Re: Pantami And Ministerial Arrogance, By Adewunmi Olaoluwatomi

When one person makes an accusation, check to be sure he himself is not the guilty one. Sometimes it is those whose case is weak who make the most clamour.” – Piers Anthony

It is evidently and surprisingly clear that Nigerian online columnists are resorting to distortion, falsification and misuseof their God-given talents, instead of penning on government policies that make impact to citizens. Unfortunately, few and many others avail to be agents of misinformation and manipulation in their quest to gain cheap popularity. Although the Freedom of Information Act gives one chance to comment on matters affecting the nation, it also stated clearly that unfounded and baseless allegations are not to be entertained.

Last Friday 27thMarch, 2020, a faceless columnist appeared on Sahara Reporters (online newspaper) to maliciously discredit one of Nigeria’s famous and revered technocrats in person of Dr Isa Ali Ibrahim (Pantami), FNCS, FBCS, FIIM. The writer, knowingly or unknowingly, failed to set aside his irrationality to at least outline the achievements of the Honourable Minister in the Information and Communications Technology sector of Nigeria.

I wish the writer of that unfounded and ill-nurtured article, Emmanuel John, is known to the Nigerian public so that his-behind-the-scene ulterior motive to engineer a rift between highly respected personalities could be revealed.

At this point in time, the likes of Dr Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, the Honourable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, should be encouraged, emboldened and cheered for the wonderful job he has been doing since his appointment as Minister by Muhammadu Buhari GCFR, the President and Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces. The author of that piece seemed to be oblivious to the current realities at the Ministry and Parastatals it supervises. He has brought himself so low in his move to venomously undermine the personality of Dr Pantami.

The author un-assiduously claimed that the Honourable Minister blocked Professor Umar Garba Dambatta, the Executive Vice Chairman, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), from making a complete speech during the Launching and Commissioning of some projects supervised by the Ministry. He arrogantly stated that, “the EVC’s Speech was about the complex and how it came into being.  The minister, who had earlier evidently lied to the President that it was him who built the gigantic project, could not allow the EVC to tell the President the truth.”

This assertion is false and aimed at damaging the international reputation of Dr Pantami. To set the record straight, the Honourable Minister has never claimed building the said project, but rather asseverated that it was supervised by the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy as enshrined in Nigeria’s law.

The author negated his trustworthiness (if he has any) in throwing tantrums, not knowing that it was paramount that whenever Mr President happened to be at an event, timing must be strictly adhered to. In a situation like this, speakers cling to the time allocated to them and limit their presentations.

One will be flabbergasted on the manner the author is trying to create chaos and conflict between the already established synergy among sister Agencies under the Ministry. 

In a saner society, faceless Emmanuel John lacks moral and intellectual prowess to comment on matters pertaining Digital Technology, especially to someone whose outstanding professionalism and integrity earned him the highest recognition in the global IT industry: The Fellowship of the British Computer Society (FBCS).

Dr Pantami, as a man for the job, who has served as an IT Consultant to many National and International industries, is also a fellow of the Institute of Information Management (FIIM).

Only fools will sit down and be looking at the sky, believing that it will fall. Dr Pantami’s unmatchable contribution and impact to the growth of Information Communications Technology in Nigeria, through his extensive knowledge and vast experience, earned him elevation to the position of Minister. Because of Dr Pantami’s technical-know-how style in the IT sector, saw the need and recommended to Mr President to rename the Ministry’s name and expand its mandate to align his commitment with President Muhammadu Buhari’s Change Agenda as well as be in line with global best practices. He is largely responsible for the renewed vigour and focus in the industry. He has sustained an unprecedented level of professionalism and compliance in the sector.

To say that under Dr Pantami, either the NCC or its Executive Vice Chairman is being undermined is the highest intellectual turbulence one could have ever imagined. People with accurate mindset will never make such baseless allegations with buttress.

The writer should have checked his words before going to press. His piece contained malicious and dangerous declaration that may land him in jail. Nay, personalities like Dr Pantami are always after the progress of the nation, not stooping to the level of low-key bonehead and jackass.

NCC has recorded tremendous achievements under the supervision of the Honourable Minister, only dickhead could shamelessly deny that. Since Dr Pantami was sworn-in as Nigeria’s new Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, he has been working with strict compliance and cooperation from all the Chief Executive Officers under his Ministry.This led to the directive given to the NCC to block all unregistered Subscriber Identification Module (SIM) cards.

The NCC, through its Director of Public Affairs, Henry Nkemadu, has since informed  Nigerians that the Commission has successfully deactivated over two million (2m) unregistered SIM cards across telecommunication networks in the country. This action has significantly curtailed the menace of kidnappings and other crimes perpetrated using SIM cards. This has clearly shown Dr Pantami’s working experience and synergy with Parastatals under his supervision.

In today’s world, especially at a time Nigeria is moving towards diversification from resource-based to knowledge-based economy, the need for effective teamwork is critical for the business. This is what Dr Pantami exhibited in matters relating to his relationship with all the Agencies and Parastatals under his purview. The ability to simultaneously perform as an individual and together with your colleagues or employees in effective teamwork is key to attaining growth and success.

The Minister’s achievements can be seen even by a blind man, which is why the President himself commended him for bringing the Agencies and Parastatals to work together as one, align them to work harder, cooperate and be supportive of one another. He even thanked him for the high level of synergy that has been created amongst the parastatals under the Minister’s supervision.

Nigerians are living witnesses to testify on what Dr Pantami, the Honourable Minister, is doing. He has rejigged the Ministry and realigned its work schedule, encouraged mutual support and shared goals, cooperation and provides workplace synergy among the Parastatals. With this, Agencies and Parastatals are able to feel a greater sense of accomplishment, collectively responsible for outcomes achieved and feed individuals with the incentive to perform at higher levels.

Dr Pantami has become steering wheel in leading Federal Government of Nigeria on strategic implementation of programmes aimed at diversifying the economy. Oil and gas can no longer be dependent upon because countries around the world, especially the developed ones, are switching to digitalization in almost all their means of activities, including transportation.

Dr Pantami’s unprecedented achievements in ensuring that Nigeria lifts itself to reach the required level in the Global Information Technology Development Index can never be overemphasized. He is leading a rescue mission of Nigeria’s migration from natural resource economy to ICT-based economy. As true Nigerians, it is our collective responsibility to stifle any nincompoops trying to distract the Minister; we must not let that happen.

olaoluwatomia@gmail.com

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Understanding COVID-19 A Traditional African Medicine Approach, By Walid Moukarim

Introduction

In African traditional medical science, disease is as a result of imbalance in the naturally existing temperament of the mind, system, organs and/or tissues of the human body.

This temperament theory is the reference to understanding the level of heat and cold naturally existing in a living creature and nonliving objects. This is where treatment and management of ailments are hinged.

Looking at the current pandemic caused by the corona virus, from the perspective of the African traditional medicine practitioner we can classify the ailment caused by it as Mura mai Mashako [an exact Medical name might not come easy as this embodies the whole course of the ailment – from what is seen as a common cold to acute pneumonia.]

Mura is generally anything from a mild cold with runny nose to some serious upper respiratory ailment like bronchitis and pneumonia, depending on the suffix attached to it.

In so much as the world has maintained the use Covid-19 and not named an ailment, is in its self Zafi and a cause of the fear and panic around this pandemic.

This is a summary to bring to fore the possibilities in treating this and other ailments we are plagued with.

Sababi (Cause)

From what we have been told and reports of the manifestation of the ailment and symptoms, we see the cause as Zafi Mai Danshi (Heat with Dampness or Damp Heat)

Gabban farko da ya shafa [parts of the body first affected]

Hanchi da Makogaro (Nose [Sinuses] and Throat), these have a temperament of Sanyi mai Danshi (Cold with Dampness).

