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Politics / Femi Adesina: Beware, Merchants Of Fake News On The Prowl by presidency: 3:26pm On Feb 17
STATE HOUSE PRESS RELEASE

BEWARE, MERCHANTS OF FAKE NEWS ON THE PROWL – PRESIDENCY

Purveyors of fake and concocted Information are currently on overdrive, and Nigerians are urged to be careful what they consume as news, and also share with others, particularly from the social media.

An unfounded information has been making the rounds that President Muhammadu Buhari is billed to travel to the United Kingdom for 20 days, and from there proceed to Saudi Arabia, and then Austria. Fake. It is nothing but falsehood from mischievous minds.

Members of the First Family, Ministers, top government officials, the military, and other key institutions, are equally objects of this orchestrated falsehood, coming from enemies of national cohesion.

We urge Nigerians to be discriminatory about what they accept as credible information, and restrain themselves from sharing what they have not authenticated as genuine. That is how we can all collectively beat the malevolent minds at their pernicious games.

Femi Adesina
Special Adviser to the President
(Media and Publicity)
February 17, 2020

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Politics / A New Case For A Commonwealth Based On Trade by presidency: 4:37pm On Feb 03
A new case for a Commonwealth based on trade

By Muhammadu Buhari

The United Kingdom’s exit of the European Union is now all but certain. Only the passage of time will reveal what their new relationship shall be. But with this new arrangement, I – like many other Commonwealth leaders – also seek a new settlement: not only of closer relations between the UK and my own nation, but of unleashing trade within the club in which we together shall remain.

Relations between Nigeria and the UK are close and longstanding, most recently reiterated in our 2018 bi-lateral security pact and our collaboration in anti-trafficking. But in recent years, our relationship – particularly economically – has become increasingly defined by Britain’s membership of the European Union.

A new free trade agreement would reconfigure this, presenting new opportunities for both. As the largest economy in Africa, my country of nearly 200 million people has a great deal to offer: Nigeria’s vast natural energy and mineral resources, unbarred through the ending of customs barriers, could help supply growth for companies in all corners of the UK. Greater access would also be forthcoming to one of the world’s fastest expanding groups of consumers – the Nigerian middle classes.

For my country, greater UK engagement in its economy would bring jobs to under-tapped sectors, such as agriculture and manufacturing. Millions of highly skilled, English-speaking but underemployed young people, are eager to work but without the opportunities that foreign investment can bring to create jobs and build businesses.

Yet there is also a case to be made that our two Commonwealth countries should try, with other members, to deliver more – collectively. In 2015, I became the first head of a new Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council tasked with boosting trade and investment within the wider organisation. Now with the United Kingdom – the Commonwealth’s largest economy – no longer obliged to ringfence its economy with tariffs, this mission will be given a jolt of vitality.

However, we must be realistic: the commonwealth will not suddenly become a multilateral-free trade zone. Today many members reside within regional free trade and customs zones of their own. Yet without any of us needing to relinquish these ties, we can work together to minimise – consistent with respective memberships – as far as possible many of the tariffs and barriers on commodities, products and services. Because member countries’ national laws are built on the principles of English jurisprudence, we might work together from this common platform to better align regulations on investment, certification and trade.

A renewed sense of Commonwealth solidarity would also be of enormous benefit to the large and vital diasporas – particularly from Africa and the Indian subcontinent – that live in Western Commonwealth countries such as Britain, Canada and Australia. These communities still maintain the strongest of cultural and family links with the countries from which they and their forebears emigrated.

Yet visa restrictions and customs barriers must be reduced to fulfill the potential these connections could bring to the nations where they today reside. As an African leader I have an obligation to speak of the fact that while many in the African Diaspora enjoy considerable benefits from life in the West, they do not always feel at the heart of the community. A renewed sense that there are ties that bind us through the Commonwealth, and a concerted effort to grow those links through trade, could act as a spur to encourage togetherness and the certainty of belonging.

This year provides two critical summits in which this new determination could take seed. In January, London shall play host to the UK-Africa Investment Summit. (The continent is the Commonwealth’s largest constituent, providing over a third of its membership.) And then back to Africa, where Rwanda will welcome countries to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting. It is at this biennial summit that many of the organisation’s milestones have been achieved – particularly in democracy and human rights. The 2020 summit could be the wrench that begins to tighten our economic structures, drawing strength from our shared bonds of history, friendship and language.

Time will tell if Britain’s new ability to strike free trade deals directly with other countries once it departs the EU can be built into more than bilateral economic cooperation. But there is no reason why, collectively, we should not try.

Nor should we dismiss the potential for making the Commonwealth of Nations more than a voluntary organization of equals based on a shared history that it is today. Instead it is in all our people’s interests to labour, dispassionately, to increase our focus on lowering barriers to achieving what truly brings freedom, friendship and equality: prosperity through trade.

Muhammadu Buhari is President, Federal Republic of Nigeria

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Politics / Nigeria: Open Letter To Femi Adesina By Apostle Johnson Suleman by presidency: 11:17pm On Feb 02
Nigeria: Open Letter to Femi Adesina by Apostle Johnson Suleman

Nigeria’s unity is sacrosanct:

The unity and togetherness of Nigeria is sacrosanct. Our collective peace is non-negotiable.

I personally bleed when I hear drumbeats of war and yearnings for the dissolution of Nigeria, either from tribal or political overviews. No nation remains the same after war. Therefore, we can’t be fanning the embers and heating the polity of revolution or dissolution.

On constructive criticism/ pro-good governance:

Growing up as an aspiring journalists, late Dele Giwa was my role model, especially owing to his approach and activism mentality. Also, whilst growing up as a journalist, Femi Adesina was my view of an extreme perfect gentleman whom I loved from afar until we met at Government House, Rivers state, when former Governor and now Transport Minister, Rotimi Amaechi, made our acquaintance.

Sadly, in Nigeria and especially under this current administration, anyone who speaks truth to power is termed partisan or political; some even say such a person hates President Muhammadu Buhari. But how can a man hate his president? That’s giving a dog a bad name just to hang it.

Let me give you a few shockers, sir, which many Nigerians don’t even know. My biological father is an APC chieftain; a major frontline and stakeholder in Edo state politics with the ruling party.

The governor and the deputy governor of Edo state are very close to me and the national chairman is my brother. Yet, we all relate well and they worship in our church whenever they are around because they separate issues from the relationship. That is principle sir!

I have built schools and given to governments, fixed government roads and rehabilitated people who were convicted. These are verifiable as you can ask my state governor. If I hate this government, I won’t do all that.

Wrong notion of the president:

Also, I hear people erroneously say the president is a religious bigot. I am shocked! How can that be? A very good friend of mine recently spoke to me about president Buhari and I told her my views of him and she laughed. And that evening, President Mumhamadu Buhari called me on phone and we exchanged pleasantries. And, at the end, I prayed with him in Jesus name and he said Amen! Tell me, which religious bigot does that?

So, seeing what is happening now tells me that he is surrounded by people who are painting him wrongly before some who aren’t privileged to know him. Or has he changed from being whom I knew him to be then?

When he was sick, I called all our church members in the 58 nations of the world where we have branches to pray for his speedy recovery and homecoming.

Also, a few weeks ago, I tweeted against Nigerians insulting and using demeaning verbal assertion on the person of the president. I mean, If not for anything, his age should be respected. But I came under fire and was taken to the cleaners for defending the president. But I ignored the backlash because, if you wrestle with a pig, you will be stained but the pig would enjoy it.

On Insecurity and issue of CAN:

Sir, when I read your response to CAN, two things came to mind: I asked myself, must the allure of power make you antagonistic of church leaders whilst your colleague is protecting his? I equally felt your response was ill-timed, knowing these leaders where mourning. I apologise if it came out wrongly or rudely.

John 13.35 says, “by this shall all men know you are my disciples if ye have love to one another.” Some say clerics or the clergy should stay off politics; I think the right word should be that clerics should not be partisan.

Remember that in the last administration, we spoke truth to power, even in a more corrosive and acidic manner than we do now. But it wasn’t a big deal for them because that administration was tolerant and ignored most things said. Therefore, this government should stop responding to everything. The best way to respond to complaints is to give result, not explanations, insults or counter upper-cut.

Condemning killings does not amount to being political! Every other thing is left for politicians to handle but ensuring the safety of lives and property is the responsibility of every Nigerian.

In every clime where you have principled men, criticism is inescapable. We must take it in its stride. Also, rational discourse is now a practical impossibility in Nigeria because you will be termed anti-this and or pro that.

It hurts to see certain folks remotely connected to some issues that do not concern them and yet, are ascribed mastery and expertise on such.

On Herdsmen killings:

One of my church members and leader of Urhobo Progressive Union was kidnapped. He is 80 years old. It took great wisdom to manage it as a certain extraction of Nigerians threatened to cause chaos because they felt it was an insult to their region.

Few days ago, one pastor coming to see me was kidnapped and the wife was shot. Another one was equally shot that same day on the hand by alleged killer herdsman.

But I refuse to use the word Fulani because I have Fulani friends that are so awesome and nice. But certain devils, some of which are foreigners, even like the Arewa group had rightly said last year, have infiltrated their ranks and fabrics and these foreign devil’s incarnate operate with audacity and temerity, without caring whose ox is gored. We must fish them out!

Muslims are being killed and we should condemn it. Christians are also slaughtered and we should equally condemn it.

2023 presidency:

The issue of who succeeds in 2023 should go into extinction now and the focus should be on security. A wise man speaks not because he has to say something but because he has something to say.

If I could reach you privately, I would not have resorted to the media. I also took this approach to respond to the heavy insults and name-calling on your tweeter handle which is, well, okay by me and understandable because you were angry.

But I hope this meets you well. This is me pouring my heart to my brother. I am actually not good at writing letters like this. Unlike someone, we all know that does. I guess I would meet him for tutorials.

I love you my brother and God bless Nigeria.

Apostle Johnson Suleman (Snr. Pastor Omega Fire Ministries Worldwide)
Politics / What Did Femi Adesina Really Do Wrong? by presidency: 10:43pm On Feb 02
What did Femi Adesina really do wrong?

One thing is certain and it is the fact that Femi Adesina, Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity is very devoted to his principal. He loves President Muhammadu Buhari to the moon. As one of the President’s frontline men, he will do everything to fend off any unwarranted attack from any individual or group. He did just that last week when he wrote an opinion piece that called out the Christian Association of Nigeria over the group’s uncharitable attack on the president following the unfortunate death of late Rev. Lawan Andami from Adamawa State in the hands of Boko Haram terrorists.

For some reasons best known to CAN, the association has never hidden its resentment for the Buhari-led administration since 2015. The attitude of the association towards the administration is very apparent in its incendiary press statements and public posturing of some of its leaders on national issues. While there is nothing wrong in a group like CAN advancing the interest of its members and Christians in Nigeria, it is expected such should be done in a way that promotes peace, harmony and unity of the country. The article by Mr. Adesina caused some ruckus and generated reactions across the country with many supposed men and women of God and other ethnic-based groups calling for his head.

Personally, I do not see what Mr. Adesina did wrong that warranted the amount of acerbic and bilious reactions against him. Was he expected to fold his hands or send candy to an association that deliberately peddled falsehoods against the President of the country? As a Presidential spokesman, his first duty is to promote, defend and fend off unjustifiable attacks against the President and the Presidency. It is even more so when such attacks are blatant lies meant to disparage and create atmosphere for anarchy in the country.

It would appear the golden era of CAN ended when Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor became President in 2010. From 2010 till date, CAN has played more politics than preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ which should be the primary focus. Playing up of ethnic and religious differences for hegemonic advantage by the ruling elite is not a new phenomenon in Nigeria and post-colonial Africa. Identity politics is used to gain power in a multi-ethnic and multi-religious societies. It is also used to retain power.

Unfortunately, ethno-religious politics assumed a very dangerous dimension in a way never experienced before when activities of Boko Haram terrorists assumed more frightening turn from 2010 with wanton killings and maiming of innocent citizens. Boko Haram, in its more deadly form, started attacking police officers and police stations in Borno State since 2009 following the death of its founder, Mohammed Yusuf. In year 2009 after the death of Yusuf, Boko Haram metamorphosed from a group of religious extremists to a monster immediately Abubakar Sekau became the leader. It launched attacks against churches in Borno State from 2010. First major attack on a church that made global headlines was Christmas day attack on St. Theresa Catholic Church in Madala, a statelite town – 40 kilometres away from the Federal Capital Territory. More than 20 people died in the attack. Prior to when Boko Haram became a full blown terror group, 2011 Presidential election where former President Goodluck Jonathan was the candidate of People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and then General Muhammadu Buhari as candidate of Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) was bitterly contested on ethno-religious consideration.

With the rise in Boko Haram attacks in 2011, former President Jonathan, his party’s leadership and CAN wholeheartedly embraced CAN conspiracy theories weaved around Boko Haram. Boko Haram was framed as a ploy by northern and Islamic leaders to make Nigeria ungovernable for President Jonathan.

In 2014, Peoples Democratic Party even issued a press statement signed by its former National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Olisa Metuh that pejoratively described All Progressives Congress as a supporter of APC party. If 2011 elections were won using ethnicity and religion, 2015 edition was a battle fought on full scale religious hate, partly enabled by CAN. CAN became an unofficial organ of PDP. It would appear CAN has not recovered from the defeat it suffered in 2015 Presidential election because its leaders then abandoned their pulpit for soapbox. CAN was emotional invested in President Jonathan winning a re-election.

President Buhari has not enjoyed any respite from CAN since he became the leader of this country over 4years ago. He has been insulted, harassed, harangued, labeled, ridiculed, blackmailed and unfairly treated by those who are enjoined by the Bible to pray for those in authorities. Instead of praying for Buhari to succeed CAN would rather accuse him of being the sponsor of Boko Haram. The most recent accusation against President Buhari was during a press conference addressed by Rev. Supo Ayokunle after the sad killing of Rev. Lawal Andimi by Boko Haram. Gruesome murder of the CAN leader from Adamawa shocked the country, but instead of mourning a departed soldier of the Cross, CAN chose to weaponise his death to make baseless allegations. President Buhari was accused of supporting Boko Haram to kill Nigerians and his government was pursuing a policy to depopulate Christians. Those were clearly unfounded accusations anyone should levy against a President. Interestingly, CAN did not make such allegations against President Jonathan under whose leadership Boko Haram wantonly destroyed churches, killed more Christians and murdered countless Pastors.

