Lekan Paul

NSITF Management Denies Alleged Suspension, Says Minister Overreached Himself

The Management of NSITF read the press release published by some media outfits that the President has suspended the management of NSITF and announced same.

We wish to state that President Muhammadu Buhari has not suspended the management of NSITF and did not make such announcement. The person mentioned in the media report is not a staff of the President.

For clarity, we need to mention that we received a letter from the Hon Minister of Labour and Employment Sen Chris Ngige stating that he is doing a procurement audit on NSITF and that Management is suspended.

We note that the Minister’s action is against President Buhari’s directive through the Secretary to the Government of the Federation that stated clearly that no Minister should suspend or sack any head of agency appointed by President Muhammadu Buhari.

The memo stated that Ministers should follow procedures by going through the governing board of the agency that will now make recommendations to the SGF to act if there is need. We are sure that President Buhari will not be part of any illegality and lack of due process.

Meanwhile, the management of NSITF is open to any form of investigation by the appropriate agency as there is nothing that the management will hide or is hiding. We have been in receipt of several letters by the minister and several petitions written against NSITF by the Minister of Labour, Sen Chris Ngige and we will make all communications available to the public and relevant authorities.

The Management of NSITF is still discharging its duty as appointed by Mr President.

NSITF Management.

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Arc. Waziri Bulama: A Quintessential Party Scribe, By Segun Tomori

When Arc. Waziri Bulama was finally inaugurated as Ag. National Secretary of the All Progressives Congress (APC) on 18th May, 2020 after almost a year and half of advocacy, consultations and consensus building, it was huge sigh of relief for those of us who have become protégés of the foremost politician. He had earlier been announced in acting capacity in January and later sometime in March, but the process of formalizing the appointment unfortunately took another 4 months of horse-trading.

All of that finally gave way when through a letter from an overwhelming majority of stakeholders in the North-east, Bulama was eventually sworn-in. And to further strengthen his hand, the Zonal Executive Committee of the North-East APC unanimously endorsed him on June 13 – there, the last vestige of opposition to his appointment crumbled. At a virtual meeting attended by  the Senate President, the three Governors from the region, Senators and other officials, the zone endorsed and resolved to forward his name and two others to the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the APC for ratification as nominees from the zone for various positions.

It will be recalled that Bulama was Deputy Director-General (Coordination) of the 2019 APC Presidential Campaign Council (PCC) where he devoted full time and energy to keep the campaign Secretariat running, 24/7. After the successful campaign, he shunned entreaties to lobby for juicy cabinet appointments preferring instead to settle for the less attractive role of party scribe to strengthen the party machinery to promote cohesion and bequeath a discernible progressive ideology.

Not one to dither in the face of onerous responsibilities, Bulama moved swiftly to roar back the party secretariat to life, holding extensive meetings with Departmental heads, assuring of his commitment to reposition the party and make welfare of staff paramount. His office and home became a mecca of sorts as politicians and party chieftains trooped ceaselessly, almost 24/7 to consult the new scribe. On account of his open door policy, His Excellency, as he was fondly called, ensured he saw everyone even when we thought otherwise. He believes everyone deserves to be given a sense of belonging irrespective of status, tribe or social standing.

His leadership acumen was put to task when suddenly the former Chairman Adams Oshiomhole’s suspension was upheld by the Appeal Court. The party which had crucial gubernatorial primaries to conduct was almost in disarray, but Bulama rose to the occasion. He rallied his 16 colleagues in the National Working Committee (NWC) to fill the leadership lacuna in line with the party constitution and they now proceeded to set up the governorship primaries committee headed by Gov. Hope Uzodinma of Imo State, assisted by Senator Ajibola Basiru – who Bulama holds in high esteem, as Secretary. Not many knew the National Secretary was convalescing at this time, but he had to sacrifice his recuperation to lead from the front.

The primary elections in Edo State was generally regarded as novel, peaceful and quite unique in conforming with social distancing protocols of the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) across the 192 wards in the State.  Not many know that the feat was made possible by the behind-the-scene leadership and round the clock monitoring of Arc. Bulama. Nothing was taken to chance, from security of the panel to INEC participation as witnesses, approval from the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, amongst others. Indeed at that period, over 15 hours daily was put in and several days of sleepless nights to ensure success.

As the days go by when agitations became rife following the dispute about who is the authentic Ag. Chairman between the NWC-backed late Sen. Abiola Ajimobi and Victor Gaidom – former Deputy National Secretary, that infamously laid claim to the seat, Bulama stood on the side of the constitution by standing firmly with the former based on the advice of legal luminaries and the APC legal adviser. He held meetings with groups and stakeholders to explain the position of the NWC, debunk speculations the body was averse to the call for a NEC meeting but maintained it must be held and called, in line with the party constitution. He always emphasised the need for 14 organs of the APC to function optimally, and blamed the inertia in the party secretariat on account of the long absence of a substantive National scribe for the anomaly. He expressed commitment to ensure redress by making statutory meetings of all organs of the party become the norm.

