The Content Of Nigeria’s Foreign Exchange Reserves, By Boniface Chizea

On Monday 20 March 2018, The Guardian Newspapers published an article by Contributor Feyi Fawehinmi titled, “What’s Inside Nigeria’s Foreign Exchange Reserves”. In this article, the writer describes and discusses his perceived rationales for the increase in the country’s Foreign Exchange (FX) reserves.

Familiar with the writers mindset on such matters as they have been fairly widely canvassed lately one was inclined to ignore but we all have a shared responsibility to ensure that Nigerians are well informed particularly knowing the penchant of compatriots to latch on and celebrate such rabble rousing writings with radical bent, it behoves all concerned with a better representative perspectives to stand up to be counted by sharing such views for better enlightenment of all.

We must not and cannot dismiss Mr. Fawehinmi’s brilliance in using half-truths, veiled innuendos, and outright misinformation to convince fair-minded and well-meaning Nigerians that he knows what he is talking about. That is the reason why a response is imperative for as Edmund Burke once observed, “The only thing necessary for evil to thrive is for good men to do nothing”.

Before we outline the real reasons for the rise in Nigeria’s FX Reserves, let us first highlight why Mr. Fawehinmi’s writing contains many misleading explanations.

First, although he correctly explains how proceeds from the Federal Government’s Eurobond issuances could help boost our FX Reserves, he ominously omits the fact that it is from the same FX Reserves that the CBN supplies FX to the market throughout the year. This is a significant omission. While it is true that the CBN has received US$7.3 billion worth of Eurobond issuances since February 2017, we are aware that the Bank has also supplied US$24.3 billion to the FX Market over the same period.

This amount includes sales in the interbank spot market, FX supplies for invisibles/services, clearing of maturing forward positions, weekly sales to Bureau De Changes (BDCs), and sales to small end-users for travel allowances, medical bills, schools fees, and the like. How then can someone’s savings account grow if he receives US$7.3 billion but spends US$24.3 billion?

Second, the attribution of swaps by Nigerian Banks as accountable for the growth in our FX reserves ignores the fact that swaps are part of the FX Reserves of all Central Bank, and therefore Central Bank of Nigeria cannot bulk this reality even when the Reserves were as high as US$23 billion in October 2016. Therefore, the notion that it is a new phenomenon is incorrect and the subtle chastisement of Nigerian banks for engaging in swaps reveals the author’s lack of requisite knowledge of this generally-acceptable worldwide banking practice. It is also curious to note that his computation of the size of swaps by Nigerian banks is higher than what has been published by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), as contained in their latest report on Nigeria, which was published few days ago. Is it rational to expect that the writer has better information on CBN swaps than the IMF?

Third, and in usual confused manner, the author suggests that all the FX inflows into the Investors and Exporters (I & E) Window go into the Reserves. Contrary to this, we are aware that the I & E window operates as a free “willing buyer, willing seller” market, which explains why its operational exchange rate (about N360/US$1) is higher than those of other segments. A significant portion of the inflows into this market do not get to the CBN because they are bought by willing importers who operate in that market. The CBN operates in that market as a “residual” participant: buying excesses and supplying shortfalls, as the case may be. It is therefore not correct to ascribe the total inflows into this market to the country’s FX Reserves.

So, what is really inside Nigeria’s Foreign Exchange Reserves? We are aware that there are three main reasons for the sustained rise in the Reserves. Perhaps, the most significant one has been the sharp decline in the country’s import bill, as a direct result of the June 2015 CBN’s policy to restrict FX access to items which could be produced locally: the so-called “41-items policy”.

Despite the initial pushbacks against this policy, it has no doubt heralded significant benefits for the country. Aside from the rebound in local production of affected products and associated boost in employment generation, it has been reported that the country’s monthly import bill fell from an average of about US$5.5 billion in 2014 to US$3.58 in 2015, and about US$2.3 billion in 2017. A linear approximation would imply that the country’s FX Reserves have saved about US$38.35 billion if we use the 2014 import bill or US$15.33 billion if you use the 2015 import bill.

The second reason for the rise in our FX Reserves is simply due to the gradual, albeit persistent, recovery in oil prices. From a low of US$45.5 per barrel as of 23 June 2017, the price of Bonny Light Crude Oil has risen to US$69.6 per barrel as at 21 March 2018. To the extent that Nigeria’s daily oil production has remained stable, one does not have to be a brain surgeon to calculate how much more FX inflows our country’s FX Reserves have enjoyed over this period.

The third reason for the improved fortunes on our FX Reserves is truly attributable to the I & E window. Recall the explanation above that the CBN is a residual participant in the market. Given that the amount of inflows in that window have frankly exceeded many people’s expectations and willing buyers have been unable to pick up all the supply, the CBN has bought more dollars in that segment than it has sold. So the Bank’s participation in that market has been a net positive to the FX Reserves.

We do understand the penchant for cynicism about reported progress in any and every sphere of our national life but that does not mean that real progress is not being made, however few and far between. For example, Mr. Fawehinmi dismisses the notion that significantly higher FX Reserves should be highlighted as an accomplishment. Yet, it is not an easy feat, because the higher they are, the more tools and flexibility a Central is able to deploy in times of need. This is analogous to basically having more saving in your bank account which overall should positively impact the country’s credit rating. It is also a matter for the records that the Governor was called all manner of unprintable names during the period of cascading rate of exchange. it is only fair and should be expected that he receives all the plundits as we experience a rebound.

So, while concerned particularly with the benefit of hindsight applaud the CBN for putting in place policies like those on “41-items” and the “I & E” window, which have helped stabilize the exchange rate, improve FX supply, create jobs, and boost economic activities, those with inadequate knowledge should avoid throwing shades on such laudable achievements.

This article was culled from The Guardian Newspaper

Situating PDP’s Apology Without Restitution – Punch

IN its bid to regain relevance, the Peoples Democratic Party has apologised to Nigerians to forgive it for its mélange of “mistakes” during the 16 years it was in power. The party’s national Chairman, Uche Secondus, said in Abuja that the penitence was based on “imposition, impunity and other wrongdoings.”

But nothing could be more vacuous, deceptive and villainous than such posturing. His insincerity evinces markedly in those “other wrongdoings” he shied away from mentioning. They matter most, defined the party while it was in power and vitiated it in the public imagination. Indeed, the apology is a damning indictment of the major political parties. In fact, the entire political class has failed Nigerians so far.

A plea for the remission of transgression is not a tapestry of equivocations and half-truths. Restitution is inexorably linked with any genuine penitence; and without this done, the apology will rank as a spoof or caricature. For the records, the PDP was in power from 1999 to 2015. That saw Olusegun Obasanjo, Umaru Yar’Adua and Goodluck Jonathan bestride the Presidency. However, the political baton changed hands when Jonathan lost to Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress in the presidential election of 2015.

On PDP’s watch, public funds were raided with reckless abandon. Between 2004 and 2014, N2.6 trillion Service Wide Vote was spent without appropriation. And in aid of the N2.5 trillion fuel subsidy heist, which burst in 2012, the Accountant-General’s office made 128 payments of N999 million each within 24 hours in January 2009. Legislative enquiries unfurled these. Only public protest compelled a downward review of the fuel subsidy to N971 billion per annum. Some of the bandits involved fled the country, while no official effort was made to legally punish other felons around until recently.

The 2005 and 2014 political conferences, which would have reconfigured the country, were a huge waste. There was no implementation of recommendations because of the selfish motives that underpinned them. Indeed, they find perverse significance in the national babel of the moment.  Economic development and service delivery were elusive. An audit by the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative of the N994 billion in special funds that covered 2007 to 2011 stated that they were neither remitted as statutorily required, nor applied to stimulate the economy. For instance, a serving senator, who was also a governor, abused the N1.8 billion Ecological funds allocation to his state. He donated N100 million to the South-West PDP for 2003 electioneering.

More irresponsibility stood out in how the Natural Resources Fund of N783 billion provided for the solid minerals sector development was despoiled. This villainy enhanced Nigeria’s status as an oil dependent economy. Its full impact was evident in the global crude oil prices crash from mid 2014 to the current average price of $63 per barrel. This is less than 50 per cent of price during the boom years that Jonathan’s administration squandered.

