Muric Supports Reps Action Against Telcoms For Indiscriminate Calls, SMS

The House of Representatives yesterday threw its weight behind the enactment of a bill aiming at reducing the incidence of unsolicited telephone calls and text messages received by consumers. The bill which was sponsored by Ali Madaki (APC Kano) has already scaled through the second reading on the floor of the House. It is now awaiting fine-tuning by the House Committee on Telecommunication.

The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) lauds the House of Representatives for taking action on unsolicited telephone calls and text messages. Current members of the House deserve our accolades because the immediate past House ignored the matter when MURIC raised it in a press statement issued on 14th December 2014.

Unsolicited calls and text messages constitute public nuisance, irritants of no small measure, threat to the health of Nigerians and drawbacks to productivity. Judged from its irritant perspective, mobile telephone services which began actively during the regime of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo (1999 – 2007) is fast becoming a curse rather than a blessing unless something is done urgently.

Service providers have become extremely audacious. They exhibit no concern for the personal privacy and health of consumers. They call defenseless consumers by phone and send strange and unsolicited text messages to them at odd times. Those that are most disturbing and irritating are sent in the unholy hours of the morning between 1 and 4 am when hardworking Nigerians are fast asleep.  

The messages wake them forcefully from sleep. Many find it hard to go back to sleep hours after the satanic invasion of their privacy. This is not only irritating but provocative and exploitative. It is gross abuse of priviledge on the part of service providers.

 

These unsolicited telephone calls and text messages are not limited to nights and early morning hours alone. They also come during the day. The high volume of text messages sent by service providers has exposed these shylock business concerns as relentless capitalistcompradore bourgeoisie. Some customers receive as many as 40 messages per day.

MURIC is asking the telecommunication companies operating in Nigeria: If you can afford to send so many text messages to all customers at no extra charges to yourselves, why do you charge so high for the text messages sent by individual customers?

It is our contention that Nigerians are being taken for a ride by service providers. These capitalist-oriented companies are inflicting pain on innocent subscribers. Nigerians yearn for protection.

We call attention to the great havoc in the torrential outpouring of text messages from service providers to innocent tax-payers. The havoc is mainly in health hazards but what could be more damaging to a nation than threat to the health of its citizens?

Experts agree that sound sleep means ability to think clearly, to plan and to design the next line of action in day-to-day endeavours. The reverse is the case when sleep is brutally cut. There is no gainsaying the fact that stress and fatigue are certain to occur when people are stinted of sleep. We suspect that the current rise in mental illnesses all over the country is partly informed by this flagrant disregard for people’s privacy and the rate at which unsolicited calls and text messages have been disturbing Nigerians.

The impact of this phenomenon on the nation’s economy cannot be overemphasized. . If it is true that the health of the individual reflects on the performance of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), then we must agree that the telecommunication service providers are not serving the interest of our country.

MURIC invites the Consumer Protection Society to wake up to its responsibilities. We also charge the House Committee on Telecommunication to expedite action on the draft bill as Nigerians are eagerly awaiting the outcome of its deliberation on the bill. Finally, we urge President Muhammadu Buhari to give speedy accent to the bill as soon as it gets to the Presidency.  

 

Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Director,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)
08033464974

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Okonjo-Iweala Attacks Falana, Calls Him An Integrity Challenged Chalartan

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, former Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy during the tenure of former President Godluck Jonathan, has taken a swipe at human rights lawyer, Femi Falana, calling him an integrity challenged chalartan.

Okonjo-Iweala was responding to the call for the arrest of the ex-minister by the International criminal Court (ICC) over the corruption that went on during the last administration.

Falana had in petition dated January 19, 2016 and sent to the Pros­ecutor at the ICC requested the court to “investigate allegation of crimes against humanity committed against the Nigerian people by some former and serving military officials as well as public officials and private persons who engaged in the criminal diversion of $8 billion earmarked to procure equipment for the armed forces to fight insurgency.”