Undisguised hateful disposition of CAN leaders towards President Buhari suggests an association that is deliberately acting adversarial agenda just because their preferred candidate and political party lost election in 2015. It will serve CAN better to transform to a political party and become official opposition party since PDP has not really lived up to that expectation. It does not serve the cause of the gospel for CAN to hide under the banner of Christ to fuel hate and religious disharmony.

It is a misplaced assumption to think that all Christians in Nigeria must necessarily accept whatever CAN is doing, including its nihilistic advocacy as one done in defence of the gospel. Labelling Adesina as taking side with oppressors of brethren is unkind. Without beating about the bush, Adesina, in line of duty, is obligated to disclaim every falsehood peddled against his boss. And this he has done like a faithful steward to his master.

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Politics / Presidency Reacts To US Visa Ban On Nigerians by presidency: 3:45pm On Feb 01
STATE HOUSE PRESS RELEASE

UNITED STATES SUSPENSION OF THE ISSUANCE OF IMMIGRANT VISAS TO NIGERIANS

On 31st January 2020, the United States (U.S) Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced temporary travel restrictions on six (6) countries including Nigeria.

For Nigeria, the restriction is the suspension of the issuance of “immigrant visas” to Nigerian passport holders only. This suspension shall come into effect on 21st February 2020. The suspension does not apply to other U.S visas such as those for official, business, tourism and student travel.

The DHS states the suspension of “immigrant visas” became necessary following a review and update of the methodology (performance metrics) adopted by the U.S Government to assess compliance of certain security criteria by foreign governments. This resulted in certain enhancements on how information is shared between Nigeria and the U.S.

Nigeria remains committed to maintaining productive relations with the United States and its international allies especially on matters of global security. Accordingly, President Muhammadu Buhari has established a committee, to be chaired by the Hon. Minister of Interior, to study and address the updated U.S. requirements. The committee will work with the U.S Government, INTERPOL and other stakeholders to ensure all updates are properly implemented.

FEMI ADESINA
Special Adviser to the President
(Media & Publicity)
February 1, 2020

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Politics / ICPC Statement On The Corruption Perceptions Index 2019 by presidency: 1:26pm On Jan 27
The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) finds it necessary to issue a statement on the 2019 Corruption Perceptions Index released recently by the Transparency International (TI), the global anti-corruption watchdog.

The report ranked Nigeria 146 out of 180 countries with a score of 26 out 0f 100 and painted a dismal picture of the country’s anti-corruption efforts by placing Nigeria as the second most corrupt country in the West African region.

ICPC hereby states categorically that the report is unfair and untenable as Transparency International has consistently failed to recognise the efforts of the government to tame corruption. These efforts include increasing number of cases filed in court and jail terms secured in several convictions against corrupt persons across all levels of society, including hitherto ‘sacred cows’.

More importantly, the strides of government in relation to corruption prevention measures appear to have been totally ignored.

Perception is one thing, reality is another. To lend credence to perception, it may be helpful to match it against reality especially when information on perception is coming from a source such as TI.

The reality is that government has put in place several mechanisms to ensure transparency in the management of its financial affairs. The IPPIS, GIFMIS, TSA and more recently the portal www.opentreasury.gov.ng are examples in point.

In recognition of the seminal role of prevention in anti-corruption work, ICPC recently released its report of the system study and review exercise on the use of the Personnel Cost and Capital Development Fund in 201 Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).

Allied to this report is also the highly publicised work of the Commission in tracking the use of the funds released for Constituency Projects and the report on the deployment of Ethics and Integrity Compliance Scorecard in 280 MDAs.

The reports on these initiatives provided very important policy recommendations to government on corruption prevention which are being acted on, including the restraining of several billions of Naira from release to MDAs which had stood the risk of misappropriation and embezzlement as well government’s recent directive that all MDAs including tertiary education and health institutions get captured on the IPPIS for transparency and accountability on the use of Personnel Cost for Federal Government employees.

It should be noted that Nigeria currently leads Africa in asset recovery. These assets are proceeds of corruption which would have been permanently lost to the country. Denying perpetrators the benefit of their loot is a potent strategy in anti-corruption work.

Nigeria has also improved in its rating on open government standards as the government continues to operationalise the 14 commitments enunciated in the Nigeria OGP National Action Plan.

Not the least of the Buhari administration’s efforts to combat corruption is its unassailable political will to tackle the menace. This is amply demonstrated in the support accorded Anti-corruption agencies by way of increased resources and stance of non-interference.

Going forward, it would be helpful if TI would publish its research parameters so its data can be disaggregated rather than build its rankings on a few issues such as political corruption. No doubt we are not yet where we ought to be, but we have not been stationary either. The country has moved well away from where it was a number of years back in terms of enforcement, prevention and citizen engagement against corruption.

ICPC is firmly persuaded that the silent majority of Nigerians appreciate the anti-corruption efforts of the government led by President Muhammadu Buhari even if TI does not.

We shall not be distracted but continue to forge ahead.

https://icpc.gov.ng/2020/01/24/icpc-statement-on-the-corruption-perceptions-index-2019-by-transparency-international/

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Politics / State House Press Release by presidency: 2:52pm On Jan 24
STATE HOUSE PRESS RELEASE

PRESIDENT BUHARI ASSENTS TO AGREEMENT ON THE TRANSFER OF SENTENCED PERSONS BETWEEN NIGERIA AND THE GOVERNMENT OF THE MACAO

President Muhammadu Buhari has assented to the Instrument of Ratification of the Agreement on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons between the Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Government of the Macao Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China.

This is sequel to the Federal Executive Council Conclusion of August 1, 2018, which approved and directed the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice to prepare the Instrument of Ratification of the above Agreement for the President’s signature.

President Buhari’s assent formally executes the Agreement.

Femi Adesina
Special Adviser to the President
(Media & Publicity)
January 24, 2020
Health / Novel Coronavirus: NCDC Issues Public Health Advisory To Nigerians by presidency: 7:44pm On Jan 22
PUBLIC HEALTH ADVISORY TO NIGERIANS ON NOVEL CORONAVIRUS

22nd January, 2020

This is a public health advisory on a new virus; the novel coronavirus (nCoV), by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control. As this is a new virus, and new information is emerging every day, this advisory will be updated as new information and research on the virus and its impact on populations become available.

The first case of a novel (new) coronavirus (2019nCoV) strain was confirmed in China on the 7th of January 2020. According to preliminary investigations, most patients either visited or worked in the Huanan Seafood wholesale market, Wuhan city. As at the 20th of January 2020, 278 laboratory-confirmed cases of 2019-nCoV infection including six deaths have been reported to WHO globally since the first case was reported on the 31st of December 2019.

Many of the initial cases were thought to have contacted the virus through animal-to-human transmission from the market, but human-to-human transmission has also been established. Global surveillance is being established and it is expected that more cases will be reported over the next weeks.

Wuhan city is a major transport hub in China. Beyond Wuhan, cases have been confirmed in other cities in China; Guangdong, Beijing and Shanghai. As at the 21st of January, five cases have been confirmed in four other countries; Thailand, Japan, Republic of Korea and the United States of America, all with a travel history to China.

Coronaviruses are zoonotic, meaning they are normally transmitted between animals and people. A novel coronavirus (nCoV) is a new strain of the virus that has not been previously identified in humans. Some coronaviruses can be transmitted from person to person, usually after close contact with an infected patient, for example, in a householdor health care setting. Several known coronaviruses are circulating in animals that have not yet infected humans.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has convened its Emergency Committee today (22/01/20) to determine whether this outbreak should be declared a “Public Health Event of International Concern” (PHEIC).

SYMPTOMS

This new coronavirus 2019nCoV appears to cause mild to severe respiratory symptoms like cough and breathing difficulties. From current evidence, it appears that death is a rare outcome, mostly in patients with underlying illness.

TREATMENT

There is no specific treatment for disease caused by the novel coronavirus yet. However, many of the symptoms can be treated. Therefore, treatment is based on the patient’s clinical condition. In addition, supportive care for infected persons can be highly effective.

NIGERIA’S PREPAREDNESS AND RESPONSE

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) is currently coordinating a multisectoral technical group that is assessing and managing the risk of importation to Nigeria. NCDC is in close communication with the World Health Organization (WHO) who is closely monitoring the situation globally. WHO is in direct communication with the Government of China and other affected countries, and has released technical and travel guidance.

The Port Health Services unit of the Federal Ministry of Health in Nigeria has been placed on alert and has heightened screening measures at the points of entry. In China, exit screening measures have been enhanced for travellers from Wuhan city at the Points of Entry (PoE) (airports and ground transport stations) since the 14th of January 2020. This includes temperature checks, combined with provision of information and masks to passengers with fever, as well as directing symptomatic passengers to health facilities for follow up.

Nigerians are advised to remain calm. Travelers from Nigeria to Wuhan, China, are advised to avoid contact with sick people, animals (alive or dead), and animal markets.

Travelers from Wuhan to Nigeria, may be asked questions upon arrival by the Port Health Services unit at points of entry about symptoms of illness and travel history, and are advised to report immediately to NCDC, if they feel ill after a trip to Wuhan.

The Federal Ministry of Health through NCDC and its partners are fully committed to strengthening our preparedness and response to infectious disease outbreaks.

Information will be shared with the public as it becomes available.

HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF

To reduce the risk of spread of coronavirus, members of the public are advised to adhere to the following measures:

• Wash your hands regularly with soap under running water

• Cover your mouth and nose properly with handkerchief or tissue paper when sneezing and/or coughing. You may also cough into your elbow if a handkerchief is not available.

• Avoid close contact with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness such as coughing and sneezing

• Avoid self-medication, report to the nearest health facility when you experience any of the above-mentioned symptoms

• Healthcare workers are always advised to observe standard infection prevention and control measures when attending to patients and take a travel history.

As the situation is evolving, this advisory will be updated as more information becomes available.

ABOUT NCDC

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) is the government agency with the mandate to lead the prevention, detection, and control of communicable diseases. Its functions are to prevent, detect, investigate and control communicable diseases of national and international public health importance.

Contact:

NCDC Toll-Free Number: 0800 9700 0010
SMS: 08099555577
WhatsApp: 07087110839
Twitter/Facebook: @NCDCgov
Email: info@ncdc.gov.ng

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Politics / Osinbajo: Nigeria To Work With Other Countries To Improve Economic Opportunities by presidency: 6:57pm On Jan 21
OFFICE OF THE VICE PRESIDENT
PRESS RELEASE

NIGERIA WILL WORK CLOSELY WITH OTHER COUNTRIES TO INCREASE ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITIES - OSINBAJO

The Buhari administration will be happy to work closely with other countries who share similar socio-economic objectives in order to increase economic opportunities and healthcare delivery to citizens, according to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN.

Prof. Osinbajo stated this on Tuesday when he received, on a courtesy visit to the Presidential Villa, Ambassador Dato’ Ku Jaafar Ku Shaari, Secretary General of the D-8 Organisation for Economic Cooperation.

The D-8 top official is in Nigeria as the Health & Social Protection Programme of the group is being established in the country.

According to the Vice President, while addressing the Secretary General “I want to congratulate you on the signing of the partnership agreement for the Health and Social Protection Programme. This is important for us and for all D-8 countries.

“We are all emerging economies, the whole question around health care, human capacity development is crucial for us, and I think it is appropriate that we devote the time and resources like we are currently doing.”

Speaking further on the focal areas of cooperation of the D-8, Prof. Osinbajo said, “We are hopeful that you will succeed in deepening the impact of the focal areas of trade, industry, energy and tourism, in all of our countries. We are happy that, working with the other countries, we can achieve our economic objectives.

“So, we are certainly looking forward to continue to work with the D-8. We are committed to the D-8 and expect that the forthcoming summit will expand the scope of work and deepen the achievements of the D-8.

Earlier in his remark, Ambassador Dato’ Ku Jaafar Ku Shaari who thanked Nigeria for hosting the secretariat of the D-8 Health and Social Protection Programme, said implementing programmes on health and poverty alleviation was key to the agenda of the organization.

He also spoke on the D-8’s forthcoming summit in Bangladesh later in the year where a new road map and plan of action for the actualization of the organization’s targets will be launched.

The D-8 countries include Bangladesh, Egypt, Nigeria, Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia, Pakistan and Turkey with a combined population of approximately 1 billion covering an area of 7.6 million square kilometres and, 5% of world land area.

Laolu Akande
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media & Publicity
Office of the Vice President
21st January, 2020

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Politics / President Buhari Greets President Xi Jinping On Chinese Lunar Year by presidency: 4:11pm On Jan 21
President Muhammadu Buhari has sent warm greetings to President Xi Jinping and all citizens of People’s Republic of China home and abroad, as they celebrate the Chinese Lunar Year from January 25.

President Buhari, in a formal letter, recounts the strides being taken in Nigeria-China relations, and says “we have new opportunities for mutual benefits.”

Below is full text of the letter:

“As celebrations of the Chinese Year of the Rat by Chinese community in Nigeria and across the world commence on 25th January this year, on behalf of the Government and people of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, I extend my warmest and most sincere greetings and wishes to you and the Chinese people for a promising and auspicious Lunar New Year.

“In the past year, the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China was warmly celebrated. The tremendous achievements made by the Chinese people fully demonstrate that China has found the successful development path that fits its national reality.

“The past year has also been a productive one for China-Nigeria relations. The all-round, wide-ranging and high-quality bilateral cooperation between Nigeria and China has been further intensified, and our belief in the One China policy re-affirmed. There is a new impetus in Nigeria-China relations and we have new opportunities for mutual benefits.

“I note that 2020 marks the year China will finish building a moderately prosperous society in all respects and the final year of the 13th Five-Year Plan. We are delighted that China is making positive progress, setting a good example for developing countries to pursue their own development goals.

