Nigerian Politicians Asked To Stop Politicising Insurgency

AKIN OSUNTOKUNA member of the People’s Democratic Party, Mr Akin Osuntokun has advised politicians not to play politics with the security situation in Nigeria. 

Mr Osuntokun, who was a guest on Channels Television’s programme, Sunrise Daily, on Friday,  said the problem of insurgency in Nigeria should now be looked at from the perspective of ideology, as the incessant bombing in Nigeria was as a result of some persons propagating anarchy, imputing instability to the system and making wide claims about the situation.

“I don’t like to say this as I sympathise with what happened to General Buhari; However, when you look at the statement he made two days before the bomb attack on him.

“They are the kind of things that create volatile situation as many of the things he said are things that can incite anyone who has cause to be angry with the nation and he shouldn’t have said them,” Mr Osuntokun pointed out.

In his opinion, all Nigerians should have a say on the security situation in the land but things shouldn’t be said that will build a crisis of malice amongst people.

“Every Nigerian should have an opinion on the incessant bomb blast, as it is something we now live with. We should pray as we are at a dead end on the situation.

“However, utterances should be guided, as they give room for all these kind of things to fester.”

According to Mr Osuntokun, people should not go around to make allegations that are not true which may turn out to be self-fulfilled prophesies.

On the wave of impeachment in the nation, Mr Osuntokun alienated the Presidency from it, stressing that “the decision lies in the hands of the people of the affected state and the PDP do not have any reason to salvage the APC in their states”.

“If you really know what was happening in Adamawa State – referring the the impeachment of Governor Murtala Nyako – there was nothing the Presidency could have done about the situation there, as it was almost an unanimous decision of the people and it followed due process’’.

On whether the government of the day is reaching out to everyone across board especially other political parties in the fight against terrorism, Mr Osuntokun said the various inter-party meetings and the council of state meeting were a testament of the seriousness of the government in telling everyone, especially the opposition that they were on the same page when it comes to fighting insurgency.

He advised politicians to play a role towards fighting insurgency devoid of party affiliation and polarisation but as statesmen.

“That is why those who should know better should not say things that will deepen and perpetuate the atmosphere of crisis with wide and scurrilous allegations,” he emphasised.

Asked if the statements made by politicians will reduce if people are brought to justice as a result of the investigative process been hastened,  Mr Osuntokun said there was a difference between constructive criticism of the security situation of the country and allegations made  by some persons, reiterating that the best role a politician can play is not to politicise the issue of security as insurgency affects everyone.

“The general security situation does not discriminate whether you are PDP or APC and often times is the ordinary people that bear the consequences,” the ruling party member said.

 

Jega Seeks More Funding Ahead Of 2015 Elections

Attahiru-Jega_NEC-ChairmanThe Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Attahiru Jega has appealed for additional funding ahead of the 2015 general elections.

Fielding questions at a public hearing on free and fair 2015 general elections in the House of Representatives, Professor Jega said the commission has not been granted full autonomy as prescribed by the Nigerian constitution as amended especially in the area of funding.

He urged the Presidency and the National Assembly to lift what he called an ‘envelope system’ imposed upon the commission to enable them operate truly independently as it’s name suggests.

The INEC Chairman was speaking during a national dialogue organised by the House Committee on Reform of Government Institutions aimed at bringing together civil society groups, political party chairmen, analysts and the general public to brainstorm on ways to ensure transparent, credible and fair general elections in 2015.

The House Minority Whip, Samson Osagie and Chairman of the House Committee on Reform of Government Institutions, Mathew Omegara both noted that there is still a lot of work to be done towards a free and fair election.

They also urged INEC not to succumb to any external influence or dictatorship.

Professor Jega assured that the commission will address numerous challenges it is facing but said this will be difficult without adequate funding.

He also noted that several suggestions have been made on the conduct of the 2015 elections such as the provision for registration and voting for persons living with disability, information dissemination, record management system and security.

