APC National Secretary: Powerful Blocs That Are Backing Bulama, By Segun Tomori

It is no longer news that the seat of the National Secretary of the All Progressives Congress (APC) is vacant, what is news is that there is a proposed National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting of the party on Friday, 22nd Nov, 2019 to fill the position and other vacant offices in the party’s National Working Committee (NWC).

The NEC is expected to ratify the nominees presented by zones in which the vacant offices were zoned. The National scribe position was zoned to the North-East, and micro-zoned to Borno and Yobe which gives Arc. Waziri Bulama, an indigene of Borno, an edge to clinch it.

Apart from being the Deputy Director-General (Coordination) of the 2019 APC Presidential Campaign Council (PCC), Bulama was a frontrunner for the same position in the June 2018 National convention of the party before he was persuaded to step down at the last minute by party stakeholders for the out-gone scribe, now Gov. Mai Mala Buni of Yobe State.

Over the past few months, Bulama’s aspiration has garnered unprecedented momentum within the APC that has seen him bag the endorsement of powerful blocs within the party. Amongst the blocs that have endorsed him include:

  1. Forum of State Chairmen of the APC at its meeting in July endorsed Bulama citing his experience and impeccable credentials.
  2. Key chieftains of the APC in the North-East led by Gov. Zulum of Borno, his counterparts in other States, the 6 APC State chairmen in the zone, majority of members of the National Assembly have all thrown their weight behind Bulama.
  3. Majority of the National Working Committee (NWC) members are also rooting for Bulama. He is seen as a unifier and a detribalised administrator.
  4. The Buhari Support Organization (BSO) at a meeting of its State Coordinators sometime in July also unanimously adopted Arc. Waziri Bulama as its sole candidate for APC scribe.

The Chairman of the forum extolled his virtues stating he is the best man for the job.

  1. A pressure group under the auspices of Tinubu Transformation Agenda (TITAN) has also since backed Bulama.

Other groups that have joined the Bulama for National Secretary advocacy include, the Coalition of Buhari and Osinbajo Movement (COBOM), APC in Diaspora, Women for Buhari/Osinbajo amongst others.

It is obvious that majority of stakeholders within the APC are in support of the emergence of Bulama as the party’s scribe.

The long wait for the emergence of the new party scribe has reached feverish pitch. Party faithful across the country are now eagerly awaiting the announcement of the amiable Arc. Waziri Bulama as the substantive APC National Secretary at the party’s forthcoming NEC meeting.

Segun Tomori is the Chairman, Media & Publicity, Bulama Support Group (BSG), Dep. Chairman (South), Bulama Youth Coalition (BYC).

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Towards A New Deal For Nigeria, By Abba Kyari

The decision by the National Assembly to amend the Deep Offshore (and inland basin production sharing contract) Act is a huge victory for Nigeria. The articles and clauses of complex legislation may not appear to be the stuff to set pulses racing. But there should be no doubt: this is a watershed moment for our economy, our institutions and our people.

As a result of this amendment, Nigeria could earn an extra billion dollars a year from our oil. These are funds that will help restore our schools and hospitals, repair our roads and infrastructure and give our armed forces the support they need to keep us safe. That is a big win. But it is about more than just the money.

There is no doubt that the Deep Offshore Act had to change. The original law that provided for the operation of oil licences in deep water was introduced by the military regime back in 1993. New techniques in drilling and computer modelling were then beginning to emerge, allowing for the exploitation of oil in water depths that had previously been impossible. Fiscal terms were based on the industry’s long-term outlook for oil prices of around USD18-20/ barrel, above which profits were hardly taxed at all.

Crucially, the 1993 contract provided only for a review of terms. Oil passed USD20 barrel in 2003 but companies could, and did, refuse to accept any changes. The ‘business as usual’ lobby made sure that every attempt until now to amend the law ended in failure. But more than 25 years on, advances in technology have substantially reduced costs to industry and oil has consistently traded way above that anticipated range. For international oil companies, this has been a regulatory bonanza. A better balance between reasonable profits and a fair tax regime would years ago have delivered the billions we need to invest in Nigeria’s future.

The amendment calls time on this contractual anachronism. But it should not be seen in isolation, or as a ‘one off’. President Muhammadu Buhari pushed for the amendment as part of an ambitious programme to overhaul a corruption-saddled and under-performing oil and gas sector.

This is the key to the delivery of a more diverse and productive economy that will provide the jobs and sustainable growth we need in the coming decades to end poverty and raise living standards. Headline increases in our GDP will be matched by policies that ensure growth is inclusive and evenly shared, and provide protection and opportunity for the most vulnerable.

The President has worked with the 9th National Assembly, its leadership and members, to deliver this amendment. This is the kind of partnership that we have seen all too rarely since the restoration of democracy in 1999. We have shown how national institutions, the executive and legislature, can come together to work for the common good and the National Interest.

A sense of patriotism and the drive to deliver reform is replacing the sterile self-interest that has for too long dominated public administration. The passage of the amendment shows that the 9th National Assembly has the ambition and commitment to help make the real changes Nigeria needs if we are to move forward. The Senate and House of Representatives have shown that we can replace exploitation of the system by the few for the benefit of the few with a new spirit of co-operation – to build a fairer, more efficient system for the benefit of rich and poor alike.

Our vision is for an oil and gas industry that is attractive to investors and competitive in a crowded international market. Operations should be driven by commercial principles, transparent and free from political interference. We will deliver a new deal for host communities and proper guarantees for environmental standards.

The Collins English dictionary defines a free-for-all as “a situation in which several people or groups are trying to get something for themselves and there are no controls on how they do it.” We need an oil industry that is fair for all its stakeholders, to move towards a new partnership that ends the adversarial dysfunction and searching for loopholes that has become the norm.

The amendment is important for three reasons: it brings our laws and taxes into the 21st century; it shows that our institutions are effective and resolute in support of the National Interest; and that President Buhari means business. As Britain’s wartime prime minister Winston Churchill once said, ‘This is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end.’ We have a lot of work to do. But this amendment shows where we are going – and that now, within our grasp, is a Nigeria that works for us all.

Kyari is the Chief of Staff to the President

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Prof Abdalla And The Soaring Image Of NOUN, By Gidado Yushau Shuaib

If the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) lasts until the end of time, and there is every likelihood it will, the name ‘Prof. Abdalla Uba Adamu’ will never go into extinction. It will face no compromise. Professor Adamu, the Vice-Chancellor of NOUN has paddled the university out of the doldrums to its present admirable position as a reputable citadel of learning. One won’t be wrong to call him ‘the changer of fate.’

Established in 1983 as a springboard for open and distance learning in Nigeria, the institution had to be suspended a year after. However, its resuscitation began on 12 April 2000. Ever since the institution had been witnessing one stride after another in the hands. Notably, the administration of Prof. Abdalla which started in 2016 has been eventful especially as the institution is seen to be witnessing a what may aptly be described as the transformation to a ‘giant’ institution.