“This year is also the 20th anniversary of Forum for China Africa Cooperation (FOCAC). We are delighted to see that FOCAC has become an effective platform between Nigeria and China and achieved major progress of boosting concrete trade and cooperation and benefiting people of both countries.

“I understand that the rat is the first sign from the cycle of Chinese Astrology that makes 2020 a year of new beginnings and renewals. I would like to take this as a new outset to work with China hand in hand to develop the Belt and Road Initiative, further implement the outcomes of the FOCAC Beijing Summit, and promote the Nigeria-China strategic partnership to a new level.

“While wishing that the Year of the Rat witnesses the common development of our two countries and a better life of our peoples, please accept, Your Excellency, the assurances of my highest esteem and personal regards.

“Once again, Happy New Year!”

Femi Adesina

Special Adviser to the President

(Media and Publicity)

January 21, 2020

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Politics / State House Press Release by presidency: 5:44pm On Jan 20
STATE HOUSE PRESS RELEASE

BEYOND SMUGGLING OF FOOD PRODUCTS, WE CLOSED BORDERS DUE TO INFLUX OF ARMS AND HARD DRUGS, PRESIDENT BUHARI TELLS AKUFO-ADDO OF GHANA

The partial closure of Nigeria’s borders is not caused solely because food products, particularly rice, were being smuggled into Nigeria, but also because arms and ammunition, as well as hard drugs were being ferried into Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari has said.

Holding a bilateral meeting Monday in London at the sidelines of UK-Africa Investment Summit 2020 with President Nana Akufo-Addo of Ghana, the Nigerian Leader said he could not keep his eyes open, and watch youths being destroyed through cheap hard drugs, and compromised security caused by unbridled influx of small arms.

“When most of the vehicles carrying rice and other food products through our land borders are intercepted, you find cheap hard drugs, and small arms, under the food products. This has terrible consequences for any country,” President Buhari said.

He said it was regrettable that the partial border closure was having “negative economic impact on our neighbours,” but added that “we cannot leave our country, particularly the youths, endangered.”

The President said the Sahel region was awash with small arms, which accounts for severe security challenges in Mali, Chad, Burkina Faso, Niger and Nigeria.

“We are in fact the biggest victims,” he lamented.

On time frame for reopening the borders, President Buhari said it would not happen till the final report of a committee set up on the matter was submitted and considered.

“We will get things sorted out. Our farmers, especially those who grow rice, now have a market, and are happy, and we are also concerned about hard drugs and weapons. Once the committee comes up with its recommendations, we will sit and consider them,” the President said.

President Akufo-Addo, while showing understanding of the need for Nigeria to protect her citizens, pleaded for “an expedited process, because the Nigerian market is significant for certain categories of business people in Ghana.”

Femi Adesina
Special Adviser to the President
(Media and Publicity)
January 20, 2020
Politics / Finance Act 2019 by presidency: 5:29pm On Jan 20
OFFICE OF THE VICE PRESIDENT
 
PRESS RELEASE
 
FINANCE ACT 2019: 20 BASIC FOOD ITEMS, SANITARY PADS, OTHERS MAKE VAT EXEMPTION LIST
 
*New Law also promotes fiscal equity & supports MSMES
 
In a bid to ensure that the cost of living does not rise for Nigerians because of the changes in the Value-Added Tax, several basic food items, locally manufactured sanitary towels, pads and tuition relating to nursery, primary, secondary and tertiary education have been added to the exemption list of goods and services on the VAT under the Finance Bill 2019, signed by President Muhammadu Buhari last week, on the 13th January 2020.
 
Amongst other benefits, the law will consolidate efforts already made in creating the enabling environment for improved private sector participation and contribution to the economy as well as boost states’ revenues. 
 
According to the President, “the Finance Bill will support the funding and implementation of the 2020 Budget. We shall sustain this tradition by ensuring that subsequent budgets are also accompanied by a Finance Bill.”
 
Below are the details:
 
The Finance Bill, 2019 was submitted to the National Assembly by President Muhammadu Buhari alongside the 2020 Appropriation Bill, and signed into law by the President on January 13, 2020. 
 
The Bill, now an Act, has the following objectives:    
 
Promoting fiscal equity by mitigating instances of regressive taxation;

Reforming domestic tax laws to align with global best practices; 

Introducing tax incentives for investments in infrastructure and capital markets; 

Supporting Micro, Small and Medium-sized businesses in line with the administration’s Ease of Doing Business Reforms; 

Raising Revenues for Federal, State and Local Governments.

FACTSHEET ON NEW FINANCE ACT 2019
 
The new Act is the first legislation created to accompany an Appropriation Act since the return of democracy in 1999.  

The new Act raises VAT from 5% to 7.5%. 

To allay fears that low-income persons and companies will be marginalized by the new law, reduce the burden of taxation on vulnerable segments, and promote equitable taxation, the Finance Act 2019 has extended the list of goods and services exempted from VAT. The additional exemptions include the following:

Basic food items – Additives (honey), bread, cereals, cooking oils, culinary herbs, fish, flour and starch, fruits (fresh or dried), live or raw meat and poultry, milk, nuts, pulses, roots, salt, vegetables, water (natural water and table water)

Locally manufactured sanitary towels, pads or tampons.

Services rendered by microfinance banks

Tuition relating to nursery, primary, secondary and tertiary education.

Nigeria’s increased new VAT rate of 7.5% is still the lowest in Africa, and one of the lowest anywhere in the world. (South Africa VAT: 15%; Ghana: 12.5%; Kenya: 16%; Egypt: 14%; Rwanda: 18%; Senegal: 18%)

Under Nigeria’s revenue sharing formula, 85% of collected VAT goes to States and Local Governments. This means that the bulk of additional VAT revenues accruing from the increase will go towards enabling States and Local Governments meet their obligations to citizens, including the new minimum wage as already noted by State Governors. Before now, the Buhari administration had firmly resisted previous suggestions to raise VAT. 

The new Finance Act exempts Businesses with turnover below 25 million from VAT payments.

Companies Income Tax (CIT)
 
Under the new law small companies – companies with less than N25 million in annual turnover are charged Zero CIT.

CIT for Companies with revenues between N25 and N100m (described in the Act as “medium-sized” companies) has been reduced from 30% to 20%     

Large companies – with annual turnover greater than N100m – will continue to pay the standard 30% CIT

The new Act includes a provision that grants to all companies “engaged in agricultural production” in Nigeria “an initial tax-free period of five years”, renewable for an additional three years.

The new Act also provides incentives to promote tax compliance through bonus reductions in CIT for early remittance:

2% bonus for medium-size companies 

1% bonus for other companies. 

Personal Income Tax Act
 
The new Act now includes “electronic mail” as an acceptable form of correspondence for persons disputing assessments by the Tax Authorities. 

Contributions to Pension and Retirement Funds, Societies and Schemes are now unconditionally tax-deductible. 

Stamp Duty Act

With the new Act, the N50 Stamp duty charge is now applicable only to transactions amounting to N10,000 and above, a significant increase on the former threshold of N1,000. 

The new Act also expands the list of items exempted from stamp duty. 

Customs and Excise Tariff

To reduce unfair advantages previously conferred on imported goods at the expense of locally manufactured ones, certain imported goods are now subject to excise duties similar to locally manufactured goods

Laolu Akande
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media & Publicity
Office of the Vice President
19th January, 2020

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Politics / Gains We Have Made On Different Fronts, By Buhari In Meeting With British P.M by presidency: 4:38pm On Jan 20
STATE HOUSE PRESS RELEASE

GAINS WE’VE MADE ON DIFFERENT FRONTS, BY PRESIDENT BUHARI IN MEETING WITH BRITISH P.M

President Muhammadu Buhari Monday brought British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, up to speed with developments in Nigeria, reeling out gains in different areas of national endeavour.

The two leaders met on the sidelines of the UK-Africa Investment Summit 2020, in London, and President Buhari told P.M Johnson of strides in agriculture, leading almost to self-sufficiency in rice and other grains, saving the country billions in foreign exchange, which are now deployed to other areas of development.

On the war against insurgency, the President said things were a lot better, with the disabuse of the minds of the people on the true philosophy of Boko Haram, and the main challenge being in the area of resettling displaced people, which is being tackled frontally.

“We have a long history with the British military, and we are collaborating,” President Buhari added.

On the anti-corruption war, the President said though it was slow but painstaking, the cooperation of the National Crime Agency of UK was still needed, particularly in the investigation of fugitives from Nigeria finding accommodation in the United Kingdom.

Climate change, President Buhari said, was a challenge to Nigeria and neighbouring African countries, especially with the shrinkage of the Lake Chad to a minuscule of its original size.

The Nigerian Leader also said the country was focused and making progress on education, particularly that of the girl child.

P.M Johnson thanked President Buhari for being a regional leader who gives strong encouragement to the West, congratulating him on jobs being created through agriculture, and urging him to do more.

He equally lauded the Nigerian President for what he calls the “social and economic benefits” that have accrued to the country since he emerged, and that the necessary hand of fellowship would be extended on the war against corruption, through the National Crime Agency.

The British P.M pledged to cooperate with Nigeria and other African countries in the inter-basin water transfer, which could solve the Lake Chad problem, and enhance security in the sub-region.

On the Commonwealth Free Trade Area, being espoused by President Buhari, the Prime Minister applauded the idea, and pledged a careful consideration.

He charged the Nigerian Leader to keep the national autonomy of his country intact, noting that in the future, Nigeria would not just be a continental but international power.

Femi Adesina
Special Adviser to the President
(Media and Publicity)
January 20, 2020

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Politics / Osinbajo: Nigeria Open To More Investments From Foreign Companies by presidency: 10:21pm On Jan 14
OFFICE OF THE VICE PRESIDENT

PRESS RELEASE

NIGERIA OPEN TO MORE INVESTMENTS FROM FOREIGN COMPANIES – OSINBAJO

*Nigerian Law students commend Buhari’s administration on transparency, praise VP’s leadership style of “bringing govt to the people”


Nigeria is open to more investment from foreign companies, including from Turkey, in the areas of construction, manufacturing, technology and other sectors, according to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN.

Prof. Osinbajo stated this on Tuesday when he received at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, a Turkish business delegation led by Turkey’s Minister of Trade, Ruhsar Pekcan.

With Nigeria and Turkey having existing bilateral relations for decades and maintained close cooperation in international organizations, the Vice President noted that he looks forward to greater cooperation between the two countries exploring other areas to deepen economic ties.

According to the VP, “I think also that more opportunities will come for further interactions with Turkey, especially in the light of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement we just signed. I believe very strongly that this is an opportunity also for Turkey to participate fully in the African economies, in particular, Nigeria’s economy. As you are well aware, several Turkish companies are already operating in Nigeria, in construction, manufacturing and other areas.”

The Vice President added that the Federal Government is looking forward to more foreign investment in Nigeria in different sectors.

In her remarks, the Turkish Minister of Trade said the Turkish government is looking forward to improving the bilateral trade volume between Nigeria and Turkey and deepening economic ties. She noted that there are several Turkish companies already in Nigeria and Turkish investors willing to invest in different sectors in the country.

Pekcan also thanked the Nigerian government for its continued support in tackling the global threat of terrorism.


Senior government officials at the meeting include the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Chief Niyi Adebayo; Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Amb. Zubairu Dada; and the Executive Director/ CEO, Nigerian Export Promotion Council, Mr. Segun Awolowo.

Earlier, the Vice President had received a delegation from the Law Students Association of Nigeria (LAWSAN), the umbrella body of all law students in the country.

During the meeting, Prof. Osinbajo stated that young Nigerians play very important roles in building the Nigerian enterprise and urged them to embrace opportunities to make those contributions.

Describing the Association’s innovative campaign, LAWSAN Goes to School, as laudable, the VP said he was impressed by the quality, scope of work and thoughtfulness behind initiatives being driven by the association. LAWSAN Goes to School is an outreach for creating awareness among Secondary School students on certain important aspects of the Law in society.

The VP said, “You are concerned with not just law students, but students in secondary schools, that is really commendable. We need more instructions in our primary and secondary schools on civic responsibilities which is very important. Young people need to understand the part that they have to play in the whole Nigerian enterprise. More volunteers on the ground will be needed. Perhaps using more existing resources like members of N-Power programmes who are graduates of Nigerian universities.”

In his remarks, the President of the Law Students Body, Mr. Emmanuel Nwobodo, said the campaign is part of the association’s drive to give back to society.

“We strongly believe in corporate social responsibility because it is vital in achieving the kind of future we want to build for ourselves and Nigeria,” Nwobodo said.

He praised the Buhari administration for its transparency and the VP for his exemplary leadership style and “bringing the Federal Government down to the people,” stating that “an average Nigerian is aware of how much you have brought the Federal Government to the grassroots.”

Speaking further, Nwobodo said, “As your administration speaks in respect to transparency, we have been accountable to our own people by organizing the Peoples’ Congress wherein we give account of what we have been doing at the apex body to law students because we believe that to succeed, integrity and conscience must form the government pack of our nation and leadership and we have learnt so far from the precedence you have laid over time in leadership.”

He said during a recent campaign by the Association in the South East, “Students were also taught their rights, limitations to the rights as well as their responsibilities as citizens of Nigeria.


Laolu Akande
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media & Publicity
Office of the Vice President
14th January, 2020

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Politics / Shaka Momodu: A Columnist As Hater-in-chief by presidency: 3:47pm On Jan 13
By FEMI ADESINA

For many years, week after week, Shaka Momodu opens the sewers and pours vitriol on President Muhammadu Buhari on the back page of THISDAY Newspapers. We ignore him, reasoning that when a mind is diseased, there is hardly much you can do to point such soul to decency. It remains impervious to anything not from the very nether region of hell.

However, on Friday, January 10, 2020, Shaka Momodu overreached even himself in hatred and deviousness by his piece with the headline, The General is Divider-in-Chief. Yes, you know who he was talking about. He usually has no other topic than President Buhari, whom he takes delight in using the foulest language against. Foul language is often evidence of poor breeding.

In the build-up to general elections last year, Momodu embarked on a crusade, urging all and sundry to vote out President Buhari. And what did he, and his cohorts, get at the end of the day? A shellacking, drubbing that left them reeling in shock. But rather than wake to reality that he is among the tiniest of minority voices in the country, the columnist rather gets worse by the day. He still stubbornly waves a flag that is perpetually limp, not even at half-mast.