This explains why the causative pathogen incubates for a period of time until the heat level changes to Zafi kenkeshesshe (Heat with Dryness, Hot Dry or Dry Heat). As the pathogen approaches this state, it causes discomforts which could include itching, swelling and pain in the sinus and throat area.

At this point, the pathogen having become Zafi Kenkeshesshe (Dry Heat) is set to cause relatively serious damage to the lungs and digestive tract which are both cold and damp in temperament, this explains why all of a sudden, the host becomes very sick.

Gabbobin da zai sake shafa (secondary organs it will affect)

Here, we are dealing with Mura mai Masahko and Basir Syndrome (a combination of upper respiratory tract infections and unhealthy colon disease at the same time).

These preventive and Treatment protocols are based on The Temperamental Theory, The Understanding of the Body, Sickness and Medicine in the eyes of the African Traditional Medicine Practitioner, using whole plant, other material and actions for treatment and not based on Herbal medicine or active ingredients theory.

Kariya (Prevention)

Kara karfin garguwan jiki ta hanyan abunch da iyaiyan itache, improving the bodies immunity through food and fruits.

The herbs with appropriate temperament that are used in the treatment of Mura mai sababin zafi when used as tea or a decoction would help in the prevention and initial treatment of suspected cases.

Sirache (Steaming) with herbs that carry the correct temperament will also be of immense value to treatment and recovery.

Keeping warm and exposing self to the morning and evening sun, this helps in body immunity.

Magani (Treament)

This will depend on the stage of the ailment, as there has to be a temperamental balance of the herbs used to match the stage and organs most affected.

The herbs and their combination will depend on the stage and symptoms of the patient, this will also be varied to match the body type [Hawa’i, Turabi, Ma’i, Nari]

The general health history of the patient will be of importance here, with reference to some of the following.

Allergies, Hawan Jin [Hypertensive], Chiwon Sugar [Diabetic], Shawara [Hepatitis], Basir [unhealthy Colon], and more as these will inform the combination of herbs.

Traditional Medicine Practitioners [TMPs] using the temperamental theory would use a wide variety of leaves, tree barks and roots in single or multiple herb combinations to achieve the same results.

This was the Chinese approach and method.  https://www.healthcmi.com/Acupuncture-Continuing-Education-News/2010-acupuncture-and-herbs-covid-19-coronavirus-findings

We are open to questions.

  • Walid S. Moukarim
  • BAIS, Higher Dip Hijama Therapy, Dip ATMP, Proficiency Certificate TCM
  • TMP, IPHM2305. MITBCCT 1234/1912/2401
  • @walidsmoukaim – facebook
  • @ShifahHolisticC – twitter
  • @shifahhhc1 – Instagram
  • Shifah Holistic Health Care – shifahhhc@gmail.com
  • Tel: +2348099331855
  • ©18-03-2020
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COVID-19 Lock Down And Home Stay, By Walid Moukarim

So here we are coming to terms with the realities on ground, that there are many aliments larger and more potent than this “Flu Like” ailment with the pathogen COVID-19 is not news, However COVID-19 has taken the day and brought the high and mighty to their knees.

So what can we do

What we should do is Objectively see this in all the possible lights, lenses and filters we can see through.

Holistic health calls for the treatment of Mind, Body and Soul to successfully manage and recover from any ailment.

For the mind and soul, we have our user manuals equipped with maintenance, trouble shooting and repair guides; The Quran, The Hadith, The Bible and a host of other religious books.

Unfortunately these guides have been greatly discarded and used minimally, there is an Urgent need to visit these manuals that we may operate at our prime.

As for the relationship between the mind, body and soul, we will look at it another day, for now it will surface to say there is nothing but falsehood after the truth, more so “wanda bai ji bari zai a ji woho” (Hausa proverb)

Now that we have our kids home, with limited socializing and interactions, it is time for us to look inward to making the best of a bad situation in anticipation of brighter days to come.

First build our body’s immunity

Eat right and smart, greens, fruits and traditionally known healthy foods.

Eating right and smart means looking at the functionality of foods first before we look at ease of preparation.

I would recommend soups like Okazi, Ugu, Kuka, Miyan Zogale, Miyan Karkashi, soups using Bitter leaf, Sweet Potato leaf and so on, these should go with the likes of tuwon Dawa, Tuwon Gero, Pounded Yam, and so on. Tailor to your locality.

If you are a rice person then add salads to your meals, your salads should have greens of choice [lettuce, cress, parsley, Mint (na’na), celery, ++] and be generous with onions and tomato

Encourage your children to eat steamed Spinach [Alaifo]

Spice your tea or other beverages with Cloves, Masora (black peper), Ginger, Fennel, Coriander, bay leaf, Sage, others of choice, you can use

Secondly

Maintain good hygiene, keep hands clean, cover your mouth them in combination.

when you yawn (use back of right hand, back of left hand or in of right hand, Never use in of left hand).

Shield your nose when you sneeze, Do Not try to stop your sneeze the result could be lethal. 

Avoid body contact unless necessary.

Thirdly

Quality time, you have been availed that time you never had to now spend with your wife, your wives, your husband and your kids, use it wisely!

Play with your kids, rekindle with your spouse, do homework, cook together, build closeness, rest your phones and pray together.

THIS IS NOT A SCORE SETTING TIME, IT IS A LET’S MAKE IT BETTER TIME

Fourthly

Reach out to help the needy, this might just be our last chance, while we are limited in movement we should not limit our kindness and generosity.

Lastly

Some General Preparations for Prevention and Treatment of Suspected Cases. These are tailored to work based on the temperamental theory as understood by the Traditional African Medicine Practitioner

Sirache

  1. Ganyen Tulare (Eucalyptus leaf)
  2. Tyme and Lemon Grass

Kurkura (Gargle)

  1. Decoction made from Na’na (Mint Leaf)
  2. Decoction made from Ganyen Tulare
  3. Decoction made from Ginger and Cloves

Sha

  1. Kurkur (Tumeric), Chitta (Ginger), Tafranuwa (Garlic), Albasa (Onion) make smooth paste add honey and doses 2 tablespoon per adult and 1 per child 12 years and below. Mix ratio 1/2:1:2:1
  2. Rosemary, Mint, Fannel make decoction mix ratio 25 leaves: Hand full: 2 tea spoon to 50cl of water bring to boil, simmer for 3 mins, cool and drink 25cl x 2 daily, 12.5cl for under 12
  3. Black Seed, Olive leaves make decoction, mix ratio 2 teaspoon: 15 leaves to 50cl of water, bring to boil, let simmer for 5 mins, cool and drink, 25cl x 2 daily for adults, 12.5cl for under 12

THESE DOSES MAY VARY WITH ACUTENESS OF AILMENT and BODY TYPE

These will treat a variety of respiratory tract ailments.

Traditional Medicine Practitioners [TMPs] using the temperamental theory would use a wide variety of leaves, tree barks and roots in single or multiple herb combinations to achieve the same results.

Always Consult!

  • Walid S. Moukarim
  • BAIS, Higher Dip Hijama Therapy  Dip ATMP, Proficiency Certificate TCM
  • TMP, IPHM2305. MITBCCT 1234/1912/2401
  • @walidsmoukaim – facebook
  • @ShifahHolisticC – twitter
  • Shifah Holistic Health Care – shifahhhc@gmail.com
  • Tel: +2348099331855
  • ©22-03-2020
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When Aradu Came Passing By, Walid Moukarim

What if this is it, the last few days of life on earth?

