‘Together Shall We Be’: Buhari Unveils ‘Nigeria At 60’ Logo, Theme

 

As Nigeria approaches the Diamond Jubilee, President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday unveiled the logo and theme which will be used in the celebration of the anniversary.

The unveiling took place during the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting in Abuja, the nation’s capital.

It was witnessed by Federal Ministers and the Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo.

 

 

READ ALSO: Democracy Is The Only System That Can Work For Nigeria; Kukah

Ministers at the meeting include the Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola; Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed; Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, among others.

The Federal Government had earlier in September called on Nigerians to submit creative ideas that can brand the anniversary which is themed “Together at 60”.

Nigeria’s Independence is usually celebrated annually on October 1.

See more photos below…

 

President Muhammadu Buhari delivered a speech after the unveiling. Read the full speech below:

SPEECH BY PRESIDENT MUHAMMADU BUHARI

Today we stand on the threshold of history as we formally begin a series of activities commemorating Nigeria’s Diamond Anniversary. The task history has saddled me with today is to proclaim a theme that will keep us united, help us forge ahead, and unveil a logo that will form the critical pillars, which are eleven months modest commemoration activities will rest on.

Celebrating 60 years of independence really calls for pomp and pageantry, but the global COVID-19 Pandemic, which has forced all nations in the world to think and act differently, has also forced on us the imperative of a low-keyed celebration. Operating within the limitations placed by the COVID-19 pandemic, we created an internet challenge for Nigerians to make a choice from a set of four pre-selected logos that will appropriately define the theme.

Of these four options, Nigerians from all walks of life participated in making a choice and I’m happy to let you know that the logo I will be unveiling is a product of choice from the Nigerian people.

I’m informed that the selected option depicts our togetherness; a country of over 200 million people, whose natural talents, grits, and passion glitter like the precious diamond we are. This to me is a sufficient appreciation to our most precious assets; our people. Everywhere you go, Nigerians are sparkling like diamonds in the pack, whether in academia, business, Innovation, music, movie, entertainment, and culture.

Furthermore, I’m also made aware that the neatly encrusted diamond on the Nigerian map symbolises our age of treasure, the worth of the Nigerian people, who are sparkle to the admiration of the world.

In the same vein, the fair green and the dark green colours should respectively remind us of our warmth, welcoming spirit, and love, as well as the abundant wealth inherent in our human capital and the richness of our land.

All these properties made us, unarguably, the most prosperous black nation in the world and Africa’s largest economy. It is therefore with a deep feeling of national pride and I hereby announce to you that “Together shall we be” shall the theme of our nation’s 60th-anniversary celebration.

Our founding fathers, in spite of differences in faith, tribe, and tongue, came together to fight for Nigeria’s independence. This shall be a befitting tribute to the struggle of our heroes past.

It is to the glory of God and in celebration of the attainment of the diamond age of 60 by our great nation that I hereby unveil the preferred anniversary logo for this momentous occasion in our national history.

At this juncture, let me thank members of the inter-ministerial committee on Nigeria’s 60th-anniversary celebration for the work they have done so far and remind them that this is just the beginning. As we celebrate this anniversary, this government will work towards greater inclusiveness and look forward to the participation of all Nigerians.

Why We Stopped Importation Of Food Into Nigeria – Buhari

A file photo of President Muhammadu Buhari.

 

President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday said the Federal Government stopped food importation to boost agriculture and save Nigerians from joblessness.

He stressed that practicing agriculture locally is vital in boosting productivity, reducing joblessness, and poverty in the country.

“For us to bounce back to productivity, especially in agriculture, the unemployed with many of them uneducated had to be persuaded to go into agriculture.

‘‘If we hadn’t gone back to the lands we would have been in trouble by now. That is why we virtually stopped the importation of food thereby saving jobs and foreign exchange,” the President said.

File photo of food items stored in a warehouse

 

President Buhari disclosed this during a virtual meeting with members of the Presidential Economic Advisory Council (PEAC) at the State House, in Abuja,

The president also justified the government’s borrowing to finance infrastructure, asserting that his government took loans in the interest of the country to solve the dire shortfall in infrastructure.

“We have so many challenges with infrastructure. We just have to take loans to do roads, rail, and power, so that investors will find us attractive and come here to put their money,’’ the President said after listening to a presentation by PEAC chaired by Professor Ayo Salami.

He regretted that the failure to provide the infrastructure for effective transportation deprived the country of its well-deserved status as the West African hub for Air cargo transportation and trans-shipment of goods.

On the issue of the economy, President Buhari noted the challenges posed by the “collapse of the oil market” and the decision of the government to abide by the reduced oil production quota allocated by the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).

“We have to accept that decision; otherwise they (Middle-East producers) can flood the market and make the product unviable. So we have cooperated with what we get. With oil, we are in a difficult situation. The politics of oil is that the less you produce, the more you earn,” he said.

