Presidency Seeks To Strengthen Whistle-blower Policy

Presidency Seeks To Strengthen Whistle-blower PolicyThe Presidency has commenced efforts to strengthen the mechanism of the Whistle-blower Policy, following breakthroughs recorded in the war against corruption and unaccounted wealth.

According to the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Garba Shehu, the enthusiastic response of Nigerians to the Whistle-blower Policy has boosted the tempo of the anti-corruption crusade of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.

He told State House correspondents on Wednesday that the government is considering ways of enhancing the structural capacity of the whistle-blower mechanism.

Mr Shehu noted that government is also considering empowering the mechanism by either bringing it under the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC), or some other body to imbue the process with a strategic national purpose.

“In a word, government thinks that the whistle-blower mechanism is too important to be left without a strategic, national direction,” he observed.

Worst Betrayal Of Voters’ Mandate

The President’s spokesman commended the zeal and patriotism of Nigerians for responding positively to the whistle-blower incentive policy, aimed at exposing hidden looted funds across Nigeria.

According to him, “no public policy can succeed or go far enough without public support and participation”, and “when the citizens realise they are victims of corruption, they may feel encouraged to join the efforts to expose looted funds”.

Mr Shehu explained that the recovery of huge amounts of looted funds through the efforts of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and whistle-blowers “is a revelation about the mindless, callous and reckless scale on which Nigeria had been robbed by unpatriotic and egregiously selfish public officials”.

He said President Buhari’s election in 2015 was “a divine intervention in response to the desperate cries of Nigerians for urgent change”, adding that “stealing by officials under a democratic government at the expense of people’s welfare is worst betrayal of voters’ mandate”.

Presence Of Illegal Weapons

The President’s spokesman also disclosed that government was getting suggestions to bring the issue of illegal weapons in the hands of citizens that are used to fuel intra and inter-communal violence under the purview of the Whistle-blower Policy.

“Yes, it is true, the Presidency has received suggestions that call for the Whistle-blower Policy to be extended to the possession of illegal weapons by powerful individuals in the country.

“The government will look at all that and make a pronouncement. Nigerians would be encouraged to expose the presence of illegal weapons in the homes of powerful politicians and other public figures who may use those deadly arms for sinister political agenda,” he said.

Shehu stressed that those exposing looted funds deserve all the encouragement and protection to sustain their enthusiasm, with a view to encouraging more citizens to participate in what he called the “major aspect of the anti-corruption crusade”.

Commending Nigerians for their support, the Buhari administration assured the citizens that all recovered funds would be applied to their welfare and happiness, adding that no country can achieve progress with corruption.

Garba Shehu Clarifies Buhari’s London Check Up Controversy

garba-shehuThe Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Garba Shehu, says President Muhammadu Buhari will still return to his doctors in London, for follow-ups over his health condition.

Mr Shehu, who was reacting to reports on the matter, dismissed claims that President Buhari is no longer going to London, adding that the Presidency is not aware of the cancellation of the trip.

He told Channels Television that reports had it that the President had changed the plan to return to London for another round of medical treatment, two weeks after his return from the United Kingdom, adding that instead, his doctors will be arriving on Friday to carry out further medical examination on him.

The Presidential spokesman, however, refuted this, insisting that there is no change in the plan for a second trip to London.

President Buhari had on January 19, traveled to London where he spent almost 50 days undergoing medical examination.

President Buhari Heads To The Gambia For ECOWAS Mediation Mission

President Buhari Heads To The Gambia For ECOWAS Mediation MissionPresident Muhammadu Buhari will travel to Banjul, the capital of The Gambia and Bamako, the Malian capital from January 13 to 14, 2017.

Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, disclosed this in a statement on Thursday.

In Banjul, President Buhari, as the Mediator in The Gambia, is scheduled to meet with President Yahya Jammeh of The Gambia and the President-elect Adama Barrow to continue dialogue on the political situation in the West African country.

The President will be joined by President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf of Liberia and Chairperson of the Authority of ECOWAS Heads of State and Government, President Ernest Koroma of Sierra Leone, and the immediate past President of Ghana, John Mahama, who is the co-mediator of The Gambian mission.

Later on January 13, President Buhari will travel to Bamako, Mali to participate in the 27th Africa–France Summit.