To cap his trouble-shooting efforts, Bulama led the NWC members into a virtual meeting with Vice-President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, two days before the body was dissolved. The nation’s number two man was informed of the position of the NWC and why the law is on its side amongst others. The rest is now history, as the President in his wisdom chose to apply what is now termed a “Doctrine of Necessity” to attend the NEC meeting called by Gaidom and opt for wholesale dissolution of the NWC. In the midst of the crises, Bulama showed strength of character and resilience by relegating his personal interest, standing by the collective decision of his colleagues, and insisting on the sanctity of the rule of law.

While the party scribe has since chosen to defer to the President by accepting the setting up of a  Caretaker Committee as an interim replacement for the NWC, the job of repositioning the APC has also been temporarily stymied. Issues around a reward system for members, functional organs of the party, 21st century complaint political party, party supremacy & distinct ideology from top to bottom were top on the agenda of the immediate past National Secretary. Indeed, I remember he told me he had consulted some prominent party juggernauts who would be members of his think-tank to fine-tune strategies for implementation of his blueprint. They were set to be inaugurated before the NWC was given the boot.

In six months, the APC will hold a convention to elect new National officers, the party must look in the direction of Arc. Waziri Bulama to play a prominent role not only to continue from where he started as the short-lived party scribe, but to lead efforts to put the party on a strong footing, reposition it to sustain its winning streak, post-2023. For Bulama, making APC the party to beat remains his passion, his purpose!

Segun Tomori, is a protégé of Arc. Waziri Bulama, Member of the APC Young Stakeholders and Executive Director (Communications), RedPole Media.

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“You Appointed the Best Man To Head NBET”, Obiano Tells Buhari

Governor Willie Obiano has commended President Muhammadu Buhari for appointing Dr Nnaemeka Ewelukwa the chief executive of the Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading plc (NBET), popularly known as the Bulk Trader.

“You couldn’t have appointed a more qualified, competent and reform-minded technocrat for the job”, Governor Obiano said in the letter to Buhari, according to a statement in Awka today by the the Anambra State Commissioner for Information and Public Enlightenment, C. Don Adinuba.

The Minister of Power, Engineer Saleh Mamman, announced two weeks ago President Buhari’s approval of Dr Ewelukwa as replacement for Dr Marylyn Amobi, also from Anambra State, whose five year tenure will end on July 24.

“It is self-evident that the president recognizes the critical role of the NBET in the electricity value chain in Nigeria and so went for the best to help move the entire power sector in a different direction”, Chief Obiano declared.

Dr Ewelukwa, the NBET general counsel until his appointment, has been involved in Nigeria’s power sector reform for at least 10 years, having worked at the Presidential Task Force on Power (PTFP), headed by Professor Bart Nnaji before he was appointed the Minister of Power in July, 2011, and led the greatest revamping of Nigeria’s perennially problematic power sector.

As the pioneer NBET general counsel and secretary, he led the team which negotiated with independent power producers on power purchase agreements (PPAs) and thus enabled huge investments from the private sector into Nigeria’s electricity generation business.

Governor Obiano observed that the new NBET CEO played a key role on the team which identified serious legal, regulatory and policy constraints to the development of Nigeria’s electricity and suggested ways to overcome the challenges.

“Due to the exceedingly impressive work done by such outstanding technocrats as Professor Nnaji and Dr Ewelukwa, the British and American governments, among others, assisted Nigeria to develop the critical power infrastructure”, noted the governor who also recalled how such global firms as General Electric of the United States, Siemens of Germany and Daewoo Heavy Industries of South Korea took an unprecedented interest in the country’s power sector.

Chief Obiano described Ewelukwa as “infectiously humble and principled, a team player and farsighted leader with a good international exposure, key leadership requirements in today’s globalized world”.

The governor said he is confident that Dr Ewelukwa would bring glory to Nigeria the way a number of Anambra indigenes given critical national assignments discharged their duties.

“The whole nation”, he stated, “remembers with nostalgia the fantastic work done since the restoration of democracy by such sons and daughters of Anambra State like Professor Chukwuma Charles Soludo as the Central Bank governor, Professor Dora Akunyili as the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration (NAFDAC) Director General; Engineer Ernest Ndukwe as the CEO of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and Mrs Oby Ezekwesili as head of the Due Process Office before becoming the Minister of Solid Minerals and later Minister of Education; as well as Engineer Emeka Eze as the Bureau for Public Procurement Director General”. 