In the very repetitive January 10 verbiage, the columnist, who curiously is also an editor with THISDAY, demonstrated that hatred for President Buhari was deeply embedded in his bones. He dug up, and kept repeating long-discredited narratives, parading them as truths, to attain his jaundiced purpose.

Hear one thing he kept repeating like a broken gramophone record in the piece: “He declared from the outset of his regime that he would pursue a policy of 97 percent and 5 percent and proceeded to implement his regime’s policies and appointments on that basis.”

Thick skulls and sick minds keep repeating a falsehood, even when their follies have been repeatedly pointed out. The columnist was referring to what the President said in the early days of his administration, as he met with Nigerians in Washington, United States of America. He said in rewarding those who voted for you in any election, it stood to reason that those who gave 97 percent of votes should get more positions than those who gave 5 percent. But he ended by submitting: “The Constitution forbids me from such, and I won’t do so.”

What did perennial haters do to that speech? They took the earlier part only, cut off the conclusion, and began to trumpet it on all media of mass communication. We explained the true position, but since it didn’t favor their narrative, they refused to listen. It is amazing that an editor and columnist is among those still advancing the jaundiced position after much explanations. See what hatred can do to a man!

Another falsehood, talking of President Buhari: “He so defended Boko Haram that it nominated him as one of its negotiators with the Jonathan government.” But that is just a tiny part of the story. When that purported nomination came from Boko Haram, it was seen clearly for what it was. An attempt to cleverly demonize the then General Buhari by the government of the day, who saw the Daura born General as the greatest obstacle to its continuation in office. Buhari denounced the nomination, and said he had nothing to do with Boko Haram. Why did Momodu leave out that part of the story, if mischief was not at play? Hatred addles the mind, and makes people lose all sense of reasoning.

If Gen Buhari was to be Boko Haram negotiator, why did the same group attempt to terminate his life in Kaduna in July 2014, leading to loss of many lives? Except maybe it was not Boko Haram…

And the columnist gave himself out again when he posited: “For those who have chosen to forget, the support of people like Buhari, the Borno Elders’ Forum, the Northern intelligentsia, and the All Progressives Congress (APC) made it difficult to defeat the group… Boko Haram is what it is today because it had a big supporter in Buhari and his party, the APC.”

Ah ha. This is about hatred for a man, a section of the country, the North, and a political party. Can we rightly say then that Shaka Momodu is one of those who miss the wheeling-dealing days of the People’s Democratic Party? Well, those days are gone, and a new order is here. You may resent and deride the new order, but here it is. And it is laying a new foundation for our country, giving the people a future and a hope.

The bilious article was written based on a statement issued by the Presidency, after 11 people were executed in December by Boko Haram. Momodu said they were of the Christian faith. Does it really matter which faith they belonged to, except to somebody who wants to divide Nigerians further? Long ago, it has been established that Boko Haram is not about religion, but sheer evil and anarchy. They kill Muslims (even possibly more than adherents of other religions); kill Christians, animists, and anyone they can lay their hands on. It is not about religion, except to columnists with convoluted minds.

He alleges that “useful idiots” foisted Buhari on Nigeria. Fifteen million voters are idiots, while Momodu and his ilk are the only wise ones. Good luck to them. Before the elections last year, we told them that Buhari would give them a whacking. They didn’t believe. Now, they are still licking their wounds. The pains would endure till 2023, God willing.

There is something about believing, and chronic unbelief. Those of us who believe in Buhari will follow him from Cape to Cairo, while those who don’t believe are welcome to their unbelief. Momodu is in the latter group. How do I know? He gave himself out again: “I scoff at his speeches and preaching of peace each time I come across them and turn away in perplexing bewilderment at how successfully he has managed to fool so many people.”

Once you have resolved not to believe a man, and “scoff at his speeches,” you are really beyond redemption. Chronic unbeliever! Right is the man who said to those who believe, no explanation is necessary, and to those who don’t believe, no explanation is possible. Shaka Momodu is obviously in the latter group.

At the end of 2017, the Presidency released a comprehensive list of all appointments made since 2015. It was very revealing. Ogun State had the highest of 21 positions, Imo and Kano followed with 15 each, Edo and Katsina (the President’s home state) had 14 each, Ebonyi and Abia, two each, Kebbi, three, while Zamfara, Sokoto, Oyo, Enugu, Ekiti, and Akwa Ibom, had four each. Yet, the cry then was still about lopsided appointments, till statistics put the lie to it. More than two years later, Momodu still repeats the same hollow lie: “His high profile appointments to strategic national parastatals are so lopsidedly in favor of his tribal/ethnic/religious stock almost to the total exclusion of other parts of the country.” God, give us journalists that are not blinded by hate, those who won’t attempt to feed the populace with noxious substances in the name of information.

To the columnist in question, all is fair in love and war, including lies. The Hate Speech Bill, he says is promoted by President Buhari, “to now gag us.” Lie! The President has nothing to do with the Bill, and it has been said repeatedly. Even the lawmaker promoting the Bill has said so. But when you are Hater-in-Chief, reason flees.

All attempts to bring amity between farmers and herdsmen in the country, Momodu describes as land grabbing gambits. He seems to prefer that the bloodletting should continue, thinking it would discredit Buhari. It’s like swallowing poison, and thinking it would kill your neighbor. Issorait (as it’s said in local lingo).

Let’s leave Shaka, who usually attempts to treat the President shakashaka (Yoruba word for treating someone like what the cat dragged in), and go attend to more serious things. We simply commend to him the words of William Shakespeare: “Love me or hate me, both are in my favor. If you love me, I’ll always be in your heart… If you hate me, I’ll always be in your mind.”

• Adesina is Special Adviser to President Buhari on Media and Publicity

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Politics / Buhari: We’ll Position Universities To Produce Quality Graduates by presidency: 9:29pm On Jan 09
STATE HOUSE PRESS RELEASE

WE’LL POSITION UNIVERSITIES TO PRODUCE QUALITY GRADUATES– PRESIDENT BUHARI

President Muhammadu Buhari Thursday in Abuja said Federal Government will give more attention to improving personnel and infrastructure of universities to produce quality graduates, assuring that education will, henceforth, be a top priority in development goals of the country.

President Buhari, who received leadership of Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) led by Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi at the State House, said effective and efficient operations of universities will go a long way in improving the economy, especially with focus on science and technology.

The President urged members of ASUU to assist the Federal Government in realising the target of improved education and credible certificates by complying with ongoing verification and validation of human resources in the universities, which will guarantee optimum output.

“The future of the country depends on quality education and our certificates must be credible to inspire confidence,’’ he said.

President Buhari said constitutional provisions should be carefully studied and adhered to for more harmonious relationships, and standards that will promote efficiency.

The President directed the Ministry of Education to put in more effort in ensuring that Nigerian universities are properly funded, with adequate infrastructure and staffing.

In her remarks at the meeting, the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, said out of the 137,016 academic and non-academic staff members of the universities, 96,090 have been enrolled in the Integrated Payment and Personnel Information System (IPPIS), urging ASUU to encourage the remaining 40,926 members to comply with the process.

She said a desk has been opened in the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation for registration of university staff, assuring that peculiarities of the tertiary institutions will be accommodated.

The Minister pointed out that many anomalies were discovered in the university structures that have contributed to the increased cost burden, which include staff working and earning pay in more than one university, contract staff on payroll of the government, tax reductions on PAYEE and multiple employments.

Ahmed said some universities had rushed to recruit more staff before the IPPIS registration commenced, which was then detected.

“While it is clear that ASUU has peculiarities, it should be recognised and rightly accommodated, and the allowances will be made, and not leaving the university out of IPPIS because of the peculiarities,’’ she added.

Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, urged ASUU to comply with IPPIS in national interest as his office was already in the process of streamlining all issues of human resources in government.

In his remarks, the President of ASUU, Prof. Ogunyemi said the educational sector needed more Federal Government attention, noting that implementation of agreements over the years will go a long way in improving the quality of education in the universities.

Prof. Ogunyemi said:

“Nigerian universities can make meaningful contributions to addressing the challenges of the country (economy, security and corruption) if given the opportunities. Appropriate funding level, competitive conditions of service, university autonomy and academic freedom are critical to creating such an atmosphere.

“With adequate and effective education, particularly university education, Nigerians will be less susceptible to manipulation, our economy will grow and problems of insecurity and corruption will be drastically reduced,’’ he said.

The ASUU President said Nigeria could learn from countries like China, Malaysia and Singapore that have encouraged universities to drive their educational development through tripartite linkages of government, industries and universities called Triple Helix Principle.

On IPPIS and university operations, Prof. Ogunyemi said the Federal Government’s Visitor initiative to the universities, at least once in five years, was the best guarantee for monitoring accountability processes that include internal and external audit processes.

The ASUU President said the IPPIS will be a “disruptive intrusion’’, adding: “IPPIS violates the laws of the federation, violates university statutes, and violates agreements between the Federal Government and ASUU.’’

“The Government should welcome ASUU’s ongoing innovation of a robust system of human resource management and compensation, called the University Transparency and Accountability Solution, which will address peculiarities of universities and end inappropriate recruitments.’’

The Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu and Labour and Employment , Dr Chris Ngige, assured that the Federal Government was committed to improving the educational sector, promising to work closely with ASUU.

Femi Adesina
Special Adviser to the President
(Media & Publicity)
January 9, 2020

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Politics / Nigeria's Decade by presidency: 7:30am On Jan 01
A LETTER FROM THE PRESIDENT AT NEW YEAR

My Dear Compatriots,

NIGERIA’S DECADE

Today marks a new decade. It is a time of hope, optimism and fresh possibilities. We look forward as a nation to the 2020s as the opportunity to build on the foundations we have laid together on security, diversification of our economy and taking on the curse of corruption. These are the pledges on which I have been twice elected President and remain the framework for a stable, sustainable and more prosperous future.

Elections are the cornerstone of our democracy. I salute the commitment of the millions who voted in peace last February and of those leaders who contested for office vigorously but fairly, submitting to the authority of the electorate, the Independent National Electoral Commission and judicial process. I understand very well the frustrations our system has in the past triggered. I will be standing down in 2023 and will not be available in any future elections. But I am determined to help strengthen the electoral process both in Nigeria and across the region, where several ECOWAS members go to the polls this year.

As Commander-in-Chief, my primary concern is the security of the nation and the safety of our citizens. When I assumed office in May 2015 my first task was to rally our neighbours so that we could confront Boko Haram on a coordinated regional basis. Chaos is not a neighbour any of us hope for.

We have been fighting on several fronts: violent extremists, cultists and organised criminal networks. It has not been easy. But as we are winning the war, we also look to the challenge of winning the peace, the reconstruction of lives, communities and markets. The North East Development Commission will work with local and international stakeholders to help create a new beginning for the North East.

The Federal Government will continue to work with State Governors, neighbouring states and our international partners to tackle the root causes of violent extremism and the networks that help finance and organise terror. Our security forces will receive the best training and modern weaponry, and in turn will be held to the highest standards of professionalism, and respect for human rights. We will use all the human and emerging technological resources available to tackle kidnapping, banditry and armed robbery.

The new Ministry of Police Affairs increased recruitment of officers and the security reforms being introduced will build on what we are already delivering. We will work tirelessly at home and with our allies in support of our policies to protect the security of life and property. Our actions at all times will be governed by the rule of law. At the same time, we shall look always to engage with all well-meaning leaders and citizens of goodwill to promote dialogue, partnership and understanding.

We need a democratic government that can guarantee peace and security to realise the full potential of our ingenious, entrepreneurial and hard-working people. Our policies are designed to promote genuine, balanced growth that delivers jobs and rewards industry. Our new Economic Advisory Council brings together respected and independent thinkers to advise me on a strategy that champions inclusive and balanced growth, and above all fight poverty and safeguard national economic interests.

As we have sat down to celebrate with friends and family over this holiday season, for the first time in a generation our food plates have not all been filled with imports of products we know can easily be produced here at home. The revolution in agriculture is already a reality in all corners of the country. New agreements with Morocco, Russia and others will help us access on attractive terms the inputs we need to accelerate the transformation in farming that is taking place.

A good example of commitment to this inclusive growth is the signing of the African Continental Free Trade Area and the creation of the National Action Committee to oversee its implementation and ensure the necessary safeguards are in place to allow us to fully capitalise on regional and continental markets.

The joint land border security exercise currently taking place is meant to safeguard Nigeria’s economy and security. No one can doubt that we have been good neighbours and good citizens. We have been the helpers and shock-absorbers of the sub-region but we cannot allow our well-planned economic regeneration plans to be sabotaged. As soon as we are satisfied that the safeguards are adequate, normal cross-border movements will be resumed.

Already, we are making key infrastructure investments to enhance our ease of doing business. On transportation, we are making significant progress on key roads such as the Second Niger Bridge, Lagos – Ibadan Expressway and the Abuja - Kano highway. 2020 will also see tangible progress on the Lagos to Kano Rail line. Through Executive Order 007, we are also using alternative funding programmes in collaboration with private sector partners to fix strategic roads such as the Apapa-Oworonshoki Express way. Abuja and Port Harcourt have new international airport terminals, as will Kano and Lagos in 2020. When completed, all these projects will positively impact business operations in the country. These projects are not small and do not come without some temporary disruption; we are doing now what should have been done a long time ago. I thank you for your patience and look forward to the dividends that we and future generations will long enjoy.

Power has been a problem for a generation. We know we need to pick up the pace of progress. We have solutions to help separate parts of the value chain to work better together. In the past few months, we have engaged extensively with stakeholders to develop a series of comprehensive solutions to improve the reliability and availability of electricity across the country. These solutions include ensuring fiscal sustainability for the sector, increasing both government and private sector investments in the power transmission and distribution segments, improving payment transparency through the deployment of smart meters and ensuring regulatory actions maximise service delivery.

We have in place a new deal with Siemens, supported by the German government after German Chancellor Angela Merkel visited us in Abuja, to invest in new capacity for generation, transmission and distribution. These projects will be under close scrutiny and transparency – there will be no more extravagant claims that end only in waste, theft and mismanagement.