The $2.1 billion for arms procurement, which its apparatchiks turned into spoils of war and how a former Central Bank of Nigeria Governor, Lamido Sanusi, was believed to have been removed from office to make the bank’s vault vulnerable will continue to rankle. If $182 billion was stolen from Nigeria between 2000 and 2009, according to the Global Financial Integrity, a US-based group, in its report, then nothing could be more emblematic of party’s years in power as an era of the locust.

Just as the daily carnage in Nigeria hardly benumbs anymore, not a few are inured to how oil revenues were mismanaged as the party bestrode Nigeria. It is a scandal that oil revenue figures from the CBN, Ministry of Finance and the Auditor-General’s office conflicted most of the time during the period in question. The rot was further exposed in Federal Government’s hint of its desire last year to file charges against some international oil companies for the $17 billion worth of undeclared crude they lifted between 2011 and 2014.  The so-called Strategic Alliance Contracts during the Jonathan government gave out oil blocks without the company paying taxes and royalties totalling $3 billion, according to Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo.

Power sector privatisation in 2013 was a ruse after the government injected billions of dollars for its upgrade without result. It was nothing more than a classic dubious state-arranged economic disaster. The farming out of generating and distribution companies to cronies and fronts, which had neither the technical nor financial capacities to run them, has plunged Nigeria into the abyss of darkness. Therefore, the derivable gains from this economic stimulus – job creation, real sector growth and wealth creation – have been lost.

The Petroleum Industry Bill, the key to sanitising the downstream, recently passed, was held up in the National Assembly since 1999 by dirty politics.

Nigeria has, since the Fourth Republic, failed to get its elections right because of the garrison or do-or-die mentality foundation the party had laid. This found full expression in the 2007 polls dismissed globally as the worst electoral farce ever recorded.

When service to the people is not the motivation for seeking public office, but access to the treasury, militarisation of the electoral space becomes an addiction. Its morbid upshot is typified in the murder of a serving Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Bola Ige, without a trace of the killers. Harry Marshal and Aminasoari Dikibo, a National Vice-chairman of the party, among others, were all killed in similar circumstances.

It should not be forgotten that $62 billion was in the country’s Foreign Reserves in September 2008 as crude oil price peaked at $147 per barrel during Yar’Adua’s presidency. Under that of Jonathan, it averaged $100 per barrel while he also inherited a buoyant Excess Crude Account. But how Nigeria became suddenly like a fish out of water shortly after the 16-year bazaar demands that people should be held to account.

However, the APC might have regaled Nigerians with how PDP members looted the national treasury. Instructively, former PDP faithful dominate its membership. Among its governors, in the Senate and House of Representatives, they are dominant. Some are facing trial for their abuse of office. In fact, there is really no difference between six and half a dozen. That is the tragedy of Nigeria’s political party system.

The APC should, therefore, stop trading words with the PDP on the list of suspected looters just released, and add the known looters too within its fold. Equity and sincerity of purpose in the anti-graft campaign demand just that. Trials of public officials globally for tampering with the public treasury underline why those who haemorrhaged ours should not go unpunished, no matter their political suasion. The objective should be to recover all looted funds, bring looters to justice and enthrone accountability in public administration, not insincere apologies from any political party.

Dissecting The Reactions Trailing President Buhari’s Declaration For Second Term, By AbdulRahman Agboola

Haste has certainly created some level of aversion against the personality of President Muhammadu Buhari, whose leading appointees managing the anti-corruption crusade and economy, have not exhibited extra ordinary brilliance to engage in aversion therapy required at this era to bring people to terms with the hindrances against their responsibilities which has slowed than the gains expected by the masses.

An appraisal of the mixed reactions trailing the declaration of President Muhammadu Buhari to seek re-election revealed apathy among previous volunteers and well-meaning Nigerians that aided his victory at the 2015 Presidential Election.

Notable among them are already mobilizing against the declaration, this situation must be properly addressed and corrected, using extrasensory perception in order for the ruling party not to lose to opportunity to consolidate on the templates for a better Nigeria designed by this administration as reflected in the roadmap for development newly designed as a response to the challenges confronting the administration.

That many young people are unfamiliar with fine herbes makes it difficult to be promoted in the modern world, its bitterness is discouraging but the benefits are greater than sweeter pills. Manufacturers and farmers invest strong energies, techniques and time to make a produce, but the end users only consider the usage especially when affordable, not minding that it underwent processes before the consumption stage.

One had not thought of the exigency to canvass Nigerians who felt as though to be on the threshold to new lives after the last general elections, to consider that making everlasting positive changes in Nigeria is highly tasking, considering the long era of rot and systemic failure inherited by President Muhammadu Buhari, but the understanding of the difficulties encountered by this administration to make positive changes imperative commands canvassing the populace to repose their confidence in President Muhammadu Buhari to take Nigeria to greater heights soonest.

It is a known fact that productions are subjective to raw materials, shortage or inadequacies usually lead to depression for manufacturers. In the same manner, natural tendencies like rain, heat, humidity and soil fertility affects farm produce and this could lead to anxiety and austerity as the case may be. Even reproduction takes certain duration before delivery and it requires patience to watch a child grow into maturity. Comparing these to governance in Nigeria, the mindsets of instant effectiveness of the change mantra in the polity to translate to immediate economic boom has portrayed Mr. President as not doing enough to fulfill his electoral promises to the populace.

In the essay of James Fallow of the Atlantic Magazine in his master piece titled -How the World Works, he appraised “Automatic growth versus deliberate development” from the Anglo-American approach that emphasizes the unpredictability of economics considering changes in technologies, tastes, political and human circumstances.  He expressed, life is so fluid, and hence attempts at central planning are virtually doomed to fail. The best way to “plan,” therefore is to leave the adaptation to the people who have their own money at stake, that if each individual does what is best for him or her, the result will be what is best for the nation as a whole.

He further stated that; just as seeds blown by chance by the wind may sometimes grow into big trees, the growth of industries is a process that may take hundreds of years to complete and one should not ascribe to sheer chance what a nation has achieved through its laws and institutions.

Aligning with James Fallow, the unpleasant circumstances that abound in our polity in Nigeria today is a reflection of what our Country has achieved through our laws and institutions over the years, namely: corruption, impunity and disorderliness, which are the albatross on the neck of President Muhammadu Buhari since his assumption of office in 2015. In the build up to the 2015 Presidential Election, Mr. President was tagged a dictator unfit to lead a democratic Country, this blackmail he successfully defeated with his strong inclinations with the rules of law, a situation that allowed his detractors to compromise the change mantra at the expense of masses’ collective goods.

It has been a tug of war between President Muhammadu Buhari and beneficiaries of the era of decadence sabotaging all efforts of this administration in the bid to strengthen laws and institutions to combat corruption, impunity and disorderliness.

The National Assembly is being headed by Mr President’s fellow party man, but the assembly is populated with self-serving individuals whose interest in the protection of looted resources in their possession endeared them to use the hallow chamber to undermine the capacity of anti-corruption and other security agencies. The lacklustre performance of EFCC in particular arose from the depression created by the Senate when members were subjected to probity.

The National Assembly comprises of representatives of electorates across our national divides and many among Nigerians with vociferous voices have affinities with them and often lean on their purses to make ends meet, a horrible situation which has paved way for defense of their benefactors, not minding the implications on the polity.

Going by extrapolation, the burden being suffered by Nigerians are products of failure of State Governments over the years to manage resources accrued to them in the best interest of their subjects. It is a known fact that the Federal Government allocations to States were mismanaged in previous era to a tune where salaries were owed with degradation as the Governors subjected Civil Servants in particular to degrading situations until the present administration offered bailout funds to reduce the burden.

Many State Governors today inherited strong liabilities from their successors who are leading members of this 8th Senate, Nigerians have not deem it necessary to vent their angers against those leading figures who have made life unbearable for the masses over the years, but could easily rub all the blames on President Muhammadu Buhari who has selflessly ensured that the dignity of labour must be sacrosanct despite frustrations by those whom we expected to have repented or bury their heads in shame for the comatose state of our economy.

Economic recession occurred in Nigeria due to poor planning of the economy over the years, getting out of this mess can be eased by improving our gross domestic products, proper diversification of the economy and solving inflation palaver. This is a national emergency that can only occur if the masses are ready to sacrifice their unholy alliance with corrupt politicians and business moguls who are their benefactors, until this is achieved, every successive government will continue to be ineffectual in handling economic matters.

