5 Years Of Spreading Luck – Everyone Needs A Little Help, By Tony Elumelu

In business the role luck plays in success and personal achievement is rarely discussed. If luck is mentioned, it is done with slight condescension, and usually dismissed as a product of hard work, not deserving significant attention. While hard work is paramount – and I have written extensively about the importance of working hard – history and my own experiences show that there is often a large element of success that hard work alone cannot explain. It is simply not true that “you make your own luck.”

I started my career as a salesman, a copier salesman to be specific, young, hungry, and hardworking, but the reality was that I was just one of thousands of young Nigerian graduates, all eager to succeed. How did I get from there to where I am now? Of course, hard work, resilience, a long-term vision – but also luck.

A year later after earning my Master’s degree in Economics from the University of Lagos, I applied to join a new generation bank, Allstates Trust Bank. The bank’s one-page newspaper advertisement demanded a minimum 2:1-degree, but I applied regardless, submitting a cover letter and filled out application with my 2:2-Economics degree.

By a stroke of luck, my application was reviewed by the Chairman/CEO, a painstaking man who carefully read my cover letter and was drawn to the confidence in my words. “I know I may not have met the qualifying criteria for the advertised roles, but I am intelligent, driven, ambitious and I will make the bank proud. My 2:2 degree does not demonstrate the full extent of my intelligence and ability, and I know I can do so much more.” He read those words and took a chance on me. Though “unqualified”, he decided to throw me a lifeline, an opportunity.

I was invited to join the shortlist, followed by a long series of interviews and even more tests. At the end of a very rigorous process, I received good news – I had a place as an entry level analyst. Even now, I wonder: What if the Founder had not personally gone through my application? What if my application was rejected at the very beginning? What if I never got the opportunity to work at Allstates Trust Bank?

The story continues: within 12 months at the bank, aged 27, I went from analyst to branch manager – the youngest ever bank branch manager at the time. I was hard working, energetic, creative and prioritised getting things done, but it was also good fortune that my bosses Toyin Akin-Johnson and Ebitimi Banigo took notice, and then, believed in me. They took a chance on me by appointing me as branch manager after an incredibly short time in the bank. They recognised in me the raw materials needed to make a good leader and were prepared to invest in me and my ability. My rise to Branch Manager within a short period is a great story but I know in my heart, I was lucky, as well as deserving.

This position of branch manager was a solid platform which launched me into several top leadership roles. When we, a small group of hungry, determined, young outsiders, took over struggling Crystal Bank, it was as a direct result of the preparedness and exposure that we received early from our superiors and mentors. Without the intervention and goodwill of these people in my career, I would not have been prepared as I was to take on far greater roles. These learning opportunities laid the pathway to future achievements. Put simply, I was lucky enough to be identified and trusted so early on in my career, and this put me on a unique road to success. I keep this in mind – it is humbling and also drives much of what I do today.

When I left UBA as Chief Executive Officer (CEO) in 2010 to pursue other interests, I made a vow that through the Tony Elumelu Foundation, I would “institutionalise” luck and democratise access to opportunities for young Africans.  I promised to leverage the success I have enjoyed, to spread luck and hope, provide opportunities and to empower the next generation of African entrepreneurs to succeed.

Without luck in my early career, I would not be the man that I am today. I am a leader and philanthropist today because I encountered people who gave me a chance early in my career. It has been a lifetime goal to pay this forward in a transformative and impactful way.Over the past three decades I have spent as a banker, investor, and turnaround expert, I have had the opportunity to meet thousands of entrepreneurs, like me.  Many of them young people, with incredible dreams and business ideas but without the experience or the access to mentoring and support required in order to build successful businesses. But most importantly, they have not yet been exposed to the right opportunity.

Our entrepreneurs are hard at work across the continent, identifying gaps in the market for specific products and services, and bridging these gaps with their innovation and ingenuity. Yet, many of these budding entrepreneurs often lack the capital, the networks, the training, the support to take their small business to national or regional scale. All they need is a helping hand, some luck, someone to believe in them and take a chance on them.

This is what the Tony Elumelu Foundation offers: a platform that empowers African entrepreneurs– from business management training, to mentoring, to funding to networking – championing their cause and giving them a global voice to actualise their ambitions. This is precisely why I launched the USD$100 million Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Programme to empower the next generation of African entrepreneurs. Indeed, these may be the next UBAs (United Bank for Africa).

So, when I am asked, “Tony, why are you and your family doing this? What is in it for you?” I smile and recount my own story of luck. Luck is real, it is powerful, and I am committed to spreading it as far as I can. I am a beneficiary of luck, and I am passionate about sharing it across the continent, to all 54 countries.

I want our young aspiring entrepreneurs to apply. I want you to be a part of this global movement for good. I encourage you to be bold enough to let luck find you. There will be 1260 places open from January 1, 2019. Will you be among the lucky ones this year? Take a chance on yourself. Your future may begin today. Apply now atTEFCONNECT.COM

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There He Goes Again, By James Akinloye

*An editor of an otherwise respectable medium develops incurable obsession against a distinguished leader.

*The tale of a certain Abraham Ogbodo

Mr. Abraham Ogbodo seems to have an obsession with Vice President Prof. Yemi Osinbajo. He is constantly searching for what next the Vice President would do – but if he was searching with good intent it would have been better, unfortunately for this suspicious journalist, he is always on the lookout for whatever the Vice President would do with the intent to malign his character. 

He claims to love him in his recent piece, ANOTHER SERMON ON PROFESSOR YEMI OSINBAJO, but I think he is mistaken love with perjorative obsession, and an embarrassing partisan slant that is easy to detect. Give it to him, Ogbodo knows what he is doing and the readers too understand his despicable mission. 

Right from 2014 that President Muhammadu Buhari emerged as APC presidential candidate, this man decided to submit himself to the task of attacking the candidate. But when Prof Osinbajo became running mate, the matter became for him a lasting mission to embarrass seeing the undoubtable value Osinbajo brought to the table.

His latest article is another example of expression of this unwholesome mission. He makes an attempt to deceive his readers by painting a scenario as if the Vice President goes to markets to handover N10,000 to TraderMoni beneficiaries. Deliberate misinformation. 

A click on Google to search for how the TraderMoni is disbursed by the Bank of Industry would have brought sense and clarity to Abraham’s position. Unfortunately his intent is to malign the Vice President and deceive his readers hence his conscious failure to make the necessary enquiries. 

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo’s visits to the markets have simply been to monitor the disbursements of these monies to the traders. He has never gone to the market to share money. The intent of the VP is simply to be with the people. Mr. Abraham may forget that leaders in government are elected for the people and there is nothing wrong whatsoever in the Vice President going to ensure a programme of the government is being carried out righteously. If Mr. Abraham Obodo is afraid that this will win the Vice President support, then he must be ready to live with this fear forever.

He fundamentally fails to understand that government is for the people and these traders are citizens as much as Governors, as much as Traditional Rulers, as much as Head of Parastatals and Agencies, and as much as business leaders who meet with the Vice President every now and then on official purposes. They are citizens as well and the Vice President has only shown himself to be a leader of the people by going down to meet with them and interact with them on their levels. It is unfortunate that his involvement in observing the disbursement of the Trader Moni loan scheme surprises people like Abraham. He  perhaps looks down on the poor, and believes that nothing should be done to salvage and elevate them. A thinking derived from an aloof elitist mindset that government should be for the few, the wealthy while abandoning the majority who are poor. 

Those baselessly making the accusation of electoral fraud are simply unaware and oblivious of the duties of government to the people at the least. Indeed if the government is working and fulfilling its promises to the people and that is termed vote buying then I think we need to encourage vote buying as an official practice.

