Malami Slams Southern Governors Over Open Grazing Ban

 

 

Nigeria’s Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), Abubakar Malami, has attacked southern governors over their decision to ban open grazing in their states.

Speaking on the Channels Television‘s Politics Today programme on Wednesday, Malami said the move by the 17 governors was unconstitutional.

“It is about constitutionality within the context of the freedoms expressed in our constitution. Can you deny the rights of a Nigerian?

“For example, it is as good as saying, perhaps, maybe, the northern governors coming together to say they prohibit spare parts trading in the north.

“Does it hold water? Does it hold water for a northern governor to come and state expressly that he now prohibits spare parts trading in the north?”

Malami urged the governors to first amend the Constitution to prohibit open grazing before going ahead with their decision.

“If you are talking of constitutionally guaranteed rights, the better approach to it is to, perhaps, go back to ensure the Constitution is amended,” he said.

“Freedom and liberty of movement among others is established by the Constitution. If by an inch you want to have any compromise over it, the better approach is to go back to the National Assembly to say open grazing should be prohibited and see whether you can have the desired support for the constitutional amendment

“It is a dangerous provision for any governor in Nigeria to think he can bring any compromise on the freedom and liberty of individuals to move around.”

 

The 17 southern governors met last week in Asaba, hosted by Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, and resolved to ban open grazing and movement of cattle by foot in the region as some kidnappings and killings in the Southern region have been traced to criminal elements amongst herders.

Chairman of the Southern Governor’s Forum, Rotimi Akeredolu, explained that the decision is not new and most of the governors have placed a ban on open grazing in their states before the meeting.

“We felt that … this open grazing must stop. It is causing a lot of problems particularly between the herders and the farmers. Whether we like it or not, times have changed and this must change. We must adopt a modern system of animal husbandry.

“In this day and age, they cannot continue taking cows by foot from Kano to Port Harcourt,” he said.

The governor said the Federal government needs to throw its weight behind state governments that want to set up ranches, noting that this will benefit the herders who are exposed to dangers as they roam with their cattle.

Democracy Day: Sowunmi, Ekechi Differ On Buhari’s First Year In Office

#Buhari365Days, BuhariAs Nigeria marks Democracy Day on Sunday, May 29, mixed reactions have been trailing questions about the performance of the President over the last one year.

Speaking on a special coverage of 365 days of Buhari on Channels Television, former Director, Planning and Research for the All Progressives Congress (APC) campaign organization, Dr. Toe Ekechi, described efforts being made by the President to save the nation from further plunging into socio-
economic problems as commendable.

He argued that rather than focus on the current challenges of hike in fuel price, naira depreciating and higher cost of living, Nigerians should consider the factors that brought the country to its current state.

“My opinion is that we were heading for a ship wreck – a colossal disaster but God in his infinite mercy, who never wanted Nigeria to be destroyed provided at the right time a captain that has managed to steer the ship off the course of a ship wreck trying to stabilise it.

“It is not very well fully stabilised, that is where we are now. So I will like to say, it could have been worse if we did not have Buhari.”

Meanwhile, former director of the Jonathan-Sambo Campaign Organization, Mr Segun Sowunmi, accused the APC-led federal government of making excuses and blaming past administrations for the challenges facing the nation.

“If they had not come to Nigerians with a huge promise that a whole lot of our people believed, all of these ‘it could have been ship wreck’ could have been tolerated.

“From the minute this government got in charge, they have only given us excuses,” Sowunmi said.

He recalled that when the PDP took over from the military in 1999, ex-president, Olusegun Obasanjo did not give excuses about past military regimes but rather worked hard to revive the economy.

“What has happened in the last one year is that everything has gone bad,” he maintained.

Nigeria Committed To Democratic Principles, Buhari Assures Int’l Community 

Muhammadu Buhari, Democratic PrinciplesPresident Muhammadu Buhari has reassured the international community of Nigeria’s commitment to strengthening democratic principles and sustaining the fight against terrorism and violent crimes.

In a broadcast to mark his administration’s first year in office, President Buhari said that Nigeria is ready to sustain its partnership in combating cybercrimes, control of communicable diseases and protection of the environment.

