Zakari’s appointment as INEC Collation Officer, a moral burden on Buhari, APC – Fayose

Fayose

The immediate past Governor of Ekiti State, Mr Ayodele Fayose, has faulted the appointment of Mrs. Amina Zakari as head of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC’s) Collation Centre for the general elections as a moral burden on President Muhammadu Buhari, the All Progressives Congress (APC) and INEC.

Since the appointment was announced, many Nigerians, especially the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), have raised objection alleging that Zakari could use her position to favour the president and his party in the election, after it was being alleged that she is a niece to Mr. Buhari.

Though, the presidency had issued a statement to deny any blood relationship between the INEC officer and the president, PDP had openly doubted the integrity of the election if the woman remain with commission, and then called on the National Assembly to relieve her of her position as an INEC Commissioner.

That was also the position Fayose reinforced in his statement released on Saturday.

He disagreed with presidency and INEC on their defence of the controversial appointment, describing the efforts as further prove for alleged desperation to rig the February 16 presidential election for the president despite his alleged rejection by Nigerians.

“Even if Amina Zakari can be as impartial as she can be, now that Nigerians are thinking that there is a real likelihood of her being biased, she should excuse herself. More so that she is not the only National Commissioner in INEC,” Fayose stated.

The former governor also said though it is true that Zakari was originally appointed to the commission by the former President Goodluck Jonathan, the appointment did not take place when President Buhari was a candidate in an election.

“In fact, the President had even vowed never to run for the Presidency after the 2011 election. Now that he is a candidate and also a sitting President, fairness and equity demands that she should step aside from playing any role in this election”.

“Certain things can be good, but might not be morally right. This issue of Amina Zakari, a known relation of the APC presidential candidate, functioning as INEC head of collation centre is morally wrong.

“Therefore, the Presidency and INEC have the moral burden to prove to Nigerians that they are not in any way out to shortchange them.”

Ramaphosa promises to end attacks on foreigners in SA

Ramaphosa

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has vowed to end attacks on foreigners living in his country.
Ramaphosa, who made the pledge during a visit to President Muhammadu Buhari at Nigeria’s Presidential Villa in Abuja, linked the incessant xenophobic attacks in South Africa to criminal elements in the country.
He told journalists after a meeting with Buhari that victims of the senseless killings of foreigners in South Africa were not restricted to Nigerians alone, saying nationals of other countries are equally affected.
According to him, the country is also being plagued with other social challenges that are heightening its crime rates, even as he informed that his administration is trying everything within its power to address them and ensure that the country is safe for citizens and foreigners alike.
“In the course of everything else, people in various part of the country do get engulfed in acts of criminality, the majority of them are South Africans,” he further stated.
Earlier reacting to the xenophobic attack on Nigerians this year, Nigeria’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, had said South Africa has the highest crime rate in Africa.
“The crime situation in South Africa is very high, probably the highest in Africa,” he said. “So there is a high level of crime; it is not just that Nigerians are victims of crime in South Africa.”
Onyeama blamed the unending xenophobic attacks on trust deficit between the Nigerian Union of South Africa and the South African police.

Buhari’s visit: US to repatriate $500m looted fund

Buhari

The visit of President Muhammadu Buhari to U.S. President Donald Trump has yielded the finalisation of negotiations to repatriate more than 500 million dollars (about 190 billion Naira) of Nigeria’s looted money traced to the U.S.
Nigeria’s Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, told the Correspondent of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Washington, DC, that he and the Attorney-General of the U.S. would be meeting on Tuesday to finalise the agreement.
Malami explained that the technicalities involved were being taken care of by both officials of the Nigerian Governments and also from the U.S. side.
He said: “On the part of assets recovery, we have made considerable progress through this visit.
“There’s goodwill by the two presidents to have a road map for the repatriation of illicit funds and assets traced to the U.S. as proceeds of illicit transactions.
“This illicit funds and assets are to the tune of 500 million dollars and above for immediate repatriation.
“We are looking at the shortest practicable time for it to be repatriated.
“There is political commitment demonstrated by the two presidents.
“The over 500 million dollars is not all the recovery, it is only for the immediate repatriation while we continue with our efforts to recover more”.
Malami defended Nigeria’s human rights record, saying the Buhari’s administration is the first in the history of Nigeria to pay compensation for human rights violations.
He said in April, the Federal Government paid N135 million for the eight Apo traders who were found to have been victims of extra judicial killings by the Nigeria Police.
“Of the police officers indicted, two were sentenced to death. The payment of compensation was also as a result of the recommendation by the National Human Rights Commission and government did not appeal against it,” he said.
He noted that Trump approved of what Buhari’s administration is doing.
“Trump said Buhari is a great leader; he said he has a great respect for him; and he said Buhari has cut down on corruption,” Malami said.
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Source: NAN

