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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Taye Paul Olubayo: Ode To The Brand Strategist Steadily Revolutionizing The Face Of Digital Media In Africa

There are two types of people who will tell you cannot make a difference in this world: those who are afraid to try and those who are afraid you will succeed.

  • Ray Goforth

 In a world prevalent with Fake News, half truths and complete lies, it is refreshing encountering, a vibrant, focused and dedicated young man, who, despite all odds, continues to rise above all the noise charting a path for himself.

My first encounter with Taye Paul Olubayo, the self-acclaimed UNILAG EFIWE, must have been sometime between 2014 and 2015. He just got out of a meeting with the Business Development Manager at that time, of Hellofood Nigeria (now Jumia Food).

As they were just finding their feet in the Nigerian space, Hellofood, being the first company to introduce food ordering services on a commercial scale in Nigeria, Taye had gone in to pitch the operation #InvadeYaba to the Hellofood team.

His tactics were simple – as the company’s office was set up in Yaba; Yaba being the tech nerve centre of Lagos and also home to three higher institutions of learning (University of Lagos, Yabatech and FCE Akoka), it was only wise to, in his words, “invade Yaba” letting students and staff of tech companies around the environs know that from the comfort of their offices and hostels, they could have delicious meals delivered to them within 15minutes.

He had rightly postulated getting a grip hold of Yaba, would have a ripple effect on other areas in the state. He further argued that the company focus on starting big and expanding as opposed to trying to take over the entire state in one swoop.

He did eventually get the contract to execute the project. But that’s not even the beauty of the story, as at that time all this was happening, Taye was only just a Youth Corper serving in some remote town in Ibadan!

I have since followed closely, and with keen interest, his activities since then. Loosing his dad in December 1999 and mum in January 2003 didn’t stop him from bagging his Degree in Philosophy from the University of Lagos.

As a lover of trailblazers, who follows with keen interest, their professional life, Taye has worked as an HR Analyst with a firm in Lekki, another e-commerce company in Yaba, Lagos and was a Consultant for a company that helped connect internet users to handymen and artisans anywhere in Nigeria.

He later then pitched his tent with 5ive Music Group and then Chocolate City Music where he handles all digital, strategic and social media communications.

Taye is someone passionate about governance in Africa and has done brand consultancy for Osun, Kwara, Niger, Gombe, Zamfara, Lagos, Ogun and Edo state governments.

Very recently also, he was:

  1. Member, Sanwoolu Independent Campaign Group’s Digital team
  2. Member, Strategic Communications team, Buhari Campaign Organization headed by Barr. Festus Keyanmo
  3. Head, Digital Content, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo’s Campaign Organization
  4. Head, Content and Strategy, Buhari New Media Centre, Lagos state.
  5. Digital Project Coordinator, Ajibola Basiru Campaign Organization (Osun Central Senatorial District)

On the flipside, and away from the murky waters of political strategizing, Taye has had in hands involved in corporate projects for Mara Mentor, Slot Limited, Autofactor Nigeria and Lagos State Waterways Authority (LASWA), Microsoft Nigeria and a few others.

Little wonder in years 2014, 2015 and 2016 when Forbes, Wall Street Journal and New York Times Magazine did a list of Top 100 Global Social Media Personalities to follow on Twitter, yearly, he made the list.

He is also the current Vice President, Digital Media Practitioners of Nigeria which is a further proof of how far he has grown since my encounter with him as Corper.

Going by our last conversation where we spoke extensively about his plans and projects for the future, it is safe to say Africa needs more bright minds like him; those passionate about improving our image and at the same time making their impacts.

Aisosa Okundaye is PR Expert and writes from Lagos Nigeria

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Nigeria’s Bite Back At South Africa: How The Buhari Government Responded To Xenophobic Attack On Its Citizens By Nathaniel Adoji

The last few days have been painful for Nigerians and other foreign nationals living in South Africa. Two people have been confirmed dead, businesses have been destroyed, properties burned down and security officials say they are finding it hard to calm the violence. The reason for the xenophobic attacks on Nigerians is largely due to poverty, growing inequality, high level of unemployment and lack of opportunities; the South African denizens who are victims of these believe immigrants, especially Nigerians, are taking up their opportunities and have resorted to violence. 