Who would you give all that stashed wealth to, when everyone is seeking Allah and running away from the worldly possessions?

Are you trying to make that last deal, that last catch, that last do or are you reflecting on your life, your relationship with Allah, your missed prayers, missed fasts, the times you willingly and willfully caused pain to others?

Are you looking to make peace with all you have crossed and seek peace with Allah or you believe this is not for you and you are above it?

We have been told so many times be good, be kind and be generous, do not steal, do not this and do not that but we turned a deaf ear.

So what if it is that Allah is angry with us and in His mercy has sent this as a warning to bring us back to HIS Commandments?

What if this is an answer to all prayers of the oppressed that have sort for the oppressors be brought to book?

And yes, we are all guilty by omission and commission for all the transgressions.

We have outdone Sodom and Gomora, we have made lawful all Allah has made unlawful for us.

We live a life devoid of Allah, from cults that thrive on the blood of babies to homosexuals with arrogance, from wife swappers to fornicators tagged commercial sex workers.

We call the name of the Lord in vain, lie and do not keep trust when given to us, we oppress and cause pain to those we should be kind to.

We refused to listen and now the Laws of Allah are being forced on us, and yes, no one is calling it Islamization.

No more  parties, Owambe or otherwise, we now follow ques and don’t cramp close, we give distance, we cover our mouths when you yawn or cough, we shield our nose when you sneeze, when we are sick we self-quarantine, we do not visit the prayer areas when we have a contagious disease and so much more.

We have these spelt out in the Hadith and Sharia, did we listen, did we act on it? No!

So we the mighty and powerful, the assumed alfa and omega have to come to terms that we are nothing and have no significant value in the scheme of things.

We who have left our people with very poorly equipped hospitals are now confined to those hospitals.

We who will only travel by air are now limited to the roads we forgot to fix.

As for schools and our educational system it is sad that those who benefitted from a top class public education system failed themselves and the country.

Scandal after scandal we have been living with no one bold enough to take corrective steps without being vindictive or biased.

Now just one little virus far smaller than the mosquito that causes us what we thought was discomfort has gotten the whole world in a state of “la hauwla wa la quwata” [there is no GOD but Allah].

Of the many things that Allah could shake us with, No tsunami, No Asteroid, Not even nuclear war our large headed leaders have so often threatened us with, Allah just sent one out of many viruses and a tiny little one at that.

One tiny little virus has Everyone in confusion.

I pray that the dead find peace and that those responsible for the failures of the systems that should have prevented this find it in themselves to seek forgiveness from Allah.

I pray this becomes a unifying point, not only for us Nigerians but the world in general. That we stop preaching hate in any form, that we seek each other’s forgiveness and turn a new leaf.

I pray we learn and understand that like Kidnappers, Armed and Pen Robbers, COVID-19 is not bothered if you are Hausa, Yoruba or Ibo, Herdsman or Red Neck, Young or Old, Rich or Poor.

I pray we all survive this and live to tell the story of when Aradu came passing by, living a Godly life, doing what is right before Allah and forbidding that which is wrong.

If we don’t make it, then I pray we exit in a state of high Iman, in a state of repentance and helping our neighbors, the poor and needy.

Walid Shawkey Moukarim

@wsm4you  – twitter

@walidsmoukaim – facebook

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Nasir El-Rufai At 60: On The Mission To Fully Restore Kaduna’s Glory, By Olalekan Paul

The bravery to imagine and the will to get things done has been the motivating force behind Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, the Executive Governor of Kaduna State. No wonder we can see his giant strides in infrastructure, health, security, economy, education, and human development.

On May 29, 2015, El-Rufai was sworn in as the 22nd governor of Kaduna State, since then, he has been the centrepiece that connects governance with the people first by announcing a pay cut and donating 50 percent of his salary and allowance in a time of austerity which was witnessed by all.

Conscious of his campaign promises to the good people of Kaduna State, Governor El-Rufai has persistently pushed barriers and ushered in well-articulated economic and programmes geared towards setting the state on the path of development.  This include working with team of young and vibrant committed people to put necessary structures in place and implement policies necessary for the smooth running of governmental operations which in turn benefit lives and consolidate on the atmosphere for economic development generally.

The sustainable impact of El-Rufai polices can be largely seen in the following sectors:

INFRASTRUCTURE

Infrastructure is the backbone upon which every economy thrives as it creates the environment needed for the economic activities to bloom. Early in his administration, Governor El-Rufai contracted Bain and Company to review all inherited and ongoing capital projects in the state with a view to developing a prioritization mechanism for future ventures. Among its truly shocking findings was the fact that N87.5 billion existed in outstanding contractual obligations. To set things right, Governor El-Rufai embarked on an urbanization agenda by committing N108 billion of its 2016 budget to capital expenditure and in 2017, committed another N130 billion into infrastructure. Contractors have now returned to abandoned sites and delivered on many road projects in the state.

In its apt response to traffic gridlock in the State capital, the administration of El-Rufai implemented measures which include dualization of strategic roads, repairs to dilapidated roads and the introduction of a bus rapid transport (BRT). The BRT now has an exclusive lane such that it can operate even at times when traffic is the most congested.

Of recent is the commissioning of Sokoto Road which left many marvelled with the beautiful design and easy accessibility. More so, on Friday February 14, the state government launched a thirty-two year infrastructure development plan in its relentless efforts to make the state business friendly, and an investment hub for investors.

HEALTH

Upon assumption of office, Governor El-Rufai has upgraded 255 primary health centres, 23 rural hospitals, and various general hospitals with support from Dangote, alongside Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The state government has also strengthened the public healthcare system by recruiting more than 500 midwives to improve its institutional capacity as well as ensure safer pregnancies and reduce maternal mortality. Dialysis continues to be subsidised for the benefit of citizens dealing with renal challenges. Routine immunisation of infants remains ongoing, ante-natal and post-natal treatment for pregnant women and children below five years of age is free in public hospitals.

SECURITY

Nasir El-Rufai is not relenting in his commitment to protect lives and properties of the citizens of Kaduna State. In 2019, the state government doled out 85 vehicles to security agencies in the state as part of measures to tackle rising cases of banditry and kidnappings. The state government has also acquired and put at the disposal of the security agencies, a technology that can assist the state to fight against insecurity. Accordingly, is the establishment of the Ministry of Internal Security and Home Affairs to focus and coordinate the state’s efforts and cooperate with the security agencies. Peace has returned to all troubled areas while residents and visitors are now conducting their businesses in a safe and calm environment.

EDUCATION

Remarkably, Governor El-Rufai’s administration is keen on providing education for everyone especially the girl-child. In his first term, he announced free, compulsory universal basic education for every child in the state. The State Government in its pursuit to see that every child gets basic education and tackle truancy, launched “Edu-Marshalls” to arrest and forcefully take any Child found on the street Hawking during School hour.

The state government also tighten its policy on education by redeploying school teachers to rural areas and supported them with incentives. This has clearly improved the quality of learning across the state.

The El-Rufai administration, in its 2020 Budget, committed N42 billion to education. The state government has embarked on several interventions which includes investments in improving infrastructures, improving quality of the teachers. So far, the state government has recruited 25, 000 qualified teachers and renovated about 700 schools. These renovations are complete with the provision of solar-powered bore holes and cubicle toilet blocks. The aim is to expand class sizes to the extent that they cater for school enrollment rates which have soared from about 1 million pupils in 2015 to over 1.8 million currently.

Plans are also ongoing to move Kaduna State University from the current site to its permanent site along Zaria road; the ongoing construction of six science secondary schools is almost completed, with the transforming of 16 secondary schools into boarding schools.