He said: “The inquiry conducted by the Presidential Panel on arms procurement has established that the bulk of the sum of $2.1 billion and N643 billion ($4 billion) earmarked for the purchase of military hardware to fight terrorism was criminally diverted by the former government through the office of the National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd). It has also been confirmed that the said Col. Dasuki colluded with some serving and retired military officers and civilians to divert the sum of $2 billion and N29 billion set aside for the procurement of fighter jets and other equipment for the Nigeria Air Force.

“As if that was not enough, the sum of $322 million and £5.5 million from the Abacha loot which was illegally transferred to Col. Dasuki by a former Finance Minister, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala for prosecuting the war on terror has also been criminally diverted. Part of the stolen fund was used to fund the campaign for the re-election of President Goodluck Jonathan in the 2015 general elections”, Falana said.

“We therefore submit that this is sufficient to hold Col Dasuki and others that have been indicted in the arms theft scandal responsible for crimes against humanity perpetrated against Nigerians. The failure of a former Finance Minister, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala to prevent widespread and systematic corruption including the re-looting of the Abacha loot amounts to complicity under the Rome Statute, and therefore fits the legal requirements of a crime against humanity.”

But the former finance minister in a response Thursday by her media adviser, Paul Nwabuikwu, said the call for her arrest “is a desperate joke by an integrity challenged charlatan (ICC).”

She said “this misadventure shows that the so-called learned lawyer does not have any idea of what the mandate of the ICC is about.”

The statement reads:

A RESPONSE TO FEMI FALANA, AN INTEGRITY-CHALLENGED CHARLATAN (ICC)

The malicious attempt by Lagos Lawyer, Femi Falana to mix Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala up in issues that have nothing to do with her in his letter to the International Criminal Court (ICC) is a desperate joke by an integrity challenged charlatan (ICC).

This misadventure shows that the so-called learned lawyer does not have any idea of what the mandate of the ICC is about.

He has resorted to this action because his previous efforts to tarnish her name  – through his discredited NGO, SERAP and petitions to the EFCC – failed because they were lacking in credibility.

This latest effort to try to attach her name falsely confirms that Femi Falana is nothing but a tool of corrupt elements whose interests were hurt by the work Dr. Okonjo-Iweala did in fighting corruption while she was in office.

These elements have now made a habit of making false allegations against Dr Okonjo-Iweala whenever she receives any national or international recognition for her work. The pattern is clear and Nigerians should be alert to it. But Dr Okonjo-Iweala will not be intimidated from going on with her life and performing her duties. She will not give in to cowardly and unmanly bullying.

Falana’s latest attempt to implicate Dr Okonjo-Iweala falsely suggests that he is suffering from an ailment that may be described as Chronic Cerebral Amnesia (CCA) because he simply has no grasp of the facts.

Here are the facts:

FACT NO 1: OKONJO-IWEALA HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH THE $2.1 BILLION ARMS CONTROVERSY

Contrary to Falana’s lies, Dr. Okonjo-Iweala has absolutely nothing to do with the alleged misuse of $2.1billion by the office of the former National Security Adviser. Falana and his sponsors are simply trying to invent a connection where there is none.

The January 20, 2015 memo in which Dr Okonjo-Iweala sought and received the approval of former President Jonathan for the release of part of the newly returned Abacha funds to the NSA for purchase of arms is totally separate from the $2.1 billion issue.

The memo which is now in the public domain speaks for itself. The release of the resources was in response to an approval by the former President following a meeting chaired by him after a committee had considered the request.

The memo clearly documented Dr Okonjo-Iweala’s insistence that the proper procedure be followed, subject to appropriation and according to financial regulations. Dr. Okonjo-Iweala went further to state that the former NSA should account for the funds to the former President since she is not a member of the Security Council. The attempt to link Okonjo-Iweala to the $2.1billion issue is therefore dead on arrival.