Government Is Creating Enabling Environment To Tackle Unemployment – Presidency

Prof. Sylvester MonyeThe Presidency on Friday assured citizens that it was making efforts at tackling unemployment in the country, adding that it had created an enabling environment in support of those with the capacity to create jobs.

Speaking on Channels Television’s breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily, an economist and Special Adviser to the President on Monitoring And Evaluation, Prof. Sylvester Monye, said that some government initiatives like YOUWIN were designed to create the enabling environment for job creation in the country.

“If you look at the budget that was passed yesterday, you would notice that works has the largest chunk, about 104 billion Naira in terms of budget provision because it is works, housing that create jobs. So government is actually targeting that as a major policy push,” he said.

He added that funds invested into the Mortgage Refinancing Company were part of the government’s efforts at tackling unemployment.

There had been discussions concerning the rebased exercise which placed the nation’s economy as 1st in Africa and 26th largest in the world. Making his contribution to this, Monye said “over the years, we have not been getting accurate information about the state of our economy. The GDP simply measures the size of our economy at current market value.”

He said that the nation had been guessing the actual size of the economy and the current market value for the past 24 years, and over the last 6 years, the nation’s economy had been growing at the average rate of over 6 percent, but the actual size was unknown until the Federal Government decided to rebase.

“The issue of rebasing is really to give us accurate data as to where we are today,” he said.

On why past administrations had failed to carry out the rebasing activity, Monye said “it’s a very tough thing to put statistics together and also, it depends on people’s priority, but the present administration felt that it was highly important that we know where we are.”

He revealed that the government was determined to eliminate controversies in the figures presented as was in the case of Ghana, and so set out on the exercise “as a model in transparency.” International agencies and Nigerian economists were involved “to show that this is an international credible exercise that is devoid of any manipulation.”

“The exercise is expensive and requires a strong statistical institution to drive it,” he said, noting that the nation can now boast of credible statistics given by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) and would need not rely on international bodies such as the World Bank and the IMF.

Addressing issues concerning the current population figure which had been contested, Monye said that the government was ‘transparency oriented’ and that when President Jonathan “takes on the next census, Nigerians would know that this is exactly what we are.”

On arguments that the new GDP figures did not take the rate of unemployment into cognisance, he said that the exercise was to measure the size of the economy in terms of the country’s finished product and also give information on the structure of the economy.

He, however, noted that the NBS had provided a methodology that would enable government calculate job creation and unemployment accurately. Also, Government would be able to predict impact of policies made on the economy.

Gusau’s Ambition To Control Armed Forces Won’t Work – Emma Addo

Emma AddoA Public Affairs Analyst, Emma Addo, on Friday said that the ambition of the new Minister of Defence, Aliyu Gusau, to have total control over the entire security apparatus of the nation would not work as the Nigerian Armed Forces Act and the National Defence Policy have defined his roles.

He also said that the ensuing power play between Gusau and the Service Chiefs was “normal” as “people are bound to want to flex muscles and lay the ground rules.”

Although, Mr. Addo, who was speaking on Channels Television’s breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily, admitted that the new developments were not welcomed considering the security situation in the country, he, however, opined that “what has happened is normal” and would not affect the on-going battle against the Boko Haram insurgency.

Rumours that the Defence Minister had resigned filtered into the public domain following his absence at a Security Council meeting as a result of a disagreement with the Service Chiefs, which the Presidency debunked. Mr.Addo was of the opinion that the “the new minister is an old hand who we started hearing about from 1983 when General Buhari came to power. So, I think he has a long history”, adding that Gusau’s pedigree may have threatened the composure of the Service Chiefs.

Addo also mentioned that information in the public domain revealed that Gusau had asked the President to allow him be in charge of the entire Force just as Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is the Coordinating Minister of Finance. However, “the military is a different ball game,” he added.

