President Muhammadu Buhari has explained that he was reluctant to reply to former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s allegations against his administration.
Consequently, he stopped his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, from responding and told the Minister of Culture and Tourism, Lai Mohammed, also not to reply to the former President.
But while Mr Adesina complied with the instructions of his boss, the Minister did not and replied.
President Buhari spoke about the development on Friday night when members of the Buhari Support Organisation visited him at the Presidential Villa, in Abuja.
According to the President, the age difference between Adesina and Obasanjo was one of the reasons he ruled out a response to the latter.
He said, “My press secretary was agitated he wanted to reply the letter, but I stopped him for two reasons.
“First, because he is much younger than Former President Olusegun Obasanjo. Secondly, he is from the same consistency as Obasanjo so I wouldn’t know how it will affect him if I allow him to go wild or go public.”
The same considerations did not apply to the Information and Culture Minister, who the President believes did a good job with his response, even though that was done in disobedience of his directive.
“When Lai Mohammed came I said he shouldn’t, he insisted, he disobeyed me. He said he was going to remind Nigerians where we find ourselves when we came in as a government, where we are now and what we have done with the resources available to us.
“And I understand he did a good job because a number of people rang me and said Lai Mohammed has done a good job,” Buhari said.
The former President based his statement on information received from highly-placed security sources who alleged that his name is on a watch list and that the security of his life cannot be guaranteed.
“The operatives are daily perfecting how to curtail the personal liberties of the former President and hang a crime on him,” the statement added.
But Mr Mohammed rejected the allegations, describing them as frivolous and aimed at distracting the government.
Although the minister does not think there is any merit to the former President’s claim, he stressed that the Buhari administration was to busy fixing the country to consider the idea of framing anyone.
”This administration will never engage in a frame-up of innocent citizens. That is neither in the character of President Muhammadu Buhari nor in that of his administration,” a statement by the Special Adviser to the Minister, Segun Adeyemi, read in part.
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo says the Federal Government is planning to have him indicted and silence him.
According to a statement by his media aide, Kehinde Akinyemi, on Friday, the plot against the former President followed the statement he issued in January blasting the Muhammadu Buhari administration.
The former President, who is a retired general, based his alarm on informants, “many of who are in the top echelon of the nation’s security management and close to the corridors of power”.
He said, “‘The content of the alleged beastly designs, it was learnt are two-fold for now. One, to seize his International Passport and clamp him into detention indefinitely, in order to prevent him from further expressing angst on the pervasive mediocrity in the quality of governance, economic management and in the protection of lives and property by the Government.
“But, since that could expose the Government to a swath of international condemnation, embarrassment and outrage, it is said that another plot being hatched is to cause the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to re-open investigation into the activities of Chief Obasanjo’s administration using false witnesses and documents. This will be a re-enactment of the Abacha era in which Chief Obasanjo was one of the principal victims.”
”Since Chief Olusegun Obasanjo declared in his State-of-the-Nation Special Statement on January 23, 2018, the desperation to frustrate, intimidate and blackmail him into abandoning his divine mandate to protect the rights of the people to better life and living continued unabated and has even taken a bizarre dimension,” the fresh statement on Friday read in part.
”Impeccable security sources have alleged Chief Obasanjo’s name is on their Watch List and that the security of his life cannot be guaranteed.”
He added, “The operatives are daily perfecting how to curtail the personal liberties of the former President and hang a crime on him,” the statement added.
Late in April, Chief Obasanjo admitted that there was the possibility that his critical view about the Federal Government might lead to an attempt to suppress his views.
Regardless, he vowed that he would not bow to pressure.
The former president would have preferred to ignore the alleged plot by the Federal Government, but recent developments in the country and the credibility of the informants led him to speak out.
”Ordinarily, we would not have dignified these reports with a response but for the fact that many of these informants are not known for flippant and frivolous talks,” the statement explained.
“Secondly, this Government has demonstrably exhibited apathy, and in some cases, encouraged by its conduct, daily loss of lives and property in many States of the country, the office cannot be indifferent.”
Recent developments in the country have created an atmosphere of fear as far as Obasanjo is concerned.