There is no doubt that there are many qualified Nigerians that can lead the Country, but leading the Country to greatness again is the key word. There is yet to be a specific wake of sound ideologies among the political parties, we already witnessed 16 years of ignoble rule by the Peoples’ Democratic Party led Federal Government of which notable among their offshoot accidentally in the present administration already caused havoc to the present administration and responsible for the difficulties encountered by the ruling party to implement the manifestos that endeared Nigerians to the much touted “Change Mantra in 2015”.

The travails of the present administration is already separating the chaff from the wheat as most of the political demagogues that belonged to the bedeviled Peoples’ Democratic Party have shown leopard spots and are already overtly or covertly seeking solace in other platforms in their bid to exonerate themselves from the inadequacies of the ruling All Progressive Congress.

Due to systemic rot and avalanche of opportunities offered to leading members of the PDP in the Senate majorly acknowledged of being in possession of looted resources and protecting the interest of their co-looters using the influence of the Senate as a reward holding on to the leadership of the National Assembly in proxy has undermined the anti-corruption fight as they achieved leeway through politics of patronage during the power play that produced the current leadership of the National Assembly.

The recent pronouncement of party primaries and national convention is a channel to strengthen and reposition APC to evaluate the strength, weakness, opportunities and threat as President Muhammadu Buhari seeks a re-election bid.

Out of 70, 383, 427 registered voters in 2015, less than 30 million votes were casted and a winner emerged with less than 3 million votes margin in a Country with over 180 million population. It means the election is unpredictable as the aggrieved citizens are seriously being romanced by the defeated PDP, but if the ruling party succeeds in appealing to their disenchanted supporters, Mr President will coast home to victory at the 2019 polls considering the emergence of third, fourth and fifth forces as the case may be.

That the beneficiaries of former Presidents and those wishing for continuity of disorderliness in the polity are condemning the declaration for renewal of mandate by President Muhammadu Buhari is just an indication that we still don’t respect the liberties granted to citizens by the Constitution, the people can decide to protect their future by considering a review of impediments mitigating against the President’s resolve to promptly provide solutions to economic and security crisis tearing the Country apart or mar the future by throwing the baby away with the bath water just to score political point of self-correctness.

Nigerians must rise in defense of their President, though with caution and strict warning to immediately fire those appointees misrepresenting his good intentions, in order to regain the absolute confidence of his backers among the populace. The level of anxiety in the Country today must equally be reviewed in such a way to assure Nigerians of better life in no distant future.

The Youth in particular must be properly carried along in the build up to the 2019 general election to repeat the magic wand of 2015 again. It won’t be wise if Nigerians return to their vomits but Mr. President must help himself by presenting himself as the best choice again.

AbdulRahman Agboola

Acting President

National Youth Council of Nigeria

Email: waledgreatking@yahoo.com 08032813279

The Grand Hypocrisy Of Pastor Reno Omokri And His Looting Gang, By Nduka Anwuzie

If there is any Nigerian that is so hypocritical, it is Reno Omokri. You claim to be a Pastor but trade in lies just to please your paymasters, who conspired to loot billions of dollars from the treasury between 2010 and 2015. The peak of the looting was done in 2015 just before the General Elections. It would take the Nation several years to recover from such brigandage.

If Nigeria were a company, it would not be able to survive such grand theft. But with the help of God, the Nation is gradually getting its groove back to the disappointment of Pastor Reno and his comrades. As a Christian, you should be conversant with the Lord Jesus’ admonition which stated clearly that man shall not live by bread alone. You are hungry, and the hunger has made you mad. Forget the boastings of having a bestseller.

If you really made so much from the sale of your book, you should have been financially independent by now. You have not recovered from the defeat suffered by your boss in 2015 which made you and your comrades jobless. A Pastor is supposed to be a man of character and dignity who preaches and practises the principles enunciated in the Bible, but that is not the case with you.

In the ten commandments listed in Exodus Chapter 20, God specifically commanded in verse 15 that we should not steal. Pastor Reno, you certainly witnessed the monumental graft in the Government of former President Goodluck Jonathan, yet you kept quiet. You never preached the gospel to the looters. Or were you on spiritual leave between 2010 and 2015? Did you suspend your Christianity to enable you partake of the naira feast?

Assuming without conceding that you were not aware of the heist that was going on then, have you not been made aware of it since 2015? Or, you still don’t believe that Sambo Dasuki, the former National Security Adviser and Dieziani Allison Maduekwe stole billions of dollars from the treasury.

Is Mrs Patience Jonathan’s induction into the Club of Dollar Millionaires a result of hard work, or the savings from her earnings as Permanent Secretary in Bayelsa State? Are you not aware of how Billions of Naira were transferred from our national treasury into the personal account of your comrades including Femi Fani-Kayode during the 2015 Elections? It is so shameful to see you look away from these mindless looting of our national treasury just because you and your guys were involved. I daresay that with your penchant to attack people, you would have since turned against your comrades if you weren’t part of these grand theft of our national wealth. Because you were part of the group that stole our Nation blind, you no longer think the commandment against stealing is from God.

Pastor Reno, I didn’t hear you tell your colleagues to return the monies they looted from the treasury during the reign of your boss, President Jonathan. A Pastor is supposed to be bold to admonish his sinful friends. Instead, you engaged in shadow boxing to please your paymasters whose names appeared on the list of looters recently released by the Government. You allude to the one-sided nature of the list as if that washes away the sins of the looters on the list before God. Can that serve as a legal defence to the crime they have committed?

Pastor Reno, since you have never criticised the parading of armed bandits by the Police, it is hypocritical to criticise the naming of looters who have stolen far more than all the armed robbers in the world combined. These are looters whose acts of corruption caused more the suffering and death of millions of Nigerians, far more than the total number of deaths caused by armed robbery in the history of this Nation. Because you cannot preach against stealing without offending your paymasters, you have chosen to focus your messages on sexual purity only. How convenient?

Your obsession with tweeting about sex and Big Brother Naija (of all things) while living the good life in the United States just attests to the calibre of men who occupied critical positions in Nigeria. On the 3rd of March, 2018 you tweeted about the housemates of Big Brother Naija calling them agents of darkness and not stars. You went further to say that they are a blight on the nation, foaming in the mouth indecency and Nigeria must not celebrate them. Pastor Reno, is this not hypocritical?

How can you leave out those who plundered this Nation to focus on young Nigerians on the Big Brother Naija show who have been forced by the poverty and hopelessness caused engendered by corruption most especially of the Jonathan era to partake in a Reality contest with a promise of a better life if they win the N45 Million at stake? Yet you left the thieves untouched and labelled the housemates of Big Brother Naija as agents of darkness.

Despite the moral failings of the show, the average Nigerian would choose the Big Brother Housemates over you and those who stole Nigeria blind who you presently serve as their mouthpiece. You and your comrades are the agents of darkness whose stars would never shine again.

Your tweets reveal the mind of a man who has nothing meaningful to do with his time, hence your recourse to spewing rubbish against the Federal Government just because you have been deprived of your economic lifeline by the blocking of all loopholes that aid corruption which was glorified during the reign of your boss, Goodluck Jonathan.

Trillions of Naira were looted by the immediate past government, of which you were a spokesperson. These monies would have built and equipped several hospitals, schools, roads, houses etc for the benefit of millions of Nigerians. Do you know how many Nigerians who have died in the past years because of corruption perpetrated by the government of former President Jonathan, your boss? Instead of deploying our resources to better the lives of millions of Nigerians, President Jonathan and his comrades like you cornered the wealth for themselves. Young graduates roam the streets because the money that would have been used to establish and support job creating companies and industries was looted.

Even those that schooled abroad come back home and find no jobs because of corruption. You are also a testament to the effects of corruption on our youths as you also relocated abroad since you could not find a job here in Nigeria as a result the record-breaking corruption perpetrated by your boss and his group. The suffering and deaths visited on millions of Nigerians because of the large-scale stealing that took place would never go unpunished here on earth, and even in the afterlife.

Pastor Reno, going by the recent vituperations against the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo by you and your comrade, Femi Fani-Kayode, it is clear that you have been paid by your gang members who are members of the Looting Class to attack the Vice-President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo (SAN) for daring to expose them at every forum. The attacks against him went a notch higher the day after he specifically mentioned that the sum of N150 Billion was shared by the Jonathan government before the 2015 elections at the 7th Presidential Quarterly Business Forum in Abuja. If you were a patriotic Nigerian and a man of God as you claim, these revelations should be enough to make you call out the thieves if you were not part of them. But instead, you jump to the media to deny that such grand theft ever took place.