“There’s just no way it’s going to work out. If it works out for Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, it’s not going to work out for you.

“You see, the whole problem with this military thing is Gusau is course 3 and the new service chiefs and the CDS are course 21, 21, 23, 24. So from the word go, I think there was going to be problem.”

He went further to say “Gusau asking to be in total control of the Military is informed by one fact – that the North believes that they’ve not had a fair deal” in terms of position.

Addo also did not rule out the possibility of an attraction to personal gains as he suggested that Gusau may also want to reap the benefits of such influence, including the power to “vet appointments” and “vet contracts.”

Although the Minister In Charge of Defence oversees policy making, the CDS is in charge of the day to day affairs of the Force and the Service Chiefs, his subordinates. “If you look at all those put together, I am not too sure the military high commanders are wrong.”

Addo, however, allayed fears that the political struggle would affect the fight against the insurgents. “I think the military boys are doing their job and it’s the political aspect of it that’s playing out.”

Labaran Maku Hands Over To New Defence Minister, Gusau

Aliyu GusauNigeria’s Minister of Information and erstwhile Supervising Defence Minister, Labaran Maku on Friday handed over to the new Defence Minister, Retired General Aliyu Gusau at a ceremony, in Abuja.

While speaking, Mr Labaran Maku revealed that the Nigerian Military had put a lot of pressure on the Boko Haram insurgents in the last three to four weeks, and this resulted in the recent spate of attacks by the insurgents.

He also said that the military pressure had increased anger and frustrations among the insurgents.

Mr Maku, who served as the supervising Minister of Defence for the past five months, insisted that the insurgents were not necessarily Nigerians and that the Federal Government was working with neighbouring countries to destabilise their camps.

On his part, General Aliyu Gusau (Rtd), while stating his commitment to Nigeria’s fight against terrorism, said that the challenge of the insurgents was not insurmountable. He also asked for more collaboration among security agencies towards ending the attacks on the citizenry.

Gusau had been appointed National Security Advisor by President Goodluck Jonathan in March 2010. He held the same position during most of the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidency. Before that, he was in Military Intelligence, and was briefly Army Chief.

General Gusau was sworn into office by President Goodluck Jonathan, alongside 10 other Ministers on Wednesday.

Presidency Denies Existence Of 2015 Presidential Advisory C’tte

The Presidency has denied allegations about the existence of a 21 man committee, allegedly set up to advise President Goodluck Jonathan on a purported 2015 presidential ambition.

In a press statement emailed to Channels Television on Tuesday, the Special Adviser to the President (Media & Publicity), Dr Reuben Abati stated that “the Presidency has noted with concern that some individuals, groups, organisations and sections of the media have continued to foster the myth of a President and Administration solely concerned with jostling and self-positioning for the 2015 elections.”

Referring to a ThisDay Newspaper front page story published On Monday, April 15, 2013 titled “21-member c’ttee Empanelled for Jonathan’s Second Term Bid” Dr Abati stated the story is “totally untrue.”

According to Dr Abati’s statement, the story claimed that “the President’s aides and associates have set up a 21-member committee to advise (President) Jonathan on the viability of his entry into the presidential contest in 2015.”

Dr Abati further explained that these claims are “without any basis in reality. President Jonathan has not yet taken a decision on whether or not he will seek re-election in 2015 and has therefore not mandated any individual, committee or organisation to start working on his behalf for the 2015 elections.”

No Endorsement

He also denied the authenticity of an advertorial which appeared at page 14 of the Saturday Vanguard of April 13, 2013 signed by one OBITEX Industrial and Investment Company Limited.

The advert shows President Jonathan purportedly raising the hand of Nze Akachukwu Nwankpo, under the umbrella of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) with the suggestion that the President has endorsed Nze Nwankpo as the PDP Gubernatorial candidate for Anambra state.