Mixed metaphors: Winners and losers

Olumhense

By Sonala Olumhense

First, a few notes of appreciation.

Top of my list this week: the members of Nigeria’s Winter Olympics team: skeleton athlete Simi Adeagbo, and bobsledders Seun Adigun, Akuoma Omeoga and Ngozi Onwumere.

On account only of their heart, strength and resilience, they defined a historic presence for Nigeria in PyeongChang, setting down and setting up the nation’s flag in unfamiliar winter sports, and in the process telling a million feel-good stories.

I also congratulate the EFCC for affirming that it will not negotiate with former First Lady Patience Jonathan, who wants to settle out of court the serious financial crime issues she faces.  Responding to her January 30 proposal, the commission announced last week it would not negotiate.

Mrs. Jonathan’s situation worsened considerably on Wednesday when former presidential aide Waripamo-Owei Dudafa, a principal character in the saga, testified in her arrogant N200m fundamental rights enforcement suit against the EFCC how he obtained from Mrs. Jonathan, and her husband then President Goodluck Jonathan, the large sums he often deposited.

Regrettably, the EFCC was last week also appealing to former Minister of Aviation Stella Oduah to come to the commission’s offices.  In the past three years, the agency said, Mrs. Oduah, who has been investigated by the commission, had spurned five invitations.

“If she fails to cooperate, we will either obtain a warrant for her arrest or declare her wanted,” a source said.

Three years and five invitations, EFCC?  It is a shame that after the first two letters, you continued to invest in postage stamps, while allowing Mrs. Oduah to live in affluence in Abuja.  Show some character and pride, EFCC, and arrest this woman, NOW!

With Nigerians lamenting the impotence of his government, President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday chose to praise himself, declaring in Adamawa State that he has fulfilled his electoral promises.

The praise-and-be-praised session took place at the palace of the Lamido of Adamawa, Muhammadu Barkindo.  Seizing the microphone himself, the Lamido said of Buhari: “They are burying their heads in shame and telling people that (the Buhari-led) Government has done nothing.”

He cited the Treasury Single Account, the economy, security, and the anti-corruption propaganda as Buhari’s accomplishments.

But fate would challenge the praise-singers, as it turned out that just hours before Buhari’s Yola party, Boko Haram had strolled into the Government Girls Science and Technical Secondary School (GGSTSS) in Dapchi, Yobe State, and—just as it did in Chibok in 2014—abducted dozens of students.

The bizarre incident took place two weeks after I warned in this column that it was too early for the government to celebrate the so-called “defeat” of the militants.

How bad is the latest abduction, keeping in mind that the global outrage over the Chibok girls helped Buhari’s APC offensive in 2014 and 2015?

First, for days the government said nothing.  On Wednesday, the police in Yobe State confirmed the abduction, but did not give any numbers. The Yobe State Government then claimed—wrongly—that the military had rescued some of the girls.

That claim was denied on Thursday morning by the army. “We cannot confirm,” Defence spokesperson John Agim told a reporter.  By then, Buhari—his government in sixes and sevens—had cobbled together a panel to travel to Dapchi to “find” the facts.

“Cannot confirm” was still Abuja’s position on Thursday afternoon.  Arriving in Dapchi, Minister of Information Lai Mohammed appealed for time.

Mr. Mohammed was answering the wrong question.  The right query is whether the government, perhaps for election reasons, had overstated its anti-insurgency success.  Boko Haram did not sound like a defeated force upon arrival in Dapchi, the villagers saying they came in at least 10 trucks.

