The Presidency has released a list of what is describes as jinxes broken and milestone achievements by President Muhammadu Buhari since he assumed office six years ago.
Special Adviser, Media, and Publicity, to the President, Femi Adesina, in an article on Sunday, reeled out the milestones achieved by his principal.
He listed the completion of the headquarters of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Niger Delta Development Commission complexes, which his administration completed in 2018 and 2021, respectively among the milestones.
Mr Adesina added that the Zik mausoleum started in 1996, was completed, and inaugurated in 2018 by Mr Buhari’s regime as another feat.
Adesina also noted that under Buhari, the NNPC announced a “first-ever profit” of N287 billion.
He said, “A giant-sized jinx was broken recently when the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) announced a first net profit in the 44-year history of the organisation.”
He, however, emphasised that this is not the only major jinx broken in the lifetime of the Buhari administration.
The media aide went on to reel out a list, which he says, is by no means exhaustive.
On the list were the Petroleum Industry Bill signed into law in 2021, after almost two decades in the works, and the “first National Social Investment Programme in the country’s history”. “Today it is the largest Social Investment Programme in Africa and one of the largest in the world,” Mr Adesina said.
Others are; restoration of the federal budget to a January-to-December cycle, enabling the NCDC Act and the Nigeria Police Act, 2020.
He also mentioned the Nigeria Correctional Service Act, 2019, Finance Acts, 2019, and 2020.
In addition, Adesina listed the Piracy and Other Maritime Offences Bill (SPOMO), 2019.
The media aide noted that the Discrimination Against Persons With Disabilities (Prohibition) Act, 2018 was “another unprecedented piece of legislation in Nigeria” along with the Treasury Single Account (TSA), which started in 2012.
He added the completion of projects like the Maritime University, Delta, dams (in Taraba, Delta, Enugu, Katsina, Kaduna, Imo, Benue, etc.), inherited from the previous government to the list of the “jinxes” broken.
Furthermore, he named Gashua Water Supply Scheme in Yobe; Kwami Gadam and Bojude Water Supply Project in Gombe; the Saki Town Water Supply Project; and the Zobe and Kazaure Water Supply Projects in Katsina and Jigawa, respectively as part of the president’s masterstrokes.
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo says he is done with partisan politics, noting that claims making the rounds in the media that he is planning to float a new political party ahead of the 2023 general elections are false.
“I’m done with partisan politics but by my position in Nigeria and in Africa and without being immodest and indeed in the world my door must be opened and it is open to any individual or group of individuals who want to seek my opinion, view, or advice on any issue or matter and I will respond to the best of my ability, without being part of that individual or group,” Chief Obasanjo was quoted as saying in a statement by his special assistant on media affairs, Kehinde Akinyemi.
The former president who stated this in Kabul, Afghanistan, as a guest of President Ashraf Ghani, warned those who want to use the back door to force him to return to partisan politics to respect his choice to remain a non-partisan statesman.
He insisted that he will continue to perform his role with a focus on providing counsel, support, or solutions wherever possible in Nigeria, Africa, and indeed the world.
Below is the former president’s full communique as sent out on Monday.
The attention of former President of Nigeria Chief Olusegun Obasanjo has been drawn to unfounded report published in the Vanguard Newspaper with the headline: “New Party Ahead of 2023: Obasanjo picks 3ex-govs as coordinators, meeting July 13” and dated July 4, 2021.
Obasanjo, who is currently in Kabul, Afghanistan, as a guest of President Ashraf Ghani has declared that this report, written by one, Soni Daniel, is false, maintaining that there was no plan to float a new political party now or in near future.
He said that the fabricated story hardly comes as a surprise because he has, for some time now, observed with bewilderment the efforts by some people to drag him into their political games.
Upon hearing of this latest fabricated report, Chief Obasanjo said “In my part of the world, when you say goodnight in a place, you do not go back there and say good evening. The one who reported that may need to visit Yaba Left. And those who believe it can believe that their mothers are men.”
“I’m done with partisan politics but by my position in Nigeria and in Africa and without being immodest and indeed in the world my door must be opened and it is open to any individual or group of individuals who want to seek my opinion, view or advice on any issue or matter and I will respond to the best of my ability, without being part of that individual or group”.
If anything, Chief Obasanjo’s political party today is the party of Nigerians facing insecurity, unemployment, hunger, poverty, and various other challenging issues. It is the party of Nigeria which must be saved, kept wholesomely united in peace, security, equity, development and progress.
Let those who want to use the back door to force Chief Obasanjo to return to partisan politics respect his choice to remain a non-partisan statesman. On his part, the former President will continue to perform his role as a statesman focused on providing counsel, support, or solutions wherever possible in Nigeria, Africa and indeed the world.