Son of a leading academic lawyer, Ewelukwa studied law at the University of Nigeria, Enugu Campus, before proceeding to the London School of Economics to specialize in international business law and Queen Mary College of the University of London where he took a doctoral degree in privatization of state-owned enterprises and reform of the Nigerian power sector.

Author of three authoritative books on electricity transactions, the new NBET CEO is also a member of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators.

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Reps Urge FG To Return SON, NAFDAC To Ports

The House of Representatives have called on the Federal Government to reconsider its earlier decision barring the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) and the National Agency for Food, Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC) from operating at the nation’s seaports.

The lower chamber maintained that the two key agencies are needed at the seaports and borders to fight the influx of sub-standard and life-endangering goods into the country, especially amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Adopting a motion under “Matters of urgent public importance”, raised at the plenary session, the House stated that allowing SON and NAFDAC back to the ports will represent part of the strategies to effectively check the influx of sub-standard goods into the country.

The House has mandated its committee on finance to meet and liaise with the Minister of Finance on the urgent need for SON and NAFDAC to return to the ports and borders.

The motion was moved by the Minority Leader, Ndudi Elumelu, representing Anaocha South/Anaocha North/Oshimili South federal constituency of Delta State.

The House categorically stated that no other agency can carry out the statutory functions of SON and NAFDAC, maintaining that the functions of quality assurance cannot be inter-changed with any other sister agency.

There have been several appeals from the various sectors, operators and stakeholders on the need for the Federal Government to return SON in particular at the nation’s ports as a major move against the menace of sub-standard and counterfeited products across the country.

The Nation

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We Will Defend Our Youth Against Rape, Domestic Violence – Minister Declares 

The Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Mr Sunday Dare, has condemned the rise of rape and gender-based violence occurrences in the country and voiced his support for victims and survivors of the grievous crime. To this end, the Ministry today launched #NigerianYouthAgainstRape campaign.

“The Youth are the greatest victims of rape and we condemn this inhumane act in the strongest terms. We will join the vanguard against rape and ask for the stiffest penalty possible,” he said.

Mr Dare, who described rape as “a brutal crime that attacks the mind, body and soul,” said the act must not be allowed to take root in the Nigerian society. He said his Ministry would champion the fight against the dastardly act as prescribed in the National Youth Policy. 

“No Nigerian, whether male or female, should be discriminated against or made a victim anywhere in this country, ” he said. “We must unite to fight against rape in all forms.  All Nigerian Youth must take the responsibility to be on the lookout for their female counterparts and offer them protection. Stigmatising victims must be stopped and completely outlawed.

“I am totally against a mindset that first, makes women victims, and then moves on to compound their suffering by blaming the survivor for the evil that has been inflicted upon her. When people blame an individual for being raped, it discourages others from speaking out because each survivor and  their families are afraid that they will be blamed and labelled for what happened to them.”

The Minister thanked  President Buhari for his resolute stand against rape and joined him in this fight to protect young women from rape and physical assault. He also singled out the Minister for Women Affairs, Pauline Tallen, for leading the charge. 

“We shall stand shoulder to shoulder with you in this struggle, ” he said. 

The Minister also called on the Nigeria Police Force to review their methods of investigating cases of gender-based violence and rape with the objective of solving them with minimal pain to the survivors. He challenged civil organisations to deploy the use of technology to support their work against the social menace. He also encouraged policymakers to be fearless and make laws that will deter future offenders.

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Post-Covid Economy: Buhari Government Thinking In The Right Direction – GEPIn

The Economic Sustainability Plan put up by a Committee led by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, which was submitted to President Buhari last Thursday has received commendation from the Global Economic Policy Initiative (GEPIn).

It described the plan as “well-hatched” and “timely,” especially given the current fears over Nigeria’s economic prospects post-COVID.

The group in a statement signed by its Chairman, Bernard Okri, stated that there were genuine fears and concerns how Nigeria’s economy would fare in a post-COVID world, but that the proposal submitted to the President by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo had assuaged most of these fears.

“The dedication of the Committee, led by Professor Osinbajo is commendable – more commendable is that their submissions came in at the right time. Nigerians across the country are genuinely worried and concerned about the economic climate post-COVID 19. This document has assured many, if not most of us that the government has a good plan, one in the right direction in fact.

The group noted that the Committee was a robust and inclusive one and thus was able to produce an all encompassing document.

“This document is an assurance to Nigerians that they have nothing to worry about. It assures of growth and a resilient economy despite the pandemic. 

“The philosophy behind the document is that Nigeria consumes what it produces – this is something we as a group have constantly stressed for years. 

