The Special Adviser to the Nigerian President on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina has again assured Nigerians that the end of the country’s economic challenge is nearer than ever.
Speaking on Politics Today, Mr Adesina said that all efforts of the Buhari administration to get Nigeria and Nigerians back on their feet would begin to materialize before the end of 2017.
He added that projections by notable international agencies have also predicted that Nigeria would exit recession in 2017.
“World Bank has said it, IMF has said it and before those institutions, the government has said it,” he said.
Adesina refused to have the Buhari administration blamed for the recession that hit the country saying Nigeria had been ‘primed for recession’ at the time Buhari became President.
“That recession was inevitable (with) the way Nigeria had been run two to four years prior the time we went into recession. There was no way it would not have happened,” he said.
He explained that President Buhari remained committed to correcting the mistakes of the past.
“What he is doing is good governance which will translate to better life for the people. It’s not going to be by a sudden flight, it’s not a magic wand that he will wave – policies that will yield over time and lead to improvements in the life of the people,” he said.
President Not Sick
Mr Adesina also debunked the rumours that President Buhari has been ill and wondered why critics altered the sequence of the statement issued regarding the President’s trip to the UK in order to make the President appear ill.
“Don’t forget, the statement we issued said he was going on holiday and during that holiday he would do medical checkups. The sequence is very important – holiday first, medical checkups second.
“Nigerians want to turn the sequence to medical checkups instead of holiday first.”
Mr Adesina’s explanation also triggered questions regarding the President’s trust in the quality of medical services in Nigeria but he argued that it is usually important to consult doctors who have the patient’s medical history.
“Before he became President, he has been using those same set of people. So, it stands to reason that the same people continue to attend to him,” he explained.
There have been questions regarding the current makeup of the President’s cabinet, with many wondering if there would be a rejig of ministerial appointments.
The death of the Kogi state-born former Minister of State for Labour, James Ocholi, and the impending exit of the Minister of Environment, Amina Mohammed for her UN appointment have also fuelled the speculation that there could be a rejig.
However, Mr Adesina insisted that it remained the prerogative of the President to rejig his cabinet.
While admitting that citizens have the rights to criticize the cabinet in the face of economic challenges, he maintained that the President has the final say on who works with him.
He gave the assurance that President Buhari is in touch with the grassroots and understands the challenges Nigerians have been going through.
The All Progressives Congress (APC) in Ondo State has promised the people of the state that 2017 would bring better days under the administration of the Governor-elect, Rotimi Akeredolu.
The party made this promise as it felicitated with the people of the state on the dawn of a New Year 2017.
The message signed by its Director of Media and Publicity, Steve Otaloro, reads: “We admonish the people of Ondo State to keep hope alive in the face of the current economic quagmire in the state as there will be light at the end of the tunnel.
“Our state is blessed with enough natural resources and quality human power, but the inability of the government to harness these rare opportunities is the bane of the state development.
“We only focus over the years on funds accruing to the state from the Federation Account and unfortunately we do not make good use of it and diversify the sources of generating internal revenue.
“We (APC) are assuring you the good people of Ondo State that we are going to look beyond money from the central and explore all other resources we have through engagement of personalities with economic acumen and expertise in turning the fortunes of our dear state round for the benefit of all.
“Everyone, particularly those in the private sector would be provided the enabling environment to operate and cottage industries would be encouraged by the All Progressives Congress-led administration to create jobs and reduce poverty rate in the state drastically before long.
“We are calling on the people to prepare to key into various people-oriented programmes of Barrister Akeredolu’s government which would be rolled out on assumption of office in February, which promised to turn the economic situation in the state round.”
An agreement to construct a regional gas pipeline connecting Nigeria and the Kingdom of Morocco has been signed by the two countries.
This was the high point of a two-day working visit of King Muhammad (VI) of Morocco to Nigeria.
For two days President Muhammadu Buhari and the visiting King of Morocco engaged in bilateral talks that centered on how to cement relations between Nigeria and Morocco.
With businessmen from Nigeria on one end and those from Morocco on the other, the discussions culminated to the signing of several agreements aimed at galvanizing development between them.
Government’s effort towards diversifying the economy away from oil led to the signing of the agreement on fertilizer production.
Briefing State House correspondents after the meetings, the Senior Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, described the agreement on fertilizer as one that would boost agricultural production in the country.
For the gas pipeline agreement, the ministers of foreign affairs of the two countries, said that the agreement is aimed at accelerating electricity development in the region.