The President particularly extended Nigeria’s appreciation to the international community, notably France, the U.S., UK and China for their quick response in helping to tackle the Ebola outbreak in the West African sub-region.

Democracy Day: Abia Govt. To Enhance Agriculture Sector

Okezie Ikpeazu, Democracy Day,  Abia StateAbia State Governor, Okezie Ikpeazu has disclosed that his administration has concluded plans to bring in tractors for mechanized farming amongst other agric initiatives in order to enhance food sufficiency and employment through agriculture.

The Governor made this disclosure in commemoration of Nigeria’s Democracy Day and to mark his first year in office.

According to Governor Ikpeazu, the education sector is receiving adequate attention through the rehabilitation of some primary schools, training of teachers and paying up subvention to the state tertiary institutions as well as through the ‘adopt a school’ initiatives.

Although the Governor hinted that there were still areas that needed to be enhanced, he believe that systematic adherence to the five pillars of developmental strides would ensure rapid economic growth that would uplift living standard of its citizenry.

The five pillars include agriculture, education, trade and investment, oil and gas.

Democracy Day: Buhari Says First Year Is Year Of Triumph, Consolidation

democracy Day, Buhari, First YearTo commemorate Democracy Day, Nigeria’s number one citizen, President Muhhamudu Buhari has described his first year in office as a year of triumph, consolidation, pains and achievements.

As he spoke about a pot pourri of events, President Buhari affirmed his administration’s belief in democracy as the form of government that best assures the active participation and actual benefit of the people.

The President said that despite the many years of hardship and disappointment, Nigerians have proved inherently good, industrious, tolerant, patient and generous.

He went on to speak about promises made during electioneering campaigns to tackle problems bothering on security, corruption and the economy, challenges faced on assuming office and gains made thereafter.

He spoke about efforts being made to clean up the Niger Delta region, revive the economy, rid the Niger Delta of vandals and militants as well as curbing corrupt practices.

In all these, President Buhari acknowledged that those who are anti-government and anti-people would resist these changes.

He realizes that these individuals or group of individuals would sow divisions, sponsor vile criticisms and incite the public.

All these, the President promised, will not work, as his administration is committed to addressing these issues that have stagnated the nation’s growth.

Policy Measures

President Buhari also said that nobody should take the measures put in place by his administration as experimental in nature.

The President said that he knows that there are some unscrupulous people intent on making sure that these plans do not come to fruition, but that his administration remains dogged in ensuring that things work as planned.

“The policy measures and actions taken so far are not to be seen as some experiment in governance…

“The economic misfortune we are experiencing in the shape of very low oil prices has provided us with an opportunity to restructure our economy and diversify. We are in the process of promoting agriculture, livestocks, exploiting our solid mineral resources and expanding our industrial and manufacturing base.

“That way, we will import less and make the social investments necessary to allow us to produce a large and skilled workforce.

“Central Bank of Nigeria will offer more fiscal incentives for business that prove capable of manufacturing products that are internationally competitive. We remain committed to reforming the regulatory framework, for investors by improving the ease of doing business in Nigeria,” he said.

Food Sufficiency

In the meantime, the President is also assuring Nigerians that efforts have been made to develop the agriculture sector.

President Buhari says that it has put efforts in place to ensure that Nigeria becomes food sufficient.

“The first steps along the path of self-sufficiency in rice, wheat and sugar – big users of our scarce foreign exchange – have been taken.

“The Labour Intensive Farming Enterprise will boost the economy and ensure inclusive growth in long neglected communities. Special intervention funds through the Bank of Agriculture will provide targeted support. Concerns remain about rising cost of foods such as maize, rice, millet, beans and gari.

“Farmers tell me that they are worried about the cost of fertilizers, pesticides and the absence of extension services. The federal and state governments are on the same page in tackling these hurdles in our efforts at increased food production and ultimately food security.”

The full text of President Muhammadu Buhari’s national broadcast on Democracy Day is published on Channels TV website.