“This ultimately means improving and funding our local industries to meet the country’s production deficit in critical sectors. This the document proposes, as well as boosting our manufacturing capacity – an endeavour we should long have embarked on when the country was earning its most under previous administrations. 

“Pumping more money into agriculture and infrastructure is proposed, so as ti act as conduits to funnel funds into the economy. This is a very welcome proposal. As the country fears a recession, the fundamental way out is to put in more funds into critical sectors that would serve as boosters to other dependent sectors.”

The group stated that the proposal targets 10s of millions of Nigerians and its implementation would be critical if the country’s economy must survive post-COVID-19. 

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JUNE 12: That The Sacrifice Of Our Heroes Past May Not Be In Vain By Segun Tomori

Today’s 2nd commemoration of democracy day on June 12, courtesy of President Muhammadu Buhari’s foresight and political will is unfortunately tempered by the COVID-19 pandemic and its accompanying safety protocols. The Eagle Square usually the venue of such celebrations would have been regaled with dignitaries from all walks of life and enthralled with a potpourri of activities ranging from march past by the Nation’s Armed Forces, cultural displays and above all, the much anticipated Presidential address. But unusual times indeed – we could only make do with watching the Presidential address from the confines of our homes.

June 12, 1993, now a watershed in the annals of our history was the day Nigerians set aside their differences, buried ethnic jingoism, closed their eyes to proclivity for religious and tribal sentiments and elected M.K.O Abiola, a Yoruba Muslim and his Northern running mate, in an unprecedented Muslim-Muslim ticket, as President. The rest is now history as the then powers-that-be would have none of it. They conjured unscrupulous reasons and with the stroke of a pen annulled Nigeria’s freest and fairest elections till date. Of course, the ghost of June 12 never died, it continued to haunt both its killers and successive leaders until the incumbent President gave it a pride of place by reverting the hitherto less significant May 29 democracy day to June 12.

The victory of late President Abiola, inspired by the “Hope 93” campaign was hinged on better life for the downtrodden and average Nigerians, enthronement of an egalitarian society in which the welfare of the people will be the cornerstone of government.

The advent of democracy in 1999 seemed like a breath of fresh air. We thought we would have a semblance of “Hope 93”, but alas, down the years, we saw the then ruling party and its kleptomaniac administration surreptitiously superintend over electoral and money heist, quite unconscionably – spitting on the grave of June 12, and the ideals it portend for Nigeria and its citizens. It was the concerted effort of progressives to rescue the country from drifting to the precipice that gave birth to the All Progressives Congress (APC).

The APC was lucky to have a pathfinder and mobilizer in Asiwaju Bola Tinubu – himself a renowned June 12 activist as National Leader, as he, in collaboration with other leaders cobbled up a coalition of parties, that led to the first successful merger in our nation’s history. Riding on the crest of “Change”, similar to “Hope 93”, APC defeated an incumbent President in 2015, another first, by an opposition party in our democratic odyssey.

Though “Change” by it’s definition is a “process through which something becomes different”, the administration swiftly laid a foundation for progressive governance. Of particular significance is the National Social Investments Programme (NSIP) unarguably the most ambitious in sub-Saharan Africa. It gave “hope” to tens of millions through the Home-Grown School Feeding Programme, Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme (GEEP) – Soft loans to artisans, farmers and market people, Conditional Cash Transfers (CCT) – an integral part of the campaigns, N5,000 monthly to the poorest and most vulnerable.

The profligacy of the past that was responsible for short-changing the people has also largely been plugged with the full implementation of the Treasury Single Account (TSA), the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) – through which tens of thousands of ghost workers were weeded out, and billions of naira saved monthly. That is why despite earning significantly lesser, the administration is making giant strides in infrastructural renewal amongst others.

The campaign for the revalidation of the June 12 elections gave rise to agitation for addressing the National question and shot up calls for restructuring. Not many know that this administration has been silently restructuring. Modalities for establishing Community Police is currently being worked out – decentralization of the Nigeria Police being a key component. Just recently, the President moved to give teeth to implementation of financial autonomy for State Legislature and Judiciary by signing an Executive Order for their funds to be released on First line charge. Though the constitution was earlier amended to that effect, bottlenecks to its implementation gave rise to the order, representing in itself a political will to enthrone fiscal federalism – also an integral part of restructuring.

But despite our best efforts at leading differently, we are not yet close to the promise land. Nigeria with a population of over 210m people and an annual budget hovering between $30bn -$35bn in recent times is abysmal compared to South-Africa’s 2018 budget which was $116bn for a country of less than 50 million people! We need to generate more revenue if we must have the capacity to lift our people on the extreme poverty index put at about 95m by the World Poverty Clock, out of poverty.