President Buhari in a strongly worded statement expressed his displeasure over the treatment of Nigerian citizens, condemning possible negligence on the part of law enforcement agents in South Africa and their failure to protect the lives and property of Nigerians. He also instructed his Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, to summon the South African High Commissioner to Nigeria for discourse on how to ensure safety of lives and property.  

The Minister had the previous day taken to Twitter on the issue. He wrote: ”Received sickening and depressing news of continued burning and looting of Nigerian shops and premises in #SouthAfrica by mindless criminals with ineffective police protection. Enough is enough. We will take definitive measures. @NigeriaGov @DigiCommsNG @GovernmentZA @DIRCO_ZA”. He later shared photos of his joint press conference with the High Commissioner of South Africa to Nigeria, Bobby Moroe, where he demanded compensation for affected victims and family members, as well as justice by prosecuting those involved in perpetrating these attacks. 

The Nigerian Government via its Twitter handle did not spare words too, a tweet from the official handle with the phrase “Enough is Enough” attracted thousands of retweets and engagements. 

The Federal Government has already despatched a Special Envoy to convey to President Cyril Ramaphosa the countries displeasure of the killings of Nigerians, and to register that they have to pay for the losses of lives and properties. One of the highest forms of registering displeasure in a diplomatic setting. They are expected to arrive Pretoria latest Thursday, September 5, 2019. 

The dispatch of a special envoy is akin to sending the highest rank of diplomatic representation to another country. 

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, at the end of an event he attended in Kano addressed the press with a stern face condemning the xenophobic attacks against Nigerians in South Africa, deeming it as unfortunate considering the role Nigeria and Nigerians played in pulling down apartheid. He also cited the fierce attacks as completely contrary to the ideals of all great South African leaders, many who gave up their lives for the country’s emancipation. Professor Osinbajo added that ‘Besides, these acts of bigotry are entirely contrary to the very ideals that all the great South African leaders, including the present President fought for, and for which many gave their lives.’ He further expressed his worries and the government’s plans to take this up with the right authorities in SA in order to ensure we bring an end to these attacks, one he calls ‘absolutely unacceptable and unconscionable.”

The Federal Government through the Minister of Information has drawn the line reiterating that it will no longer condone the mistreatment of Nigerian citizens in South Africa. However, the Federal Government has appealed to Nigerians not to attack South African companies operating in Nigeria in retaliation for the ongoing xenophobic attacks against Nigerians in South Africa.

Several Nigerians and groups have called on other citizens to boycott South African products and companies, including DSTV, Shoprite and MTN. They are also demanding that the Vice President withdraw from the World Economic Forum event in Cape Town coming up later this week. This request drives many pertinent questions, one of which is: In a world where diplomacy is urgently required, more than ever, should the Vice President boycott like other African leaders have announced to do, or rather should he attend and make the anger of Nigerians known in person, on South African soil?

Nathanniel Adoji is a journalist and public affairs commentator.

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Reno Omokri: Social Media’s Rogue And Demagogue, By Moyosore Andrews

The internet continues to shape several aspects of our lives, it has undoubtedly caused a paradigm in how we communicate and share information regardless of proximity or existence of facts. There are many benefits of the web and its role in today’s world, but it should come as no surprise that the internet has also spawned a resurgence of misinformation or what we call fake news. For a country like Nigeria where internet penetration and literacy is still low, it is becoming increasingly easy to disperse news based on ethnic, political or religious bias for the purpose of swaying judgments and emotions. The problem is that information on social media doesn’t have to be vetted, investigated, or confirmed before it escalates, and this leads to misinformation and rumors spreading like wildfire online.

Reno Omokri, an ex-aide to former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan is widely known for his half-baked nuggets and untruths, propagated trolling and mostly serves as the mouthpiece of the opposition on social media, although he never admits the latter. Since the emergence of the Buhari-led administration, Reno has taken a bullish approach to countering everything the government is seen to be doing and is constantly in the business of promoting hate and disinformation.