TRANSPORTATION

In transportation, visible infrastructure abound in this critical area such as roads and bridges, including ongoing and completed projects as well as ongoing construction of modern bus stops in the state capital and many other communities.

ECONOMY

As at 2014, most industries in Kaduna State had closed shop; a state of nine million people was now referred to as a ‘civil service state’ and became a mockery of its own.

However, that has changed!

The administration of ElRufai has brought about a turn-around in the economic activities of the state. Business activities have now returned to the city of Kaduna and other major towns. Coming in from Abuja, one can’t help but notice the large Olam Poultry and Feed Mill, a 350-million dollar investment – the largest in Sub-Saharan Africa located in Chikun Local Government Area. Olam’s neighborhood has also just been announced as the home of the new Dangote Peugeot plant.

Going through Kakuri, one will also be confronted by the new 200 million dollars Mahindra Tractor Assembly Plant with a capacity of 3,000 tractors per year.

The administration of El-Rufai is also positively impacting the lives of farmers in the state. The State, in collaboration with the World Bank, has trained over 10,000 farmers on boosting agricultural production.

Across the street from Mahindra is Blue Camel Energy, a renewable energy production plant and training academy. More importantly is KADSTEP, a state-sponsored entrepreneurship programme run by Kaduna Business School, had graduated over 3,000 young businessmen and women hungry for opportunities.

The administration of El-Rufai is also positively impacting the lives of farmers in the state. The State, in collaboration with the World Bank, has trained over 10,000 farmers on boosting agricultural production.

In partnership with the World Bank, Kaduna State would soon launch, ‘Click-On-Kaduna’ – a digital jobs platform with ambition of creating Nigeria’s Silicon Valley.

With the above highlight on El-Rufai’s achievements, it can be boldly said that Governor El-Rufai value system is enshrined in human capital development. This is a man who has shown exemplary leadership and not on gender or ethnicity. With this belief, he is walking the talk on his campaign promises. Governor El-Rufai is about empowering the right people to deliver and make things happen in their respective offices.

Governor El-Rufai is setting the pace in the definition of true leadership by establishing policies that are masses oriented and beneficial to the general public. When the shoves come to push, El-Rufai, I can say is a hardworking and committed political leader.

Happy 60th Birthday Malam!

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Two Takeaways From Nami’s ATAF Speech, By Muhammad Gulani

Muhammad Nami, a well-trained Tax, Accounting and Management professional with three decades of practical working experience in Auditing and Tax Management was appointed months ago to head Nigeria’s tax collection unit: The Federal Inland Revenue Service.

Mr. Nami’s vast experience brought him onboard working with the Presidential Committee on Audit of Recovered Stolen Assets in November, 2017 as inaugurated by President Muhammadu Buhari.

Here are Two Takeaways from his speech today where he spoke on the theme: “The Taxation of the Informal Sector in Africa” during the 9th African Tax Administration Forum (ATAF) Country Correspondents Conference:

1 – That while the Informal sector is driving about 21 to 70 percent of the GDP of African countries and also accounts for between 30 to 90 percent of employment in the region, it is one of the most difficult sectors to tax.

“… the sector remains one of the most difficult sectors to tax, with most of the businesses operating in the sector concealing their activities from the Tax Authorities. Such businesses also operate on a cash basis and maintain poor or no accounting records. Most of the businesses in the sector are also small and fragmented making it inefficient for the revenue administrations to enforce compliance. “

2 – That while it is not politically popular to tax the informal sector, this must be done if Africa is to reduce its budget deficit

“Taxing the informal sector is viewed as politically unpopular and politicians are unwilling to risk losing the high number of votes represented in the sector. This is because politicians usually promise informal workers protection from taxation in exchange for their votes…If Africa is to reduce its budget deficits and increase revenue mobilization, it must widen its tax base and the informal sector provides an opportunity to do so”

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Cleaning the Augean stable at FIRS, By Kayode Rahman Ogunlana

In the recent change of leadership at the Federal Inland Revenue Service, FIRS,  the present and the more rational question that should occupy our minds in the aftermath of Babatunde Fowler’s exit is, the antecedents and thereby, the capacity of Malam Muhammadu M. Nami, the Executive Chairman to deliver on the job. In other words, is President Buhari putting a square peg in a square hole in picking Malam Muhammadu Nami from among the horde that jostled and lobbied for the coveted office? From a cursory look at his curricular vitae and what transpired as he resumed recently, the picture depicted is that of a man eminently capable.

Born in April 1968, Muhamnad Nami is clearly coming on the job with much more than the vivacity, energy and drive required to cope with the rigors of the tasks of his new assignment. With a childhood rooted and wrought in the agrarian village of Nami in Agaie local government area of Niger state,  it tells much  of his innate sturdy and Spartan character traits of intelligence, perseverance, determination and vision to have gone the mileage to the point that he was found suitable for his latest  appointment. He is widely reckoned with as a renowned, thoroughbred consultant in matters of auditing and taxation.

While announcing his appointment, the Presidential Spokesman, Garba Shehu crisply  encapsulated Muhammad Nami as a man with highly rated qualifications and licenses from reputable professional bodies with, “practical work experience in auditing, tax management and advisory management services to clients in the banking, manufacturing and services in the private and public sectors as well as nonprofit organisations.” By virtue of his educational qualifications and professional practice, Muhammad Nami is today, either a fellow or a member of several professional bodies. For instance, he is a Fellow of the prestigious Chartered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria, CITN; the Chartered Institute of Forensic and Investigation Professionals of Nigeria, CIFIPN and, the Institute of Debt Recovery Practitioners of Nigeria, DRPN. He is as well, an Associate Member of the Nigeria Institute of Management and the Association of National Accountants of Nigeria, ANAN.

Beginning from 1993 when he  embarked on his chosen career in taxation and auditing as a trainee, Muhammad Nami has largely worked in the private sector, progressively as an employee, a partner in joint ventures, CEO of his own firms and as a consultant to individuals, corporate entities,  nongovernmental, local and international organizations as well as government Ministries and several public sector departments and  agencies.

In obvious recognition of his towering professional stature and reputation as a diligent Auditor of impeccable moral rectitude, the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari appointed him between 2017 and 2018, to serve as a member of the adhoc Presidential Committee on Audit of Recoveries made by government Agencies pursuant to the anti corruption campaign. Among others, the committee was mandated to carry out an audit of all recoveries made by the MDAs, provide a data base and inventory for all recoveries; establish a viable template or, an enduring framework to make for accountability in respect of future recoveries. The nearest that he came to formally working in the public sector,  Nami was said to have made very critical contributions to  the success of the presidential committee’s assignment.  His outstanding performance in that one year stint may have further highlighted the latent and untapped capacity of the self effacing professional and, as it has turned out, recommending him for the latest national assignment.

As it is, Mohammed  Nami is coming on the saddle at the FIRS at a time that the agency is, practically, in the eye of the storm. There is for instance, the widespread allegations of gross acts of financial improprieties by members of its previous management with  the attendant negative public perception of the place as a cesspool of heist.  This may of course appear as the least of the tasks at hand, but it is yet one that must be given urgent  and particular attention. It may well turn out that he will have to first and foremost begin his assignment at the FIRS by engaging in the odious task of cleansing the Augean stable.

The recent changes at the nation’s foremost tax collection institution and which resulted in the appointment of Nami arose from its ever declining quantum of revenue generation to the national coffers. At a time the government embarked on a vicarious, spirited and frenzied policy of diversification of its sources of revenue away from oil, much is understandably expected from the FIRS. Unfortunately, the revenue generation through the Agency has been cascading downward, consistently failing to deliver on set targets in recent years.