The President also broached the issue of the COVID-19 pandemic and how it necessitated the recent government policies as they relate to energy (electricity) and fuel.

He said the Federal Government took such decisions because it places the country above politics.

Nigerians Are Hungry, Jega, Onaiyekan Tell Buhari

A file photo of President Muhammadu Buhari.

 

The former Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Attahiru Jega; and a former Catholic Archbishop of Abuja, Cardinal John Onaiyekan, have told President Muhammadu Buhari that Nigerians are facing “double suffering” due to insecurity and the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The duo also asked President Buhari to urgently tackle the security challenges facing parts of the country even if it means sacking service chiefs.

This was contained in a statement titled, ‘Mr. President, Governors: The Time for Dialogue is NOW’ issued on Sunday.

It was signed by Jega, Onaiyekan, Gen. Martin Agwai, Amb. Fatima Balla, Prof. Jibrin Ibrahim, Mrs. Aisha Muhammed-Oyebode, Dr. Nguyan Feese, Dr. Usman Bugaje and Dr. Chris Kwaja who are all members of the Nigeria Working Group on Peace-building and Governance.

“Nigeria, like the rest of the world is battling the coronavirus pandemic. However, citizens in Nigeria are facing double the suffering because they also have to contend with rising insecurity and violence across the country.

“The Nigerian government must immediately address the rising insecurity, if it is to succeed in the fight against the pandemic. A recent USIP-commissioned survey in Nigeria found new linkages between COVID19, instability, and conflict.

“In particular, the survey found that victims of recent violence are less likely to trust the government’s coronavirus response measures compared to those who have not experienced violence,” the statement partly read.

They also made some recommendations on how the Federal Government could strengthen its efforts to manage the pandemic by addressing the rising insecurity across the country.

Buhari Inaugurates Committee To Lift 100m Nigerians Out Of Poverty, Boost Development

 

President Muhammadu Buhari has inaugurated the National Steering Committee to oversee Nigeria’s Agenda 2050.

The committee is to ensure that the Medium-Term National Development Plan (MTNDP) succeeds the Vision 20:2020 and the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) 2017 – 2020.

The team will be jointly chaired by Mr Atedo Peterside and the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed.

Part of the task before the group is to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty within the next 10 years.

“The main objectives of these Successor Plans are to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty within the next 10 years, particularly given the World Bank’s projection that Nigeria will become the world’s third most populous country by 2050 with over 400 million people,” President Buhari said.

 

For Buhari, it had become necessary to develop successor plans to the Nigeria Vision 20:2020 and the ERGP, which will lapse in December, to ensure continuity and efficiency in the country’s development planning.

On the mandate of the members, President Buhari said it would oversee governance structure comprising the Central Working Group and 26 Technical Working Groups for the important national assignment.

“It is my expectation that the Steering Committee will oversee the execution of key deliverables, including recommending measures to ensure the continuous implementation of the Plans even after the expiration of the tenure of successive Administrations – including legislation, if required.

 

“Such legislation may introduce much-needed rigour and discipline to the nation’s development planning as well as institutionalise planned outcomes for the future. I trust that our partners in the National Assembly will support us in exploring these reforms,” he said.

While asking members not to lose sight Nigeria’s role globally, President Buhari said the Successor Plans must, therefore, be designed to sustain national development, support regional and global strategic interests, as outlined in the African Union Agenda 2063, the ECOWAS Integration Agenda 2050 and the Sustainable Development Goals 2030.

PDP To Buhari: Nigerians Can’t Survive Fuel, Electricity Price Hike

 

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has reacted to the increase in fuel and electricity tariffs saying Nigerians cannot survive the new policy.

In a statement issued by the PDP National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, the party regretted the increment comes amid the poverty level allegedly foisted by the President Muhammadu Buhari administration.

The party’s spokesman described the attempt by the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, to justify the excessive hike in the cost of fuel from N87 per liter under the PDP to N162 as well as electricity from N30.23 per kwh to over N66kw/h, as yet another daring and intolerable affront to the Nigerian citizenry, who have summarily rejected the price increase.

“Our party stands with Nigerians in insisting that there is no way our compatriots can survive a N162 per liter fuel price and a N66 per kw/h of electricity in a country which, in the last five years, ranked as poverty capital of the world, with a frightening 23 percent unemployment rate; where over 90 million citizens live in abject poverty and many more living on less than N500 a day.

“Indeed, we find it very inconceivable that after the Federal Government, through the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadiya Farouq, confirmed that 90 million Nigerians are living in poverty, it still went ahead to increase the cost of essential commodities that drive our economy.

“Nigerians are already in trepidation that the excruciating price increase is a sudden death sentence on many citizens, particularly those living below poverty line, as they cannot survive under a worsened economic situation,” the statement partly read.