Starting from the swift relocation of its headquarters from Lagos to Abuja, the country’s ‘administrative capital’, up till the point of making the institution to have a blossoming student population unrivalled in Africa, all of which were made possible by Prof. Adamu’s leadership ‘notoriety’. In ensuring a smooth relocation, Professor Adamu had to quickly fix the infrastructural gaps in the permanent site which was then under construction.

Concerned about qualitative education relevant to the modern world, Adamu introduced professional courses with ‘attractive’ modules including degree programmes in International Relations, French and Development Studies. He also introduced Master of Law (LL.M), Master of International Law and Diplomacy (MILD), Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) Law, M.Sc Public Health, Postgraduate Diploma (PGD) Economics, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) Mass Communication, Master of Science (M.Sc) Cyber Security. Others include a Master of Science (M.Sc) Artificial Intelligence, Master of Science (M.Sc) Management Information System, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) Cyber Security, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) Artificial Intelligence, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) Management Information System as well as its over 22,000 facilitators spread across the country.

Before Prof Adamu assumed office, the university was facing a hard time over the accreditation of some of its courses by the National University Commission (NUC). With his Midas Touch, the school’s Law programme is being fine-tuned for accreditation so as its students would soon be able to enrol in the Nigerian Law School. This, before Prof Adamu’s coming, was deemed arguably impossible.

Also, under his leadership, in 2018, President Muhammadu Buhari assented the amended NOUN Act. With this recognition, the university is placed at par with all recognised universities in Nigeria under the various Acts that amended the provision of higher education in Nigerian universities. The act opens a vista of opportunities for students of the institution that they did not have before.

Going back to the institution’s infrastructural achievements under Prof Adamu, one can beat his chest that it never had it better. And it is not solely at the headquarters that the infrastructural transformation has taken place, it is across its 78 study centres. At the headquarters, there is a 3-storey faculty building billed to house the remaining faculties in Lagos. Other structures built by the professor include: a magnificent library, a brand-new printing press, a convocation ground and a media centre.

The institution also unveiled its newly redesigned Olusegun Obasanjo Centre for African Studies, OOCAS, the centre was opened to collaborate with local and international scholars willing to dissect Africa, towards the goal of producing cutting-edge research that would showcase the African story.

Apart from academics, the professor has a strong passion for sports. This is apparently why he is seeing to the building of a recreation centre at the university’s headquarters. In the centre are two courts for basketball, one for volleyball and another one for football. These facilities are being routinely used by both staff and students; hence the institution stole the show at the recent NUSSA Games at the University of Ilorin and smiled home with the highest number of medals. NOUN had more athletes in the competition than any other university.

Daily, both global and local players in the sector of education troop into the university for all sorts of collaborations. Many a university in Nigeria and beyond are now using NOUN’s template because of its efficacy. Little wonder, the Society for Peace, Conflict and Practice and Canada-based Commonwealth of Learning conferred their fellowship this workaholic Professor.

These aren’t all the achievements of Prof Adamu at NOUN. These are only a few, yet they loudly position him as a man with the Midas Touch.

Gidado Yushau Shuaib, the editor of Youths Digest and The News Digest, can be reached on giddyshuaib@gmail.com

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A Tale Of Progress: Ease Of Doing Business In Nigeria Is Picking Steam Indeed, By Bernard Okri

Progress is not an illusion, it happens – George Orwell

The World Bank’s 2020 Doing Business Index (DBI) which has ranked Nigeria 131 out of 190 countries, up 15 places from 146 positions last year, up from 170 since 2014 is a testament to the progress of our nation. For those wondering, the Doing Business Index is an annual ranking that objectively assesses prevailing business climate conditions across 190 countries based on 10 ease of doing business indicators.

This celebrated feat would not have been possible without the much needed reforms implemented by this Administration over the past four years through the establishment of the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC).

PEBEC has the aim of minimizing the constraints that come with running businesses in the country works towards the fulfillment of the projections of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP 2017-2020), which strives to deliver sustainable economic growth in Nigeria by investing in our people, and building a competitive economy. Some of the strategies that brought about this feat include cutting down the time it takes to register a business through the use of the electronic platform, new grid connections for electricity, upgrading election systems for imports and exports and also educating business owners on vital business strategies.

Since 1995, the Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission Act has taken steps to dismantle years of controls and limits on foreign direct investment (FDI), opening nearly all sectors to foreign investment, allowing for 100 percent foreign ownership in all sectors (with the exception of the petroleum sector, where FDI is limited to joint ventures or production sharing contracts), and creating the Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC) with a mandate to encourage and assist investment in Nigeria. The Government has introduced several programmes to boost FDI, notably in agriculture, exploitation and mining, oil and gas extraction, as well as in the export sectors. Tax incentives are granted to pioneering industries deemed beneficial for the economic development of the country and employment of its workforce (such as clothing); allowances facilitating capital investments and the deduction of interest on loans for gas companies are few reforms aimed at promoting public-private partnerships and strategic alliances with foreign companies.

The implementation of various strategies in pursuit of increasing the ease of doing business has had and continues to impacts on entrepreneurs in Nigeria. One of whom is Ola Brown, founder of Flying Doctors Nigeria, a medical emergency services company, whose business has been transformed by the review of the requirements for Nigerian visas in order to make it more assessable and customer-friendly to improve the country’s business climate by the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS). She disclosed during her interview with CNN how a simple policy change has transformed her business, allowing her the comfort to bring patients to Nigeria without having to get a visa in advance.

Speaking in detail at the Lit Subnational Tour organized by The Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council and the Lagos State Government, Dr. Brown spoke about how the Visa on arrival policy has enhanced her business and ensure better and faster healthcare delivery. “For me, visa on arrival has changed the way my business runs forever. Flying Doctors like every air ambulance service in the world is focused on moving patients from an area where there is an overwhelmed level of care to a more suitable level of care.”

She went further to illustrate the numerous economic opportunities for not just her business but several others catering to the value chain: “imagine trying to move an American or a European that’s had an accident in Chad into a Nigerian hospital, you have to move them to the center of Chad first and wait two days for a visa there while the patient is critical before you can get them into Nigeria. However, now we can fly directly there and bring them straight into Lagos, they get their visa on arrival when they get to Lagos and we can take them to hospital and I will tell you what that does, each of these patients are intensive care patients, they spend around $50, 000 each. So you can imagine if we are bringing one thousand to five thousand of those patients every year into Lagos, It just props up my business. The business services are making money because now they are making money from their charges when they issue visa. The hospitals are making money; the doctors can be paid better salaries. Even sometimes the relatives have to fly in to stay in hotels in Lagos. So it is a really huge boost to the economy.”