The displeasure of the government was manifested in the query issued Mr.Fowler in April this year by the President’s Chief of Staff and of course non-renewal of his tenure.

In the light of the above, the salient but pertinent ingredient in the mandate being given to  Muhammad Nami is that he is expected to turn the fortunes of FIRS around by urgently reinvigorating its revenue generating profile. With an unprecedented federal budget of N10.59 trillion Naira and an ambitious policy of funding it substantially from revenues generated from non oil revenue sources, which translates in other words,  into increased taxation,  the assignment of  Nami cannot be regarded as a tea party.

Various prognoses, remedial measures and suggestions have been advanced for enhancing revenue generation. There has been for example, the view that the country needs to enthrone a more robust regime of taxation based on the fact that a great number of taxable individuals and corporate citizens are currently either being under taxed or, are completely outside the tax net. Those with this view, go on comparative peer group analyses of taxation in Nigeria and other countries in Africa often with the conclusion that we have a very lax, or liberal tax administration.

We can therefore foresee the Federal Inland  Revenue Service under Muhammad Nami having to engage in the expansion of the tax net. A logical, sensible and inevitable panacea in the superior and long-term social and economic wellbeing of the country as it has been argued by exponents of such a paradigm shift, there is yet on the other hand, the strong imperative of taking cognizance of counter opinions. This, in a nutshell is the demand that caution should be exercised to guard against increased taxation giving rise to increased pauperization of the mass of citizens. Related, is the opinion that an unbridled taxation drive has the potential of scarring away prospective investors and of crippling existing industries, ventures and services.

As he steps into his new station, Muhammad Nami is being challenged to unleash the entire gamut of his experience, expertise and management skills. Unlike the usual trend in such high profile appointments, Nami is not known to be coming either on the crest of partisan political considerations and interest groups or, under the wings of a god father. He is expected therefore, to go about his assignment as a thoroughbred professional without the inhibitions and digressions of extraneous forces and interests. History beckons on Muhammad Nami, the otherwise village boy from Nami.

Kayode Rahman Ogunlana is a Lagos based public affairs analyst.

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The Successful Onboarding Of Over 2.5 Million Petty Traders On The Trader Moni Scheme: The Untold Story Of Data, By Ifeayolu Nnaedozie

By making financial services open at moderate expenses to all people and organizations, regardless of total assets and size, financial inclusion aims to deliver answers for the requirements that exclude individuals from participating in the financial sector. You would concur that nations with more profound degrees of financial inclusion have more grounded GDP development rates and lower-income disparity.

According to the EFINA report, Access to Financial Services survey findings released, revealed that 36.8% of the adult population in the country is financially excluded. According to regulators and other key players in the economy, the survey also showed that Nigeria has a chance to achieve the 20% exclusion rate target for adults by 2020. This translates to a population of 36.6 million adult Nigerians who are excluded, with 44.1% male and 55.9% female.

Also, Nigeria had a total adult population of 99.6 million, with 39.8% as the banked population which translates to 39.7 million. The unbanked population is 60.1 million with 71.3% of mobile phone users that are adults among the excluded. From the analysis, 63.3% of the population is financially served with 38.7% in the banked category (39.5 million). This suggests in outright terms, that Nigeria still has a huge unbanked populace, hence the CBN financial inclusion goals.

The patterns and behaviors poor households’ exhibit around financial management sheds light on the complex financial lives they lead to survive on variable low incomes. While the federal government and CBN are focused on access to credit, poor and marginalized groups require access to a full range of financial services to effectively manage their economic lives. Financial inclusion growth tools in a diverse country like Nigeria in recent times must hence be identified as a spectrum of progress, to encapsulate the different dimensions of the populations they have serviced.

THE TRADER MONI PROGRAM
Armed with the knowledge that millions of Nigerians, at the base of the economic pyramid lacked access to credit facilities in 2016, the Federal Government initiated the Government Enterprise and Empowerment Program (GEEP). Also, in the quest to support the 20 million petty traders in Nigeria who are in dire need of capital to expand but are unable to access loans to trade, the government introduced TraderMoni, one of three microcredit products of GEEP.

The TraderMoni scheme is a collateral-free loan program which allows petty traders the opportunity to access an initial capital of N10,000 which upon successful repayment, grows into an interest-free credit up to the sum of N300000.

According to Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, at the 23rd Convocation Ceremony of the Lagos State University, LASU – “A greater challenge was when we started our TraderMoni microcredit loans to reach two million petty traders across the country. We didn’t look beyond young Nigerian innovators. He added that the first challenge was on how to enumerate two million petty traders; we got two Nigerian technology based companies MobileForms and Generating Demand Management Group (GDM). MobileForms was founded barely three years ago by two young Nigerian graduates, Damilola Ayorinde and Oluwatomi Ayorinde.

The company has created a platform that enables businesses and governments to crowdsource data from across the African Continent. These young Nigerian entrepreneurs delivered the largest Social Investment Programs of their kind in Africa faultlessly.” The primary problem was the accessibility to the petty traders by way of properly documenting their biodata being that the petty traders had limited education, hence there was not enough information about them or financial history.

With the MobileForms application, an electronic form application that functions on a smartphone or tablet device, which enables users to collect data using mobile devices, CrowdForce enabled the creation of digital identities to over 2 million petty traders across Nigeria under the federal government’s TraderMoni project by employing over 100,000 agents in all 774 local governments in Nigeria to carry out its market research activities.

On the TraderMoni project, CrowdForce facilitated services like digital lending, loan disbursement, and recovery. Mobile Forms was developed by a team of engineers at CrowdForce with a very simple goal; to empower youths, retailers and business owners with opportunities to make extra income to improve their lives. Youths are empowered to work as agents in enumerating retailers who become beneficiaries of government and NGO initiatives like TraderMoni. Business owners are armed with the data to test the market by way of researching product-market fit, the purchasing power of the target market and so on.

According to Uzoma Nwagba, the Chief Operating Officer of GEEP, the operation of the program does not mirror its target demographics. He stressed that “the more illiterate or unsophisticated our beneficiaries are, the more sophisticated our operation has to be. All the complexity must be absorbed by us and taken out of the trader’s experience. We have a highly technology-driven program.” Agents who use the Mobile Forms initiative on the field confess that it makes it easier for them to seamlessly register, gather information and on-board the TraderMoni beneficiaries.”


“MobileForms, thank you for the payment today… for me, the traders’ payment is much more important to me because that’s why I did the enumeration for them. I want them to benefit like the previous social investment programs,” Emmanuel Oluwafemi?, an agent with CrowdForce, said.

This was affirmed by Coleman Damilola?, another agent on the CrowdForce platform who had been out of a job for a couple of months, his joy was evident as he declared “special thanks to Mobile Forms Limited, a job of one month earned me an N135100 salary.”

Although massive strides have been taken in the race for financial inclusion, there remains more to be done. For example, during the TraderMoni enumeration scheme, data on 2.5 million traders were captured and only a minuscule 16,000 had functional Bank Verification Numbers (an 11-digit number that uniquely identifies every customer across the Nigeria Banking industry using biometric details).

The Central Bank of Nigeria has a financial inclusion strategy that targets above 500,000 financial access points as well as a financial exclusion rate 0f 20% in Nigeria by 2020. Currently, many financial servicing companies are serving this market and Crowdforce is not left out as they also have a solution for this, called Payforce.

