Gunshots again rocked the air in the nation’s capital, Abuja, as members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) returned to the streets of the FCT on Tuesday.
The IMN members, who are demanding the release of Ibrahim Zakzaky, their leader, had earlier clashed with the police on Monday.
At least 15 people were killed in Monday’s violence while properties, including two vehicles of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), were torched.
A Youth Corps member, Precious Owolabi, who was serving as a reporter at Channels Television, and Usman Umar, a Deputy Commissioner of Police, were among those who lost their lives in the incident.
Although no casualty had been recorded as of the time of filing this report, the IMN protesters who were dispersed by the police had started regrouping around Wuse zone 2.
The police went after some of the protesters who sought cover at the Bannex Plaza in the nation’s capital.
Security operatives are still looking for the members of the group who are hiding in different shops in the area.
71 soldiers killed in Niger base attack
At least 71 Nigerien soldiers have been killed in an attack on a military camp in the west of the country, according to the defence ministry.
In a televised statement, a ministry spokesman said “a substantial number of terrorists were neutralised” in Tuesday’s attack which also left 12 military personnel wounded and others missing.
President Mahamadou Issoufou cut short a trip to Egypt to return home following the “tragedy” that took place at the base in Inates, near the border with Mali, the presidency said on Twitter.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, which is believed to be the deadliest against Niger’s military in living memory, reports al-Jazeera.
Three Nigerien soldiers and 14 rebel fighters were killed on Monday in an attack on another army post in Agando in western Tahoua region, according to the defence ministry.
Tuesday’s attack came a few days before French President Emmanuel Macronscheduled a meeting next week, in the southwestern French town of Pau, with five presidents from the Sahel to discuss security in the region.
Niger is part of a five-nation task force known as the G5, set up in 2014 with Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania and Chad.
Niger’s council of ministers has extended for another three months a state of emergency in place since 2017 in several regions to fight against rebel attacks, handing additional powers to security forces.
Thousands of civilians and soldiers have died in violence across the vast Sahel region, which began when armed fighters revolted in northern Mali in 2012.
The conflict has since spread to the centre of Mali and to neighbouring Burkina Faso and Niger. Attacks continue, despite the 4,500 French troops deployed in the region as part of Operation Barkhane to help local forces.
Thirteen French soldiers were killed in Mali last month when two helicopters collided during an operation against fighters in the country’s restive north, in the heaviest single loss for the French military in nearly four decades.
NSA: Unthinkable things occurred in Kogi, Bayelsa polls
…admits governorship elections were disasters
The National Security Adviser (NSA), Maj-Gen. Babagana Monguno (rtd) has scored the conduct of the November 16 governorship elections in Bayelsa and Kogi states low.
Monguno said things “unthinkable happened” during the elections.
The NSA, who spoke yesterday at an Inter-Agencies Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES) meeting in Abuja, said despite the assurances of adequate security before the elections, the polls “were a fiasco where the unthinkable happened.”
He did not elaborate on the details of the unthinkable things that happened. But the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) had kicked against the conduct and outcome of the elections in the two states.
The Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, however, said the elections were peaceful despite related infractions.
He disclosed that 49 persons have been arrested on election related violence in the two states, including six persons arrested in connection with the killing of the woman leader of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Mrs. Salome Abuh, in Kogi State.
Monguno, who was represented by Mr. Sanusi Galadima, recalled that prior to the two elections, the ICCES was told of the level of the preparedness and assured of adequate security.
“They made promises and told the meeting of the level of their preparedness, but unfortunately, the fiasco was the answer. What happened was quite unthinkable.
“Violence erupted in the two states of Bayelsa and Kogi, particularly the violence that occurred in Kogi State which aftermath of that election led to the death of a woman leader in that state,” he regretted.
The NSA expressed the fear that if nothing is done to curtail such violence in future elections, voters might not come out to vote.
He advised that in the future elections, particularly the by-elections that would come up in January 2020, the various security agencies and political parties should meet to ensure that those elections were free of violence.
