Lekan Paul

Poverty Statistics: Reno Omokri Ridiculing Goodluck Jonathan – Group

A policy group in Nigeria says Reno Omokri, a former social media aide to former President Goodluck Jonathan is ridiculing the former number one citizen of Nigeria.

The Global Economic Policy Initiative, GEPIn, said it was wrong for Mr. Omokri to be peddling lies and issuing statements on behalf of President Jonathan.

President of the group, Mr. Bernard Okri said that the world will be laughing at Mr. Jonathan for trying to undo the abject poverty which he thrust Nigeria into by falsifying figures.

“Mr. Omokri has a record for impersonation, identity theft and blackmail but who would have thought that he would do it to his former boss and former President of Nigeria,” Okri quizzed.

“In an attempt to slander Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on the poverty figures that he quoted while addressing the Council of Foreign Relations in New York City he dented the reputation and goodwill of his former boss.

Okri stressed that Prof. Osinbajo was right when he said the poverty level in Nigeria as at 2010 was over 112 million, which was over 67 per cent of Nigeria’s population at the time.

Quoting the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), he said about 112 million Nigerians, which is about 67.1 per cent of the country’s total population of 167 million were living below poverty level.

He said Nigeria only became the poverty capital of the world because the Peoples Democratic Party which had been in government impoverished Nigerians and looted all the resources.

“In 2010, over 112.47 million Nigerians were living on less than a one dollar a day. The NBS data showed that 67% of Nigerians in 2010 were living in “absolute poverty” – this figure had risen from 54.7% in 2004.

He added that the NBS report revealed that Nigerians considered themselves to be getting poorer at the time.  “According to the report in 2010, 93.9% of respondents felt themselves to be poor compared to 75.5% six years earlier,” Okri added.

He said it was a shame that Mr. Omokri could not do a simple Google search to confirm the statement of the Vice President before jumping on Twitter and even issuing a statement.

“This is a disgrace to President Goodluck Jonathan, he has made him the laughing stock of the world, I think he deserves better than to be dragged in the mud by Mr. Omokri. A simple Google search would have saved both of them this embarrassment,” he said.

He, however, urged Mr. Omokri to apologise to President Jonathan, Vice President Osinbajo and all Nigerians for dragging the name of the country in the mud.

“He (Omokri) has record of telling lies and he is a very fraudulent person. Nigerians still remember Wendell Simlin, the name Mr. Omokri stole in his bid to blackmail then former CBN governor, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, accusing him of sponsoring Boko Haram but he was busted.

“Only last week I read that he was using the name of abducted Dapchi school girl, Leah Sharibu, to make money for himself by selling shirts and a book he wrote in her name.

“He has a past and most us know that he relies heavily on this type of fraudulent activity to survive, things have not been easy for him since the PDP left government,” Mr. Okri.

He urged Nigerians never to believe or take anything Mr. Omokri says seriously. “We should engage in constructive criticism if we really want Nigeria to succeed, persons like Mr. Omokri exude bad vibes, Nigerians should not believe anything he says.”

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For The Records: What Vice President Yemi Osinbajo Said On Kidnapping

Our attention has been drawn to misleading reports in a section of the media purportedly made by and attributed to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, on the security situation in Nigeria, in New York.

For the purpose of clarity, and the records it is pertinent to state that Prof. Osinbajo was entirely misquoted and his words taken out of context in the said media reports especially those that quoted him as saying that “Kidnapping in Nigeria is exaggerated and not entirely new”

Nowhere in the Vice President’s remarks at the townhall meeting with the Nigerian community did he use the word “exaggerated,” not even by implication.

His remarks about the social media being hysterical was a general response to comments made by participants at the meeting about information on happenings in Nigeria especially as they relate to security being shared on social media platforms by unverified sources.

WHAT THE VP SAID

According to the Vice President “I really will urge that you don’t rely entirely for information on social media. I think that the social media tends to be hysterical about practically everything.

“I think there is also a lot of politics involved in some of the information as it comes up. I think it is also important to point out that this new wave of issues of security came immediately after the elections. And there is always a connection between this issue of security and elections because many times, politicians’ arm several of these individuals during the electioneering period, and immediately after an election cycle, many of them, having nothing to do and with arms all over the place, resort to the fastest way of making money which is to abduct somebody and ask for a ransom. And that is just one side of the problem.

“But let me dimension it so that you can really understand it better.

“When people say there is security problem here and there, it is not one thing, it is several different things but if it is described as one thing then it will look bigger than it really is. And I am deeply worried about the fact that we might find ourselves unable to resolve these problems unless we drill down to see what the problems are.”

“With respect to general kidnapping which we have seen in certain parts of the country, again this is not entirely new. When you listen to some of the stories, some of them are simply not true anyway. Some are fueled by politics, but there are cases of kidnapping, there is no question at all about that….and every story we try to track and trace. When you track them, you find out that people just tell some stories, but the truth anyway is that there is kidnapping in places where it has taken place. The way to check it is the work we are doing with State governments namely using technology to track cases. These are economic crimes; if people know that they will be caught, and they will not be allowed to get away with their loot, it will stop in the places where it is taking place. That is really the work we are doing with the State governments. We are doing this in the various zones where we see that there are a rash of incidents. We are trying to put in place trackers and all sorts of other equipment that can be used to locate these criminals.

