, David Cameron, calling for the girls’ release.

Meanwhile, the President, Muhammadu Buhari, has restated the commitment of the federal government in securing the release of the remaining youngsters.

BBOG In Third Day Campaign Pushes For Soldiers’ Welfare

Oby-Ezekwesili3Members of the Bring Back Our Girls (BBOG) campaign group have again reconvened at the Unity Fountain in Abuja, this time, in addition to seeking the release of the abducted Chibok girls, they are pushing for soldiers’ welfare.

The co-convener of the group, Dr. Oby Ezekwesili, told Channels Television that the focus of the third day gathering was to press for a better welfare for soldiers and officers of the Nigerian Army.

Dr. Ezekwesili explained that the group was appalled with the way soldiers at the war front were treated by the authorities.

She said Tuesday’s protest, apart from seeking the release of the remaining Chibok girls, would also focus on what she called the military project and welfare of the officers.

Recently, a video emerged where soldiers were seen protesting non-availability of water and ammunition needed to prosecute the war against Boko Haram insurgents in the northeast.

Nigerian Troops Recover Another Chibok Girl
Depressed looking Rakiya Abubkar was recovered by troops of the Nigerian Army on January 5.

Several soldiers have been killed in counter-insurgency war in the northeast while some have been maimed.

Boko Haram terrorists had in 2014 April abducted over 200 girls from their school’s dormitory in Chibok.

Since their abduction, less than 70 of the girls have been rescued by the military.

The BBOG group has held series of protests to make the government heighten efforts to rescue the girls.

Last week, one of the girls was recovered with her six-month baby.

The spokesman for the Nigerian Army, Brigadier General Sani Usman, confirmed the girl’s recovery on January 5.

He stated that troops of Operation Lafiya Dole, during investigation of arrested suspected Boko Haram terrorists, discovered one of the abducted Chibok School girls, Rakiya Abubkar, with her six months old baby.

Be Constitutionally Enlightened, Ezekwesili Tells Nigerians

Oby Ezekwesili, NigeriansCo-convener of Bring Back Our Girls campaign, Dr. Oby Ezekwesili, has emphasised the need for Nigerians to be constitutionally enlightened in order to demand for their rights and deepen Nigeria’s democracy.

The former Minister of Education made the call at the Second New Media, Citizens And Governance Conference on Wednesday in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory.

She noted that Nigeria’s governance had been monopolised due to the constitutional illiteracy of most citizens who were ignorant of their rights.

“Our governance’s landscape is a landscape of monopolised authority, power, responsibility and zero accountability.

“That’s what our democracy has been since 1959.

“What we need on the basis of the power that information technology gives to us is to now liberalise the market of governance,” she recommended.

Dr. Ezekwesili further stressed the need for Nigerians to break the monopoly of the nation’s governance structure by holding government accountable at all levels.

She highlighted the effects of poor governance in a country, citing the Nigeria’s unstable power supply as an example.

Buhari Orders Investigation Into Kidnap Of Chibok Girls

chibokPresident Muhammadu Buhari has ordered an investigation into the theft of the 219 girls from Government Secondary Chibok, Borno State in April 2014.

The investigation would seek to, among other things, unravel the remote and immediate circumstances leading to the kidnap of the girls by Boko Haram terrorists as well as the other  events, actions and inaction that followed the incident.

This plan was revealed on Thursday when President Buhari met with some of the parents of the Chibok girls behind closed doors.

The President assured the parents that he remained fully committed to his pledge to do all within his powers to save the girls.

“I assure you that I go to bed and wake up every day with the Chibok girls on my mind.

“The unfortunate incident happened before this government came into being.

“What have we done since we assumed office? We re-organized the military, removed all the service chiefs and ordered the succeeding service chiefs to deal decisively with the Boko Haram insurgency.

“In spite of the terrible economic condition we found ourselves in, we tried to get some resources to give to the military to reorganize and equip, retrain, deploy more troops and move more forcefully against Boko Haram.

“And you all know the progress we have made. When we came in Boko Haram was in Adamawa, Yobe and Borno. Boko Haram has now been reduced to areas around Lake Chad.

“Securing the Chibok girls is my responsibility. The service chiefs and heads of our security agencies will tell you that in spite of the dire financial straits that we found the country in, I continue to do my best to support their efforts in that regard.

“This is a Nigeria where we were exporting average of two million barrels per day at over 140 dollars per barrel. Now it is down to about 27 to 30 dollars.

“You have been reading in the press how they took public funds, our funds, your funds and shared it, instead of buying weapons. That was the kind of leadership I succeeded. That was the kind of economy I inherited.

“God knows I have done my best and I will continue to do my best,” President Buhari said.

The President was accompanied by the Minister of Defence, Mansur Mohammed Dan Ali, Minister of Women Affairs, Hajiya Aisha Alhassan, Chief of Defence Staff, Gen Gabriel Olonisakin, Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen Tukur Buratai and the National Security Adviser, Maj.-Gen Babagana Monguno (rtd).

In his remarks, the Chief of Defence staff told the meeting that in the last three months the military has liberated more than 3,000 people kidnapped by Boko Haram in the North eastern part of the country.