Founder of Farmcrowdy, Onyeka Akumah, remarked about his firm’s progress operating from Lagos under a better business environment brought about by the Ease of Doing Business Reforms Policy. He spoke about the strides of the Corporate Affairs Commission, CAC, under the new policy. He said: “When investors are coming into the country, it’s a lot easier for them to locate on their phone where the organization is across the country. So CAC registration is not just allowing people to register online easily but it also makes customers discover you online and that has been beneficial to us.”

The Ease of doing business policy of the federal government in collaboration with the state governments is aimed at ensuring that investors and entrepreneurs are able to carry out their business activities with little or no impediments or obstacles.
The policy is hinged on implementing enabling business environment interventions across the country with Federal Government ministries, departments and agencies working to ensure that processes and regulations are simplified and automated to ensure easier, faster and stress free business environment. Key features of this initiative include ease of business incorporation, trade across borders, prevention of double taxation, faster registration of property, introduction of visa on arrival, and successful legislation of a new Company and Allied Matters Bill 2018, among many others.

Subsequently, another vital reform that resulted in Nigeria’s progress as seen in the World Bank’s 2020 Doing Business Index (DBI) is the integration of more agencies into customs electronic data interchange system, and the introduction of an e-payment system for port authorities, thus speeding up both exports and imports.
Over the past 3 years, Nigeria has implemented more than 140 reforms all aimed at improving how business is done in the country. The World Economic Forum (WEF) has consequently recognized Nigeria’s business environment as one of the most entrepreneurial in the world, and highlighted Nigeria’s improved competitiveness in Enabling Business Environment.

Bernard Okri is the President of the Global Economic Policy Initiative.

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The Takeaways From President Buhari’s Visit To Russia By Garba Shehu

President Muhammadu Buhari has returned to Nigeria from his four-day visit to the Russian Republic extremely happy with the success of the visit, which outcome is the best response to a few skeptical audiences back home, including a toxic newspaper editorial, “Buhari, Stay On Your Job,” by the Lagos-based Punch Newspaper asking him to not travel.

Based upon the results, it must be concluded that the President’s mission was fully accomplished. The definite high point was the decision by the Russians to agree to a government-to-government understanding that would see them return to complete the Ajaokuta Steel Rolling Mill and commission it. Nigeria had expended well over USD 5 billion without it coming to fruition.

When he campaigned early in the year for his re-election, which he won with a majority of four million votes, marking a difference of 14 per cent against his closest rival, President Buhari reiterated an earlier promise to complete Ajaokuta to provide jobs and the steel backbone that the nation’s industrial complex needed so desperately. Could this have been achieved if he had locked himself inside the Aso Rock Villa? The answer is obviously a “no.”

Yet, this was not all that he secured. Presidents Buhari and Vladimir Putin opened a “new chapter” in the historically important relationship between the two countries as they both agreed to expand cooperation in energy sector, petroleum and gas, trade and investment, defence and security, mining and steel development, aluminium and phosphate, education and agriculture and a plethora of other issues which, to my pleasure had been spelled out in an elaborate manner by Tonye Princewill, an astute leader in the All Progressives Congress, APC in an opinion article he widely circulated.

President Putin noted that the traditional friendly relationship between Nigeria and his country has gained a new momentum, symbolized by a 93 per cent growth in trade between the two nations in 2018, promising that “Russian companies are ready to offer their scientific and technological developments to their African partners, and share their experience of upgrading energy, transport and communications infrastructure.”

In President Buhari’s view, this summit was a necessary anchor “to kick start what has been a very cordial and mutually beneficial relationship in past years…there are similarities between Russia’s journey under your leadership (Putin’s) and Nigeria’s aspirations for the future. We can learn a lot from the experiences of Russia’s ongoing reforms of transitioning from an oil dependent economy to a modern, diversified and inclusive economy.”

Russia is clearly seeking to reconstruct the important role the country played in its Soviet era. They had traditionally supported African countries in their fights for independence and sought to build industrial infrastructure and develop national economies.

In another sense, the focus of the summit on multilateralism, the advocacy for the reform of the United Nations and climate change action is a direct response to Trump era unilateralism.

It is noteworthy that Nigeria got everything our delegation asked for. When German Chancellor, Angela Merkel visited President Buhari in Abuja in August last year, she made reference to a pertinent defect in the relationship between Europe and Africa when it comes to the promotion of projects.

“When we give you a project, we show you the door to a bank. We tell you to go and obtain financing. The Chinese give you the project, they give you financing. That is something we will have to look at,” she said to President Buhari.

Before the Europeans make up their minds on this, the Russians are now having a go at the idea. For every viable project Nigerian officials suggested in the course of this summit, the chances of the financing appeared within sight.

It is in the light of this that one of Russia’s leading rail line service providers, MEDPROM indicated their interest in undertaking the 1,400-kilometer Lagos-Calabar rail track that will pass through all the states in the South-South sub-region.

The agreement and MoU signed between the NNPC and the Russia’s Lukoil is another spectacular agreement along these lines. Lukoil owns seven refineries and a record turnover of USD 38 billion.

The two oil giants will upgrade their commercial relationship to a government-to-government backed partnership, to work together in upstream operations and in revamping Nigeria’s ill-functioning refineries. The signing ceremony was witnessed by Timipre Sylva, Minister of State for Petroleum Resources. The Group Managing Director of the NNPC, Mele Kyari signed for the Nigerian side while Vagit Alekperov, President, signed on behalf of Lukoil.

In support of this, President Buhari made clear that he wished to work with Russian businesses to improve the efficiency of our oil and gas sector, giving a strong assurance that his administration will “ensure this initiative is implemented within the shortest possible time.”

Of no less significance is the MoU resolving past issues, paving the way for the revival of the rested joint venture between the NNPC and Russia’s gas giants, GASPROM for the development of Nigeria’s enormous gas resources and its infrastructure.

In that waggish but poisonous editorial, the newspaper in question raised concerns about terrorism, kidnapping and general insecurity in the country. It asked a question, wondering why the President would travel abroad when there is, in the country, the problem of kidnapping and fire from oil tankers had caused the loss of life and devastation of shops. Yes, these are sad and unwelcome. This is a President who is praised for his prompt response to the Onitsha fire, first by releasing a message of commiseration same evening and thereafter, dispatching the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs on a condolence mission. The minister gave directive on the spot to the National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA for the immediate deployment of emergency assistance to the Southeast.

Either out of ignorance or mischief, the Punch failed to see how important it is for the President to seek international support in tackling home grown terrorists, the Boko Haram, reinforced by 2000 ex-ISIS fighters as disclosed by Mr. Putin.

Not only did President Buhari get that needed support to fight Boko Haram terrorists, he got the two countries to cooperate extensively in the strategic fields of defence, civil nuclear energy and in dealing with piracy and oil pipeline vandalism in the Gulf of Guinea.