Working with the President should have exposed you to the powers of the President to access information about the financial dealings in the country. The Vice-President is not flippant. He spoke based on facts. And just like you stated in your recent epistle to your comrade, Femi Fani-Kayode wherein you quoted late Daniel Patrick Moynihan who stated that “You are entitled to your opinion. But you are not entitled to your own facts.” Pastor Reno, the fact is that over N150 Billion was looted by the Jonathan Government before the 2015 elections alone. There is no spin that would change that.

The damage done to our country by the worst heist in history is what this Government is working hard to repair by naming and shaming the thieves as well as getting them to face the legal consequences of their actions which includes refund of the stolen funds. But you and your comrades would have none of it. Just because “wife and children must chop” doesn’t mean you should talk so shamelessly. It is ironic that those who stole so much from the Nation and refused to use the billions of dollars generated from the sale of crude oil at $112 per barrel can now claim to be the apostles of good governance and anti-corruption. Shame on you all!

Nigerians do not have amnesia as you so wish. You and your comrades should hide your faces in shame and shut your corrupt mouths. Your great-grandchildren would be told of your role in the rape and destruction of our Nation. You have decided to fight back and attack those setting the course of the Nation on the right path, but you would all fail. No amount of name-calling, blackmail and propaganda can stop the moving train.

Nduka Anwuzie

Ayo Adebanjo: The man And His Politics, By Reuben Abati

When friends, family and political associates gather in Ijebu-Ogbo, Ogun state today, to celebrate the 90th birthday of Chief Ayo Adebanjo, they will be honouring a radical and progressive politician, a lawyer, elder statesman, a patriot, and a nationalist of Yoruba extraction, who is without doubt, one of the most remarkable politicians of his generation and a voice of reason in the Nigerian politics of the 20th century and early 21st century.

In a country where life expectancy is 53,  “one of the most dangerous places to give birth” according to Bill Gates, a house which Karl Maier describes as “fallen”, the attainment of the nonagenarian grade is no mean feat.

Born on April 10, 1928, barely six years after the Clifford Constitution and the first legislative elections in Nigeria, Adebanjo has lived through the finest and ugliest moments of Nigerian history: the constitutional processes, the struggle for independence, party politics leading to independence and after, the civil war, military rule, return to democracy, the struggle for the protection of democracy and civilian rule, and the bigger struggle of ensuring the survival and development of Nigeria.

He joined the struggle early in 1943, as a Zikist, as a follower of Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe but in 1951, he became a member of the youth wing of the Action Group, and a mentee and political disciple of late Chief Obafemi Awolowo. This became the defining moment of his life and 67 years later, he has remained faithful to the ideals of that political party and the ideology/political philosophy of his mentor –  that is Awoism.

As Adebanjo turns 90, what is to be celebrated is not necessarily his longevity, even if there may be lessons to be learnt from his life habits – he maintains a rigorous exercise regimen, a daily routine we are told includes aerobic sessions, he neither smokes nor drinks, and for more than 60 years he has remained married to the same woman- but there are no hard and fast rules about longevity perhaps – some alcoholics live up to hundred, and some chronic womanisers outlive their own hubris- longevity, if I may essay a religious tone, is a matter of grace. Adebanjo has lived a true life of blessing and amazing grace.

In 1962, during the travails of the Action Group and Chief Obafemi Awolowo’s trial for treasonable felony, Adebanjo was charged for felony, along with 30 others. He had to flee to Ghana. He has been detained more than once for his political beliefs, but this has not altered his resolve.

Following the annulment of the June 12, 1993 election, which was won by Chief MKO Abiola of the then Social Democratic Party, Adebanjo was one of the chieftains of the National Democratic Coalition (NADECO). He joined protests, stood at the barricades and made his voice heard. Members of the democratic coalition and other groups in civil society were shot at, harassed, humiliated and their family members were intimidated. Used to the dangers of a political life in a dangerous society, Adebanjo’s resolve remains unshaken, even in the winter season of his life.

When he fled into exile in 1962, his father was arrested, detained and rough-handled by the state.  Many of Adebanjo’s colleagues have died in the course of the struggle. Some moved to the other side of the fence. Others adjusted in later life. The very essence of Chief Adebanjo’s politics lies in his consistency, his unwavering commitment to ideas rather than opportunism, his courage in the face of fire and intimidation, the life of sacrifice that he has lived, and his loyalty to Awo and Awoism. On this last score, he may in fact be described as the last of the original Awoists.

This emphasis on ideology, party politics, and Awoism is important, as an entry point into the interrogation of Chief Ayo Adebanjo’s politics. The kind of post-politics reality that has developed in Nigeria since the early 2000s has been a politics that is not driven by any ideology or principles or core beliefs, but by the desperate search for power by any vehicle possible. For this reason, there are many politicians in Nigeria today who cannot effectively articulate what exactly they believe in or stand for, and there are many of them who in less than a decade have used up to about five political platforms of disconcertingly contradictory impressions.

This is probably the reason Chief Ayo Adebanjo has stayed away in the last few years from direct party politics. In 1951, he joined the Action Group, in the Second Republic, he was a member of the Unity Party of Nigeria, in the 90s, he was a member of the progressive democratic coalition; with the return to party politics in 1998, he was a member of the Alliance for Democracy which was more or less an Awoist party.

When the AD seemed to have transmuted, or well, to have been compromised and something called the ACN emerged, Adebanjo kept his distance and functioned more as a leader of the Afenifere, the pan-Yoruba socio-cultural group, which till date seems more committed to the Awoist ideology.  What is this ideology?

The Action Group, the Unity Party of Nigeria, the Alliance for Democracy had consistently preached the same ideology of public good: free education, health, and prosperity for all, rural development and welfarism.  It was on this platform that Chief Obafemi Awolowo transformed the Western region as leader in the First and Second Republics and it is these same principles that have continued to guide those who profess to be Awoists.

But Awoism in a real sense is not just about service delivery, it is also a mode of engagement with the rest of Nigeria by a group of political actors in the Western region. These actors are committed to federalism, a restructuring of Nigeria, regional autonomy, and a re-negotiation of the mandate of 1914. In real terms, these are the same issues that have caused much political difference in Nigeria. Awoists naturally align with minorities across Nigeria, historical circumstances, particularly the civil war pitched them against Igbos, and hegemonic politics pitted them against the mainstream Northern political establishment. When this is disaggregated, the researcher will find in-between, much that relates to the ethnic, regional and religious politics in Nigeria. I will return to this shortly.

Chief Ayo Adebanjo has been one of the most vocal, most unrelenting apostles of Awoism in Nigeria. His loyalty and religious devotion should be a worthy study. He believes that Nigeria should, no, must be, restructured, and that Nigeria’s unity is indeed negotiable, the basis for that having been established in 1954 and the subsequent Lancaster House conferences.

As a member of the 1978 Constituent Assembly, and the 2014 National Political Conference, Adebanjo has been consistent in demanding a restructuring of Nigeria through the vehicle of a Sovereign National Conference. He believes almost with thuggish resolve in federalism, as he continually makes the point that Nigeria as presently arranged is doomed to fail. In his more recent interventions, he argues almost with Papal magisterialism, that Nigeria can only move beyond 2019, if the country is restructured.

It is however this kind of talk that exposes the contradictions at the heart of Awoism and Adebanjo’s own politics. Amitai Etzioni has written about “The Moral Dimension” in a book of the same title: The Moral Dimension: Toward A New Economics, but what he examines is not necessarily economics, but the whole range of social relations. When people assume an absolute, “They and We”,  “Them and Us”, “They and I’, “We and Them” deontological ethics, they create a narratology of “I-s” and “We-s”.

This is precisely what the original Awoists did and what Adebanjo does with his politics. They assume a superior moral position over everyone else, and whoever does not agree with them or deviates from their own definition of morality or duty is a villain. From Awo to Chief Anthony Enahoro, Chief Bola Ige to Chief Abraham Adesanya to Sir Olaniwun Ajayi, Bishop Gbonigi, Reuben Fasoranti, Chief Alfred Rewane, and Ayo Adebanjo, this very hubris has led to a situation whereby other Nigerians dismiss the principles that this group holds so much dear as nothing more than sheer arrogance, or at best Yoruba irridentism.