The self acclaimed author and questionable clergyman does poor work in his research and facts before taking to his Twitter account to attack the President Buhari administration with funny yet acerbic hashtags to push his narratives. He seems to have taken it upon himself to feed Nigerians with hearsay and jumps at every opportunity to discredit the government with shallow points and pure hate under the disguise of social activism. The pervasiveness of his tantrums and political bigotry on social media, from the distribution of disinformation to organized social media attacks is low and lacks dignity. But it is without doubt, that Reno is a fire starter, and many times it is always for the wrong reasons or because of his lack of constructive intellect.

Not too long ago, Reno argued on his social media platforms that the reason why President Buhari wasn’t invited to the G-7 summit was because of his “misrule and poor leadership skills”, adding that the President’s visit to Japan was meant to distract attention from a G-7 snubGuardian was first to call out this fake news with a fact check post. Since when did Nigeria become part of the G-7? This is a gathering of the world’s super powers and they decide who they want to have partake in their meetings given global trends and issues dominating their agenda. Back in 2015, President Buhari earned a seat at that table. He was invited to engage with members of the G-7 on the pressing challenges of Nigeria especially security in the North East. Where was Mr. Omokri then? For someone who brags much about once being in the corridors of government this knowledge should have been easy stuff. It appears that there is more that he does not know – save he is being deliberately mischievous, which seems likely. But if we pretend that he does not know much about international politics and how these relationships work, he should learn these things rather than use illiterate tactics to prove his points.

Reno continues to use his social media platforms to make many unsubstantiated claims made against the government. Many unsuspecting Nigerians have unfortunately bought into his lies and falsehood without fact-checking him. His constant attack on Vice President Yemi Osinbajo does not just irritate, it questions Mr Omokri’s assumed sanity. It seems clear to any social media observer that this is his new point of duty. His latest trend, #RenoMoni, was created to mock the efforts of the Social Investment Programmes’ TraderMoni and MarketMoni. In this faux attempt to mock the genuine micro-credit scheme, he doles a few thousands to some of his followers persuading them to believing that the government’s Market and Trader Moni schemes are fake and dubious unlike his own twitter jamboree.

But just recently, the Vice President was in Nasarawa state to assess ongoing disbursements of loans and interact with the beneficiaries. During his visit, he highlighted the progress of the initiative and the government’s plan to reach more states across to country. Significant too was the testimony that more traders were paying back their loans and getting access to bigger loans. Before now, we have seen men and women tell their stories about how the program has impacted their lives and businesses. Yet Reno, who lives in California, USA is relentless about misleading people and preying on doling cheap money to his elite followers to get them to buy his faux logic.

And this is not the first or last of his shenanigans. He is well known for attacking people who are not on his side or more intellectually sound than he is. He is swift to block any one who shares the truth to his Social Media timelines. His concoctions of stories and religious sentiments are deliberate to ignite outrage and discredit others. Evidently he derives joy in pushing fallacies and harmful propaganda for attention. The same man who is quick to question other people’s integrity shies away whenever he’s called out concerning his credibility and other dubious campaigns he has been involved in.

What people like Reno Omokri fail to realize is that communication should enhance democracy, rather than endanger it. Instead of acting ignorant or tirelessly attacking the government, we should help the public air their concerns rather than manipulate them. Reno should think less of himself if he is as concerned as he wants us to believe, because rogue activism is undermining democracy, making it very hard for ordinary citizens to decipher truth from his falsehood. His constant bombardment of conspiracy theories, and other misinformation fuels cynicism, and citizen fatigue. His presence on social media has made the arena a danger zone, not because he claims to be an activist that puts government on its toes, but because he endangers truth, the most fundamental tool in information management.

Moyosore Andrews is a journalist and social media commentator.

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To The Deaf, Osinbajo Is Silent, By Richard Ogundiya

On 20th of August 2019, Itunu Ajayi from Maryland USA revealed his standpoint on The Guardian about Vice President Osinbajo’s presumed silence on the incessant killings and security instability in many parts of the country.

For someone who is a 2014 Kurt Schork Fellow in International Journalism (yes, I looked him up), it was an uninformed, depressing take packed with personal bias and judgement that didn’t do justice to credit a man whose role is to deputise, support and advise the president.

This factless blasphemy by Itunu disguised in the suit of an opinion by one who prides to be a journalist is a valid reason why people’s faith in journalism is fast drifting.