Democracy Remains Best Solution To Our National Problems – Saraki

Saraki, DemocracyNigeria’s Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki has commended Nigerians for working to sustain democracy in the past 17 years despite the various challenges the country has encountered within the period.

In a statement to mark the 2016 Democracy Day, Saraki described democracy as not only the most globally accepted system of government but also the best solution to the problems confronting a multi-cultural, multi-lingual and multi-religious society like Nigeria.

The Senate President said that in the last 17 years, the electorate have become more discerning and sophisticated as the nation has got to the point that people elected to the various offices have become conscious of the fact that they are under constant watch and when they fail to meet the expectation of the voters, they will be “given the red card”.

According to the statement, signed by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Yusuph Olaniyonu, “It is the first time in our national history that we will have 17 unbroken years of democratically elected governments.

“Last year, our people demonstrated that our democracy is fast maturing as they voted out a party in power and elected another party. Since then, one can notice how people have become more and more interested in governance and the performance of those elected and appointed into public offices.

“In my own view, these are signs that our democracy has matured. Our people deserve commendation for that. This positive development is also already reflecting in the quality of governance and the level of development being witnessed across board in the country”, he stated.

The Senate President further called on elected and appointed officials at all levels of government to continue to justify the confidence people reposed in them as he said that he and his colleagues in the Senate are conscious of the fact that if they fail to live up to the expectation of the people, the next elections are just around the corner.

He added that at this point, the nation must improve on the conduct of elections in such a manner that the free will of the electorate will be reflected in the results, adding that for the country to become a matured democracy, elections must be peaceful, free and fair.

“The issue of free and fair elections is a joint responsibility for all of us. The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) must continue to improve on its process and machinery for conduct of elections while the people must learn to shun violence and all forms of unlawful conduct during electioneering. We cannot be celebrating many years of democracy if people still take elections as if it is war and refuse to accept the decision of the majority.

“We in the National Assembly will continue to strengthen the electoral laws and other legislations that can build institutional checks against the abuse of the laws by individuals and groups. We must get to the point where people who resort to violence to achieve political objectives are severely punished”, Saraki stated.

He added that Nigeria must become a model in Africa for the enthronement of rule of law and protection of fundamental human rights of all individuals and that the country must show good example to other countries on the continent and in the Commonwealth nations in that regard.

Saraki noted that in the area of the economy, the entire world is facing challenging times and that what the country needs to overcome the situation are discipline, prudent management of her resources and and exploration of hitherto neglected areas in creating national wealth.

“I can assure our people that the present economic problem is a temporary challenge. We will all be happy very soon. It is for this reason that, as I congratulate our people on this occasion of Democracy Day, I call on them to continue to pray for the government and support all efforts aimed at ensuring that we all reap the dividends of democracy.

“We should remember that tough times do not last but tough people do. God bless Nigeria. God bless Nigerians”, Saraki stated.

Our Democracy Has Come Of Age – Speaker Dogara

Dogara, democracyThe Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara believes that Nigeria’s democracy has matured and has promised to further strengthen it through quality legislation.

Hon. Dogara stated this in his congratulatory message to Nigerians as they mark Democracy Day and 17 years of uninterrupted civil democratic rule.

The Speaker also said that this milestone event calls for sober reflections on the country’s achievements and failures as a democratic nation.

He further said that as a major symbol of democracy, the House of Representatives under his leadership, promises to continue to strengthen Nigeria’s democratic growth and development through legislating for the needs and aspirations of Nigerians.

“The 2015 general elections that brought the opposition party headed by President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, to power shows that our democracy has matured and come of age.

“As Nigeria faces serious economic challenges as a result of dwindling oil revenues and mismanagement of our resources, Nigerians should be hopeful and trust the capacity of the current democratically elected government to confront these problems and provide lasting solutions.

“Indeed, we should patiently await the results of the current policies and actions of government which we believe will soon begin to yield positive results.

“It is not an easy task and we are not yet there, but with hardwork, commitment, dedication and patriotic zeal on the part of all Nigerians and good, accountable and corrupt- free government by leaders, our democracy will soon begin to deliver on its promise of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” he stated.