The next 12 months will witness the gradual implementation of these actions, after which Nigerians can expect to see significant improvement in electricity service supply reliability and delivery. Separately, we have plans to increase domestic gas consumption. In the first quarter of 2020, we will commence work on the AKK gas pipeline, OB3 Gas pipeline and the expansion of the Escravos – Lagos Pipeline.

While we look to create new opportunities in agriculture, manufacturing and other long neglected sectors, in 2020 we will also realise increased value from oil and gas, delivering a more competitive, attractive and profitable industry, operating on commercial principles and free from political interference. Just last week, we were able to approve a fair framework for the USD10 billion expansion of Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas, which will increase exports by 35 percent, restore our position as a world leader in the sector and create thousands of jobs. The Amendment of the Deep Offshore Act in October signalled our intention to create a modern, forward-looking industry in Nigeria. I am confident that in 2020 we will be able to present a radical programme of reform for oil and gas that will excite investors, improve governance and strengthen protections for host communities and the environment.

We can expect the pace of change in technology only to accelerate in the decade ahead. Coupled with our young and vibrant population, this offers huge opportunities if we are able to harness the most productive trends and tame some of the wilder elements. This is a delicate balance with which many countries are struggling. We are seeking an informed and mature debate that reflects our rights and responsibilities as citizens in shaping the boundaries of how best to allow technology to benefit Nigeria.

During my Democracy Day speech on June 12, 2019, I promised to lay the enduring foundations for taking a hundred million Nigerians out of mass poverty over the next 10 years. Today I restate that commitment. We shall continue reforms in education, health care and water sanitation. I have met international partners such as GAVI, the vaccine alliance, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation who support our social welfare programmes. I will continue to work with State and Local Governments to make sure that these partnerships deliver as they should. Workers will have a living wage and pensioners will be looked after. We are steadily clearing pensions and benefits arrears neglected for so long.

The new Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development will consolidate and build on the social intervention schemes and will enhance the checks and balances necessary for this set of programmes to succeed for the long term.

I am able to report that the journey has already begun with the passage and signing into law of the 2020 Appropriation Act. As the new decade dawns, we are ready to hit the ground running. Let me pay tribute to the Ninth National Assembly who worked uncommonly long hours to make sure that the 2020 budget scrutiny is both thorough and timely. The close harmony between the Executive and Legislature is a sharp contrast to what we have experienced in the recent past, when the Senate kept the previous budget for 7 months without good reason just to score cheap political points thereby disrupting the budgetary processes and overall economic development plans.

Our policies are working and the results will continue to show themselves more clearly by the day. Nigeria is the most tremendous, can-do market, offering extraordinary opportunities and returns. Investors can look forward with confidence not only to an increasing momentum of change but also to specific incentives, including our new visa-on-arrival policy.

They can also be certain of our unshakeable commitment to tackle corruption. As we create an environment that allows initiative, enterprise and hard work to thrive, it is more important than ever to call out those who find the rule of law an inconvenience, or independent regulation an irritation. We are doing our part here in Nigeria. We will continue to press our partners abroad to help with the supply side of corruption and have received some encouragement. We expect more funds stolen in the past to be returned to us and they will be ploughed back into development with all due transparency.

This is a joint initiative. Where our policies have worked best, it has been because of the support of ordinary Nigerians in their millions, numbers that even the most powerful of special interests cannot defy. I thank you for your support. Transition by its very nature carries with it change and some uncertainty along the way. I encourage you to be tolerant, law abiding and peace loving. This is a new year and the beginning of a new decade - the Nigerian Decade of prosperity and promise for Nigeria and for Africa.

To recapitulate, some of the projects Nigerians should expect to come upstream from 2020 include:

47 road projects scheduled for completion in 2020/21, including roads leading to ports;
Major bridges including substantial work on the Second Niger Bridge;
Completion of 13 housing estates under the National Housing Project Plan;
Lagos, Kano, Maiduguri and Enugu international airports to be commissioned in 2020;
Launching of an agricultural rural mechanisation scheme that will cover 700 local governments over a period of three years;
Launching of the Livestock Development Project Grazing Model in Gombe State where 200,000 hectares of land has been identified;
Training of 50,000 workers to complement the country’s 7,000 extension workers;
Commissioning of the Lagos – Ibadan and Itakpe – Warri rail lines in the first quarter;
Commencement of the Ibadan – Abuja and Kano – Kaduna rail lines also in the first quarter;
Further liberalisation of the power sector to allow businesses to generate and sell power;
Commencement of the construction of the Mambilla Power project by the first half of 2020; and
Commencement of the construction of the AKK gas pipeline, OB3 gas pipeline and the expansion of the Escravos – Lagos pipeline in the first quarter of 2020.

Thank you very much!

President Muhammadu Buhari

State House,

Abuja.

1st January, 2020
Politics / Buhari Fires Board Heads Of NCC, NIPOST, NITDA, Others; Makes New Appointments by presidency: 5:54pm On Dec 23, 2019
STATE HOUSE PRESS RELEASE

PRESIDENT BUHARI ARPROVES NEW APPOINTMENTS IN PARASTATALS UNDER MINISTRY OF COMMUNICATIONS AND DIGITAL ECONOMY

Desirous of fast-tracking the targets and mandate of the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the following new appointments in the Parastatals listed below:

1. Nigerians Communications Commission (NCC)

(a) Prof. Adeolu Akande (South West) replaces Senator Olabiyi Durojaiye (South West) as Chairman, Board of Commissioners – subject to Senate confirmation

(b) Mr Uche Onwude (South East) replaces Senator Ifeanyi Godwin Ararume (South East) as Non-Executive Commissioner – subject to Senate confirmation.

2. The National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA)

(a) Dr Abubakar Sa’id replaces Prof. Adeolu Akande as Board Chairman

(b) Dr Habibu Ahmed Imam (North West) replaces Dr Lawal Bello Moriki

(North West)

(c) Dr Mohammed Sa’idu Kumo as Board Member

3. The Nigerian Postal Service (NIPOST)

Dr Ismail Adebayo Adewusi (South West) replaces Barrister Bisi Adegbuyi

(South West) as Postmaster General/CEO

4. Galaxy Backbone Limited (GBB)

Professor Muhammed Bello Abubakar replaces Architect Yusuf Kazaure

5. The Nigeria Communications Satellite Limited (NigComSat)

(a) Architect Yusuf Kazaure replaces Chief Dr George Nnadubem Moghalu

as Board Chairman

(b) Dr Najeem Salam replaces Hon. Samson Osagie as Executive

Director, Marketing and Business Development

(c) Professor Abdu Ja’afaru Bambale replaces Kazeem Kolawole Raji as

Executive Director, Technical Services

(d) Hadi Mohammed replaces Mohammed Lema Abubakar as Executive

Director, Administration

Femi Adesina
Special Adviser to the President
(Media & Publicity)
December 23, 2019

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Politics / Speech By President Buhari As He Signs 2020 Budget Into Law by presidency: 4:51pm On Dec 17, 2019
Speech by his Excellency, Muhammadu Buhari
President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria

at the signing into law of

the 2020 Appropriation Bill.

Presidential Villa, Abuja.
Tuesday, December 17, 2019

PROTOCOLS

1. It is my pleasant duty, today, on my 77th birthday, to sign the 2020 Appropriation Bill into law. I thank the National Assembly, in particular, the Senate President, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, and indeed all the Distinguished and Honourable Leaders, and Members, for passing the 2020 Appropriation Bill, expeditiously.

2. You will recall, that I laid the 2020 Appropriation Bill before the Joint Session of the National Assembly on 8th October, 2019 and forwarded the 2019 Finance Bill shortly thereafter.

3. I am very pleased that the National Assembly worked uncommonly long hours in the interest of our people and the national economy to ensure detailed legislative review and passage of the Budget within two months.

4. This patriotic zeal adopted by the Ninth National Assembly has restored our budget cycle to a predictable January to December fiscal year.

5. Furthermore, in the twenty years since the return to civilian democracy, this will be just the fourth time that the Federal Budget was passed before the end of the previous year, and this is the earliest.

6. The passage of the Finance Bill, which I am told will be done in the coming days, will also be a landmark achievement worthy of recognition, being the first time, this has been done in the last twenty years.

7. We look forward to receiving this Bill, shortly, for Presidential Assent. Once passed into law, the Finance Bill will support the funding and implementation of the 2020 Budget. We shall sustain this tradition by ensuring that subsequent budgets are also accompanied by a Finance Bill.

8. For these achievements, I must therefore congratulate and thank the Distinguished Senate President, the Right Honourable Speaker and indeed, all members of the Federal Legislature for their commitment and support.

9. I equally thank the Ninth National Assembly for supporting important legislations such as the Deep Offshore and Inland Basin Production Sharing Contract Amendment Act and the 2019 Finance Bill. These laws are vital to the successful implementation of the 2020 Budget.

10. I am aware of the regular high-level discussions that took place, between senior officials of the Executive and the Legislature during this period. I commend this renewed partnership, the mutual understanding as well as collaboration between these two arms of government.

11. Now, we are well positioned to effectively implement the budget and deliver our promises to Nigerians. Businesses will also benefit as they are now in a position to plan more effectively.

12. We have to sustain this harmonious working relationship. I expect that, going forward, this will be the norm.

13. I have directed that efforts be made to ensure the presentation of the 2021 Appropriation Bill to the National Assembly in September 2020. I am confident that all Federal Ministries, Departments and Agencies will cooperate with the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning to keep to this timeline.

14. I will work with the Ninth National Assembly to give effect to the constitutional, legislative and other actions that may be necessary to address the various challenges currently associated with our federal budgeting process, including the enactment of an Organic Budget Bill.

15. The 2020 Budget passed by the National Assembly provides for aggregate expenditures of Ten-point-Five-Nine-Four Trillion Naira (N10.594 trillion), an increase of Two Hundred and Sixty-Three-point-Nine-Five Billion Naira (N263.95 billion) over the Executive’s Proposal that was submitted in October 2019. We have examined the adjustments and may revert to the National Assembly with a request for a Virement or other relevant amendments.

16. The Honourable Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning will make a public presentation of the details of the approved budget.

17. With today’s global oil market outlook and our strategic approach to revenue growth, we are optimistic that we will be able to finance the 2020 Budget.

18. However, being a deficit budget, an appropriate 2020 – 2022 Borrowing Plan will be forwarded to the National Assembly, in due course.

19. Mr. Senate President, Right Honourable Speaker, for this submission, I will once again count on your usual cooperation and support by ensuring quick consideration and approval of the Plan.

20. To optimize the desired impact, I have directed the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning and all Federal MDAs to ensure effective implementation of the 2020 Budget.

21. I wish to acknowledge the efforts of the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, the Budget Office of the Federation, and all stakeholders, who collaborated and worked painstakingly, to produce the 2020 Appropriation Bill, that I have just signed into law.

22. I thank you most sincerely for your kind attention.

23. May God continue to bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

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Politics / State House Press Release by presidency: 2:23pm On Dec 14, 2019
CLAIMED EXECUTION OF AID WORKERS: SOONER THAN LATER, GOOD OVERCOMES EVIL, SAYS PRESIDENT BUHARI

President Muhammadu Buhari condemns the alleged execution of four aid workers by terrorists in North-eastern Nigeria, saying the defeat of evil by good is inevitable, no matter the pyrrhic victory evildoers seem to win.

The President feels saddened by the claimed development, and commiserates with the family and loved ones of the aid workers, who had offered themselves to serve humanity at grave risks.

The aid workers had been abducted near Damasak, Borno State, in July, and had been held despite all efforts to secure their release, till their alleged execution.

“Evil will always be defeated by good at the end of the day. Whatever seeming victory evil records, eventually rebounds on the evildoer. We are resolved to beat evil in this land, and we remain unrelenting till we achieve it,” President Buhari says.

He urged all insurgents once again to lay down their arms, and rejoin decent humanity.

Femi Adesina
Special Adviser to the President
(Media and Publicity)
December 14, 2019
Politics / President Buhari And Abdelfattah el-Sisi Parley On Counter Terrorism by presidency: 6:49pm On Dec 12, 2019
STATE HOUSE PRESS RELEASE

PRESIDENT  BUHARI , EGYPTIAN PRESIDENT PARLEY ON COUNTER TERRORISM

President Muhammadu Buhari and his Egyptian counterpart Abdelfattah el-Sisi have pledged to collaborate to eradicate the menace of terrorism in parts of Africa.

Speaking during an audience with the Egyptian President on the sidelines of the Aswan Forum on Sustainable Peace and Development in Africa taking place in Egypt, President Buhari said that countries of the West African sub-region were already in close collaboration towards combatting terrorism by setting up a multinational task force. He said since terrorism was a worldwide phenomenon, more collaborative efforts were needed to rein in the menace.

According to him:

“Together with other West African leaders, we are working hard to ensure that terrorism is eradicated. It is also important that the conflicts in North of Africa particularly in Libya do not frustrate our efforts. We seek your cooperation in this regard.”

President el-Sisi conveyed his appreciation to his Nigerian counterpart for honouring his invitation to participate in the gathering and for his contributions. He also praised the Nigerian President for his leadership qualities and pledged to deepen cooperation and partnership with Nigeria in all areas of common interest.

The Egyptian leader briefed President Buhari on efforts of his government on counter terrorism, particularly on the Sinai and the borders with Libya. He reiterated his willingness to synergize with the Nigerian government on all fronts to conquer the “evil of terrorism.”

The Egyptian President also invited President Buhari to the opening of the new Capital and the Grand International Museum in October, 2020.
 
Femi Adesina
Special Adviser to the President
(Media &Publicity)
December 12, 2019

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Politics / Office Of The Vice President Press Release by presidency: 9:12pm On Dec 09, 2019
OFFICE OF THE VICE PRESIDENT
PRESS RELEASE

WORDS ALONE CANNOT CHANGE PREDISPOSITIONS TO INTOLERANCE, OSINBAJO TELLS UAE INTERNATIONAL PEACE FORUM

*"Only acts of deep humility and personal sacrifice can root out intolerance, bigotry"- VP

In a world increasingly plagued by activities of the agents of intolerance and religious extremism, it will take acts of deep humility and personal sacrifice, especially by leaders across board, in order to change the disposition to hate and prejudice, according to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN.