Monguno further advised party thugs to have a rethink, remarking that at a book launch in Abuja two days ago, “all the creme de la crème of various political parties, the national chairmen of the strongest political parties – the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) were there.
“I saw how they were embracing each other, laughing, which to my mind, that laughter means a lot: ‘look at the useless people killing themselves because of politics!’
“So, it is our hope and prayer that if all the stakeholders pertaining to any election that would come up in future would come together the issue of violence would be addressed adequately.”
The IGP, who was also represented by Assistant Inspector General (AIG), Bashir Makama, said 35 persons were arrested in Bayelsa while 14 were arrested in Kogi, for allegedly disrupting the elections.
The breakdown of the arrest in Kogi, Adamu said, include six for the death of PDP woman leader and eight for electoral violence.
The IGP, however, described the conduct of the polls as “relatively peaceful”, adding, “despite the related infractions or some sort of thuggery that was observed and other challenges faced, the elections could be said to be relatively peaceful.”
He said those arrested in connection with the Bayelsa governorship were being interrogated by the zonal police headquarters in Benin City.
“They would be charged to court as soon as investigations are concluded,” he assured
INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, requested that security personnel on election duty should be identified by their names.
This, he said, is to know who to be held responsible for the proper conduct of elections in those locations.
“This will not only enhance transparency, but the commission and security agencies will know who to contact in specific locations during elections when the need arises,” he said.
The INEC Chairman further called for deepening of the use of technology to ensure the integrity of elections.
“We are excited by some of the new provisions concerning electronic transmission of results.
“We are glad that the electoral legal framework is removing some of the encumbrances to the full deployment of technology for the improvement of the electoral process in Nigeria, especially result collation and management.
“The commission will work with the National Assembly for the expeditious passage of the amendment to the electoral legal framework so that work can begin in earnest to make future elections in Nigeria more technology-based.
“It is long overdue, it is doable, it is achievable and it is inevitable,” he emphasized.
Meanwhile, INEC has tasked stakeholders on the need to ensure free and fair elections in the country.
Mr. Emeka Ononamadu, INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in Enugu State, stressed this need in Enugu at a stakeholders’ forum on the new electoral bill before the National Assembly.
Ononamadu urged the stakeholders to identify challenges as well as proffer enduring solutions to electoral malpractices that had been militating against free and fair elections.
According to him, the challenges and solutions should be in line with what happened during the recent Kogi and Bayelsa governorship elections.
“After the 2019 general election, there were also two major elections in Kogi and Bayelsa and I think the election must have given Nigerians insight into what direction should be taken.
“Our gathering is to look at the event collectively for improvement in our electoral process.
“In the last previous elections, we made sure that the elections were free and fair,” he said.
Ononamadu told stakeholders that the review of the 2010 Electoral Act had become germane in view of observed lapses during the 2019 general election and the Bayelsa and Kogi states off season elections.
He absolved the commission of the allegations of being solely responsible for the electoral challenges facing the nation, saying that no organisation or individual will make elaborate arrangements and turn around to sabotage it.
The REC said INEC was taking the step of involving stakeholders to demonstrate that it meant business of realizing free, credible elections as the nation moves forward.
In her contribution, Mrs. Rita Chekwe, Head of Administration of INEC in Enugu, said that the commission was committed to delivering its mandate by conducting a credible election.
Chekwe noted that the gathering had become imperative for the stakeholders to brainstorm and make input for an effective electoral process in Nigeria without compromising their integrity.
Minimum Wage: No room for excuses or delay, NLC warns govs
The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has called on state governors to begin the processes of implementing the new Minimum Wage of N30,000 at the state level, as the economic realities on ground does not leave any room for excuses or further delay.
President of the NLC, Comrade Ayuba Wabba, who noted that state governments have the capacity to pay the N30,000 which he lamented was not even enough to cater for a family, warned that Congress would do everything possible to protect workers in the country.
Speaking at a one-day stakeholders’ meeting on the Implementation of the new minimum wage at the state level, Wabba noted that some states have already implemented and were paying the new wage, others were still discussing implementation modalities and some others were yet to start any process.