”We are currently in a nation where the Number Three citizen is currently being harangued and the Number Four citizen is facing similar threat within the same Government they serve,” he said.
“There is a groundswell of our nationals that live in fear that they could be hounded, harassed, maimed or even killed as the battle for 2019 takes this worrisome dimension.
Since the breakdown of the relationship between President Buhari and Obasanjo, the Federal Government and the Presidency have had to react to criticism from the former President, first in January.
The President’s comments about spending on power projects under the Obasanjo administration had led to calls for a probe of the expenditure.
Obasanjo, who denied spending that amount on power as president, said the matter had already been investigated.
Based on reports from his informants, the former President does not expect any fair or transparent investigation into his administration.
”The same EFCC that had conducted a clinical investigation on the activities of Obasanjo in and out of Government, it was said, would now be made to stand down the existing report that gave Chief Obasanjo a clean bill of health on the probes,” said.
Thereafter, he suspects the anti-graft agency would “get him indicted, fair or foul for possible prosecution and persecution like it is being done to real and perceived opponents, enemies and critics of this Government”.
The former President had expected that things would be handled differently in a democracy.
“Dissent is a fundamental principle on which liberal democracy is predicated. A true democrat must be ready to live with and accommodate dissent and opposition,” he said.
Despite his concerns, Obasanjo is optimistic that efforts to suppress opposing voices would fail and he is willing to face another probe.
”While it is regrettable how the Government has sunk in its shameless desperation to cow opposition, a resort to blackmail, despotism and Gestapo-tactics being employed by the goons of this Government would not hold water. And no government ever remains in power forever,” the statement said.
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has reacted to the claim by President Muhammadu Buhari that a past administration spent more than $15bn on power projects, with no power to show.
President Buhari made the claim on Tuesday while addressing members of the Buhari Support Organisation, led by the Comptroller-General of Nigerian Customs Service, Hameed Ali, who visited him at the State House.
“One of the former Heads of State between that time was bragging that he spent more than 15 billion American dollars, on power,” the President said.
“Where is the power? Where is the power? And now we have to pay the debts.”
Although President Muhammadu Buhari did not directly mention the name of the former President he was talking about, the Obasanjo administration has been repeatedly accused of spending up to $16bn on power with little to show for it.
The former President also believes the criticism was targeted at his administration and reacted to it in a statement a few hours after President Buhari’s comments were published.
In the statement signed by Mr Akin Osuntokun, Director of Strategic Communications of the Coalition for Nigeria Movement, which he founded, Obasanjo accused President Buhari of playing politics with statistics.
The former President said the comments by the President “once again” demonstrated that the President was incompetent.
“Is it not beneath the dignity of the exalted office he holds to join the chorus of beer parlour gossips?” he asked.
“How can a president who has all the information at his beck and call degenerate to this level?”
According to the former President, the claim that his administration spent $16bn on power was the result of propaganda aimed at demarketing him.
The statement read in part, “A presidential panel headed by the then VP Goodluck Jonathan set up by the Umaru Yar’Adua government put a lie to this after the same administration had sacked one Engr F. Somolu the then Secretary of NIPP who first drew attention to the lie: that $16 had been spent on power project.
“The Panel made up of so many actors including CBN officials then found out that only $3.7 billion was disbursed out of the $10 billion budgeted and the balance was kept in an escrow account at the CBN.
“The CBN confirmed this to the panel and it was published…It was then found out that Tanimu Yakubu then Economic Adviser to President Yar’Adua began the propaganda against former President Obasanjo and Engr. Somolu then with Yar’Adua wrote a secret memo inside the statehouse to correct the wrong notion about $10 billion.”
Obasanjo and Buhari have had a long history dating back to their days in the Army with Buhari serving as Minister of Petroleum when Obasanjo was head of state.
The former President also supported President Buhari in the 2015 presidential elections and visited the President more than once in the Presidential Villa in during the first two years of his administration.
But the relationship between both men gradually turned sour and took a turn for the worse in January this year when Obasanjo released a long statement criticising the President and warning him against seeking re-election.
The All Progressives Congress (APC) has congratulated the former President, Olusegun Obasanjo, on the occasion of his 81st birthday.