The Summit for Partnership, Peace and Emergence, convened by French President Francois Hollande, is aimed at strengthening cooperation between France and African countries in the areas of peace and security, economic partnership and development.

Recognising the role played by France in the successes so far recorded in the implementation of the regional initiative against terrorism, President Buhari will reaffirm Nigeria’s commitment to global efforts on the war against terror and underline the need for improved collaboration to address the menace of terrorism in the region.

President Buhari will use the opportunity of the summit to underscore the efforts government is making to improve Nigeria’s business environment to attract more foreign direct investment.

The President will be accompanied by Governors Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State and Abiola Ajimobi of Oyo State, the Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Interior and Defence.

Reps To Probe FRC Over Corporate Governance Code

Reps To Probe FRC Over Corporate Governance CodeThe House of Representatives has ordered its Joint Committee on Delegated Legislation and Public Accounts to carry out a public hearing on the activities of the Financial Reporting Council (FRC) of Nigeria.

The F.R.C. had introduced the Corporate Governance Code which led to the stepping aside of General Overseer of the Redeemed Christians Church of God, Pastor Enoch Adeboye.

The new regulation pegged the leadership tenure for religious leaders at 20 years.

The House took the decisions after considering a motion sponsored by Minority Leader, Representative Leo Ogor, who described the Council’s action as unconstitutional.

Jim Obazee
Former FRC Executive Secretary, Jim Obazee

Representative Ogor accused the Council of usurping the powers of the National Assembly, wondering where the Council derived its powers as encapsulated in the Code of Corporate Governance for the bodies, without the approval of the Legislature.

The House at its plenary asked the Council to suspend the code while the panel investigating its activities is expected to submit a report within four weeks.

President Muhammadu Buhari, on Monday, sacked the Executive Secretary of the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria (FRN), Mr. Jim Obazee, and ordered the reconstitution of its board.

The President consequently appointed Mr Daniel Asapokhai as the new Executive Secretary and Mr Adedotun Sulaiman as the new chairman of the council.

 

Adedotun Sulaiman
New FRC Chairman, Mr Adedotun Sulaiman

President has also instructed the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Mr Okechukwu Enelamah, to invite the 19 Ministries, Departments and Agencies of the Federal Government and private sector organisations specified in the FRC
Act to nominate members of board of their councils.

Presidency: Kyari Never Used High Commission Funds For Medical Treatment In London

Presidency, Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari, Garba-Shehu, High CommissionThe Presidency in Nigeria has cleared the air over the controversy trailing the treatment of the Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari.

Spokesman to President Muhammadu Buhari, Mr Garba Shehu, explained that Mr Kyari did not use the funds of the Nigeria High Commission in the United Kingdom to pay his medical bills in the European Nation.

He noted in a statement he issued on Monday that the allegations contained in a report published by an online news medium, were totally incorrect, misleading and a total fabrication.

Mr Shehu’s statement read: “The Nigeria High Commission in London did not at any time ever settle the medical bills or any other bills for that matter as Abba Kyari personally took responsibility for paying his own bills. This is by the Chief of Staff’s choice. He pays for his medicals, his taxi and accommodation in the UK, in spite of the high office he occupies, even when there is no rule that says he cannot be catered for by government.

“For the records, Kyari was rushed out of Nigeria for an emergency medical treatment on the fateful December 1, 2016. To receive him on arrival, the Wellington Hospital needed to have cash deposited, or in the absence of this, a letter of guarantee.

“In order to meet this condition, the Nigeria High Commission in London wrote the Letter of Guarantee to the hospital for treatment to commence. The role of the High Commission didn’t involve financial commitments on behalf of Kyari.

“The Letter of Guarantee from the High Commission was meant to meet the routine requirements of the Wellington Hospital since the patient in question (Kyari) didn’t possess the UK National Health Insurance.

“Apart from senior government officials, other reputable Nigerians are issued with such guarantee letters to hospitals. A guarantor is not liable unless there is a default, but this wasn’t the case with Abba Kyari who paid all his medical bills by himself as he had done on previous occasions.

“Hospital records are available for verification to show that the Nigeria High Commission in London didn’t spend a penny on Kyari, as its involvement didn’t go beyond the issuance of the letter of guarantee to the Wellington Hospital”.