He said: “Having completed that process at the national level, we have set the pace also for the states to cue in, but I must appreciate the fact that some states, even without waiting for this, have gone ahead to do something because nothing stops them to wait until this process is completed; they have the wherewithal to actually drive the process.
“I also remember that most of them gave excuse that they were waiting for the national to be completed because they thought it will not be completed. Many of them even at the governors’ forum they said they were waiting for the national to set the pace. Now that the national has set the pace, I don’t think there is any room again for any excuse or for any delay because the fact of it is that workers are really at the receiving end.
“To buy a bag of rice today, even the local rice, you must part with between N20,000 and N22,000. If you buy rice with N22,000 out of N30,000 what is remaining to pay school fees, pay house rent and offset other bills? The reality of the fact is that certainly this is just a manageable situation and we have to reach a compromise with our other social partners.
“We have done all that is expected of us and what is remaining is to know at what stage of discussion is the states and, like I said, there is no excuse. A lot of other economic factors are also cropping in. We just heard they wanted to increase VAT from 5 to 7.5%. This will affect every good and service and, by extension, affect every Nigerian.”
Wabba, who raised concerns over the huge salary gap between political officer holders and workers and the governors’ stand on lean resources as inability to pay workers due to high number of workers, said there was need to take stock as most workers have retired and states have not been employing to fill up the gap.
“They say workers are many, but we know that in many states, employment have not taken place whereas many workers have retired. I was in my state recently, in an office where you used to have 20 to 30 people, if you are lucky, you will find only three or four people. This is the reality, we must have data on our fingertips; we must do everything possible to protect the poor workers.
“When the minimum wage was increased to N18,000, political office holders earnings was increased by 800 per cent by Revenue Mobilisation and Fiscal Commission. Today, all political office holders collect the same salary from councillor to the highest office, yet in our own case, they will come and say ability to pay.
“If it is ability to pay, can’t they apply inability to pay when it comes to payment of governors? Where is the rationale, where is the human nature that is in us, where is the justice, where is the truth? A state that is receiving small amount of money from the federation account; if you look at what the political office holders is earning, it’s the same with Lagos State that is very buoyant.
“All of us working class must continue to see ourselves as one. We are going to take stock from state to state before we take a decision,” he added.
FG orders probe into DSS’ court invasion
The Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN) yesterday said that the Federal Government has ordered an investigation into the invasion of the Federal High Court, Abuja, by the operatives of the Department of State Services (DSS) last Friday.
Malami stated this at the headquarters of the Federal High Court in Abuja while answering questions from journalists after paying a courtesy visit to the newly confirmed Chief Judge of the court, Justice John Tsoho.
New Telegraph recalls that the DSS, in its bid to re-arrest the Convener of #RevolutionNow protest, Omoyele Sowore, had invaded the court, during which the judge – Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu – fled the scene.
Answering questions from reporters, Malami said he did not visit the Chief Judge over Sowore’s case, but to congratulate him on his confirmation by the Senate as the substantive Chief Judge of the Federal High Court.
Asked if he was not appalled by the DSS’ conduct, Malami said: “Whatever affects the integrity of the court is a worrisome issue for us.
“I can never be pre-emptive of an incident over which I was not a live witness to.
“But one thing I am certain of is that the government has put in place mechanism for investigation of the reported incident.
“So, I would not like to be pre-emptive in terms of a conclusion, one way or the other, without allowing the consummation and conclusion of the investigation process.”
The AGF also paid a similar visit to the newly confirmed President of the National Industrial Court, Justice B. B Kanyip.
Aisha attacks Buhari’s nephew, spokesman
…says Daura issues directives without President’s knowledge
First Lady Mrs. Aisha Buhari has accused the Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, of serving the interest of some powerful individuals, including her husband’s nephew, Mamman Daura, rather than focusing on managing the image of the President.
Mrs. Aisha, in a statement yesterday which she personally signed, said the presidential spokesman has shifted his loyalty to individuals who have no stake in the government.
The wife of the President said the directive scrapping the Office of the First Lady in 2015 was issued by Mamman Daura, using Shehu, a development which embarrassed President Muhammadu Buhari.