In a statement by the APC through their National Publicity Secretary, Bolaji Abdullahi, “Our party joins family, friends, well-wishers and associates in celebrating the retired general who has emerged as a bastion of democracy, good governance and development in Nigeria and beyond.
“Chief Obasanjo has inspired a generation of Nigerians notably in the area of entrepreneurship, leadership and education, especially through his non-profit initiatives, the Africa Leadership Forum (ALF) and the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library.
“His legacy as President has continued to inspire good governance on the continent even after so many years and he remains an influential voice in different facets of our national life. As a true Nigerian patriot and statesman, Chief Obasanjo has over the years built solid bridges across political divides in the country, on the African continent and the world at large.
“Our prayer is that Chief Obasanjo continues to age in health and wisdom as he contributes to the unending task of nation-building”.
“The Federal Character principle, as espoused in our Constitution, was to guide the leadership to search for competent holders of major offices to be distributed within the entire nation,” he said.
According to Obasanjo, the essence is also to “avoid the concentration in a few ethnic hands or geographical places, as we currently have in the leadership of our security apparatus.”
President Muhammadu Buhari had been criticised over alleged lopsidedness in his appointments which some claimed mostly favoured the northerners.
The Presidency swiftly responded in a statement, saying: “It is, indeed, false for anyone to say that President Buhari’s appointments are lopsided. From all records, majority of the President’s appointees across different portfolios are not from the North.”
But former President Obasanjo had also criticised President Buhari’s government and called for a movement which he said would help to save Nigeria from its challenges.
One week after he made the call in a statement, a group – the Coalition for Nigeria Movement – launch on Wednesday in Abuja.
The former President, who also registered as a member of the movement on Thursday, said adequate attention was not being given to nation building.
He pointed out nation building as one of the important areas in the country that should be given priority with improved attention.
“We seem to have taken nation building for granted. Nation building must be given continued attention to give every citizen a feeling of belonging and a stake in his or her country,” he said.
Addressing members of the group, Obasanjo said it must be the new vehicle to give hope to the youths, dignity, and encouragement to women, as well as security, confidence, and a promising future to all Nigerians.
“It must work to bring about a new democratic and efficient Nigeria. The movement must speak up boldly and bluntly about the truth, but politely in accordance with African culture,” he said.
The former President stressed further that the movement would act collectively with political awareness, social responsibility, as well as sustained and sustainable economic development and progress.
He, however, warned members that timidity and cowardice must not be part of the group’s culture, and neither must there be indifference.
Obasanjo then called for support to build a new Nigeria that is “unshackled, united, dynamic, strong, secure, cohesive, stable, and prosperous at home and respected outside and as result, is able to play decisive role assertively within the comity of nations.”
Former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo has formally registered as a member of the Coalition For Nigeria Movement, the group he called for to help Nigeria overcome the myriad of challenges it is facing.
For Obasanjo, who likened the All Progressives Congress and the Peoples Democratic Party to “two evils”, the only way out for the country is a new movement.
His absence at Wednesday’s launch of the coalition in Abuja had led to questions about his involvement with the group.
But his registration as a member of the group on Thursday has put an end to speculations about whether he would be part of the movement.
“We need a Coalition for Nigeria, CN. Such a Movement at this juncture needs not be a political party but one to which all well-meaning Nigerians can belong. That Movement must be a coalition for democracy, good governance, social and economic well-being and progress,” Obasanjo had written in his explosive statement.
“Coalition to salvage and redeem our country. You can count me with such a Movement. Last time, we asked, prayed and worked for change and God granted our request. This time, we must ask, pray and work for change with unity, security and progress.”
A former PDP governor, Olagunsoye Oyinlola said at the launch of the new movement that it was not a political party.
Oyinlola, a former governor of Osun State, is not the only former PDP governor in the coalition. Former Cross River State Governor, Mr Donald Duke, also attended the launch.
Membership of the coalition is open to all Nigerians above 18 years old, according to a member of its steering committee, Mr Omoruyi Edogiawerie.
“What resonates between you and I, is the fact that we want a better nation. Our nation needs to be shored up by we the people,” Edogiawerie said on Tuesday during an interview on Channels Television’s breakfast programme Sunrise Daily.