Signed: Kehinde Akinyemi Special Assistant on Media Affairsb
The Presidency has said that the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari will continue to collaborate with the Chinese government in the area of provision of critical infrastructure in the country.
Speaking Friday in Abuja when he received in audience the Chinese Ambassador to Nigeria His Excellency Cui Jianchun in his office, the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity Femi Adesina said:
“Nigeria has high respect for China and what China is helping Nigeria to achieve particularly in the area of infrastructure. President Buhari came at a time of severe infrastructure deficit in the country and resolved to make a difference and he is making that difference with the assistance of China. Nigeria appreciates China a lot for these and will continue to collaborate with it.”
The Presidential spokesman said the Nigerian President had been to China two times in furtherance of the relationship and looks forward to greater collaboration, assuring the Ambassador that the media office of the President was ready to join hands with the Chinese in advancing the relationship.
In his remarks, Ambassador Cui Jianchun who was recently posted to Nigeria said he was at the Villa to solicit the support of the media office of the President and also to express his gratitude for the strong relations with his country and to seek ways to make it stronger. He expressed his delight at witnessing the flag off of the Lagos to Ibadan rail project and unfolded his 5GIST Nigeria-China ‘Growth, Development Progress (GDP) strategy to take the bilateral relations to higher levels.
Ambassador Jianchun who is the 14th Chinese Ambassador to Nigeria said the 5-Goal strategy revolved around Political Support; Economic Cooperation; Military Collaboration; International Coordination and People to People Bond among others, built on the existing Belt and Road Initiative of the Chinese government.
He said he looked forward to celebrating 50 years of friendship and bilateral relations between the two countries in October.
Also at the event was the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu.
The Presidency on Saturday said its decision to “temporarily” ban Twitter wasn’t a “knee-jerk reaction” to the social media network’s deletion of President Muhammadu Buhari’s tweets.
According to a statement signed by spokesman Garba Shehu, Twitter has long been accused of spreading “misinformation and fake news” which can have “real world violent consequences.”
“The temporary suspension of Twitter is not just a response to the removal of the President’s post,” the statement said.
“There has been a litany of problems with the social media platform in Nigeria, where misinformation and fake news spread through it have had real world violent consequences. All the while, the company has escaped accountability.
“Major tech companies must be alive to their responsibilities. They cannot be allowed to continue to facilitate the spread of religious, racist, xenophobic and false messages capable of inciting whole communities against each other, leading to loss of many lives. This could tear some countries apart.”
The Federal Government announced an “indefinite suspension” of Twitter operations in Nigeria on Friday.
By early Saturday, users across the country started to experience difficulties in accessing the service and many resorted to using Virtual Private Networks (VPN).
The decision to suspend Twitter has been criticised by many, but the Presidency in its Saturday statement insisted it was a justified move
“. . . the removal of President Buhari’s tweet was disappointing,” the statement said. “The censoring seemed based on a misunderstanding of the challenges Nigeria faces today.”
The tweet deleted by Twitter had referenced the Nigerian civil war, in which millions of Igbo died, many due to starvation.
President Buhari had threatened to deal with IPOB “in the language they understand”, a statement many interpreted as a repeat of the civil war injustices meted out to Igbos.
IPOB is a group, proscribed by a Nigerian court, seeking secession of a chunk of Southern Nigeria.
“The tweet was not a threat, but a statement of fact,” Mr. Shehu’s statement said.
“A terrorist organisation (IPOB) poses a significant threat to the safety and security of Nigerian citizens.
“When the President said that they will be treated ‘in a language they understand,’ he merely reiterated that their force shall be met with force. It is a basic principle of security services response world over.
“This is not promotion of hate, but a pledge to uphold citizens’ right to freedom from harm. The government cannot be expected to capitulate to terrorists.
“IPOB is proscribed under Nigerian law. Its members murder innocent Nigerians. They kill policemen and set government property on fire. Now, they have amassed a substantial stockpile of weapons and bombs across the country.
“Twitter does not seem to appreciate the national trauma of our country’s civil war. This government shall not allow a recurrence of that tragedy.”
The Presidency has faulted the recent resolutions of the Southern Governors, including the ban on open grazing in the entire southern part of the country.
In a statement on Monday, the President’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, believes the Governors have failed to provide any solution to the lingering crisis between farmers and herders in the country.
“It is very clear that there was no solution offered from their (the Governors’) resolutions to the herder-farmer clashes that have been continuing in our country for generations,” he said.
