President Muhammadu Buhari has returned to Nigeria after spending four days in Portugal on a state visit. He left Nigeria for Portugal on Tuesday and returned to Abuja on Saturday.
The President had visited Portugal based on the invitation of President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa of Portugal.
During the trip, President Buhari attended the 2022 United Nations (UN) ocean conference, met with Carlos Moedas, mayor of Lisbon, and was also presented with the ‘key of the city of Lisbon’. Also, during the trip, Nigeria and Portugal signed several memoranda of understanding, including political consultations, diplomatic training, cooperation in the field of culture, and women and girls development.
The MoUs signed touched on political consultations, research and exchange of information and documentation, cooperation in the field of culture and cooperation in the field of women and girls development, empowerment and gender affairs, youths as well as sports.
The agreements, some of which were finalised between the two countries’ investment promotion agencies and chambers of commerce were signed on Nigeria’s behalf by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama and the Sports Minister, Sunday Dare.
President Buhari is optimistic that his state visit will further strengthen the goodwill and collaboration between both countries.
President Muhammadu Buhari Thursday in Lisbon, Portugal, indicated that Nigeria is ready to fill the natural gas gaps in Europe predicated by the current Russian-Ukrainian war.
The President also said with over 200 million mainly young people, Nigeria is ready to be the hub of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AFCFTA).
In his statement on areas of cooperation between Nigeria and Portugal delivered at the Presidential Palace in Lisbon, President Buhari urged Portugal to consider Nigeria as a valued and trusted partner in Africa.
The Nigerian leader identified five key areas of cooperation and collaboration capable of moving both countries forward, saying: ‘‘At a time the world is going through turbulent times, we feel that a strong friendship and partnership between Nigeria and Portugal can act as a force for good.’’
He listed the areas of cooperation and collaboration as follows: oil and gas, tourism and hospitality industry, air travel, security and joint commission.
On oil and gas, President Buhari said with the current Russian-Ukraine war, increased cooperation in oil and gas between the two countries has become vital to avoid crisis in the demand and supply chain, even as Nigeria is already a major supplier of gas to Portugal.
Regarding tourism and hospitality industry, President Buhari explained that Nigeria had huge potential in the sector and would like to benefit from the enormous expertise of his hosts in this area as shown in Portugal becoming a prime tourist destination.
Speaking On air travel, the President emphasized the need to sign a Bilateral Air Services Agreement (BASA) and quickly establish a direct air link between the two countries.
He noted that cooperation between the two counties in this area is vital for increased trade and investment, tourism promotion, people-to-people contact as well as social and cultural engagement.
Affirming Nigeria’s renewed commitment towards the fight against terrorism in the Lake Chad and the Sahel Region, the President told his Portuguese counterpart that Nigeria would welcome the support of the Portuguese Government through intelligence and information sharing, weapons and training of security personnel of member states.
Special media aide, Garba Shehu in a statement disclosed that President Buhari also stressed the need to establish a Joint Commission, saying: ‘‘We believe that the establishment of a Joint Commission will help to promote the full realization of the objectives of our bilateral relations.
‘‘The Commission would facilitate the institutionalization of cooperation mechanisms and permit the elaboration and implementation of concrete, specific and viable projects and programmes for the benefit of our people.’’
Furthermore, the President added that Nigeria and Portugal can cooperate closely on a range of agricultural and renewable energy projects.
‘‘Nigeria recognizes Portugal’s comparative advantages in the fields of renewable energy and pharmaceuticals which are also priority areas for Nigeria.
‘‘Other areas of cooperation which are of importance include; the Establishment of an Atlantic Research Centre; Political Consultations; Diplomatic Training; Cultural Cooperation; Investment Promotion; Chambers of Commerce Cooperation; Women and Child Development; Youth and Sports Development and Digital Economy Cooperation.
‘‘That is why we look forward to signing Memoranda of Understanding and Cooperation Agreements in those areas,’’ he said.