Although Obasanjo is not present at the ongoing launch in Abuja, two former Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governors, Olagunsoye Oyinlola and Donald Duke, were in attendance.
Obasanjo in his recent public statement said the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) were incapable of repositioning Nigeria, having lost the confidence of the electorate.
In another meeting with the President, a delegation of the All Progressives Congress (APC) from the South East asked President Buhari to seek re-election. The Minister of Science and Technology, Dr Ogbonnaya Onu, who was part of the delegation, told State House correspondents that they endorsed the President for a second term because of his performance.
Reacting to the lingering fuel crisis, an economic expert explained why the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) should be privatised. Mr Muda Yusuf, who is the Director-General of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), believes the NNPC is crippled with structure and governance irregularity and should be disconnected from the Federal Government.
Still in the nation’s capital, a Federal High Court in Abuja adjourned the arms deal trial of a former National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Olisa Metuh. The trial was adjourned after Metuh’s counsel, Mr Emeka Etiaba, informed the court that his client was on admission over an undisclosed ailment. Meanwhile, the Monetary Policy Committee meeting of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for the month of January was cancelled after the Senate refused to confirm the Presidency’s new nominees.
The education atmosphere in Kaduna State is returning to a normal state as the government asked sacked teachers to reapply for job in the ongoing recruitment of 25,000 new qualified teachers for public primary schools in the state. President Buhari also condoled with traders at Yan Kifi Market in Kano State who suffered heavy losses as dozens of shops were razed by fire. The President described the fire incident as ”economically destabilising for the victims”.
The Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) in Kogi State was thrown into mourning following the death of one of its members, Dr Victor Idowu, who was diagnosed with Lassa fever. Idowu was diagnosed on January 19 as he was said to have contracted the virus in the line of duty at the Irrua Specialist Hospital in Edo State. The Ondo State government also confirmed 24 cases of Lassa fever and five deaths from the disease in four Local Government Areas (LGAs) of the state. According to Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Yemi Olowolabi, affected LGAs are Owo, Akoko South/West, Akure North and Akure South.
Also in Owo, students of the state-owned Rufus Giwa Polytechnic protested against the decision of the school management to prevent students who are yet to pay their schools fees from writing examinations. Elsewhere, a former Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr Olu Falae, accused a group of people of malice and hatred. Falae said this one day after his farm in Akure was set on fire by yet to be identified persons. Far from Nigeria, Liberians took to the streets in celebration as their newly elected president was sworn in. President George Weah, a former international footballer, took over from Nobel laureate Ellen Johnson Sirleaf who ruled the country for 12 years.
In the economic sector, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) upgraded Nigeria’s GDP growth forecast to 2.1 percent in 2018 from 1.9 percent in 2017. In its World Economic Outlook for 2018, the Washington based fund, however, predicted a lower economic growth of 1.9 per cent for the country in 2019.
In the fight against corruption, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) asked the Federal High Court in Abuja to revoke the bail being enjoyed by Mr Metuh. The former PDP spokesman and his company are being prosecuted for allegedly fraudulently receiving the sum of N400million from the Office of the National Security Adviser in 2014. Elsewhere in the nation’s capital, police officials accosted and arrested some members of the Bring Back Our Girls (BBOG) campaign group who are protesting against what they call ‘high-level of insecurity’ in the country.
Far from the northern part of the country, gunmen suspected to be sea pirates attacked Ogbia Marine Police Division in Ogbia Local Government Area of Bayelsa State. Two police officers were shot dead during the attack which lasted for more than three hours on Monday. In the south-west region of the country, four persons were reported killed while six others were injured following a multiple car accident involving seven vehicles. The accident was said to have been caused by poor visibility as a result of heavy fog on the highway in the early hours of Monday.
One of Nigeria’s best footballers of all time and former Super Eagles coach, Stephen Keshi, was honoured. The ‘Big Boss’, as fondly called, was honoured with a Google doodle on his posthumous birthday. It was also a good day for football lovers as Nigeria qualified for the quarter-finals of the African Nations Championship in Morocco. The home-based Eagles came from a goal down to beat Equatorial Guinea 3-1 in Agadir.