Itunu’s evocative postulations give the impression of a hyper-deliberate attempt at slandering Yemi Osinbajo and undermining his achievements and contributions as arguably the most active, seen, heard and devoted Vice President Nigeria has ever encountered.

Itunu attempts to play a centrist. But too often, we confuse centrism with fairness, objectivity or common-sense truth. But centrism is none of those, it is a point of view, and it can be wrong, just as conservatism or liberalism can be; so opinions must be based on accurate information, sound logic, and expressed respectfully.

He wants us to believe, without any certitude, that Osinbajo is not deeply concerned about the current state of the country because of his own misinterpretation of events.

He consciously forgets to mention every instance the Vice President has spoken out on issues of insecurity in the country, every time he has condemned wrongdoing by enemies of our state, every time he has paid a solidarity visit to victims and reminded them that government cares, and would not forget them – passing the message of relieve and hope to the victims.

He consciously denies the truth to his readers when he pretends not to know that President Buhari has the ears of his number two man, and they, whether we know it or not, meet time without number to discuss issues of national interests.

In his essay, the writer consciously strips the Vice President off his constitutional capacity through deliberate ignorance of the roles and responsibilities that flow therefrom, but thereafter goes ahead to hold him liable for those functions that are not even his.

He then attempts to severe his office from the Buhari government, as if they are not one, and that the two elected leaders should act in discord. The story forces its readers to digest misconstrued analysis as facts and struggles to beg for empathy by connecting it to the general displeasure of nationwide killings.

What makes it absurd and ridiculous is that he thinks and believes that the President and his Vice are not troubled about the insecurity or working towards seeing the end of the menace. Nothing could be more far from the truth.

There is no political leader who prays for disability knowing it would injure his name, or who is in a place of power would do nothing to end such. And this in fact is the least expected.

Since he assumed office in 2015 as President Muhammadu Buhari’s deputy, VP Osinbajo has played an increasingly prominent role in Nigeria’s government and his accomplishments are incomparable to any other Vice President as they surpass by far.

Not too long ago, former President Obasanjo had disclosed that his deputy, Atiku Abubakar, complained about taking on too many responsibilities as the nation’s number 2 citizen in their days of power.

That is in contrast with the reality today; Vice President Osinbajo not only chairs the National Economic Council which works with several parastatals to identify problems, recommend and execute solutions regarding economic development, poverty alleviation and foreign exchange policies, he also oversees the National Social Investment Office which facilitates empowerment schemes aimed at students, traders, farmers, enterprises and bottom of the pyramid population.

The Social Investment Office boasts of the largest social investment ever attempted in Africa. And it is succeeding. It feeds almost 10 million pupils in public schools; it has provided entrepreneurship and skill based jobs to 500,000 previously unemployed graduates; it is giving cash to Nigeria’s poorest families in the hinterland communities to improve their welfare and livelihood.

But Itunu is in haste to lash out on the Vice President and his office that he forgets these, as well as the administration’s ongoing plans on establishing a sustainable herding system across the country through the National Livestock Transformation Plan – which Vice President Osinbajo oversees – that would put a sustainable end to clashes between herders and farmers and the consequent killings.

He also misses out on the fact that the Buhari – Osinbajo administration is re-engineering the country’s national security architecture to help combat attacks led by Islamic State of West Africa Province (ISWAP), farmer-herder clashes and other unfortunate bandits.

His failure to mention the times the Vice President has visited families of victims, visited areas of attack to assess the impact and report to his principal is evident of Itunu’s deliberate mischief and shortfall of honest intentions.

Recall that on 26th of June 2019, Osinbajo interacted with The Council on Foreign Relations in the USA and extensively talked about the current state of ISWAP, challenges rocking the administration and ongoing efforts to completely deal with the insecurity.

He has also led the consultations and meetings – especially in the south west – seeking an end and solutions to the kidnappings and killings. He is largely responsible for the peace we see in the South South today; the absence of a hitherto raging militancy is courtesy his back and forth in the region in 2016 where he met and dialogued with the leaders there and constantly assuring Nigerians of the Federal Government’s commitment to continue to give priority attention to the operational requirements and welfare of the Nigerian Armed Forces.