Another item of controversy that Mr Abrahma raises in his opinion article is the Vice President’s comment vis-a-vis the conversation on the 2023 Presidency. 

This was an innocuous remark that has been taken out of context. The Vice President was only encouraging the South-Western region of the country to participate in deciding the equation of who produces the President in 2023. 

Misinterpreting him is only to subject a simple democratic and political issue to the pettiness of ethnicity. We must not pretend not to know how Nigeria’s politics operates.

It is expected as a matter of unspoken consensus that in 2023 power will shift to the south, and that means the contest to produce the President will be between the South-West, the South-South and the South-East regions. Each of the regions would have a place in the contest. 

The Vice President in a discussion with leaders in the South-West has only put forward the reality that the South-West must present itself as a relevant contender and one of them is delivering on votes to Professor Osinbajo’s party. This is a fundamental in democracy. 

Do we expect the Vice President to act as if he is not a member of the APC, or as if he does not want his region to contribute massively to the votes that would retain his party in power in 2023? 

In the same vain, Dr. Chris Ngige encouraging the South-East to throw in their votes as part of their own contribution to show that they are equally ready participants to contest for the position of President in 2023. 

Vice President Osinbajo would leave a grand legacy after his tenure in office. His landmark feats would stretch from his legal practice to his days as Attorney General of Lagos State to his role as Vice President – his legacies will certainly outlive him. The reforms he has made as Attorney General, the reforms he is  making as Vice President, his leadership style as chair of the National Economic Council, his astuteness, his brilliance and his management of the Social Investment Programmes that has invested and impacted the lives of over 15 million Nigerians will speak for him. Professor Osinbajo and his boss and partner, President Buhari have brought something different to the table of government: and that is government must not neglect the poor. An ideology they have held to heart in deploying resources of State for the Nigerian people. If Abraham Ogbodo’s obsession with the Vice President clogs his eyes to seeing this, millions of Nigerians can see it.

Sunday James Akinloye is a Democratic Rights Activist, Political Commentator and the President of the Initiative to Save Democracy Group (ISD)

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How PDP Destroyed Nigeria Economy, By Ussiju Medaner

Having witness the 16 years reign of PDP it is very difficult for me to understand why any Nigerian would still want the party anywhere close to Aso Rock. Some claimed that Buhari is not the solution to Nigeria problem and so would rather go back to the initiators of the problem.

Naturally, all Nigerians are supposed to stand individually and collectively to prevent the return of the master treasury looters anywhere near the treasury.

PDP must be of the opinion that Nigerians have short memories else they would not have been so bold to come to the street asking for votes. But today, PDP once again taking advantages of the poverty they indirectly inflicted on the people by their 16 years of misrule, will today present a man with unclear burden of corruption within the country and beyond, as their presidential candidate.

Since PDP thought all Nigerians suffer shared loss of memory, I will take it upon myself to help joggle their memory back.

The atrocities of PDP against Nigeria people and the commonwealth of the country are enormous and cannot be easily exhausted but I will attempt to remind us of a few of such gross disregard for decorum and sanctity of government during the reign of PDP.

Today Atiku Abubakar, the PDP presidential aspirant and his foot soldiers has been so busy painting picture of a Buhari government that turn upside down all the gains of the past and has bastardized the economy, turn the country to an unemployment haven and have nothing good to offer the nation. They boldly say this because they believe Nigerians are all short sighted.
So for the benefit of those who may have forgotten or those who were not aware, these facts were what define the entire 16 years of PDP usurping of the commonwealth of Nigeria and the legacy they handed over to the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.

Before 2015, those who masterminded the coordination of the economy at different times for the PDP government have these to say:

Prof Charles Soludo , a once Governor of the Central Bank under PDP said whoever wins 2015 presidential election will never find it easy to govern the country. He said over 30 trillion is mismanaged, unaccounted for or missing under the Jonathan supervision.

The Soludo outburst came a while before Emir Sanusi Lamido Sanusi , the immediate past Governor of the Central Bank attacked the Jonathan government with the accusation of over US$20 billion unremitted to the Federation account. In 2014, Emir Sanusi Lamido Sanusi said if nothing is done by 2015 upward, Nigeria will know what economic crisis is.

Dr Ngozhe Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy under Jonathan, Mrs Okonjo Iweala in several interview said “I told them to save ahead of eventualities but Jonathan had no political will to do so and this is the reason why we are in crisis, because we squandered our boom.”

Peter Obi, the then Governor of Anambra State(;the current PDP Vice presidential candidate ) agreed with, Mrs Okonjo Iweala. He said “Okonjo-Iweala and Sanusi urged us to save but we state Governors refused to save for the unseen future during the tenure of Goodluck Jonathan, despite warnings from economic experts.”

Having recollected the magnitude of the atrocities perpetrated by the combined PDP administrations, it is also very necessary that I jolt our memory back to what happened to all these monies that were wrongly appropriated under the PDP.

The EFCC was established under the same PDP but was blind to what was happening to the economy came alive under President Buhari and in no time got unbelievable confession that should define out decision now and in the future.
For your perusals, here are some of these confessions:

ON DASUKIGATE;

  1. When questioned, the erstwhile security adviser to the government of Jonathan said all his actions; the monies taken and misappropriated were all with permission of the President (Jonathan). Jonathan responded saying I didn’t give such orders. We are talking of US$2.1billion that was taking under the guise of fighting insurgency but overtly between the duo ended up on the street in the pockets and accounts of their cronies.
  2. Bode George when questioned by EFCC said he only collected $30,000 from Dasuki not N100m as accused.
  3. Dokpesi of AIT said he was given only #2.1billion for publicity by Dasuki
  4. Atahiru Bafarawa collected his own in tranches. For SPIRITUAL PURPOSES , he collected #4.6billion from Dasuki. He collected another #100million through Yuguda( former minster).
  5. Iyorcha Ayu collected #350million from dasuki for CONSULTATION.
  6. Obaigbena of the Thisday magazine was the beneficiary of N650M from Dasuki for his Abuja burnt office as if it had become the responsibility of the government to rebuilt
  7. Dasuki also volunteer the information that President Jonathan gave him the order to change N10billion to foreign currency for PDP delegates
  8. Shekarau during questioning admitted that 950m was shared in his house
  9. during questioning, Dasuki’s account officer said my boss asked me to get $11M from the CBN
    The list is endless from the inglorious Dasukigate, but that was not the end:

• Patience Jonathan is claiming the $31m traced to dubious companies are rightfully hers and she has sued the Nigerian state.
• Femi Fani-Kayode took 740million.
• Dasuki used trucks to load over $35billion from the CBN.
• Olisa Metuh took 400million.
• Aziboala, GEJ’s cousin took 6billion naira.
• Nenadi Usman took 3.5billion naira.
• Fayose took 3billion naira.
• Obanikoro took 4billion naira.
• Olu Falae took 100million naira.
• Tony Anenih – 400million naira.
• Oritsejafor – $35million
• Former Air Chief Amosu – 2billion naira.
• Lucky Igbinedion-16billion naira.
• *Bode-George and Dabo -100billion naira
• Jolly Nyame-2.4billion naira.
• Joshua Dariye-700million naira.
• *Nyesom Wike stole #4billion.
• Diezzani with $20 billion missing oil money?
• Tompolo was paid 13Billion.
• Ex-CDS,Alex Badeh dug a pit toilet to hide $32million.
• Tompolo was paid N13B for Maritime university land by NIMASA DG.

With all this recorded looting and recoveries, some people are still shouting no sign of change yet; they even say its political persecution. How did they expect the change to look?
PDP left behind only what they can’t carry or unable to lay their hands on and then the recession surfaced. The recession didn’t just happen, PDP looted Nigeria into RECESSION .