“I am not so sure how many follow the number of arrests that have been made in different state police commands, several have been made. I don’t think the problem is as massive as that, I think we can deal with the question of kidnapping quite easily. I am sure that not so long a time, the news will be a lot better in terms of kidnapping and we will feel more comfortable about life at home.”

Laolu Akande
Senior Special Assistant to the President (Media & Publicity)
Office of the Vice President

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In Defence Of Abba Kyari, Pmb Chief Of Staff, By Chukwudi Enekwechi (JP)

President Muhammadu Buhari’s Chief of Staff Malam Abba Kyari has been described in several quarters as a consummate technocrat, team player and dyed- in -the wool loyalist of the Buhari ideals. Some schools of thought describe such ideals as Buharinomics.  Yet his legendary patriotism and service to the country have been misinterpreted in some quarters, hence the reference to a non-existent ‘’cabal’’ in the Presidency. On the contrary, what they erroneously term as a ‘’cabal’’ if looked into critically is the ability of the president’s chief of staff to manage the affairs of the Presidency with prudence, accountability and sense of responsibility.

Even for his critics they acknowledge, the brilliance of Malam Abba Kyari. Firstly, he is a University of Warwick-trained Sociologist, University of Cambridge trained lawyer and a holder of Master’s degree from the same Cambridge University as well as an accomplished journalist. This man of letters also worked for the reputable law firm of Fani Kayode and Sowemimo and also an editor with the New Africa Holdings Limited Kaduna. 

From 1990 to 1995, Kyari was the Secretary to the Board of African International Bank Limited. Later he was elevated as an executive director at the United Bank for Africa from where he rose to become the managing director and Chief Executive of the bank. Abba Kyari has over the years garnered experience in the oil sector as he successfully emerged as a director of Exxon Mobil Nigeria.
From the foregoing there is no iota of doubt that the president’s chief of staff comes from a solid background of hard work, experience, sound education and devotion to the service of country. His foray in the public and private sectors have added to position him well for the pivotal role he is playing in the polity under the President Muhammadu Buhari administration. He has never wavered in his commitment toward the task of nation-building and he believes that President Muhammadu Buhari will successfully rebuild Nigeria for the good of all.

It is therefore surprising that a few disgruntled individuals and vested interests will latch on to the opportunity of a sponsored protest to cast aspersions on the person of the president’s chief of staff, Malam Abba Kyari for no justifiable reason. First and foremost there is no empirical evidence that a ‘’cabal’’ actually exists in the presidential villa. Perhaps there is a misconception about the workings of the inner recesses of government especially at the highest levels in Nigeria. 

Abba Kyari occupies a sensitive position that requires absolute loyalty to the president and he has not shirked in this responsibility, and the assessment of his performance rests with the president – his employer and principal. It is indeed doubtful if outsiders are in a better position to score the performance of a consummate technocrat and policy maker like Abba Kyari better than the president who hired him.

For the avoidance of doubt, Abba Kyari remains a strategic player for the overall growth and development of the country leveraging on the commitment of the Buhari administration towards making Nigeria work again. Like his boss he has not relented in pursuing the ideals for which the administration came into office. Such ideals are encapsulated in the security of the country; bolstering the economy and combating corruption mostly in the public sector. Now the reality is that these three areas are constantly receiving attention, hence the progress in infrastructural development and rapid economic growth across the country.

It is pertinent to remark that the Buhari administration work as a team and they have recorded significant milestones, and it is only fair that credit is given to the man whose office is the hub for realising the lofty objectives of the administration.

While protests are acceptable in a democracy, it is expected that the privileges and rights of people in power are equally respected. In the case of Abba Kyari he has not violated any known Nigerian law and going by the commendations of his principal he has lived up to the expectations of his high office. 

As President Muhammadu Buhari begins his second term in office Abba Kyari as a major player in the administration will help to actualise the execution of various programmes and projects across the country which will help to ease the pains inflicted on Nigerians by past corrupt administrations.

As things stand, with the level of commitment being exhibited by the likes of Abba Kyari and Malam Garba Shehu in the Buhari administration, Nigeria is on the path of rapid socio-economic development over the next four years.

By Chukwudi Enekwechi (JP)
An Abuja based Journalist
Member Buhari Media Organisation
Kwechis19@yahoo.com

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Vice President Osinbajo Reassures Nigerians In Diaspora Of Buhari Administration’s Determination To Secure Country & Prosper The People

Taking more than 40 questions from the Nigerian community in New York Sunday night, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, has reassured Nigerians in Diaspora about the determination of the Buhari administration to secure the country and prosper the people.

Prof. Osinbajo stated this while responding to questions during a townhall meeting with some members of the Nigerian community in New York.