In the statement titled: “Garba Shehu has gone beyond his boundaries”, Mrs. Buhari said the presidential spokesman has been presenting himself to some powerful people as a willing tool and executioner of their antics, from the corridors of power even to the level of interfering with the family affairs of the President.
New Telegraph recalls that only recently, Mamman Daura, who had lived in the Glass House inside the Presidential Villa along with his family members, ran into a crisis situation with the First Lady.
The feud between the First Lady and Daura’s family worsened in October when she returned from a two-month foreign trip. The crisis became public knowledge when a video of the President’s wife asking questions and making comments about being locked out of a room went viral. She was seen in the video demanding that some people should pack their belongings.
Mrs. Buhari also engaged Daura’s daughter, Fatima, in the argument.
In the statement yesterday, the First Lady said Nigeria’s development is hinged on the ability of public officials to execute their mandates professionally, and to be shining examples in their various areas of endeavour.
According to her, it is not a good sign when officials abandoned their responsibility and start clutching at straws.
She said: “As spokesperson of the President, he has the onerous responsibility of managing the image of the President and all the good works that he is executing in the country. Rather than face this responsibility squarely, he has shifted his loyalty from the President to others who have no stake in the contract that the President signed with Nigerians on May 29, 2015 and 2019.
“To make matters worse, Mr. Shehu has presented himself to these people as a willing tool and executioner of their antics, from the corridors of power even to the level of interfering with the family affairs of the President. This should not be so. The blatant meddling in the affairs of a First Lady of a country is a continuation of the prodigal actions of those that he serves.
“We all remember that the chief proponent appropriated to himself and his family a part of the Presidential Villa, where he stayed for almost four years and when the time came for him to leave, he orchestrated and invaded my family’s privacy through a video circulated by Mamman’s daughter, Fatima. The public was given the impression that on arrival into the country I was locked out of the Villa by Mr. President.
“Shehu, as Villa spokesperson, knew the truth and had the responsibility to set the records straight, but because his allegiance is somewhere else and his loyalty misplaced, he deliberately refused to clear the air and speak for the President who appointed him in the first place.
“Consequently, his action has shown a complete breakdown of trust between the First Family and him. Mr. Shehu was privy and part of the plan and its execution and he was shocked when he realised that I had publicized my return to Nigeria on October 12, 2019 and cleared the air on the many rumours that took over social media, a job he was supposed to do, but kept mute to cause more confusion and instability for his principal and his family,” she noted.
The President’s wife added that: “Shehu then vented his anger on the National Television Authority (NTA) Management, insisting that the media crew to my office must be sacked. He succeeded in getting them suspended for doing their job. I had to intervene to save the innocent staff from losing their means of livelihood by involving the Department of State Services (DSS) in order to ascertain roles played by key actors in the saga.
“It is at this late hour that I recall, sadly, that it was the same Garba Shehu who claimed that the government will not allow Office of the First Lady to run. He was later to confirm to one of my aides that he was instructed to say so by Mamman Daura and not the President. This antic attracted the anger of Nigerian women. He didn’t realise the fact that First Lady’s office is a tradition which has become an institution.
“Today, even without a budget, I am able to run my humanitarian programmes. In saner climes, Garba Shehu would have resigned immediately after going beyond his boundaries and powers.
“Garba Shehu needs to understand that this kind of behaviour will no longer be tolerated. The latest of his antics was to wage a war on the first family through an orchestrated media campaign of calumny by sponsoring pseudo accounts to write and defame my children and myself.
“Based on Shehu’s misguided sense of loyalty and inability to stay true and loyal to one person or group, it has become apparent that all trust has broken down between him and my family due to the many embarrassments he has caused the Presidency and the first family.
“We all have families to consider in our actions and, therefore, it is in the best interest of all concerned for Garba Shehu to take the advice of the authority, given to him sometimes in the first week of November, 2019.”
Nationwide blackout as power grid collapses
Nigeria was yesterday thrown into darkness as the National Electricity Transmission System, also known as power grid, suffered total collapse for the 12th time between January 1 and December 11, 2019.