MOBILE MONEY
The lack of access to formal banking in the mass market in Africa has opened the door for technology driven companies to build successful mobile payment services. Capitalizing on the phenomenal number of agents under Crowdforce, the company developed Payforce to actively deploy mobile banking services to tap the demand from the large unbanked population in Nigeria. There is strong evidence that their services have improved access to formal financial services in Nigeria. Crowdforce’s PayForce Agent Network helps banks and Fintech start-ups with the right network to scale, render digital services and capture digital identities via local merchant stores. It enables people to digitally send and receive money, and by creating simple financial access for the unbanked and the underserved population across Nigeria. Payforce has records of over N2billion daily transactions with 687active agents spread across Nigeria. As a CBN licensed Super-agent Company, Crowdforce aims to cover more places in Africa.

The importance of data goes way beyond decision-making and optimization. It goes as far as impacting the inclusivity and journey that Nigerian economy will take.

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E- Nigeria: And The Evolving Role of ICT in a Digital Economy, By Ayo Akanji

Going digital is no longer an option, it is the default – Natarajan Chandrasekaran

Over the last decades, the great diffusion of information and communication technology (ICT) has caused a dramatic transformation of the world into an information society. Thanks to ICT infrastructure such as fixed-line telephones, mobile phones, Internet, and broadband, people, firms, and governments now have much better access to information, knowledge, and wisdom than before in terms of scale, scope, and speed.

The Information and Communication Technology (ICT) industry in Nigeria is one that has not fully exploded, but has a tremendous potential to provide jobs for million of Nigerians and spur the economy.

However, the little gains it has recorded is evident. According to a report by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) stated that in Q2 of 2019, ICT contributed an impressive 13.85% to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) from the 11.22% contribution it made in Q2 2018.

It is important to note that, the recent introduction of the Nigerian E-government Masterplan will further consolidate on the successes and increase interoperability among the different Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDA) of government and with a mandate to develop and implement a harmonized and well-coordinated digital economy policy and strategy for Nigeria.

The Director General of NITDA, Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi, who understand the role of ICT in the economy opined that. “The economy is driven by Data and Information. Therefore to survive in this disruptive world, you need to provide developmental regulations” Excitingly this regulatory instrument is the Nigerian Data Protection Regulations (NDPR).

An urgent need for synergy between relevant stakeholders and the provision of a platform where ICT problems and solutions will be offered.

This is what eNigeria, an annual summit by (NITDA) offers. In collaboration with key players in the ICT industry, the platform provides the requisite awareness in ICT sector, creation and implementation of the necessary framework and goals that will boost the country’s position in the global information society.

Conversely, Mr President in his open remarks on the strategic importance of ICT, notated that “Globally, the Digital Economy is expanding at a very fast pace. In just a few years, this platform has transitioned from being a luxury to an absolute necessity”. President Buhari disclosed that FG had saved over N16.8 billion through the activation of key digital assets – which strengthens the fight against corruption.

The theme for this year summit was “Achieving National Digital Economy” and for Nigeria to fully benefit from the cybersphere we need to strengthen our digital laws and protect critical digital infrastructural assets. It is reported that financial services, government agencies operational in Nigeria lost about $800 million in 2018 to cyber crime in a report conducted by the foremost Africa CyberSecurity report.

The report indicated that the country lost $649m to cyber-attacks in 2017, representing a 23% increase in cost, Nigeria has one of the highest levels of cybercrime in Africa and in the world, this indeed is alarming.

Every year, the summit takes on, with the support strategic partners like Oracle, MainOne Services, CyberDome, to mention a few brands. Strategic issues with the general aim of bettering the overall cyber experience of the average Nigerian and digital assets should be the crux of the partnership.

CyberDome is a cyber security company in Abuja with branches in the US and Isreal. It offers cyber security services like analysis, critical infrastructures, defense mechanisms, and other cyber solutions, to their various clienteles which cuts across government agencies and the private sector. Clients are offered platforms to easily spot out and respond quickly and effectively to cyber-attacks and data breaches. It maintains a database of threat intelligence from all over the world and the real-time discovery of cyber-attacks, this brand is leader in this field.

Some of the services Cyberdom offers which are in line with NITDA’s mandate includes; penetration testing, network access control, anti-phishing, anti-ddos, risk assessments, governance risk and compliance, digital forensics, next generation firewalls, web application firewalls, vulnerability management, cloud security, endpoint security, user behavior analytics and the provision of capacity building services to clients on cyber related issues and customizes these trainings to the client’s needs.

It is constantly adding Artificial Intelligence (AI) innovations to it’s working structure. It’s topnotch Managed Security Services Provider (MSSP), is the only facility in the country that offers a two-fold 247/365 security monitoring, advanced services on the prevention of data breaches, and a full service portfolio for all cyber security risks.

CyberDome emphasizes on the importance of collaboration in cybersecurity, as the best way of mitigating further attacks in line with NITDA directives and other industry eggheads. Collaborations thusly will be instrumental in lowering the levels of cybercrime in Nigeria. It will do a lot in reducing the number of unresolved cyber security incidences in the country.

Moreover, CyberDome is pushing for the emergence of a robust cyber policy laws for the Nigerian cyberspace. Awareness is an important part of cybersecurity, CyberDome’s Academy offers awareness trainings to workers at an organization to enable them come to full grasp with cyber policies and world best practices.

The Honourable Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Ali Pantami constantly emphasises on the importance of local contents in Nigeria’s cyberspace. CyberDome ticks that box effectively.

Furthermore, the clamour to diversify the country’s economy continues to hit new heights every day. ICT can provide a solid alternative to oil, making Nigeria a global player in the digital economy.

This can only happen when all stakeholders like NITDA, NCC, GalaxyBackbone, CSO’s and strategic partners like CyberDome collaborates.

Ayo Akanji is a businessman and cyber security enthusiast, he writes from Abuja.

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Dauda Lawal And The Philosophy of Service In Politics, By Ayo Akanji

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” – John Quincy Adams

It was on a Wednesday evening, I was reminiscing on the outcome of the political intrigues in Zamfara State, on how the All Progressives Congress (APC) lost the chance of forming the government at the state, the failure was hinged on the schemings among the APC aspirants in the gubernatorial elections which enabled the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) secure victory without firing a shot – through the court pronouncement. I wanted to have a chat with Dr Dauda, who incidentally like me, graduated from the prestigious Ahmadu Bello University (ABU). I reached out to Femi, his responsive aide for a chance of having an appointment with him, wanted to use the opportunity to discuss politics in his state and other topical national issues in the country.

I was glad when the aide informed me of a time for the rendezvous with Dr Dauda, who I call the financial Mozart, walked into his office and met him waiting for me with a steamy cup of tea in his hand, the atmosphere around him could be aptly described as serene, and reassuring, alongside his radiant mien.

Most notably, Dr Lawal Dauda, is the former Executive Director, Public Sector, North of First Bank Plc. Born to a humble family in Gusau, Dauda obtained a degree in Political Science from Ahamdu Bello University, Zaria in 1987. He bagged an M.sc in 1992 from the same ivy league. He completed the academic cycle by obtaining an honorary PhD in Public Administration from Usman Danfodiyo University, Sokoto.

Always daring for more, he transversed various continents, honing his business skills in some of the world’s prestigious learning centers like Havard Business School, Boston, London School of Economics, London Business School, Wharton Business School, Pennsylvania, Lagos Business School among others.

He is a fellow of a number of reputable professional bodies like Institute of Credit Administration of Nigeria and the Civilian Institute of Democratic Administration of Ghana, African Business Roundtable, to mention a few.

Starting out as a Political Education Officer with the defunct Mass Mobilization for Self Reliance Social Justice and Econimic Recovery MAMSER, a policy of political orientation in Nigeria implemented by the Babaginda regime in 1987. MAMSER was eventually renamed National Orientation Agency with a huge presence spanning across all 774 local governments in Nigeria.