He said that the military had the ability to rescue the Chibok girls, but added that “intelligence is delicate and we don’t want to do anything to jeopardize the lives of the girls.”

The Bring Back Our Girls (BBOG) group had on Thursday marched through the streets of Abuja to demand the rescue of the missing Chibok schoolgirls.

The BBOG group, alongside at least 115 parents of the abducted girls, took to the streets of the Federal Capital Territory on Thursday requesting that concerted efforts be made in the liberation of the girls.

One of the conveners of the BBOG, Dr. Oby Ezekwesili, asked the Federal Government to do what it can to ensure that the girls were rescued.

According to her, “This particular administration must be seen to exhaust every measure possible,” urging President Buhari to convince the parents of the missing girls that a ‘fierce urgency’ would be the basis of all measures to rescue the girls.

BBOG, Parents March To Demand Rescue Of Missing Chibok Girls

BBOGThe Bring Back Our Girls (BBOG) group on Thursday marched through the streets of Abuja to demand the rescue of the missing Chibok school girls.

The BBOG group, alongside at least 115 parents of the abducted girls, took to the streets of the Federal Capital Territory on Thursday requesting that concerted efforts be made in the liberation of the girls.

The emotional parents said they were not pleased that their children have not been rescued even after meeting with President Buhari on June 8, 2015.

One of the parents of the girls collapsed during the walk and was rushed to a nearby hospital for medication.

One of the conveners of the BBOG, Dr. Oby Ezekwesili, asked the Federal Government to do what it can to ensure that the girls were rescued.

According to her, “this particular administration must be seen to exhaust every measure possible,” and urged President Buhari to convince the parents of the missing girls that a ‘fierce urgency’ would be the basis of all measures to rescue the girls.

BBOG To Walk For Nigeria’s Fallen Heroes

Chibok-girls-BringBackOurGirlsMembers of the Bring Back Our Girls (BBOG) group have announced plans to stage a walk in honour of the Nigeria’s fallen heroes ahead of the Armed Forces Remembrance Day.

Briefing reporters at a sit-out session of the group in Abuja on Friday, Sesugh Akume, appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to grant presidential pardon to soldiers who were sentenced to death.

The BBOG members are also calling for a special honour to be conferred on soldiers fighting the insurgents in the oil-rich nation’s northeast.

On December 29, the group urged the Federal Government to reinstate the soldiers jailed for cowardice against the Boko Haram Insurgency.

The group made the appeal in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital during a meeting with the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami.

Led by BBOG’s Co-convener, Dr. Oby Ezekwesili, they presented several issues before the Attorney General, including an immediate recall of the military men who were jailed for cowardice at the war front without arms.

The group campaigning for the rescue of the over 200 girls abducted by members of the Boko Haram terrorist group on April 14, 2014, had also asked the Nigerian government to set up a special search and rescue team to find the missing Chibok schoolgirls.

At the daily sit-out session to mark ‘Day 627’ since the girls were taken from their school’s dormitory in Chibok, Borno State, the co-convener of the group, Aisha Yesufu, said the group was disappointed that President Muhammadu Buhari did not say anything about the missing girls in his New Year message to Nigeria.

FG Will Not Considered Plea Bargain For Anyone – Malami

Attorney General in Nigeria, Abubakar Malami on plea bargainThe Nigerian government will not consider plea bargain as an option for anyone facing prosecution for terrorism and financial crimes, a government official has said.

The Minister of Justice and the Attorney General of the Federation, Mr Abubakar Malami, met with members of the Bring Back Our Girls (BBOG) group in Abuja on Tuesday where he made the strong statement about the government’s willingness to prosecute offenders.

Mr Malami said that the government would not allow criminal cases to be compromised.

“The office of the Attorney General of the Federation will not advocate plea bargain for anyone,” he reiterated.

Jailed For Cowardice

The Minister of Justice also revealed that the government would audit high profile cases that had been compromised in the past.

During the meeting with the group, the Minister also discussed cases of soldiers jailed for cowardice against the Boko Haram Insurgency, with the BBOG pleading that the soldiers should be reinstated.

Led by BBOG’s Co-convener, Dr. Oby Ezekwesili, they presented several issues before the Attorney General, including an immediate recall of the military men who were jailed for cowardice at the war front without arms.

The Nigerian Army had months ago arraigned 71 soldiers on several count charges including criminal conspiracy, conspiracy to commit mutiny, insubordinate behaviour and false accusation.

They were tried and discharged on some charges but found guilty and convicted on other charges including mutiny.

Five of the soldiers were discharged and acquitted while one was sentenced to 28 days in prison with hard labour.

BBOG Group Asks FG To Reinstate Jailed Soldiers

SoldiersThe Bring Back Our Girls (BBOG) group has urged the Federal Government to reinstate the soldiers jailed for cowardice against the Boko Haram Insurgency.

The group made the appeal on Tuesday in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital during a meeting with the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami.