As it has always been, in all humility, I stand to be corrected with palpable evidence or superior argument…

May Nigeria Succeed!

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N-POWER: The Little Thing that Matters, By A. Jimoh

It is two years since the first batch of beneficiaries of N-POWER were enrolled and it has been a story of success. Yes, Success. In a very long time, and perhaps the very first time, that a government social intervention programme is working so seamlessly.  I have chosen to highlight the success of N-POWER because among the numerous social intervention programmes of the current administration, it is the one I have followed carefully and have close relations who are beneficiaries. In addition, having witnessed how similar programmes- conceivably in name only- were run by previous administrations, it becomes easy to compare and contrast. To get an insight of the success of N-POWER, it is pertinent to provide background on similar programmes ran by previous government since the return of democracy in 1999.

Starting with the Magnus L. Kpakol-run National Poverty Alleviation Programme, NAPEP, of Obasanjo-Atiku’s administration, it was anything but poverty alleviation programme. The programme which was to provide succor to the unemployed merely became an avenue for the boys to chop. It was just money meant for politicians’ hangers-on. I recall that in most local governments across Kogi state, all was needed to be eligible for enrollment was to be a political thug. List of beneficiaries were concocted where a single person could be collecting the allowance of 15 non-existent beneficiaries. The poor and unemployed for which it was intended never got it. The tricycles popularized by the programme in some states were shared by politicians to their undeserving supporters.

Then entered the Jonathan’s Subsidy Reinvestment Programme, aka SURE-P. It was ostensibly intended to cushion the harsh economic effect brought about by the increase in fuel price. However, many of us know how the story ended. It purely became a pocket money for the boys. The head of the programme, Elder Christopher Kolade, a man who knows that a good name is better than ill-gotten wealth, resigned when it became clear to him that the fund was just a branch of corruption in a government that was notoriously corrupt. Like its predecessor, the programme hardly reached those for it was supposedly crafted.

When the idea of N-POWER was muted, it was no surprise that many people had a misgiving about it. The background provided above gave the foundation to some of those doubts. However, others were just about mischief making.  Supporters of the rogue party who were ousted from power mocked the programme hoping it would failed like its predecessors. It turned out most of those who doubted it, genuinely and mischievously, are current beneficiaries of the programme.

The very first right decision the Buhari-Osibanjo administration took was to shield N-POWER and other social intervention programmes of their administration from politicians both at the federal and state levels. Involving politicians as intermediaries in the scheme could have made it dead on arrival, as it would have been a programme to enlist columbines, thugs and the most unqualified.  Having noticed that they were edged out, our politicians known for their anti-people tendency did not give up the fight to corner the programme to themselves or made it abolished completely. In the very first budget that fund for the programme was listed, for all the budget entries, it was the one the Danjuma Goje-led senate budget committee found unfit to be in the budget. They ‘advised’ the executive to remove it under the guise that oil price was down and the economic was in recession. The National Assembly did not see the morale to cut down the 130 billion Naira in the budget allocated to idle NASS members. However, the Buhari administration could accept anything but not this and so the fund was retained.

Then the recruitment phase came. It was another masterstroke decision to make it fully online without any third party intervention. It was so transparent. Countless testimonies from beneficiaries confirmed the transparency of the process. Staying far away from Nigeria, I applied for people who had no access to good internet. Majority of those are today beneficiaries. However, those who discredited the programme and refuse to apply, hoping it would fail are regretting their folly. The online recruitment process also prevented politicians from harvesting from where they did not plant. During the application, a family member alerted me that forms were being distributed by unscrupulous people to fill in their data with a promise of N-POWER slot. I told them pointblank that application was wholly online and that anyone doing that was a fraud. Those who did not listen but believed their politicians are today licking their fingers.

Today, about 500, 000 qualified Nigerians are enrolled in the programme receiving a steady flow of stipend without any interference. It is called alert. Many have built entrepreneurship from the alert and acquired skills that even after the expiration of their tenure in the scheme, they will sustain a continuous inflow of income. I have seen many in the N-Agric programme displaying fishpond, fruits and vegetable farms, poultry farm etc. of their own. I have seen many who did not before the programme realize they had good teaching skills until the N-POWER programme. Therefore, the scheme has helped to unlock talents and put many on the path of career. Besides the 500,000 beneficiaries, there are those in the N-build, a sub category of the N-Power, who are being trained with trade and artisans’ skills.

The N-POWER is a scheme with a difference. The provision of smart devices to beneficiaries enhances their service delivery and assists them in personal skill development. There are countless of testimonies available from beneficiaries, some of them very emotional, on how the scheme has helped them moved away from poverty line and bequeaths them with skills that will forever remain useful.

The scheme may have enlisted 500, 000 Nigerians, but it indirectly caters for two million people or there about. For every Nigerian who is an income earner, even a bachelor or unmarried woman, he/she has at least two other people directly under his or her responsibility. This is a fact in Nigeria anyone can do research on. For instance, three close relations whom are beneficiaries of the scheme have eight dependents to whom they are directly responsible for their well-being. One of such person is not even married, yet he has his mother and the daughter of his late brother to look after. This is the chain benefit of the stipend from N-POWER.

Does the scheme solve the unemployment cum the poverty problem? The answer is a definite no. However, it has cushioned the effect of the two and it must be appreciated. N-POWER is the proverbial little thing that matters. If previous administrations had taken similar stride by temporarily employing jobless graduate and bequeathing them with skills, in the last sixteen years, at least 4 million graduates would have benefitted directly from such scheme.

While the Buhari’s administration should be commended for this initiative, the office of the vice president would be specially recognized for the competent and professional way it has handled the scheme. For many, both within and without, the scheme should be a failure like its predecessors. However, the quality of people, both young and old, from the boardroom staff, logistic staff, desk officers to field staff, who work for the scheme has made it to be one of the most successful of all intervention programs. I have on many occasions spoken to the helpline staffs to make inquiry for a friend’s wife who had her data mixed up and for most of the times, the response was explicit and devoid of impoliteness. Corruption, incompetence, irresponsibility and lethargy in government service would be greatly reduced if any government at any level can build such a dedicated staffs into it civil service.

Again, while the federal government is commended for its many short-term programs at alleviating poverty, it must also find a perennial solution for the incidence of poverty among the populace. I suggest that the success of the N-Power programme especially in skill development can be internalized in our academic programme in order to graduate students with skills. In addition, government at state and local government levels should do more in job creation and social intervention program.

This now brings me to drop a word for the ruling All People Congress (APC).

For a party to be successful and build trust, it must put its entire elected representative on the same pedestal. The party must make its entire elected members realize that party manifesto is not for the federal government alone to implement. It is preposterous that majority of its governors are working at cross-purpose with the federal government. The profligacy, lack of vision and sheer wickedness of most of the state governors are major contributor to the poverty in the land. The Federal Government cannot be making sincere effort at reducing poverty while state governments are working aimlessly at spreading same. It is unbelievable that some of the beneficiaries of N-power could not even get a placement at their state and local government of assignment. Elsewhere some unscrupulous state and local government officials were demanding for bribe from beneficiaries before they are confirmed.

Rather than buying weapons and drugs for thugs in the name of empowerment, states should make similar sincere effort at job creation and skill development like the apex government. Such synergy with the central government will go a long way in reducing the incidence of poverty and social vices. Aside Osun state, I have not seen any other state with any robust socio-economic and job creation program that benefit the people.

For me, N-POWER is a success story so far. Although it is not yet uhuru, we have however moved a step ahead.