FACT NO 2: OKONJO-IWEALA WAS NOT IN GOVERNMENT WHEN MOST OF THE ABACHA FUNDS WERE RECOVERED

Falana and his sponsors have claimed that billions of dollars of Abacha funds were recovered and that Dr Okonjo-Iweala should account for the recovered funds.

The fact is that some of the funds recovery was done under the regime of General Abdulsalami Abubakar and the first term of President Olusegun Obasanjo when Dr Okonjo-Iweala was not even in government.

During the time Dr Okonjo-Iweala was Finance Minister in the second Obasanjo administration, $500m was recovered. As documented by the Field Study conducted by the World Bank with the assistance of national and international NGOs, this amount was properly applied.

Falana’s insistence on the contrary shows how despicable he is and how he is ready to ignore facts and concoct a fiction in the service of his sponsors.

FACT 3: OKONJO-IWEALA LEFT STRONG LEGACIES AS A CHAMPION OF TRANSPARENCY AND THE FIGHT AGAINST

?CORRUPTION WHILE IN GOVERNMENT

It is on record that Dr. Okonjo-Iweala championed transparency and vigorously fought corruption during her two terms as Minister. Among other actions, starting from the second Obasanjo administration, she, for the first time in Nigeria’s history, published monthly revenue allocations to all tiers of government for Nigerians to see.

While serving in the Obasanjo administration, she requested the assistance of the World Bank and DFID, the UK’s development agency to build institutions and systems that could block leakages from the treasury. This work stalled after she left office in 2006. In August 2011 when she returned under the Jonathan government, with the assistance of the Ministry of Finance Team, she re-invigorated the establishment and use of the Integrated Personnel and Payroll Management Systems (IPPIS), the Government Integrated Financial Management System (GIFMIS) and the Treasury Single Account (TSA), all of which saved the country billions of naira by drastically reducing avenues for corruption in the public service. These facts are well documented in successive World Bank, DFID and IMF Article 4 Reports.

It is gratifying that the present government has adopted and is further building on these systems for the benefit of the country.

FACT NO 4: DR. OKONJO-IWEALA’S MOTHER WAS KIDNAPPED AND ALMOST KILLED BECAUSE OF THE FORMER MINISTER’S STANCE AGAINST CORRUPTION 

Falana is callous beyond belief for ignoring a fact of recent Nigerian history: the kidnap of Professor Kamene Okonjo, the then 83 year old mother of Dr Okonjo-Iweala by agents of fuel subsidy fraudsters who were angry that the former Minister had blocked them from defrauding the country further.  

The kidnappers had told the traumatised old woman that they were sent to punish Okonjo-Iweala for refusing to pay some oil marketers. It is on record with the State Security Services that the kidnappers initially demanded the resignation of Dr Okonjo-Iweala in return for the release of her mother. Thank God Professor Okonjo is still alive to tell her story today and she will not be silenced.

It is extremely insensitive and, in fact, inhumane for Falana and his sponsors to level false accusations against someone like Dr Okonjo-Iweala who went through this kind of searing personal ordeal for her principled fight against corruption.

CONCLUSION

Falana’s attempt to implicate Dr Okonjo-Iweala falsely is a disservice to law, justice and the image of the country. It is sad that a person who had earned some prominence as a human rights lawyer now tramples on the human rights of others as a political jobber.

He and his sponsors are engaged in nothing but media harassment, cyber bullying and intimidation against innocent persons like Dr Okonjo-Iweala for political and pecuniary gain. That is why Nigerians should not give in to Falana’s self-imposed Chronic Cerebral Amnesia (CCA).

Paul C Nwabuikwu

Media Adviser to Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

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Shia Muslims Attack Buhari, Calls Him An Insensitive Leader

President Muhammadu Buhari has been described as an insensitive leader who has no value for life. This was the view of Shia muslims in the country under the banner of Members of Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN).