Prof. Osinbajo stated this on Monday in a keynote address he delivered in Abu Dhabi at the opening session of the Sixth Assembly of the Forum for Promoting Peace organized by the government of the United Arab Emirates.

Speakers and participants at the conference were drawn from across the world, including countries like the United States, and there were representatives of Christianity, Judaism and Islam. Among representatives from Nigeria were the Catholic Archbishop Emeritus of Abuja, John Cardinal Onaiyekan, and the celebrated Imam from Plateau State, Abubakar Abdullahi.

The Vice President was also received after the opening session by both the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheik Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nayan, and the Ruler of the Emirate of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who is also the Vice President, Prime Minister and Defence Minister of the United Arab Emirates.

The reception was at the Al-Ain Palace of the Crown Prince, who is also the Deputy Supreme Commander of the United Arab Emirates Armed Forces.

According to the Vice President in his keynote address, “no amount of words or platitudes can change the human predisposition to prejudice and parochialism. Only acts of deep humility and personal sacrifice can.

“There is no question at all that this is the responsibility leadership places on those of us who are religious and political leaders in our countries.

“The responsibility of leadership is not just words, it is not text, it is not just laws. The responsibility of leadership is self-sacrifice, it is putting our reputation on the line, it is putting our words into action.

“It is my respectful submission that the burden rests squarely on leaders, especially religious and political leaders, and others we may describe as the elite in our nations and communities.”

Continuing on the role of leaders of communities in promoting peaceful coexistence, Prof. Osinbajo said, “it is our role not only to articulate, as we are doing in this assembly today, the theoretical and doctrinal foundations for a more tolerant world, but more importantly, to make the personal sacrifices that would compel our societies to commit themselves to lifestyles of tolerance.”

Speaking on how technology and globalization can also been used in promoting hate and intolerance, the Vice President said leaders who exemplified selflessness and love are better positioned to reverse the negative trend.

He said, “The defining paradox of our world today is that, thanks to technology and globalization, we have never been more connected than we are today, and at the same time, we have probably never been more divided than we are today, and this is the handiwork of agents of intolerance who weaponize our fear of the ‘other’.

“In recent years, we have witnessed a rise of religious extremism, right wing populism and ultra-nationalism. We have seen extremists hijack the symbols and letters of the faiths and use them to prosecute violent campaigns that violate the sanctity of human life on a global scale: ISIS, ISWAP, Boko Haram etc.

“Therefore, if we are to prevent an endless cycle of strife and conflict, tolerance is a necessity.”

The Vice President added that it was the responsibility of leaders, “especially religious and political leaders, and the elite in our nations and communities, to bear the torch of tolerance and illuminate new pathways to a shared future.”

Citing the examples of some community and religious leaders in Nigeria who offered their lives to save people of different faiths from theirs, Prof. Osinbajo urged leaders of groups and communities to imbibe the principles of tolerance and empathy.

According to him, “the great conflict of our time is not between Islam and Christianity, or between Islam and other religions, but between extremism and human solidarity, between the forces of hate and intolerance and those of empathy and peace – that is the great conflict today.

“We must emphasize the central place of the principle of empathy; this is a thread that runs through our moral traditions, and is summed up in the Golden Rule in the words of Jesus Christ where he said, “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Jesus Christ goes further to say that “we must love our enemies; we must even pray for our enemies.”

“This is the notion of self-sacrifice. In other words, all of these is summed up in the general principle that we must treat others as we ourselves would like to be treated, and this is embedded in the Abrahamic traditions and other major religions.”

Earlier, the UAE Minister of Tolerance, Sheikh Nahayan Al Nahayan, spoke on the need for the world's major religions to embrace tolerance as a virtue and vehicle to promote peaceful co-existence.

Laolu Akande
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media & Publicity
Office of the Vice President
9th December 2019

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Politics / President Buhari Names Muhammad Nami As New FIRS Chairman by presidency: 3:42pm On Dec 09, 2019
STATE HOUSE PRESS RELEASE

PRESIDENT BUHARI NAMES NEW FIRS BOARD FOR SENATE CONFIRMATION

President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the composition of a new board for the Federal Inland Revenue Service, FIRS, subject to Senate confirmation.

The President nominated a renowned tax consultant, Muhammad M. Nami as the new chairman.

The board is composed of a member representing each of the six geographical zones and statutory representatives from a select number of ministries and government agencies.

Mr Muhammad, a well-trained Tax, Accounting and Management professional with highly rated qualifications and professional practice and licenses from relevant professional bodies, has almost three decades of practical working experience in Auditing, Tax Management and Advisory and Management services to clients in the banking, manufacturing, services and public sectors as well as non- profit organizations.

He is an expert in rendering advisory support services to investors in respect of new business start-ups and management of existing businesses. He has also continuously rendered outsourced services to clients in trading, service and manufacturing sectors of the nation’s economy.

Muhammad Nami attended Bayero University Kano and Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria where he obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology (1991) and a Masters of Business degree (2004) respectively. He is a fellow of Chartered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria, Institute of Debt Recovery Practitioners of Nigeria and Associate Member of Nigerian Institute of Management (Chartered) and Association of National Accountants of Nigeria.

He started his career with PFK in 1993 and rose to the position of a senior Consultant in charge of Tax management and advisory services. He is currently the managing consultant of Manam Professional Services (Chartered Tax Practitioners and Business Advisers) based in Kaduna, Abuja, Niger State.

Mr Muhammad has served, and is still serving, on many companies’ Board and Statutory Board Audit Committees. He was appointed as a member, Presidential Committee on Audit of Recovered Stolen Assets in November, 2017 by President Buhari.

He is married with children.

Chairman of FIRS, Babatunde Fowler, whose term of office expired on Monday, 9th December, 2019 is expected to hand over to the most senior director on the board, who will take charge, pending the senate confirmation of the new board.

Garba Shehu
Senior Special Assistant to the President
(Media & Publicity)
December 9, 2019

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Politics / Sowore: Between Facts And Fiction by presidency: 9:53pm On Dec 08, 2019
STATE HOUSE PRESS RELEASE

SOWORE: BETWEEN FACTS AND FICTION

The Presidency notes some of the insinuations in the media about the arrest by the Department of State Services (DSS) of the agitator, Omoyele Sowore.

The DSS does not necessarily need the permission of the Presidency in all cases to carry out its essential responsibilities that are laid down in the Nigerian Constitution – which was the foundation for the restoration of democracy in our country in 1999.

However, it should not surprise anyone who has followed his actions and words that Sowore is a person of interest to the DSS.

Sowore called for a revolution to overthrow the democratically elected government of Nigeria.

He did so on television, and from a privileged position as the owner of a widely read digital newspaper run from the United States of America.

He founded an organisation, Revolution Now, to launch, in their own words, “Days of Rage”, with the publicised purpose of fomenting mass civil unrest and the elected administration’s overthrow.

No government will allow anybody to openly call for destabilization in the country and do nothing.

Mr. Sowore is no ordinary citizen expressing his views freely on social media and the internet.

He was a presidential candidate himself, who ran – and lost – as the flag bearer of the African Action Congress (AAC) in the February 23 general elections.

Nigeria's democracy was a long time in the making, and was achieved after decades of often harsh, military-led overthrows of government: the kind of situation Sowore was advocating.

To believe in and desire armed revolution is not normal amongst 'human rights activists', as Sowore has been incorrectly described.

Again, it is no surprise that he should be a person of interest to the DSS.

Nigeria is already dealing with an insurgency that has left millions of people displaced and desperate in the northeastern region of our country.

The Boko Haram militants, who are behind the violence, also fancy themselves to be fighting for some sort of revolution.

Nigerians do not need another spate of lawlessness and loss of lives all in the name of 'revolution', especially not one that is orchestrated by a man who makes his home in far away New York – and who can easily disappear and leave behind whatever instability he intends to cause, to wit, Nnamdi Kanu.

This is a matter for the DSS, acting under its powers.

Garba Shehu
Senior Special Assistant to the President
(Media & Publicity)
December 8, 2019

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Politics / Buhari Bids Tam David-West Farewell by presidency: 4:26pm On Dec 04, 2019
President Muhammadu Buhari Wednesday paid glowing tributes to his long-time ally and friend, Professor Tamunoemi Sokari David-West, who served as Minister of Petroleum Resources between January 1984 and August 1985.

At the commendation service for the former minister, held at the Chapel of Resurrection, University of Ibadan, the President said Prof David-West would be sorely missed for his integrity, sense of accountability, and radical opposition to corruption.

President Buhari was represented at the event by Minister of State, Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva, and Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina.

Also at the event were the Governor of Edo State, Godwin Obaseki, renowned academics, politicians, family members and admirers of the eminent virologist, who had attained national and international acclaim.

“The late Professor stood for all that was noble and just,” President Buhari said through his Adviser on Media, adding: “He had an indomitable spirit, stood by whatever he believed in, and was very loyal. May his soul Rest In Peace.”

The President urged Nigerians to emulate the virtues of the former minister, including his scrupulous commitment to scholarship, timeliness and loyalty to motherland.

Prof David-West passed away on November 11, 2019, aged 83.

Attah Esa
Deputy Director (Information)
State House
Abuja.
December 4, 2019

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Politics / Nations Are Built By The Sacrifices, Hardwork Of Leaders, Says VP by presidency: 8:07pm On Nov 29, 2019
OFFICE OF THE VICE PRESIDENT

PRESS RELEASE

NATIONS ARE BUILT BY THE SACRIFICES, HARDWORK OF LEADERS, SAYS OSINBAJO

VP: How we hold Villa Church Service besides Buhari’s kitchen every Sunday

“Every Sunday, my family and over 100 Christians attend service in the Chapel at the Villa. The Chapel is located in the premises of the President and his family. It is located a few seconds away from the First Lady’s kitchen. Sometimes when I see the President on a Sunday morning, he asks me whether the service is over already or I am escaping from the service! That is the sort of tolerance that we need in a multi-ethnic, multi-religious society and it is the duty of leaders to show that sort of example.” - Osinbajo

REMARKS BY HIS EXCELLENCY, PROF. YEMI OSINBAJO, SAN, GCON, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA AT THE OPENING CEREMONY OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE NIGERIAN SUPREME COUNCIL FOR ISLAMIC AFFAIRS ON THE 29TH OF NOVEMBER, 2019

PROTOCOLS

It is a great honour to be here at this opening ceremony of the General Assembly of the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs. This Council is of particular importance to us as a nation because it not only promotes solidarity among Nigeria’s Muslims but also serves as an important intermediary between the government and the Muslim community and between Muslims and persons of other faiths.

As the highest decision-making body of the Council, I offer to you this morning, both a commendation and a challenge.

First, the commendation to you for the great leadership you have shown in galvanizing the Muslim community in Nigeria despite denominational differences. But also, for making the Council available for the promotion of interfaith peace, and religious tolerance in Nigeria.

The challenge stems from the theme of this meeting which is “Islam and National Development.” Permit me to put the topic in context so that we do not miss the essence of the topic. So, I recast the theme to read as follows quote, “The Role of Islam in the Development of a Multi-religious and Multi-ethnic Nation.” This is the gravamen of the matter and I believe my brother, Isa Pantami (Honourable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy who delivered the keynote address) did an excellent job.

Decades ago in this same country, it would not have been a major topic. Leaders in the first republic did not consider religious intolerance as a major national issue, they were more concerned about the issues that touched everyone regardless of religion or ethnicity; they were concerned about providing food, shelter, education and decent livelihoods. But today, no true leader can ignore the threat that religious bigotry and intolerance poses for the development of our nation. That is just the way it is.

But it is my respectful view that the burden of ensuring that faith promotes national development as opposed to impeding it is on leaders. This is the challenge I pose to you today.

A few months ago, at an interfaith gathering, I told the story of an occurrence on the 20th of June 2018. Christians in their village Nshar Yelwa, Plateau State were attacked by a horde of persons who were said to be Muslims, who had attacked other villages and had killed several Berom farmers who were mainly Christians. As Imam Abdullahi was finishing mid-day prayers, he and his congregation heard gunshots and went outside to see members of the village’s Christian community running helter-skelter. Instinctively, the Imam ushered 262 Christians into the mosque and some into his home next to the mosque. The Imam then went outside to confront the gunmen. He refused to allow them to enter, pleading with them to spare the Christians inside the mosque and his home. When the assailants were adamant, he told them that they would have to kill him first if they were going to kill the Christians, he had given refuge. They eventually left without killing any of the Christians in the mosque or in his home. Imam Abdullahi’s selflessness and sacrifice saved the lives of hundreds of people of a faith different from his own.

Imam Abdullahi not only refused to give up the Christians he had given refuge; he even offered his life in exchange for theirs. His moral courage is rooted in a profound recognition of our common humanity. His compassion, empathy and selflessness are an example to us as people of faith.

Jesus Christ told a story somewhat similar to this. Someone had asked Him the question, “how could he attain eternal life?” And Jesus replied by asking him what the law said on the matter. The man responded that the law says “Love God with all your heart and mind and love your neighbour as yourself.” Jesus then said, “Good, you go and obey that law and you will live.” However, the man asked him, “But who is my neighbour?” Jesus then told him a parable which later came to be known as the story of the Good Samaritan.

It is the story of a man who was travelling between Jerusalem and Jericho, and was attacked by thieves. His property was stolen and he was beaten almost to death. As he lay on the road, a certain priest came by, saw him and walked by on the other side of the road. So also, a Levite, came by and walked by on the other side of the road. Then a Samaritan came by, (Samaritans were regarded as unbelievers by the Jews) stopped and took care of the injured man, putting him on his horse and then took him to an Inn, leaving the Inn-keeper money to take care of him until he returned. Jesus then asked the man, “of the three men who saw the injured man who was his neighbour?” The man answered that it was the Samaritan who had compassion for Him. Jesus then said to him go and do likewise.