The forum with Nigerians in the Diaspora was one of the activities lined up for the Vice President’s visit to the United States.

According to him, “there is really nothing serious to worry about because we are taking the necessary steps to address issues relating to herders/farmers clashes, kidnappings and others.”

While highlighting different aspects of the Federal Government’s agenda at the townhall meeting in midtown Manhattan, Prof. Osinbajo said the whole essence of the policies and programmes on social welfare, health care and others is to take majority of Nigerians out of poverty.

He said “the reason why we decided to have what we call the Social Investment Programmes is basically because it is one of the ways to address the problem of poverty in Nigeria.

“Nigeria has never systematically addressed the poverty problem in the way that India, which used to have the largest population of poor people, have done.

“As at 2010, Nigeria had a population of about 112.7 million people living in extreme poverty and there was nothing in place to address the problem, no social investment programme, no social security, no way of getting people out of poverty.

“So, the National Social Investment Programme was to address questions of how to get our people out of poverty and to address the major concerns of poverty.”

Continuing, Prof. Osinbajo said “some people are so poor that they cannot afford the basics of life, so the disbursement of N5,000 monthly stipends to such people under the Conditional Cash Transfer has gone a long way in helping them.”

“Dealing with the problem of poverty is so huge that we also came up with the Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme (GEEP) where we give interest-free loans to petty traders under what we call the TraderMoni scheme.

“These are traders at the bottom of pyramid in our economic value chain, those whose inventory are sometimes not more than N5,000. They are given N10,000 and when they pay back, they get higher amounts up to N100,000.

“The same thing we are doing with the Homegrown School Feeding Programme where we give children in public schools a free meal every day, and we are feeding about 9.5 million children in 31 states. This initiative is key to addressing one of the issues associated with poverty, which is malnutrition. And we have found that as a result of this programme, school enrolment figures have gone up significantly.

“Also, part of the reasons why we are doing this is first the multiplier, because it is homegrown; the entire value chain is serviced locally, including the cooks who are picked from the locality of the school,” Prof. Osinbajo added.

On measuring the impact of the schemes, Prof. Osinbajo said an impact assessment report on the cash transfer and the microcredit schemes would be released before the end of September 2019.

According to the Vice President “we are trying to measure the impact and we have put together a team with the World Bank assisting us. We also have one or two organizations who are trying to do this measurement for us and I believe that in the next two months we should have at least the first report looking at some of the impact of the microcredit schemes and the conditional cash transfers.

“But a lot of these things are intuitive. I don’t think that there is any great difficulty in knowing that when people are enabled it makes things easier for them and people can see the results.”

On health care funding, the Vice President said the Federal Government was committed to addressing the challenge of inadequate funding through an innovative approach that takes care of the poor in the society.

According to him, “what we have done is to follow the provision of the Health Act which says that 1% of our Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF) must go to health care and that is what we have done. For the first time, for the 2018 budget, we have set aside the 1 % of the CRF for health.

“Aside from that we also have the basic health care provision fund which we are running in all of the states. This is the Federal Government contribution which is matched by the states to deal with primary health care issues.

“The challenge is that you cannot deal with health care from government budget alone. This is the reason why the National Health Insurance is very important for us. An amendment has been effected to make contributory health insurance compulsory.

“For us, one of the problems to address is the large numbers of poor people. So, in determining what that premium will be, we decided that government will pay 35% of the premium so that those who cannot afford to pay are taken care of by government.”

On pensions, Prof. Osinbajo said the Buhari administration had through several interventions resolved some issues with pensioners in different organisations and sectors including the Nigerian Airways, military and paramilitary organisations, civil service and parastatals, amongst others.

He added that the bailout funds released to some states by the Buhari administration were, in many instances, meant to pay arrears of pensions and salaries.

On leveraging human capital in the Diaspora to complement development efforts in Nigeria, the Vice President said the establishment of the Diaspora Commission by the Buhari administration was one of the ways to show government’s commitment to work with Nigerian professionals in the Diaspora.

He said “the reason why the Diaspora Commission was set up is to address all the various concerns that the Diasporan have and that we also have as government and in some cases as institutions.

“We believe very strongly that the Diaspora is an important partner in all the things that we are doing. You can talk about their remittances and all that. So, they are an important component in what we are doing, as you have heard in GDP, and their remittances.”

Prof. Osinbajo also urged them to work closely with the Diaspora Commission to identify ways of contributing to the development of the country.

Also present at the event was Hon. Justice Sylvanus Nsofor, Nigeria’s Ambassador to the United States; Prof. Tijjani Bade, Nigeria’s Permanent Representative at the United Nations and President of the UN General Assembly, amongst others.

Laolu Akande
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity
Office of the Vice President
25 June, 2019

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Technology: Nigeria & Nigerians Will Surprise The World, Says Osinbajo

The potential, effort and impact being made by Nigerians in technology can enable the country roll out indigenous technology solutions that can transform the global space according to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN.