The government described Boko Haram’s audacious assault upon Dapchi as an effort to “embarrass” Buhari.  Really?  Perhaps the militants felt no embarrassment as the government drank, sang and danced in Maiduguri, claiming the group was dead and buried, and its leader fleeing in women’s attire.

So much for the claim about having conquered the insurgency.  So much for claims of Nigeria being secure, despite cattle herdsmen overrunning forests and towns and airports, and kidnappers and robbers taking roads and towns and villages as APC and government bigwigs fly around in executive jets they swore they would sell.

And then, just like Boko Haram hurting the government’s feelings in Dapchi, a new Transparency International report confirms that Buhari has been combating corruption with propaganda pellets.  TI’s 2017 Corruption Perception Index places Nigeria in a dismal 148th in a ranking of 180 countries, corruption marching on undisturbed in the Buhari years.

It is over one year ago that, in “The Fall of Buhari, And the APC,” I described Buhari’s Nigeria as a “farce” and a “hoax.   “Buhari marketed a product he could not manufacture, and the APC used Buhari’s legend to grab power in the centre,” I declared.  “He has compromised his own cause by treating it as if it were a private skirmish, perhaps to be drawn out over two terms of office and fought in the media rather than in the court of law and the court of personal example, and in which only the opposition, can remotely be guilty.   And he gives economic management a bad name.”

But we are on the eve of the 2019 election now, and the government is unable to understand that the propaganda of attack does not work when you are defending, particularly when the audience has seen your nakedness.

Only last week, Buhari, continuing the propaganda, affirmed that his government will sell all unclaimed looted assets it has recovered.  He made the declaration in Daura, his hometown.

I fully support that plan, except that without a full identification of these properties and their owners, the effort is meaningless, even dangerous.  If the government merely sells just so it can claim it “put the money in the treasury,” that would be deception because the original owners and their friends would be the ones laughing after they have bought back the properties.

There is no evidence Buhari will provide this information.  In the past two years, he has gone back on promises to name looters and their loot.  In 2016, in a singular demonstration of condoning—not combating—corruption, Buhari published a listing of funds recovered, without naming anyone.  In effect, the criminals had returned a slice of what they stole, or nothing at all. That is how you nurture impunity.

In a similar way, although the government continues to swear by the rule of law, it has refused to publish the two looting accounts ordered by two courts.  That is how you nurture corruption and become a damaged brand.

Finally, towards the 2019 re-election effort, Buhari has appointed Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, the National Leader of the APC, to undertake the task of healing the fissures within the party.  And last week, Tinubu accused party chairman John Oyegun of sabotaging that assignment, citing decisions Oyegun has made in recent weeks.

No, Mr. National Leader, the Chairman is not sabotaging you.   It is the APC which is sabotaging the hopes of Nigerians.  Even if it somehow wins next year’s election, it will not win back their goodwill.

Buhari declares Dapchi school girls abduction national disaster

Dapchi

President Muhammadu Buhari has described asa  national disaster the abduction of some students of Government Girls Technical College, Dapchi, Yobe State.

The president made the remark in a message sent from his office to media houses on Friday.

Though, he had sent a delegation led by the Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, to the scene of the incident for assessment, he was speaking about the tragedy for the first time since it occurred on Monday.

Suspected members of Boko Haram reportedly stormed the school and took the girls away.

There has been conflicting reports on the actual number of students affected and their whereabouts.

Below is the message from the Presidency:

President Muhammadu Buhari has assured the families of students reportedly abducted from the Government Girls Technical College, Dapchi, Yobe State, that no effort will be spared to bring succour to them.

According to the President, “When I received the devastating news of the attack on the school and the fact that the local authorities could not account for all the students, I immediately dispatched a high-level delegation on a fact-finding visit to the town. I also instructed the security agencies to deploy in full and not spare any effort to ensure that all the girls are returned safely, and the attackers arrested and made to face justice.

“The entire country stands as one with the girls’ families, the government and the people of Yobe State. This is a national disaster. We are sorry that this could have happened and share your pain. We pray that our gallant armed forces will locate and safely return your missing family members.

“Our government is sending more troops and surveillance aircraft to keep an eye on all movements in the entire territory on a 24-hour basis, in the hope that all the missing girls will be found.”