Jesus said go and behave with love and compassion in the way that the Samaritan did. All leaders and this is my challenge to you today, need to learn from the simple, but deeply profound actions of the Good Samaritan and Chief Imam Abubakar. Both of them showed great love and compassion. They were not concerned about the race or religion of those whose lives they saved or whose properties were destroyed. All that mattered was that they were flesh and blood like themselves. They were simply ready to make any sacrifice for another human being.

We are at a historic juncture in the existence of our nation. Here and there are religious and tribal tensions. Many are beating the drums of ethnic and religious superiority. Some even seek to divide the nation into ethnic zones. Yet our constitution speaks in the clearest and highest terms of our national commitment to the equality of all Nigerians regardless of ethnicity, religion or status. It speaks of the imperative of all individuals and governments to respect the rights and dignity of every Nigerian. Our constitution speaks of freedom of worship, the liberty to belong to a faith of one’s choice and even change that faith without consequence. But constitutional declarations mean nothing unless there are men and women ready to make the personal sacrifices to bridge the gap between rhetoric and constitutional ideals. Such men and women are not usually very many. But they do not have to be many to make a difference.

Let me add one more story, a few months ago, a leader of a large Christian congregation in a Northern State sought an audience with me. I asked him why, he said he wanted to speak to me about the Governor of his State. I assumed it was going to be a complaint because the governor of the State is a Muslim and I thought it might perhaps, be some conflict between Christians and Muslims in the community.

But it wasn’t. He said,” Your Excellency, I think the government should give national honors to those who promote the unity of the country.” He then told me how the Governor of his State had rebuilt several churches that were damaged by religious extremists who described themselves as Muslims. I was shocked first, by the fact that here was the leader of a church, asking that the Government should honour the Governor of his State for doing something that is unprecedented.

Yet there are States where Governors refuse to grant certificates of occupancy for the building of churches or places of religious gathering in outright violation of the constitution they swore to uphold.

Every Sunday, my family and over 100 Christians attend service in the Chapel at the Villa. The Chapel is located in the premises of the President and his family. It is located a few seconds away from the First Lady’s kitchen. Sometimes when I see the President on a Sunday morning, he asks me whether the service is over already or I am escaping from the service! That is the sort of tolerance that we need in a multi-ethnic, multi-religious society and it is the duty of leaders to show that sort of example.

It is the courage of leaders to live up to the ideals of their faith and their sworn commitments that invariably build nations. Leaders must live up to the commitments to which they swear, especially political leaders.

Nations are built by the sacrifices, the hard work of leaders who do not care even if they are condemned by persons of their own religion or ethnicity, so long as they are confident that they act in obedience to the oaths they swore and to the Almighty God. Such men and women are few, but the profundity of their actions invariably transform communities and nations as they bend the arc of history in the direction of unity, peace and progress.

I have observed for many years the words and actions of his Royal Highness, the Sultan of Sokoto, how he has sought to build bridges with other faiths, locally and internationally, this is as it should be. The challenge of nation-building is not the noise of the religious bigots and nihilists, it is the silence and inaction of leaders of different faiths who know better, those who say and do nothing, and to whom we appeal today. Your words and actions may make the difference between peace and tragedy.

The Quran proclaims, “Human beings, we created you all from a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, so that you may know one another.” (Surah 49:13).

These words are important because they point us in the direction of our diversity, but that diversity is a source of strength, knowledge and unity and our nation at this point, requires men and women who look at our faith, Muslims and Christians who see first brothers and sisters, who see first human beings before we see faith.

It is now my very special pleasure and privilege to declare open this conference.

Thank you very much.

Released by:
Laolu Akande
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity
Office of the Vice President
29th November 2019
Politics / What Nec Discussed Regarding Discos by presidency: 4:38pm On Nov 22, 2019
OFFICE OF THE VICE PRESIDENT
 
PRESS STATEMENT
 
WHAT NEC DISCUSSED REGARDING DISCOS
 
We have read some misleading media reports regarding the deliberations of the National Economic Council on the issue of the ownership of electricity Distribution Companies, DisCos, at its meeting yesterday. Some of the erroneous reports was a headline that said: “FG May Take Over DisCos.”
 
For the purposes of clarity and accurate records, the ONLY issue which came up for discussions at NEC yesterday was about the quantum of State governments’ interests, if any, in the 40% shares retained by the Nigerian Government in each of the DisCos at the point of privatization. A Committee was then constituted to review historical records and advise the Council accordingly.
 
Laolu Akande
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity
Office of the Vice President
22nd November 2019
Politics / NEC Approves $250 Million investment For Nigeria Soverign Investment Authority by presidency: 9:02pm On Nov 21, 2019
OFFICE OF THE VICE PRESIDENT

PRESS RELEASE

NATIONAL ECONOMIC COUNCIL APPROVES ADDITIONAL $250M INVESTMENT FOR NIGERIA SOVEREIGN INVESTMENT AUTHORITY

Having received a presentation of the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA) business update, and outlook, the National Economic Council on Thursday resolved to invest an additional $250 million into the NSIA, the country's sovereign wealth fund.

The resolution was among other decisions taken at the 99th meeting of the council chaired by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, in Abuja.

NEC is composed of the 36 State Governors, CBN Governor, the FCT Minister and other Federal Government representatives.

In his presentation to NEC, the NSIA Managing Director, Mr Uche Orji said the agency made a profit before tax of N42,036,469 while NSIA and its subsidiaries made a profit before tax of N46,185,074.

According to him, “the total comprehensive income by the year ending 31st December, 2018 made by the NSIA Group amount to N44,337,108, while the amount made by the NSIA stood at N41,827,853.

“…irrespective of volatility in the market due to the US/China trade disputes and Brexit, the Group made a total of N24 billion in total comprehensive income in the first 6 months of the year.”

The NSIA had earlier told council that it intends to “deploy Capital into the three road projects under the Presidential Infrastructure Development Fund – to complete the Second Niger Bridge, Abuja – Kano highway and Lagos – Ibadan Express way as well as the Mambilla Power Project.

“That the NSIA intends to create a number of co-investment funds, in the area of Healthcare, Agriculture and Gas Projects.

“These projects worth N2.5 trillion, will be implemented under a business model, that includes the payment of reasonable service charges (e.g. tolling of roads, electricity tariffs etc) after the projects have been fully developed.”

Besides the additional $250 million, NEC also resolved that the "Governor of Kaduna State should chair a NEC Committee to consider how a portion of Pension Funds can also be leveraged into investment for the NSIA with possible involvement of PENCOM.

“The Committee will include the Finance Minister, CBN Governor and the NSIA MD.”

On the presentation by the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Mr Olamilekan Adegbite on the development of the solid minerals sector, the Council resolved that “there should be collaboration between the Federal Ministry of Mines and Steel Development and the State Governments on environmental issues and concerns in the States.”

Regarding community relationship with the miners, it was agreed that there should be a full time engagement of the communities to avoid the mistakes made in the oil and gas sector.

Council also resolved that the Governor of Ekiti State and Chairman, Nigeria Governor’s Forum (NGF) should constitute an Ad-hoc Committee involving Governors to engage with the Federal Ministry of Mines and Steel Development to find ways of addressing all the issues involved towards a beneficial development of the solid mineral sector.

On updates involving the Excess Crude Account (ECA), Stabilization Account and the Natural Resources Development Fund Account, the Accountant General of the Federation told Council that “the Excess Crude Account (ECA) balance as at 20th November, 2019 stood at 324,539,031.51, while the Stabilization Account balance as at 20th November, 2019 was N29, 480, 483, 393.33, and Natural Resources Development Fund Account balance as at 20th November, 2019 stood at N 79, 751, 649,521.54.

Laolu Akande
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media & Publicity
Office of the Vice President
21st November, 2019

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Politics / Railway Holds Master Key To Transforming Nigeria's Economy - Osinbajo by presidency: 2:13pm On Nov 11, 2019
OFFICE OF THE VICE PRESIDENT
PRESS RELEASE

RAILWAY HOLDS MASTER KEY TO TRANSFORMING NIGERIA'S ECONOMY - OSINBAJO

*Its modernization by Buhari Administration will provide linkages, job creation, & more

*After riding the Lagos-Ibadan train from Iju to Kajola, VP performs ground-breaking of wagon assembly plant in Kajola, Ogun State

"This ceremony is not just another event, it is a historic turning point, for us, the railway is not just an alternative and comfortable mode of travel, it holds the master key to transforming commerce in Nigeria and across the continent.

"...the citing of the plant here in Nigeria and the commitment to hiring Nigerians and Nigerian businesses affirms the Presidents directives in Executive Order 5 on prioritizing Nigerians and Nigerian businesses in the innovation, production and procurement of engineering projects and services.

"The plant would offer an important platform for engineers, technicians, artisans and other professionals to gain the specialized skills required for the production and maintenance of rolling stock. This will invariably conduce to spin-off businesses in the region of operation in particular and across the country wherever rail networks are in existence. The plant is expected to generate about five thousand (5,000) direct and indirect jobs."

Below is the full text of the Vice President's speech.

ADDRESS BY HIS EXCELLENCY, PROF. YEMI OSINBAJO, SAN, GCON, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA, AT THE OFFICIAL GROUND-BREAKING CEREMONY OF THE RAIL WAGON ASSEMBLY PLANT AT KAJOLA, OGUN STATE ON SATURDAY, 9TH OF NOVEMBER, 2019

It is my special pleasure this afternoon to perform the official ground-breaking ceremony of the Wagon Assembly Plant here in Kajola. The plant which is a private investment undertaken by Messrs CCECC. It is an important project for so many reasons. It is central in the production of rolling stock spare parts and maintenance equipment needed for the railway modernization programme being implemented by the administration of Muhammadu Buhari.

This ceremony is not just another event, it is a historic turning point, for us, the railway is not just an alternative and comfortable mode of travel, it holds the master key to transforming commerce in Nigeria and across the continent.

By linking our ports to rail lines and now, building the rolling stock locally, import and export business within and out of Africa’s largest market will be completely transformed. When completed, it is expected that the plant would produce some parts of the wagons for the Lagos – Ibadan and Abuja – Kaduna rail lines, but also for the central rail lines and to satisfy the needs of other rail operators within the West-African sub-region.

Secondly the citing of the plant here in Nigeria and the commitment to hiring Nigerians and Nigerian businesses affirms the Presidents directives in Executive Order 5 on prioritizing Nigerians and Nigerian businesses in the innovation, production and procurement of engineering projects and services.

The plant would offer an important platform for engineers, technicians, artisans and other professionals to gain the specialized skills required for the production and maintenance of rolling stock. This will invariably conduce to spin-off businesses in the region of operation in particular and across the country wherever rail networks are in existence. The plant is expected to generate about five thousand (5,000) direct and indirect jobs.

I have a message also for you from the President and this is to CCECC which is that we expect that you move on very quickly to the next phase of this project which is the assembly and construction of coaches and locomotives.

This for us will be a significant breakthrough and we look forward to hearing from you as quickly as possible when this will come into operation.

After completing the Abuja – Kaduna Railway project in July 2016, this administration commenced construction works on the Lagos – Ibadan Railway modernization project in March 2017, following which we initiated the rehabilitation and completion of the abandoned Itakpe – Ajaokuta – Warri rail line which was started over three decades ago.

Furthermore, last month, we signed an agreement with Messrs China Railway Construction Company International to construct the Itakpe – Ajaokuta rail line which will be extended from Itakpe to Abuja through Baro Inland Water Port in Niger State with a branch line to Lokoja in Kogi State. This rail line will link into the new Warri sea port being constructed under the agreement.

Also, we are optimizing the Lagos-Ibadan rail modernization project by extending it to the Apapa Port, the nation’s busiest port for the efficient movement of cargo from the port to various destinations. This will expedite import/export flows, decongest the ports, and depressurize our roads in the process.

Also, we are putting all mechanisms in place to achieve the swift completion of the Ibadan Inland Dry port which will off-take containers and cargoes from Apapa port through the Lagos – Ibadan rail line.

Let me take this opportunity to appreciate the support shown by the leadership of the host communities here in Kajola and around this environment, for this project and other relevant Federal and State government projects. The implementation of these projects is important. It is imperative that our host communities continue to support government’s efforts by effectively cooperating with the contractors in safeguarding and protecting these lasting investments so that we can ensure that all intended objectives and mutual benefits are attained.

Let me also commend the Federal Ministry of Transportation led by the very able and dynamic Hon. Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi or Chibuike Amaechi, (today he is Rotimi since we are in the South West) for the very hard work and commitment he has demonstrated from the inception of our rail modernization project. And also, to the Chinese government, particularly the investor, CCECC Nigeria Limited for this significant and strategic investment.

The vision you have shown and the initiative you have taken in the larger development journey of this great country will reap unparalleled rewards for you and great opportunity for our people.

In a few minutes, I will have the special privilege of performing the official ground-breaking ceremony for the establishment of this Wagon Assembly Plant here in Kajola Ogun State, and I hope that this will be only be the beginning of the development of the railway infrastructure, not only here in Ogun State, but across the country.

Thank you all and God bless.

Released by:

Laolu Akande
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media & Publicity
Office of the Vice President
9th November 2019
Politics / Address By The Minister Of Transportation Rt. Honourable Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi by presidency: 7:33pm On Nov 09, 2019
OPENING ADDRESS BY THE HONOURABLE MINISTER OF TRANSPORTATION RT. HONOURABLE CHIBUIKE ROTIMI AMAECHI AT THE GROUND BREAKING CEREMONY OF WAGON ASSEMBLY PLANT BY HIS EXCELLENCY VICE PRESIDENT PROF. YEMI OSINBANJO ON 8TH NOVEMBER, 2019 AT KAJOLA, OGUN STATE
PROTOCOL

It is with great delight and humility that, I welcome His Excellency, the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbanjo GCON to this epoch-making event of the ground breaking ceremony for the construction of a Wagon Assembly Plant here in Kajola, Ogun state.

2.​Your Excellency would recall that on March 7, 2017 you performed the ground breaking ceremony for the construction of the segment 2 of the Lagos – Kano Railway Modernization project: the Lagos – Ibadan segment with Extension to Lagos Ports Complex at Apapa which is nearing completion. This segment holds the key to the development of the economy of the nation from the commercial city of Lagos to the commercial hub of Northern Nigeria, Kano.