The collapse came exactly 32 days after the last failure pushed distribution companies across the country into power load shedding.
The National Electricity Transmission System is being managed by government-owned Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN), and it has continued to suffer system collapse over the years amid lack of spinning reserve that is meant to forestall such occurrences.
One of the nation’s distribution companies, Eko Electricity Distribution Plc., confirmed the collapse, informing residents of estates on its network that the prolonged power outage, which they suffered yesterday, was caused by the collapse.
Stating that efforts were being made by EKEDC engineers to rectify this and restore power to the estates, the utility company informed residents that the prolonged power outage being experienced was as a result of system collapse from the national grid.
This is not the first time that the company has issued apology to residents over collapse.
On November 9, EKEDC stated that the grid collapsed at 11:15p.m. on Friday and 3:15 a.m. on Saturday. It was experienced across all transmission stations at 23:15hrs on the day.
“Supply was received at 03:15hrs. Sadly, at 04:38hrs, the system collapsed again. TCN and our team are working to restore supply. Kindly bear with us,” the Disco said on its Twitter handle.
Another Disco, Jos Electricity Distribution Plc., announced to its customers that “there is power outage in all our franchise states due to system collapse nationwide.
“We will provide an update shortly. Thank you for bearing with us,” it said.
Just three months ago, the power grid suffered a major collapse, the ninth in 2019.
The nation’s power grid, it would be recalled, also recorded its eighth total collapse in July, plunging consumers across the country into blackout for some hours.
The government-owned TCN, which manages the grid, blamed electricity distribution companies for the system failure.
The grid had suffered four total collapses in January and one each in February, April and May, according to the system operator.
Efforts to reach TCN for reaction on the latest collapse proved abortive. Neither a text message nor a call made to the company’s spokesperson was successful.
The TCN had, in a statement, said the incessant system collapse was due to high voltage following a massive drop of load by the electricity distribution companies.
The DisCos’ revenue collection, despite the incessant power supply epilepsy, stood at N118.9 billion in the second quarter, up from N114.6 billion in Q1, a data obtained from the Association of National Electricity Distributors (ANED) confirmed the revenue collected as bills from customers.
ANED, the umbrella body for the DisCos, said energy received in Q2 dropped to 6,912.8 gigawatt-hours from 6,950.8GWh in Q1, with energy billed being 5,587.5GWh (an equivalent of N180.8bn) and 5,576.8GWh (N176.5bn), respectively.
The DisCos’ collection efficiency improved to 66 per cent in Q2 from 65 per cent in Q1.
“The energy received by DisCos in Q2 was less than the amount received in Q1 for most of the DisCos. Only Abuja Electricity Distribution Company, Ikeja Electric, and Kano Electricity Distribution Company received more energy,” the association said in the document.
ANED said: “In a yearly comparison, the revenue collection of all DisCos has increased in N47 billion (12 per cent), mostly due to the reduction of the aggregate technical, commercial and collection losses from 50.8 per cent to 46.7 per cent.”
It said that the aggregate technical and commercial losses went down from 23 per cent to 20 per cent and collection efficiency increased from 63 per cent to 66 per cent.
The DisCos collected N453 billion as revenue from July 2018 to June 2019, compared to N406 billion paid by consumers from July 2017 to June 2018, according to the data.
“Nevertheless, some DisCos show signs of fatigue in their ATC&C performance improvement in the last months.
“Ikeja Electric has broken a new record in the ATC&C losses with 26.1 per cent in June, reducing 5.5 points in one year,” ANED said.
It said two other DisCos, Kano Electricity Distribution Company Plc. and Jos Electricity Distribution Plc., reduced the ATC&C losses in the last 12 months by 8.6 points and 11.6 points, respectively.
“For this year, most of the DisCos have not been able to beat their last year records on collection efficiency,” the association added.
Senate advocates living stipends for unemployed Nigerians
…tells FG to declare emergency on unemployment
The Senate, yesterday, raised the alarm over the escalating unemployment in Nigeria and called on the Federal, State, and Local Governments to declare emergency on the state of joblessness.