And yet the label of irredentism is most unfair because the values and principles that Adebanjo has championed in particular are patriotic ideas about the common good.  He is not a nihilist. He is not an anarchist. In his entre career, he has only argued for a better Nigeria. What he and his colleagues want is nothing but a better Nigeria and they have demonstrated a capacity and a willingness to work with other Nigerians who share the same progressive ideas.

Beyond this politics, Adebanjo, originally a journalist before he went to study law in England, has proven to be media-savvy.  He is not shy in expressing his views. He understands the power of the media. He is brutally frank. He is an engaging conversationalist. He enjoys public engagement. He is intellectually gifted and confident enough to hold his own in any argument. He actually enjoys engaging professional intellectuals and calling them out for duty. You can’t intimidate Chief Adebanjo.

You can’t bully him. Journalists like to interview him, knowing that he will speak his mind, truthfully and forthrightly, and thus help to sell the newspaper. But when he dismisses Igbos collectively as he has done, on more than one occasion, or he calls those who disagree with him, ideologically, names as he is wont to do, he reinforces his persona as a professional opposition figure and as a self-styled superior moral force; at the same time, though, he plays up certain contradictions even at his own local, ethnic, base. Awoists by nature and choice are professional opposition politicians. There also seems to be a consensus among them that anyone who disagrees or falls out of line with them is to be vilified.

Chief Adebanjo in and out of party politics has upheld and sustained this tradition: the same tradition that blacklisted Samuel Ladoke Akintola, Adegoke Adelabu, Remi Fani-Kayode, Oduola Osuntokun, Meredith Akinloye, Richard Akinjide or anyone at all who dared to play “national politics” or question the core beliefs of the Awoist group.  Hence, today, in his autobiography: Telling it as it is, Chief Adebanjo flagellates Olusegun Obasanjo whom he accuses of not being a Yoruba man or not being Yoruba enough, and so on.

Obasanjo can defend himself, so I would leave that task to him. Bola Ige is similarly portrayed as a traitor because he chose to join national politics and work for Obasanjo. In various interviews, Chief Adebanjo is on record as having criticized Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, Professor Yemi Osinbajo and others for daring to work with either Obasanjo or Muhammadu Buhari, who in his view is nothing but a confirmed “disappointment.”

The argument about either joining national politics or remaining in the opposition or acting as a moral compass has remained at the centre of Yoruba politics in Nigeria and it may never disappear so soon. Whether it is also right or wrong for a class of ideologues to constitute themselves into dictators of a regional, political ideology is a matter for interrogation. I do not intend to make any final evaluation, not yet.

But just to say that the good news about Chief Ayo Adebanjo is indeed his honesty, his commitment to the tradition of opposition politics, his loyalty and ability to go on record for his beliefs and convictions, his joie de vivre, his objection to dictatorship – military or civilian, his agelessness and the capacity to remain relevant with both the old and the young in all seasons.

With him, and the likes of Chief Adekunle Ajasin, Chief Alfred Rewane, Chief Anthony Enahoro, Senator Abraham Adesanya, Chief Olaniwun Ajayi, Chief Olu Falae, Chief Reuben Fasoranti, Bishop Bolanle Gbonigi, Chief Bola Ige, Rev. Emmanuel Alayande … and their mentor, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, you never had to second-guess. You could always be sure of where they stood. We can confidently say that they don’t really make them like that anymore in this age and time when prominent politicians in Nigeria are better known for their dancing, fibbing, and singing skills, the number of women in their harems, and certainly not for the quality of their ideas or principles.

Adebanjo belongs to and represents a different tradition of the politics of character and dignity and truthfulness. In recent times, he has projected a lot more of his nationalism, seeing how Yoruba politics has turned out perhaps in the hands of new stakeholders – with his support of “the handshake across the Niger” and his focus on more nationalistic issues about Nigeria’s future.

At 90, with all his faculties in place, Ayo Adebanjo cannot however, be under any illusion that the battle for the soul of Nigeria has been won, or that Muhammadu Buhari would preside over the restructuring of Nigeria, or that Obasanjo would suddenly be as Yoruba as he wishes him to be, but he can look back with satisfaction at the meaningful life that he has lived, the struggles that he has been part of, the legacy that he has championed, and that he has lived long enough to tell his story by himself, read his own story as told by others, and enjoy the pleasure of poking a finger or two, in the eyes of his critics.

They may not give him a national honour, which he more than deserves, or name a university after him in his lifetime, but he would be respected always, most certainly, for his special service as someone who selflessly wants the very best for his own people and for all Nigerians and stands by what he believes in. Enjoy your 90th birthday sir. Have fun.

2019: Let The Others Simply Run Away, By Femi Adesina

There are two options for those in contention for the presidency in 2019: run, or run away. Now that President Muhammadu Buhari has indicated his intention to run, dwarfs trying to wear a giant’s shoes should simply run away. The cat has returned from a journey, let the rats scamper for safety.

Show clean pairs of heels? But this is a democracy! Everybody is free to run in the direction he or she fancies. True. So, what I’ve said is mere advice, which they can take, or choose not to take. Nigerians will decide early next year. The greater the challenge, the sweeter the victory.

I have always said it privately and in public. If President Muhammadu Buhari decides to run for a second term in 2019, I would support him. It doesn’t matter whether I am in government or not. For some of us, the man Buhari is a conviction, a resolution, a man to admire and adore since 1984, when he became military head of state.

Is he perfect? Show me the man who is. Is he running a perfect government? Show me the government which is. Is he sincere? Very. Does he love the country? Dearly. Will he take Nigeria to the Promised Land? As the good Lord helps. And he is on the way there. Does he need more time? Sure, he does. The rot was too much, benumbing.

Nigeria is doing a lot more with a lot less today. There was a time we were awash with money. Oil sold for as high as $120 dollars per barrel, and we produced up to two million barrels per day. For many years. But we had no roads, no electricity, no health care, no security, nothing. The money was simply looted. They sat round the table, as if gathered for lunch, and hundreds of billions of dollars were shared.

Now, after oil prices crashed to as low as 30 dollars per barrel in 2015, and currently oscillates between 50 and 60 dollars, Nigeria is doing great things. Electricity has been taken to over 7,000 megawatts, from the inherited 3,000. The economy is now being truly diversified, after five decades of lip service. Agriculture is now the second biggest thing after oil, and is poised to become number one in the not too distant future. Farmers, in their millions, now smile to the banks. The farmer is now king. He sends himself on pilgrimage to Mecca or Jerusalem, paying his own way. Those who want more wives among them have even taken. And not on credit. Lol.

With income standing at about 60% less than what we used to earn, N1.3 trillion was spent on capital in 2016. The 2017 budget will close with about the same amount being expended on capital projects. Simply because you have a honest man in leadership. Not that corruption has been wiped out, no, but it has been drastically curbed. And anyone serving with the man knows that stealing is now corruption. When fish rots, it starts from the head. But we now have a head that shows the way. Mai Gaskiya. The Honest Man. Shine the light, and people will find the way.

How about our foreign reserves? They say we should stop talking about the past, and simply face the future. So that Nigerians would not be reminded of how they ran the country into a hole? With oil at its highest prices for many years, what they left in foreign reserves was a miserly $29.6 billion. It dropped to as low as $24 billion about a year ago, because of collapsed oil prices. But then, by divine mercies, prices began to inch up in the international market. It reached $60 per barrel, just about half of what they earned for many years. We cut unbridled importation of what can be produced locally. Prudence became the watchword. And foreign reserves now stand at over $46 billion. Why? Simply because the money is not being pocketed by those in power, as it once happened.

And then, some voodoo priests came: don’t run for a second term. Give way to younger people. Take a well deserved rest. Blah blah blah. As if they were the beginning and end of democracy. The motive was simple: we must dissuade this man from running, so that he wouldn’t become the greatest ever Nigerian leader. He must not become the authentic national hero. All types of cards were being flashed, yellow, green, red, purple, as if they had become emergency referees. But President Buhari kept his peace. No abuse for abuse, no railing for railing. When you are in the marketplace, you concentrate on the person you are transacting a deal with, and ignore the noise of the market. Now, the Tower of Babel has been resoundingly ignored, and democracy will be the victor.

