Since Organized Labour toed the path of sense and sensibility last week, seeing reason with the imperatives of fuel price adjustment, and opening a further window of dialogue on the service based electricity tariff, some groups of Nigerians have been dolorous, disgruntled, and disconsolate.
They had apparently perfected plans to use the strike by the labour unions as a smokescreen to unleash anarchy on the land, fomenting mayhem and civil disobedience. But the plan blew up in their faces, and they have been in severe pains since then. They have launched series of tirades against Organized Labour.
For some interest groups, their intention was to use the umbrella of the strike to further their whimsical and pie-in-the-sky dream of a revolution in the country. It went bust in their faces.
For some others, Bitter-Enders, who have remained entrenched in pre-2015 and 2019 elections mode, it was an opportunity to avenge the 2012 Occupy Nigeria protests, which they believe largely devalued the government of the day, and led to its eventual ouster in 2015.
The strike that was to have come up last week, they wanted to use as an opportunity for a pound of flesh, which they calculated would weaken the government so much, and influence the 2023 elections. For them, it was all about hankering for power, its trappings and appurtenances. Nothing about the love of country. They have since then been calling Organized Labour all sorts of names, claiming they deceived Nigerians.
The times in which we live-with severe security, economic and social challenges-call for all hands to be on deck, and goodwill and support for the government, as it strives to put the nation on an even keel. We commend Organized Labour for putting the country first.
Those sponsoring and encouraging discord and anarchy, either for selfish ends or as revenge for perceived injuries, are enemies of the country. Nigerians are urged to beware of them, as the Muhammadu Buhari government is only interested in engendering better quality of life for the citizenry. Nothing more.
Contrary to complaints from many Nigerians, the Presidency has said that the prices of food items across the nation are dropping.
Speaking on behalf of the presidency, Mr Garba Shehu says the significant drop in prices of food items stems from President Muhammadu Buhari’s reforms in the agricultural sector.
Mr Shehu who on Friday was a guest on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily said though prices may differ depending on the state and area, however, on the general, there is a drop in prices of food items.
While reacting to the President’s directive Thursday that the Central Bank of Nigeria should with immediate effect stop the release of money for food and fertiliser importation, the presidential spokesman said his principal’s intentions are in the best interest of the country.
He said, “Nigerians must give consideration for the fact that the President’s directive to the CBN is driven by nothing other than a patriotic motive”.
According to Mr Shehu, this directive falls in line with the President’s quest to boost agriculture in the country, a position to which some persons disagree, arguing that the CBN’s policies should not be imposed by a political authority.
Addressing those who hold the view that Buhari’s directive is overreaching, Mr Shehu said, “I am not sure there is anywhere in the world that the Central Bank is So independent that it will operate as foreign ownership”.
The Presidency has lauded the judgement of a court in the United Kingdom on the case involving the Process and Industrial Developments (P&ID).
In a statement on Friday, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, described the ruling as right and just.
According to the presidential aide, the Presidency welcomes the judgment granting Nigeria’s application for an extension of time and relief from sanctions in the $10 billion arbitration case with the company.
He added that the judgment provided a strong prima facie case that the fraudulent gas deal with P&ID and the subsequent judgement debt of $10 billion against Nigeria was a clear attempt to cheat the country of billions of dollars by a company that had not invested one naira in it.
“On the arbitration award, it is a source of huge satisfaction that the UK Court, among others, had ruled that: ‘Nigeria has established a strong prima facie case that the Gas Supply and Processing (GSPA) was procured by bribes paid to insiders as part of a larger scheme to defraud Nigeria.
“There is also a strong prima facie case that that (P&ID) main witness in the arbitration, Mr Quinn, gave a perjured evidence to the Tribunal, and that contrary to that evidence, P&ID was not in the position to perform the contract,” the statement said.
Shehu noted that the Presidency was delighted with the processes that led to the ruling of the English court, stressing that it has given relief to the Nigerian Government to further protect its national assets from criminally minded organisations and individuals.
The views of the UK court, he stated, provided sufficient grounds for the Federal Government to go ahead and challenge the frauds perpetrated by the company and overturn the arbitration award.
In his reaction, President Muhammadu Buhari commended the team of lawyers who represented Nigeria in the matter with P&ID.
He also reassured Nigerians and the international community of his unwavering commitment to fighting corruption in all its forms and manifestation.
The Presidency has denied the claim that President Muhammadu Buhari’s aide, Sarki Abba has tested positive for COVID-19.
In a statement on Wednesday, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, advised Nigerians to ‘ignore determined agents of fake news bent on spreading false stories to the public’.