The advertiser claims as follows: “As Mr. President, His Excellency Dr. Ebele Goodluck Jonathan has symbolically raise (sic) up your hands, so you have been chosen by the God Almighty to be the Governor of Anambra State come 2014.”

In Abati’s response, “ the Presidency emphatically states that President Jonathan has not endorsed any candidate for any position whatsoever ahead of the 2015 general elections neither has he commissioned persons to start campaigns for his own candidature.”

He credited the false insinuations to political office seekers, their sponsors and friends or collaborators and warned such people to desist from exploiting the President’s name.

Maina’s Issue Is Beyond Absconding From Duty — Senators

Federal lawmakers have reacted to President Jonathan’s directive that the head of service should commence disciplinary action against the chairman of the pension reform task team; Mr Abdulrasheed Maina for absconding from duty.

Speaking in an interview with Channels Television, a lawmaker representing Kogi State; Senator Smart Adeyemi said although the directive from the presidency is commendable the issue goes beyond absconding from duty.

Senate spokesman, Senator Enyinaya Abaribe also reacting to the president’s directive said the presidency should take another look at the report of the Senate committee investigating pension administration in the country.

The committee in that report which was released in June 2012 recommended the immediate arrest and prosecution of the chairman pension reform task team; Mr Abdulrasheed Maina for fraud and outright stealing of pension funds.

We need more money for food in Aso rock, Presidency tells Senate

The Presidency on Wednesday asked the Senate to increase the N1, 305, 292, 050 set aside in the 2013 budget for refreshment and meals and other miscellaneous expenses in the State House.

A breakdown of the Miscellaneous sub-head in the Presidential Villa’s budget shows that N203,752,432 was allocated for refreshment and meals; N107,412,768 would be spent on honorarium and sitting allowance while N37, 277,825 will be for publicity and advertisement.

The State House Permanent Secretary, Emmanuel Ogbile, who appeared before the Senator Dahiru Kuta-led Committee on Federal Character and Inter-Governmental Affairs, defended the N14, 715,566,104 budget for next year.

Mr Ogbile said other expenses that were being taken care of in the refreshment and meals vote, which he said include National Economic Council (NEC), Council of State, conferences in the Banquet Hall, Presidential retreats, National Merit Award, Children’s Day as well as hosting of dignitaries.

He also gave a further breakdown of the 2013 State House budget as thus, Medical expenses (N50,308,546); Postage and courier services (N10,035,583); Welfare packages (N195,066,223); Subscription to professional bodies (N4,589,793); and Sporting activities (N32,910,730).

According to the Permanent Secretary, Overtime will gulp, N250,455,589; Feeding of animals including animal supplements for the veterinary clinic (N30,584,144); Summit/ Extra ordinary sessions including the UN, African Union, ECOWAS, etc (N228,112,862); and NYSC, IT, LOCUM, Housemanship and contract staff allowance (N144,788,555).

Mr Ogbile said: “I have taken pains to explain that this money is not just to fund the residence of the President and that of the Vice President. The experience I have had is that this fund is grossly insufficient. It is not even enough.”

The Permanent Secretary noted that “it is also from the budget of N1.305 billion that we take care of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) which holds every Wednesday.”

Court of Arbitration for Sport faults Bin Hammam’s ban

The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has overturned the a life ban placed on former FIFA presidential candidate Mohamed Bin Hammam from all soccer-related activity over bribery allegations meaning Hammam’s appeal was victorious pending the time a proper investigation is completed on the allegations meted against him as it will be re-opened.

Qatari Bin Hammam remained suspended from the game after the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), which he previously headed, opened a disciplinary case against their former boss over alleged financial wrongdong earlier this week.

He was banned for 30 days, which was extended to a worldwide ban by FIFA on Wednesday.

The CAS said it upheld Bin Hammam’s appeal therefore annulling the decision rendered by the FIFA Appeal Committee and lifted the life ban imposed on Mr Bin Hammam.