 

SEE FULL STATEMENT

PDP To Buhari, Nigerians Can’t Survive Your Fuel, Electricity Price Hike

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) says there is no way our country men and women can survive the obnoxious hike in the cost of fuel and electricity, as currently imposed by the Buhari administration, given the level of poverty the administration had already foisted on our nation.

The party described the attempt by the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, to justify the excessive hike in the cost of fuel from N87 per liter under the PDP to N162 as well as electricity from N30.23 per kwh to over N66kw/h, as yet another daring and intolerable affront to the Nigerian citizenry, who have summarily rejected the price increase.

The party described the brazen attempt by the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, to justify the excessive hike in the cost of fuel from N87 per liter under the PDP to N162 as well as electricity from N30.23 per kwh to over N66kw/h, as yet another daring and intolerable affront to the Nigerian citizenry, who have summarily rejected the increases.

Our party stands with Nigerians in insisting that there is no way our compatriots can survive a N162 per liter fuel price and a N66 per kw/h of electricity in a country which, in the last five years, ranked as poverty capital of the world, with a frightening 23 percent unemployment rate; where over 90 million citizens live in abject poverty and many more living on less than N500 a day.

Indeed, we find it very inconceivable that after the Federal Government, through the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadiya Farouq, confirmed that 90 million Nigerians are living in poverty, it still went ahead to increase the cost of essential commodities that drive our economy.

Nigerians are already in trepidation that the excruciating price increase is a sudden death sentence on many citizens, particularly those living below poverty line, as they cannot survive under a worsened economic situation,” the statement partly read.

Moreover, with a N30,000 federal monthly minimum wage, which represents a N1,000 ($2.1) daily wage, there is no way an average Nigerian can survive under the excessive fuel and electricity hike, with attendant increases in transportation and other operational costs, which will leave most citizens with nothing for food, medicines, house rents and other basic necessities of life.

We remind President Buhari that this hike will worsen the scary situation in the last five years, where compatriots are resorting to suicide, slavery mission abroad as well as selling of their children as options.

Our party therefore finds it extremely cruel and insensitive for anybody,  particularly, an official of this failed administration, to attempt to antagonize Nigerians by comparing our nation to other countries where their Presidents are working hard in providing gainful employments, running productive economies and functional infrastructure, and where citizens boast of strong purchasing power.

PDP therefore rejects the highly irrational argument by the Minister of Information, Mohammed, that fuel price is lower in some West African countries, without presenting the contradictory economic settings in those countries and ours.

Moreover, given our natural endowment, it is incontrovertible that Nigeria has always had cheaper fuel than her neighbours, It is however disgraceful that this Buhari administration, given its incompetence, extreme cluelessness as well as obnoxious and poverty inducing policies, has reduced Nigeria from the Giant of Africa to a West African ‘struggler’.

The PDP firmly holds that nothing, but immediate downward review of the cost of fuel and electricity can be acceptable under the current economic situation in our country.

President Buhari must know that the duty of every responsible government is to solve problems and not to inflict pain and invent justification for its own failures.

On this fuel and electricity prices increase, the PDP, once again, charges President Buhari to end the grandstanding of his administration and listen to Nigerians before it is too late.

Signed:

Kola Ologbondiyan

National Publicity Secretary

PHOTOS: Buhari Attends 57th Ordinary Session Of ECOWAS In Niger

President Muhammadu Buhari flagged by other regional blocs during the ECOWAS summit in Niamey, Niger Republic. Credit: State House

 

President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday attended the 57th ordinary session of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in Niamey, Niger Republic.

The President was accompanied by the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele; the National Security Adviser, Babagana Monguno; the Minister of Aviation; Hadi Sirika among other government officials.

He later joined Presidents Mahamadou Issoufou of Niger, Macky Sall of Senegal, Umaro Embalo of Guinea Bissau and other regional leaders.

During the summit, the regional bloc made a new appeal for Mali to make a “swift” transition to civilian rule following a military coup on August 18.

According to a media report, President Issoufou who is the current ECOWAS chairman called on the military to cooperate with the body.

“It is our community’s duty to help Malians towards the swift re-establishment of all democratic institutions. The military junta must help us to help Mali,” he said at the start of a summit.

 

See Photos Below:

President Buhari To Attend ECOWAS Summit In Niger Republic

A file photo of President Muhammadu Buhari.

 

President Muhammadu Buhari is set to attend the Fifty-Seventh Ordinary Session of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government.

A statement issued on Sunday by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media & Publicity, Garba Shehu, said the President will leave Abuja on Monday for Niamey, Niger Republic where he is to participate in the summit.

According to the statement, the one-day summit will deliberate on the Special Report on COVID-19 to be presented by President Buhari who was appointed the ECOWAS Champion on the Fight against COVID-19 during the Extraordinary Virtual Summit of ECOWAS on April 23, 2020.