 

FG Suspends Corporate Governance Code

FG Suspends Corporate Governance CodeThe Nigerian government has suspended the law that forced Pastor Enoch Adeboye to step down as the General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) in Nigeria.

According to a statement signed by the media aide to the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, Constance Ikokwu, the law has been suspended in order to review it.

The Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria under Mr Jim Obazee, had directed not-for-profit organisations, including churches and mosques to comply with a corporate governance code stipulating a term of 20 years for heads of such entities.

It was by this provision that Pastor Adeboye, who had spent over 20 years as General Overseer of R.C.C.G, named Pastor Joshua Obayemi to head the church in Nigeria while he remained the global overseer of the church.

The statement quoted the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Dr Okechukwu Enelamah saying that the government remains committed to restoring and enhancing market confidence and improving the ease of doing business in Nigeria.

Before the announcement by the Ministry, Presidential spokesperson, Mr Garba Shehu, announced President Buhari’s approval of the immediate removal of the Executive Secretary of the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria (FRN), Mr. Jim Obazee, as well as the reconstitution of its board.

The President consequently approved the appointment of Mr Daniel Asapokhai as the new Executive Secretary and also appointed Mr Adedotun Sulaiman as the new chairman of the council.

Buhari Removes Jim Obazee, Reconstitutes FRC Nigeria Board

Buhari Removes Jim Obazee, Reconstitutes FRC Nigeria BoardPresident Muhammadu Buhari has approved the immediate removal of the Executive Secretary of the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria (FRN), Mr. Jim Obazee, as well as the reconstitution of its board.

The President consequently appointed Mr Adedotun Sulaiman as the new chairman of the council.

Mr Sulaiman is a former Managing Partner/Director of Arthur Anderson and later, Accenture.

He is a chartered accountant and a product of the University of Lagos and Harvard Business School.

President Buhari has also approved the appointment of Mr Daniel Asapokhai as the Executive Secretary.

Adedotun Sulaiman
New FRC Chairman, Adedotun Sulaiman

Mr Asopokhai is a partner and a financial reporting specialist at the PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC), Nigeria.

He is also a product of the University of Lagos and the University of Pretoria.

The President has also instructed the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Mr Okechukwu Enelamah, to invite the 19 Ministries, Departments and Agencies of the Federal Government and private sector organisations specified in the FRC
Act to nominate members of board of their councils.

The directive was contained in a statement issued on Monday by the President’s spokesman, Mr Garba Shehu.

Buhari, Other ECOWAS Leaders To Visit Gambia Again

muhammadu-buhari-and-sirleaf-johnsonNigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari, Presidents of Sierra Leone and Liberia will visit Gambian President, Yahya Jammeh, on Wednesday, in another push for him to hand over power to the winner of the presidential election.

The decision for a second visit was reached at a meeting of West African Leaders held in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja.

It had in attendance, the President of Liberia, Madam Ellen Sirleaf Johnson; Ghana’s John Mahama and the President of Senegal, Macky Sall.

The leaders discussed the Gambian presidential election outcome, where President Jammeh is refusing to step aside after losing an election.

Jammeh has been in power since a 1994 coup, but he lost a December 1 election to businessman Adama Barrow. He has contested the results in a move condemned at home and abroad.

President Buhari will lead the mediation team to Gambia, Nigeria’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, who briefed reports after the meeting, said.

“They agreed on the determination to resolve the Gambian political crisis in a manner that at every step of the way, conforms with the constitution of The Gambia and respects the will of the people of Gambia.

“They expressed particular concern at the deteriorating situation that has been reported in respect of security in The Gambia, in particular the closure of some of the radio stations and media houses, arrests that have been taking place and also the refugee situation that is being created with the mass exodus of a large number of people to the interior and to neighbouring countries.

“In view of this, the meeting agreed that a certain number of presidents will visit again, in two days time, President Jammeh in The Gambia,” he said.

Committed To Resolution

A spokesman for the Nigerian presidency, Mr Garba Shehu, had said on Friday that President Buhari, as “the chief mediator of the crisis” is committed to “ensuring that the logjam is resolved”.

Jammeh initially accepted his loss in the December 1 election, shocking Gambians who have lived through his rule since he took power in a 1994 coup, and triggering celebrations in the streets.