The Nigerian leader also got a deal for the technological upgrade and timely delivery of the balance of seven, out of an existing order for 12 Attack Helicopters. These, and an assortment of military hardware are direly needed by Nigeria to deal with the new wave of crime bedevilling the country.

Interestingly, one of the three key themes of the whole conference is security. African states with Russia’s support have, as an outcome, drawn up a regional security architecture that would use new technological solutions to ensure security for cities, securing the borders and creating a buffer against the illegal movement of explosives, weapons, drugs and smuggling to reduce terrorist danger to the continent.

Still on security, the Nigeria-Russia Military Technical Agreement that lapsed a few years ago without being renewed will be given due attention by Nigeria. Russia had been ready with her part. President Buhari gave a response to this, saying, “I have directed the Minister of Defence to work with the Ministry of Justice to conclude this matter within the shortest possible time.”

The significance of this agreement lies in the fact that it opens the door to the procurement of military hardware, on a government-to-government basis, eliminating middlemen and reducing cost, as well as the training of military personnel, modernization of the armed forces, refurbishment and renewal of infrastructure and equipment, which President Putin said he is ready to assist Nigeria to undertake.

The one perennial business and, if you like emotional topic between the two countries is the protracted issue of the Aluminium Smelter Company of Nigeria, ALSCON, Ikot-Abasi, Akwa-Ibom State. It too, will be resolved. President Buhari announced that he had asked the Ministry of Justice, “to submit a comprehensive report on the UC Russel (the Russian owners of the plant) matter…I want to assure you that the aim of our reforms is to ensure such investments are concluded and actualized in a professional and painless manner.”

There are many of our citizens who do not reckon with the fact that this country has a nuclear programme for about 40 years, one however, that has not gone beyond the setting up of research stations. Arising from these discussions, President Putin invited President Buhari to join him in taking the next step in the implementation of the project by commencing the construction of the nuclear power plant.

The two Presidents also addressed issues in education and agriculture. Russia said she would give additional scholarships. There are currently 100 Nigerian students studying under her scholarship and so far, 797 students from Nigeria have benefited from scholarships for training in Russia in various academic fields.

On agriculture, Russia agreed to support Nigeria in laying a solid foundation for food security. This will partly come through raw materials (phosphate) supply for President Buhari’s very impactful Presidential Fertilizer Initiative that has seen the reopening of dozens of blending plants and the return to work of thousands of employees.

Russia, now the world’s largest producer of wheat according to President Putin, will work with Nigeria in growing wheat to meet domestic and market needs.

This is in response to President Buhari who made a request to Putin, that “we seek your Government’s support especially in the area of wheat production. Today, Nigeria produces less than one hundred thousand metric tons of wheat locally while our imports are projected to exceed five million tons in 2020. We therefore need your support to bridge the deficit which will create jobs and save our foreign exchange for other important areas like security, defence and infrastructure.”

The two leaders also discussed regional and international issues of mutual interest, with President Buhari pointedly asking for Russia’s support for Nigeria’s aspiration to assume a permanent seat in the United Nations Security Council, in the envisaged reform of the UN.

Realizing that the relationship between our two countries had suffered the loss of the momentum characteristic of the Soviet era, President Buhari said “to move forward, may I suggest that our countries organize the fifth Joint Commission meeting to review and ratify all the agreements (about 40) contained in the Inter-governmental Nigeria-Russia Joint Commission on Economic, Scientific and Technical Cooperation Protocol of November 11, 2016,” to which his Russian counterpart agreed.

For the African continent that been looked at as a potential bright spot in the world economy for a long time, the flurry of summits between the leaders of the major economies of the world and the Heads of African states and government is a clear indication of Africa coming of age.

For Nigeria and President Buhari in particular, the Russia-Africa Summit had served the desire the two countries to diversify and further strengthen the bonds of our robust bilateral relations. A solid foundation has indeed been laid for the promotion of the mutually beneficial cooperation between both nations.

Garba Shehu, is the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media & Publicity

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Nigeria’s Democratic Journey: Why Social Media Would Define Future Elections, By Jasmine Osai

No average person 30 years ago would have predicted that Social Media would define democracy three decades ahead. The closest was William Gibson in 1984 in his masterpiece, Neuromancer. In it, he predicted a situation where there would be no geographical boundaries for the mass media and information flow because of technological advancement. The evolution of social media platforms, like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, have not just provided room to facilitate networking among friends but have also provided the platforms for political communication and campaign, hence giving testimony to Gibson’s prophecy.

The global political media system has undergone massive transformations over the past decade. There is a major shift in how and where people get political information and with technological advancements, more people easily turn to digital sources. With no geographical boundary, over the past decade, social media has become one of the most powerful tools in campaigns and governance.

Not left behind, Nigeria has witnessed an exponential growth in Internet and social media use in defining its political processes. Although social media platforms were already in the picture around the 2011 Presidential election, the political role of social media in Nigerian politics took a more established position during the famous OccupyNigeria movement in 2012. In a seeming unprecedented fashion, the protests saw thousands of Nigerians take to the streets to demand improvement in the fight against corruption, the reversal of the deregulation of downstream oil industries and at large, and better government accountability. Participants at the protests were mostly mobilized by social media posts; the movement exploited the networking, collaborating, and community-building potential of social media. Ever since, social media’s political function in campaigns, government, and political movements, as well as its role in the news media ecosystem in Nigeria, has rapidly broadened in reach, consequence and complexity.

The OccupyNigeria movement drove a hunger for change; so, when the merchants of change came, a large percentage of Nigerians were stoked. They picked up the gauntlet and got into the thick of things; Nigerians rallied, campaigned and even donated to the ‘change’ cause on social media. These social media platforms played a significant role in the emergence of President Muhammadu Buhari as the winner in what has been described as the most ‘free and fair election in the history of Nigeria’ in 2015.

“Elections are not won on social media but perceptions are shaped there,” says an aphorism. Indeed,social media did not win the 2015 elections. However, it molded opinion, helped create viral campaigns, checkmated irregularities, and locked down results – it was a similar case for the 2019 elections. But politics transcends the social media sphere; other factors come to play – local popularity, finances, relationship with key actors, among others. This is most likely why although some party candidates in the 2019 presidential elections may seem to have had thousands of Retweets, Shares and Likes on social media, translating to a perception of preference for their candidature, President Buhari still won the elections. He was able to engage more people at the grassroots whilst having a relatively strong online campaign.

Social media has ultimately become a tool for driving one cause or the other; from social movements aimed at socio-economic development, to direction for policy-making, to protestations against corruption, to demands for government empathy or accountability, and advocacy for an overall better performance and input by government officials.

