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Buhari’s Ministers Only Interested In Amassing Wealth, says Former SGF Babachir Lawal

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Engr. Babachir Lawal, a former Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), on Sunday said majority of the ministers in President Muhammadu Buhari’s cabinet do not share his vision of taking Nigeria to the next level.

Speaking in an exclusive in­terview with Daily Independent, Babachir said while the president is a good leader, who means well for the country, many of his appointees, especially the ministers, are only inter­ested in amassing enough money so as to contest for governorship elections in their respective states.

He also accused many senators, who are supposed to be the representatives of their constituents in the National Assembly, of pursuing personal agenda, instead of collaborating with their state governors in bringing developments to their states and advanc­ing the cause of their con­stituents.

“I like the president, he means well for Nigeria but he has the challenge of sub­ordinates who have differ­ent agenda. The president has an agenda that is good for Nigerians, he means well but his subordinates don’t share his vision. They have a different agenda.

“Majority of the minis­ters are only interested in making enough money to go and contest for gover­norship positions in their states. Majority of the sen­ators are only interested in making money so that they can go and become gover­nors in their states.

“So, the synergy of a senator sitting down with a governor to discuss the issue of development in the North doesn’t exist because already, they are competitors. In the South, governors and legislators are on the same page. When they come to Abuja, they fight for policies and pro­grammes that will benefit their people. In the North, that doesn’t happen. They only wear babanriga and put one kilogramme of starch inside and claim big men. That is the truth”.

Babachir, who is from Adamawa State, also said the governor of the state, Ahmadu Fintiri is having a no love lost relationship with the three senators in the state, saying the same applies to all the states in the Northern region.

“My governor is not in talking terms with all the senators. Two of them are in his political party but they have not been talking. The other one is APC who is struggling for his seat. So, how can my state move forward? And that is what is happening in all the Northern states”, he said.

On the situation in Southern Kaduna, Baba­chir said the utterances of Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State has further worsened the crisis in the area.

The former SGF, who condemned the margin­alisation of Christians in Kaduna and other parts of the North, gave credit to a former governor of the state, Ahmed Makarfi, who, according to him, handled the crisis well during his tenure because he saw the issue from an ethnic and not religious point of view.

“Initially, I think from 1980, most of the problems of Southern Kaduna are ethnic. When Ahmed Ma­karfi became governor, he understood that most of the issues were ethnic than religious and he was able to address it. Roads were being constructed equally in all parts of the state; tra­ditional institutions were strengthened in all parts of the state. Everybody was getting his fair share of the resources that the state has and the matter didn’t get out of hand.

“The problem I see in Ka­duna is that the state gov­ernment led by Governor Nasir El-Rufai is not sen­sitive to the issues. Their utterances simply indicate that they are not sympa­thetic to the issues. Like I saw a write-up by Shehu Sani today, he said when it happened in Zamfara, government calls it bandit­ry and they sympathised with the affected commu­nities but when it happens in Southern Kaduna, gov­ernment starts to explain what is happening, rather than calling a spade exactly what it is and sympathising with the people.

“So, it depends on how government handles the issue at all levels; from the federal to the state to local government and ward lev­els. I remember when ban­ditry started in Sokoto and they overran a village, the state governor with all his cabinets went there to sym­pathise with the victims. They went with blankets, food items and other basic things. In some states, they don’t do that; rather than do that, they will even insult the communities that are the victims.

“That is what is happen­ing. Incompetent governors and rulers in the North are responsible. The North is full of incompetent rulers. All they want is to ride in convoys and people are hailing and waving at them. When they come home, peo­ple sit on the mats while they are the only ones sit­ting on a chair because they are governors. They see themselves as Deputy Je­sus. They are not interest­ed in serving the people, all they care about is ruling”, he said.

Babachir who also fault­ed exclusion of Christians from key political positions in Kaduna State despite their population said the issue may boomerang as future generations may not accept it.