He seats as the Deputy Chairman of the Security Council which means he has a voice at the highest points whenever issues of security are brought up. Are these items of silence, or is Itunu just simply deaf?

It is without doubts that he has brought value and and function to his office, as manager of the economy and other assignments given to him. The Vice President’s pace of action has been commended by many Nigerians and international bodies prompting suggestions that he should continue playing the major roles in the government.

According to the writer, Professor Osinbajo’s call for alliances across faiths and ethnicities to wreck national threats hindering the country’s unity and coexistence is enough concrete reason to accuse him of lackadaisical attitude and noiselessness.

I am left to wonder if a birthday ceremony is the best place to give a detailed proposition on how the government plans to successfully tackle security challenges. It is no coincidence that even before now, the Vice President has always addressed cooked narratives by opposition that the presidency is protecting killer herdsmen and Boko Haram members as a desperate ploy to promote ethnic and religious suspicion.

Without doubt, Itunu’s phoney claims are inaccurate, abandon objectivity and suspend sense of fairness, declaring judgement in his own court of reasoning. This haste to demonize the Buhari administration is agenda-driven, not Information-driven.

Richard Ogundiya is a journalist and researcher based in Lagos

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Buhari’s Lieutenants Are Politicians, As They Are Technocrats Too, By Akinloye James

Ministers in Nigeria are tasked with the responsibilities of running affairs of respective ministries to which they are appointed. Although they are confirmed by the Senate, they are primarily appointed by the President. They are lieutenants of the President with a mandate to execute his policies in their selected Ministries. 

Prior to now, one of the largely held perceptions of Nigerians has been that ministerial appointees are people who have played their political cards and more often than not, do not possess the know-how, understanding, skills or expertise to function in the office to which they have been appointed. While the former is mostly true beyond perceptions, the latter is rarely the case. 

One may be too quick to point out the partisanship, and the evident politicians  on the list, some would call them in fact recycled. But the reality remains that the President ran and was elected on the platform of a political party – the APC. He has worked with the party in two electoral seasons and earned the victory through the same platform. He has equally worked with these men and women throughout these periods. It only accords with common sense that his ministerial list would reflect individuals he has worked with over these years; people he believes to have an idea of his agenda and can take the manifesto from document to reality. The ministerial list reflects people who the President believes can deliver his mandate and that of his party for the next four years.

A quick look at the who’s who that made the 2019 ministerial list: Of course as constitutionally expected they are drawn from all thirty six states, fortunately some states like Lagos, Kano, Abia, Kaduna have more than one Minister. Of the forty three names on the ministerial list, fourteen are returning ministers; people who had a chance at service and have shown us a glimpse of their potential during the first term run. The likes of Babatunde Fashola, is kept for another four year term. He, like his colleague Rotimi Amaechi, have served as two term Governors and would now be serving as two term Ministers. They have shown to be worthy technocrats as they are politicians. Though Mr Fashola is stripped off the Ministry of Power, he is left with a critical Ministry that revolves around a key developmental agenda of the President Buhari administration: the Ministry of Works and Housing. 

New Ministries sprung up or now stood alone, like the Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development – that looks likely to swallow a lot of agencies tasked with humanitarian efforts, and other social assignments; Police Affairs, Special Duties and International Affairs; Aviation; and Power.

While most Ministers who were kept retained their Ministries much is expected from the first time appointees. The effervescent Festus Keyamo from Delta State who served as Director of Strategic Communications of Buhari’s re-election bid has a lot of capacity-proving to do. He has been a revolutionist and activist, a change agent, all but a government appointee. Today he is, and that means he must prove that beyond talk, he can work. As he mans the Minister of State for the Niger-Delta he is tasked with the assignment of seeing development and growth for the region that birthed him. And an emissary of the government to the region too. Maj. Gen. (RTD) Bashir Salihi Magashi from Kano, a former Governor of Sokoto State in Nigeria from August 1990 to January 1992; Clement Agba (Edo), former Edo State Commissioner for Environment and Public Utility and the several other new appointees have to prove that they can take Nigeria to the next level.