Take the more recent instance of the proposed implementation of the controversial Rural Grazing Area (RUGA) settlement, which was suspended partly because Nigerians took to various social media platforms to oppose the policy. These platforms have created a space for intensive and productive civic engagement, political discourse and deliberative democracy, using hashtags as a coordinating and tracking strategy. In many cases social media trends do not just stop as trends, but transcend the internet to become raging topics on TV shows, radio programmes and even newspaper headlines.

Nigerians on social media are forever on the topic of who gets what, when and how and are keenly involved in conversations tilting towards a progressive country. These conversations have influenced policies, people and most definitely have influenced the opinions and decisions of those in power.

Four years ahead of the 2023 Presidential election, commentaries on the agenda of that political epoch are already being held – on the internet space. The divide on social and digital media platforms, like Twitter, Nairaland and Facebook are getting wider with partisanship, interests and sentiments palpable in the tone of posts. The character of the political discourse on these platforms is already defining the persona of who users seek would emerge as their next president – or not.

Jasmine Osai, a development and media enthusiast writes from Port Harcourt.

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My Head Swelled And Swelled, As The World Celebrated Buhari’s Anti-Corruption Credentials, By Femi Adesina

Wednesday was a helluva day. Filled to the brim. We didn’t call it a day till 9 p.m (2 a.m Nigerian time), and it was with all pleasure that I dived into bed about an hour later. Sweet embrace. Sleep. William Shakespeare calls it “sweet nourisher in life’s feast.” We must give glory to God for creating sleep. That’s why it’s not good to murder sleep. Serious trouble.
How did Wednesday go?

President Muhammadu Buhari met with the President of Portugal, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa. The latter said it was always inspiring for him, each time he sat near the Nigerian President.

Purpose of the meeting? Portugal would be hosting Europe-Africa Forum in Lisbon next year, and the Nigerian leader was being invited to declare the event open.

“Please come, we’ll like to see you” de Sousa said. “We’ve been waiting for you for three years. Please come, even if it’s for just half a day. Many African leaders have visited us, but we want Nigeria. Please come to Lisbon.”
The President said our own President was looking quite well: “You are so fit! Your opponents say you are ill. I guess that is just to disturb you.” General laughter.

President Buhari said he would consider the invitation, apologizing that he hadn’t visited all the while. “I was very busy in the first term, knowing that I was going to face re-election. Now that we are in second and final term, we will consolidate on what we’ve done in first term, so that I can retire in peace and comfort.”

Next. Former Prime Minister of Australia, Hon Kevin Rudd, who now spends his time advocating for water, sanitation, and discouragement of open defecation round the world. He is chairman of a body called Water and Sanitation for All. He says his children now call him ‘Global Sultan of Sanitation.’ Interesting.

President Buhari told him what Nigeria was doing in the area of water and sanitation, including declaring a state of emergency in November last year. Target date for eradicating open defecation is 2025. Ex-PM Rudd shared a slogan made popular in India by PM Narendra Modi, particularly directed at ladies: ‘Never marry a man, unless he can provide you with clean toilet.’ Lol. Many men would surely be sentenced to eternal bachelorhood, if that happens in Nigeria. But happen it must, President Buhari assured. He said the country would step up advocacy against open defecation, and clean water would be provided for all.

Next. Two men of wealth, and of power. Their kind of wealth naturally confers great influence anywhere in the world. Bill Gates, and Aliko Dangote. Before they came in, one of us had jocularly said: “I hope they would announce a gift of one million dollars to each of us before they leave.” I would simply faint, I responded . If I got revived, and saw the pile of money, I would faint again. Remember the late Justice Ovie Whiskey? He was the electoral commission boss sometime in Nigeria. When someone accused him of collecting inducement in millions of Naira to swing victory to a particular side, he said he had never seen a million Naira before, and that if he saw it, he would simply faint. So, don’t blame me if I faint at the sight of a million dollars.
Gates and Dangote gave the President updates on the polio war, progress on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), agriculture, and many others. Their host lauded them for their help to humanity, saying: “Thanks for deriving pleasure in helping people.” (I thought they would drop the one million dollars gift for each person at that time, but alas, they didn’t).
Next again. President Julius Mada Bio of Sierra Leone. He came to discuss matters that affected his country, the West African sub-region, and Africa in general.

Now, to the big one for the day. High Level Side Event on Promotion of International Cooperation to Combat Illicit Financial Flows. It was organized by AUDA-NEPAD in conjunction with Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) of Nigeria. President Buhari presented a keynote address, was supported by President Edgar Lungu of Zambia, and President of Ethiopia, Sahlework Zewede. President of UNGA 74, Professor Tijjani Muhammad-Bande, was also there, as well as key figures from round the world.
In his keynote address, President Buhari lamented the evil that corruption was doing to Africa. Quoting from the 2014 Global Financial Integrity Report, the Nigerian leader noted that Nigeria alone lost minimum of $157.5 billion between 2003-2012, adding that such massive loss of assets resulted in dearth of resources “to fund public services or to alleviate poverty,” in the country.

According to him, “This is why, as Africans, we have no choice but to break the back of corruption…That is why our government has made it a war we intend to win. We will give all it takes to ensure there is no hiding place for purveyors of corrupt practices who are truly enemies of the people.”

Stressing the need to strengthen good practices on asset recovery and return, President Buhari said that, “In the last five years, our government has made significant progress to curb corruption,” adding: “We have recovered millions of dollars stolen from our country.”

Then followed a session in which my head swelled, and swelled, as keynote statements were made by personalities from across the world. Ori mi wu, as the Yoruba people would say. Almost all the speakers were not done, till they had eulogized President Buhari for his commitment to integrity, transparency and accountability. It was one evening every right thinking Nigerian in the hall felt proud of our President. I just was afraid that my head could burst before the end of the event, as speaker after speaker poured encomium on the Nigerian President, the anti-corruption champion of Africa.

You see why some of us believe in the man, and can follow him blindfolded into battle? But pitifully, a prophet often does not have honour in his own country. Interventions came from African Union Commission, European Commission, Norway, Namibia, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), former Prime Minister of Niger Republic and CEO of AUDA-NEPAD, Sweden, South Africa, and many others. Almost everyone had good words about the Nigerian leader and his passion for anti-corruption.

My greatest takeaway from the seminal evening was perhaps the declaration by Mr Mukhisa Kituyi of UNCTAD. He said corruption was a matter that brings shame to the African continent. He praised President Buhari “for offering leadership,” and then threw a challenge: “Let other African leaders stand up to be counted.” Food for thought, indeed.

Adesina is Special Adviser to President Buhari on Media and Publicity

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Osinbajo, Inccurable Wailers And The Verdict Of History -By Abdullahi Haruna

That Vice President Yemi Osinbajo is the most loyal Vice President in the chequered history of Nigeria’s democracy is to state the obvious. However, the renowned Professor of law, the venerated Pastor of one of the biggest denominational churches in the world and the politician without blemish is not only known for his loyalty, he is the most learned, the most versatile and the most useful Vice President the country has ever produced.