Early next year, Nigerians will decide what they want. Go ahead on the journey to Canaan, a land flowing with milk and honey, or go back to Egypt, a land of eternal bondage, and excruciating pains? Nigerians will do it again. They will freely elect the leader they want, without pandering to ethnic, religious, and other primordial sentiments being currently whipped up. There will be no doomsday, as the election will be free and fair. No wuru-wuru or mago-mago under Buhari’s watch, no matter what. A man that swears to his own hurt.

Nigerians, President Buhari is on the march again. For the sake of our tomorrow and the ages to come, for the sake of our children and generations yet unborn, let’s do it again.

Adesina is Special Adviser to President Buhari on Media and Publicity

Killer Kids And Irresponsible Parents, By Babayola Toungo

The north is now a reservoir of violent youth gangs, be it in Kano, Kaduna, Bauchi or even conservative Yola.  There is no political activity that takes place in the north without blood being spilled and we seem helpless in the face of this violent culture that is taking over the future of the region and that of our “future leaders”.

Taking a life is no more a big deal to youth barely getting out of their diapers and all the elders could do is to stand and watch wringing their hands.  Parents are more scared of their wards than the other way round.

I cannot actually put my finger on where we all went wrong but the how is becoming clear to the discerning.  And sadly enough, we are all guilty.  The excessive misplaced love for our children has turned them into truants and we aid and abet them either by our collective acts of commission or omission.

While we obeyed and serve our parents, we are now obeying and serving our children and in the process destroying their future.  Your neighbours or your child’s teacher cannot scold your wayward child without a backlash from you.  Parents are known to go to their children’s’ schools and dress down teachers in front of their kids.  We even pay for good grades, which we know they don’t deserve thereby turning them into morons.  We give them enough pocket money to buy clubs, yet we express surprise once they become unruly, disrespectful and ultimately menaces to our societies.  We spare the rod and spoil the child.

The rise in the number of street gangs and killer kids in all northern cities has taken a very dangerous dimension and is spreading like wildfire to the provinces.  The recent spike in mayhem by these street gangs in Kaduna these past two weekends points to a very dangerous forthcoming political activity in the run-up to the various congresses and primaries by the political parties.  The primaries conducted for local government councillorship aspirants by the All Peoples’ Congress (APC) in Kaduna state were a test-run for these street urchins.

More than four deaths were recorded and many injured by the ‘yan shara between Kawo and Badarawa areas of Kaduna.  The boys thump their noses at the men of Operation Yaki, the state’s rapid response security outfit who turned up in large numbers to ensure the security of lives and properties during the party primaries.  They roam around with machetes and other dangerous weapons unmolested by all, particularly their parents, who shift the blame to the government for allowing their wards to become killers and petty thieves.  This is what I failed to fathom.  How can you allow your ward to become wayward and then you turn around and blame someone else?  Though the state also has its failings.

Every child was fathered by someone, or at worst has a mother; he must have come from a certain family, no matter how poor they are.  So why do we fail to take up our responsibilities of training them to discern right from wrong, or handing them over to the authorities when they commit crimes?  Was that the way we were brought up?  When they commit murder and run home, we transport them out of the town and hide them with our village folks and shout intimidation when the authorities try to do their work.  We blame the politicians for recruiting them and turning them into thugs but they have to be there first to be recruited.

The Senate has invited the Minister of Education to go and explain why the mass failure in WAEC/ NECO exams.  How can the Minister explain the failures of what we (including the Senate) have caused?  JAMB had to reduce its cut-off points for northern candidates writing its exams with our lawmakers insisting such must be done so that our northern students will “catch up” with their southern counterparts.  How could they not fail when they know they don’t have to try hard to be able to make their University entry grades.  I challenge any senator to rise up and be counted as among those whose passion for public education is such that he cares about the education of his constituents.  What can the Minister tell them?  It is a parental problem and they must recognize such for us to move ahead without harassing any public official.

When Nasiru El-Rufa’i, the Kaduna state governor tried to address the rot in the state’s public education, all the senators from the state challenged him, and now they want the Minister of Education to come and explain to them why our children fail their exams?  When you compensate your political thugs with teaching jobs, what do you expect to get – “thug in, thug out”, of course.

Apart from the almost ten million out of school kids roaming our streets, we are saddled with killer kids who have never been remorseful for their actions. Consumption of codeine laced cough syrup and other drugs have turned our kids to killers without conscience right in front of our eyes.  The north is now a haven of addicts – hard drugs for the children of the rich and cough syrup for the kids of the poor.

What are we doing as parents to bring this menace to an end?  The government is partly to blame for the escalation of the brigandage holding the north to ransom.  Whenever any of these killer kids are arrested, they make bail the next hour to come and attack their accusers.  This makes many people scared of identifying and taking them to the police.  But then the ultimate responsibility still lies with the parent.  Shifting our responsibilities to the government won’t help us.

Future leaders?  They don’t even have any future in their vision, no thanks to our stupidity.

Goje: No Lawmaker Must Be Allowed To Rubbish NSIP, By Thomas Adebanwi

One issue which kept the media space buzzing almost endlessly last week was the threat by the Senate to cut down the budget for the National Social Intervention Programme (NSIP) on reason no well meaning Nigeria considered as serious and rational.

The Senate issued the threat through its Chairman Appropriation Committee during the 2018 Budget Defence by NSIP led by Mrs. Maryam Uwais, the Special Adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari on NSIP.

It was apparent that some federal lawmakers have been ogling the fast paced activities and record breaking achievements by the NSIP Office amid of a fantastic impression that huge monies must have been crossing hands without them being direct beneficiaries.

Some Committee members must have resolved to ambush the NSIP anchors with intent to arm-twist and make them backpedal on serving personal interests of lawmakers.

The Senate Committee Chairman on Appropriation, Senator Danjuma Goje chose the right moment to breath down the neck of NSIP representatives during the Budget Defence, threatening to ensure a cut in the N500 billion budgeted for NSIP in the 2018 Appropriation.

Goje was exasperated that the Presidency did not carry the lawmakers along as NSIP got into the stream, and that the officials failed to convince his Committee that the amount voted for the scheme was being judiciously utilized.

Goje, former governor of Gombe state may appear to be altruistic in his position over NSIP funding and expenses, given the high level of corruption that usually footnotes operations of agencies of government.

This time, however, he could not be taken serious on the basis of suspicion by Nigerians that their lawmakers are capable of unexplained mischief on money matters. Nigerians are well ahead with information on how federal lawmakers submit to untamed greed, rapacity and roguery in arm-twisting government agencies to part with monies.

It was part of the reasons many, almost instantly, took to the social media to condemn the threat by Goje, while also highlighting the achievements of the NSIP over a short period, and the reason the programme should not fail.

Senator Goje appeared ill informed about the financial outlays of NSIP and its balance sheet for the current fiscal year, given the facts presented to him by the Presidential Adviser. According to Mrs Uwais, although the Federal Government voted the sum of N500 billion for NSIP, the programme only received between 2016 and 2017 the sum of N175 billion.

According to the President’s aide, from the N500 billion vote, the sum of N100 billion was allocated for the Social Housing Scheme under the Federal Ministry of Finance, adding that from the balance of N400 billion, only N90 billion was released for the year 2017.

She told the Senate Committee that the NSIP received only the sum of N85 billion in 2016.

The explanations by NSIP notwithstanding, Goje and members of his Committee appeared not impressed. In voicing displeasure on the NSIP Concept, Goje blurted; “Many people are complaining that they have not seen the impact of the programme considering the magnitude of the fund involved.

No single person from Gombe State has benefited from your N-Power. We don’t know about your N-Power. As far as many of us are concerned, we are completely dissatisfied with what you are doing.”

However, reason for Goje’s outburst against NSIP could be anchored on the mind set by lawmakers that no government programme is deemed to be perfect and better executed if lawmakers were not deeply involved.

Fears had been expressed that had the lawmakers been involved all along, the entire NSIP would have been politicized, hijacked and rendered a complete failure, leaving the government, which owned the initiative to sulk.

From past experiences, when lawmakers got involved directly in any project, they exercised no restraint in holding down such by reserving the choicest portions for concubines, relations, cronies and hangers on. Nigerians who genuinely needed to be considered were usually denied. But the NSIP, from indications discouraged that from the start.