Earlier at a ceremonial welcome at Praca do Imperio by the President of Portugal, President Buhari had laid a wreath at the tomb of Luis Vaz de Camoes, the national poet, at the Mosteiro dos Jeronimos.
The Monastery of Jeronimos is one of the most decorative churches in Portugal. The body of the famous explorer, Vasco da Gama is interred in the lower chancel, just left of the entrance, opposite venerated 16th-century poet Luís Vaz de Camões, popularly perceived as Portugal’s Shakespeare.
From the upper choir, there’s a superb view of the church; the rows of seats are Portugal’s first Renaissance woodcarvings. The President’s State Visit officially started from here, received by President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa featuring an impressive military parade and a guided tour of the Monastery. The Nigerian leader was also conferred with the Portuguese National Honour and decorated ‘Great Collar of the Order of Prince Henry.’
Nigeria and Portugal have expressed determination to take relations to a whole new level with concrete deliverables, emphasizing the need for stronger ties 46 years after the establishment of diplomatic relations.
President Muhammadu Buhari gave the indication on Thursday in Lisbon, at a joint press conference with President Marcela Rebelo de Sousa of Portugal.
The Nigerian leader told the press after a one-on-one meeting with his Portuguese counterpart and an enlarged meeting between delegations that in spite of the existing cordial relations between the two countries, there was a need for greater collaboration.
President Buhari, therefore, declared that as many as ten agreements and Memoranda of Understanding are being prepared for signing during his State visit to the European country.
‘‘The Establishment of an Atlantic Research Centre; Air travel; Political Consultations; Diplomatic Training; Cultural Cooperation; Investment Promotion; Chambers of Commerce Cooperation; Women and Child Development; Youth and Sports Development and Digital Economy Cooperation.
‘‘The world is at a crossroads. The decisions we take as leaders could make or break the world as we know it.
‘‘We face existential challenges with climate change, food insecurity, conflict, health, and energy among others.
‘‘We look to Portugal as an influential country and partner to play an important role in helping to pull the world back from the brink.’’
President Buhari thanked the Portuguese leader for the role his government played during his tenure as President of the European Union, in securing EU and International Monetary Union financial support for Africa.
Highlighting that this year marks the 46th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries, the Nigerian leader said:
‘‘We are delighted that we can count Portugal as a valued and reliable friend and partner.
‘‘We share the same democratic values and look to increase and broaden cooperation in various fields at the bilateral and multilateral levels.’’
The president added that there will be a Nigeria-Portugal Business and Investment Forum with the participation of over 80 representatives from Nigerian public and private sector companies, agencies and organizations.
President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the renewal of the appointment of Patience Oniha as the Director-General of the Debt Management Office (DMO) for a second term of 5 years in accordance to Section IV (9-i) of the Debt Management Office (Establishment ETC) Act, 2003.
According to statement by the president’s special media aide, Garba Shehu, the renewal takes effect from July 1, 2022.
Her appointment for a second term was based on the significant achievements recorded by the DMO in the last 5 years, under her leadership.
Amongst the achievements are the introduction of Sukuk and Green Bonds to finance the development of infrastructure where there is a huge gap.
Under her watch, as part of the initiatives to improve the sustainability of the public debt and opening up avenues for raising long term funds for corporates, the DMO introduced long term Bonds with tenors of 30 years in the domestic and international markets.
This is aside from attracting diverse investors including retail investors to the FGN Bond Market.
Internally, Oniha introduced reforms to strengthen the DMO, as a critical agency in the public finance ecosystem of the country.
There have been several debates regarding Section 84(12) of the amended Electoral Act 2022 which was assented to in February.
Upon assenting to the act, President Buhari had asked the National Assembly to delete the contended clause, however, the parliament declined the president’s request.
Section 84 (12) of the legislation holds that, “no political appointee at any level shall be a voting delegate or be voted for at the convention or congress of any political party for the purpose of the nomination of candidates for any election.”