No doubt, President Muhammadu Buhari’s selection of Osinbajo as a tested and trusted ally was not done in error or in happenstance; daily happenings even reinforce this fact. The enviable conviviality between the duo, does not come to people as a surprise because both individual share some semblances – their humane dispositions, commitment to doing what is right, and their display of sincerity and integrity signify a perfect match.

In the history of democracy in Nigeria, Osinbajo is a cypress among pliant shrubs; he stands out among his contemporaries. He stands out in terms of resourcefulness and reliability in helping to steer the ship of nation building under the leadership of President Buhari in times of peace and in times of turbulence as they often happen. It’s no exaggeration, too, that Osinbajo remains one of the most cerebral Nigerians to have occupied the position of Vice President within the context of the country’s embrace of democracy.

As a symbol of peace, Osinbajo’s words are like soothing balm that heals the wound of the past created by marginalisation, discrimination, bigotry and nepotism. He is the bridge between the ruling class and the ordinary Nigerians who had been neglected, abandoned and relegated to the background by successive governments. Past governments created unbreakable barricade around themselves; they only strolled out of their comfort zones during elections while throwing carrots at them, making empty promises in place of succour only to vaporise into the thin air after getting their votes. Ordinary Nigerians are those who stand under the scorching sun or get drenched by heavy downpour of heavenly bliss to register for their Permanent Voters’ Card (PVC) or stand on the queue endlessly to cast their votes during elections. They were however placed on the fringe of governance, as dividends of democracy always elude them. The present government has emancipated this all important group that were rob-off their entitlements, and ostracised from the mainstream of governance. Vice President Osinbajo is a symbol of that emancipation, as he traverses the nooks and crannies of this country, giving people hope in place of despair.

It is true that ordinary Nigerians remain the greatest beneficiaries of this government and Vice President Yemi Osinbanjo has been one of the messengers through which these benefits are delivered to these once neglected folks. There is no doubt, the current National Social Investment (SIP) initiated by this government is the most effective and efficient in the history of this country. From the N-Power to National Home-grown School Feeding Programme, Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) and Government Enterprises Entrepreneurship Programme (GEEP), Nigerians know that this is the first time that those for whom social programmes are designed are equally the beneficiaries.

For record’s sake, Goodluck Jonathan’s Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme otherwise known as SURE-P which was meant to reinvest the federal government savings from fuel subsidy removal on critical infrastructural projects and social safety programmes was the surest means of whetting the insatiable appetites of the corrupt individuals in high places; those marauders of Aso Rock corridors, who, like vultures, always haunted for carcasses. No doubt, SURE-P was a complete ruse, as the funds meant for it, found their permanent abode in private coffers. If SURE-P stood for anything, it was a sure corruption.

Does anyone need a retelling that the national economic management team under the leadership of the Vice President was responsible for guiding the country out of the turbulence occasioned by economic recession that almost got the country completely paralyzed? Recall that the economic team of former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, which plunged the nation into abyss of recession, was led by Dr. Ngozi Okonjo Iweala, an expert in finance and economics. During this inglorious era, there were series of rhetoric on diversification and revitalization which ended up an illusion. Instead, what the nation witnessed were some voodoo growth figures that did window dressing but in reality left us perpetually attached to the apron of the zero-sum and precarious oil economy.

However, it was Professor Osinbajo, an expert in law and jurisprudence and a non-economist that led the nation out of the recession. Were it not his diligence and commitments in rallying the private and public sectors of the economy together, the country would have been completely grounded. He provided the needed leadership with the express permission of President Buhari who trusts his capacity to deliver even on the most arduous task. Although not an economist, Osinbajo’s perfect blend of intelligence, perspicacity and sincerity has ridiculed economists and financial experts; he succeeded where some economists and financial experts had woefully failed.

Osinbajo is a committed Buharist, and his stainless loyalty to this government is borne out of his undiluted love for this country. Like his Boss, President Buhari, he is committed to positioning the country for greater prosperity, through selfless leadership. Even though the world knows this, the naysayers who are still not tired of the wailing manacle around their necks, believe he has not done much. But we ask, what else do they want from Vice President Osinbajo?

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How NEC, Newly Formed EAC Would Work Together By Vice President Osinbajo

In response to a request for clarification by members of the National Economic Council regarding NEC’s relationship with the newly announced Economic Advisory Council, EAC, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, has said both councils are for the benefit of the President.

Prof. Osinbajo spoke at the 97th NEC meeting today at the Council Chambers.
“If NEC want to be briefed regularly by the Economic Advisory Council, EAC, we will request the President to do that,” the VP explained to the Council observing that such interaction will promote synergy.

Below are highlights of NEC deliberations:

NEC (5TH IN 2019) 97TH NEC MEETING – THURSDAY, 19TH October, 2019

UPDATE ON THE NATIONAL LIVESTOCK TRANSFORMATION PLAN BY THE GOVERNOR OF EBONYI STATE, DAVE UMAHI, CHAIRMAN OF NEC TECHNICAL COMMITTEE ON THE NLTP

The chairman reminded NEC that the Committee was to address the
Farmer/herder crisis
The Committee presented a National Livestock Transformation Plan 2019 – 2028.
The Plan is not targeted on only cows but a holistic strategy to address animal husbandry.
The Plan has six pillars:
Conflict Resolution
Justice and Peace
Humanitarian Relief and Early Recovery
Human Capital Development
Cross cutting issues
Economic Development
The Committee proposed an implementation guideline to guide FG and States
N100 billion has been budgeted to support the project.
FG is to contribute 80% in grant to support States, while States will contribute land, project implementation structure, personnel and 20% cost of the project.
Council Resolution
Need to look at the Trans-Human West Africa Regional Protocol – because the country cannot allow such movement of cattles without registering and monitoring them
Council emphasised the need to established the fact that NLTP is a creation of NEC and State Governors and is completely distinct from RUGA.
NEC adopted the National Livestock Transformation Plan on January 18, 2019. It is a creation of the National Economic Council.
States will determine, whether or not they are willing to participate, as FG did not impose this plan. Participation remains voluntary.
The role of the FG is to coordinate, monitor and help implement the plan.