“As a Champion, the Nigerian leader was expected to coordinate the sub-regional response against the pandemic,” the statement read.

“In furtherance of that objective, under the supervision of the Champion, Nigerian Ministers of Health, Aviation and Finance were appointed Chairpersons of the Ministerial Coordination Committees on Health; Transport, Logistics and Trade; and Finance respectively.”

The summit will also receive a Special Report on the ECOWAS Single Currency Programme to be presented by President Julius Maada Bio of Sierra Leone and Chair of the Authority of Heads of State and Government of the West African Monetary Zone (WAMZ), and President Alassane Ouattara, who is Chair of the West African Economic Monetary Union (WAEMU/UEMOA).

The President of the ECOWAS Commission, Jean Claude Kassi Brou will present to the West African leaders, the 2020 Interim Report on activities of the sub-regional body including ECOWAS Vision 2050.

Other issues to be addressed include the alarming rise in incidents of terrorism, insurgency, armed banditry and piracy, while the disruption of the democratic process by the military in Mali, will receive further attention.

Similarly, in Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Guinea and Niger where parliamentary and presidential elections are scheduled for this year, the imperative to strengthen democracy in the sub-region by respecting constitutional provisions, rule of law and outcomes of free and fair polls, will be emphasised.

President Buhari will be accompanied to the Summit by ministers and other top government officials.

Ogun Govt Seeks To Construct FG Corridor Roads

 

The Ogun State Government has hinted on plans to take over the reconstruction and rehabilitation of some major Federal Government roads within the state.

This was disclosed by the state governor, Dapo Abiodun, who briefed State House journalists after a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Aso Villa on Thursday.

According to the governor, the move is in conjunction with the Lagos State Government.

While listing the impact his administration has made in its first year in office, Mr Abiodun said that Ogun State remains a gateway to Lagos and the rest of the country.

READ ALSO: Nigerians Groan As Petrol Price Hits N160 Per Litre

He stressed that it is important for his administration to focus on providing key infrastructure across the state, in order to boost business confidence and industrialisation.

“We see ourselves as the expansion corridor for Lagos and it requires that we provide the right infrastructure to allow people to come between Lagos and our state and to go back.

“In our first one year, we have intervened in almost 90km of roads, out of which 22km has been completed and they are ongoing. We are now going to the next phase – these are internal and border roads.”

The governor said he also came to inform President Buhari on the challenges facing the state, one of which is the deplorable condition of the two major roads,  which he said is the only link to Nigeria’s biggest industrial hub, the Agbara Industrial Estate.

He stressed that the situation with the Agbara-Atan road has become a major threat to investors and multinationals in the state.

“Our biggest industrial hub in this country is the Agbara Industrial Estate; there is a road that goes from Agbara to Lusada and to Atan, that road leads the estate and it is in such deplorable state that trailers coming from the port to the industrial estate and back, continue to have accidents and delays, to the point where some of the multinationals are threatening to leave the country.

“We have decided to intervene in this road as a state and we want the President to know that we are going to construct this road at our expense and inform the Federal Ministry of works that we will be making the demand for a refund of the construction of that road,” he stated.

Stressing further, governor Abiodun said the plan for the Lagos-Ota-Abeokuta road, is for Ogun and Lagos States to collaborate to rebuild the road and commercialise it, noting it would be impossible for the Federal Government to attend to all the roads under its control at the same time.

“Lagos, Ota and Abeokuta road is the second busiest road in the country, and as a state government with Lagos, we have asked Mr President to transfer the road to us and we will commercialise it.”

He, however, noted that President Buhari was pleased with the discussion and has promised to give the necessary support to see the economic growth of the region.

The governor also revealed that 1870 houses will be built across three senatorial districts as part of efforts to sustain the economic development in the state.

Gbajabiamila To Visit Ghana On ‘Legislative Diplomacy’ Over Maltreatment Of Nigerians

A file photo of Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila.
A file photo of Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila.

 

Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, says he will embark on a ‘legislative diplomacy’ visit to Ghana on Wednesday, over hostilities against Nigerians living in the West African country.

Gbajabiamila who made this known to State House correspondents after a closed-door meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday.

According to the Speaker, he got the blessing from President Buhari to meet with his Ghanaian counterpart to find a solution to the problem.

“I am leaving for Ghana tomorrow to meet with the Speaker of the Parliament in Ghana to look at the issues on ground as it affects our citizens, to try and calm things down to see if there is a way forward.

“I informed the President; he is aware of every single step that we are taking. We hope that we will come to an amicable settlement one way or the other,” he said.

 

When asked what his demands were, Gbajabiamila said he was not demanding anything on behalf of the Nigerian government.