With a rich pool of potentially outstanding appointees, most of which can boast of fine credentials and experience, the entire ministerial list comprises of about six lawyers, four doctors, diplomats, economists, human rights activists, seven former governors, seven former senators, a collection of party leaders in some states and a couple of fresh nominees as well as other skilled professionals. 

One can commend the President for doing a fairly handsome job of marrying politicians and technocrats in producing this cabinet.

Nigerians watch however, hoping to see a balance of the pomp and pageantry of politics with the demands for results that come with technocracy. The campaign trails are ended. The work table is set for the Next Level to be delivered. What should be expected in the next months, and years, should not be magic wands that turn political rhetoric to reality. Nigerians too must exercise patience. Like Mario Cuomo, former Governor of New York once said: You campaign in poetry. You govern in prose. 

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

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Nigerians Should Appreciate Me For Exposing Reno Omokri, By Seun Bisuga

Reno Omokri is the modern day illusionist for very obvious reasons. He is one person who never pays attention to details and hardly understands the organogram of the Presidency despite having worked there before as the New Media aide to former President, Goodluck Jonathan.

It’s increasingly clear why he was sacked and replaced by Obi Asika, he pays no attention to details and he’s apparently driven by emotions but more importantly by fraud and lies. In his article titled, “Osinbajo should appreciate me – Reno Omokri” he showed how uneducated he is especially with the workings of the Social Investment Programmes including TraderMoni which Omokri has been having sleepless nights over. First, it’s important for Nigerians to note how TraderMoni works.

The Nigerian Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme (GEEP) is one of the National Social Investment Programme (NSIP) for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) under the Office of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.

This means that TraderMoni is not a personal programme of the Vice President but of the Federal Government in the Buhari administration. The visits by Prof. Yemi Osinbajo to markets are on-site assessments of the programme and an opportunity for the Vice President to directly feel the pulse of the beneficiaries and understand the problems they could be facing.

The programme is managed and executed by the Bank of Industry and the VP never shares N10,000 as Omokri has often claimed. The disbursement is electronic, so is the registration process, so it’s safe to say everything is online. In the first phase, two million petty traders across Nigerian markets benefited from the scheme.

Understanding the economics of TraderMoni has been a problem for Omokri, not that he has shown finesse on any subject matter before TraderMoni. If you skim the social media channel of Omokri, you’ll admit that he has little or no grasp of most issues. It’s difficult to tell maybe he is ignorant or illiterate because he often carries himself like someone who understands what he is talking about.

Away from TraderMoni, Omokri tried to clear his name of the fraud he is perpetuating in the name of Leah Sharibu. It has been well documented that Omokri sold books and shirts in the name of Sharibu, a Dapchi schoolgirl captured by Boko Haram.

Whipping up religious sentiments as he always does, Omokri apparently conned people across the world, including the new UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson to buy his Leah Sharibu narrative. When queried to give details of the earnings, Omokri contradicted himself.

In a tweet, he claimed the proceeds from the book and shirt spent no more than five minutes in his account before he transferred it to the parents of Miss Sharibu but shortly after he was asked to show a screenshot of the transfer, he claimed that the monies were paid directly to the account of Sharibu’s father, Nathan.

But this is one of the many fraud perpetuated by Omokri. He once wrote an article in the name of Wendell Simlin – his nephew – to smear the then Central Bank of Nigeria governor, Sanusi Lamido. He tried to blackmail him by accusing him of being the financier of terrorist group, Boko Haram.
He did this to rubbish a noble person who had raised very profound questions about the disappearance of $20 billion from the government coffers. Omokri saw this as an assault on the corruption-ridden government that he was a beneficiary.

Omokri always claims that he is bestseller but in the real sense, he is not. He uses this ploy to target people who are unsuspecting. He grand stands and paints himself in a light that never exists. Take for example the giveaways he does on Twitter. 

Omokri claims to put smile on the face of the masses but that’s completely untrue, it’s another scam. He only gives one or two people N10,000 or N20,000, how exactly does that translate into the masses? In all, only six persons have benefitted from Reno’s equivalent of TraderMoni, how does that compare to the millions that benefitted from the FG scheme?
On Twitter, loads of people do giveaways and do not demand retweets in return but not Reno Omokri. He predominantly lives for the attention. He demands that people retweet him to benefit but despite all the retweets only six persons have benefited.