On its part, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) described the former president’s advice that President Buhari should not seek a re-election as courageous, timeous and patriotic, adding that Obasanjo’s action has rekindled the fate of Nigerians in the democratic process. However, the Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee on Anti-Corruption (PACAC), Professor Itse Sagay, believes the former President lacks the moral right to fault the present government.
But Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State had a different view as he asked President Buhari to heed the former president’s advice and “go home to rest.” For a second republic senator, Professor Banji Akintoye, he wants President Buhari to immediately resign from office and not wait until the coming general elections.
Meanwhile, Governor Darius Ishaku joined his counterparts in Benue and Ekiti states to ban open grazing throughout Taraba State. About three months after he was sacked over corruption allegations, former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr Babachir Lawal, was detained in the custody of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
In Lagos, a lawyer Kingsley Ekwem declined to testify as a prosecution witness in the trial of a former governor of Abia State, Orji Uzor Kalu, and two others over an alleged N3.2billion fraud.
The EFCC also asked the Supreme Court of Nigeria in Abuja to upturn the judgment of the Lagos Division of the Court of Appeal, which struck out the charges of unlawful enrichment filed against a justice of the Federal High Court, Justice Hyeladzira Nganjiwa. Also in the nation’s capital, the Minister of Communications, Mr Adebayo Shittu, attended the Federal Executive Council meeting, wearing a cap campaigning for President Buhari’s re-election in 2019.
In Imo State, Lassa fever killed three out of seven persons confirmed to have contracted the disease in Orlu Local Government Area and other parts of the state. Suspected robbers also killed a lecturer at the University of Benin, Dr Godwin Omofonwa, when they attacked his home at the Ugbowo area of Benin City, the Edo State capital.
More Reactions On Thursday
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo met with Bill Gate and Aliko Dangote at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Professor told the businessmen that the Buhari administration remained focused on ensuring that there is prudence in Nigeria’s fiscal spending. Meanwhile, a second republic minister for mines and steel Paul Unongo also reacted to former President Obasanjo’s letter. The elder statesman believes the statement is a wake-up call to the President.
In Abuja, the Senate ordered the NNPC to end the lingering fuel crisis in the country within seven days. Elsewhere, the Minister of Works, Housing and Power, Babatunde Fashola, had a faceoff with lawmakers over allegations that the Ministry of Power fraudulently awarded a N42billion contract. The minister faulted the allegations and maintained that the project followed due process.
Former chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Attahiru Jega, was worried over the rate of unemployment in the country. He also explained why increased youth unemployment might lead to a crisis in governance processes. Also in the political atmosphere, the PDP accused the APC of cooking up indices to defend its achievements in strengthening Nigeria’s economy since it came to power in 2015.
In an interview with Channels Television, PDP spokesman Kola Ologbondiyan also said the party remains the only relevant party that can save the country. In the anti-corruption war, a Federal High Court in Abuja rejected an application filed by Mr Metuh for an adjournment of his case as a result of ill health.
A former Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Mohammed Adoke, asked a Federal High Court to dismiss the suit brought against him by the Federal Government for alleged criminal diversion of funds in the transaction involving Malabu Oil. Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court in Abuja also adjourned a money laundering case of over N3.9billion involving a former Chief of Air Staff, Air Chief Alex Badeh.
Suspected kidnap kingpin, Chukwudumeme Onwuamadike, popularly known as Evans, asked the Federal High Court in Lagos to compel the police to immediately and unconditionally release 25 Mack trucks allegedly seized and confiscated from him without a court order.
The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) reopened the runway of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja after a private jet skidded off it, losing its landing gear in the process. The Broadcasting Organisations of Nigeria (BON) also pledged the support of its members for the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) towards ensuring a smooth switchover to digital broadcasting in the country.
A Tragic Friday
The people of Lagos were thrown into mourning following the death of Special Adviser to Governor Akinwunmi Ambode on Commerce and Industry, Deji Tinubu. Tinubu was said to have slumped and died while playing a football match with fellow participants at the retreat of members of the State Executive Council and Permanent Secretaries in Epe area of the state. The state government, in a statement, described the death as shocking and a huge loss to both his family and the state.