The Senate also urged the Federal Government to, through the Ministry of National Planning, put up mechanisms and programmes that would provide employment for the teeming unemployed graduates/youths at all tiers of government.
It further called on the Federal Government to initiate a sustainable Unemployment Fund for the payment of living stipends to unemployed Nigerians until such persons secured any kind of employment.
The apex chamber made the resolutions while adopting a motion entitled “Escalating rate of unemployment in the country”, sponsored by former Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu.
Ekweremadu, who bemoaned the worsening unemployment statistics in the country, expressed concerns that the large number of various levels of graduates churned out by institutions of higher learning annually, but could not be absorbed by the labour market, were a time bomb waiting to explode.
He noted that a situation where every graduate had to queue for job only in government offices is an indication of the breakdown of private sector, which is the major driver of world economies.
He said: “Report published by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) in 2019 states that Nigeria’s unemployment rate stood at 23.1 per cent of the workforce in the third quarter of 2019.
“Statement credited to the Minister of Labour and Productivity, Senator Chris Ngige, showed that Nigeria’s unemployment rate will hit 33.5 per cent by 2020.
“Any nation with such number of unemployed but employable youth population, is only sitting on a keg of gunpowder.
“The most pressing demand on the hand of every legislator and public officer is the rising number of Curriculum Vitae and application for employments from constituents and Nigerians.”
Contributing to the debate, Senator Istifanus Gyang (PDP, Plateau North), described unemployment as a monster, which if not promptly and properly addressed, might consume the country.
Another lawmaker, Olubunmi Adetumbi (APC, Ekiti North) lamented the inability of the private sector to address the escalating rate of unemployed persons in the country.
According to him, the government, on the other hand, lacks the capacity to create jobs, as doing so would create an expansion in the fiscal responsibility of government.
Study links evening meals with heart risk in women
Researchers in the United States (U. S.) have found that late dinners and heavy evening snacking don’t favour women’s hearts based on their damaging impact.
The researchers at New York City’s Columbia University found that those who ate more of their daily calories in the evening had a higher risk of heart disease.
Their findings were presented at the American Heart Association’s annual meeting, which held in Philadelphia, United States, from November 16 to 18. Considering that these findings were presented at a medical meeting, they should be considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.
Columbia Associate Research Scientist, Nour Makarem, who led the study, said shifting the timing of eating was “a simple, modifiable behaviour that can help lower heart disease risk.”
The term heart disease is often used interchangeably with the term cardiovascular disease, which generally refers to conditions that involve narrowed or blocked blood vessels that can lead to a heart attack, chest pain (angina) or stroke.
Makarem said most of the 112 women, with average age of 33, involved in the study, ate some food after 6p.m., but those who consumed a higher proportion of their daily calories in the evening tended to have had poorer heart health, the ‘NewsmaxHealth’ reported.
In fact, with every one per cent increase in calories consumed after 6p.m., heart health declined accordingly. Similar findings occurred with every one per cent increase in daily calories consumed after 8p.m., according to the study.
Specifically, women who ate more of their daily calories in the evening were more likely to have higher blood pressure, higher body mass index (BMI) and poorer long-term control of blood sugar.
Makarem said: “So far, lifestyle approaches to prevent heart disease have focused on what we eat and how much we eat,” adding that the ‘when of eating’ may be important, too.
Buhari tasks African leaders on conflict resolution
President Muhammadu Buhari has challenged African leaders to focus attention on the reduction of conflict as a means to achieving peace on the continent.
The President stated this yesterday during the opening session of the ongoing Aswan Forum for Sustainable Peace and Development in Africa held in Egypt.
Buhari declared that the resolution of conflict situations in African countries is a key component in the overall development of the continent.
Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to the President, Femi Adesina, quoted the president as saying: “As Africans, it is important to focus on the issues of conflict prevention and resolution. Conflicts have devastating effects on our societies and they militate against our progress. In this regard, the need to silence the guns cannot be overemphasized.”
President Buhari also emphasized that massive investment in transportation infrastructure was necessary for African economic resurgence as this would facilitate the African Free Trade Area Agreement recently signed by the continental leaders.