It is against this background that the government of President Muhammadu Buhari deserves some praises. For instance, when the N-Power which so far has offered employment opportunities to 200, 000 graduates was launched, the process was subjected to openness and transparency in which case, those who really needed the opportunity got enlisted without going through any third party.

N-Power simply stands out as one of the initiatives by the Buhari’s government that won the hearts of the Nigerian youths who are waiting for the second leg to kick off.

In all, NSIP programme comprises N-Power, National Home Grown School Feeding, Government Enterprise Empowerment Programme, and the National (conditional) Cash Transfer Programme.

Coordinated directly from the Office of the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, the programme has recorded not less than 6.8 million direct beneficiaries, with additional 1.75 million secondary beneficiaries comprising cooks, farmers, the Poor and Vulnerable Household members.

The Vice President in his address at the recent Bola Tinubu Colloquium in Lagos reeled out the achievements of N-Power Programme, stating that additional 300,000 unemployed graduates are on the waiting list to grab fresh jobs aside the 200, 000 current beneficiaries of the scheme.

He added that over 7 million children are being fed daily in 22 States so far; while beneficiaries of micro-credit loans under NSIP are rising to about 300,000; while also almost 300,000 households are benefiting from conditional cash transfers.

In a nutshell, Nigerians who are direct beneficiaries of the initiatives by the government of President Buhari should rise to take ownership in order to benefit more.

Allowing lawmakers known to be selfish and gluttonous to hijack the schemes will not augur well for those who have been savouring the benefits already.

Thomas Ola Adebanwi, APC Chieftain Contributed this piece from

Ijebu-Ode, Ogun State.

Finance Minister Starves President Buhari’s NPower Volunteers Of Their Salaries, By Tunde Daniel

No doubt, Nigerians are beginning to reap the benefits of the CHANGE mantra as many young unemployed people have found reasons to believe in Muhamadu Buhari-led administration especially as millions of Nigerians have benefited directly and indirectly from each of the various schemes of the National Social Investment Programmes.

The federal government, in 2016, established the NSIP to tackle poverty and hunger across the country. The NSIP programme comprises NPower, National Home Grown School Feeding (NHGSF), Government and Empowerment Programme (GEEP), and the National (Conditional) Cash Transfer Programme.

Till date, over 7.9 million beneficiaries have been recorded since the inception of the programme with presence in the 36 states of the federation and federal capital territory. One of the most important aspects of the programme is that beneficiaries are being paid directly with their Bank Verification Numbers used to prevent fraud.

Unlike in the past where schemes like these are manipulated to favour politicians, beneficiaries of the NSIP programmes have applauded President Muhammadu Buhari for not bowing to pressure from politicians to turn the program into another political jamboree for political office holders to ‘settle’ cronies and loyalists.
With the huge success recorded in this programe, one would begin to wonder why beneficiaries are being starved of their monthly stipends.

A quick background check revealed that a total of N900 billion was appropriated for the NSIP in 2016 and 2017; with N500 billion appropriated for 2016 and N400 billion appropriated for 2017.

Despite the approval of the N900 billion budget by the National Assembly, Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, for reasons best known to her, has released only a total sum of N109 billion with a deficit of N791 billion.
Information available to us shows that the GEEP expenditure gulped N11,700,200,466, while the CCT gulped N5,235,401,087.

Between October 2016 and November 2017, N22,370,719,017 was expended for the Home-grown School Feeding Programme (HGSFP); while N69,731,256,122 was expended on N-power.”

If anything, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, should understand better that the NSIP is one of the many successes of this administration with millions of young people lifted off the poverty level and given life changing opportunities.
Sadly, Adeosun’s continued deliberate poor releases of funds to NSIP is coming at a time beneficiaries are hopeful that a scheme that has provided a temporary relief from unemployment in the country will be put on the front burner in the finance ministry’s list of priorities.

Most of the beneficiaries live on the N30,000 stipend and it would not augur well to keep delaying payment without recourse to their plights and needs.

Mrs Adeosun should not be too comfortable with her juicy office and starve beneficiaries of the NSIP of their monthly stipends. If anything, the NSIP budget should be prioritized. Yes, there are many capital projects to be completed but this is a scheme the Minister must not play politics with as it is a cardinal project of Mr President and speaks directly to Mr President’s love for the masses.

In December 2017, beneficiaries protested delay in payment of their monthly stipends due to Adeosun’s inaction.

Presently, many are yet to get paid for the month of March 2018. Should we wait till beneficiaries begin to carry placards and embarrass the federal government before Adeosun sees the need to prioritize NSIP budget?

Or is Adeosun tilting towards Senator Danjuma Goje’s call to scrap the National Social Investment Programme by deliberately starving beneficiaries of their stipends?

I would like to hope that this is not true. The NSIP is touching lives and by God’s grace, more lives would be touched this year. More so, Adeosun should note that the programme is in line with the manifesto of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).

In all, while the nation is investing in more capital projects than ever before, Adeosun should support FG’s position and commitment to invest in the people just as Bill Gates mentioned at a special session of the National Economic Council held at the old Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

In conclusion, I urge President Buhari, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo (SAN), and all party Chieftains to call Mrs. Kemi Adesoun to order to immediately release NSIP funds so beneficiaries can again have reason to smile and meet their urgent needs.

 

Tunde Daniel is a political analyst and social commentator in Abuja. He can be reached via denieltunde@gmail.com

Fuel Subsidy: Reno Omokri’s Wilful Ignorance And His Quest For Misinformation, By Bernard Okri

In the last of the President Goodluck Jonathan days in office, a certain Reno Omokri was ousted as Social Media/ New Media adviser and was replaced by famed media mogul Obi Asika.

Omokri had become a liability and a disaster waiting to happen to the Jonathan government. At the time of his sack, Sahara Reporters wrote this about him: “Mr. Jonathan’s move is seen as an apparent maneuver to re-energize his social media image following a growing slide in his electoral fortunes as well as a series of scandals involving Mr. Omokri, who until now shaped and ran the incumbent President’s campaign on social media.

The online newspaper continued, “A source at the Presidency told SaharaReporters that Mr. Omokri, who returned from California to boost President Jonathan’s political campaigns in 2011, had become a huge liability and source of distraction. Mr. Omokri, who also doubles as a pastor, came to be known as “Wendell Simlin” after tech-savvy Nigerian social media activists caught him red-handed as he circulated reports on the Internet that claimed to have found a link between former Central Bank Governor, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, and Islamist terror group Boko Haram.

“Enterprising social media sleuths discovered that the so-called reports implicating Mr. Sanusi as a sponsor of Boko Haram were first created on and disseminated from Mr. Omokri’s personal computer in Abuja.”

Fast forward to 8th April 2018 and you will understand why Omokri is haunted, disturbed and still not a force to reckon with despite his non-stop rant on social media and ploy to gain attention.

Since the name Reno Omokri has become associated with ‘source of distraction’ and ‘falsehood’, it came as no surprise to me when he tried to distract Nigerians by having a go at the present administration on the issue of subsidy.

Increasingly, it has become clear that when Omokri worked in the immediate past government he was never allowed anywhere near intelligence or administration matters – even the basic of information.

To enlighten Omokri, the statement by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo that the Nigerian government does not pay subsidies is perfectly true.

However there is a tweak to it: Under the subsidy regime of the Jonathan government, his boss paid oil marketers bogus amounts of monies to cover for their expenses to supply the country fuel and maintain the price at an affordable amount – this led to the enriching of a few and impoverishing of the country, as most of the oil marketers did not even make any deliveries to Nigeria but were paid billions of Naira. Some others took crude oil to Ghana and Benin Republic but where paid as well.

Under the new system which operates under the Buhari’s government, oil marketers do not receive money from government. Instead, NNPC bears the cost of the differential and takes the hit on their own balances by ensuring that the price of petrol remains at N145 regardless of the fact that the landing cost has increased in such a way to make the 145 unprofitable.

In this new arrangement – which is called UNDER-RECOVERY – the Nigerian consumers benefit and not the marketers. If this is not done, the price of fuel would shoot up and the President has said he would never allow that happen.

What the government is doing to put an end to this regime, which is in itself a short term solution – is to fix our refineries including encouraging private sector involvement.