Bin Hammam, a former member of FIFA’s executive committee, challenged Sepp Blatter for the presidency of soccer’s world ruling body last year.

He withdrew his candidacy, and was then provisionally suspended, days before the June election over allegations that he had tried to buy the votes of Caribbean officials by handing them $40,000 each in brown envelopes at a meeting in Port of Spain.

The CAs said further that Mr Bin Hammam was more likely the source of the monies that were brought into Trinidad and Tobago and eventually distributed at the meeting by Mr Warner and in this way, his conduct, in collaboration with and most likely induced by Mr Warner, may not have complied with the highest ethical standards that should govern the world of football and other sports.

He was banned for life and subsequently lost an appeal at FIFA. Proceedings against former CONCACAF president Jack Warner, also present at the meeting in Trinidad & Tobago, were dropped after he resigned his post.

CAS said the three-man panel voted 2-1 in Bin Hammam’s favour but added that his behaviour was not of the highest ethical standard.

Presidency says PIB in circulation is fake

The Presidency on Monday said that the version of the Petroleum Industry Bill presently in circulation is fake insisting that the PIB which was approved by the Federal Executive Council recently was still undergoing finishing touches by relevant government agencies.

In a press statement issued by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Reuben Abati, the presidency advised the public to ignore the current PIB document in circulation.

Mr Abati in the statement said that once the relevant agencies complete work on the document, it would be sent to the National Assembly on the seal of the President.

“The Presidency has noted with concern and dismay that a document alleged to be the new Petroleum Industry Bill is now in circulation and has even been published on some websites.

“Before the country is assailed once again with talk about the promulgation of this very important national law being hindered yet again by the existence of multiple versions, the Presidency wishes to categorically disown the document currently being circulated and published as the new Petroleum Industry Bill.

“Following the consideration and approval of its contents by the Federal Executive Council at its meeting last week, the authentic new Petroleum Industry Bill is still being finalised by relevant government departments and readied to be forwarded to the National Assembly by President Goodluck Jonathan.

“Upon its delivery to the National Assembly under the official seal of the President, the authentic new Petroleum Industry Bill will be available to all interested parties.

“The general public and all stakeholders in Nigeria’s oil and gas industry are, therefore, advised to ignore the document currently in circulation as it is totally fake and lacking in authenticity.”

Presidency Inaugurates Palliative Measure To Cushion Effects of Fuel Subsidy

President Goodluck Jonathan Sunday inaugurated 1,100 of 1,600 mass transit buses at the Eagles Square, Abuja, as part of the palliative measures he promised Nigerians to cushion the effect of the removal of fuel subsidy.

New buses

Jonathan said governors of the 36 states were absent at the formal launch of the scheme because he had asked them to remain in their states to monitor and work with security agencies as the strike called by labour unions over the subsidy removal begins today.

“Today, we are formally launching a mass transit programme and I have to emphasise that we are not inaugurating buses but we are launching a mass transit programme for Nigeria.

The Federal Government is involved, the state governments are involved, local governments are involved, the Central Bank of Nigeria is involved, several commercial banks are involved and of course, transport unions as well as manufacturers and importers of mass transit vehicles.

“Governors are not here because of what everybody is afraid of, the announced protest by some societies. We said every governor must be on ground in the state so that they would be able to work with security agencies to maintain law and order in their states,” Jonathan explained.

He also said the scheme was not put in place because of the removal of subsidy as “deregulation or no deregulation, we need a mass transit scheme” in order to bring down cost of transportation, pointing out that the increase in the cost of transportation due to the subsidy removal was an over-reaction to the policy and regretted commuters were being made to bear the brunt.

The president noted that wagons and small buses were not suitable for mass transit and therefore makes the cost high, hence the desire to introduce the mass transit buses which he said were not being bought or run by the government.
He said the funds were provided to bulk-purchase the buses to push down the prices and make them cheaper for the managers, adding, “Federal Government is not buying buses, we are subsidising mass transit.”