In their suit marked SC/CV/504/2022 and filed on April 29, 2022, President Buhari and Malami sought an order of the apex court to strike out the section of the Electoral Act, which they argue was inconsistent with the nation’s constitution.
According to the court document, the plaintiffs contend that the Section 84(12) of the Electoral (Amendment) Act, 2022 is inconsistent with the provisions of sections 42, 65, 66, 106, 107, 131, 137, 147, 151, 177, 182, 192 and 196 of the Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, (as amended), as well Article 2 of the African Charter on Human and People and Peoples Rights.
The plaintiffs further contended that the constitution already makes provisions for qualification and disqualification for the offices of the President and Vice President, Governor and Deputy Governor, Senate and House of Representatives, House of Assembly, Ministers, Commissioners and Special Advisers.
They urged the Supreme Court to make: “A declaration that the joint and or combined reading of the section 65, 66, 106, 107, 131, 137, 147, 151, 177, 182, 192 and 196 of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, (as amended), the provision of Section 84 (12) of the Electoral Act, 2022 which also ignores Section 84(3) of the same Act, is an additional qualifying and/or disqualifying factors for the National Assembly, House of Assembly, Gubernatorial and Presidential elections as enshrined in the said constitution, hence unconstitutional, unlawful, null and void”.
However, in its decision on Friday, the Supreme Court held that President Buhari having assented to the bill on February 25 2022, can not turn around to challenge same act .
In a unanimous judgement delivered by Justice Emmanuel Agim the court said allowing the suit to have it’s way will amount to approbating and reprobating at the same time and no court of law shall allow that.
The Apex Court unanimously agreed that President Buhari lacked the jurisdiction to bring the suit before it because of the nature of the reliefs sought.
President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday reiterated his resolve to respect the maximum term limit in the Nigerian Constitution, saying that the person that tried seeking a third term in office did not end well.
Although Buhari did not specifically mention any former Nigerian leader, it is believed he was referring to ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo who was in office from 1999 to 2007.
In a bilateral meeting with British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, on the margins of the 26th Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Kigali, Rwanda, Buhari was asked if he will seek another term in obvious.
“Another term for me? No! The first person who tried it didn’t end very well,” a statement by presidential spokesman, Femi Adesina, said.
The Commander-in-Chief also reacted to the travails of the leader of the proscribed Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu.
He debunked insinuations that the separatist was being denied to see his lawyers privately, saying Kanu was being given every opportunity under the law “to justify all the uncomplimentary things he had been saying against Nigeria in Britain.”
“He felt very safe in Britain and said awful things against Nigeria. We eventually got him when he stepped out of the United Kingdom, and we sent him to court. Let him defend all that he has said there. His lawyers have access to him. Remember he jumped bail before, how are we sure he won’t do it again if he’s admitted to bail?”
On the keenness expressed by the PM to help Nigeria in the area of security, the President said helping to stabilize Libya could be an initial good step, as the fall of Muammar Gadaffi after 42 years in power unleashed his armed guards on countries in the Sahel, “and they are causing havoc everywhere, as the only thing they know how to do is to shoot guns.”
On Boko Haram insurgency, President Buhari said there was a serious effort to educate the people on the fact that only an unserious person could kill innocent people, “and say Allah Akbar (God is Great). God is justice. You can’t take innocent souls, and ascribe it to God. And the education process is working, the people now understand Boko Haram as anti-God, and not about religion.”
In his remark, PM Johnson said he was delighted about the good news on trade between the two countries, adding that the UK was further reducing tariffs on some goods going to Nigeria.
He described the relationship between the countries as a “very strong attachment,” adding: “I just want to be sure that we are doing enough. It’s a massive partnership for us, and we need to capitalize on it.”
President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday received Jamaican Prime Minister, Andrew Holness in Kigali, Rwanda, on the sidelines of the 26th edition of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), and extolled the relations between both countries.
The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, disclosed this via a statement obtained by Channels Television.