“Why should Kaduna end up with Muslim gov­ernor and Muslim deputy governor? The speaker is Muslim as well as the dep­uty speaker. Two cabinet ministers are also Muslims. There are about six or sev­en local governments in Kaduna that are predomi­nantly Christians.

“Nigeria must look at these issues because the day it will explode, it will surprise everybody. While elders like us are willing to tolerate these things be­cause of peace and harmo­ny, our children may not be able to do so because they can’t accept to be Northerners only during neglect when positions are shared. election periods and suffer

“My own motive is for a peaceful Nigeria in which we are our brother’s keep­er. That is my message to Nigerians because God has blessed me to a stage where I was part of those running the government. So, I have a highest stake in ensuring that Nigeria works than most people be­cause I have liability also. I am one of the people that God will hold accountable if Nigeria doesn’t work.

“Having been a former SGF, I should be worried about the future of the country and that is why I have been talking with passion. The little period I served as SGF will be count­ed among the periods that things were not moving.

“That was the period I couldn’t go to my village because insurgents have overran my local govern­ment area and I was in Abu­ja in convoy, with security agents clearing the road for me but I couldn’t go home to my village. That makes me an empty vessel. If Boko Haram can overrun my lo­cal government area and then I was part of the top people in government, that makes me an empty vessel. I sincerely hope things will improve”, he said

(Daily Independent)

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JUNE 12 : Security and Welfare of Nigerians remain my Priority – President Buhari on Democracy Day

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President Buhari says he remains resolute to keep Nigeria as one indivisible entity. He added that he is committed to defending Nigeria’s corporate existence as a nation.

The president stated this during his nationwide broadcast on Saturday June 12 to mark the 2021 Democracy Day.

The President said the security and welfare of Nigerians are  his top priority.

Full Text:

Fellow Nigerians,

I join you all today to commemorate and celebrate our Democracy Day. It is a celebration of freedom and a victory for one people, one country and one Nigeria.

As with all democracies we will always be going through improvement processes in our desire to reach the goal of a mature democracy, a strong, evolved and integrated nation-state to be reckoned with globally.

In the last two years we have witnessed and overcome a good number of testy challenges that would have destroyed other nations especially relating to our collective security.

The indefatigable CAN DO Spirit of the Nigerian has sustained us and would keep pushing us to put these challenges behind us.

Unfortunately some of these challenges came in the shape of violent outrages leading to the loss of lives of many of our dear compatriots and the destruction of some of our infrastructure, including those devoted to improving our democratic processes.

Once again, I want to render my sincere and heartfelt condolences to the families and friends of our gallant servicemen and women who lost their lives in the line of duty and as a sacrifice to keep Nigeria safe.

I extend the same condolence to the families and friends of our countrymen, women and children who were unfortunate victims of such senseless arsons, kidnappings and murders.

I also share the pains of families and direct victims of ransom-seeking, kidnapped victims who went through unimaginable trauma in the course of their forced imprisonment.

Let me assure my fellow citizens that every incident, however minor gives me great worry and concern and I immediately order security agencies to swiftly but safely rescue victims and bring perpetrators to justice.
Fellow Nigerians,

When you elected me as your President in 2015, you did so knowing that I will put an end to the growing insecurity, especially the insurgency in the North East, but the unintended consequences of our scattering them in the North East pushed them further in-country which is what we are now facing and dealing with.

We will, by the Grace of God put an end to these challenges too.

Unfortunately, like in most conflict situations, some Nigerian criminals are taking undue advantage of a difficult situation and profiteering therefrom with the misguided belief that adherence to the democratic norms handicaps this Administration from frontally and decisively tackling them.

We are already addressing these obstacles and we will soon bring some of these culprits to justice.

We are, at the same time addressing the twin underlying drivers of insecurity namely poverty and youth unemployment.

Interventions led by the government and the Central Bank of Nigeria driving economic growth over the past 6 years are targeted mostly to the agricultural, services, infrastructure, power and health care sectors of the economy.