Full Text: National Broadcast By President Muhammadu Buhari On Democracy Day

TEXT OF NATIONAL BROADCAST BY PRESIDENT MUHAMMADU BUHARI ON MAY 29, 2016

My compatriots,

It is one year today since our administration came into office. It has been a year of triumph, consolidation, pains and achievements. By age, instinct and experience, my preference is to look forward, to prepare for the challenges that lie ahead and rededicate the administration to the task of fixing Nigeria. But I believe we can also learn from the obstacles we have overcome and the progress we made thus far, to help strengthen the plans that we have in place to put Nigeria back on the path of progress.
We affirm our belief in democracy as the form of government that best assures the active participation and actual benefit of the people. Despite the many years of hardship and disappointment the people of this nation have proved inherently good, industrious tolerant, patient and generous.

The past years have witnessed huge flows of oil revenues. From 2010 average oil prices were $100 per barrel. But economic and security conditions were deteriorating. We campaigned and won the election on the platform of restoring security, tackling corruption and restructuring the economy. On our arrival, the oil price had collapsed to as low as $30 per barrel and we found nothing had been kept for the rainy day. Oil prices have been declining since 2014 but due to the neglect of the past, the country was not equipped to halt the economy from declining.

The infrastructure, notably rail, power, roads were in a decrepit state. All the four refineries were in a state of disrepair, the pipelines and depots neglected.

Huge debts owed to contractors and suppliers had accumulated. Twenty-seven states could not pay salaries for months. In the north-east, Boko Haram had captured 14 local governments, driven the local authorities out, hoisted their flags. Elsewhere, insecurity was palpable; corruption and impunity were the order of the day. In short, we inherited a state near collapse.

On the economic front, all oil dependent countries, Nigeria included, have been struggling since the drop in prices. Many oil rich states have had to take tough decisions similar to what we are doing. The world, Nigeria included has been dealing with the effects of three significant and simultaneous global shocks starting in 2014:
A 70% drop in oil prices.
Global growth slowdown.
Normalization of monetary policy by the United States federal reserve.

Our problems as a government are like that of a farmer who in a good season harvests ten bags of produce. The proceeds enable him to get by for rest of the year. However, this year he could only manage 3 bags from his farm. He must now think of other ways to make ends meet.

From day one, we purposely set out to correct our condition, to change Nigeria. We reinforced and galvanized our armed forces with new leadership and resources. We marshaled our neighbours in a joint task force to tackle and defeat Boko Haram. By the end of December 2015, all but pockets and remnants had been routed by our gallant armed forces. Our immediate focus is for a gradual and safe return of internally displaced persons in safety and dignity and for the resumption of normalcy in the lives of people living in these areas.

EFCC was given the freedom to pursue corrupt officials and the judiciary was alerted on what Nigerians expect of them in the fight against corruption. On the economy, in particular foreign exchange and fuel shortages, our plan is to save foreign exchange by fast tracking repair of the refineries and producing most of our fuel requirements at home. And by growing more food in Nigeria, mainly rice, wheat and sugar we will save billions of dollars in foreign exchange and drastically reduce our food import bill.

We resolved to keep the Naira steady, as in the past, devaluation had done dreadful harm to the Nigerian economy. Furthermore, I supported the monetary authority’s decision to ensure alignment between monetary policy and fiscal policy. We shall keep a close look on how the recent measures affect the Naira and the economy. But we cannot get away from the fact that a strong currency is predicated on a strong economy. And a strong economy pre-supposes an industrial productive base and a steady export market. The measures we must take, may lead to hardships. The problems Nigerians have faced over the last year have been many and varied. But the real challenge for this government has been reconstructing the spine of the Nigerian state. The last twelve months have been spent collaborating with all arms of government to revive our institutions so that they are more efficient and fit for purpose:
That means a bureaucracy better able to develop and deliver policy
That means an independent judiciary, above suspicion and able to defend citizen’s rights and dispense justice equitably.
That means a legislature that actually legislates effectively and
Above all; that means political parties and politicians committed to serving the nigerian people rather than themselves.