Prof. Osinbajo stated this Monday while interacting with interested investors and foreign policy experts on Nigeria’s economic prospects and related matters at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York City.

In a question and answer session after his opening remarks at the event, Prof Osinbajo was asked about the ongoing international dispute regarding some global technology firms and the issue of 5G.

He explained that even though Nigeria is yet to roll out 5G, “we do not have those complications (comparatively) in taking decisions in that regard. But, we practically welcome every company that wants to do business with us in Nigeria. Huawei is in Nigeria and so are all the other technology companies.

“We haven’t gone through any kind of decision making for rolling out the 5G technology; as a matter of fact we are going to roll out 5G ourselves. Talking about the equipment and technology; how did the Chinese get it? How did anyone else get the technology? We will do it ourselves.”

Speaking further, the Vice President who was optimistic about the possibility to developing homegrown capacity in the technology space said government would leverage the efforts and resourcefulness of youths to actualize its potentials in the sector.

“Our potential in technology and entertainment has been attracting huge attention. First is the market, at 174 million GSM phones, we are among the top ten telephone users in the world, and we have the highest percentage of people who use internet on their phones in the world,” Prof Osinbajo added.

Continuing he said “we are also number two in mobile internet banking in the world, and 17 million Nigerians are on Facebook. Microsoft has announced that it will establish a 100 million dollar African Development Centre in Nigeria.

“Second is the ever-growing number of technology startups, young digital entrepreneurs who are creating solutions to value chain and logistics challenges and creating thousands of jobs in the process. Andela, a software company training software developers for many Fortune 500 companies received a $24m dollar investment from Facebook.”

In the other sectors of the economy, the Vice President told the American audience that Nigeria remained the best place to invest given its market and enterprising population.

He said “now, we are opening up our power sector. We are asking power firms to come in and invest in end to end power supply. Power Africa – a USAID project has made a commitment of $110m over five years (2018 – 2023) to provide transaction support to the entire value-chain covering gas supply, distribution, transmission and generation activities with our population, and a market-driven power sector, so the next few years promise exciting prospects.

“This is also the case with other infrastructure. We are embarking on the largest investment in infrastructure in our history, welcoming private investments in concessions and projects rail, roads, airports, and other infrastructure.”

On agriculture, Prof. Osinbajo said “Nigeria has the 9th largest stock of arable land in the world. We have become world leaders in cassava, yams, sorghum, and millet, and we are on the threshold of self-sufficiency in paddy rice production.

“Seeing greater interest in agriculture and the agro-allied value chain, there is no question that aside from the export market, our population presents a massive and lucrative local market.”

Speaking specifically about what government was doing to revive manufacturing in the country, the Vice President said the Federal Government’s Project Made In Nigeria for Export, titled Project MINE was conceived to drive the country’s industrialization agenda.

According to him, “we are investing at the moment in the creation of special economic zones. Our Project MINE is designed to attract sunset industries from more advanced manufacturing economies, in search of affordable well-trained labor in Nigeria.

“At the moment we are focusing on industries for local manufacture of goods for which Nigeria has a comparative advantage. These include cotton, garments, leather, and light industrial manufacturing.”

Speaking further on efforts to improve domestic manufacturing, the Vice President said “the Nigerian Special Economic Zones Investment company is a public-private partnership established as the delivery vehicle for the project.

“Investors for the project include AFDB, Afroexim Bank, and AFC. Already work has begun in three locations. The Enyimba Economic City in Aba, Abia State, covers over 9500 hectares. Three international anchor tenants have been secured for phase one of the project. The city will be served by an existing IPP for power and will create 625,000 jobs when it is fully built.

“There is also the Lekki Model Industrial Park in partnership with the Lagos State Government in Lagos. It is set on 1000 hectares in the northeast cluster of Lekki Free Zone. It has already attracted world-class anchor tenants for textiles and garments, agro-processing and light industrial manufacturing including the number 1 Chinese and number 9 global textiles and garment group, (RUYI Group).

“The third project in its early stages is the Funtua Cotton Cluster in Katsina State which is in North West Nigeria. Funtua has the largest aggregation of cotton ginneries in Nigeria. The cluster will aggregate cotton from 800,000 farmers in Northern Nigeria and become the largest integrated cotton ginning, spinning and weaving complex in Sub Saharan Africa,” the Vice President noted.

In renewable energy, Prof. Osinbajo said “huge prospects also exist in investments in renewable energy, energy-efficient-processes and clean technology.”

According to him “gas had been flared for almost 60 years by major oil companies but in 2017 government approved the Nigerian Gas Flare Commercialisation Programme, designed to eliminate gas flaring through technically and commercially sustainable gas utilization projects. The Programme offers flared gas for sale through a transparent and competitive bidding process.”

After his interaction at the CFR, the Vice President was received at the United Nations by a team of top officials of the world body led by Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed at the UN headquarters.

Prof. Osinbajo and the UN officials discussed ways Nigeria and the UN can further collaborate on national, regional and global issues.