But a week later he changed his mind, saying the electoral commission had been biased by “foreign influences” and vowing to hang on despite regional and international condemnation.

Jammeh says ECOWAS has no right to interfere in Gambia’s internal affairs, and that Gambians should await the outcome of a legal challenge that his APRC party has lodged at the Supreme Court.

Accidental Discharge: Presidency Reassures Villa Is Safe 

Accidental Discharge: Presidency Reassures Villa Is Safe The Nigerian Presidency has issued a statement on an incident involving an accidental discharge in the seat of power, reassuring Nigerians and foreigners that the Presidential Villa is safe.

Presidential Spokesperson, Mr Garba Shehu, stated that the security official involved in the incident is not attached to the State House.

Rather, he came on invitation as a witness in an ongoing investigation and was required, as is the rule, to surrender his weapon at the gates before entry.

Investigation revealed that the operative conducted the normal safety precaution as professionally required when the pistol accidentally fired.

The lady by his side, a caterer was hit by a pellet of the bullet. Both of them were attended to at the clinic and discharged.

Buhari Expresses Regret As Bad Weather Disrupts Trip To Bauchi

Buhari Expresses Regret As Bad Weather Disrupts Trip To BauchiPresident Muhammadu Buhari’s visit to Bauchi scheduled to take place December 29 has been postponed arising from the prevailing weather conditions in the country.

Uncooperative weather which has been the bane of air travel in the current harmattan season, leading to the delay and cancellation of flights, reared its head in Abuja Airport on Thursday morning, preventing the take-off of the President’s plane for the trip to Bauchi.

According to Presidential Spokesperson, Mr Garba Shehu, technical information received from the weather station showed that visibility was 600 meters, 200 metres short of the 800 metres minimally required for a safe aircraft take-off.

According to the information available, the visibility was expected to drop to 300 metres before improving to permissible limit later in the day.

The commander of the Presidential Air Fleet, Air Commodore Hassan Abubakar, said that the Presidential Aircraft was in perfect condition, the weather in Bauchi was alright, but that the problem was in Abuja.

In cancelling the visit to the state, President Buhari expressed regret over the disruption caused by the bad weather.

In a recorded audio and video message, he said he looked forward to the visit in the course of which he was to commission an Air Force medical facility and a number of other projects by the state government. He said he also intended to thank the people for their relentless support in all his political undertakings.

“We make our plans, God makes His own plans,” said the President.

President Buhari thanked the Government and people of Bauchi State and the Nigerian Air Force for the studious and elaborate preparations made to receive him, and assured that he is going to visit the state at a more auspicious time.

Meanwhile, the Minister of State for Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, in his reaction, said the Federal Government is planning to upgrade the Instrument Landing Systems (ILS), at the country’s major airports, to ensure that they are working better.

This is with a view to minimizing the sort of flight disruptions that have featured every harmattan season.

Uncovered 50,000 Ghost Workers Saved FG 200bn Naira In 2016 – Presidency

Federal Government, Presidency, Ghost Workers, Garba ShehuThe Federal Government says it has rid its payroll of 50,000 ghost workers and saved Nigeria 200 billion Naira.

The government also disclosed that 13 billion Naira has been taken off the payroll monthly from February to December 2016.

The spokesman to the President, Mr Garba Shehu, made the announcement at an interactive meeting with reporters on Tuesday to mark the end the year.

Mr Garba revealed that 11 persons championing the syndicate of ghost workers have been handed over to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for interrogation.

Continuous Auditing

“The flagship programme of the Muhammadu Buhari administration to rid the system of fraud and instill good governance is on course. Through a notable initiative, the Efficiency Unit of the Federal Ministry of Finance, the government has embarked on the continuous auditing of the salaries and wages of government departments.

“When the committee was constituted in February 2016, the Federal Government monthly salary bill was 151 billion Naira, excluding pensions. Now the monthly salary warrant is 138 billion Naira, excluding pensions. Which means that the government is making a monthly saving of about 13 billion Naira (that is from February 2016 till date),” said the President’s spokesman.

Mr Shehu added that “the pension bill was 15.5 billion Naira monthly as at February. Now it is down to 14.4 billion Naira, which means average monthly saving made is of about 1.1 billion Naira”.