In the northern part of the country, at least three people were confirmed killed while eight others sustained various degrees of injuries in Bassa Local Government Area of Plateau State. This followed an attack on Jebbu Miango village by suspected herdsmen. In Benue State, Governor Samuel Ortom criticised the Minister of Defence, Mansur Dan Ali, for allegedly blaming herdsmen killings in the state on the implementation of the anti-open grazing law.
Security operatives from the Nigerian Army and Department of State Services (DSS) rescued a businesswoman who was reportedly kidnapped by gunmen on her way from a church service in Port Harcourt, the state capital. In the world of sports, defending champion Roger Federer eased into his seventh Australian Open final in a bitter-sweet win after South Korean Young Gun Chung Hyeon retired injured in their last four showdowns.
Weekend In Retrospect
President Buhari called for support from the global community to tackle insurgency in Nigeria while addressing African leaders at the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council meeting on Saturday in Addis Ababa. In Borno State, the military said troops of Operation Lafiya Dole have killed remnants of Boko Haram terrorists in Sambisa forest and other parts of the state.
In Oyo State, four persons were reported killed while several others sustained various degrees of burnt following a fire which started from a power surge. The incident occurred in Olomi community in Ibadan, the state capital. In the local government elections in Osun State, polls were disrupted at a ward in Ife as there were shootings by some suspected political thugs.
Meanwhile, a group of APC members in Kano State – Kwankwasiyya movement – has said that nothing will stop Senator Rabi’u Kwankwaso from visiting the state after the police had advised the former governor from visiting the state. Fans of Big Brother Naija gushed with excitement as they gear up to meet the new set of housemates (for another nearly 90 days) in the third season of the reality television show.
Nigerians witnessed a different scene on Sunday as President Buhari and former President Obasanjo exchange pleasantries at the AU summit in Addis Ababa. Both leaders met five days after Obasanjo wrote a letter to Buhari, an act while sparked controversy in the country.
Earlier at the summit, President Buhari informed African leaders about the need to curb the flow of terrorism financing. Back in the country, Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State wants the Federal Government to establish a rehabilitation centre aimed at reforming politicians who have siphoned the nation’s resources over the years.
In Rivers, security operatives killed one Oluchi Igwedibia who had since been declared wanted. The deceased is said to be the younger brother of slain suspected cultist and mass murderer, Don Wani, the mastermind of the killings that recently took place in the state.
We have read the press statement by former President Olusegun Obasanjo on the State of the Nation.
For the record, Chief Obasanjo is a patriot, and he has proven this time and time again. We appreciate what he said concerning the Administration’s performance in two out of the three key issues that formed the plank of its campaign: Fighting corruption and tackling insurgency. Specifically, the former President said President Buhari must be given credit for his achievement so far in these two areas. We thank him for this.
Apparently, the former President believes that the Administration does not deserve a pass mark in the area of the economy, which is the third of our three-pronged campaign promises.
We have no doubt that in the face of massive challenges in this area, this Administration has availed itself creditably. We believe that Chief Obasanjo, because of his very busy schedule, may not have been fully availed of developments in the government’s efforts to revamp the economy, which was battered by the consequences of over-dependence on a commodity as well as unprecedented pillaging of the treasury.
Today, most of the indices by which an economy is measured are looking up. Permit me to say, however, that Nigeria would not have exited recession through a mere order or if the Administration had not made use of ”good Nigerians” who could help.
This Administration is making steady progress in its determined effort to revamp the economy, and the results are showing:
* Foreign Reserves have peaked at $40b, the highest level in about four years, and up from $24 billion just a year ago, even though when we came in, the price of oil had crashed woefully.
* According to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBC), headline inflation has fallen for 11 consecutive months, standing at 15.37% as at Dec. 2017. This is the lowest inflation rate since Jan 2017, and it has met and surpassed the target set for inflation in the Administration’s Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP).
* Our determined implementation of the Treasury Single Account (TSA) has stopped the haemorrhaging of the treasury. Some 108 billion Naira has been saved from removal of maintenance fees payable to banks, pre-TSA. The nation is being saved 24.7 billion Naira monthly with the full implementation of the TSA.