The Vice President would be meeting his American counterpart tomorrow Wednesday at the White House before heading back to Abuja.

Laolu Akande
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity
Office of the Vice President
25 June 2019
Copyright © 2019, Office of the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, All rights reserved.

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Polaris Bank Sponsors Capacity Building Workshop for Journalists

Polaris Bank has explained that it organized a one-day media workshop to build the capacity of media practitioners to enhance their reportage for the good of society.

The workshop which held across the cities of Lagos, Abuja and Port Harcourt with the theme: Online Journalism in the era of fake news,  media practitioners drawn from the print, broadcast and online sectors of the media industry as participants. The participants were taken through an intense session covering: group discussion, scenario and simulation practice, best practice in media; how to spot fake news/photograph through fact-checking tools and ethics and codes of journalism.

After the opening introduction, participants during the thought-sharing session spoke on the danger posed by fake news to organizations and personal reputation and the need for media practitioners to adhere to ethics of the profession.

Explaining the essence of the workshop, the Head, Strategic Brand Management of the bank, Nduneche Ezurike said that the workshop was an expression of the bank’s commitment to good corporate  citizenship. He noted that through capacity building Polaris Bank is able to impact on the knowledge of the journalists enabling them with the desired competitive advantage in the new age. He further noted, “It also serves as a direct platform of mutual interaction between the bank and the media community”.

Earlier in his welcome address in Abuja, the bank’s Group Head, Abuja Commercial Banking, Osazuwa Igbinoba hailed the theme of the workshop, “Online Journalism Practice in an Era of Fake News”, saying it could not have come at a better time. “As bankers, we have had a fair share of fake news – an issue which has been on the front burner globally and believe that as members of the fourth estate of the realm, media practitioners owe it a duty to practice journalism responsibly for the good of society”.

Similarly while speaking on the value of the one-day media workshop in Port Harcourt, Ernest Chinwo, Chairman, Correspondent Chapel of Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Rivers State Chapter had positive view of the session, saying “it was a breath of fresh air and an ideal refresher training for his colleagues, “in the context of the fact that media practitioners hardly have time for serious reading”.

In his appraisal of the exercise, the workshop’s facilitator in Abuja, Lagos and Port Harcourt, Mr. Obe who is also the CEO of Journalism Clinic reminded journalists to always fact-check claims of either text or video made by people or sources in order to help reduce spread of fake news in the society, adding that journalists have obligation to uphold the truth at all times. He also emphasized that fact-checking has and is still the soul and fundamental pillar upon which journalism rests.

Over 54 journalists participated in the workshop which held in three locations viz; Lagos Abuja and Port Harcourt.

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President Buhari To Governors: Enforce Free And Compulsory Basic Education

President Muhammadu Buhari Thursday in Abuja urged State Governors to “enforce very vigorously” free and compulsory basic education for every child of primary and junior secondary school age.

The President also urged the Governors to pay special attention to security, health and agriculture in the next four years of this administration.
Inaugurating the National Economic Council (NEC) at the Presidential Villa, President Buhari reminded the Governors that providing free and compulsory education is a constitutional provision.

‘‘Section 18(3) of the 1999 Constitution as amended places on all of us here an obligation to eradicate illiteracy and provide free and compulsory education.

‘‘Section 2 of the Compulsory, Free Universal Basic Education Act provides that every Government in Nigeria shall provide free, compulsory and universal basic education for every child of primary and junior secondary school age. 
‘‘It is indeed a crime for any parent to keep his child out of school for this period. In my view, when a government fails to provide the schools, teachers and teaching materials necessary for basic education, it is actually aiding and abetting that crime.

‘‘This is, therefore, a call to action. I would like to see every Governor rise from this meeting and rally his local Government Chairmen towards ensuring that our schools offer the right opportunities and provide the needed materials and teachers for basic education, at the minimum.
‘‘If we are able to do this, the benefits will surely manifest themselves,’’ the President said in his 24-paragraph speech at the inaugural session of NEC.

The President told the Governors that successes in the four key areas of education, security, health and agriculture would go a long in lifting Nigerians out poverty, and securing the future for sustainable growth and development.
 
Femi Adesina
Special Adviser to the President
Media & Publicity
June 20, 2019
 

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Presidents Of Rwanda, Senegal And DRC To Speak At The Largest Annual Gathering Of African Entrepreneurs

The Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF), Africa’s champion of entrepreneurship, has announced the line-up of speakers and activities for the 5th Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Forum — the largest annual gathering of African entrepreneurs and the African entrepreneurship ecosystem.??

For the Forum’s Presidential Dialogue, the President of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), H.E Félix Tshisekedi will join previously announced President of Rwanda, H.E Paul Kagame and President of Senegal, H.E Macky Sall, in an interactive, charged plenary session that opens Day 2 of the Forum. The Presidential Dialogue will be moderated by TEF Founder, Tony O. Elumelu, CON, and will feature all three presidents engaging directly with an audience of 5,000, comprising of entrepreneurs, policymakers, investors and business leaders, with thousands of people interacting live online, through TEFConnect.