3.​To meet the increasing demand of both passenger and freight on the new Nigeria Standard Gauge Railway Service, the Federal Government awarded contract for the procurement of Rolling Stock that is, Locomotives, Coaches, Wagons and contemporary Diesel Multiple Units to serve movement of passengers and freight on the Abuja-Kaduna, Itakpe – Ajaokuta – Warri train services as well as the ongoing Lagos – Ibadan Railway. It will also serve any railway service in the West-African sub-region.

4.​The Ministry of Transportation realizing the need of the advantage to set up this type of plant considering the potential need in view of the on-going rail projects in the country and the sub-region encourage Messrs CCECC to establish this plant. It is expected that the plant would generate job opportunities for Nigerians and as well facilitate the much-desired objective of the government towards the local content capacity development.

5.​It was in the pursuit of these objectives that the Federal Ministry of Transportation signed an agreement with Messrs. CCECC Nig. Limited in March, 2018 to establish this plant for the production and assembling of rolling stock, spare parts and maintenance equipment in Nigeria. Consequently, Messrs. CCECC conducted a feasibility study in which the choice of Kajola, Ogun State was arrived at as the suitable location for the project.

6. This project is therefore a direct investment of Messrs. CCECC Nig. Ltd in the country and would remain as part of the gains from the contract signed for the Supply of rolling stock. This will be the first of its kind in Nigeria and the first batch of the wagons to be assembled from the production line of this plant will form part of the rolling stock for Lagos - Ibadan and Abuja - Kaduna Railway operations. Subsequently, other rolling stock would be produced as its production capacities increase.

7.​The project when completed would be able to generate about 5,000 jobs and in the long run Nigeria would be able to manufacture rolling stock for Nigerian use and for other African countries. More so, we would be able to conserve our much needed foreign exchange which can be deployed to other areas of development. Among all these, it is cardinal to mention that the sustainability of our railway modernization projects would depend on our ability to develop local capacity to construct, maintain and manage our new railway system. It is on this note that we feel that this project is germane to the railway development in Nigeria and that Messrs. CCECC should be given every reasonable support to actualize this investment.

8.​Your Excellency, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, may I at this juncture express my profound gratitude to the President, Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Vice President for their unwavering commitment and support in the execution of Railway Projects. We are indeed most honoured that His Excellency, the Vice President took time out of his very busy schedule to personally accept to perform the Ground Breaking of this laudable Project. I also wish to register our appreciation to the members of the National Assembly especially members of the Senate and House Committees on Land Transport for their support and physical presence at this occasion. My personal gratitude goes to the Governor of Ogun State for his support and for personally gracing the occasion. To my colleagues, other Honourable Ministers here present, I thank you all for the solidarity.

9.​Finally, let me appreciate other distinguish personalities here present and commend Messrs. CCECC Nigeria Limited for its effort and commitment to this project.

10.​Thank you and God bless you all.
Politics / Atiku: They Gave Him A False Sense Of Hope - Femi Adesina by presidency: 7:17pm On Nov 09, 2019
Atiku: They gave him a false sense of hope

By FEMI ADESINA

After the Supreme Court threw out the legal challenge by Atiku Abubakar of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) on the February 2019 presidential poll last week, two things flashed across my mind. One was a song, the other, a quote from William Shakespeare’s Macbeth, which I’d read over 40 years ago.

First, the song:
The strife is o’er, the battle done,
The victory of life is won,
The song of triumph has begun,
Alleluia!

And then Shakespeare, as Macbeth was confronted by Macduff at the battlefront, and the former realized he had been fooled by the witches who had predicted that no man born of woman could ever kill him, and that he could not be defeated in any battle “till Birnam Wood comes to Dunsinane.”

Macduff told Macbeth that he had been “untimely ripped” from his mother’s womb, and was not biologically delivered as babies are. The advancing soldiers also bore before them trees they had cut from Birnam Wood, which meant the forest had virtually relocated to Dunsinane. Macbeth, confronted with defeat, had declared:

“And be these juggling fiends no more believed,
That palter with us in a double sense,
That keep the word of promise to our ear,
And break it to our hope.”

Macbeth had been fooled, just as it happened to former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, who had been hoodwinked into believing that he was President already, before the February 2019 election.
Who were those that paltered with Atiku in a double sense? Who were the people that lured him into a losing battle? Who were those who told him he was on a giant horse, not knowing that he was riding on a cockroach? Let’s do a checklist.

Olusegun Obasanjo, and his foreign cohorts. The former president was the one that ruined Atiku Abubakar most, when they fought a bitter battle as they served together in government. Obasanjo wrote books, granted interviews, where he poured vitriol on his former deputy. He described him in words that won’t make you buy Atiku for ten kobo. In fact, he said God should punish him if he ever supported Atiku for president. And that lasted for about ten years.

Suddenly, with just months to the 2019 election, Obasanjo came singing another tune. He said he had forgiven Atiku, and started calling him “my President in waiting.” Were Nigerians fools? Can you approbate and reprobate at the same time? Can you strip a man naked in the marketplace, and cover him up in the bedroom? The damage would already be done. And so it was with Atiku.

Yes, Obasanjo has some clout, particularly internationally. He swung into action, trying to mobilize the international community behind his candidate. Some people followed him, and Atiku thought the deed was done.

But they didn’t reckon with the hurricane called Muhammadu Buhari. The cyclone force was too strong, and it simply cleared everything in its path. It was a bitter lesson that the challenger learnt too late.

Obasanjo had always decided who should, and shouldn’t be President, right from the first time he left power as a military ruler in 1979. He was instrumental in some ways to the emergence of Shehu Shagari, Umaru Yar’Adua, and Goodluck Jonathan, as presidents.

He also contributed to pulling them down later with his mouth. By this year, Nigerians were simply tired of the overbearing attitude of the Otta chicken farmer. They thus refused to buy the candidate he had earlier rendered toxic, and was selling to them in borrowed robes.

Who fooled Atiku again? The Atikulators. And who are they? People who flocked after the candidate for many reasons, none of them altruistic. They were those who didn’t like Buhari, either because of ethnicity, language, religion, or the man’s aversion for corruption.

They wanted business as usual, and it should be anybody but Buhari. So, they followed Atiku, not because they loved him, but they would have also followed a goat, if they had been told that the animal could get Buhari out of power. They put their money on the wrong horse, gambled, and lost.

Before the election, you saw and heard the Atikulators everywhere, boasting of how they were going to wrest power in the country. They were all over the place. In offices, marketplaces, churches, mosques, schools, television, radio, newspapers, almost in all traffic lanes of life.

And they fooled their principal. He backed them up with piles and tons of cash, in major currencies of the world. To quote President Buhari, “they spent so much dollars, that the currency became devalued.” For Atiku, anything that money cannot do is not doable. Money answereth all things.

He threw in more and more. But for the Buharists, it is not about money, not even a bottle of soft drink or water. It is about conviction. It is about integrity and accountability. It is about building a new country, devoid of greed and rapacity. So we followed the Mai Gaskiya (honest man) all the way. Nothing could be articulated against him. Not possible.

Again, the marabouts, prophets, some pastors and preachers. Yes, let me group them together, including the witches and wizards. They formed a confederacy, and said Atiku would win. Who is it that says anything when the Lord has not spoken?

The marabouts collected money handsomely, and pronounced Atiku king. They did not tell him he would be king on an empty throne. The preachers, across the major religions, because of personal hatred, and possibly inducement, gave evil and false messages. They began to proclaim that Atiku was the messiah, when God had not said so.

And the PDP candidate believed them. He felt there was no way he could ever lose the election. But he didn’t know that lying tongues were in action. The preachers had become inhabited by lying spirits, modern day Zedekiahs , who prophesied falsehood (1 Kings 22:11). They led Atiku to political perdition.

The social media. Populated by people with exaggerated sense of worth, they think they can do and undo. I call them the vocal minority. If you followed only the social media before the elections, you would think the All Progressives Congress (APC) government at the center was gone.

They filled the landscape with so much wailing, till they became wailing wailers. We will do this, we will do that. Mere shooting of breeze. Superfluity of nothingness. Arrogant impertinence. The Buhari people simply kept their peace, while online warriors, most of who had no permanent voters cards (PVCs) continued to fire blanks.

A very credible and scientific study had showed before the polls that social media would account for only between nine and 11 percent of the ballots. And not all of the votes would go to PDP. The two major parties would share it. But from the noise online, you thought Atiku had coasted home. He, too, must have believed the lie. He paid dearly for it with a broken heart.

The coalition that thought they owned the country. They also fooled Atiku. They include politicians, businessmen, high net-worth people. They had never failed in anything before. If they showed you a red card, you were out of the game. God’s judgment, no appeal. Such people massed behind Atiku.

Those who had corruption cases before the courts, those who had lost power and were forlorn and disconsolate, those who had always profiteered from the system and who felt that Buhari had closed the sluice gate, they all came together. Buoyed by Atiku’s promise that he would empower his friends when he got power, they were already licking their lips.

Soon, our snouts would be in the honeypot again, they told themselves. But those who felt they were Nigeria’s landlords had long been given quit notices by Buhari, and ejected. Atiku thought they were still somebody, and learned the hard way. What a pity!

Wrong permutations. That was also Atiku’s downfall. It is an inexorable truth that it is only the person/party that builds the bigger coalition wins the Presidency in Nigeria (and almost everywhere else). But before the election, Atikulators had come with this jejune permutation.

They would sweep the Southeast, the South-south, the North Central, share Northeast and Northwest, as well as Southwest. And Atiku would coast home. True? Well, dreams don’t cost anything. The dream eventually became nightmare.

Wrong strategy. It is on good authority that the winning strategy of the PDP had been based on data hack. That was why they fought tooth and nail for electronic voting, because they were allegedly in league with international forces that was adept at manipulation of election results.

The plan was to intercept results as they were transmitted electronically, and record them for PDP. But it is said that if the abiku has learnt to die in dry season, the mother too would learn to bury in rainy season. The rest is history.

Many other forces fooled Atiku that space would not permit one to mention. People who promised access to the electoral commission’s server, when none existed in the true sense of the word. Some elements in the judiciary, who had made false promises. And the lawyers. Yes, we can’t but talk briefly about them.
Lawyers are professionals. They must ply their art, and make profit from it.

They are learned people, while the rest of us are only educated. However, morality is everything. Why egg on your client, when you know he has the most useless case in the world? Nigerians knew Atiku lost the election. Lawyers too knew it. But man must chop. They encouraged the PDP candidate to go to court, despite knowing that the prayers were weak and improbable.

Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Festus Keyamo, said the suit was the worst he had ever seen in Nigeria’s history of election petitions. But the lawyers convinced Atiku otherwise. He lost at the Court of Appeal level, but there was probably more money to be made. So they encouraged a trip to the Supreme Court. Another ill-fated journey.

Sadly, after the Supreme Court threw out the case, Atiku was not gracious enough to throw up his hands in surrender. He called the judiciary all sorts of names. An opportunity missed to prove that he is not a sore loser and power monger. Where would he go next, World Court? Or as somebody has jocularly said, he may just decide to go to the lawn tennis court.

Adesina is Special Adviser to President Buhari on Media and Publicity

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Politics / President Buhari’s Address At The Presidential Retreat For Ministers-designate by presidency: 2:50pm On Aug 19, 2019
Protocols:
 
I welcome you all to this meeting whose purpose is firstly, to familiarize ourselves with our colleagues with whom we shall be working closely for the next four years GOD willing; secondly, to reflect and assess the country’s position in 2015 and today; and thirdly, to chart a course for the country for the foreseeable future.
 
I congratulate all the new comers who your country has chosen above others to join the first term Ministers whose performance has been outstanding. All of you are appointed to assist and advise the President in running the affairs of our country. At the end of the Retreat, it is hoped that all of you will be in tune with the roles and responsibilities of positions you will occupy in Government. Many national issues require unified decisions.
 
It is a great privilege for you to be called upon to serve in these Great Offices of State and you must grasp the chance with two hands and put in your best efforts as Nigeria today needs top managers to handle our numerous challenges. There will be long hours and you must be prepared to live laborious days if we are to serve our people optimally.
 
Ladies and gentlemen, we are all aware of the looming demographic potential of our country. By average estimates, our population is close to 200 million today. By 2050, UN estimates put Nigeria third globally behind only India and China with our projected population at 411 million.
 
This is a frightening prospect but only if we sit idly by and expect handouts from so-called development partners. The solution to our problems lies within us.
 
Honourable Ministers-Designate, in our first term we identified three salient areas for close attention and action, namely to secure the country, to improve the economy and to fight corruption.
 
None but the most partisan will dispute that we have made headway in all three areas:

First - we have rolled back the frontiers of terrorism; we are actively addressing other challenges such as kidnappings, farmer-herder violence, improving the safety of our roads, railways, air traffic and fire control capacities.

Second - we are steadily turning the economy round through investment in agriculture and manufacturing, shoring up our foreign reserves, curbing inflation and improving the country’s infrastructure.
Third – on corruption, we have recovered hundreds of billions of stolen assets and are actively pursuing control measures to tackle leakages in public resources. We will not let up in fighting corruption.
 
As Ministers, I am counting on you together with Advisers and Nigerians willing and able to contribute to build upon our road map of policies, programmes and projects that will lift the bulk of our people out of poverty and set them on the road to prosperity.
 
Our Administration’s eight years will have laid the grounds for lifting 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in 10 years. This outcome will fundamentally shift Nigeria’s trajectory and place us among the World’s Great Nations.
 
Honourable Ministers-Designate, you will be responsible for the development and implementation of policies, programmes and projects in your various Ministries, Departments and Agencies in line with Government priorities. You must also ensure that Agencies under your Ministries are effective, efficient and accountable in the discharge of their responsibilities.
 
Honourable Ministers-Designate, we must work as a team. Although you have been chosen to represent your states as a constitutional imperative, it is vital for all of you to work as Nigerians.
 
Furthermore, working as a team demands that we know what the next person is doing. You must open communications with your colleagues. Lack of communication leads to lack of cooperation and sub-optimal performance.
 
Finally, although this is called a Retreat, I would like to think this is a preparation for an advance to the Next Level. Thank you ladies and gentlemen. I wish you fruitful deliberations.

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