#FuelScarcity: I sympathise with you, Buhari tells Nigerians

Dapchi

President Muhammadu Buhari broke his silence on the lingering fuel scarcity on Sunday, saying he sympathized with Nigerians over the hardship caused by the crisis.

The President’s message was conveyed through his twitter handle, @MBuhari

“The fuel scarcity being experienced nationwide is regrettable. I sypathise with all Nigerians on having to endure needless fuel queues. I’m being regularly briefed, especially on the NNPC’s interventions to ensure that there is enough petrol available during this period and beyond,” the message read.

Though, he said he was being briefed on efforts to make the commodity available for the people in the festive seasons and beyond, Buhari was not specific on how soon the crisis will end.

The nation has been hit by acute fuel scarcity in the last one week, making movement difficult for most people.

Expectedly, the president’s tweet was greeted by angry reactions on the social media platform with many accusing him of insensitivity to people’s plight.

They particularly expressed disappointment at the president’s timing for his response which, according to them, was too late

Buhari backs proposed Kaduna teachers’ sacking

Dapchi

President Muhammadu Buhari has applauded the decision of Kaduna State Governor Nasir el-Rufai to sack 21,780 primary school teachers who failed competency test conducted by the state government recently.

The president expressed his backing at a special retreat of the Federal Executive Council on the challenges facing the education sector in Nigeria on Monday.

Themed: “Education in Nigeria: Challenges and prospect”, the programme was organized as an open debate on how to improve education in the country.

Buhari described as very serious ‘a situation when teachers cannot pass the examination they are supposed to teach the children to pass’.

“It is a very tragic situation we are in and this our gathering, to me, is one of the most important in this administration,” he said, applauding the Kaduna State governor for taking the bold step in tackling the decadence in the education sector in his state.

The governor’s decision has received mixed reactions since it was announced penultimate week.

President Buhari noted that the summit was crucial to his government’s desire to improve the lot of Nigerians through provision of quality and functional education at all levels, saying no nation could progress beyond the standard of its education.

“Today, it is those who acquire the most qualitative education, equipped with requisite skills and training, and empowered with practical know-how that are leading the rest.

“We cannot afford to continue lagging behind. Education is our Launchpad to a more successful, more productive and more prosperous future.

“This administration is committed to revitalizing our education system and making it more responsive and globally competitive,” he said.

Why I seek second term for Buhari, by Gov Umahi

Second Term

Governor Dave Umahi of Ebonyi State stunned journalists at the Presidential Villa on Thursday when he openly craved a second term for President Muhammadu Buhari as he paid a visit to Nigeria’s number citizen.

Umahi, a member of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), told State House correspondents that he would be happy to have Buhari, a possible candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), back in the race for the 2019 presidential election.

The governor, however, said his wish for the President was because of the desire of an average first term Nigerian politician to seek a second term.

Like Buhari, Umahi is about two-and-a-half years into his first term as the Ebonyi State governor.

He said he was willing to seek election for renewal of tenure in the next general election.

“Well, any first term governor would want to go for second term and if what you wish yourself, you should be honest enough to wish another person the same.

“Since, Mr President is doing his first term and I am doing my first term, it’s my wish to re-contest and I will as well wish the president the same to re-contest,’’ he told the journalists.

Also commenting on the President’s proposed visit to his state, umahi said all was set to receive Buhari in the South-Eastern State, adding that his latest visit to the Presidential Villa was to secure the President’s commitment to it.

According to him, his regime had completed a number of projects that would be commissioned during the President’s visit.

Among the projects, he said, were three units of twin flyovers built to connect Cameroun, a neighbouring African country.

Spanning about 700 metres each, he said the projects were executed to decongest traffic within the state capital.

‘Unknown Soldier’ petitions Buhari, alleges fraud in counter-insurgency Operation

Counter-Insurgency

A letter believed to have been authored by a soldier in the ongoing ‘Operation Lafiya Dole’ – a counter-insurgency operation in the North-East Nigeria, is currently trending on the social media.

The ‘soldier’, who claimed to be a Private in the Nigerian Army, addressed an open-letter to President Muhammadu Buhari to intimate him of massive corruption in the management of the operation and the impact on the lives of soldiers on the battlefront.