The Forum presents the largest single annual opportunity for entrepreneurs and policy makers to interact directly and all sessions at the Forum have private sector and public sector leaders anchor panel discussions, masterclasses, and a dynamic pitching competition that will engage an audience of start-up entrepreneurs, development institutions, and policymakers.??

The speakers expected for this year’s Forum include Prof. Benedict Oramah, President of African Export-Import (AFREXIMBANK); Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, President of African Development Bank (AFDB); Dr. Awele Elumelu, Trustee, Tony Elumelu Foundation and Founder, Avon Medical; Kennedy Uzoka, Group CEO, UBA Group Plc; Mrs. Djene Kaba Conde, First Lady, Guinea; amongst other notable global business leaders. 

Every year, the Tony Elumelu Foundation hosts the largest gathering of African entrepreneurs, policymakers and business leaders in one location. This year’s Forum, themed “Empowering African Entrepreneurs”, will take place at the iconic Transcorp Hilton Hotel, in Nigeria’s capital city of Abuja. The Forum will also include the UBA Marketplace, where UBA, Africa’s global bank, brings together businesses from across the continent.  

At the 2018 forum, TEFConnect, the largest digital platform for African entrepreneurs was launched to connect entrepreneurs to the opportunities they need for business success. TEFConnect will take centre stage at this year’s Forum as global debates move to technology as a key driver of economic development in Africa.

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Where Nigeria Is Heading In The Next 10 Years – Osinbajo

The Federal Government’s vision for Nigeria in the next 10 years and more is to transform the economy into an industrialized one with a strong middle class and a place where the majority of the people are living above the poverty line, according to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN.

Prof. Osinbajo stated this at a Dinner and Interactive Session with some visiting Faculty Members from the Harvard Business School (HBS) led by Prof. Srikant Datar, a Professor of Business Administration, alongside a select group of Nigerian business executives, on Tuesday evening in Lagos.

The Vice President featured alongside Srikant Datar and Mr. Bayo Ogunlesi, a Nigerian Investment banker in the United States of America, in a panel discussion moderated by Mr. Hakeem Belo- Osagie, Chairman of Metis Capital Partners and addressed several issues on power, the economy and climate change, amongst others.

According to the Vice President, “I will like to see Nigeria become an industrialized nation in the next 10 years; with a very strong middle class and most people living above poverty line. Our policies and programmes are directed at achieving this objective.”

He said the Federal Government had put in place measures that will kick-start the industrialization drive of the country, citing the example of the creation of Special Economic Zones (SEZ) and small manufacturing clusters across the country as some of the steps taken by government.

He said “practically everything we are doing is to ensure that there is a conducive environment for businesses to thrive.

“The Federal Government is looking at natural economic clusters. We have done a lot of work in five of them, we are looking at 23 others, and we have already set up shared facilities in designated locations to address some of the concerns in production.

“What we plan for the Special Economic Zones is also unique and geared towards that drive to industrialize our economy.”

Speaking on efforts to alleviate poverty, the Vice President said it is being addressed by government.

When asked what keeps him up at night, Prof. Osinbajo said it is the problem of “extreme poverty; the issue is that the largest number of those who vote for us are the very poor.

“The promises that government makes to them is that their lives will be better and obviously they are looking at their lives being better in the shortest possible time.”

He explained that a number of government policies and programmes were focused on people at the bottom of the pyramid, especially in agriculture and trade, and getting credit facilities to people in order to enable them improve in whatever they are doing.

He said that many farmers had been lifted out of poverty as a result of some of the initiatives, adding nonetheless that the scale needs to be improved.

According to him, “First, the focus of our government was on agriculture which has the potential to take many out of poverty. We are supporting farmers operating through the out-grower programme and our focus is to attain sufficiency in Rice, Sorghum and Millet production.

“A lot of attention has also been given to the Social Investment Programmes (SIPs) which factored the provision of cheap credit to petty traders—at the bottom of the pyramid. We have given out cheap credits through our TraderMoni and MarketMoni initiatives and this has also proven to be largely successful.”

On Power, the Vice President said the government is committed to finding lasting solutions to issues militating against the improvements that ought to have been witnessed in the sector.

“The issues are enormous but what we really need to do is to re-write regulations and encourage more people to invest in the sector.

“In the next few months, we will unveil a plan that deals with most of the critical issues in the power sector,’’ he said.

Addressing concerns raised about climate change, Prof Osinbajo said Nigeria would not act differently as “the momentum, globally, is in favour of renewable energy and recycling”.

He cited examples of what the Federal Government in partnership with the private sector have so far done, through the solar power programme in selected markets in Kano, Abia and Lagos States as well as the Federal Government Green Bond Initiative.

On improving trade among countries in Africa, the Vice President said Intra-African trade is important and is “the way to go” but that there is the need to address concerns around dumping and protection of local manufacturers, amongst others before the endorsement of any agreements.