“We react to the utter falsehood and disgraceful lies, a report by a so-called digital newspaper which, Tuesday, claimed that President Muhammadu Buhari’s aide, Sarki Abba is COVID-19 positive,” he said.
“This report is a sheer fabrication and a brazen effort by the online news medium to mislead the public.
“Upon the directive of doctors and scientists and supervision of Professor Ibrahim Gambari, the Chief of Staff, all staff working for and around the President, are routinely and rigorously checked for the virus. The Senior Special Assistant, Social Affairs and Domestic Matters, Sarki Abba, always tested negative.”
Mr Shehu urged Nigerians to ignore such stories that intend to mislead people to create unnecessary anxiety about the safety of the President.
“Don’t let yourself be manipulated by any medium that thrives on yellow journalism and specialises in peddling fake news in the desperate quest for the market and donor money,” he added.
The Presidency has hailed the second quarter (Q2) Gross Domestic Product (GDP) estimates by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).
According to the NBS report, Nigeria’s GDP fell by –6.10% (year-on-year) in real terms in the second quarter of 2020 while for the first half of 2020, real GDP declined by –2.18% year-on-year, compared with 2.11% recorded in the first half of 2019.
In a statement by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, and captioned ‘Our response to Quarter 2, 2020 NBS figures, by Presidency,’ it said the decline of -6.1% (for Q2 2020) and -2.18 per cent (for H1 2020) was better than the NBS forecast of -7.24%.
“The figure was also relatively far better than many other countries recorded during the same quarter,” the statement noted, adding that, “despite the observed contraction in economic activity during the quarter, it outperformed projections by most domestic and international analysts.”
“It also appears muted compared to the outcomes in several other countries, including large economies such as the US (-33%), UK (-20%), France (-14%), Germany (-10%), Italy (-12.4%), Canada (-12.0%), Israel (-29%), Japan (-8%), South Africa (projection -20% to -50%), with the notable exception of only China (+3%),” the statement added.
“The government’s anticipation of the impending economic slowdown and the various initiatives introduced as early responses to cushion the economic and social effects of the pandemic, through the Economic Sustainability Programme (ESP), contributed immensely to dampening the severity of the pandemic on growth.”
Below is the full statement:
OUR RESPONSE TO QUARTER 2, 2020 NBS FIGURES, BY PRESIDENCY
The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) published on Monday, August 24, 2020, the 2nd Quarter (Q2) 2020 Gross Domestic Product (GDP) estimates, which measures economic growth.
Nigeria’s (GDP) declined by –6.10% (year-on-year) in real terms in the second quarter of 2020, ending the 3-year trend of low but consistently improving positive real growth rates recorded since the 2016/17 recession. Consequently, for the first half of 2020, real GDP declined by –2.18% year-on-year, compared with 2.11% recorded in the first half of 2019.
The overall decline of -6.1% (for Q2 2020) and -2.18 per cent (for H1 2020) was better than the projected forecast of -7.24% as estimated by the National Bureau of Statistics. The figure was also relatively far better than many other countries recorded during the same quarter.
Furthermore, despite the observed contraction in economic activity during the quarter, it outperformed projections by most domestic and international analysts. It also appears muted compared to the outcomes in several other countries, including large economies such as the US (-33%), UK (-20%), France (-14%), Germany (-10%), Italy (-12.4%), Canada (-12.0%), Israel (-29%), Japan (-8%), South Africa (projection -20% to -50%), with the notable exception of only China (+3%).
The government’s anticipation of the impending economic slowdown and the various initiatives introduced as early responses to cushion the economic and social effects of the pandemic, through the Economic Sustainability Programme (ESP), contributed immensely to dampening the severity of the pandemic on growth.
On the fiscal side, a robust financing mechanism was designed to raise revenue to support humanitarian assistance, in addition to special intervention funds for the health sector.
Adjustments to the national budget as well as emergency financing from concessional lending windows of development finance institutions were critical in supporting governments’ capacity to meet its obligations.
On the monetary side, a moratorium on loans, credit support to households and industries, regulatory forbearance and targeted lending and guarantee programs through NIRSAL were some of the measures implemented in response to the pandemic during the second quarter.
It is equally worth noting that since the start of the third quarter, the phased approach to easing the restrictions being implemented centrally and across States have resulted in a gradual return of economic activity, including the possibility of international travel.
More importantly, the anticipated health impacts of the pandemic have been managed without overwhelming the health infrastructure, which would have further compromised the ability to re-open the country to travel, commerce and international trade. Indeed, this has provided greater confidence and ability for authorities to initiate the conduct of nationwide terminal examinations and resumption of the next academic year.