Policies to spur industrialization, provide incentives for manufacturing to thrive and ultimately be an exporting nation, rather than a largely import dependent one will suffice. The Buhari-led administration is already leading efforts in this regard in Agriculture with the revolution in local rice production and other staples, policies geared to ensure we produce what we eat like the Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP), the recently launched “Green Imperative Programme”, amongst others. These feat should be replicated in other sectors.

No matter what we do, the security of lives and property is a “ sine qua non” to the prosperity of the nation. The recent resurgence in banditry in the North-west, and insurgency in the North-east is alarming and must be tackled radically. The capacity for Intelligence gathering by our security services should be improved and synergy among them must be fostered. Indeed, the community policing initiative should be fast-tracked so that we can nip most of these mindless attacks in the bud.

As citizens we must put aside ethnic and religious inclinations, and let our diversity be a source of strength and not division. Indeed, by harnessing our diversities and uniting for nation building is how Nigeria can become an exemplar of progress in the comity of Nations, it is how the sacrifice of our heroes past will not be in vain.

Happy Democracy Day, Nigeria.

Segun Tomori is the Executive Director (Communications), RedPole Media, and a member of the All Progressives Congress (APC) young stakeholders.

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Mandate Guard Sends Birthday Wishes to Ramatu Aliyu At 50

A group, Mandate Guards Initiative, on Friday congratulated Dr Ramatu Tijjani Aliyu, Honourable Minister of State, Federal Capital Territory as she clocks 50.

In a press release signed by the Convener, Comrade Obinna Ogwuegbu, he acknowledged the Minister for her role in uplifting the common man.

The statement reads:

“Mandateguards Initiative wishes its founding Member and one of its pillars, Dr RAMATU TIJJANI ALIYU, the Honourable Minister of State, Federal Capital Territory a happy 50th Birthday celebration.

“Dr Ramatu Tijjani Aliyu has been a consistent change agent and deploys same zeal, commitment and passion in all she does towards positively uplifting the common man. She is an unrepentant women and children activist. Her commitment to effect change has been her guiding principle as the Minister of State, Federal Capital Territory.

“As she clocks the golden age of 50 today Friday, June 12,2020, a day that we remember as Democracy day and a day marked against Child Labour, We at Mandateguard Initiative do pray the Almighty God to continue to guide, strengthen and direct her as she continously strives to bring succor to the down trodden.

“Congratulations!!! HAPPY BIRTHDAY.”

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Re: Nasiru El-Rufai’s Lockdown And The Spoilers At The Door, By Salihu Tanko Yakasai

I was highly surprised when I came across a piece with the above caption that appeared in the online edition of the Vanguard newspaper of Wednesday 3rd June 2020 pseudonymously penned by Rotimi Fasan.

Apart from the blatant misrepresentation and misinformation contained therein, the article is pregnant with sheer blame-game, opprobrium and aspersions against Kano State, its government and its good people aimed solely at hoodwinking the unsuspecting reading public.

What is more painful is that in all intents and purposes, the 19-paragraph article is an exercise in futility aimed at politicizing a serious health issue, it also shows lack of in-depth factual knowledge of the realities on the ground.

The “writer’s” politicization of the already uncoordinated fight against the Covid-19 pandemic is a clear disservice to the nation.

While Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje of Kano State has been making efforts to contain the pandemic without making any public fuss and is averse to apportioning any blame to others, others have resorted to using the pandemic to cast Kano State and his person in poor light in order to score a cheap political goal as if their future political success hinges on this. To say the least, this is unjustifiable, indefensible and arrantly unjust!

Why the “writer” has singled out Kano State out of the other 34 states and the FCT as a spoiler has baffled every discerning and unbiased reader to the core. In short, this article is a public relations stunt that has clearly failed to hit the target and this rejoinder is not aimed at paying the “writer” in the same coin but to clear his misrepresentation and misinformation for the sake of the present and posterity.

Before I address some of the issues raised in the article, it is very apropos to highlight that the Covid-19 virus surfaced in Kaduna State on 28th March 2020 before the index case was recorded in Kano State on 11th April 2020, an interval of two weeks, and the state government did not blame any state or individual for the spread of the virus.

Just as the index case in Kaduna contracted the disease elsewhere, so also the index case of Kano, along with the majority of the cases in Kano. As Muslims, we consign our affairs to the Almighty Allah Who decrees whatever will happen to His servants.

The “writer” should have been dispassionate enough to have consulted his friends in Kano (if he has any) in order to get firsthand information on the numerous measures taken by the state government to curtail the spread of the virus even before the first index case was recorded in the state after the patient had visited Lagos State and Abuja.