  1. S. M. Jimoh can be reached on @anehi2008@gmail.com and on twitter @anehi2008.
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Never Again! By Babafemi Ojudu

Quote me: the coming Presidential election will be the cheapest ever in the history of our country.

This government will not loot the treasury or empty the Central Bank to buy votes. Money meant for arms will not be diverted to buy prayers from pastors and Alfas. INEC officials are not going to be paid to manipulate figures in favor of The President and his party. Security men will do their job as stipulated by the terms of their engagement. Above all, voters will be allowed to vote according to the dictates of their conscience.

About this time in 2015, the nation was awash with cash, both in local and foreign currencies. Money meant for arms, for infrastructural development and for the provision of good life for the people was diverted and shared out among the big shots in the ruling party. A bit of it trickled down to the people and everyone had a big party.

I recall that President Jonathan relocated to Lagos with the intent to capture Lagos and the South West by all means. With boxes of dollars to boot, his residence in Marina became a Mecca for those seeking free money. He was merrily scammed.

All manner of Oodua associations sprang up. Every one scrambled to share from the largesse and our President became a ‘donatus‘. I remember some fellows I know who came up with an ‘Association of White Witches.’ Soon after they had collected their share, the Black Witches also surfaced to pick theirs. Elders who once were politically influential but now expired and no longer relevant quickly dug up their old credentials and queued to have their share.

Obas, Obis, Emirs were not left out. Beads to validate their claims to royalty became scarce in the market. Alfas, Imams and all manner of people laying claim to have direct access to God were contracted from within and abroad. A northern political big wig got a multi-billion naira contract to go to Sudan, Egypt and Morocco to bring in some more marabouts. At the end of the day, the people’s will prevailed.

I am using this opportunity, therefore, to inform our compatriots who daily troop to my office with proposals asking for loads of money to organize rallies and do one thing or the other to perish the thought.

This government will not dip its hand into government coffers to run a campaign. It is not done in sane societies and it shall not be done under the Buhari regime.

Let us follow the example of the farmers who are taxing their members N100 each to support the president.
So far we have about 800 support groups. On their own, they are mobilizing resources to organize rallies and produce souvenirs. This, many are doing even when Mr President has not announced his campaign council.
Like a guerrilla army, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo is surfacing in market places, doing street walks and entering the homes of the disadvantaged and listening to their challenges, get first hand information on what is important as valuable to them.
The PDP is jittery. They are not used to this kind of campaign and they don’t know how to respond other than throwing. The few gentlemen among them are so frustrated to the point of throwing tantrum. Never knew a man like Dogara could go saucy. The season is bringing out the worst out of hitherto reasonable folks.

We are teaching them a new mode of campaigning, a new politics.

If you believe in President Buhari go out there and raise fund for your activities. This President has made up his mind not to deploy Nigeria’s resources to buy votes.

Change is certainly here. It is real.

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NASS: House Of Lords And Clowns? By Ayobami Akanji

People must not do things for fun. We are not here for fun. There is no reference to fun in any act of Parliament – A.P. Herbert
It started like a scene out of an action movie – the Climax. The scene where the “Boss” gathers all his proteges, revelling in their plenty ineffectiveness in their last attempt to finish the “Actor”. They rush out in Jeeps, strapped to the teeth waiting to meet death already prepared. The fight starts with them “beating” the actor and at times even forcing him to do their biddings, only for him to outsmart, outmuscle and “out-tact” them when things needed to get done. This best describes what comes out of the National Assembly lately.
However, the relationship between the Executive and Legislature embodies a central link in ensuring a smooth running of the federal government, and by extension consolidating the Nigerian democracy.
They can either grant or refuse potential Presidential authorisations, and this enthrones a sign of a politically positive relationship.
The National Assembly does this without much problems especially as seen in the past three and a half years when the leadership of the Legislature has been at odds with the political position of the President. Of course millions of Nigerians bore the consequence of these actions, like it is said – when two elephants fight the grass suffers.
A cursory look at certain events will lend credence to this argument; the budget debacle took a toll on infrastructural development activities nationwide, almost dragging the country back to recession. The recent why “I Cut” the budget oozes of the covert shenanigans in holding the nation to a stand-still for the interest of a certain bloc – the intention of which is to switch the angst of the populace on the current administration.
These ‘leaders’ would then be portrayed as owners of the economic wand to grow and make Nigeria great again; unknown to them the country is already on the path to the Next Level of economic inclusion and prosperity.
Nigerians just witnessed the ugliest public display of crass opposition from members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) when the President came to present the 2019 budget to a joint session, they behaved like children denied of candy. While the President was reeling out the achievements of his administration in the past three and a half years, there were boos and jeers from a section of the House. We applaud the President’s civility and respect for the leadership of both chambers.
These recalcitrant lawmakers should understand that it’s permissible to dislike the person who is President, but you don’t denigrate the office of the President on the platter of opposition.
However, whenever persons of leadership in the National Assembly has an issue with the law, the institution tends to be used against the Executive arm, and by extension, Nigerians.
The other time, it was a worried leadership of the National Assembly that convened what it called “emergency executive session”. It was the first time since the inauguration of the 8th Senate that such a session held.  It is instructive that despite the atrocities committed on a daily basis in States like Taraba, Zamfara, Benue and Plateau, the National Assembly never thought of an “emergency executive session”. Ditto for the bad state of the economy then. Thank God the Executive weathered the storm; the insecurity has been largely contained and we are out of recession.
It is also note worthy that no emergency session has been convened on corruption which is the very reason why Nigeria is where it is today.
Billions of dollars vanished, growth has been stunted, huge funds traced to accounts of individuals yet no “emergency executive session”.
According to the CBN, MTN, in cohorts with banks, unlawfully repatriated dividends worth $8bn between 2007 – 2015; the apex bank said it was illegal because there were problems with the certificate for capital importation (CCI).
The action of members of the National Assembly can be likened to a child who was given a stick of biscuit by his dad. He becomes protective of this stick to the point of being enemies with the one that gave him the stick. He becomes irritated when anything he deems inimical to his biscuit appears and shows his irritation by crying his lungs out. It’s very easy to be enemies with the National Assembly if, like the child above, you threaten their “biscuit”.
Few months ago, members of a dreaded gang of sons of the devil who rained mayhem on the town of Offa were arrested. It was the best answer to questions of police’s efficiency. More than 30 people were killed. 22 suspects were arrested Prebendal interests were at their ululative best, screaming “media trial” and “witch hunt” from both sides of their mouth, despite the fact that the Senate President and Governor Ahmed of Kwara State didn’t outrightly deny knowing the devils. They chose to fight battles they single-handedly brought upon themselves with institutions of the State. They were the first to complain about how a member was bringing the House into disrepute just because he called for investigations into allegations of fraud against the Senate President; but they use this same Chamber to fight personal battles. They rule with severity, suspending anyone who dares to as little as raise a voice of opposition to their impunity.
They should be called “House of summons” as anyone threatens their biscuit is “summoned to come explain”. They earn ridiculous allowances but have nothing to show for it. They criss-cross political geography, trying hard to sound pro-people, forgetting the nascent role they played in bringing us here. They’re a select group of “honorables” but with different corruption cases hanging around their necks. They like to flex power and pass votes of no confidence on a man who has spearheaded the arrests of daredevil criminals. Mirrors are good. Had they looked at their images, they would see the stark opposite of who is in the mirror.
The National Assembly isn’t a blanket for buffoonery. There exists a small group of truthers who are committed to seeing the progress of the country. They have been intimidated, harassed, hounded and humiliated but still choose to trudge the path of justice. These ones have a special place in history. We don’t and won’t take their sacrifices for granted. They should keep the fire burning. Nigerians are solidly behind them.
The kid gloves are off, the current Commander-in-Chief is a battle-tested war General. He has led and fought wars, commanding men to victory.
He has seen what is there to be seen. Tell me. What will the buzz of a bee do to the roar of a lion?
 Akanji, is a political strategist, writes from Abuja.
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Politics Of Absolutism: To Love Or Hate Buhari? By Isa Mubarak