Finally, it is anticipated that while the third and fourth quarters will reflect continued effects of the slowdown, the Fiscal and Monetary Policy initiatives being deployed by the government in a phased process will be a robust response to the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Furthermore, as the country begins the gradual loosening up of restrictions, and levels of commercial activity increase by people returning to their various livelihoods and payrolls expand, it still remains imperative that all the necessary public health safeguards are adhered to so the country avoids an emergence of a second wave.
Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai on Saturday said the Presidency should be zoned the south in 2023.
He made the remarks during an interview with BBC Hausa, adding that he has not coveted the title of President as believed in some quarters.
“It has been said that I have loved the presidency since I was a minister in the FCT [Federal Capital Territory]. This is nonsense. I do not want the Nigerian presidency. God gives power, whether you like it or not. If he wants, he will give it to you. But I have never applied for the presidency of Nigeria, no one will say I have applied for it,” El-Rufai said.
“In Nigerian politics, there is a rotation system, where everyone agrees that if the north rules for eight years, the south will rule for eight years.”
He said although the acceptance process was not written in the constitution, every politician in the country was aware of it.
“That is why I came out and said that after President Buhari’s eight-years term, no northerner should run for the Presidency. Let the southerners also have eight years.”
El-Rufai’s state, Kaduna has recently been riddled with violence, especially in the South, but the Governor said the outrage over the security situation is being fuelled by people manipulating it for political, religious and ethnic gains.
He noted that the security situation in the state was stable due to security measures he was taking.
Comments made by Mamman Daura about zoning, during a recent radio interview, do not “in any way” reflect the views of President Muhammadu Buhari, according to the Presidency.
Garba Shehu, the Senior Special Assistant to the President (Media & Publicity), said in a statement on Saturday that the views Mr Daura expressed during the interview with the BBC Hausa Service were “personal to him.”
“We have received numerous requests for comments on the interview granted by Malam Mamman Daura, President Muhammadu Buhari’s nephew to the BBC Hausa Service.
“It is important that we state from the onset that as mentioned by the interviewee, the views expressed were personal to him and did not, in any way, reflect that of either the President or his administration.”
In the interview, which aired during the week, Mr Daura told the BBC Hausa Service that rotational leadership has failed the country and there is a need to now look “for the most competent and not for someone who comes from somewhere”.
The Presidency believes the comments, which drew strong criticism from several people including groups such as Ohanaeze Ndigbo and Afenifere, were taken out of context.
“At age 80, and having served as editor and managing director of one of this country’s most influential newspapers, the New Nigerian, certainly, Malam Mamman qualifies as an elder statesman with a national duty to hold perspectives and disseminate them as guaranteed under our constitution and laws of the land. He does not need the permission or clearance of anyone to exercise this right,” the Presidency’s statement continued.
“In an attempt to circulate the content of the interview to a wider audience, the English translation clearly did no justice to the interview, which was granted in Hausa, and as a result, the context was mixed up and new meanings were introduced and/or not properly articulated.
“The issues discussed during the interview, centered around themes on how the country could birth an appropriate process of political dialogue, leading to an evaluation, assessment, and a democratic outcome that would serve the best interest of the average Nigerian irrespective of where they come from.
“These issues remain at the heart of our evolving and young democracy, and as a veteran journalist, scholar and statesman, Malam Mamman has seen enough to add his voice to those of many other participants.”
Two of Nigeria’s closest neighbours, Benin and Niger owe the country up to N1.4bn, the Presidency revealed on Tuesday.
In a statement, signed by spokesman Garba Shehu, addressing a report questioning why the nation was exporting electricity to neighbouring countries on credit – while blackouts persist nationwide – the Presidency noted that, as at 2019, the debt owed by four countries totalled $69m.
“As of the last review in 2019, the amount of indebtedness to all three customers stood at $69 million, subsequent upon which several payments were made to NBET,” the statement said. “Much of this has been repaid by the debtor nations.
“As of today, Niger owes only USD 16 million and Benin, USD 4 million, adding up to the Naira equivalent of about N1.2bn.”
Why Nigeria Exports Power Despite Local Shortage?
The Presidency statement on Tuesday explained that the country exports power to neighbouring countries in respect of multilateral agreement that prevents the damming of water sources into the nation’s main hydropower stations.
“Power exported to Niger, Benin and Togo based on Multilateral Energy Sales Agreement with the Government of Nigeria is on the basis that they would not dam the waters that feed our major power plants in Kainji, Shiroro and Jebba,” the Presidency said.