UPDATE ON ACCOUNT

    Honourable Minister of State for Budget and National Planning reported to Council that balances in the underlisted accounts as at 17th September, 2019 are as follows:

EXCESS CRUDE ACCOUNT (ECA) = USD 274, 583, 856 .78
STABILIZATION ACCOUNT = N23, 796, 349,487.76
DEV. NATURAL RES. ACCT FUND = N105, 135, 613, 817.27
UPDATE ON BUDGET SUPPORT LOAN FACILITY
The Honourable Minister of State also briefed in the Budget Support Facility that State Governments are expected to start servicing the loan from September 2019 and repayment is over 240 months
Council resolved that Governors should meet with the Ministry of Finance and Central Bank of Nigeria to sort out the details of repayment modalities and the Vice President will ensure same and ensure the meeting between the Governors, CBN and Finance Ministry in order to facilitate the speedy resolution of the matter.
UPDATE ON THE PRESIDENTIAL ENABLING BUSINESS ENVIRONMENT COUNCIL (PEBEC)
The Secretary of the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC) Dr. Jumoke Oduwole gave an update on building an Enabling Business Environment. She informed Council that
There is currently a reform wave in African countries, as contained in the African Development Bank (AFDB) Economic Outlook Report released in January, 2019.
That in the 2019 World Bank ease of doing business ranking, Nigeria is ranked 146 with Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) making up to 90% of Business in Nigeria.
That the Economic Recovery Growth Plan (ERGP) 2017-2020, which has three broad objectives; which includes restoring growth; Investing in people and Building a competitive economy has positioned Nigeria in the path of building a competitive economy.
That PEBEC is mandated to make Nigeria’s ranking to top 100 in the 2020 World Bank Doing Business index.
Achieve the required political buy-in across all arms and levels of government.
Furthermore, she told NEC that PEBEC has in the past 3 years achieved the following:
Moved up 24 places in the World Bank Ease of Doing Business ranking
32 Nigerian states, led by Kaduna, Enugu, Abia, Lagos and Anambra states have improved in their ease of doing business environment.
An independent EODB survey adjudged Nigeria’s reforms as impactful in terms of reduction in time, cost and procedures of doing business.
REPORT OF THE AD-HOC COMMITTEE ON CRUDE OIL THEFT,
PREVENTION AND CONTROL PRESENTED BY GOVERNOR EDO STATE

-The 13 member Ad-Hoc Committee which is chaired by the Governor of Edo State, Mr. Godwin Obaseki in their report, told the Council that the Committee is constituted to address:
i. Impact of vandalism, oil theft and illegal bunkering on oil production;
ii. Effectiveness of the activities of the JTF and other Security Agencies
iii. Consider the set-up of Special Courts to prosecute offenders, among others.
The Terms of Reference of the Ad-Hoc Committee is to include:
· restoring and sustaining the three major pipelines;
· assessing the challenges and draw up a roadmap to guide further actions towards finding a lasting solution to the problem;
· co-opt individual or corporate body to facilitate the work of the Committee and update the Council regularly.

  • The Ad-Hoc Committee in its findings discovered that there were losses. NNPC reported a loss of 22.64 million barrel of crude oil valued at USD 1.35 billion for 2019 half a year and possibly UDS 2.7 billion for a full year at a global oil price of USD 60 per barrel, if not checked.
  • The losses were recorded on the following pipeline:
    a. Nember Creek Trunk Line (NCTL) 9.2 million barrels
    b. Trans Niger Pipeline (TNP) 8.6 million barrels
    c. Trans Forcados Pipeline (TFP) 3.96 million barrels
    d. Trans Escravos Pipeline (TSEP) 877 Thousand barrels.
  • Absence of governance structure for the pipeline such that no one is held accountable whenever there is a breach on the lines.
  • Slow and inadequate prosecution of oil thieves, despite numerous arrests and seizures.
  • Absence of petroleum products filling stations in most of its oil producing Communities that make them resort to illegal bunkering and refineries
  • Huge internal and external markets of stolen crude oil which include Ghana as well as some neighboring countries.
    -The Committee made the following recommendations to the Council:
    i. The need to restructure the maintenance of all pipelines as a way of tackling the perpetrators of oil theft. ii. Have a legal framework that will ensure every criminal is duly prosecuted, imprisoned and all assets confiscated.
    iii. Setting up Special Courts to try offenders, set-up of Legal Task Force to coordinate the prosecution of arrested offenders as well as train special judges to handle cases of oil theft.
    iv. NNPC to engage the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) to identify markets for the stolen products.
    v. Governors of the oil producing states to step up actions to develop their communities with their 13% derivation allocation as well as implement programmes that will be impactful to make life easy for the people. They should also create employment opportunities for the youths in these regions.
    vi. Propose a funding arrangement to be jointly funded by the Federal, State Governments and oil companies.

Council Resolution
Council resolve as follows:
Recommendations given will be presented to the President who is also the Minister of Petroleum for the final decision and implementation.
The Chairman of Council also asked NNPC to make a presentation to the Council on the state of PMS and smuggling across the borders.
ANY OTHER BUSINESS

Governors requested clarification from the Council Chairman on the relationship between NEC and the newly formed Economic Advisory Council. The Vice President explained that both Councils are advisory for the benefits of the President, while NEC is established by the Constitution. The Vice President added that NEC could be briefed regularly on the activities of the newly found EAC with the permission of the President.

Released by

‘Laolu Akande

Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media & Publicity
Office of the Vice President
19th October, 2019

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Trader Moni: Too Little To You. The Lifeline Of A Trader, By Akinloye James

According to the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN) the number of MSMEs in Nigeria is at 37 million, employing 59 million persons contributing over 70% of the active labor force. That means over a quarter of our population are involved in small and medium scale businesses. And they are mostly artisans, petty traders and the likes. Of this large number, 43% fail due to lack of funds for daily sustenance or consistent sales and 38% do not grow beyond their initial start-up level.  A major challenge of these businesses is they cannot meet the basic requirement of obtaining loans at commercial banks, and even when they do, they do not possess sufficient collateral for these loans. Research shows that the availability of microcredit facilities is one key step to boosting economies of developing countries like Nigeria. Yet this has not been the case, as credit facilities have in most instances been channelled to the high and mighty businesses.

Nigeria’s Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osibajo is oft heard saying that one the objectives of his administration is to invest in the lives of its people, especially those at the bottom of the pyramid. The visible and rigorous efforts of the initiatives of the National Social Investment Programmes are telling of this intent. The Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme (GEEP) is one of the schemes of the Social Investment Programmes. Through its sub-schemes, TraderMoni and MarketMoni,  financial support is provided through micro lending to micro scale traders. These schemes seek to promote financial inclusion at the grassroots, assisting petty traders with the financial support to conduct their respective businesses. They serve a dual purpose: an economic intervention to drive economic advancement at the grassroots, as well as a social impact project. The implication of this is that these schemes are set to improve the nation’s economy by first improving the daily living conditions its beneficiaries.

Two commonplace errors I have often come across  when conversations on Trader Moni come about: one, the notion that 10,000 Naira can barely make an impact in a person’s life, let alone a household or a business and secondly, the possibility of the scheme to have significant impact on a national or global scale especially in the long term.

These notions are evince that the divide between Nigeria’s poor and rich is palpable; that while to some a loan of 10,000 may seem as paltry sum and even useless, to a large number – a silent majority – it may seem synonymous with oxygen. The imbalance in the conversation flows from the fact that those who control the spaces of conversations, those who write history and shape narratives are the elite minority who cannot fathom the logic of the impact of 10,000 Naira to a small business. To them this money would function to simply cater for petrol or recharge card.