It is no secret that I love President Muhammadu Buhari. I am not unaware of his many weaknesses and flaws. And because of this fact, I’m able to employ an objective mind in my critique of his politics and policies. I love him without glorifying him, something that is difficult for many to grasp in this highly toxic political milieu that is characterised by politics of absolutism. Politics of absolutism dictate that a leader is either absolutely right or absolutely wrong. This absolutism has blinded us greatly in our judgement, we either praise everything done by a leader or criticize everything done by a leader. We either totally love or totally hate a leader. The Buhari situation has proved that, loved by many and hated by many. I am strongly against Politics of Absolutism!
Leaders are humans, and we must critique them with this fundamental understanding. This is what I find troubling among our social media ‘political analysts’. Their absolutist views and short term memory loss. There was a time that we have to be frisked with metal detectors before we were allowed into our places of worship. There was a time 2000 people were massacred in a single town (Baga). There was a time we wake up to news of Bomb blasts every single morning.
There was a time massive looting, corruption and oil theft was at it’s peak. But unfortunately all have been forgotten, we now call Buhari ‘incompetence?’ – I guess ‘incompetence’ is now subject to interpretation – forgive me for loving the man who changed all that. Indeed, short term memory is an actual thing. I must also accept that there are new challenges in his government (herdsmen and co) but I am confident that since he defeated the aforementioned, he will defeat anything.
We all voted for Buhari for different reasons, you may have voted for him to make 1$ = N1. Some may have voted for him simply because they were fed up with GEJ. Some may have voted for him because they want Jobs. But most of us voted for him because of his stance against corruption, his integrity and clean slate. Fight against corruption may be very difficult, but, we belong to the school of thought that strongly believes that once corruption is defeated every other thing will surely fall in place. And we still firmly believe that.
According to NPC, Nigeria population now stands at 197million, there is no point insulting Buhari and Buharist. I am not going to vote for a young man simply because he is young, or vote for a woman simply because she is a woman. I vote my conscience. Pick a candidate of your choice, infact, you can choose to run all by yourself or vote any one you believe in. But don’t try to impose your political leanings on people who don’t share your sentiment or insult them. That is the height of political immaturity. The beauty of democracy is the ability for us to have different political choices.
Elections are not won on the internet, get your PVCs and stop being bitter about Buhari exercising his rights as a citizen. Next year, feel free to vote against him if you wish. Again, leaders are human, and we must critique them with this fundamental understanding. This is Buhari – flawed and problematic; courageous and visionary; wise and mature; fearless and vulnerable. He inspires and provokes. He’s messy. He’s a mess. But he is fully human and inspite of it all, he’s too amazing.
©. Isa Eneye Mubarak
isamubarak66@yahoo.com
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Buhari At 76: Why We Love This President, By Femi Adesina

“That’s him, that’s him,” the two old women, wrinkled and bent with age, exclaimed. You could see wonderment and fulfillment in their eyes. And as if on cue, they both began to cry.

It was in Bauchi earlier this year. President Muhammadu Buhari was visiting to commiserate with the people on the ravages of windstorm, which had destroyed many homes and other property. As he waved at the tumultuous crowd, the two women saw him, perhaps for the first time in their lives. And so great was their satisfaction, their pure joy, that they began to cry.

That is the kind of emotion that courses through millions and millions of Nigerians when they behold their president, the honest man (mai gaskiya), the man of integrity, man of accountability, one who’s word you can take to the bank. The man who loves them, and they love and trust in return.

Don’t misunderstand me. Not all estimated 196 million Nigerians share this sentiment.  Not possible. There are those who are passionately opposed to the president. They are a very vocal minority, who abhor his integrity, hate his sense of accountability, and even want him dead. But we are not talking about those who Fela Anikulapo-Kuti called “opposite people.” On this day of his 76th birthday, we are talking of the teeming masses who love Buhari, and who can go to the ends of the earth for him.

Why do they love Buhari? Or better still, why do we love Buhari? The old, the young, men, women, boy, girl, the strong, the infirm. Why do we love the  tall man from Daura? For many reasons.

I have said it before, and say it again. It will take awhile before Nigeria will see another political leader with such ability to pull an unsolicited and uninduced crowd like Muhammadu Buhari. Anywhere he goes, he doesn’t have to procure the crowd. They turn out in their numbers to see and hear him. They will trek from Africa to China, walk from Cape Town to Cairo, all to see, hear and cheer the man they love.

Why?

Many reasons. He is an honest man. My father, that stern educationist, who ran the home and the schools he administered with an iron hand, used to tell us: “Honesty is the best policy.” That was true over 50 years ago when he drummed it into our ears, and it is still true today. And will remain true tomorrow, and forever. That is why we love Buhari. He is an honest man, who will tell the truth to his own hurt.

At a recent meeting with governors, while discussing the seemingly knotty issue of minimum wage, the president told them to level with him. He said he knew that general elections were by the corner, “but I don’t like to lie to anybody. I will still like to tell Nigerians the truth, and nothing but the truth, as to what we can truly afford to pay.” Consultations are still ongoing.

Some people will give you fibs, just because they want to hoodwink you, and get your votes. They will announce that they’ve increased the salaries of fictitious workers, even when truly they are owing many of their employees. But not President Buhari. Nothing for him is a matter of life and death. Truth is the best thing in a man’s keeping. Make yourself an honest man, and there is one rascal less in the world. That is why we love the man.

Accountability. I will never forget a promise Buhari made to the crowd at a campaign rally in Lagos in 2011, when he ran with Pastor Tunde Bakare of Latter Rain Assembly. Two honest men. “Every kobo that comes into the treasury will be used for the good of Nigerians.” That’s the accountable man, who would not dip his hands into the treasury for private gains, who will not line his pocket at the expense of the people. That is why we love him.

Just over a week ago, I met a man who was an accountant at the Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF), when the then Gen. Buhari was chairman. Executive Chairman, who could do anything he wanted, since the place was awash with billions of petrol money.

“I told him his salary would be N200,000 monthly,” the man recounted. “He said it was too much, since he still drew pension from public coffers as a retired General and former head of state. I don’t know how he calculated it, but he said he would rather be paid N84,000 monthly. And that was what he earned.”

Yet some people say don’t follow this honest man. Till he has one tooth left in his mouth, and is bent double over his walking stick, we will, no matter what they say. Honesty is still the best policy. Today, tomorrow, and forever.

See all the positions he has held in this country. Governor of North-east, then made  up of what is now six states. Minister of Petroleum for over three years. Head of State for 20 months. Chairman of PTF for many years. Yet he remains a man of modest means. That is why we love him.

In the early days of this administration, when oil prices had crashed to as low as 39 dollars per barrel (from as high as 115 in preceding years, stabilising at over $100 for a long time, yet we had no savings, no reserves), it was usually a spectacle to see the president and the then Finance Minister, Kemi Adeosun, seated and apportioning funds for the week. Depending on what was in the coffers, they prioritised spending, just like traders with low capital base.

Nigeria had been run into a hole. No reserve for the rainy day, and we were being badly beaten by the rain. Yet salaries must be paid as at when due. At least 27 states could not meet their obligations, till President Buhari gave them a lifeline. And then, one day, a counsel was given at a meeting: “This is the time to ideally cut the strength of the federal civil service by at least half, as we may not be able to carry the load for long.” It made a lot of fiscal sense. But to the president, it was nonsense. “If it lies within my powers, I will ensure that no single person loses his or her job. Yes, it may be the right thing to do, looking at the state of our finances, but I won’t do it,” President Buhari said.