Dauda moved on to Westex Nigeria Limited where he worked as the AGM. His career path took him to the Nigerian Embassy in Washington DC and he became part of the team which reorganized the consular unit for Nigerians to have confidence in sending their passport for visa processing, he rose to the position of chief protocol officer before retiring for a more daunting task.

Looking for something challenging he decided to return to Nigeria and had various offers; either to work with the Port authority or the banking sector, he choose the latter, a tough terrain but with sheer determination he understood the pathway of the banking sector with training here and there, growing from a manger to the exalted position of Executive Director.

When I asked him why he joined the Governorship race – he quipped “I got into politics trying to reform Zamfara state, I contested to try and change the economic fortunes of the state. It was my first time joining politics, I’m happy that even though I did not win, my campaign was able to raise the bar in the political history of the state”. He always wanted something challenging, in an opinion poll conducted online, he resonated more with the youth than other aspirants.

As valuable as it, Dauda is a man who has over years, maintained the relationship he has with his people in Zamfara. He is a philanthropist through and through, his continuous work of philanthropy has placed him above his peers, signifying his ability to help his people and the willingness to do more with a larger platform.

He built hostels at the School of Health Technology, Tsafe. He dualised a road at the Federal University Gusau and built classrooms for School of Nursing in Tsafe. He has instituted a number of schemes that benefited SME’s. His commitment to a better learning environment for students spurred him into donating lecture halls to his former department in ABU.

One thing about Dauda is his passion to serve the people made him contest the governorship post in Zamfara state. He did not scale the last hurdle but that has not stopped him from service to humanity. For Dauda, acts of philanthropy are not seasonal. To be human is to feel the pains of other humans. This sentience has guided him throughout his life.

Conversely, debating on national issues we delved into the border closure, code-named ‘Exercise Swift Response’, through which Nigeria Customs Service generates N8billion daily.

He seems to align with the border closure by the Federal Government, noting that Nigeria is a dominate player in the African economy and our population serves as a comparative advantage – he interjects that “Benin Republic accounts for 40% of cars coming into Nigeria”. On rice, he spoke of governments incentives for our local farmers through the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN Anchors Borrowers Programme, a formidable polices of government ensuring food security.

On revenue generation, he believes there are so many avenues to generate revenue, from traffic rules in big cities such as Abuja, Lagos, to vehicle registrations and simultaneously licenses given, can also be used to generate funds, and combat insecurity.

He’s of the opinion that the private sectors need to come in managing the roads and applauded the re-introduction of electronic toll gates in the country as extra form of generating revenue and maintaining our roads, stakeholders need to compliment governments efforts to build strong institutions for the benefit of the country.

Finally, passing the baton to the younger generation and those who look up to him as a role mode, he stated the three key habits towards success as; honesty, hard work and determination – in his words, “if you combine these you would make a career in anything you set out for”.

Ayobami Ismail Akanji is a public affairs analyst and writes from Abuja

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Is the Nigerian First Lady A Realist? By Farida Akanji

?Realism is described as a systematic mode of thought with distinctive principles clearly opposed to every form of subjectivism and idealism (John Wild: 1947). From the above assertion, a realist individual never believes in illusion or imagination as guiding principles. An individual who is a realist understands the source, the use and management of power. This knowledge of power guides his/her actions or reactions to issues.

?In another development, a realist is a truthful and objective individual who stands on a platform made of unshakable facts to act or react. Some of those unshakable facts are: no leadership lasts forever, no political party rules forever, no presidency lasts forever etcetera. A realist is therefore an individual who does things, having in mind the likely repercussion of actions or reactions. And those repercussions could either be positive or negative.

?The First Lady, Dr. Mrs. Aisha Buhari believes that support for the President should not be based on sentiment. Hence, she uses constructive means to express support for the President , Nevertheless such support is being misinterpreted in some quarters. However, she has remained determined and committedto the success of the present Administration. These are reflected in her efforts to continuously draw the attention of the stakeholders of this government to sensitive issues that need urgent attention in the interest of Nigerians in general.

It is also obvious that, the First Lady does not support the crusade tagged “My Husband must Rule”. She prefers leadership embedded in integrity. That is why she is always critical on issues of political leadership such as transparency, fairness, justice etcetera. No wonder she is always drawing the attention of the President to delicate issues.

Notable it is to mention that, she always expresses her mind with courage. Her honesty in promoting national interests to the best of her knowledge places her above those who clamour for regime interest only. For instance, in Africa and the world at large, most First Ladies grab the presidency as if it is a permanent position, whereas no condition is permanent.

Political ideology has not yet taken its rightful place in the Nigerian politics. The First Lady is one of the hardened advocates of political ideology in Nigeria which according to her, will enthrone discipline in promoting women in politics, party politics and national politics.

Mrs Buhari also demonstrates patience in the face of political challenges which is depicted in her formidable way of downplaying boiling issues, for example, she goes to the extent of apologising when the need arises.

It is important to reveal that the First Lady is mindful of the less privileged Nigerians and she is contributing her quota in addressing their challenges through her Future Assured project. Several less privileged Nigerians benefitted and are still benefitingfrom her empowerment programmes in all the geopolitical zones. Her capacity of discernment and her leadership posture point to her hope for the present Administration to have a soft landing at the end.  

This article is derived from a critical appraisal of her utterances, her cautious use of power, her commitment to fairness, justice and equity. Therefore, the First Lady Dr. Mrs. Aisha Buhari is a realist.

Farida Funmi Akanji.

Coordinator, Nigerian Youth Organisation for Good Governance

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Alwan Hassan: Why Buhari Is Nigeria’s Best President – Here’s A Look At His Achievements In Infrastructure

The greatness of the Muhammadu Buhari presidency is hinged on the sustainable impact of many of its policies, programs, and projects — many of which will be highlighted herein. Since coming to power in 2015, President Buhari has spearheaded several key policy interventions in every major sector of the Nigerian economy. This is why, with all these achievements, he has clearly secured his place as Nigeria’s best President so far.

The achievements that will define the legacy of Buhari are also the inconvenient truths that will unsettle those who place themselves above Nigeria’s interest. And this is why this compilation of facts is not an attempt at image laundering, but a verifiable record on his significant accomplishments in infrastructure, agriculture, economy, social welfare, industrialization and a legion of other interventions that combine to justify Buhari’s record as Nigeria’s best President.

Unarguably, one of the biggest achievements of the Buhari administration has been his administration’s unrivalled investment in infrastructure — a feat that has gained his government a competitive edge when compared with the previous democratic regimes that it has succeeded.

An x-ray of the infrastructural development facilitated by the Buhari-led Federal Government between 2015 and 2019 reveals the following:

INFRASTRUCTURE 

N2.7 trillion was spent on Infrastructure in 2016 and 2017 fiscal years, an unprecedented allocation in Nigeria’s recent history. Out of this figure, N1.219 trillion was released for capital expenditure in the 2016 budget, and N1.476 trillion so far in the 2017 budget — making for a total of N2.7 trillion (about US$9 billion) in two years. This investment has enabled the resumption of work on several stalled projects — road, rail and power projects — across the country.

ROADS

Through the N100 billion Sukuk Bond issued in 2017 by the Buhari Administration, 25 major road projects have been financed across the six geopolitical zones of Nigeria. It is also important to note that road projects are now going on across every state in the country. This is despite the fact that many of these projects had been abandoned by previous administrations because of the mounting debts owed by the Federal Government to contractors.

The Works Ministry, marshaled by Babatunde Fashola (SAN), since this administration came into office, has seen to the rehabilitation of the Lagos-Ibadan expressway; the Abuja-Kaduna-Kano expressway; and the Second Niger Bridge following the release of US$650 million from the Presidential Infrastructure Development Fund (PIDF) launched in 2018 by the Buhari government.