In Kano State, the government had taken all necessary measures to prevent the spread of the disease in the state even before the index case was recorded which included the closure of all public schools, establishment of a Taskforce Committee on Covid-19 under the chairmanship of the Deputy Governor, Alhaji Nasiru Yusuf Gawuna, the Appeal Fund Committee (the first State to do so) headed by the Vice-Chancellor of Bayero University, Kano to assist the victims and provide relief to the poor, the closure of all public offices, closure of all schools, the banning of passenger buses coming to the state even before the federal government banned inter-state travels, the 1-week lock-down of the state which was subsequently extended many a time, the provision of isolation centres for the quarantine and treatment of the patients, the closure of markets and banning of religious congregations in mosques and churches, the setting up of several mobile courts to prosecute violators, among others.

Even before the federal government took additional strict measures including the banning of inter-state travels, Gov. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje personally spearheaded the interception of some vehicles with passengers coming into the state including, from Kaduna State.

How did these vehicles pass through the state in broad daylight or did they emanated from the skies to land at the borders of Kano? Do they expect Gov. Ganduje to go to Kaduna or any neighbouring State to enforce the ban?

In fact, tens of vehicles laden with passengers were intercepted at Kano State borders and many were turned back or later fined by the many mobile courts established by the state government to prosecute the violators of the lockdown order. Is Ganduje expected to police all the borders of other neighbouring States as well? If as the ‘writer’ claims that Ganduje has failed to enforce the lockdown in Kano preventing people from going out or coming in, is Ganduje also expected to go to Kaduna and other neighbouring States to prevent people from going in or coming out of those States?

The “writer” should have done his homework well to have realized that the violation of the lockdown order is a nation-wide phenomenon in view of the nature of our society and interstate borders. I have seen many crowds of people in Lagos, Abuja and other states in violation of the lockdown, but they were not castigated by the “writer.” It seems what is good for the goose is not good for the gander! The football match in Kano state mentioned by the “writer” was a one-time thing, neither organized nor sanctioned by the state government but by some youth and security agents promptly arrested some people for the violation of the lockdown.

On the issue of almajirai, the “writer” was also off the mark by a wide margin. It should be recalled that the 19 northern state governors agreed to ban street begging especially by almajirai and to repatriate them to their respective states of origin.

It may interest the “writer” to know that Kaduna State is the first to repatriate 30,000 almajirai to their states of origin and it did so without adherence to protocol, neither were they tested for Covid-19. For example, Kaduna State did not officially hand over any almajirai to Kano State government officials but dumped them at motor parks and out of the almajirai dumped in Kano State some later tested positive of the coronavirus.

However, Kano State government did not publicly blame Kaduna State government over this which shows the maturity, decorum and foresight of Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje.

Unlike Kaduna State, Kano State officially hands over all repatriated almajirai to the officials of their states of origin after making sure that they do not have any Covid-19 symptoms. In fact, the would-be repatriated almajiris are usually camped, fed and treated for any diagnosed ailment before they are repatriated to their states of origin. So the argument that Kano State government intentionally or knowingly repatriates almajirai infected with Covid-19 virus does not hold water a bit.

Why should Kano State play the role of a spoiler as alluded by the “writer” still beats my imagination for in what way will we profit from this.

Harming any fellow human being especially a neighbour is against the injunctions of all divine religions and His Excellency, Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje will be the last person to intentionally sanction the spread of a debilitating disease like Covid-19.

It is pathetic that despite all the measures taken by the federal and 36 state governments, the Covid-19 cases have increased to about 11,166 cases as at 4th June 2020 with Lagos State, Kano State and FCT Abuja having 5,440, 970 and 763 cases respectively while Kaduna State occupies 7th position with 297 cases.

If Kano State or any other state for that matter had been a spoiler as wrongly alleged by the “writer”, the Kaduna State figure might have been much higher. In this respect, His Excellency, Malam Nasir El Rufai deserves our commendation for his efforts to curtail the spread of the virus in Kaduna State.

Lifting of the ban by Kano State government on religious gatherings was not arbitrary but after due consultations with stakeholders and the state was not the first in the country to lift the ban. Even in countries like the US, Italy, Spain, Britain and Brazil, to mention but a few, where the highest number of cases and mortalities due to coronavirus are being recorded, the strict lockdown and banning of social gatherings, the authorities in these countries have to relax these restrictions.

So, to blame Kano state for not enforcing full restrictions on religious or social gatherings is not only mischievous but unfounded, because for the duration of the lockdown in the State, almost all the mosques and churches suspended holding religious gatherings.

What the country needs at this trying period is not passing the buck and politicization of serious issues like the current pandemic but concerted and coordinated efforts to save humanity from this serious health challenge.