Addressing the issue of brain drain and efforts to curb it, the Vice President expressed optimism that the steps being taken by government to improve the business environment in Nigeria will address the menace.

According to him, “As people see that the environment is getting better for business, they will come back, the opportunities for making huge profits are here.”

He also noted that Nigeria was open to business as it has a lot of potential and urged Nigerian investors abroad to look homewards.

“If you are going to do business anywhere in Africa, it has to be Nigeria. This is where you have the energy, you have the drive.

“We are already seeing that kind of activity, business people will always be driven by profit,” Prof. Osinbajo added.

On his part, Datar said he was particularly proud of Osinbajo as an academic in governance, stressing that academics do well in governance.

He pledged HBS’s readiness in providing needed support for human capital development in Nigeria and proffering solutions to tackling Nigeria’s infrastructure challenge.

Also speaking at the event, Ogunlesi said that the era of depending on government for infrastructure was gone, adding the Federal Government had no business running infrastructure in Nigeria, especially the airports.

In a vote of thanks, Emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi II, regretted the high poverty rate in Nigeria especially in the North West and called for urgent action to address it, advocating for a committee on girl-child education to be set up to address issues surrounding early marriage and family planning.

The event also attracted Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, the US Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. Stuart Symington, immediate past Minister of Trade and Investment, Dr. Okechukwu Enelamah, immediate past Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udo Udoma amongst others.

Laolu Akande
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity
Office of the Vice President
19th June 2019

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Osinbajo Pitches Nigeria To Havard Business School, US Investors

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo is as good as they come, he’s the perfect salesman for Nigeria and whenever he is presented the opportunity to pitch an idea, he takes it with full embrace.

On many occasions, foreign investors are whipping out their fat check books and ordering that their Business Managers start thinking of how and where to invest in Nigeria even before Prof. Osinbajo is done with his speech.

It was no different on Tuesday June 18 in Lagos when he had an interactive session with the Havard Business School and some 32 professors. By all standards, professors are difficult to sway but when you have a suave and confident maestro handling this session then someone was always going to give in.

First, they were impressed that the Vice President had a Resume that was not commonplace in politics but more impressive was his knowledge for almost everything, from energy to economy, not to mention law.

But most importantly was the premium he placed on the Nigerian people and how the Buhari administration wanted millions to be out of the ‘extreme poverty’ line. He spoke about Human Per Capital index and the efforts of the government in improving the quality of lives of the average Nigerian.

He spoke and everyone listened. The room was quiet and the emotions from his speech, contagious. You could hear the hearts of the audience beat faster and their heads calculating how investments would benefit Nigeria and their brands.

The Senior Advocate of Nigeria said he would like to see Nigeria being an industrialised nation in the next 10 years with a very strong middle class and most people living above poverty line.

His oratory alongside his gesticulation made the audience turn their heads from left to right as they grasped every point made by Professor Osinbajo.

Osinbajo then explained that a lot of government policies were taking into account people at the bottom of the pyramid with a focus on agriculture and getting credit facilities to farmers in order to achieve self sufficiency.

He stressed that many farmers in Nigeria had been lifted out of poverty by the Buhari administration but that much more can be achieved with the partnership from investors.

He said a lot of attention has been given to the Social Intervention Programmes (SIPs) which factored the provision of cheap credit to petty traders at the bottom rung of the economic ladder.

It didn’t take long for the magic wand of the Vice President to start producing results. As also present at the interactive session was Adebayo Ogunlesi, a global investor and one-time economic advisor to President Donald Trump.

Catching the vibes, Ogunlesi said that the era of depending on government for infrastructure was gone, he said the Federal Government had no business running infrastructure in Nigeria, especially the airports.

Srikant Datar, Professor of Business Administration, Havard Business School (HBS) pledged HBS’s support in providing needed support for human capital development in Nigeria and proffering solutions to tackling Nigeria’s infrastructure challenges.

For Prof. Osinbajo, it’s just another opportunity to sell Nigeria to the world, it’s another shot at taking Nigeria to where it rightfully belongs, it’s another chance to showcase the glorious Green-White-Green but more importantly an opportunity to prove that the Nigerian people matter the most.

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Extreme Poverty In Nigeria Give Me Sleepless Nights – Osinbajo

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo says the problem of extreme poverty in Nigeria keeps him up at night.

Osinbajo disclosed this at a dinner and Interactive Session with Faculty Members, Harvard Business School (HBS) on Tuesday in Lagos.

The vice president featured alongside Srikant Datar, Professor of Business Administration (HBS), and Bayo Ogunlesi, a Nigerian investment banker at a question and answer session moderated by Hakeem Bello-Osagie, Chairman of Metis Capital Partners.

“I think what keeps me up at night has to do with extreme poverty; the issue is that the largest number of those who vote for us are the very poor.

“The promises that government makes to them is that their lives will be better and obviously they are looking at their lives being better in the shortest possible time.

“I will like to see Nigeria being an industrialised nation in the next 10 years; a very strong middle class and most people living above poverty line.’’