And you say we shouldn’t love this president? We will love him till Africa and China meet.

A confederacy has arrayed itself against the honest man. A crooked confederacy. Anybody that is anybody in the pantheon of questionable character is there. Are Nigerians fools? After their eyes have been opened, will they willfully afflict themselves with blindness again? Not on their lives! The country will never go back to the slave market. Not after we have known prudence, experienced accountability, and we are inching out of the morass in which we were soused and marooned.

For more than five decades, mere lip service was paid to diversification of the economy. But we remained a mono-product country. Oil. So, whenever the price of oil crashed in the international market, we simply crashed with it. Now gradually, and inexorably, we are on the road to a diversified economy. Wonders are being done in agriculture. Mining is flexing muscles. Manufacturing is showing prospects. All in less than four years.

What of infrastructure? The sum of N2.7 trillion spent in two years. The roads are roaring to life. The rail is snaking in. Power is powering back. Wonders are being unfolded in different parts of the country. And we shouldn’t love this president? We will, no matter what the naysayers say.

Hear pensioners rejoice: This is the best administration we’ve had since the advent of Contributory Pension Scheme 14 years ago.

Governor Dave Umahi of Ebonyi State spoke at a meeting of governors with the president last Friday. He said since the creation of the state, this was the first time pensioners were being paid, adding that pension liabilities have been cleared by about 40%. Just because there is a president that cares.

Former Nigeria Airways workers. Railway workers. Former Biafran policemen. And many others, have had their pensions paid. And we shouldn’t love the ‘birthday man?’ They should tell it to the marines.

When you have a heart for men, it is God himself that keeps you alive. We have seen a practical demonstration in President Buhari. From the brink of death early 2017, there is now an unmistakable glow in him, evidence of good health from the inside. It is God at work. No wonder wicked people came with the idiocy of Jubril of Sudan. Otiose. Hollow. Products of addled minds. That was why we ignored them, till the President himself responded to a question from Nigerians in Poland two weeks ago.

And you know what? Our love for this President is at no cost. No charge. Whether we work for him, and for him, or we don’t, the real cost of our love is no charge.

Do you know that classic song, No Charge, made popular by Shirley Caesar and Sonia Spence? It told the story of a small boy who decided to charge his mum for all that he considered favours he had done her.

“For mowing the yard, five dollars

And for making my own room this week, one dollar

For going to the store, 50 cents

And playing with little brother while you went shopping, 25 cents

Taking out the trash, one dollar

And for getting a good report card, five dollars

For raking the yard, two dollars

Total owed, fourteen seventy-five.”

The woman looked at her son, standing there expectantly. Then she collected the paper from him, and wrote on it:

“For the nine months I carried you,

Growing inside me, no charge

For the nights I sat up with you

Doctored you, prayed for you, no charge

For the time and tears, and the cost through the years, no charge

When you add it all up, the full cost of my love is no charge.”

For millions upon millions of Nigerians who love this President, it is an unconditional love. The full cost of our love is no charge. Happy birthday, Mr President.

.Adesina is Special Adviser to President Buhari on Media and Publicity 

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Jumia Travel’s Bait-And-Switch Marketing, By Gimba Kakanda

Somebody has to do the Lord’s work and warn Nigerians about this systemic exploitation of customers, which our business environment has enabled and sustained, by that online travel agency called Jumia Travel. I don’t want them to get away with doing this again, and again, with neither an apology nor damages for such violation.

I patronised Jumia Travel for reasons other than being a local enterprise, albeit founded by non-Nigerians, that required our collective patronage. I prefer dealing with agents with a known address, identity, and track records, not websites whose owners I don’t know. And a friend of mine, Zahrah, was about to head to court with Wakanow.com having been similarly betrayed by the platform. Even though I had not been exactly pleased in my purchases via Jumia I kept the faith. But what they did to me yesterday, December 15, has shattered any benefit of the doubt that I had harboured since our last unpleasant encounter.

About three months ago I booked Abuja – London flight on the platform, and made payment via online transfer as instructed by their agent. A few hours later, their agent called and explained that the rate had increased. I transferred the added amount without protest. Why? I was almost late for school, with registration deadlines staring me in the face, and there was neither time nor energy to start booking process anew.

My experience yesterday was a deja vu, and I accept the blame for being the first Nigerian to “carry last,” twice bitten. I booked a London – Abuja flight on their platform and received an email quoting what to pay, which I did. I spoke to one of their agents and confirmed the amount before doing so. Then, as if practising from an old bait-and-switch script, I got a call from the agent, saying the rate had increased and that I had to add over N100,000. For a split second, it seemed like a prank, only that she was calling from Jumia!

I found the model suspicious, for it seems like a deliberate ploy to mislead and attract customers. You don’t run a business by making the few who believe in you appear like idiots. This Mavrodi School of Business idea might have worked and had gullible believers in the Nigerian system like me trapped, but it’s established that every scam has an expiry date.

Angered by this brazen undermining of my intelligence, I asked the agent for an immediate refund, forwarded my bank details, and waited, refreshing my mailbox every 20 minutes to confirm notification of refund. I took to my social media platform and shared my grouse. Of course being a beneficiary of this ancient and state-approved impunity, they didn’t respond until it began to attract engagements.

I woke up today, December 16, to an infuriating email from them – that my money won’t be refunded until 3 – 5 working days. My day was ruined before it even began, and my rage was because we didn’t really have a transaction. I only wired money to them out of trust, and what a sensible partner would’ve done was reversing it immediately they confirmed their rate had changed, and noting I was unwilling to continue with the scam.

If I had nothing to book another flight, the consequences would’ve been a tragedy I don’t even want to imagine. It’s devastating that despite attempts to regulate business in the country, some of us are wired to embrace such infractions with a defeatist mindset.

In a reaction to one of my tweets, a Twitter user questioned my intelligence for falling for Jumia’s advertised platform. A Nigerian is, by such disturbing orientation, expected to distrust an enterprise valued at over a billion dollars and, even more importantly, the largest e-commerce platform on the continent? I don’t know.

The critic’s reasoning would’ve made more sense if I had no any history of patronising Jumia. In fact, last September, about a week before I booked my ticket to London, I bought a 4-terabyte hard disk, impressed by the purchase of a similar item on the platform a month earlier. So it’s unfair to conclude that one was merely gullible by trusting such platforms. What has happened is an everyday story and experience of Nigerians, and that’s expected isn’t the national pastime of blaming the victim, but an institutional response to correct it.

Gimba Kakanda is a postgraduate student of International Relations, London School of Economics, and tweets from @gimbakakanda

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A Dozen Reasons For President Buhari’s Re-Election, By Garba Shehu

On Monday December 17, 2018, President Muhammadu Buhari, who is seeking re-election for a second term of office, will be marking his 76th birthday and, in his own words, “still going strong.”

His age is no longer an issue in this campaign because by the will of God, not by any design, his main challenger is equally in the same age bracket. This election in February next year then comes down to what each candidate will offer.

There are many reasons why President Buhari deserves to be re-elected. I shall speak to a dozen of them here:

He is the best ever President we got so far and here are my reasons: In his character, President Buhari is a well-behaved man. He is globally recognised as an honest leader, working very hard to cure a wounded nation by righting past wrongs.  He leads from the front, that is, leading by example. He is self-confident and has a calm demeanour. In carrying out his duties, he is never impulsive; he does his duty with self-assurance and confidence.