Led by BBOG’s Co-convener, Dr. Oby Ezekwesili, they presented several issues before the Attorney General, including an immediate recall of the military men who were jailed for cowardice at the war front without arms.

The group also asked the Federal Government to make public to Nigerians, the details of the Fact-Finding Committee report on the mass abduction of the Chibok girls in April, 2014.

In his response, Mr Malami advised the BBOG group to explore the Freedom of Information Bill and make their request in a letter to the Federal Government.

He assured the group that President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration would continue to stand by justice, especially through a newly established national prosecution team set up by the government.

Mr Malami also told the group that the Federal Government would not consider plea bargain as an option for anyone facing prosecution for terrorism and financial crimes.

The Nigerian Army had months ago arraigned 71 soldiers on several count charges including criminal conspiracy, conspiracy to commit mutiny, insubordinate behaviour and false accusation.

They were tried and discharged on some charges but found guilty and convicted on other charges including mutiny.

Five of the soldiers were discharged and acquitted while one was sentenced to 28 days in prison with hard labour.

The Army authority subsequently commuted judgement in the case of the other soldiers, who had earlier been sentenced to death by firing squad in January and March 2015, by separate General Court Martials.

According to the Director Army Public Relations, Colonel Sani Usman, the decision followed an order by the Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai, to examine the merit of each case.

Ezekwesili Urges FG To Be Cautious In Negotiating With Boko Haram

EzekwesiliThe Co-Convener of the Bring Back Our Girls Group, Dr Oby Ezekwesili, on Wednesday said the Federal Government should employ the most credible intelligence first before beginning any talks with the Boko Haram group.

Speaking to our correspondent, Gloria Ume-Ezeoke in Abuja, Dr Ezekwesili said the government should be more focused on the results to prevent a recurrence of previous events.

President Muhammadu Buhari had confirmed that the Nigerian government has started negotiations with members of the Boko Haram sect, with the view to securing the release of the over 200 school girls kidnapped in Chibok, Borno State.

The President made the statement while responding to questions from members of the Nigerian community in France under the auspices of Nigerians in the Diaspora Organisation (NIDO).

He said his administration was worried by the continued stay of the girls in the hands of their captors and was working tirelessly to get them release.

The girls were abducted from their school’s dormitory in the north-eastern state on April 14 by members of the Boko Haram sect.

President Buhari noted that the government had to first establish genuine members of the sect so that it would not make the mistake of engaging the wrong persons.

“It is a very sensitive development in the sense that; first, we have to establish; are they genuine leaders of the Boko Haram? That is number one. Number two, what are their terms? The first impression we had was not very encouraging,” he further stated

The President said one of the conditions given by the group was to release one of its members, who had been strategic in developing Improvised Explosives Devices (IEDs), a demand that the government would not accept.

“They wanted us to release one of their leaders who is a strategic person in developing and making IEDs that is causing a lot of havoc in the country by blowing people in Churches, Mosques, market places, motor parks and other places. But it is very important that if we are going to talk to anybody, we have to know how much he is worth.

“Let them bring all the girls and then, we will be prepared to negotiate, I will allow them to come back to Nigeria or to be absolved in the community. We have to be very careful, the concern we have for the Chibok girls, one only imagine if they got a daughter there between 14 and 18 and for more than one and a half years, a lot of the parents, who have died would rather see the graves of their daughters rather than the condition they imagine they are in.

“This has drawn a lot of sympathy through out the world, that is why this government is getting very hard in negotiating and getting the balance of those who are alive,” he emphasised.

President Buhari assured the gathering that his administration was doing everything possible to improve on the state of the economy through provision of infrastructure in critical sectors.

The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, had in July this year confirmed the willingness of government to engage the sect if they were ready.

Buhari Meets With ‘Bring Back Our Girls’ Campaigners

BuhariNigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari, has described as unfortunate a situation where Nigeria is now rated alongside Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria following Boko Haram terror attacks.

The President was speaking at a forum with the ‘Bring Back Our Girls Group’ who carried their campaigns to the Presidential Villa led by a former Minister of Education, Mrs Oby Ezekwesili.

The President, who observed that the past administration was incompetent in the handling of the abduction of the Chibok girls, said that the Federal Government portrayed Nigeria in a bad light both nationally and internationally.

He congratulated the BBOG group for their consistency in mounting pressure on the government for the rescue of the Chibok girls, performance of the government, as well as security of lives and property of Nigerians.

He gave an assurance that his administration will do its best in collaboration with the Lake Chad Basin Commission to effect the release of the Chibok girls and nip terror in the bud.

President Buhari wondered how a country that has achieved so much in peace keeping in other countries like Burma, Liberia, Sierra Leone and South Sudan cannot protect its own people.

He said that Nigeria will mobilise to deal with Boko Haram because no religion allows anyone to kill in the name of Allah.

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Security Chiefs and other top government officials were part of the meeting.

The delegation, which also includes parents of some of the over 200 girls abducted in Chibok, Borno State in April 2014, was jointly led by Dr. Oby Ezekwesili, Mariam Uwais and Hadiza Bala-Usman.

The meeting started a few minutes after 12noon with the arrival of the President and the Vice President.