March 25 – 31 In Review
A controversial week of apology, war of words, historical visit, open confession on election rigging and continued disagreement between the police and a senator over the allegation of arming suspected hoodlums in Kogi State, among other issues.
President Muhammadu Buhari on Sunday mourned the death of a former minister and a member of the Board of Trustees of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Dr Hassan Lawal. The President described the demise of the APC chieftain as shocking and extended his heartfelt condolences to the Lawal family, as well as the government and people of Nasarawa State. Reacting to the proposed policy to grant amnesty to members of the Boko Haram terrorist sect, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) asked President Buhari to have a re-think in the interest of justice. SERAP believes any amnesty programme for the group would be counter-productive and constitute impunity for their members.
Meanwhile, the schoolgirls who were abducted by the insurgents from the Government Girls Science Technical College (GGSTC) Dapchi have reunited with their parents. The students were handed over to their parents at the Assembly Hall of the school in Dapchi, the headquarters of Bursari Local Government Area of Yobe State. Elsewhere, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) urged the international community to help Nigeria, in its reaction to the call by the former Minister of Defence, General Theophilus Danjuma (rdt) that Nigerians should defend themselves against killers. The party noted that such statement, coming from a former Chief of Army Staff is weighty and directly reflects the ugly situation in the country. A former Minister of Aviation, Femi Fani-Kayode, said the opposition party has no links with Cambridge Analytica and was not involved in hacking information during 2015 elections. Fani-Kayode said the PDP did not involve in digging into personal information of its opponents as claimed.
A Day Of Apology
On Monday, President Buhari promised to step up operations to ensure a secure environment where efforts by state governments towards food security would yield the desired results in the country. He made the pledge when he met with the National Food Security Council at the Presidential Villa in Abuja. Elsewhere, PDP National Chairman, Mr Uche Secondus, apologised to Nigerians for what he described as mistakes made while the party was in power prior to the 2015 general elections. Secondus also admitted that although the party did its best while in government, it was not void of mistakes.
Hours later, National Publicity Secretary of the party, Mr Kola Ologbondiyan, said the PDP deserves to be congratulated for having the confidence to apologise to Nigerians. The PDP spokesman said this during his appearance on Politics Today. In another political issue, a Federal High Court in Abuja fixed April 25 to give judgement on the case filed by the Accord Party against the National Assembly. The party had challenged the powers of the legislature to amend the sequence in which elections are conducted in the country. In a bid to strengthen the fight against corruption, the Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr Ibrahim Magu, ha warned officials of the agency to shun underhand dealings that can put the commission in a bad light. He gave the warning during a visit to the EFCC Zonal office in Enugu State, where he urged the officials to see their work as a call from God to serve humanity.
A Call To Return Loots
President Buhari rejected the tenure extension for the APC National Chairman, John Oyegun, and other elected state officials. The President told party members at the APC national caucus meeting that the tenure elongation is illegal. Briefing reporters after the meeting, Mr Oyegun said that contrary to speculations that the meeting addressed a court case instituted against him by some aggrieved APC members, they discussed other more important issues. He added that issues relating to true federalism were addressed at the meeting. Also reacting to the President’s decision, the senator representing Kaduna Central, Shehu Sani, said President Buhari has saved the APC from a disaster.
Meanwhile, the APC took a swipe at the PDP over the apology it tendered to Nigerians for mistakes made during its 16-year rule. It said the apology was belated as Nigerians still suffer from the years of misrule. The Federal Government also asked the opposition party to complete its apology to Nigerians by returning all the funds looted from the public treasury under its watch while it was in power. The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, challenged the party to show the genuineness of its apology through a discernible change of attitude.
Ahead of the general elections, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar officially declared his intention to run for president in 2019 on the platform of the PDP. Mr Abubakar announced his candidacy in Rivers State, about four months after dumping the All Progressives Congress. At the National Assembly, the Senate commenced a fresh process of amending the 2010 Electoral Act. The new bill was presented on the floor of the Upper House and was listed on the Order Paper for First Reading. The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) also released the details of the recall process for the senator representing Kogi West, Senator Dino Melaye. INEC is expected to give the notice of recall as stipulated by law on March 27, 2018, while the verification exercise will hold on April 28, 2018.
The Federal Government on Wednesday approved the sum of N20 billion for the rehabilitation of the Shagamu-Ikorodu road in Lagos. The approval was given during the Federal Executive Council meeting in Abuja. On security matters, the Kogi State Police Command threatened to declare Senator Dino Melaye and seven others wanted. The command issued the threat after confirming that six suspects, including two who indicted the lawmaker, escaped from its custody. In a swift reaction to this, the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, removed Mr Ali Janga as Commissioner of Police in Kogi State. Mr Idris announced this in a statement signed by the Force Public Relations Officer, Jimoh Moshood. On his part, Senator Melaye threatened to sue the Inspector General of Police. He also gave Mr Idris 48 hours to produce the two suspects who indicted him.