The Speaker explained that his mission to Ghana is to “discuss and see how the two countries can resolve whatever the issues are. It is not about making demands, it is diplomacy.”

READ ALSO: Lagos Govt Commences Reconstruction Of Helicopter Crash Site

This comes four days after the Nigerian Government warned that it would no longer tolerate the maltreatment of its citizens in Ghana.

In a statement issued on August 28 by the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, the Federal Government is deeply concerned by the incessant harassment and the progressive acts of hostility towards the country by Ghanaian authorities.

To Mohammed, the President Buhari administration is urgently considering a number of options, as part of measures to contain the situation.

He also revealed that the government “has been documenting the acts of hostility towards Nigeria and Nigerians by the Ghanaian authorities.”

But reacting on August 30, Ghana’s Information Minister, Endkojo Oppong Nkrumah, faulted claims made by the Nigerian government.

He however explained that President Nana Akufo-Addo will engage with President Muhammadu Buhari to resolve the matters amicably.

While reiterating the country’s commitment to maintaining what could be described as warm relations between the two countries, Nkrumah said the move is necessary to guard against straining the diplomatic ties.

 

PHOTOS: RCCG General Overseer Adeboye Visits Buhari, Osinbajo

President Muhammadu Buhari receives the General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), Pastor Enoch Adeboye at the Presidential Villa, Abuja on August 31, 2020. Credit: State House

 

President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday received the General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Pastor Enoch Adeboye at the State House in Abuja.

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, and the Chief of Staff to the President, Ibrahim Gambari, were also in attendance during the visit.

Details of the meeting were not, however, made known to reporters.

See Photos Below:

 

Pastor Adeboye is the first high-profile clergyman to have visited the Nigerian leader since the COVID-19 pandemic started.

Worried by the security situation in the country, Adeboye had in February led members of his congregation in a prayer walk against insecurity in Nigeria.

The directive to members of the RCCG followed the declaration of a prayer walk by the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) to address the spate of killings across the country.

About 25, 000 parishes of the RCCG took part in the prayer walk, according to the Assistant General Overseer of the church, Funso Odesola.

‘Unacceptable, Ungodly’

Adeboye’s visit is coming a few weeks after President Buhari signed the Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA) 2020, a development which has sparked debates among religious leaders.

CAN, the umbrella body of Christians had “outrightly” rejected the Act, describing it as “unacceptable, ungodly, reprehensible, and an ill-wind that blows no one any good.  It is a time bomb waiting to explode.”

A statement by CAN said while the body is not against the government’s resolve to fight corruption, “the Church cannot be controlled by the government because of its spiritual responsibilities and obligations.”

While speaking during the recently-concluded conference of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Vice President Osinbajo gave an insight into why CAMA has raised eyebrows among Christians.

“As a general position, I do not think it will be right to say that pastors don’t want to be accountable,” he said.

“I believe that several Christian organizations and pastors are willing to be accountable. The problem that they may have is ensuring that processes are not abused in such a way as to compromise the entire organization.

“And I think that if all that is required is some process of accountability, I think it will be easier for organizations to accept that.”

Ghana’s Akufo-Addo To Engage President Buhari Over Maltreatment Of Nigerians, Others

(File Photo) Ghana’s President, Nana Akufo-Addo

 

The Ghanaian Government has reacted to claims made by the Federal Government over the maltreatment of Nigerians in the country among other issues raised.

In a statement issued on Sunday, Ghana’s Minister of Information, Endkojo Oppong Nkrumah, said President Nana Akufo-Addo will engage with President Muhammadu Buhari to resolve the matters amicably.

While reiterating the country’s commitment to maintaining what could be described as warm relations between the two countries, Nkrumah said the move is necessary to guard against straining the diplomatic ties.

READ ALSO: Nigeria Will No Longer Tolerate Harassment Of Citizens In Ghana – FG

This comes two days after Nigeria’s Information Minister, Lai Mohammed said the Federal Government will no longer tolerate further maltreatment of its citizens in Ghana.

 SEE FULL STATEMENT ISSUED BY THE GHANAIAN GOVERNMENT HERE:

 

                                                                       Republic of Ghana

                                                                  MINISTRY OF INFORMATION  PO. BOX M 41, ACCRA

Tel No: +233-(0)30-2227201

Fax No: +233-(0)30-2229786 EMAIL: info.m [email protected]

August 30, 2020

STATEMENT

The Government of Ghana notes, with concern, a statement, dated Friday, August 28, 2020, issued by the Ministry of Information and Culture and signed by the Federal Minister, Hon. Lai Mohammed, on behalf of the Federal Government of Nigeria, concerning current relations between Ghana and Nigeria.

Ghana remains committed to the maintenance of warm relations with all sister nations, particularly, for well-known historical reasons, with the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and will proceed to engage the Federal Government of Nigeria with a view to resolve comprehensively and exhaustively any matters that have the potential to sour relations between the two countries.