In the Agricultural sector, for instance, the Anchor Borrowers Programme resulted in sharp decline in the nation’s major food import bill from $2.23billion in 2014 to US$0.59billion by the end of 2018.

Rice import bill alone dropped from $1 billion to $18.5 million annually.

This initiative supported local production of rice, maize, cotton and cassava. The government financed 2.5 million small-holder farmers cultivating about 3.2 million hectares of farmland all over the country and created 10 million direct and indirect jobs.

Several other initiatives, namely AgriBusiness/Small and Medium Enterprise Investment Scheme, the Non-oil Export stimulation Facility, the Targeted Credit Facilities operated across the 774 Local Governments.

In the manufacturing sector the CBN – BOI N200 billion facility financed the establishment and operations of 60 new industrial hubs across the country, creating an estimated 890,000 direct and indirect jobs.

The CBN’s N50 billion Textile Sector intervention Facility increased capacity utilization of ginneries from 30% to nearly 90%.

The Economic Sustainability Plan – our rebound plan for the COVID-19 pandemic developed in 2020 is currently being executed. The plan is primarily focused on the non-oil sector, which has recorded phenomenal growth contributing over 90% to the GDP growth in Q1 2021.

Though marginal we have recorded GDP growth over two quarters; Q2 2020 and Q1 2021. This is evidence of a successful execution of the ESP by the Federal Government.

My vision of pulling 100 million poor Nigerians out of poverty in 10 years has been put into action and can be seen in the National Social Investment Programme, a first in Africa and one of the largest in the world where over 32.6m beneficiaries are taking part. We now have a National Social register of poor and vulnerable households, identified across 708 local government areas, 8,723 wards and 86,610 communities in the 36 States and the FCT.

Our conditional cash transfer program has benefited over 1.6 million poor and vulnerable households comprising more than 8 million individuals. This provides a monthly stipend of N10,000 per household.

I have also recently approved the National Poverty Reduction with Growth Strategy Plan that augments existing plans to further reduce poverty in Nigeria.

As at the end of 2020, the Development Bank of Nigeria had disbursed 324 billion Naira in loans to more than 136,000 MSMEs, through 40 participating Financial Institutions. I am to note that 57% of these beneficiaries are women while 27% are the youth.

We are able to do all these and still accelerate our infrastructure development through sensible and transparent borrowing, improved capital inflow, improving and increasing revenue through capturing more tax bases and prudent management of investment proceeds in the Sovereign Wealth Fund.

Fellow Nigerians, our infrastructure revolution continues with key projects attaining critical milestones under the Presidential Infrastructure Development Fund; The Second Niger Bridge, The Lagos- Ibadan Expressway and the Abuja-Kaduna-Zaria-Kano Expressway.

I have also approved the establishment of Infraco Plc, a world-class infrastructure development vehicle wholly focused on Nigeria with a capital structure of N15 trillion.

The rail system is not left out as the Itakpe-Warri standard gauge rail was completed and commissioned 33 years after construction began. The Lagos-Ibadan double track railway line which I have just commissioned has commenced operations.

We are focused on ensuring that our infrastructure drive is key to economic growth and one that can be felt by every Nigerian. Building critical infrastructure in our ports is also opening up opportunities for the Nigerian economy.

My approval for 4 new seaports using a Public-Private-Partnership approach is hinged on growing the Nigerian economy. These four sea ports; Lekki Deep Sea Port, Bonny Deep Sea Port, Ibom Deep Sea Port and Warri Deep Sea port will create massive job opportunities and foreign investment inflows.

We have worked at deepening our Eastern ports leading to success like having three container ships berth at Calabar port, a first in 11 years. Similarly, on October 30 2019, an LPG tanker operated by NLNG berthed in Port Harcourt, the first time an LPG ship is berthing at any of the Eastern Ports.

As we invest in these new assets, we have also made strides in ensuring that they are secured and protected. In this regard I am also pleased to note the launch of the NIMASA Deep Blue project – which is an Integrated National Security and Waterways Protection Infrastructure that I recently commissioned. This initiative is designed to add to the layer of security we have to safeguard our maritime sector.