In Abuja, the National Assembly passed the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill (PIGB) which seeks to provide for the governance and institutional framework for the petroleum industry. The PIGB is the first part of the Petroleum Industry Bill to be passed by the lawmakers. However, the House of Representatives has denied an allegation that its members receiving bribes to the tune of $30,000 each to overturn the change in election sequence. This comes amid the ongoing controversy over the Electoral Act Amendment Bill passed by the National Assembly and its rejection by President Buhari.
Who Destroyed The Economy?
On Thursday, President Buhari paid an official visit to Lagos State, the first since he assumed office in 2015. The President, who was in the state to inaugurate and inspect some projects, was received Governor Akinwunmi Ambode and the Minister of Information and Culture, Mr Lai Mohammed, among other government officials. He consequently attended a colloquium organised to mark the birthday of the National Leader of the APC, Bola Tinubu. President Buhari said the Federal Government is committed to uniting the people of the country such that every Nigerian can benefit from the other.
Also speaking at the event, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo accused those in government five years ago of destroying the Nigerian economy. The celebrant, on his part, took a swipe at the past PDP administration and called on Nigerians not to accept the apology of the party. In a swift reaction, the opposition party told Tinubu that Nigerians have accepted its apology and cautioned him to stop playing god. Elsewhere, Professor Osinbajo has explained how the Lekki Deep Seaport will benefit Nigerians and the nation’s economy while flagging off the construction of the port in Lagos.
Back in the nation’s capital, the Senate rejected the Kaduna State credit facility of $350 million, which was part of President Buhari’s 2016-2018 External Borrowing Plan. The red chamber explained that the request was rejected because the new borrowing sought, would make the debt service to revenue ratio high, thereby worsening the state government’s ability to meet its other basic obligations to the people. In Osun, the management of Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) approved a change in the resumption date for the new calendar of 2017/2018 academic session. The Public Relations Officer of the University, Mr Abiodun Olanrewaju, revealed this in a statement.
Alleged Looters Unveiled
As Christians in Nigeria prepare to celebrate Easter, President Buhari called on them to counter hate speech, corruption, and terrorism by showing love and working for peace and social justice. In his Easter message to the nation, the President extolled the exemplary life of Jesus Christ and his teachings. Finally, the Federal Government released a list of some Nigerians who allegedly looted the nation’s treasury. The Minister of Information and Culture, Mr Lai Mohammed, revealed some names, including some PDP members during a press conference in Lagos.
The Presidency further called on the opposition party to return the funds it allegedly looted, days after the opposition party apologised to Nigerians. Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Garba Shehu, said hours after the name of alleged looters were revealed. On its part, the PDP swiftly responded to a statement by the Presidency in which it was asked to return the money it allegedly stole from Nigerians. The party accused the APC of having the spirit of bitterness and vengeance. Meanwhile, a former deputy president of the Nigerian Senate, Ibrahim Mantu, revealed how he helped his party to win elections in the past. Senator Mantu, who was a senator on the platform of the PDP, ‘confessed the truth’ during an interview on Hard Copy, a Channels Television programme.
Two days later, the police authorities in Kogi State revealed that they have re-arrested three of the six suspects who broke out of custody on Wednesday. The newly appointed Commissioner of Police in the state, Mr Esa Ogbu, confirmed the development to Channels Television but refused to give the names of the re-arrested suspects. On a sad note, Deputy Majority Leader of the House of Representatives, Buba Jibril, died at the age of 58. Jibril who represented Lokoja/Kogi Federal constituency died in Abuja in the early hours of Friday. Mourning the lawmaker, the House Majority Leader, Femi Gbajabiamila, said Buba would be greatly missed. Gbajabiamila said he received the news of his deputy’s death with pain and sadness while recalling how they sat next to each other daily on the floor of the House for almost three years.
Alleged Looters’ List Sparks Criticism
The Presidency appealed to prominent Nigerians who have national influence to use their positions wisely to promote unity in the country. They also asked them not to engage in public declarations that are likely to inflame emotional passions and threaten national security. The PDP National Chairman reacted to the list of alleged looters published by the Federal Government. Mr Secondus demanded a public apology and the sum of N1.5billion as compensation from the Information Minister. He also gave Mr Lai Mohammed 48 hours to withdraw the statement against him and tender a public apology, or face litigation.
A former spokesman for the opposition party, Mr Metuh also accused the APC led Federal Government of intimidating him. He also alleged that the government resorted to all kinds of dirty tactics to dehumanise him.
Meanwhile, the ruling APC reacted to the confession made by Senator Mantu. The party challenged other PDP members to stop indulging in name calling and follow the example of the former Deputy Senate President to confess their sins against the country. In Borno State, one person was killed, and 13 others injured when suicide bombers struck a village on the outskirts of Maiduguri. Police authorities in the state confirmed that four female suicide bombers were involved in the attack which occurred around 9:49 pm on Friday. However, the war against insurgency got a boost as troops of Operation Lafiya Dole killed four Boko Haram insurgents in an ambush in Malumti area of Borno State. The military said the insurgents met their Waterloo while searching for food and logistics.