“The essence of said bilateral agreements, by which we give them power and they do not build dams on the River Niger means that Nigeria and her brotherly neighbours had avoided the unfolding situation of the Nile River between the sovereign states of Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt.”
The Presidency on Tuesday said Nigeria exports power to neighbouring countries in order to prevent the damming of water that feeds the nation’s major power plants.
On Monday, a Nigerian newspaper, Punch, had published a report describing how Nigeria has continued to export electricity to other countries on credit while blackouts persist within its borders.
As a response to the report, the Presidency, via a statement signed by President Muhammadu Buhari’s spokesman Garba Shehu, described the report as “hyperbolic and terribly misleading.”
The Presidency said the newspaper’s credit figures were “far from accurate, out-dated and therefore not reflective of the current reality.”
It also added that over 90 percent of the electricity generated in the country was distributed and consumed by Nigerians.
The Presidency revealed that as of the last review in 2019, the amount of credit extended to Niger, Benin, and Togo stood at $69 million.
According to it, Niger owes $16 million and Benin, $4 million as of today, adding up to the naira equivalent of about N1.2 billion.
Read the full statement below:
STATE HOUSE PRESS RELEASE
PUNCH’S INACCURATE REPORTING ON THE SALE OF POWER TO NEIGHBORING NATIONS NEEDS TO BE CORRECTED
It is most disappointing that sensationalism has dominated the thinking and ethos of institutions that citizens look up to with trust, confidence and reliability. Monday edition of the Punch checks all the boxes in terms of an abject failure to honour these time-tested traditions with its news piece: “NIGERIA EXPORTS USD81.48bn ELECTRICITY ON CREDIT AS COUNTRY’S BLACKOUT PERSISTS,” is, to say the least, hyperbolic and terribly misleading.
Apart from the fact that the figure quoted is far from accurate, out-dated and therefore not reflective of the current reality, the overall cost of power generated and sold by Nigeria in the period covered by the report is not anywhere close to what was mentioned by the paper.
The actual cost of electricity generated within the said timeframe (2018-2019) by all the electricity generation companies in Nigeria was about N1.2 trillion ($4 billion).
Over 90% of the electricity generated was distributed and consumed by consumers across the 11 electricity distribution companies in the country.
Power exported to Niger, Benin and Togo based on Multilateral Energy Sales Agreement with the Government of Nigeria is on the basis that they would not dam the waters that feed our major power plants in Kainji, Shiroro and Jebba.
As of the last review in 2019, the amount of indebtedness to all three customers stood at $69 million, subsequent upon which several payments were made to NBET. Much of this has been repaid by the debtor nations.
As of today, Niger owes only USD 16 million and Benin, USD 4 million, adding up to the Naira equivalent of about N1.2bn.
The essence of said bilateral agreements, by which we give them power and they do not build dams on the River Niger means that Nigeria and her brotherly neighbours had avoided the unfolding situation of the Nile River between the sovereign states of Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt.
In the future, we advise the newspaper to seek clarity from the market operator which is the Transmission Company of Nigeria, TCN. This process of fact-checking only improves your standing in the public arena.
The Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, has dismissed nursing a 2023 presidential ambition at the expiration of President Muhammadu Buhari’s tenure.
In a statement issued on Saturday by his spokesman, Ola Awoniyi, the Senate President described as puerile some media reports of him seeking to run for Nigeria’s presidency in three years’ time.
According to him, the reports reflects the “lazy fantasy of its unimaginative authors as a fact.”
Lawan’s reaction comes two days after he and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, met behind closed doors with President Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
The meeting is said to have centered on the recent controversy that arose between the National Assembly and the Minister of State, Labour, and Employment, Festus Keyamo, over the proposed 774,000 jobs.
The attention of the office of the President of the Senate has been drawn to a rather puerile media report that the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, is making plans to run for president in 2023. The report was first published by the Daily Independent newspaper of Friday, 17th July 2020 and reproduced later by the Sahara Reporters.
It is easy to see that the report emanated from the sort of practice that drags the noble profession of journalism to the gutters as it only dresses up the lazy fantasy of its unimaginative authors as a fact.
The report apparently has its source in beer parlour gossips and should be treated with the contempt which it and those who concocted it deserves.
It is true that the Senate President was involved in the consultations that President Muhammadu Buhari held prior to the last emergency meeting of the National Executive Committee of the ruling All Progressives Congress(APC).