Chief Financial Officer of NNPC, Mr. Isiaka AbdulRazaq, who traced the advent of the subsidy regime to October, 2003 when NNPC was directed by government to commence the purchase of domestic crude oil at international market price without a corresponding liberalization of the regulated price of petroleum products noted that the subsidy regime has changed.

He explained that under the Jonathan subsidy regime, NNPC and other suppliers of refined petroleum products were entitled to file subsidy claims to the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA).

Mr. AbdulRasaq, however, noted that unlike oil marketers, under the under-recovery regime NNPC did not receive cash payment for subsidy claims as its claims were deducted out of cost payment to the Federation Account after due certification by PPPRA.

Mr Omokri must stop making a fool of himself, and deliberately playing ignorant to misinform Nigerians. And if indeed he is as ignorant as he exudes himself, then he needs to learn that search engines still work. But he must first open himself to learning, even from those who oppose him: Reno is known to block on Twitter every person who disagrees with his views – which are mostly wrong. If he must find knowledge, he must end his hypocrisy and listen to the voice of wisdom outside his altered mindset.

That his former principal, Goodluck Jonathan, can label him a ‘huge liability’, what more can one expect, he is only living up to his billing.

So long Omokri!!!

Bernard Okri writes from Asaba, Delta State

And Now, The Great Rice Revolution, By Idowu Samuel

Suddenly, there is a huge prospect that in just a few years, agriculture may surpass oil as a major revenue earner for the country, as signals to that effect continues to provoke cheers in many circles across the federation.

Already, Nigeria has started yielding seasons of fortunes to its farmers. This development is anchored on a sweeping transformation witnessed in the agricultural sector over the past three years. These days, the citizens are coming to terms that agriculture now counts as a gold mine, which their country had unwittingly neglected for decades.

Nigeria came this far, not by happenstance. The journey to its growing fortune in agriculture took off with a recession that literally paralysed the economy way back in 2015. Indeed, economic recession has its good side. It re-ordered the thinking of government and expanded its capacity to catalyse the growth of the non-oil sector, zeroing on the necessity to immediately diversify. That was when agriculture took the driver’s seat as a way to raise Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), amid biting recession, worked in synergy with the Ministry of Agriculture to craft an Anchor Borrowers Programme aimed towards ensuring mass production of rice. President Muhammadu Buhari launched the Anchor Borrowers Programme in September 2015.   The Rice Revolution came with a boom that has been good to farmers and state governments that embraced the Federal Government’s initiative. It is no longer a thing of imagination that farmers in rural Nigeria, known for subsistence farming over the years, could be instant millionaires.

When rice production begins to serve as an eye opener to economic prosperity for Nigeria, the implication is that the country still has many more areas of fortunes to explore to realise its dream of being a major player on the world economy. The statistics on the success of agriculture alone, anchored essentially on rice production has been stunning, offering a window for Nigeria to see a better future.

At the moment, the contribution of agriculture to the nation’s GDP is projected to hit 40 percent by the third quarter of 2018, whereas, the contribution stood at 28 percent as at 2015.

Prior to the emergence of the present administration, Nigeria depended largely on food importation to close the supply gap, while importing not less than 17 million tonnes  within five years. The volume, however, started to drop, starting from 2016 when the country imported just 2.3 million tonnes.

Again, Nigeria was spending not less than $5 million per day on rice importation. With less emphasis on importation, rice accounted for 1.26 percent of the 2017 budget. The success in local rice production then began to cause ripples in the international market such that export to Nigeria from Thailand, which stood at 1.23 million metric tonnes in 2014, dropped rapidly to 23, 192 metric tonnes by 2017.

Kudos, however, goes to the government of President Buhari for including rice among 41 items placed on an importation ban list; a development that now redefines Nigeria with a possibility to emerge as a star in the league of rice producing countries.

Indeed, Nigeria could not have attained this feat without the aggressiveness of Kebbi and 13 other states on rice production. Kebbi demonstrated leadership by clearing the ground for successful take-off of the Anchor Borrowers Programme, while organising local farmers to fully embrace the scheme. The efforts paid off as the state registered capacity to produce about 2.5 million metric tonnes of rice in 2018 to improve on the 1 million tonnes it produced in the previous year.

Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele had attested to efforts by Kebbi in rice production, disclosing that the state alone can boast of 88, 000 farmer -millionaires through the Anchor Borrowers Dry Season Rice Farming programme initiated by the bank.

In the same vein, Adamawa, Cross River, Ebonyi, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Lagos, Niger, Ogun, Plateau, Sokoto and Zamfara have been showing strong reflexes in growing rice for exports.

Lagos demonstrated an award-winning initiative by its partnership with Kebbi State to produce Lake Rice, which has helped to crash the price for Lagosians. The competitiveness in rice production has so far been infectious as Ogun State too launched its own MITROS Rice Mill, making the production of Ofada Rice more appealing.

In all, the ongoing revolution in rice production and value chains have been good to Nigerians, offering employment opportunities to a good number of farmers, making the country to earn foreign exchange and attaining food security for the populace.

In summary, if the government of President Buhari successfully wove magic wand on production of paddy rice while targeting 20 million jobs for Nigerians youths through agriculture by 2019, it is time the feat was replicated in other cash crops, most essentially cocoa, palm oil, wheat, groundnuts and others on massive scale to re-energise the national economy and make it boom beyond expectations.

*Idowu Samuel, A journalist and public affairs analysts wrote in from Abuja.

Corruption: Osinbajo On A Moral Highground, By Chukwudi Enekwechi

It is no longer new that the reason many Nigerians are poor and the country’s infrastructure in a state of disrepair can be traced to the unprecedented level of corruption under the Peoples Democratic Party administrations.

While the All Progressives Congress administration has been in power for barely three years, it has been a herculean task cleansing the augean stable of corruption left behind by the successive PDP administrations. It is still a wonder how they managed to condone corruption at the level the Buhari/ Osinbajo administration met it.

It is also not surprising that Vice president Yemi Osinbajo did not hesitate to raise alarm about the huge disparity between the paltry financial commitment of the previous PDP administration to the actual development of the country and her citizens to the humongous sums of money which were frittered away on the eve of the 2015 presidential election.

As a conscientious leader Professor Osinbajo could not comprehend in his greatest imagination how an administration will pay so little attention to the welfare of her citizens while huge resources are being stolen to ensure the retention of political power. Obviously this is a disservice to the people, and for the vice president it was condemnable, despicable and punishable.

The difference between the past PDP administrations and the current APC –led administration is that President Muhammadu Buhari and his Vice Professor Yemi Osinbajo are determined and committed to rescue Nigerians from the pangs of poverty and privation to which the prevalent corruption of the PDP era had plunged the country.

Lest we forget, it was corruption that resulted in the huge infrastructural deficit which the Buhari/Osinbajo administration is trying to fix today. It was also corruption that allowed the orgy of violence being witnessed today in some parts of the North East to fester and degenerate. Gladly President Muhammadu Buhari has utilised his wealth of experience to curtail the nefarious activities of the dreaded Boko Haram terrorists.

Professor Yemi Osinbajo as the vice president has a moral responsibility to seek solutions to the causes of corruption in Nigeria, but this cannot be achieved without a ‘forensic audit’ of the past. Perhaps his courage to avail Nigerians with the facts as far corruption is concerned has attracted erasers from certain quarters, yet the sad reality remains that you cannot successfully tackle corruption and its consequences of underdevelopment without tracing the origin and causative factors.

As a matter of fact, Vice President Osinbajo will be failing in his duties if he failed to draw the attention of Nigerians to the original source of their predicament. It is however consoling that the Buhari/Osinbajo administration has undertaken to redress the situation by embarking on several programmes aimed at ameliorating the socio-economic plight of Nigerians.

Suffice it to say that the administration is intervening in several areas towards bringing succour to the average Nigerian. For example, there are several rail and road projects being executed across the country simultaneously, while attention is being given to the adequate provision of power to Nigerians.

Under the watch of the vice president, such interventionist programmes like N-Power, School Feeding programme, Anchor Borrowers programme and other economic initiatives are being diligently implemented to impact directly on Nigerians. This is a departure from the rent seeking approach of the past PDP administrations where influential individuals are given unrestricted access to the national treasury all in the name of political patronage.

By Chukwudi Enekwechi (JP)

An Abuja Based Journalist and Politician

Kwechis19@yahoo.com

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