If we did not blame the Italian citizen who was the first to bring the virus to our shores or Ogun State, does not blame its neighbourly sister, Lagos State, for the spread of the disease, then there is no basis to accuse anybody or government of being a spoiler for this is an unnecessary diversion which will not augur well for the country. This unwarranted and unnecessary blame-game needs to cease forthwith for the sake of humanity. Let me end this piece with a quote by George Washington Carver who says “Ninety-nine percent of all failures come from people who have a habit of making excuses.”

Salihu Tanko Yakasai is the Special Adviser on Media to the Governor of Kano State.

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Dolapo Osinbajo: A Lesson in Humility Amidst Much Influence, By Alwan Hassan

Sometime in 2014, Mrs. Dolapo Osinbajo launched an aptly entitled book, ’They Call Me Mama.’ The book, which told the story of Mrs. Osinbajo’s decade of working with street boys in Lagos, gave the public an insight into the persistence, forthrightness and benevolence of the woman that would later become Nigeria’s ‘Second Lady.’

Like many of her subsequent public engagements, the book was a product of Mrs. Osinbajo’s deliberate connection to disadvantaged Nigerians. However, when the book was written, the young boys and men that called Mrs. Osinbajo “Mama”, had no idea that she would be called upon in a greater capacity to be an even greater ‘Mama’ to millions more.

Quiet and unassuming, not many outside Lagos knew who Dolapo Osinbajo was until she emerged as Nigeria’s Second Lady — following the emergence of her husband, Professor Yemi Osinbajo as the Vice President in 2015. Since then, Mrs. Osinbajo, who radiates candour and unbridled self-discipline, has carried herself with so much poise and brilliance — leading many to believe that the spirit and the teachings of her late grandfather, the sage and leader, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, still resonates in her.

An epitome of decency, Mrs. Osinbajo has inspired countless Nigerian youth to ask how a woman of power and influence, can exude so much warmth and humility in every engagement with the public. Her charm consistently demystifies the whole razzmatazz around the power that her husband’s office commands — a key trait that has endeared her to everyday Nigerians.

Indeed, Mrs. Osinbajo portrays and embellishes the rich Yoruba culture, especially those bordering on good manners and decency. She’s no doubt one individual who embodies the age-long saying that ‘character is everything’. This is why, by observing Mrs. Dolapo Osinbajo at her public engagements and on her social media handles, you begin to appreciate a leader that understands the transient nature of everything — especially something as ephemeral as political power.

Anytime one sees Mrs. Oludolapo Osinbajo, what comes to mind is the Biblical saying that: ”When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice.” I have been a witness to the excitement that pervades the air anytime the Vice President’s wife steps out to attend public functions. Undoubtedly, people find it easy to give all due regard to a woman who, despite the allure of power, has continued to live her life with so much simplicity. This is because she regards everyone with so much respect and treats no one with contempt.

It is often said that when you see a bird dancing alone on the bush path — it’s drummers are somewhere in the bush. So when we in the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) hailed the ingenious and dexterous manner with which Professor Yemi Osinbajo carried out his public assignments before becoming the Vice President, we no doubt ignore to praise the woman who contributed to his success. After all, it is often said that beside every powerful man is a woman of strong will and inestimable character to keep him grounded at all times.

When the history of this era is written or told in stories, it is clear that Mrs. Osinbajo, the wife of the erudite ‘Star Boy’ Professor, will be remembered fondly. This is because as the partner of a frontline political office holder, she has shown Nigerians — especially future generations of political spouses — that respect, decency and humility can exist alongside power. She has demonstrated by her consistent actions that it is ‘God who gives power’, consequently, when you are blessed and fortunate to find yourself in a position of authority, it is necessary to always endeavour to approach everyone with the mindset that influence is a transient occurrence — that must always be treated as such.

We thank Mrs. Osinbajo for the lessons learned by observing the content of her character, and for showing the next generation that people’s actions are everything, in a world that is governed by too many words.

Alwan Hassan is a public policy professional and social commentator who serves as the CEO of Greycube Dynamics and Alsad Integrated Resources. Alwan is a politician and works in developing and sustaining strategic partnerships between governments and internal and external non-governmental organisations.

Email: alwanhassan91@yahoo.com

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Personnel Welfare Receives Boost As NAF Commissions Additional Blocks Of Residential Accommodation For Officers In Lagos

The drive of the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) towards ensuring that its personnel have befitting residential accommodation has received a fresh boost with the commissioning of 2 newly constructed blocks of 6 x 3 bedroom flats for married officers at the Sam Ethnan Air Force Base Ikeja, Lagos today, 28 May 2020.