A typical example was his handling of the theft of 105 girls from a school boarding house by the Boko Haram terrorists in Dapchi, Yobe state. Amidst sobbing, lamentation and sorrow, he stood there before the principal, distraught parents and students to give assurances, in a sharp and unbroken voice that “your girls will be brought back” (and so were they, with the exception of Leah Sharibu who, God willing will equally return).

He likes to attack problems from their roots. Few of our leaders are endowed with as much patience. He doesn’t lose his calm and composure and knows when to fight and when not to fight. When there broke a huge uproar over the assertion before the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby and Her Majesty the Queen of England by the former UK Prime Minister David Cameron, that Nigeria was “fantastically corrupt”, President Buhari’s calm demeanour was on display. When an apology was offered, all he said was “I want no apologies. What would I do with apology? Return our stolen money.” With that, he grabbed, not only the moral high ground but the international news headlines as well.

When the President is confronted with a rankling criticism as had happened many times, he never loses his calm. He delivered a joke in response that blighted what would have been frightening episodes. One great asset he has, is his good sense of humour especially while tackling criticism or attack on his person. Many have derisively called him “Baba Go-slow”, in a clear misunderstanding of his calm demeanour, which is not a sign of inactivity but an underlying ability to think hard without losing one’s cool.

Unlike one or two of our past leaders, he has no aura of being a messiah or a saviour. President Buhari would never be seen in public breaking the code of dignity by, either slapping someone or seizing a horsewhip from a policeman to flog an audience member.

On the many occasions I have reflected on how hard my job is, I try to think of the President. One needs to put oneself into his shoes, carrying the responsibility of more than 200 million people on his shoulders, yet he is a man who maintains a steady, level headed approach towards solving problems; he remains calm and focused on his goals.

With Muhammadu Buhari as President, Nigeria is in very safe hands; he knows what is good for the country and its people.

When he won in 2015, one of his main pledges was fighting terrorism, criminality and banditry. He met the tragic situation of perpetual fighting between farmers and herders in the Middle-Belt, spreading southwards, up to the coastal states.  He sought the help of state governors for a solution but they offered very little, if any.  They were and are still divided over the issue. He pushed the police, the army and other security agencies very hard for the solution. Today, and notwithstanding the visible hands of politicians in it, he has brought the entire situation in the Middle Belt under control.  He has ended the fighting which would have brought Nigeria to destruction.

A further reason for the President’s re-election is the success he has recorded fighting terrorism. If numbers count, bombings and killings have drastically been reduced under the Buhari administration.

Specifically in the North-East, the Nigerian Armed Forces have scaled up their act pushing the Boko Haram terrorists to the very fringes of the Lake Chad and with the on-going revitalisation of the Multi-National Joint Task Force, MNJTF, the ability of the terrorists to launch attacks and retreat into neighbouring territories is being addressed.

Arising from the successes achieved, the El-Kanemi Warriors Football Club has returned to their home base in Maiduguri. Emirs of Askira, Uba and other towns have returned to their palaces. Public secondary schools have resumed in 2016, two years after closure. All roads leading to and out of Maiduguri have been reopened.

Sambisa forest has been retaken; Arik Air and other airlines now operate scheduled flights to Maiduguri. The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) said 2017 marked the most peaceful Christmas. Of the many who were taken against their will by Boko Haram, about 20,000 terrorists have been released, including 106 Chibok girls, 105 of the Dapchi school girls, Police women and University lecturers.

Under the Buhari administration, three Air bus helicopters and another three Dauphin helicopters were provided for the Air Force; 18 new aircraft acquired and 13 previously unserviceable planes reactivated. In addition, 12 Super Tucano aircraft are also on order from the United States.

The administration has set up a Naval outpost in the Lake Chad and established the 8 Task Force Division in Monguno to further strengthen the 7 Division and the Operation Lafiya Dole in the North East.

Another reason for his re-election in his undeterred commitment to rid Nigeria of systemic corruption. Grand Corruption, by which leaders will ask the Central Bank to bring out money to be shared across the table has by now been abolished.

The new whistle-blowing policy has so far yielded N13.8 billion from tax evaders and N7.8b, USD378 million, £27,800 recovered from public officials.

The increased oversight of ministries, departments and agencies has been addressing the issue of poor remittance by the MDAs; the Presidential Initiative on continuous Audit has flushed out 54,000 fraudulent payroll entries with savings of N200 billion.

The administration has expanded the coverage of the Treasury Single Account, TSA which implementation now stands at 92 per cent. By this, the administration has a comprehensive overview of cash flows across the entire government. It has ensured the deployment of the Bank Verification Number (BVN) system to verify the basis of payments to beneficiaries and vendors and has created the Assets Tracking Managing Project to allocate, identity, assess and evaluate all the measurable and un-measurable assets on real time basis.  A central Asset Register to keep a record of all government assets is now in one place, the Ministry of Finance.

In 2016, the President enlisted Nigeria into Open Government Partnership and a National Plan of Action (2017 -19) is already in place. This aims to deepen and mainstream transparency mechanisms and citizen’s engagement in the management of public resources.

In addition, the creation of Efficiency Unit to spearhead the efficient use of government resources and ensure reduction in recurrent expenditure has brought about savings of about N34 billion from travel and transport in 2016, and N10 billion in 2017.

In the oil and gas sectors, NNPC has been publishing its performance chart monthly and the administration made a saving of USD 1.7 billion by negotiating down accumulated cash call arrears in its joint ventures.

Without any controversy, President Buhari is deservedly christened as the champion of infrastructure. This administration has demonstrated a single-minded commitment to upgrading Nigeria’s transport, power, housing and health infrastructure.

Two major rail projects have been completed and commissioned: Abuja metro light rail and the Abuja-Kaduna rail. Lagos-Ibadan is due early next year. Lagos-Kano has been signed and Lagos-Calabar and Port Harcourt-Maiduguri are being negotiated.  About 500 roads are being constructed and hundreds of kilometres of roads are being rehabilitated.The second Niger Bridge is under construction, Abuja-Kaduna-Zaria-Kano expressway is being constructed while Lagos-Ibadan as well as the East-West road, Lagos-Port Harcourt expressways are being expedited. Federal spending on works has grown from N18.1 billion in 2015 to N394 billion in 2018. The Abuja Airport runway was reconstructed within a six week period. Several water projects long abandoned have been completed and more than 70 ecological fund projects have been awarded and completed.

Power sector has witnessed a phenomenal growth within this period. Generation capacity has increased to 7,000MW; transmission capacity is now up 8,000MW and distribution 5,222MW from 2,690MW.

Under President Buhari, 30 per cent of the budget allocation is for capital spending, an unprecedented allocation of N2.7 trillion was made for infrastructure in 2016 and 2017 fiscal year.

Obviously, there is so much the nation can gain from the President’s long term thinking when it comes to the diversification of the economy.  He has promoted agriculture, solid minerals and manufacturing to the point that the economy is increasing its resilience even as it grows and consolidates.

His policies have brought down inflation by about half of what it used to be three years back; external reserves have grown and exports in 2017 were about 70 per cent more than what they were in 2016. Agriculture grew by 180 per cent last year; raw materials export by over 100 per cent and there was 27 per cent growth in manufactured goods. Six million new tax payers were added to the tax base. Ease of doing business report has moved Nigeria up by 14 places; tax revenue in 2018 is projected at N2.529 trillion, that is 42 per cent increase over the 2017 figure.

Under the Presidential Fertilizer Initiative, 16 moribund and under-performing blending plants have been revitalised, producing 12.7 million bags of NPK Fertilizer in 2017.