“Our relationship dates back in time, to generations ago. Thank you for strengthening it, particularly on the economic and political fronts,” President Buhari was quoted as saying.
On his part, Holness said Nigeria had been very supportive of Jamaica, with the two countries having commercial agreements in place.
“The maiden flight from Lagos to Jamaica about two years ago was well received. We equally have relationships in the creative industry, sports, and finance,” the Jamaican PM said.
Referring to a recent opinion article written by President Buhari, and published in international newspapers, Holness said he agreed that the Commonwealth could be more than just a club of friends who have an affinity with the United Kingdom, “and become an economic powerhouse. All the elements are there; common language, large market, and many others. It can become a serious economic force”.
After the historic visit, the President told journalists that the lessons from his visit were the need for Nigerians to continue to be tolerant of one another, and for the nation to also preserve its own historical antecedents from the Nigeria Civil War (1967-1970).
“I went through all the experiences from 15 January 1966 to date. I was a Governor, Minister, and Head of State and went through detention. I returned to partisan politics and will finish my two terms as constitutionally allowed,” the Nigerian leader was quoted as saying.
“We fought a 30-month bitter civil war and we killed about a million of each other. Nigeria went through this kind of terrible development process.”
Before departing, the President also wrote in the visitors’ book:
“Remembering the victims of this dark history of the Rwanda Genocide, we pray that humanity will never experience this kind of hatred, wickedness and violence toward others because of their ethnic background, religion, and beliefs.
“Nigeria is strongly committed to the prevention of mass atrocity anywhere in the world and believes that perpetrators of such crimes; and their enablers, anywhere in the world must be held accountable.”
President Buhari is in Kigali, Rwanda to participate in the 26th Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM).
President Muhammadu Buhari says it’s not in his place to determine if the political ambition of Central Bank Governor, Godwin Emefiele, infringes on any laws that affects his productivity.
Buhari stated this on Tuesday during his interview with Bloomberg.
There have been debates around the central bank’s independence following the governor showing interest in running for presidency, however, Buhari was of the opinion that his is to appoint and the appointment is subject to confirmation by the Nigerian Senate.
According to the president, “Ultimately, it will be for the CBN’s board of directors to determine whether a CBN governor’s actions have fallen foul of the laws in place to ensure he can most effectively carry out his duties”.
President Buhari, however, asserted that there is a subtext to the accusations, stressing that “because the governor follows a model outside of the economic orthodoxy, he is labelled political”.
He further argued that the orthodoxy has proved wrong time and again.
“Instead, the governor is following an alternative economic model that puts people at the heart of policy.
“Nigeria should be free to choose its development model and how to construct our economy, so it functions for Nigerians,” President Buhari buttressed.
Reacting to questions regarding security, the president said that his administration is the only one in Nigeria’s history to implement a solution to decades-long herder/farmer conflicts, exacerbated by desertification and demographic growth.
He explained that the National Livestock Transformation Plan, putting ranching at its core, is the only way to deplete the competition for resources at the core of the clashes.
According to him, governors from some individual states have sought to play politics where ranches have been established; but where they have been disputes have dramatically reduced.
Speaking further as to the war against terror, President Buhari explained that in 2015, Boko Haram held territory the size of Belgium within the borders of Nigeria, adding that today, however, the terrorists are close to extinct as a military force.
Buhari while reaffirming that a leader of ISWAP was eliminated by a Nigerian Airforce airstrike in March, noted that the jets acquired from the US and intelligence shared by the British were not provided to previous administrations and stand as testament to renewed trust re-built between Nigeria and her traditional western allies under his government.
President Muhammadu Buhari should have retained Rotimi Amaechi as the Minister of Transportation.
This is according to a former senator representing Kaduna Central, Senator Shehu Sani, who said Amaechi needs to complete the ongoing rail projects across the country.
“He should have been returned to ensure that these contracts that were signed with China, Portugal and other financiers of our railway projects, at least he sees them to the end,” Sani said in an interview on Channels Television’s Politics Today on Tuesday.