These are the pillars of the state on which democracy can take root and thrive. But only if they are strong and incorruptible. Accordingly, we are working very hard to introduce some vital structural reforms in the way we conduct government business and lay a solid foundation on which we can build enduring change.

An important first step has been to get our housekeeping right. So we have reduced the extravagant spending of the past. We started boldly with the treasury single account, stopping the leakages in public expenditure.

We then identified forty-three thousand ghost workers through the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information system. That represents pay packets totalling N4.2 billion stolen every month. In addition, we will save Twenty-Three Billion Naira per annum from official travelling and sitting allowances alone.

Furthermore, the efficiency unit will cut costs and eliminate duplications in ministries and departments. Every little saving helps. The reduction in the number of ministries and work on restructuring and rationalization of the MDAs is well underway. When this work is complete we will have a leaner, more efficient public service that is fit for the purpose of changing nigeria for the good and for good.

As well as making savings, we have changed the way public money is spent. In all my years as a public servant, I have never come across the practice of padding budgets. I am glad to tell you now we not only have a budget, but more importantly, we have a budget process that is more transparent, more inclusive and more closely tied to our development priorities than in the recent past. 30% of the expenditure in this budget is devoted to capital items. Furthermore, we are projecting non-oil revenues to surpass proceeds from oil. Some critics have described the budget exercise as clumsy. Perhaps. But it was an example of consensus building, which is integral to democratic government. In the end we resolved our differences.

We have, therefore, delivered significant milestones on security, corruption and the economy. In respect of the economy, I would like to directly address you on the very painful but inevitable decisions we had to make in the last few weeks specifically on the pump price of fuel and the more flexible exchange rate policy announced by the central bank. It is even more painful for me that a major producer of crude oil with four refineries that once exported refined products is today having to import all of its domestic needs. This is what corruption and mismanagement has done to us and that is why we must fight these ills.

As part of the foundation of the new economy we have had to reform how fuel prices had traditionally been fixed. This step was taken only after protracted consideration of its pros and cons. After comprehensive investigation my advisers and I concluded that the mechanism was unsustainable.

We are also engaged in making recoveries of stolen assets some of which are in different jurisdictions. The processes of recovery can be tedious and time consuming, but today I can confirm that thus far: significant amount of assets have been recovered. A considerable portion of these are at different stages of recovery. Full details of the status and categories of the assets will now be published by the Ministry of Information and updated periodically. When forfeiture formalities are completed these monies will be credited to the treasury and be openly and transparently used in funding developmental projects and the public will be informed.

On the Niger Delta, we are committed to implementing the United Nations Environment Programme report and are advancing clean-up operations. I believe the way forward is to take a sustainable approach to address the issues that affect the delta communities. Re-engineering the amnesty programmes is an example of this. The recent spate of attacks by militants disrupting oil and power installations will not distract us from engaging leaders in the region in addressing Niger Delta problems. If the militants and vandals are testing our resolve, they are much mistaken. We shall apprehend the perpetrators and their sponsors and bring them to justice.

The policy measures and actions taken so far are not to be seen as some experiment in governance. We are fully aware that those vested interests who have held Nigeria back for so long will not give up without a fight. They will sow divisions, sponsor vile press criticisms at home and abroad, incite the public in an effort to create chaos rather than relinquish the vice-like grip they have held on Nigeria.

The economic misfortune we are experiencing in the shape of very low oil prices has provided us with an opportunity to restructure our economy and diversify. We are in the process of promoting agriculture, livestocks, exploiting our solid mineral resources and expanding our industrial and manufacturing base. That way, we will import less and make the social investments necessary to allow us to produce a large and skilled workforce.

Central Bank of Nigeria will offer more fiscal incentives for business that prove capable of manufacturing products that are internationally competitive. We remain committed to reforming the regulatory framework, for investors by improving the ease of doing business in Nigeria.