While real people do philanthropy without publicizing it, Omokri lives for the cameras, he even does videos demanding that his followers watch till the end. 

Another scam by Omokri is that he is a pastor, something that has become cliché among scammers. No one has seen Omokri preach before despite claiming he owns a church and that is a rarity, given that, he will die for the lights, camera and action.

Any follower that quizzes him about the theology school he attended or who his spiritual father is on Twitter will be blocked. Omokri is the ultimate tyrant, you can’t question his judgment or submission on any matter, even worse, you must not have a superior argument to Omokri, if you do, he will block you but this is the same guy who insults people for fun.

Talking about insults, Omokri cannot debate me, talk less, the aides of VP Osinbajo, it will be a walk in the park, particularly for me, given the lacuna in our intellectual level.

But more importantly, Nigerians must know that there are loads of end-time pastors and must be weary of anyone whose words profess God but his actions are anti-God. He takes delight in using religion to rattle his followers and incite them to violence.

Seun Bisuga is a journalist and public analyst

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Slavery Still Exists, We Must Take Action, By Muhammadu Buhari

Four centuries ago, the first 20 documented African slaves arrived on the shores of Virginia. In the years that followed, millions more were shipped in dehumanizing conditions across the ocean and enslaved. Slavery had, of course, existed before. But this indicated the beginning of a mechanized trade that saw human beings reduced to property on an unprecedented scale.

Despite the fact that descendants of African slaves have made valuable contributions across society, they are still dealing with the effects of this poisonous legacy. They still have to navigate its everyday manifestations, such as discrimination, racism or lack of access to resources and opportunities. This must not be overlooked or forgotten.

Yet, as we reflect on this day, International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and Its Abolition, it is clear slavery did not only thrive then. It still thrives today. Across the world it is estimated there are as many as 40 million men, women and children living in forced servitude. They are the industrial victims of a business many believe was abolished hundreds of years ago. They are the modern enslaved.

Their exploitation appears in many guises, though usually unrecognized as slavery. Many victims are unseen, hidden beneath opaque supply chains. Others are hidden in plain sight, entrapped by circumstances that rob them of autonomy. In any case, their labor, often dangerous, is no product of choice, and its conditions are self-perpetuating.

In Africa, its modern forms include debt bondage, the enslavement of war captives, commercial sexual exploitation and forced domestic servitude. Holding people held against their will, controlling their movements and forcing them to work for the sole profit of others — wherever they are — is slavery today and always.

The abolitionists of the 19th century succeeded more than any before: By working to extinguish the transatlantic slave trade that had claimed 15 million victims, they laid the groundwork to ensure it did not manufacture millions more. But their work is not done. We must take up their examples as we forge a path forward to eliminate modern-day slavery in all its forms.

Slavery, once again, has become entwined in the global economy — and it is largely unseen. For instance, most of us might know in principle that the mining of cobalt crucial to our smartphones might have used forced labor. But what do we know of those that experience it? Just as personal testimony and resulting public pressure led to the passing of the Act for the Abolition of the Slave Trade in Britain in 1807, these stories must be told and used to inform policy. Once heard, they can elevate visceral reactions, driving the public pressure needed to ensure the application of anti-slavery laws.

One distinction from then and now is important: the costs. From records, adjusted for today’s prices, the cost of a human-being-as-property was valued on average at $40,000. Today, it is just $90, sometimes even lower. We must remember that slavery is not simply a campaign of hatred; it is the pursuit of profit. One way to extinguish it in its current forms, therefore, is to make it economically unfeasible. This means making sure that any anti-slavery laws have bite, come with strong penalties and are enforced.

It is also vital to have a robust tip-off and reporting system. Where this once meant detecting ships, today the signs are less conspicuous. The public must be shown how to see what is hidden in plain sight, particularly signs of suspicious behavior. This might seem broad. But vagueness should not give rise to reluctance to report anything that could be smuggling or forced servitude. If something doesn’t look right, report it, for you could be securing another human’s freedom.

In Nigeria, our anti-trafficking agency has rolled out the “Not for Sale” campaign to protect against the deceptions of human smugglers, helping those who might be vulnerable to false promises see through the ruse and say no. These prevention programs are crucial.

