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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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Umahi Declares for 2023 Presidential Race

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As has been widely expected, Governor David Umahi of Ebonyi State has thrown his hat into the ring for the 2023 Presidential race.

According to the Governor, he has informed President Muhammadu Buhari of his ambition to contest the presidency on the platform of the ruling All Progressives Party (APC).

Governor Umahi’s action came barely 24 hours after the National Leader of the Party, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, took similar steps.

Umahi disclosed his latest move to State House Correspondents after a closed-door meeting with Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja on Tuesday.

  1. On what his chances chances are against the background that other big political figures had indicated their intentions to run for the same office, including Asiwaju Tinubu, the Governor said God would be the decider of the outcome of the race.

Umahi, who left the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) for the APC, said he stands a chance if the APC throws the ticket open.

He said if he gets the opportunity, his presidency will replicate his efforts in Ebonyi, saying that he has a lot to show in running governance as a business.

The Governor also said he spoke with the President about resolving the security crisis bugging the Southeast region through political solutions.

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We Haven’t Zoned the Presidential Slot to Any Part of the Country, says PDP

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As permutations continue ahead of the 2023 general elections, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, has denied zoning the presidential slot, saying a decision is yet to be taken on where its presidential ticket would be zoned to.

It also dismissed reports indicating that PDP had resolved to zone the presidential ticket to a particular region of the country.

Recall that former Niger State governor, Babangida Aliyu, had, last week, told a group drumming support for the presidential ambition of ex-Vice President Atiku Abubakar that the party had resolved to field a northerner as its presidential candidate.

But reacting to the reports, spokesman for the PDP, Debo Ologunagba, said: “This is completely misleading as it does not in any way represent the position of our party. For the avoidance of doubt, the PDP emphatically and unequivocally states that it has not zoned its presidential ticket to any part of the country.

“The PDP is a political party founded on democratic principles and every action of the party, including zoning, is based on extensive consultations, discussions and consideration of all the issues as well as the various tendencies and interests across the nation, with the main objective of ensuring that the unity, peaceful co-existence and development of our nation are reinforced and promoted.

“The PDP, therefore, urges Nigerians, our teeming members and supporters to completely disregard the unfounded zoning claims as being peddled. Our party also cautions those behind the claims to desist forthwith.

“The PDP thanks Nigerians for the overwhelming interest they have in our party as their sure platform to rescue and rebuild our nation from misrule and urges them to remain united and focused as we join forces for the task ahead.”

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Andy Uba Wasn’t a Candidate in Anambra Governorship Election, Court Rules

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All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate in Anambra, Andy Uba, who has vowed to upturn the election of Professor Chukwuma Soludo, was handed an unexpected knock out on Monday.

A Federal High Court, Abuja, on Monday, nullified his participation in the 6 November election, declaring his candidacy illegal.

The ruling effectively denied Uba a locus standi to challenge Soludo.

Justice Inyang Ekwo, in a judgment, held that the June 26 primary of the party which produced Uba as its standard-bearer was not validly conducted.

The ruling ended what would have been some legal distraction for Soludo, a former Central bank governor, hoping to make a difference in governance in the state.

Chief George Moghalu, an aspirant in the APC primary election had challenged the process and the outcome of the primary election that produced Uba as the party’s candidate.

Moghalu, who was the plaintiff, had sued the party, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and Uba as 1st to 3rd defendants respectively.

Delivering the judgment, Justice Ekwo aligned with the plaintiff’s arguments that the June 26 primary election breached the provisions of the Electoral Act and the APC guidelines for the conduct of the exercise.

Chief George Moghalu

He held that the plaintiff had successfully demonstrated that the primary election was not conducted in accordance with the law and the party’s guidelines.

“Therefore, the case of the plaintiff succeeds on its merit,” he said.

Ekwo held that since the election was conducted illegally, the APC (1st defendant) cannot be a beneficiary of the Nov. 6 election which produced the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) candidate, Prof. Charles Soludo, as the winner of the poll outcome.

The judge, therefore, declared that the APC had no candidate in the Anambra governorship election by non-inclusion of the name of Moghalu in the primary election, and the conduct of the poll in contravention of the Electoral Act and the party’s guidelines.

“The 2nd defendant (INEC) is compelled to delist the name of the 1st defendant and 3rd defendant from the Nov. 6, Anambra governorship election,” he ordered.

Prof. Charles Soludo
Anambra Governor-Elect

According to the judge, any election conducted contrary to the 1st defendant guideline is in nullity.

“The real issue was not whether accredited members of 1st defendant voted on that day but whether the election was conducted in accordance with the election guidelines of 1st defendant,” he held.

He also said that the evidence of the police report confirmed that the election was conducted outside the time frame.

Ekwo, who described the conduct of the primary by APC as “crude and primitive,” ordered that the N22.5 million paid by Moghalu as expression of interest and nomination forms be refunded since the party failed to complied with the provisions of the law and its guidelines.

Moghalu had, in July, filed the suit at the court, seeking an order removing Uba and the APC from the list of gubernatorial candidates and political parties partaking in the Anambra governorship election on the grounds that the party failed to conduct a valid primary election.

He also demanded N122.5 million as damages, which include a refund for the fee paid for expression of interest and nomination forms and N100 million “for the breach of contract to commence and conclude primary election”.

INEC had picked Uba, winner of the APC primary election, as the party’s candidate.

In the affidavit in support of the suit, the plaintiff said the APC failed to conclude the selection and nomination process for its candidate for the Nov. 6 governorship poll.

He said the APC had chosen to adopt direct primary, which is why the party published the list of designated venues for the exercise.

Moghalu said the party received N22.5 million for the expression of interest form and nomination form, including from him, “to allow him to participate in the primary election exercise”.
He further said he was informed a day before the primaries that the APC electoral committee would address all aspirants and stakeholders in Akwa.
“Shockingly, on June 26, 2021, the said election committee was not seen anywhere in Anambra; no accreditation of voters took place; no voting and collation of votes occurred in all the 326 wards of Anambra state,” he said.

He said the committee “announced election results it did not conduct, and which fakery was credited to the 3rd defendant as the winner of the primary election scheduled for emergence as APC’s candidate in the November 6 governorship election in Anambra”.

Moghalu also argued that the party did not invite the INEC in line with the law requiring the commission to monitor the exercise.

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