Shehu added, “But the citizens of the Southern States – indeed citizens of all States of Nigeria – have a right to expect their elected leaders and representatives to find answers to challenges of governance and rights, and not to wash their hands off hard choices by, instead, issuing bans that say: “not in my State”.
State Governors in the South had resolved to ban open grazing and movement of cattle by foot in the region following a meeting held on May 11 in Asaba, the Delta State capital.
They had called for the restructuring of the country along with fiscal federalism, devolution of powers, and state policing, as well as asked President Muhammadu Buhari to convene a national dialogue to address the agitations by various groups in the region.
Reacting to the series of calls made by the Governors, Shehu explained that the President has expressed a strong resolve to address the conflicts of herders and farmers in a sustained and lasting manner.
He was hopeful that this would lead to the emergence of a permanent solution to the frequent clashes between both parties, as well as the associated problem of the gun-wielding killer herdsmen.
‘Worried More Than Any Other Citizen’
The President’s spokesman noted that his principal had approved a number of specific measures to bring a permanent end to the frequent skirmishes as recommended by the Minister of Agriculture, Sabo Nanono, in a report he submitted.
He stated that President Buhari signed off on the report in April, accusing the Southern Governors of acts of politicking intended to demonstrate their power by banning open grazing in their various States.
According to Shehu, the ban on open grazing is of questionable legality, given the constitutional right of all Nigerians to enjoy the same rights and freedoms within every one of the 36 States and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) – regardless of the State of their birth or residence.
“Fortunately, this declaration has been pre-empted, for whatever it is intended to achieve, and Mr President, who has rightly been worried about these problems more than any other citizen in consultation with farmers and herders alike, commissioned and approved an actionable plan of rehabilitating grazing reserves in the States, starting with those that are truly committed to the solution and compliant with stated requirements.
“With veterinary clinics, water points for animals, and facilities for herders and their families, including schooling – through these rehabilitated reserves, the Federal Government is making far-reaching and practical changes allowing for different communities to co-exist side-by-side: supporting farmers to till their fields, herders to rear their livestock, and Nigerians everywhere to be safe,” he said.
The presidential spokesman said the entire country was aware of the strain the COVID-19 pandemic has taken on public finances – for both Federal and States.
He, however, noted that the federal funding for the project that has been delayed was being partly unlocked and actual work for the full actualisation of the modern reserve system in a few of the consenting States would take off in June.
The Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo has not yet declared interest to run for the 2023 presidential election.
This is according to his media aide, Laolu Akande, who disclosed this via a statement issued on Monday.
“Prof. Osinbajo has not declared any interest whatsoever in the 2023 election, but he is rather focused on working in his capacity as Vice President in the current administration to address all the compelling issues in the country and concerns of Nigerians, including finding effective and lasting solutions to the security challenges,” he said.
“Therefore, we ask that people desist from such unhelpful permutations while we all deal together with the challenges confronting us as Nigerians, and resolve them for the benefit of our people, peace, and prosperity in the land.”
Akande’s reaction followed a volunteer group mobilising support for Osinbajo ahead of the 2023 presidential election.
The vice president’s spokesman said Osinbajo “is not in any way connected to this website or the group behind it and considers such an enterprise an unnecessary distraction.”
There was an attempt to burgle the residence of Professor Ibrahim Gambari, the Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari, the Presidency has said.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, confirmed that the incident occurred very early on Monday morning.
His confirmation followed the report by an online news medium, Peoples Gazette, that gunmen suspected to be robbers invaded the residences of Gambari and another senior aide to the President, Abubakar Maikano – the Admin Officer, located close to the Presidential Villa in Abuja.
Quoting administration officials and security sources at the villa, the news outfit said that the incident forced Gambari and Maikano to abandon their residences.
The burglars were said to have raided the two houses where they reportedly packed money and other valuable assets.
‘A Foolish Attempt’
While he was silent on the purported incident at Maikano’s residence, Shehu noted that Gambari confirmed what he described as a foolish attempt to burgle his house.
“The Chief of Staff, Professor Ibrahim Gambari, has confirmed that there “was a foolish attempt” to burgle his residence at 3:00am this (Monday) morning, but it turned out to be unsuccessful,” the President’s spokesman said in a tweet.
He added, “Professor Gambari, whose house is on a street next to the Villa, has assured that there is nothing to worry about from the incident.”
According to Peoples Gazette, the residences of the two senior aides to the President were thoroughly ransacked and no one has yet to be arrested in connection with the incidents.
This comes amid the disturbing rate of insecurity in the country with several calls on the Federal Government to secure the lives of the people and their properties.
Read the tweets by Shehu below:
Professor Gambari, whose house is on a street next to the Villa has assured that there is nothing to worry about from the incident.