The appearance of slavery today might have changed. The institution has not. There are no radical solutions to conjure, only political will. But on this, we can learn from the past, the shadows in which modern slavery proliferates today.

It is not enough to mark this 400th anniversary. We must use it as a platform to eliminate slavery in all its present-day forms. We should reflect in memory to find a better future, one that should ensure freedom for all.

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Osinbajo: Of Federal Appointments, Near Death Experience And The Trumpet Of Mischief, By Abdullahi Haruna

There is a piece circulating in the media space mocking the vice president Yomi Osinbajo of losing out in the recent ministerial list inaugurated by President Muhammadu Buhari. Nothing is more mischievous than the antics of meddlesome interlopers creating bad blood even where exist wonderful relationships.
To start with, the author of the above is nameless. The only inference from the silly anonymity is that he or she is unsure of the concoction passed off as an article.

It would have been needless reacting to a bilious article with an anonymous author but for the simple fact that the article which is a figment of the arid imagination of the author is capable of misleading some unsuspecting members of the public who may consider it an article of wholesale truth.

That said, it is a known fact that both Professor Yemi Osinbajo and Muhammadu Buhari ran on a joint ticket in the 2019 presidential election as vice presidential and presidential candidates on the platform of the All Progressives Congress(APC). Therefore, whatever electoral input the Vice President must have made in the course of the tortuous campaign was his own contribution to the election from which he and Buhari emerged as victors. And it was not in vain.

Perhaps if Osinbajo had not campaigned vigorously across the length and breadth of the country, selling the Next Level agenda to Nigerians while also restating the modest successes of the administration between 2015 and 2019 to the electorates, the election outcome might have gone the other way which implies that he won’t be the number two man in the country today!

Besides, the near air mishap the VP and his entourage encountered in Kogi State while on a visit to campaign was part of the risks involved in any hustle. It is only those who dare to take risks who win. Osinbajo understands this aspect of life clearly and that was why he still went ahead, unencumbered by the near death experience, to carry out with the activities slated for that day. Thank goodness he did not die. He is living to enjoy the fruits of the risks he took. So let the author bury his unwanted sympathy for Osinbajo does not need the sympathy of cynics.

In case the nameless author does not know, those who are familiar with the political trajectory of the cerebral Professor of Law know that he is not a typical Nigerian politician who sees politics as a means to personal aggrandizement and thus will begin to count imaginary losses when the game is only just unravelling.

Elections are over. It’s time for governance. And that exactly is what Osinbajo is doing. He has a lot on his plate already. The management of the economy virtually rests on his shoulders in addition to superintending the all-important Social Investment Policy of the Buhari administration.

If the hooded writer wants to lament because Senator Ibikunle Amosun is believed to be getting political jobs meant for Ogun State where the VP hails from for his cronies, what about the 500,000 otherwise unemployed Nigerian youth who are engaged today across the country via the N-Power Scheme which the office of the VP is driving?

What about the over 2 million petty traders and small scale business owners who are receiving collateral free, interest free loans? Is it not the same Osinbajo who is driving the programs impacting their lives? The public-spirited person that he is, the VP is not motivated to serve because of perks or largesse of office which explains why he has chosen to touch the lives of the mass majority of Nigerians through the instrumentality of the FG-driven social programs that can impact positively on the lives of ordinary Nigerians.

For the education of the masked author, all federal appointments are at the mercy of the President who dispenses to whomever he is pleased with. Osinbajo is not the President and will never do anything to drag leadership and patronage distribution with his principal. A former VP who tried to take the shine off his boss is still struggling today to redeem his once illustrious political career.

By the way, as afar as Ogun State and its people are concerned, the most important political position that has a direct bearing on the lives of the citizenry is that of the Governor. It is on record that VP Osinbajo contributed significantly to the election that brought His Excellency, Prince Dapo Abiodun to power in the state.

Osinbajo has not lost anything and is not losing anything. Just yesterday, the President ratified the appointments of those who worked with the VP between 2015 and 2019. A President who does not like his VP would have imposed unknown persons on him.

Abdullahi O Haruna Haruspice

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