Osinbajo said that a lot of government policies were taking into account people at the bottom of the pyramid with a focus on agriculture and getting credit facilities to farmers in order to achieve self-sufficiency.

He said that many farmers in the country had been lifted out of poverty by this administration.

According to him, a lot of attention had also been given to the Social Intervention Programmes (SIPs) which factored the provision of cheap credit to petty traders at the bottom of the pyramid.

The vice president told the HBS that Nigeria was open to business with its various potentials and urged Nigerian investors abroad to look homewards.

“If you are going to do business anywhere in Africa, it has to be Nigeria.

“This is where you have the energy; you have the drive.

“We are already seeing that kind of activity; business people will always be driven by profit.

“Talent will always go in the direction where it is best rewarded; one can’t afford to be sentimental about that.

As people see that the environment is getting better for business, they will come back; the opportunities for making huge profits are here.

“Practically everything we are doing in to ensure that there is environment for business to thrive. People are leaving but people are coming back.’’

He said that the Federal Government, through the Special Economic Zones (SEZ) was encouraging the manufacturers.

The vice president said that the government was looking at natural economic clusters and had set up shared facilities and power.

He said a lot was going on the agro-allied sector and of course, resolving the power challenges.

“In the next few months, we will unveil a plan that deals with most of the critical issues in the power sector,’’ he said.

On climate change, Osinbajo said that the momentum was in favour of renewable energy and Nigeria was doing a lot of investment in renewable energy; solar power and opening up opportunities.

On his part, Datar said he was particularly proud of Osinbajo as an academic in governance, adding that academics provide enabling environment for good governance.

He pledged HBS’s support in providing needed support for human capital development in Nigeria and proffering solutions to tackling Nigeria’s infrastructure challenges.

Speaking, Ogunlesi said that the era of depending on government for infrastructure was gone, adding that the Federal Government had no business running infrastructure in Nigeria, especially the airports.

In a vote of thanks, Emir of Kano, Alhaji Muhammadu Sanusi 11, called for urgent action to address the high poverty rate in Nigeria especially in the North West.

He also advocated for a committee on girl-child education to boost enrolment in schools and uplift their living standards.

The event also attracted Lagos State Governor, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu, US Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr Stuart Symington, immediate past Minister of Trade and Investment, Mr Okechukwu Enelamah, immediate past Minister of Budget and National Planning, Sen. Udoma Udo Udoma among others.

(NAN)

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Presidency Welcomes IRI/NDI Report On 2019 Elections With Reservations

The Presidency welcomes, with reservations, the joint report of the International Republic Institute (IRI) and the National Democratic Institute (NDI) on the 2019 general elections in Nigeria and recommendations for the 2023 general elections.

It is instructive that President Buhari clearly won this vote and the report in no way disputes that fundamental fact.

President Buhari won by almost 4 million majority, with a 14% margin.

However, the most important thing in an election is that it reflects the will of the people which in our circumstances was acknowledged to have been a success by ECOWAS Observer Mission and YIAGA AFRICA whose parallel vote tabulation verified INEC’s presidential election result as announced. This we achieved.

We have developed a tradition of improvements in our electoral process through enforcement of our electoral law which resulted in the prosecution and conviction of electoral officers that were found wanting in compromising our electoral process.

We, however, agree notwithstanding, that there are improvements that must be made in the process for the future. The sheer size, terrain and remoteness of certain regions do pose serious logistical challenges.

They also pose a problem for electoral observers: across a country of over 190 million, only 40 observers were deployed to observe just 16 states + the Federal Capital Territory (Nigeria has 36 states).

It was unfortunate that the election was postponed yet imagine if the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had gone ahead unprepared. The delay undoubtedly resulted in a lower turnout.

Because they are registered to vote in their place of birth, and not where they live, many Nigerians could not make arrangements to travel back again.

But the fact still remains that major democracies of the world have equally recorded worst turnout in modern history.

The effect of voter turnout, at any rate, is a two-way traffic that affected both sides equally.

To pretend otherwise is wrong considering that in 2015, the INEC postponed the election by six weeks under a PDP President, whom – as an incumbent – it was said to help at the time. It didn’t make a difference. Similarly, neither did it aid the sitting President in 2019.

It is amazing that the electoral observers recommended that electoral laws are enforced, and perpetrators of crimes punished and at the same time implicitly criticise the removal of the Chief Justice of Nigeria for failing to disclose his assets as required by law. Which would they prefer?

The law is a matter of principle that takes its course regardless of time and circumstances. It is never a matter of convenience and indeed remains functional, operational and enforceable without due regard to the electioneering process.

As we have already said, we are committed to reviewing our electoral laws and processes, like every democracy across the world should.

We intend to build on the innovations of this election that facilitate inclusiveness and participation, such as providing braille for blind people to cast their votes among other innovations.

This election was won by the candidate who received the most votes. We value the report’s recommendations. We can assure they shall be assessed and evaluated.

Garba Shehu
Senior Special Assistant to the President
(Media & Publicity)
June 18, 2019

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