Dear Nigerians, I will be the first to admit that in spite of our efforts and achievements which are there for all to see, there is still much more to be done and we are doing our best in the face of scarce resources and galloping population growth rate that consistently outstrips our capacity to provide jobs for our populace. Our over-all economic target of lifting 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in 10 years is our goal notwithstanding COVID-19.

In the last two years we lifted 10.5 million people out of poverty – farmers, small-scale traders, artisans, market women and the like.

I am very convinced that this 100 million target can be met and this informed the development of a National poverty Reduction with Growth Strategy. The specific details of this accelerated strategy will be unveiled shortly.
39. In the last one year, Nigeria and the whole world faced COVID-19 for which no one was fully prepared.

Our response to the pandemic involved making hard choices in balancing livelihoods and public health concerns. You are all living witnesses to how successful this has been due to a number of pro-active measures put in place. Our response to COVID-19 is globally acclaimed.

We were able to ensure that the various lockdown measures did not impact too negatively on the ability of ordinary Nigerians to continue sustaining their livelihoods.

During the pandemic, we disbursed N5,000 to 1 million Nigerians using a Rapid Response Register and advanced N20,000 to 750,000 beneficiaries of the Conditional Cash Transfer Progamme and provided 1.37 million Nigerians with palliatives from CACOVID.

At the same time the Federal Government released 109,000 metric tonnes of food reserve stocks and 70,000 metric tonnes of grains to the poor and vulnerable in all 36 states of the federation.

In addition, Government reduced interest rates from 9% to 5% for struggling businesses and extended credit facilities to 548,345 beneficiaries.

Fellow Nigerians,When this administration decided to change our Democracy Day from 29th May to June 12th in my first tenure, it was not only to honour the sacrifices of the men and women of our country who fought for the return to democracy but also to demonstrate our commitment to satisfy the aspirations of the people and creating an environment for democracy to be an accepted way of life.

As your President, I remain committed to providing an enabling environment for a free, fair and credible electoral system under my tenure.

However, you need to play your part by getting involved at any level you can supporting a democratic system that works for all and not for a section or a select few and demand accountability from your elected leaders.

My commitment to bequeathing a sustainable democratic culture remains resolute, my pursuit of a fair society remains unshaken and my desire to see that Nigeria remains a country for each and every one of us has never been stronger.

In responding to the challenges that this period imposes on us, Government also recognises the need to acknowledge notions of marginalisation and agitations for constitutional amendments among various segments of our population.

While this government is not averse to constitutional reform as part of our nation building process, everyone must understand that the primary responsibility for constitutional amendments lies with the National Assembly.

This body which, as I said, is the arm of government responsible for constitutional changes has concluded the preliminary stages of amending and improving our constitution in a way that the majority of Nigerians will be happy with.

Government is, however, willing to play a critical role in the constitutional amendment process without usurping the powers of the National Assembly in this regard.

As a nation we have come very far from where we started and we are getting incrementally closer to where we ought to be.

 

Overcoming the present challenges is but one of a necessary process that we have to undergo as a nation so that we can come out stronger. The day I joined the Nigerian Army I was prepared to lay down my life for Nigeria.

As your President I remain ever committed to upholding and defending Nigeria’s Corporate existence.

In adhering to the Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy notably section 14(2)(b) I shall do all within my power to ensure that the Security and welfare of the people remain the primary purpose of government.

I have, throughout my tenure, provided the security agencies with all they require relative to available resources and will be providing more as the dynamics unfold to put an end to our security problems.

My strong belief in the Nigerian spirit gives me comfort that we are facing these challenges with renewed commitment to keep our country one.

I thank you for your patience and attention and more importantly your resolve to join hands in making Nigeria the country of our dream.

Happy Democracy Day! God Bless us All, God Bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

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Wike is a Beacon of Democracy in Nigeria – NUJ

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The Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) has described Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike of Rivers State as an exhibit of pride to democracy in Nigeria.