The Islamic group said for President Buhari to have kept silent on the killings of their members in Zaria few weeks ago until his Wednesday’s presidential media chat, showed that he was not bothered about human lives that were wasted in the clash.

Part of their statement issued today by the spokesman of IMN, Ibrahim Musa, reads: “Based on the insensitivity shown by the president, how could the IMN expect any justice from the government? The Kaduna state governor who had played a major role in the massacre and destruction of properties in Zaria had since declared that the leader of the Movement was going to be prosecuted even before announcing the members of his committee of enquiry.

“The Nigerian President claimed they showed him a clip based on which he passed his judgment. Did he ask those who showed him that propaganda video why were those protesting youths angry? What happened to the Natural Laws of ‘Action and Reaction’? The protesting youths were angry because the Nigerian Army killed their friends and brothers.

“They killed them as if they were flies. That video clip was after the first round of killing by the Nigerian Army. The claim by the Nigerian president that he will wait for the report of the Kaduna State Government before commenting on the Zaria massacre is mischievous to say the least.

“By these, even though the president is commander in chief of the armed forces of the federal republic, there is no effective civilian control over the military enshrined in the constitution or any other law of the country.

“Furthermore, Buhari expects to take a stand on the issue after the culprits including the Army and Kaduna state government have conducted an investigation into an issue they were active party to by making them a judge in their own case.

“Yet, despite the reprehensible and indefensible actions of the Army commanders in Zaria, the president has refused to show any remorse for what was undoubtedly a war crime against fellow Nigerians and is not willing to prosecute the officers and military personnel that were involved in the butchery, instead the homes of the victims have been burnt to the ground in Zaria and their graves and burial sites have been dug up and desecrated.

“We therefore demand that instead of the President to wait for the Kaduna state government and the Army to tender their submissions to him, he should set up a powerful independent judicial commission of inquiry that include people of integrity and human right activists. It is only then that justice might be done to the Zaria massacre of December 12 and 13”.

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Dogara Preaches Peace, Unity At Christmas…. Calls On Nigerians To Extend Love To IDPs

The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Yakubu Dogara, in a statement issued by Turaki Hassan, his Special Adviser on Media and Public Affairs, felicitated with Nigerians – especially Christians – on the occasion of this year’s Christmas and prayed that God’s peace be multiplied upon the nation. He said Nigerians have every reason to thank God for witnessing yet another Christmas, despite all the challenges facing us as a nation.

“Christmas is a period for us to individually and collectively reflect on who and what made Christmas necessary, and on our values, virtues and ideals of unity, peace, Godliness and tolerance which Christ advocated and exemplified during his earthly ministry.”

“I call on Christian faithfuls to embrace the reason for Christmas and imbibe these virtues and ideals, and to key into the current administration’s change agenda for the peace, unity and development.”

“In spite of the challenges we are faced with, I urge all Nigerians to have abiding faith in the fact that by working together, we will surmount these challenges and forge ahead as a nation.”

“On our part, the House of Representatives is determined now, more than ever, to enact people-oriented legislation that will help guarantee the much needed and desired change in all facets of our national life.”

“I enjoin Nigerians to continue to pray, support and cooperate with the present government to deliver on its mandate so that our country will once again occupy its place of pride in the comity of nations.”

?The Speaker also urged Nigerians to use the occasion of Christmas to be their brothers’ keepers by reaching out to displaced people in various camps across the country.

While assuring that the Federal Government is doing all within its powers to expeditiously resettle displaced persons in the country, he emphasized the readiness of the National Assembly, and the House of Representatives in particular, to partner with any organisation, group or person to build and rehabilitate areas devastated by the activities of Boko Haram insurgents, especially in the North East.

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Stella Oduah Calls for Positive Spirit on Christmas and New Year

The lawmaker representing ?Anambra North senatorial district Princess Stella Oduah has encouraged  Nigerians to maintain a positive spirit in the Yuletide while ushering in the New year.