Speaking during the commissioning, the Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, who was represented by the Air Officer Commanding Logistics Command (AOC LC), Air Vice Marshal Lawal Alao, noted that the commissioning of the project was a testimony to his resolve to improve the welfare of NAF personnel, being a major requirement in the development of human capacity for enhanced operational performance.

He noted that, while the NAF was being restructured for more effective and efficient service delivery in the last 4 and half years, several infrastructural developments aimed at improving both the working and living conditions of personnel were also embarked upon. The infrastructural developments, the CAS added, included the construction of new offices and living accommodations across all NAF Bases in the Country, to provide conducive atmosphere for optimum operational output.

Speaking further, the CAS noted that the infrastructural development was a major moraleboosting factor for some of the modest operational achievements recorded so far. “In the last four and half years, while working to address the housing deficit for personnel, we have provided befitting accommodation for about 7,500 families. We remain resolute to do more”, he said.

The CAS commended the Logistics Command (LC) for providing the necessary support that had enabled the Service to be more efficient in the conduct of its operations across various theatres. He pledged that the Headquarters would continue to provide the necessary resources to enablethe Command to continue playing its vital role in supporting NAF operations. The CAS equally lauded the measures emplaced by the Command to curtail the spread of COVID-19 and describbed the communal approach to tackling the virus with the introduction of COVID-19 Enlightenment and Enforcement Team made up of youth volunteers within the Base, as most impressive.

He highlighted that Headquarters NAF, in compliance with the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) guidelines, had directed the scaling down of the number of personnel for official work to the barest minimum to limit the likelihood of contact. He also reminded personnel to continue to maintain personal hygiene, whilst observing physical distancing.

The newly constructed blocks of buildings which are built with a touch of class – with all bedrooms en suite, was executed by TILT Construction Limited, a wholly-Nigerian owned Civil and Structural Engineering Construction company serving as a trusted infrastructure partner to organisations in the private and public sector.

Managing Director of TILT Construction, Mr Jameel Olatunji stated that jobs were provided to no fewer than 50 skilled artisans and over 4000 man-hours of work were completed with no cases of accidents recorded. “This performance was not the result of chance; it was made possible through our continuous commitment to safety and efficiency” he said.

Among project completed by the company include Construction of Residential Development for the Federal Capital Development Authority, Federal Ministry of Works & Housing, Nigeria Immigration Service, amongst others.

In his closing remarks, the Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, ably represented by Air Vice Marshal Lawal Alao thanked the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, President Muhammadu Buhari for providing the resources being expended to improve personnel welfare, and enjoined personnel to take responsibility for the proper maintenance of all infrastructures on all NAF Bases, whilst remaining committed to the effective execution of assigned tasks.

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Nigerian Professionals: Ambassadorial Nominees Are Thoroughbred Diplomats, Would Serve Nigeria’s Best Interest

Described as: “Round peg in round hole, truly deserving.”

A group of professionals in Nigeria, under the aegis of Young Nigerian Professionals have commended President Muhammadu Buhari for the nomination of 42 thoroughbred career diplomats as Ambassadors-designate, describing them as “round pegs, fit in round holes,” and “truly deserving.”

The forum in a statement signed by its Chairman, Charles Folayan said they were elated by the choice of these nominees, some of whom they had interacted with, at Nigerian Missions abroad and found to be diligent, hard working and patriotic.

According to Folayan, the forum is confident of the prospective Ambassadors’ capacities to deliver on President Buhari’s policies at the global arena whenever they are posted after clearance by the Senate.

“We can affirm that this list was carefully put together by the President in line with his foreign policy objectives. The nominees are seasoned diplomats, who have served in various countries with distinction; they are good men and women with the highest sense of commitment and responsibility. Wherever they have served, they were the darling of the Nigerian communities and their host officials.” Charles noted.

“Of particular interest is I. A. Yusuf, a nominee from Kogi State with whom the forum had interacted at more than one Nigerian Mission abroad. We know him for his exemplary character, integrity and his positive disposition towards Nigerians in his host countries, especially the students and professionals. He offers help with ease, to anyone who demands help.

“In all our encounters, we noted that when Yusuf gives his word, he keeps it; he has an unflinching penchant for timeliness; and importantly he demands diligence and love for Nigeria from associates and those he works with, that whatever is to be done must be done in the national interest and must be done right.

“We believe that the Ambassadors-designate will bring to Nigeria, the benefits of their abundant network of relationships across the world.”

The statement went ahead to encourage the Ambassadorial nominees to remain steadfast to the values that saw them rise to where they are.

The forum asked them to keep their eyes on the ball in order to justify the confidence reposed on them by President Muhammadu Buhari.

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