Ghana finds it imperative, however, from the onset, to state, for the public record, that the outline of issues by my Nigerian counterpart is not reflective of the developments in Ghana. Any protests, decisions or actions based on these reports will, thus, be unjustified.

We are obliged, therefore, as a first step, to provide our counterparts, as well as the Ghanaian and Nigerian publics, with a more reflective account of events, even as we pursue substantive diplomatic engagements to resolve matters.

(I) Accusation:

The seizure of the Nigerian Mission’s property located at No. 10, Barnes Road, Accra which has been used as diplomatic premises by the Nigerian Government for almost 50 years; and which action, is a serious breach of the Vienna Convention.

Response:

This statement is inaccurate. The transaction was a commercial arrangement between Thomas D. Hardy, a private citizen and the High Commission of Nigeria in Ghana on 23rd October 1959.

The terms of the Commercial Lease expired 46 years ago, without any evidence of renewal by the High Commission of Nigeria in Ghana. The Government of Ghana was not involved in the transaction and has not seized the property in question.

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(II) Accusation:

Also, even though the main reason given for the seizure of Federal Government property at No. 10 Barnes Road in Accra is the non-renewal of Lease after expiration, the Ghanaian authority did not give Nigeria the right of first refusal or the notice to renew the Lease. By contrast, the lease on some of the properties occupied by the Ghanaian Mission in Nigeria has long expired, yet such properties have not been seized.

Response: The Government of Ghana does not, did not and never owned the land, and has not been involved in the seizure of any property of the Nigerian High Commission in Ghana. The land in question is owned by the Osu Stool and managed by the Lands Commission.

In response to the claim that the lease on some of the properties owned by the Ghana Mission in Nigeria has long expired, it must be noted that the Government acquired a freehold land at Pope John Paul II Street in Abuja in 1989 through a commercial arrangement, and built the current structures on it. The staff of the Ghana High Commission in Abuja have been living there since the construction of the current structures.

(III) Accusation:

Demolition of the Nigerian Mission’s property located at No. 19/21 Julius Nyerere Street, East Ridge, Accra, which constitutes another serious breach of the Vienna Convention.

Response:

This statement is not factual. A search at the Lands Commission indicated that the Nigerian High Commission failed to complete the documentation process after paying for the land in the year 2000 A.D. The High Commission failed to acquire the Lease and Land Title Certificate, which constitute documentation for the said property, as well as a building permit for construction. In Ghana, land is owned not only by the Government, but also by Stools and Families.

The demolition of the property was not carried out by agents of the Ghanaian Government, but by agents of the Osu Stool. Nonetheless, the Government of Ghana, valuing the relations between our two countries, has decided to restore the property, at its own cost, to its original state for the Nigerian High Commission, and has duly communicated same to the Nigerian Authorities. The Government of Ghana has also agreed to facilitate the proper acquisition of title by the Nigerian High Commission, as announced by Ghana’s Minister for Foreign Affairs at the time of the incident.

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(IV) Accusation:

Aggressive and incessant deportation of Nigerians from Ghana. Between January 2018 and February 2019, Eight Hundred and Twenty-Five (825) Nigerians were deported from Ghana.

Response:

This statement is not factual. In 2019, seven hundred (700) Nigerians, who were found to have been involved in criminal activities such as fraud, prostitution, armed robbery etc., were deported.

(V) Accusation:

Residency permit requirement, for which Ghana Immigration Service has placed huge fees far higher than the fees charged by the Nigerian Immigration Service. These include the compulsory non- citizen ID card (US$120, US$ 60 for yearly renewal); medical examinations, including for COVID-19 which is newly introduced (about US$ 120), and payment for residency permit (US$ 400 compared to the N700,000 being paid by Ghanaians for residency card in Nigeria).

Response:

It must be noted that all foreigners, who apply for resident permit in Ghana, pay same fees as stated above. These fees are not specific to Nigerians.

(VI) Accusation:

“Media war against Nigerians in Ghana. The negative reportage of issues concerning Nigerians resident in Ghana by the Ghanaian media is fuelling an emerging xenophobic attitude against Nigerian traders and Nigerians in general.

The immediate fallout is the incessant harassment and arrest of Nigerian traders and closure of their shops.”

Response:

The statement is not factual. There is no media war against Nigerians in Ghana.

There is also no negative reportage on Nigerian residents in Ghana by Ghanaian media, which could potentially lead to xenophobic attitude towards Nigerians, particularly Nigerian traders in Ghana.

No Nigerian trader has been arrested. The closure of shops was as a result of infractions on Ghanaian laws. Even then, those affected who are not only Nigerians, have been given ample time to regularise their documents. Furthermore, no Nigerian- owned shops are currently closed.