Landmark initiatives in the promotion of the economy include the stabilisation of the currency, the Naira making for a predictable exchange rate; the merger of the official and unofficial rates in the markets, helping in the stabilisation of the microeconomic environment; the achievement of agriculture and national food security and driving industrialisation through the Small and Medium Enterprises in line with the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan, ERGP. This administration invented and is implementing the biggest ever social investment programme on the continent, feeding 10 million children in school and engaging 500,000 graduates, now going up to one million, in nation building.

As a compassionate leader and administrator, President Buhari approved N54 billion for the payment of 33 per cent of outstanding pensions arrears and claims, with some of these going back to 2010 when the minimum wage was increased to N18,000. Under this scheme, 3,542 pensioners in the liquidated Delta Steel Company have been placed on pension; 9,216 of NITEL pensioners are now pay rolled; Retired Biafran Police officers dismissed by the Federal Government in 1971 have been paid; those of the New Nigerian Newspapers and many others have received gratuities and are now placed on pension.

The compassionate side of the President has equally given so much to state governments in distress. This was to enable them meet salary and pensions obligations. Most, if not all have received Budget Support Facility, Paris Club refunds, Infrastructure Loans, Loan Restructuring Facilities with the Central Bank and other commercial banks, and a reduction in their monthly debt service burden.

In just under four years, President Buhari has shown clearly that he can steer Nigeria above politics, religion and ethnicity. He has delivered on all promises: security, economy, corruption and infrastructure. We have a strong leader with a mass appeal who is seeking a renewal of his mandate in accordance with the Constitution.  He is one of the most influential leaders in today’s world, considering how he brought OPEC and non OPEC Oil producers to cut their losses and bring up fallen oil prices.  He is leading the continent in the war against corruption. President Buhari is a gift, not only to Nigeria but to Africa and the world. He deserves a second term to consolidate on-going achievement.

HappyBirthdayPMB

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

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Oyetola Will Surely Deliver; But…. By Abiodun Komolafe

I have had the privilege of reading Gboyega Oyetola’s Inaugural Speech as Governor of Osun and I can confirm that he meant well for dear state.

In the well-crafted speech, Oyetola promised to run “a people-friendly government which focuses on growth, creation of jobs, social protection, inclusive governance and sustainable upgrade in the standard of living of our people.” He assured Osun workers of their welfare, prompt payment and prioritization of their salaries and pensions “bearing in mind the financial inflow of the state.”

A healthy state is a wealthy state! While vowing to “build on the progress already achieved by past leaders as “the defining hallmark of” his “intervention in governance”, Oyetola also promised a participatory administration that would “promote equitable and value-based developmental education that emphasizes competence and character.”

Kudos for a well-written Address which input, in no small way, did reflect the personality traits of the governor! As good instinct would have it, the governor did not parrot the speech. Rather, it was a speech that was written for; and by him.

Lots of promises and lots of expectations! But, can Oyetola deliver on these lofty aims and ideas? He surely can and will deliver; going by his educational attainments and professional background, I have no doubt in my mind that he is eminently qualified to lead the state from where it is to where it ought to be. The governor is not a novice; he can handle and deliver. Also standing in his favour is his untainted grassroots pedigree, one whose dignified mien and capacity to freely hold conversations with the people, irrespective of their political status or racial inclinations is not in doubt.

Talk about religious piety, Oyetola is an unpretentious Muslim who has managerial skills and an interpretive understanding of social relations. Though a time-tested administrator who will never suffer fools gladly, he has an amiable comportment, not a garrulous physique that has the capacity to intimidate or scare people of other, even similar, religious inclinations. Besides, he is one good manager of people who understands the politics of the Board as well as the nitty gritty of the intrigues of human management. So, he has what it takes to excel. Above all, he is a successful family man who, in all modesty, is conveniently comfortable.

However, it is a statement of fact that the technology of politics is riddled with tales: some fairy, some real; and its path is strewn with thistles and thorns: some, intentional; some, conspiratorial; others, deliberate. Facing the reality of our time, this is where the governor’s creative ingenuity comes to play. After all, in a democracy, the process bears more weight and it’s as such more valued than the outcome.

First is the issue of praise-singers whose partisan concerns are only meant to satiate the saintliness of the time and wandering heroes who embellish fake and false narratives just to draw unmerited attention and curry favour. Oyetola needs to dine with these sets of people with the proverbial long spoon for his administration to make any meaningful impact. This step will not only allow the benefits of public programs to reach their target recipients, it will also help to improve on the allied ancillary issues that have for long been threatening our communal togetherness.

Broadly speaking, this is an age when ‘mere talk’ is no longer fruitful. In line with the distinctiveness and the diversity of opinions therefore, the governor also needs to nurture a cosmopolitan worldview on volatile religious and allied issues because, whatever the governor says or does, Nigerians will surely ascribe meanings, which, if not properly handled, may put his government in precarious situations.

Oyetola needs to be proactive, independent-minded and firm, especially, on issues that are capable of catalyzing investment decisions and energizing the economy of the state. I have argued in some of my previous interventions that one major challenge of our Nigerianness is the collapse of feedback and reward system. In my considered opinion therefore, the governor should create a Feedback Department and put certain sets of responsible government officials in charge to handle feedback.

For instance, I have always wondered why a ruling party that has done so much to uplift the welfare of the people could be searching for less than 1000 votes on September 22, 2018. Of course, the more reason trailblazing programmes like ‘Ogbeni Till Daybreak’, which, on a good day, ought to have predicted the direction of the election before the party in power almost lost the plot, should be reviewed and re-energized with a view to serving the purpose for which they were originally conceptualized.

In politics, professional hawks and sycophantic hangers-on, who are always motivated by personal greed to rattle the government for attention, will always ply their trade but it is the duty of the governor to consistently demonstrate leadership by compassionate and inspiring example.

Let me state here that money, said to be the wheel of the gospel has also been identified as the root of all evil. Thus, Oyetola will be doing posterity the greatest good if he can avoid throwing money at problems. For example, a community in need of, say, ten boreholes, will get better values for their request if those boreholes are sunk – and are seen to have been sunk – unlike when huge sums of money are given to some faceless, dishonourable leaders in whose pockets such monies usually find a haven.

Last but not the least is the troubling issue of entitlement seeking. In my view, this dangerous and unprofitable razzmatazz must not find a space in Oyetola’s government. Truth be told, there are ‘Agba Osun’ and there are ‘Agba Osun.’ While the former refers to those “highly vulnerable seniors who lack guardian support”, the latter comprises the cult of rapacious ten per centers, the 10-for-10 kobo elite, none other than a tiny section of the electorate who prefer commercial prosperity to political liberty and latter-day democrats whose primary constituency is their pocket.

May the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world, grant us peace in Osun!

*KOMOLAFE writes in from Ijebu-Jesa, Osun State, Nigeria (ijebujesa@yahoo.co.uk)

 

abiodun KOMOLAFE,

O20, Okenisa Street,

PO Box 153,

Ijebu-Jesa, State of Osun.

 

 

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The Ajibola Basiru We Know, By Rasaki Adejare

According to the dictionary definition, illustrious can be defined as a well known, respected , and admired for past achievements.

For someone to be illustrious, such person must be eminent, distinguished, acclaimed, noted, notable, noteworthy, prominent, pre-eminent, foremost, leading, paramount, pretigious, important, significant, influential, lionized, renowned, famous, famed, well known, respected, exalted, venerable, august, highly regarded, well thought of, of distinction, of repute, of high standing, splendid, brilliant, remarkable, outstanding, great, noble, glorious, grand and lofty.

In my vantage position as the National President of Osogbo Progressive Union who has gotten the opportunities to assess AJIBOLA BASIRU from far and close ranges, he perfectly fits in the dictionary definition of illustrious as itemised above.

Rasaki Adejare Shiyanbola JP.

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