But there was nothing extra-ordinary in his involvement in such consultations, given his status as holder of one of the highest political offices in Nigeria and on the platform of the APC. Such is required of any concerned member of the party. It is therefore sheer mischief for anyone to read ulterior motives to the Senate President joining hands with the President and other leaders in resolving misunderstanding in their own party.
We will like to stress that the Senate President’s preoccupation is with advancing the agenda of the Ninth National Assembly to focus governance on the pursuit of the best interests of the Nigerian people and to support President Buhari in delivering his promises to Nigerians.
The Senate President does not suffer such needless distractions as imputed by the false report under reference. He believes that it is premature for anybody to be talking now about 2023 when all hands should be on deck against the myriad of challenges that faces our nation in this period.
We advise the idle pseudo-journalists to look for other engagements and stop bastardising this noble profession.
The Presidency has said that those who see the investigation of the suspended Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Mr Ibrahim Magu, as a signal that the fight against corruption is failing, have failed to see the point.
In a statement on Saturday, the Senior Special Assistant to the President, Media & Publicity, Garba Shehu, noted that there couldn’t be a better indication that the anti-graft fight is real, than the will to openly investigate anyone who has been charged to head such systems.
“There is no better indication that the fight is real and active than the will to investigate allegations in an open and transparent manner against those who have been charged to be custodians of this very system,” the statement read in part.
According to Mr Garba, there are no sacred cows and even Mr Magu is not immune, regardless of the obvious embarrassment that potential acts of wrongdoing by him, given the office he held, may appear for the government.
He also noted that Mr Magu is being availed the opportunity to defend himself and answer the allegations against him.
“This is how it should be, as is the fact that under the Laws of Nigeria every citizen is presumed and remains innocent until proven guilty,” Garba said, adding that the fight against corruption is not a static event, but a dynamic and ever-evolving process, in which the EFCC is just one actor.
“As we continue to work towards improving our democratic process so shall every institution of ours also embark on that journey of evolution,” the president’s aide added.
President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday affirmed the suspension of Mr Magu and it took effect immediately.
According to a statement from the office of the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, the presidential directive was to allow for an unhindered inquiry by the Presidential Investigation Panel under the Tribunals of Inquiry Act and other relevant laws.
Meanwhile, the EFCC Director of Operations, Mohammed Umar, has been directed to oversee the activities of the commission.
Read the full statement below.
STATE HOUSE PRESS RELEASE
PRESIDENCY STATEMENT ON THE SUSPENSION OF MR. IBRAHIM MAGU
A series of documented allegations were made against the Ag. Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). Following a preliminary review of the allegations leveled against the Ag. Chairman and several other members of his staff, there were grounds for a detailed investigation to be conducted.
Hence, an investigative panel was constituted in compliance with the extant laws governing the convening of such a body.
As is the proper procedure, when allegations are made against the Chief Executive of an institution, and in this case an institution that ought to be seen as beyond reproach, the Chief Executive has to step down from his post and allow for a transparent and unhindered investigation.
The EFCC does not revolve around the personality of an individual, and as such cannot be seen through the prism of any individual.
Therefore, the suspension of Mr. Ibrahim Magu, allows the institution to continue carrying out its mandate without the cloud of investigation hanging over its head.
The EFCC has many good, hardworking men and women who are committed to its ideal and ensuring that the wealth of our country isn’t plundered and wherein there is an act of misappropriation such person(s) are brought to justice.
Meanwhile, Mr. Magu is being availed the opportunity to defend himself and answer the allegations against him. This is how it should be, as is the fact that under the Laws of Nigeria every citizen is presumed and remains innocent until proven guilty.
We must realize that the fight against corruption is not a static event, but a dynamic and ever evolving process, in which the EFCC is just one actor; and as we continue to work towards improving our democratic process so shall every institution of ours also embark on that journey of evolution.
What is however important is that there must be accountability and transparency and our people must realize that they would be held to account. This is the building block in the fight against corruption, the establishment of the concept of Accountability and the recognition of the Rule of Law.
Those who see Mr. Magu’s investigation, as a signal that the fight against corruption is failing, have unfortunately, missed the boat.
There is no better indication that the fight is real and active than the will to investigate allegations in an open and transparent manner against those who have been charged to be custodians of this very system.
Under this President and Government, this is our mantra and guiding principle. There are no sacred cows, and for those who think they have a halo over their heads, their days are also numbered.
Mr. Magu was not immune – and regardless of the obvious embarrassment that potential acts of wrongdoing by him, given the office he held, may appear for the government.
No other administration in the history of Nigeria would have moved to bring into the light and public domain such an allegation.
Garba Shehu Senior Special Assistant to the President (Media & Publicity) July 11, 2020