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On the contrary, the negative reportage has been against the Ghanaian Government from high places, (tweets by Foreign Minister of Nigeria and a Nigerian businessman, who appears to have political interests in Ghana), in Nigeria. This is inconsistent with established practice in our very good relations. The Press Release by the Information and Culture Minister of Nigeria is a clear departure from the manner in which officials of the two countries have related with each other in the past.

(VII) Accusation:

“Nigeria has time after time demonstrated its fidelity to the long cordial relations with Ghana. But indications especially in recent times, are that Nigeria’s stance is now being taken for granted and its citizens being made targets of harassment and objects of ridicule. This will no longer be tolerated under any guise.”

Response: Ghana has always demonstrated her commitment to excellent relations with Nigeria which is evidenced by the manner in which Ghanaian Government officials dealt with recent issues, which have had severe economic impact on our country.

Ghana did not resort to any media war. However, the Ghanaian Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Trade travelled to Abuja to try to resolve diplomatically the issue of closure of Nigerian borders, and to seek safe corridor for ECOWAS Trade Liberalisation Scheme (ETLS) exports from Ghana, all to no avail. It is expected that the response of Nigerian Authorities to situations that evolve in our relations should be guided by the merits of the matter and our mutual interests.

(VIII) Accusation:

That three hundred (300), six hundred (600) and two hundred and fifty (250) shops belonging to Nigerians were closed down in 2018, 2019 and 2020 respectively

Response:

Upon evidence that some individuals, including Ghanaians and non-Ghanaians, had been involved in various forms of trade, without complying with the laws and regulations of Ghana, several engagements and prior advice had been given to encourage compliance.

Ghana’s Minister for Trade and Industry personally intervened to ensure the reopening of closed shops, pending compliance with Ghana’s laws by their operators.

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Among other corrective measures, the Committee on Foreigners in Retail Trade, comprising representatives of various regulatory agencies and institutions in Ghana, was tasked with the responsibility of conducting inspections of retail shops in designated commercial districts in both Accra and Kumasi to ensure compliance with retail trade laws and regulations.

The compliance exercises conducted in the selected markets revealed gross violations of retail trade laws and regulations by Ghanaians and foreigners, including Nigerians. These violations included tax evasion, immigration offenses, trading in sub-standard products, violation of the Ghana Investment

Promotion Centre (GIPC) law, improper registration of firms, under-payment of business operating permits, falsification of documents, among others.

In all cases, non-compliant shop owners are given adequate notice to regularize their documents, before action is taken to close any shop/business.

It is an incontestable fact that there is widespread abuse and disregard for local laws and regulations governing retail trade by some foreigners, including Nigerians, which need to be addressed without discrimination. It is important to note that the compliance exercise under reference is not restricted to either ECOWAS nationals or Nigerians for that matter, but extend to all individuals engaged in retail trade, including Ghanaians.

(IX) Accusation:

Harsh and openly biased judicial trial and pronouncements of indiscriminately long jail terms for convicted Nigerians.

Response:

Ghana’s courts, at all material times, function independently, and with strict respect for the Laws of Ghana, regardless of the nationalities of accused persons. Judges neither convict nor sentence with a bias for or against nationalities. Nigerians and Ghanaians convicted for same offenses are not treated differently.

(X) Accusation:

Outrageous stipulations and amendments of the GIPC Act.

Response:

It is untrue that the law has been amended twice, and, accordingly, there is no 2018 GIPC Act. Further, the statement that a review of the Act has increased the minimum capital base for foreign owned businesses to US$1.00m is false.

Perhaps the reference is to sections 27 (2 & 3) of the GIPC Act and relate solely to persons who are not citizens but want to engage in retail trade or trading activities, which are otherwise restricted exclusively to Ghanaians. Accordingly,

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‘a person who is not a citizen may engage in a trading Enterprise if that person invests in the Enterprise, not less than One Million United States Dollars in cash or goods and services relevant to the investments. Trading includes purchasing and selling of imported goods and services. The amount does not relate to the broad universe of investors. We are also somewhat astonished to have the laws of a sovereign nation described as outrageous, especially since they have not attracted the rebuff or criticism of any regional organization, especially

ECOWAS.

The Federal Republic, on the other hand, is on record to have taken a number of steps in recent months, in pursuit of her national interests, which have gravely affected other countries in the Region. These include the closure of Nigeria’s Seme Krake Border from August 2019 to date and the issuance of executive orders by Nigeria’s Presidency, preventing foreigners from getting jobs which Nigerians can do, to mention a few. Ghana and other West African countries continue to believe redress to even actions like these can be sought, diplomatically, without resort to media statements and related activities that have the potential to aggravate further the situation.