The presidency in a series on Tweets said they share the anguish of the parents of the victims and working with Kaduna State Government to bring this ‘tragic saga to an end.’
“We deeply share the anguish of the parents of the abducted Greenfield University students. The Federal Government through the military & intelligence agencies is working to support the Kaduna State Govt to bring this tragic saga to an end with no further loss of innocent life.
“We will ensure that good triumphs over evil, & that all of the bandits & criminals terrorizing innocent lives & communities are brought to book. This is a time for all Nigerians to unite, regardless of religion, ethnicity or partisan affiliation—against a common, dastardly enemy,” Presidency tweeted on Tuesday night.
We deeply share the anguish of the parents of the abducted Greenfield University students. The Federal Government through the military & intelligence agencies is working to support the Kaduna State Govt to bring this tragic saga to an end with no further loss of innocent life.
One of the kidnapped students was released on Tuesday, May 4, following threats by the bandits to kill the remaining 17 students in their custody if their parents and the state government fail to pay the sum of N100 million as ransom.
The mother of the student, Lauritta Attahiru confirmed the release of her son to Channels Television, on Tuesday.
She however refused to give details of how her son was released and whether a ransom was paid or not.
Some of the parents however claim that the mother negotiated and paid ransom to the bandits privately before her son was released.
Parents of the victims have continued to negotiate with bandits despite the government insisting that they won’t negotiate with bandits.
The parents who did not want their names mentioned due to fear told Channels Television that the fresh demand of N100 million by the bandits is in addition to the over N50 million ransom paid to them over the weekend, with the assurance to release their children.
In addition to the N100 million, the parents said the bandits also demanded ten new motorcycles before the end of Tuesday, May 4th, failure which they will have no choice but to kill the remaining 17 students in their custody.
Mr Garba Shehu has slammed the critics of the Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Pantami, for their unwillingness to forgive him.
He believes the failure to forgive the minister for the comments he made in support of extremist groups in the past is worse than the offence he committed.
The President’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity made the remarks on Friday during his appearance on Politics Today on Channels Television.
He said, “I am saying to you that people who stand in criticism of this position of the man who said he had wronged himself, he had wronged the society, and has apologised that he has changed, and they are not willing to forgive to move on; they are the ones who are the problem.”
Pantami has been widely criticised by various individuals and groups for the comments he made in the past in support of extremist groups.
‘We Change And Transform’
Recently, the remarks he was said to have made many years ago sparked debate and controversy, with many calls for his resignation or removal by the President.
The minister has since renounced his comments and said he was a changed person, but that was not enough for those calling for his removal.
Rather than sacking the minister as widely demanded, the Presidency said it was in support of Pantami and all Nigerians to ensure they receive fair treatment, fair prices, and fair protection in ICT services.
Defending the government’s position, Shehu stressed that it was wrong for any individual to deny their fellow beings a chance to be a better person.
“In all our lives, we change and transform … we don’t remain in the same position. The people just assume that he cannot change; if the One who created you gives it to you that from being bad, you can become good, what tells you to deny some other persons this right?” he questioned.
The President’s spokesman added, “They are the ones who are deeply intolerant, and who are telling the world that in this country, we have the set of people who don’t forgive, who don’t want to move on; they are the problem of the society.”
The Muhammadu Buhari administration has declared its support for the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Pantami, amid calls for his resignation or removal.
Mr Garba Shehu, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, made the position of the government known in a statement on Thursday.
“The administration stands behind Minister Pantami and all Nigerian citizens to ensure they receive fair treatment, fair prices, and fair protection in ICT services,” he said.
Pantami was widely criticised recently for the comments he made in the past in support of extremist groups.
The remarks he was said to have made many years ago sparked debate and controversy just recently, with many calling for his resignation while others called on President Muhammadu Buhari to relieve him of his duties.
Subjected To A Cancel Campaign?
Although the embattled minister has since renounced his comments and said he was a changed person, it was not enough to calm the call for his removal.
In his reaction, Shehu claimed that Pantami was being subjected to a “cancel campaign” instigated by those who seek his removal.
According to him, such persons do not really care what he may or may not have said in the past because they will profit should the minister be stopped from making decisions that improve the lives of everyday Nigerians.
The President’s spokesman stated that Pantami had publicly and permanently condemned his earlier utterances as wrong and would not repeat them.
Despite the calls for his removal, the minister attended the virtual Federal Executive Council (FEC) which was presided by President Muhammadu Buhari On Wednesday.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, had told reporters at the end of the meeting that the issue of Pantami’s removal was not discussed.