“Because it has been the culture in this country, each time you have a new minister, projects are usually stalled when ideally there should be continuity in governance and activities of government.”
The ex-lawmaker explained that the railway projects need to have a head who will continue to steer contracts so that the targets can be met.
Describing the transportation ministry as critical, the PDP chieftain said the ex-minister has made pledges of completing all rail projects before the expiration of Buhari’s tenure in 2023.
He also took a swipe at the current administration, saying things are too slow under Buhari’s government.
Specifically, Sani said it takes the President a long time to replace ministers who resign, recalling how Buhari delayed the appointment of his cabinet members in 2015.
Sani added, “Naturally, when you have a vacuum with the resignation of the ministers and their entry into the political scene, it is incumbent on the president to nominate a new set of ministers who will continue with the normal conduct of government and governance,” he said.
“It has been habitual for this President to take a very long time before replacing a minister. As you can see, many of these ministers have been there for eight years.
“But this time around, I think he is very conscious of the fact that time is against him and there are projects that have been left uncompleted.”
President Buhari had earlier sent names of seven ministerial nominees to the Senate as replacements for the ministers who had resigned to pursue their political ambitions.
Those affected by the resignation include Amaechi, Ogbonnaya Onu (Science and Technology) Godswill Akpabio, (Niger Delta Affairs), and Emeka Nwajiuba (Education, State).
While they left their roles in pursuit of the All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential ticket, Uche Ogah, exited his role as the minister of state for Mines and Steel Development to pursue the Abia governorship bid.
Similarly, former Minister of State for Niger Delta Affairs, Tayo Alasoadura, also resigned to contest for the APC senatorial ticket in Ondo.
President Muhammadu Buhari will depart Abuja later today for Kigali, Rwanda, to attend the 26th Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), being held from June 20 to 26, 2022.
Special Adviser to the President, Femi Adesina, disclosed this in a statement, noting that at CHOGM 2022, Buhari will join other leaders to participate in discussions focused on the progress and prosperity of the more than 2 billion people living in the 54 independent countries in Africa, Asia, the Americas, Europe and the Pacific that make up the Commonwealth.
The theme for CHOGM 2022 is ‘Delivering a Common Future: Connecting, Innovating, Transforming,’ and the Heads of Government are expected to reaffirm their commitment to upholding the Commonwealth Charter, which focuses on democracy, human rights, the rule of law, as well as economic opportunities and sustainable development.
President Buhari will attend the official opening ceremony on June 24, followed by high-level meetings of Heads of State and Government on Friday 24 and Saturday 25 June.
The leaders are expected to consider a range of topical issues including post COVID-19 economic recovery, debt sustainability, climate change, poverty reduction, youth entrepreneurship and employment, trade and food security.
Prior to this, the Nigerian delegation drawn from the public, private and youth organisations participated in four forums covering youth, women, business and civil society; and will engage in ministerial meetings and several side events.
On the margins of the meeting, the Nigerian leader is scheduled to deliver remarks at the High-Level Session of Malaria and Neglected Tropical Diseases Summit and participate in an Intergenerational Dialogue for Youth. President Buhari is also expected to hold bilateral talks with some leaders from the Commonwealth countries.
Ahead of the biennial meeting, which was due to take place in June 2020 but was postponed twice due to the COVID-19 pandemic, President Buhari, in an article published in The Telegraph, London, stressed that the Commonwealth can become a real global power with improved collaborations on trade and security, lending weight to each other in international bodies.
The President will be accompanied by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama; the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed; the Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire; the Minister of Environment, Mohammed Abdullahi and the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Ali Pantami.
Others in the President’s entourage are the National Security Adviser, Maj-Gen Babagana Monguno (rtd) Director-General, National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Ahmed Rufa’i Abubakar and the Chairman/CEO Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NidCOM), Abike Dabiri-Erewa.
According to Adesina, the president will return to the country on Sunday, June 26, 2022.