She expressed optimism that the New year will bring lots of good tidings and immense solution to the plight of Nigeria.

In her Christmas and New year message to Nigerians she stated that the 8th Assembly is determined to make a difference regardless of poltical affiliations.

“?I felicitate with Christians and Nigerians as we celebrate Christmas, the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is a time to share love and peace ?with one another.

“As a Country we need to remain steadfast and continue to believe in the bigger picture of Nigeria, irrespective of the present situation.

“With the presentation of the 2016 budget by President Muhammadu Buhari the legislature under the 8th Assembly will swiftly commence consideration to ensure its speedy passage to raise the plight of Nigerians.

“The 8th Senate is determined to make a difference by effectively affecting the lives of Nigerians positively through our various constituents and full dedication to our oversight functions.

“As a nation I urge us all to remain tolerant and patient without forgetting our personal sacrifice and responsibilities as individuals to make our country better. Oduah stated

The lawmaker whose impact earned her the popular name “Anambra Sweetheart” acknowledged the people of her constituent ?and Nigerian Women at large.

She assured them of full representation and dedication to improving the opportunities of Women under her tutelage as  deputy chiar of Senate committee on Women Affairs. 

“To my dear people of Anambra North Senatorial district thank you once again for the opportunity to serve you, be rest assured that your interest is secured.

“?To Nigerian Women, under my watch as the Vice Chiarman senate committee on Women Affairs, you will be duely represented and not relegated to the background. She said

Oduah condoned with inhabitants of North-east who are currently undergoing  ?severe challenges  from the dreaded Boko-haram sect.

She also lauded the efforts of the military who are working tirelessly to defeat the insur?gents.

“I also felicitate specially with inhabitants of North- East who are ravaged by the Boko Haram’s terror leading to the displacement of millions of families and loss of lives, it is indeed a trying time for the nation.

“?Our security agencies are doing  immense work I salute their courage and patriotism.

“My prayer this season is that  the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ and the New year will renew our lives and save us from the ravages of Insecurity.

“I am confident that the New year will usher us into enormous changes that will transform our nation and our individual lives po?sitively she added”

We recall that on the 20th of December the lawmaker presented gifts cutting across food items and other house hold? items to a large number of widows for relief ?considering harsh economic conditions and also followed with more gifts to clergy later in the week.

This took place at the Sacred Heart Catholic Church, Odoakpu Onitsha in Anambra State. 

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Shiite Killings: Iranian President Calls Buhari, We’ll Act Against Those Who Disturb Security – Buhari

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has telephoned his Nigerian counterpart to protest the army’s deadly crackdown on pro-Iranian Shiites in the north of the African country, media reported Tuesday.

Rouhani called President Muhammadu Buhari to say that “minor disputes must not be allowed to turn into deep differences” among Muslims, the reports said.

He also requested information on the fate of the leader of Nigeria’s “Shia Muslims”, a commission of inquiry into the weekend crackdown and action by Nigeria to “appease the victims and restore calm”.

On his part, Buhari reportedly appreciated the effort of his Iranian counterpart, emphasizing that he realises his responsibility in safeguarding the lives of Nigerian Muslims.

“The Nigerian government is also determined to pursue the precise causes of the occurrence of that incidence and will definitely react to it accordingly,” he was quoted as saying.

“We will also do our best to restore security in our country and will act against those who have disturbed it.”

Nigeria’s charge d’affaires was told by the foreign ministry in Tehran late Monday that Iran “demands the Nigerian government immediately shed light on the incidents, treat the injured and compensate for damages”, IRNA said.

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif also called for “immediate and serious action to prevent violence” against Shiites, in a telephone call to his Nigerian counterpart, Geoffrey Onyeama.

Dozens of people demonstrated Tuesday outside Nigeria’s embassy in Tehran to protest against “the massacre of Shiites”, while around 100 students rallied at a university campus, local media reported.