Additionally, under Executive Order 7 signed by President Buhari on January 1, 2019, to develop critical road infrastructure in the country, six companies will construct 19 federal roads that have been prioritized in 11 states across each of the six geo-political zones. Again, this project covers an impressive 794.4km.

The companies which include, Dangote Industries Limited; Lafarge Africa Plc; Unilever Nigeria Plc; Flour Mills of Nigeria Plc; Nigeria LNG Limited; and China Road and Bridge Corporation Nigeria Limited will invest in the following road projects:

The Construction of Ashaka-Bajoga Highway in Gombe State; the reconstruction of Dikwa-GambaruNgala Road in Borno State; the Reconstruction of Bama-Banki Road in Borno State; the rehabilitation of Sharada Road in Kano State; Rehabilitation of Benin City – Asaba Road in Edo State; and the rehabilitation of Nnamdi Azikiwe Expressway / Bypass, in Kaduna State.

Others are the reconstruction of Birnin Gwari Expressway – Road in Kaduna State; reconstruction of Birnin Gwari – Dansadau Road in Kaduna State; reconstruction of Makurdi-Yandev-Gboko Road in Benue State; reconstruction of Zone Roundabout-House of Assembly Road in Benue State; reconstruction of Obajana-Kabba Road in Kogi State; and the reconstruction of Ekuku-Idoma-Obehira Road in Kogi State.

Additionally, the companies will also construct the AdaviEba-Ikuehi-Obeiba-Obokore Road in Kogi State; rehabilitate the Lokoja-Ganaja Road in Kogi State; the Ofeme Community Road Network and Bridges in Abia State; the Obele-Ilaro-Papalanto-Shagamu Road in Ogun State; Bodo-Bonny Road & Bridges across Opobo Channel in Rivers State; and work on the reconstruction of Sokoto Road in Ogun State and the Apapa-Oshodi-Oworonshoki-Ojota Road in Lagos State.

RAIL

The Buhari Administration, through the Ministry of Transport headed by Rt. Hon Rotimi Amaechi has completed some rail projects and started others. This includes the Abuja-Kaduna line, which has been completed. Meanwhile, the tracks and the signalling have been completed on the Abuja-Itakpe-Ajaokuta-Warri rail, while work has started on the Lagos-Abeokuta-Ibadan rail.

Similarly, the upgrade of Nigeria’s 3,500km network narrow-gauge railway network has commenced, with the signing, in April 2018, of the interim phase of a concession agreement between the Government of Nigeria and an International Consortium led by General Electric (GE). 

The target of this Interim Phase is that within the next 12 months, passengers will experience reduced travel time by rail between Lagos to Kano, and, for the first time in over a decade, contracted and scheduled freight rail services will be available.

Abuja’s Light Rail system is ongoing and will go into operation in 2020. The first line to be launched will connect the city center with the Airport, with a link to the Abuja-Kaduna Railway Line.

The Buhari government, according to the Transport Minister, Amaechi would create about 5,000 jobs upon completion of the railway Wagon Assembly Plant being built at Kajola in Ogun State. Nigeria would also, in the long run, be able to manufacture rolling stock for the country’s use as well as for other African countries.

POWER

According to the Buhari Media Organisation (BMO), one of the President’s 100 days in office milestones for his second and final term was a remarkable deal with Siemens to rejig Nigeria’s power supply, as well as the inauguration of Africa’s largest hybrid solar power plant. For the avoidance of doubt, the President, within the first few days of his second term, concluded plans for improved electricity supply by signing a six-year power deal with German energy giant Siemens, which will result in the production of at least 25,000 megawatts of electricity by the year 2025.

More than 2,000MW of additional power generation capacity by the end of 2018 — some of it via publicly owned plants (Afam Fast Power, 240MW); others through private sector investment supported by the Federal Government.

Launch of the Energizing Economic Programme which is bringing reliable and efficient power to economic clusters /markets around the country. Pilot projects are currently being implemented in Aba (Ariaria Market), Lagos (Shomolu Printing Community, (Sura Shopping Complex), Kano (Sabon Gari Market) and Akure (Isinkan Market). 

Furthermore, the Transmission Expansion and Rehabilitation Programme has resulted in a 50 percent expansion in Grid Capacity since 2015, from 5,000MW to 7,125MW as of December 2017. Beyond the Grid Programme, a Public-Private Partnership scheme championed by the Presidency and the Niger Delta Power Holding Company (NDPHC), successfully deployed 20,000 units of solar home systems to power rural households across 12 States, between July 2017 and April 2018. 

WATER

In Kaduna, the Federal Government spent N11.8bn to build Galma Dam to ensure the realization of the Zaria water project which was virtually abandoned by previous administrations. Now, residents of that ancient city who may not have seen water flow from public taps for about 30 years have a new lease on life with the 150 million liters per day water source as a result of the collaboration with the state government.

Additionally, the following Water Supply Projects and Dam/Irrigation Projects have been completed by the Buhari administration through the Ministry of Water Resources led by Engr. Suleiman Hussein Adamu: the Central Ogbia Regional Water Project, in Bayelsa; the Sabke/Dutsi/Mashi Water Supply Project, in Katsina; and the Northern Ishan Regional Water Supply Project, serving Ugboha and Uromi communities of Edo State.

Other noteworthy water projects being completed by the Buhari administration are the Kashimbila Dam, in Taraba State; the Ogwashi-Uku Dam, in Delta State; the Shagari Dam Irrigation Project, in Sokoto State; and the Rehabilitation of the Ojirami Dam Water Supply Project in Edo State.

Moreover, more than 70 Ecological Fund projects have been awarded and completed by the Buhari Administration, across the six geopolitical zones of Nigeria. These include flood control projects; erosion control projects; bridges and dams; channelization and desilting.

AVIATION

According to the Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, one of the major achievements of President Buhari’s administration in the aviation sector is the sustenance of safety. This development, the Minister says, has further boosted and restored the confidence of the public in Nigeria’s aviation sector. The Minister cited the fact that ensuring the safety of fliers would not have been possible without the enforcement of regulatory rules by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA).

In the area of upgrading Nigerian airports to international standards, President Buhari’s administration has worked to complete the Kano Tower Automated Air Traffic Management and Meteorological Systems, installed the Instrument Landing Systems (ILS) Category II (CAT II), Doppler VORs (DVORs), Distance Measuring Equipment (DME) at four airports across the country: Lagos, Kano, Port Harcourt, and Kaduna completed, while that of Minna, Jos, Yola, Maiduguri, Benin, and Akure are nearly completed. Additionally, CAT III Instrument Landing Systems have been installed in Lagos and Abuja, which has helped to improve the operation of aircraft during inclement weather conditions. 

Similarly, this administration has also installed solar airfield lighting at 10 airports; Akure, Port Harcourt, Sokoto, Yola, Kaduna, Minna, Enugu, Maiduguri, Jos, and Ibadan, as well as installed Very High Frequency (VHF) radios for aerodrome and approach air-ground communication in 18 airports nationwide. The airports are Maiduguri, Enugu, Jos, Calabar, Yola, Ilorin, Sokoto, Lagos, Kano, Abuja, Port Harcourt, Ibadan, Zaria, Katsina, Owerri, Yola, Calabar and Kaduna to ensure passenger safety.

CONCLUSION

With this as a guide, it is clear that as President Buhari, aided by his Ministers work to fix Nigeria one project at a time, one sector at a time, with one new achievement every time — we need all hands on deck to ensure that the commenced projects are completed, and the completed projects are adequately utilized and managed for the sake of the Nigerians that this administration came into office to serve.

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