“Africa should embark on the provision of transport connectivity by enhancing the development of roads, rail, and air links which will ease the free movement of persons, goods and services within the continent. In this regard, we in Nigeria have already commenced an aggressive drive to upgrade our rail transport system and road networks across the country.
“We should furthermore promote free trade within and amongst Africa and Africans, especially now that we have launched the African Free Trade Area Agreement,” he said.
In order to realise its pan-African vision of an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa driven by its own citizens and representing a dynamic force in the global arena, Buhari declared: “We in Nigeria have already taken the strategic decision to bring down barriers that have hindered the free movement of our people within the continent by introducing the issuance of visa at the point of entry into Nigeria to all persons holding passports of African countries with effect from January 2020.”
The Nigerian leader also stated that Africa must take its destiny in its own hands by minimizing reliance on donor funding for the execution of its vital peace, security and development agenda.
According to him, “Nigeria is not only host to our sub-regional body, ECOWAS, but has also been supporting substantially the ECOWAS budget up to about 60 per cent.
“Nigeria has been funding by almost a 100 per cent the operations of the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) fighting Boko Haram Terrorists in the Lake Chad Basin.”
Buhari also harped on the fight against corruption and inclusive growth. “The menace of corruption undermines our efforts to achieve sustainable development and realise the goals of the AU Agenda 2063. It is also important to attach great priority to the promotion of good and inclusive governance as we equally strive to empower our women and youths,” he said.
The President once again used the opportunity to draw global attention to the recession of the Lake Chad and its attendant economic consequences for the region.
“The issue of climate change should be given the due attention that it deserves. The effects of climate change are at the root of some of the conflicts in parts of the continent. This is why we must focus on the issue of the recharging of the Lake Chad which used to provide livelihood to over 40 million people in the region. It is difficult to expect durable stability in the region without restoration of the shrinking lake,” Buhari said.
He urged African leaders to see education as a key tool for the transformation and repositioning of the continent, saying, “Africa would need to heavily invest in education and capacity building. Education creates opportunities and holds the key for a better and prosperous future of our people.
“Pursuing the diversification of our economy through the development of agriculture and mineral resources, the promotion of manufacturing sector and the creation of job opportunities for our teeming youths. By so doing, we will also discourage the irregular migration of our youths out of the continent through dangerous journeys.”
Obasanjo in Kaduna, praises el-Rufai
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo, yesterday, paid an unscheduled visit to Kaduna State, where he held a closed door meeting with Kaduna State governor, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai.
The meeting, which took many, including government officials by surprise, according to sources at the Kaduna State Government House, might not be unconnected with the politics of the 2023 presidency.
Speculations have been rife concerning the interest of the Kaduna State governor, who served as Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) in the Obasanjo administration, to contest the 2023 presidential election.
Obasanjo, who heaped praises on el-Rufai for what he described as the governor’s “nationalistic cabinet,” added that any job given to him would be ‘done very well.’
The former president also noted that the Kaduna State governor is “one of the best persons to work with. “He (el-Rufai) is a near genius,” he said.
The former president went down memory lane to recall el-Rufai’s spat with the Senate as minister and the upper legislative chamber’s insistence that he must apologise to it, but pointed out that “he (el-Rufai) refused to write a letter of apology to the Senate.”
“We need a character like this; a man that you know where he stands. Any job given to him will be well done,” Obasanjo said, assuring the people of Kaduna State that they “have a good leader to work with.”
The former president further described el-Rufai as a good student because he copied the gender inclusiveness of his administration, “I made women to matter in my government. He has done the same in Kaduna. So, he is a very good learner.”
Obasanjo said his visit to Kaduna is like home-coming even as he described himself as a son of the soil, having lived in Kaduna from 1959 to 1967 and built his first house in Makera area of the town.
According to the two-time Nigerian leader, he was at the Mogadishu Battalion in Kaduna between 1959 and 1967.
On his part, Governor el-Rufai described the former president as a mentor, adding that he learnt many public service skills from him.
The governor thanked Obasanjo for finding time to come to Kaduna to see things for himself.
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