Meanwhile, the first steps along the path of self-sufficiency in rice, wheat and sugar – big users of our scarce foreign exchange – have been taken. The Labour Intensive Farming Enterprise will boost the economy and ensure inclusive growth in long neglected communities. Special intervention funds through the Bank of Agriculture will provide targeted support. Concerns remain about rising cost of foods such as maize, rice, millet, beans and gari. Farmers tell me that they are worried about the cost of fertilizers, pesticides and the absence of extension services. The federal and state governments are on the same page in tackling these hurdles in our efforts at increased food production and ultimately food security.

I would like to take this opportunity to express my appreciation for the increasing role that our women are playing in revitalizing the agricultural sector. Modern farming is still hard and heavy work and I salute our Nigerian women in sharing this burden. In this respect I am very pleased to announce that the government will shortly be launching the national women’s empowerment fund, which I have approved to provide N1.6 billion in micro-finance loans to women across the nation to assist in rehabilitating the economies of rural communities, particularly those impacted by the insurgency and conflict.

With respect to solid minerals, the minister has produced a roadmap where we will work closely with the world bank and major international investors to ensure through best practices and due diligence that we choose the right partners. Illegal mining remains a problem and we have set up a special security team to protect our assets. Special measures will be in place to protect miners in their work environment.

For too long, ours has been a society that neglects the poor and victimizes the weak. A society that promotes profit and growth over development and freedom. A society that fails to recognize that, to quote the distinguished economist Amartya Sen “ poverty is not just lack of money. It is not having the capability to realize one’s full potential as a human being.”

So, today, I am happy to formally launch, by far the most ambitious social protection programme in our history. A programme that both seeks to start the process of lifting many from poverty, while at the same time creating the opportunity for people to fend for themselves. In this regard, Five Hundred Billion Naira has been appropriated in the 2016 budget for social intervention programmes in five key areas. We are committed to providing job creation opportunities for five hundred thousand teachers and one hundred thousand artisans across the nation. 5.5 million children are to be provided with nutritious meals through our school feeding programme to improve learning outcomes, as well as enrolment and completion rates. The conditional cash transfer scheme will provide financial support for up to one million vulnerable beneficiaries, and complement the enterprise programme – which will target up to one million market women; four hundred and sixty thousand artisans; and two hundred thousand agricultural workers, nationwide. Finally, through the education grant scheme, we will encourage students studying sciences, technology, engineering and maths, and lay a foundation for human capital development for the next generation

I would like to pay a special tribute to our gallant men and women of the armed forces who are in harm’s way so that the rest of us can live and go about our business in safety. Their work is almost done. The nation owes them a debt of gratitude.

Abroad, we want to assure our neighbours, friends and development partners that Nigeria is firmly committed to democratic principles. We are ready partners in combating terrorism, cyber crimes, control of communicable diseases and protection of the environment. Following on the Paris Agreement, COP 21, we are fully committed to halting and reversing desertification. Elsewhere, we will intensify efforts to tackle erosion, ocean surge, flooding and oil spillage which I referred to earlier by implementing the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) report.

We are grateful to the international community notably France, the US, UK and China for their quick response in helping to tackle the recent Ebola outbreak in our sub-region. We also acknowledge the humanity shown by the Italian and German governments in the treatment of boat people, many fleeing from our sub-region because of lack of economic opportunity. We thank all our partners especially several countries in the EU.

We appreciate the valuable work that the UN agencies, particularly UNICEF, ICRC, the World Food Program have been doing. We must also appreciate the World Bank, the Gates Foundation, the Global Fund and Educate A Child of Qatar for the excellent work in our health, education and other sectors.

Fellow citizens let me end on a happy note. To the delight of all, two of the abducted Chibok girls have regained their freedom. During the last one year, not a single day passed without my agonizing about these girls. Our efforts have centred around negotiations to free them safely from their mindless captors. We are still pursuing that course. Their safety is of paramount concern to me and I am sure to most Nigerians. I am very worried about the conditions those still captured might be in. Today I re-affirm our commitment to rescuing our girls. We will never stop until we bring them home safely. As I said before, no girl should be put through the brutality of forced marriage and every Nigerian girl has the right to an education and a life choice.

I thank you and appeal to you to continue supporting the government’s efforts to fix Nigeria.