The aforementioned notwithstanding, the President of the Republic of Ghana, H.E. Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, who values very much his excellent relations with the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, His Excellency Muhammadou Buhari, will engage President Buhari with a view to develop immediately a framework for validating claims of ill treatment of citizens of either country, and ensure citizens enjoy the full exercise of their rights, while respecting the sovereignty and laws of both countries. Ghana and Nigeria, as they have been doing, must continue to work together for a successful West Africa.

 

-ENDKOJO OPPONG NKRUMAH (MP)

MINISTER

SERAP Sues Buhari Over ‘Failure To Publish Details Of N800bn Recovered Loot’

 

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has filed a lawsuit against President Muhammadu Buhari over failure to publish details of the N800bn recovered loot.

In a statement issued on Sunday by SERAP Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, the group wants the Federal Government to “disclose information and documents relating to the names of people from whom N800 billion in looted public funds have been recovered, specific dates of the recovery, and details of projects on which the money has been spent.”

The group recalled that during the Democracy Day on June 12, President Buhari revealed that his administration has recovered looted funds more than N800billion which were being used for infrastructural projects.

But in the suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/1064/2020 filed at the Federal High Court in Abuja, SERAP sought for “an order for leave to apply for judicial review and an order of mandamus to direct and/or compel President Buhari to publish a comprehensive list of names of people from whom N800 billion in looted funds have been recovered, the details of spending of the money, and the specific dates of the recovery.”

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Joined in the suit as Respondents are the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami and the the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed.

SEE FULL STATEMENT HERE:

SERAP sues Buhari over ‘failure to publish details of N800bn recovered loot’

Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has filed a lawsuit against President Muhammadu Buhari over failure to “disclose information and documents relating to the names of people from whom N800 billion in looted public funds have been recovered, specific dates of the recovery, and details of projects on which the money has been spent.”

The President had in paragraph 78 of his speech to mark the occasion of the Democracy Day on June 12, 2020, stated that: “the government has recovered looted funds in excess of N800 billion. These monies are being ploughed into development and infrastructure projects.”

In the suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/1064/2020 filed last Friday at the Federal High Court, Abuja, SERAP is seeking: “an order for leave to apply for judicial review and an order of mandamus to direct and/or compel President Buhari to publish a comprehensive list of names of people from whom N800 billion in looted funds have been recovered, the details of spending of the money, and the specific dates of the recovery.”

SERAP is also seeking: “an order of mandamus to direct and compel President Buhari to instruct appropriate anti-corruption agencies to promptly, thoroughly and transparently investigate alleged payment of N51 billion of public funds into individual private accounts in 2019.”

Joined in the suit as Respondents are Mr Abubakar Malami, SAN, Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, and Mrs Zainab Ahmed, Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning.

In the suit, SERAP is arguing that: “The court ought to compel the Respondents to disclose the details and whereabouts of the public funds. There is no legally justifiable reason why the information should not be made widely available to Nigerians, especially as the Nigerian Constitution of 1999 (as amended) requires the government in section 15(5) to abolish all forms of corruption. That means ensuring transparency and accountability in the management of public resources and wealth.”

The suit followed SERAP’s Freedom of Information (FoI) request dated 13 June, 2020 to President Buhari, stating that: “The public has a right to know how recovered N800bn loot has been spent, and the details and purpose of the alleged payments of N51bn into individual private accounts. Transparency over transactions by the government is critical to ensuring public confidence in the integrity of management of public resources and wealth.”

SERAP is also arguing that: “Granting the reliefs sought will ensure transparency and accountability, as the information sought to be published will reveal the truth of where money is going and why it is there, and allow Nigerians an opportunity to assess the impacts of any projects carried out with the recovered loot and the alleged payments into individual private accounts.”

The suit filed on behalf of SERAP by its lawyers Kolawole Oluwadare and Opeyemi Owolabi, read in part: “As a signatory to the UN Convention against Corruption, the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption, and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, Nigeria has committed to ensure transparent management of public resources, and unhindered access to public information. These commitments ought to be fully upheld and respected.”

“Transparency and accountability in governance is in the public interest. Publishing the details regarding the N800 billion recovered loot and investigating the alleged suspicious payments into personal accounts would be entirely consistent with Nigeria’s international anti-corruption commitments.”

“The authorities are required to set the highest standards of transparency, accountability and probity in the management of these resources and wealth, and the programmes that they oversee.”

“Disclosing the details of projects on which the N800bn recovered loot have been spent and publishing a comprehensive list of names of people from whom they have been recovered, as well as investigating alleged payment of billions of naira into individual private accounts, would be entirely consistent with the oft-expressed anti-corruption commitments by the government.”

It would be recalled that BudgIT, a civic tech organization, recently reported that “the open treasury portal by the federal government allegedly showed that payments totalling N51bn were made into individual accounts in 2019.”

No date has been fixed for the hearing of the suit.

Kolawole Oluwadare

SERAP Deputy Director

30/08/2020

Lagos, Nigeria