* The elimination of ghost workers has saved the nation 120 billion Naira
* At about 1.8 billion dollars, the capital inflows in the second quarter of 2017 were almost double the $908 million in the first quarter.
* In the wake of a stable Naira and increased investment inflows, Nigeria’s stock market emerged one of the best-performing in the world, delivering returns in excess of 40 percent.
* Nigeria rose 24 places on the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business ranking, and earned a place on the List of Top 10 Reformers in the world.
* According to Q3 2017 figures, agriculture export is up year-on-year by 25%, solid minerals exports are up year-on-year by 78%, raw materials exports are up 70% year-on-year and manufactured goods exports are up 22% year-on-year.
* Government agencies such as the Nigeria Customs Service are reporting highest-ever revenue collection, while JAMB, under the new management appointed by President Buhari in 2016, remitted N7.8 billion to the coffers of the federal government. The total amount remitted by JAMB between 2010 and 2016 was a paltry N51 million!
These positive indices may not have immediately impacted positively on Nigerians, but Nigerians will definitely get a new lease of life a short while from now. This is because the good news from the agricultural sector, which is recording a bumper harvest, will bring down the cost of foodstuffs, especially such staple as rice, and our massive Social Investment Programme will ease the pain of the most vulnerable in the society.
When we assumed office in 2015, some 6 million farmers were involved in rice production. Thanks to the Anchor Borrowers’ programme of this Administration, we have grown that number to over 12 million farmers. The result is that our rice import from Thailand alone has dropped from 644 metric tonnes to 22,000 MT in just two years. This is phenomenal.
Apart from rice, Nigeria is also doing well in other grains, especially Millet, Sorghum and Maize. We are now the second largest producer of sorghum after the US, the third in millet after India and our breweries are now enjoying local sourcing of those commodities.
For maize, we are producing 10 million tons while we need about 13 million tons for both human and animal nutrition. Nigeria leads the world in the yam and cassava production. We account for 70% of the world’s yam production. In two years, we hope to be the world’s largest exporter of yam! Overall, our ambition is that agriculture should rise from 25% to 40% of GDP so that we can banish poverty and overcome our economic anxiety.
Our Social Investment Programme is Nigeria’s most ambitious social welfare programme ever. Currently, 5.2 million primary school children in 28,249 schools in 19 states are being fed daily; 200,000 unemployed graduates have enlisted into the N-power Job Scheme, and a quarter of a million loans already distributed to artisans, traders, and farmers.
Finally, our investment in infrastructure is simply unprecedented. This is because infrastructure is key to faster economic growth and development.
Here is a synopsis of what we have done in this area:
* Power Generation at an all-time high of 7,000mw and all can be transmitted
* RAIL: Lagos-Kano Standard Gauge is on. Lagos-Ibadan sector ready 2019, Kano-Kaduna ready 2019; The entire stretch ready 2021; Negotiations on for Coastal Rail covering 15 cities from Lagos to Calabar.
* ROAD: 25 major highways being funded with the N100b Sukuk Bond, and all geopolitical zones are benefitting equally
This Administration is not unaware of the enormity of the challenges facing the nation, but we are up to the task. We have taken the bull by the horns, and long-suffering Nigerians will begin to experience a new lease of life as our efforts yield fruits. We will not go into a state of funk for whatever reason.
On the Herders/Farmers’ clashes, this Administration is determined to end the crisis resulting from this once and for all, not minding that fact that the clashes predate us. I will urge Nigerians to have faith in the Administration’s ability to resolve the crisis and to watch out for concrete measures in this regard.
On whether or not President Muhammadu Buhari should run for another term, it is true that many Nigerians have been calling on the President to run again, while others are opposed to his return.
However, we believe this issue is a distraction for the President at this time. This is because Mr President spends every waking hours tackling the enormous challenges facing the nation, most of which were bequeathed to his Administration by successive past Administrations. He is committed to fulfilling the mandate given to him by Nigerians in 2015. And that’s where we are right now!