NUJ also noted that Governor Wike has redefined governance through demonstration of democracy in action with his service to Rivers people.

National and State Executives including members of NUJ made the assertion in Port Harcourt during inspection tour led by the Rivers State Commissioner of Information and Communications, Paulinus Nsirim of both completed and ongoing projects being undertaken by Governor Wike in the State.

National President of the NUJ, Chris Isiguzor said the 1999 constitution bestows on the media the responsibility to hold government accountable to the people.

Isiguzor posited that having placed the projects side by side with the expectations of the populace, it is obvious that governor Wike’s investment in critical infrastructure will remain as lifelong empowerment tools for the people.

“We were at the Mother and Child Hospital. We took time to look at the facilities there. That can easily be said to be first of its kind in the country.

“At the much talked about the Real Madrid Football Academy where you are going to train the young ones, and they have good facilities. At the moment, they have also offered admission to 140 pupils.

“That’s also to catch them young and I want to believe that by the time this kind of resources continuously invested in sports development, Nigeria, it’s just a matter of time, will gain its pride of place in sporting world.”

On her part, the National President of Nigeria Women journalists (NAWOJ) Ladi Bala said the projects she had seen are entirely unique, unprecedented and very uncommon in the country.

According to Bala, the Emmanuel Chinwenwo Aguma Judges Quarters stands as first of its kind in Nigeria with its serene ambiance that will translate into enhancing the productivity of Judges of Rivers origin.

“I believe that democracy is at work in Rivers State and, for Rivers people, I want to congratulate them and to say, this is the true reflection of what democracy should be across board.

“I want to call on other governors across the country to borrow a leave from what the governor of Rivers State is doing. Wike is working and we are very proud of what we have seen here.”

In his reaction, the National Internal Auditor of NUJ, Muhammad Tukur stated that governor Wike is a committed leader with the vision of uplifting the standard of his people.

Tukur, who expressed gratitude to Governor Wike for his support to the NUJ National Conference in Port Harcourt, which confirms his commitment to the welfare of the people.

On his part, chairman of Oyo State Council of the NUJ, Ismail Ademola Babalola asserted that the Mother and Child Hospital and the real Madrid Football Academy are part of projects Governor Wike is using to secure a productive future of youths of the state because they meet global standard.

Also speaking the Vice Chairman of NUJ North Central Zone, Chief Wilson Bako commended the quality of the various Roads and Flyover Bridges constructed in the Port Harcourt metropolis to make the city a tourists attraction.

In same vein, the Vice Chairman of NUJ in Jigawa State, Larai Musa said she has confirmed all that the news media had carried about Governor Wike and his project mantra and asserted that it is leaders like him that are needed at the national level.

Ikechukwu Ordu of the Enugu State Council of the NUJ noted that the need for other political leaders to emulate Governor Wike in providing dividend of democracy to Rivers people and changing the fortune of his state.

Also from the Enugu State Council of the NUJ, Ugochukwu Chukwudieke said she is completely overwhelmed by what Governor Wike has done in providing the Okoro-Nu-Odo Flyover Bridge, Rumuogba Flyover bridge, Rumuola Flyover Bridge, and Rebisi flyover Bridge delivered within one year.

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Mali Crisis : GEJ, PMB Meet Behind Closed Doors im Aso Rock

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President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday met former President Goodluck Jonathan behind closed doors at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

The Personal Assistant on New media to the President, Bashir Ahmed, made this known in a tweet via his Twitter account.

He tweeted, “@MBuhari received former President @GEJonathan today.

“The former leader was at the State House, Abuja, to brief the President over the new political crisis in Mali.

“An ECOWAS delegation led by GEJ was in Bamako, the capital of Mali on Tuesday, for mediation. ”Jonathan was appointed last year by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) as a special envoy to lead the sub-regional body’s mediation mission in Mali.

The former President is expected to facilitate dialogue with all principal stakeholders in the West African country.

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