They also spoke on the multiple industrial opportunities for the two countries as part of the strategic vision of the two leaders.
Agreements were also signed on promotion and protection of investments, agriculture, banking, science and technology, and sustainable development.
Foreign observers have said that Nigeria and Morocco have a lot to benefit from the collaboration following the King’s visit.
He said that the situation has made his administration’s ongoing anti-corruption war “tough and grueling.”
A statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, says the President told the United States Secretary Of State that corruption was fighting vigorously back, but assured Kerry that the anti-graft war would be won.
President Buhari said corrupt people had accumulated a formidable arsenal of illicit wealth, which they were now deploying against the government on diverse fronts.
Senate President Bukola Saraki has maintained that the National Assembly’s position on President Buhari’s request for $29.9 billion loan from foreign sources still stands.
In a press statement, by his Special Adviser Media and Publicity, Mr Yusuph Olaniyonu, Senator Saraki said that the National Assembly has taken a position on the issue as required of it by the laws of the land and legislative conventions.
Last week the Senate rejected a request by President Buhari for approval to borrow $29.9 billion from foreign sources.
The Upper Chamber explained that the loan was rejected because President Buhari did not include details of the loan proposal in the letter to the National Assembly.
Senator Saraki is also advising politicians and the media to stop peddling speculations about his recent visits to the Presidential Villa and linking such visits to the request by the Buhari administration for approval of the National Assembly to get $29.9bn loan from foreign sources.
Senator Saraki said that in all his recent meetings with President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, the issue of the proposed loan has never come up for discussion.
He noted that the comments by some politicians on the loan issue without any factual basis is unfortunate, as “these politically-motivated commentaries are trivialising a serious national issue” and presenting it as if it is a personal matter that can be decided at meetings between the Senate President and President Buhari.
Nobel laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka believes the Nigerian government inherited a burden that may take a while to lessen but it must sustain efforts at improving the economy.
This comes as Nigeria assesses the Buhari administration after one year in office.
He was speaking to Channels Television in Johannesburg where he is expected to speak at a public lecture entitled Politics, Culture and the New Africa.
“This administration has inherited a heavy baggage. While I am critical in some aspects of the priority, I think that to clear up the mess left by previous administrations is going to take quite a while especially in the sector of economy.
“So I don’t use words like optimism or pessimism, I’m just pragmatic. I look at what there is on the ground and of course wherever I can intervene, I do both privately and publicly,” he said.
Renowned Nigerian author and playwright, Professor Kole Omotoso, also said that the current administration has ticked a number of little things but there must be more effort to alleviate the sufferings of the people.
“We are going in the right direction but in the process, we need to do so many things. We need to look at not just the suffering of the people but the way people seem to indulge in bearing suffering.
“It is as if even if you try to solve the problem for them they will prefer to be suffering and smiling,” Prof. Omotoso said.
The Presidency says President Muhammadu Buhari has not rescinded his decision to publish the amounts that have been recovered by his administration from those who had allegedly looted the nation’s treasury.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, said this on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily on Monday, May 30, a day after Nigeria marked its Democracy Day.
The conversation, ‘Assessing Buhari’s One Year In Office’ saw the President’s spokesman addressing several controversies generated by the President’s national broadcast on Sunday.
The President’s Democracy Day speech had been widely criticised because it failed to address the promise to publish the amounts of funds that have been recovered and from whom they were recovered since the anti-corruption campaign started.
The President had promised that the information would made public when his administration clocks one year but Mr Shehu said that “the President did not at any time say he was going to name names”.
Mr Shehu expressed surprise that the issue had generated so much negative reactions from Nigerians, explaining that the President did not cancel his decision to announce the seizures that have been made.
“What he (President) said was that the Minister of Information will be making a pronouncement on this and this is going to happen when work resumes from Tuesday.
“This is likely going to be out by Wednesday, or latest by Thursday. So nothing has changed from the position that there will be disclosure.
“The President has given authorisation that these assets that have been taken back from those who took from the treasury be put out there. So my view is that nothing is lost.”
Mr Shehu said that the directive by President is that “money on account” in the CBN should be disclosed. He explained that there were also many accounts that have been frozen by investigating agencies.
He named the Police, EFCC, ICPC and the Office of the National Security Adviser among those handling the matter, so the Presidency expects “that there will be a snapshot of where they stand with the ongoing investigation and the recoveries when that disclosure is made”.