Finally, we have no reason to believe that former President Obasanjo has any motive beyond the well-being of the nation in issuing his Special Press Statement. We have also taken his admonition in good faith, and we thank him most sincerely for taking time off his busy schedule to pen such a long statement.
The Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee on Anti-Corruption (PACAC) told Channels Television in a telephone interview the Buhari administration recorded more achievements than the eight-year rule of former President Obasanjo.
“I want to make a clear statement that in my view, what the Buhari government has achieved in two and half years is far more than what Obasanjo achieved in eight years,” said the senior lawyer.
“He (Obasanjo) has no right to start writing public letters and running down other governments simply because he’s no longer the one in power.”
The former President, in the 13-page statement issued on Tuesday, advised President Buhari not to seek re-election and called for a new movement to salvage Nigeria from its challenges.
He said the present government has failed, especially in one of the areas it pitched as its ‘key point of action’ when it assumed office – the anti-corruption fight.
In his reaction, Sagay believes Obasanjo lacks the moral right to offer such advice to the President, noting that it is coming from the wrong source.
He said: “My immediate reaction is that it sounds very ill in the mouth of the person who sought three terms of presidency to demand that the person who has not even sought a second term to abort any idea of doing the second term.
“That advice is coming from the wrong source; he has no moral right to give that advice.”
The PACAC chairman noted that he has monitored President Buhari’s government closely and cannot overlook that fact that it has had its own challenges.
He, however, insisted that it has been the best government since the country returned to democracy while accusing the former President of disrespecting his successors.
“This is the best government we have had since return to civilian rule in 1999; far better than Obasanjo’s,” Sagay said.
“Obasanjo appears not to have respect for other people who have been in governance after him – (Late Umar) Yar’Adua, (Dr Goodluck) Jonathan, (President) Buhari.
“He has this penchant for writing derogatory letters about them and publishing it in the press and making them look bad to the public, and it shows lack of respect and my own view is that he wants to continue to dominate Nigerian politics,” he alleged.
He noted that the present government has failed, especially in one of the areas it pitched as its ‘key point of action’ when it assumed office – the anti-corruption fight.
The former President had also alleged that President Buhari has a “poor understanding of the dynamics of internal politics.”
“We need a Coalition for Nigeria, CN. Such a Movement at this juncture needs not be a political party but one to which all well-meaning Nigerians can belong.
“That Movement must be a coalition for democracy, good governance, social and economic well-being and progress. Coalition to salvage and redeem our country. You can count me with such a Movement,” Obasanjo had said.
But the APC said while they do not totally agree the former President’s claims, especially on his assessment of the government and the party, the sundry issues he raised were made in good faith.
“As a father of the nation, we understand that the former president would feel obliged to intervene if certain things are not being done or are not being done in a particular way.
“However, we believe that such interventions should be for the sole purpose of improving the system and encouraging the relevant institutions to work harder in improving certain situations,” the statement said.
The party also disagreed with the former President “in what appears like a wholesale dismissal of the entire political system in the country.”
They admitted they have their challenges as a new political party but insisted that the APC remains the best option for all Nigerians who are genuinely committed to the progress and development of the country.
The ruling party stressed that there are about 72 other registered political parties in the country and the people reserve the right to support any party of their choice.
“Our democracy itself is young and hence all the parties face sundry challenges, but we have made progress since 1999, with President Obasanjo himself being a major contributor to our progress as a multi-party democracy.
“It is for this reason that we believe the respected former President should not give the impression that none of the political parties in the country is good enough for Nigerians and the only solution to the current challenges that we face is a completely new arrangement,” the statement added.
The APC noted that the task of building a political party is not done overnight, saying even the oldest of political parties in the country is still very young compared to advanced democracies.
They are, however, hopeful that Nigeria’s democracy stands a better chance of becoming really strong if the parties are allowed to find their identities, even if in the process they make mistakes and appear to be “wobbling”.
The party further called on Nigerians to remain strong and steadfast with an assurance that the nation would soon overcome its challenges.
“These are challenging times, but we cannot afford to react to public criticism with any form of emotionalism,” said APC.
“We are the ruling party; we must take responsibility, take valuable lessons on board and continue to improve. Regardless of the current challenges, we are confident that brighter future is assured for our party and our country.”