He said that the total number of ghost workers so far removed from the payroll was about 50,000, stressing that some of those allegedly championing the syndicate of the ghost workers were already undergoing trial.

Federal Government Adoptees

Mr Shehu further noted that the recently-released 21 Chibok girls were being treated as adoptees of the Federal Government, but revealed that there was a lot of local and international interest in the future plans of the girls.

“A black American billionaire, Mr Robert Smith, who is currently sponsoring the education of 24 girls from Chibok, among them the first set of escapees from Boko Haram at the American University of Nigeria, Yola has offered to pay for the education of the 21 released through negotiations and is offering to take responsibility for all the others who will hopefully be eventually set free. The Murtala Mohammed Foundation in the country is equally interested,” he said.

Shehu also responded to complaints by some of the parents of the 21 Chibok Girls that they did not have enough room for interaction with their daughters brought home for Christmas by the Department of State Services (DSS).

Buhari, three-day trip, Germany, Aisha Buhari, 21 Chibok girls

He admitted that there were some hitches arising from a lack of understanding of the objective of the trip on the part of some security operatives but that following the receipt of the complaint, a directive had been given from the headquarters for the access by the parents to be eased.

“If the situation persists, please let us know so that the higher authorities will make a further intercession,” he stated.

Issue Of Interest In APC

The President’s aide also addressed an issue of interest to a lot of the members of the ruling party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) concerning appointments into boards.

He assured the public that the process would be fully back on track at the beginning of the new year.

“You know that the reconstitution began methodically, from sector by sector. You should expect that to resume at the beginning of the New Year. The President has given directions on what to do,” he told reporters.

Favorable Environment For Diversification

On the agricultural programmes of the administration, Mr Shehu said that President Muhammadu Buhari’s persistent call for a return to farming was yielding good results.

“The talk about agriculture has driven people to the farm. This year, there is a huge boom in the rural economy. We have witnessed an excellent harvest. Farmers are getting value for their output. What has encouraged farmers the more is the increasing availability of extension services. New farming techniques are helping farmers to do their occupation better. The readiness of off takers to buy the produce is also a major boost.

Unemployment, kwara, 20,000 Jobs, Agriculture

“When you put all these together with the systematic move to curb importation, as they boost local production through the restriction of the available foreign exchange to critically important sectors of the economy, you have favorable environment for the diversification of the economy.

“As we speak, several of the country’s major manufacturing industries are actively backward-integrating- Nestle, Unilever, the breweries are using what we have as local materials, changing their formulations to maintain production levels and keep their share of the market.

“Manufacturers, who are hooked on import of raw materials, are advised to re-strategise and take full advantage of local raw materials. The future belongs to those who employ the use of local raw materials,” the spokesman added.

Buhari Asks States To Pay Workers From Debt-Service Refunds

Muhammadu Buhari, Owed Debt, StatesPresident Muhammadu Buhari has requested state governors to pay at least 25% of the refunds made to them from excess deductions for external debt service, to be used to settle outstanding workers’ entitlements.

The President made the call as he approved the sum of 552.74 billion naira to be paid in batches to all the states that are owed.

However, the states are expected to receive 25% of their approved sums in the first instance before the week runs out. There are about 33 states in the bracket.

A statement by his spokesman, Mr Garba Shehu, revealed that the refunds arose following the claims by the states that they had been overcharged in deductions for external debt service between 1995 and 2002.

In a directive through the Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, President Buhari said that the issue of workers’ benefits, particularly salary and pensions must not be allowed to continue as a national problem and should be tackled with all the urgency that can be summoned.

When he assumed office in 2015, the President declared an emergency over unpaid salaries after he discovered that 27 out of Nigeria’s 36 states had fallen behind in payments to their workers, in some cases for up to a year.

Following this, a bailout loan was issued to the states twice with a first batch of about 300 billion naira given to them in 2015 in the form of soft loans.

The administration also got the Debt Management Office (DMO) to restructure their commercial loans of over 660 billion naira and extend the life span of the loans.

Because this did not succeed in pulling many of the states out of distress, the Federal Government consequently gave out an additional 90 billion naira to 22 states in 2016, as yet another bailout loans under very stringent conditions.

President Buhari has expressed the opinion all the time that the payment of salaries and pensions must be given priority to save both serving and retired workers and their families from distress.