One Year Lost
Mr Shehu disagreed with the view by some Nigerians that the Buhari administration had lost one year, as it has failed to achieve some of what it promised to achieve in the first year.
“The President had focus, he knew what to do from the beginning. He identified the problems of this country, putting the security of the country on top of the heap.
“He said repeatedly, ‘this country must be secured, there must be peace in this country for you to develop and manage it very well’.
“And I think that he has done for this country what others had failed to do for four to five years in which they had allowed problems like Boko Haram to fester.
“A street protest in Maiduguri had grown into a city-wide phenomenon, problem for neighbouring states and all of the Lake Chad, in fact a global phenomenon with the linkage to ISIS.
“President Buhari within one year is about to bring Boko Haram to a closure. This is massive,” he said.
Nigeria is hosting the second regional security meeting in Abuja to consolidate efforts for regional peace and development. The summit has commenced.
The Multi-National Joint Task Force Commander has drawn the attention of member states to the need for improved allowances for the troops and purchase of equipment for detecting and destroying IEDs.
Meanwhile, the Executive Secretary of the Lake Chad Basin Commission is asking member states to begin to fix attention on developmental programmes which will address the root causes of insecurity in the region.
Saturday is for the presentation of the recommendations from the series of meetings they will be holding to the leaders of member states.
Discussions at the Summit will focus on intelligence on the location and rescue of the over 200 abducted Chibok girls and an implementable action plan for the joint fight against insurgency in the African region.
Presidents of four member countries of the Lake Chad Basin will be attending the Summit as well as representatives of other neighbouring African countries, the European Union, the United States and the British government.
The Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Lolo Bulus, said that the Summit is sequel to the Security Summit in Paris.
Nigeria will host the second regional security summit in Abuja as part of efforts by the federal government to boost the security of lives and properties.
According to a statement by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, the summit will attract leaders from across the globe including French President, Francois Hollande who hosted the first regional security summit in Paris on May 17, 2014.
President Muhammadu Buhari and the French President who is scheduled to arrive in Abuja on Friday will be joined at the summit by the presidents of Cameroon, Niger Republic, Chad and Benin Republic.
The United States, Britain, Equatorial Guinea, the European Union, Ecowas, the Economic Community of Central African States and the Gulf of Guinea Commission will also be represented at the summit.
The summit will have the successful conclusion of ongoing military operations against Boko Haram at the top of its agenda.
Agreements on further defence and cultural cooperation between Nigeria and France are expected to be concluded between the two presidents.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has denied reports that it is focusing its anti-corruption fight on opposition, with the release of Jafaru Isa, an All Progressives Congress (APC) Chieftain and the continued detention of the Peoples Democratic Party’s National Publicity Secretary, Olisa Metuh.
The opposition party had alleged that the release of Jafaru Isa showed that the anti-corruption crusade was a much-hyped crusade to prosecute the leaders of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
“The release of Jafaru Isa, a known associate of the President and Chieftain of the APC, eight hours after his arrest, while our Spokesman remains in detention even when the two are being investigated over same allegation, clearly shows that the President Buhari-led APC government is not fighting corruption but using the much-hyped crusade as a cover to prosecute PDP leaders and decimate the opposition, a project the EFCC has clearly yielded itself as a willing tool,” the PDP claimed.
In a statement by the commission through its Head, Media and Publicity, Wilson Uwujaren, the EFCC explained the reason behind the release of Mr Isa, who was arrested for his involvement in the arms procurement scam of a total of 170,000,000 Naira.
“Upon his arrest, the retired General admitted receiving the said sum from Dasuki and immediately refunded a total sum of 100 million Naira, with an undertaking to refund the balance of 70 million Naira in two weeks,” the EFCC said.
The commission also mentioned the state of the APC Chieftain’s health as another factor that prompted his release.
The EFCC pointed out that the grant of bail does not amount to exoneration of the suspect.
In the case of the PDP’s National Publicity Secretary, the EFCC revealed that “Metuh, who is exposed to the tune of 1.2 billion Naira in the arms scandal, has shown no readiness to refund any amount of money to the EFCC, nor has he signed any undertaking to do so at a future date”.
It also claimed that contrary to claims by his party, the PDP Spokesman was not being detained illegally, as the commission obtained a valid court order to hold him.
The commission gave the assurance that Mr Metuh would be released once he satisfied the condition for the discretion to be exercised in his favour.
The EFCC further said it would not be intimidated or stampeded by any campaign of calumny intended to detract it.