Read the statement below:
STATE HOUSE PRESS RELEASE
STATEMENT BY THE PRESIDENCY ON RECENT CAMPAIGN AGAINST THE MINISTER OF COMMUNICATIONS AND DIGITAL ECONOMY
Today, there is an unfortunate fashion in public discourse that makes leaders in politics, religion, and civil society liable in the present for every statement they have ever made in the past – no matter how long ago, and even after they have later rejected them.
This insidious phenomenon seeks to cancel the careers of others on the basis of a thing they have said, regardless of when they said it.
The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami is, currently, subject to a “cancel campaign” instigated by those who seek his removal.
They do not really care what he may or may not have said some 20 years ago: that is merely the instrument they are using to attempt to “cancel” him. But they will profit should he be stopped from making decisions that improve the lives of everyday Nigerians.
The Minister has, rightly, apologised for what he said in the early 2000s. The views were absolutely unacceptable then, and would be equally unacceptable today, were he to repeat them. But he will not repeat them – for he has publicly and permanently condemned his earlier utterances as wrong.
In the 2000s, the Minister was a man in his twenties; next year he will be 50. Time has passed, and people and their opinions – often rightly – change.
But all discerning Nigerians know this manufactured dispute is nothing to do with the Minister’s prior words, but solely concern his actions in the present.
This Administration is committed to improving the lives of all Nigerians – and that includes ensuring they are not over-charged or under-protected for those services on which modern life depends.
The Minister has been leading the charge against illegal data deductions and pricing; he has revolutionised the government’s virtual public engagement to respond to COVID-19 and save taxpayers’ money; he has established ICT start-up centres to boost youth entrepreneurship and create jobs; he has changed policy to ensure locally produced ICT content is used by ministries, starting with his own; and he has deregistered some 9.2 million SIMs – ending the ability for criminals and terrorists to flagrantly use mobile networks undetected.
In two short years, Minister Pantami has driven the contribution of the ICT sector to the GDP to more than 18 percent, making it one of the top two playing a critical role in the emergence of the economy from the COVID 19-induced recession.
In putting people first, the Minister and this administration have made enemies. There are those in the opposition who see success and want it halted by any means.
And there is now well-reported information that alleges newspaper editors rebuffed an attempt to financially induce them to run a smear campaign against the minister by some ICT companies, many of which do indeed stand to lose financially through lower prices and greater consumer protections.
The government is now investigating the veracity behind these claims of attempted inducement, and – should they be found to hold credence – police and judicial action must be expected.
The Administration stands behind Minister Pantami and all Nigerian citizens to ensure they receive fair treatment, fair prices, and fair protection in ICT services.
The Presidency on Wednesday reiterated its commitment to securing the release of the missing students of Government Girls Secondary School, Chibok, Borno State, saying rescue efforts is a work in progress.
A statement issued by the Senior Special Assistant to the President, Garba Shehu, reassured parents and all concerned citizens that the safe return of the students “remain constantly on the minds of government as they are always on the minds of their parents.”
Gunmen suspected to be Boko Haram insurgents had on April 14, 2014 stormed the school facilities and whisked away over 276 schoolgirls, an incident that drew widespread condemnation across the world.
Although most of the 276 girls escaped or were later released, more than 112 girls are still missing.
In March, the National Security Adviser, Babagana Monguno had been quoted by the BBC as suggesting that funds for arms procurement had gone missing under the immediate past Service Chiefs.
The Office of the National Security Adviser later put out a statement saying Monguno had been quoted out of context.
But with an insurgency still alive in the country’s North-East and the increasing threat of banditry in North-West, critics have continued to question how well-equipped the country’s military is.
Mr. Shehu himself has admitted that the army has had some problem with procuring equipment, as they arrive “in bits and in pieces.”
According to Mr. Shehu, during an interview on Channels Television’s Politics Today last March, procurements made have not been fully delivered.
“In August 2018, they allowed the Nigerian government to buy 12 super Tucano aircraft suitable for the kind of war we are fighting in the North-East,” he said at the time.
“In addition to that, other arms of the military have also made procurements. The navy has done nearly 100 percent of their procurement — equipment delivered.
“The airforce has bought a number of attack helicopters — 35 helicopters from Ukraine. Some of them have been commissioned on national television.
“We have bought a lot of drones, but with the army, there have been problems with procurement. Equipment has been coming bits and in pieces.
“This is not ideal. In fact, our biggest procurement is coming from the UAE. As I speak to you now, it is held up in a situation only diplomacy will resolve. We were talking to them last week; the Nigerian minister of defence actually had a meeting with the ambassador of the UAE to Nigeria, and the idea is to resolve this so that the equipment held up will be released. We need them here.”