He said he was moved to calling the attention of the president to the development as many of his colleagues were already growing recalcitrant owing to the poor treatment suffered on the field.

The anonymous soldier specifically mentioned one Abdulrauf Aliyu, also a private, who was said to have left the field unofficially to take care of injuries he suffered while on duty, since the Army had refused to cater for him and his wellbeing.

“Your Excellency, corruption in the army is real and it is killing us. While we expect to die in the hands of the enemy, we don’t expect to die in the hands of the army, due to corruption and criminal negligence.

“Just the other week, about 14 (I am not sure of the exact number) of our colleagues died in the hands of Boko Harram, who attacked the army camp. The circumstances surrounding their unnecessary death warrant a full investigation by his Excellency. Sir, you will be shocked of the outcome. The bodies of the slain heroes are still lying here in Damaturu.

“Your Excellency, this is the third month in a row that we have been denied of our operational allowance. We have to rely only on our meagre salary for everything. From battalion commanders, to company and sector leaders, we are all in debt, because our salaries are not enough to sustain us at the battlefield let alone feeding our families back at home.

“It is a big shame that we have joined the army to defend the civilians, yet we have to go to the civilians in town to borrow money to fend for ourselves at the battlefield.

“It is said that the Federal Government spends about N14, 000 on each prisoner in Nigeria. Here, at the battlefront in Operation Lafiya Dole, the army spends about N600 per day on a soldier’s feeding, while in reality billions of naira is appropriated per year for this purpose. Your Excellency, we are treated like animals. Most of us are afraid to talk because of the dire consequence.

“As the Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces, your Excellency, kindly investigate. There is corruption in the army. Soldiers are needlessly dying,” the anonymous letter read.

According to the Punch Newspaper’s report, the Director, Army Public Relations, Brig. Gen. Sani Usman, had promised to issue a statement on the allegations.

 

I don’t run gov’t of propaganda – Buhari

Buhari

In apparent reaction to comments credited to former President Goodluck Jonathan last week, President Muhammadu Buhari has said his government was not based on lies and propaganda, saying his successes in key areas of his campain promises eloquently speak of his government’s big achievements.
The president made the statement at the opening ceremony of a two-day Nigerian Governors’ Forum Media Conference for Media Handlers of States’ Chief Executives held in Abuja on Monday, where he was represented by the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed.
While playing host to Prof. Tunde Adeniran, a Peoples Democratic Party’s (PDP’s) National Chairmanship candidate, in Abuja last Thursday, the former president had alleged that Buhari’s government ‘deploys propaganda and lies at a professional level’, saying the government never recorded any major success since taking over power on May 29, 2015.
Buhari, however, desribed the comment as sad, wondering why some Nigerians do like to promote fake news.
He noted that since the inception of his government, it has delivered on promises in broad areas that fall within his major campaign points – security, fight agaisnt corruption, and the economy.
These, he added, have resulted in massive provision of infrastructure, ease of doing business and diversification of the country’s revenue sources, among others.
“Those who accused this administration of ‘propaganda and lies’ in the fuel supply sector, for example, did not tell Nigerians that whereas they paid between N800bn and N1.3tn as ‘subsidy’ yearly in their time, without making the products available even at regulated prices, this administration is not paying any subsidy, yet all products are currently available at competitive prices and fuel queues are now history.
“In their time, they paid subsidy of N3.7bn daily in 2011; N2.2bn daily in 2012 and 2013, and 2.5bn in 2014, all for products that were never available.
“Those who accused this government of ‘propaganda and lies’ also said we have not achieved anything in the power sector. Comment is free; facts are sacred, as they say. When this administration assumed office on 29 May, 2015, available power on the grid totalled 2,690MW, transmission capacity was around 5,000MW and distribution capacity was 4,000MW.
“As of September 4, 2017, the available power that can be put on the grid was 6,619MW; the transmission capacity was simulated at 6,700MW (up from 5,000 MW in 2015) but the distribution capacity was 4,600MW, which was what was put on the grid. On September 12, 2017, production of power reached an all-time level of 7,001MW.’’ the president added.