The beneficiaries of the scheme mostly do not have a voice. They are not on social media. They do not have smart phones to explain their stories – and even when they do, they are not literate to tell it. They are not invited to the TV stations to comment on the effects of these loans – their best chances at having their voices known is when the Vice President takes a tour to assess the programme in markets. They cannot write opinion pieces on newspapers or blogs. Yet these are the men and women who form the majority – the silent majority.

Whether they have a voice or not, it does not take away their reality. Take for instance Mrs Agbo Mnenna Mercy who heartily shared her growth story of selling basins of corn to trading in bags; to Mrs Anyor Doshima, a petty trader in Wurunkum market, Benue State, who through Trader Moni was able to make an increase in the number of livestock she owned from 50 to 70; to Solomon Ogunwale a trader in Oja Oba market, Oyo State, who has expanded his blending business and has now employed a new staff. 

These seemingly little changes in their businesses have culminated in increase in their purchasing power as well as improvements in their living standards, and even nutrition. The enormity of Nigerians in this economic demography is one of the reasons why it is detrimental for this vast number to remain underfunded or unassisted. The scheme addresses a pertinent challenge of citizens in this demography; accessing capital without the added pain of high interest rates and rigid collateral demands which before now, has prevented them from expanding their businesses and employing more labour. The ripple effect of the seemingly little, stretches as far as improving  productivity among the disadvantaged population, decrease in inequality as more women are empowered financially, and the improvement in living standards triggering more economic activities across the nation.

The thousands of petty traders who have benefitted from these schemes are proof that they are working.  And impacting on the socio-economic lives of its beneficiaries. They are paying back these loans too – to access higher loans to continue the expansion of their businesses. It is not a quick-fix that would end poverty in Nigeria overnight. Like many great initiatives consistency and diligence are needed to ensure that the schemes do not lose track.

It was Confucius who said that he who intends to move a mountain must first start by carrying little stones. The little impact of each loan given to a family adds to the greater impact that Nigeria needs to end poverty, no matter how slowly. With over two million loans disbursed so far, this lifelines have done more for the economy than many can ever fathom.

Akinloye James is the President of the Initiative to Save Democracy.

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Court’s Affirmation of President Buhari’s Victory, Not Unexpected – Barr. Ismaeel Ahmed

The judgment of the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal striking out the petition of the PDP and its candidate in the 2019 Presidential elections, Atiku Abubakar, and affirming the victory of President Muhammadu Buhari at the polls is one that we did not see as unexpected, Barrister Ismaeel Ahmed, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Social Investment Programmes and a member of the APC Board of Trustees and also a Director in the 2019 Buhari Presidential Campaign Council has stated.

The Kano Born Politician in a statement delivered to journalists said that although he recognizes the right of the former Vice President to challenge the victory in court, he truly believes that in the spirit of building a fractured nation, the resources and time could have been well spent on focusing in the already agenda of moving the country forward.

“A genuine electoral mandate was given to us in February that truly reflected the mood and political reality in the country. We didn’t win in any state that we didn’t have a strong wind going into the elections. As a matter of fact we lost in states that we could have won if we were to do what PDP was used to doing during elections. We wouldn’t have lost Abuja, or Oyo or Imo or Edo where we had APC Governors and a federal government. This was an extremely fair contest with results that reflect the mood of the country at the time and we won squarely as the courts have affirmed today. No one in this country can contest President Buhari’s appeal and popular support.”??“Many Nigerians do not just love President Buhari because he is loveable, but they cherish the qualities and charisma he brings to the table. He is a man of determination, he has an unassailable public profile that speaks humility and integrity, he is focused and has Nigeria’s interests at heart.??“President Buhari is a patriot. His sacrifices and commitments to this country are a matter of public knowledge and record. So it is not surprising to see that Nigerians went to the polls to vote him overwhelmingly. I was confident of our victory from the start and I was also confident that the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal would only affirm this victory.”??Ismaeel Ahmed went further to state that the issue the PDP brought to the table were not solid and could hold no grounds in the courts of law.

“I reviewed the submissions their lawyers brought before the courts, and even on face value they lacked evidentiary substance. I believe the entire case was just an attempt to smear the President and attack the credibility of his well-earned victory. It wasn’t much else. No serious evidence was brought to prove the case.

“Attacking the certification of a former Head of State, Military General and a Presidential candidate who contested against PDP severally to be challenged about a school leaving certificate only after he had won is just an attempt at ridicule and that’s why it’s painful. It wasn’t a case of elections and Law, it was almost a personalized attack on an outstanding public servant. They called governance and helping poor traders through micro-credit loans ‘vote-buying’; all these were struck out by the Tribunal.”

Barrister Ismaeel also noted that now that the President’s victory had been affirmed, the next task before the government which he plays a critical role in as one of the managers of the Social Investment Programmes, was to deliver on the promises the party had made during the elections.

He further noted that the government would focus on ensuring that it continues to lay a solid foundation for the sustainable development of the country.

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3 Reasons Why Atiku Stood No Chance At The Presidential Election Petition Tribunal, By Akinloye James

1. His petition was filled with so many contradictions, that for every claim he made, he made another claim that contradicted the other. Take for instance: In his petition Atiku said that the card readers used during the election transmitted results that showed he got over 16 million votes. By this Atiku relied on the optimum working of card readers across the country to establish his claim – yet the same Atiku in the same petition says the same card readers were barely used in 11 Northern States.

2. He based his petition on a non-existent server. Atiku claimed that INEC had a server where votes were allegedly transmitted through card readers. This is the most ridiculous claim yet. Why? One, the electoral laws do not provide for electoral transmission of results. Two, because there is no such provision, there was no such transmission by any means. The only means by which results were collated and tabulated were through paper forms at polling units. Atiku then claims that Card Readers were used to transmit votes tabulated. This is foolish. Because nobody votes on card readers. For votes to be transmitted via any device, you would have to have voted the party of your choice on that device. Nobody voted on card readers. The card readers were used before voting to accredit voters. Thus the card readers can only tell you the number of voters and those who voted, but not who they voted for. Atiku thinks everyone is as foolish as he is.

3. Atiku believes President Buhari does not have the required certificate to qualify to run for President. Now that is really dumb. How did a man rise to become a General in the Nigerian Army if he did not have a certificate. It simply does not make sense. Yet President Buhari has provided from the records of WAEC and CAMBRIDGE the transcripts of his Senior School Leaving Certificate: That is the West African School Certificate. This is the minimum requirement expected by law. His classmates have also come forward to affirm that he indeed was their classmate and that they sat for these exams together. Recall that President Buhari has maintained that his certificates got missing during a raid by some Army Officers on his residence during the 1985 coup against him.

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