The army clashed on Saturday and early Sunday in the largely Sunni Muslim north with the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) and arrested its leader, Ibrahim Zakzaky.

The IMN seeks to establish an Islamic state through an Iranian-styled revolution.

“We have reports that bodies of our members killed outside the house of our leader are being evacuated in trucks by soldiers,” IMN spokesman Ibrahim Musa told AFP.

Musa said victims of the violence included Zakzaky’s wife, son and a former IMN spokesman.

The violence was sparked when Shiite faithful on Saturday blocked the main road outside their prayer centre, where hundreds had gathered for a ceremony.

The military claimed Shiites attacked a convoy of the army chief, Yusuf Buratai, leaving soldiers no option but to retaliate. The IMN denied the charge.

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David Mark Calls For Calm Following His Sack At The Appeal Court

The former President of the Senate, Senator David Mark has called  on his constituents  to remain calm  and be law abiding.

Senator Mark in a reaction to the Tribunal verdict told his people not to be deterred by the verdict but be strengthened ahead of the re-run.

According to his Media Aide, Paul Mumeh, he  believed that he won the election convincingly and have no doubt that his constituents would turn out en masse to vote for him again.

“What ever the situation may be, one thing I know  is that my people are solidly behind me . They also appreciates the fact that I have done more than enough to lift up Idoma nation to a  position of eminence in the contemporary political history of Nigeria,” Senator Mark stated.

He insisted: ” I won the election clean and clear. If we go back to the polls 100 times , I will still win convincingly”,

Earlier today, the Appeal  Tribunal ordered a fresh election to Benue south Senatorial district  won by Senator Mark of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) against Daniel Onjeh of All Progressive Congress (APC).

 

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PDP Calls For Resignation Of AGF Over Kogi Election

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has asked the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Abubakar Malami to immediately vacate his office for harrying and misleading the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) into arriving at an unconstitutional decision to allow the APC to substitute its candidate in the inconclusive Kogi state governorship election.

The party is shocked that INEC, a supposedly independent electoral umpire could allow itself to succumb to the antics of the APC by following the unlawful directive of an obviously partisan AGF to substitute a candidate in the middle of the ballot process.

We are all aware that the two legal documents guiding INEC in the conduct of elections; the Constitution and the Electoral Act, have provisions for electoral exigencies as well as empower the electoral body to fully take responsibility for any of its actions or inaction without undue interference from any quarters whatsoever.

We are therefore at a loss as to which sections of these two relevant laws, INEC and the AGF relied on in arriving at their bizarre decision to substitute a dead candidate in an on-going election even after the timelines for such has elapsed under all the rules.

INEC as a statutory body has the full complements of technical hands in its legal department to advice it appropriately and we wonder why it had to wait for directives from the AGF, an external party, if not for partisan and subjective interest.

Consequently, the PDP rejects in its entirety, this brazen move by the APC and INEC to circumvent the laws and ambush the yet-to-be concluded election by introducing a practice that is completely alien to the constitution and the electoral act.

The clear implication of this action of the AGF and INEC is that the APC would be fielding two different governorship candidates in the on-going Kogi election, meaning that INEC would be transferring votes cast for late Prince Abubakar Audu to another candidate, scenarios that have no place in the constitution of the land.

Whereas the PDP, in honour of the sanctity of human life and respect for the dead, had since Sunday refrained from making comments on the conduct of the election, we can no longer maintain such in the face of the barefaced attack on our democracy.

This INEC under the leadership of Prof. Mahmood Yakubu has shown itself as partisan, morally bankrupt and obviously incapable of conducting a credible election within our laws.

In view of the foregoing therefore, the PDP demands an immediate resignation of the INEC Chairman, as the nation’s democracy cannot afford to be left in the hands of an electoral umpire that cannot exert its independence and the sanctity of the electoral process.

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#ParisAttacks: Buhari Calls For Coordinated Efforts Against Terrorism

Nigeria’s president Muhammadu Buhari on Saturday called on world leaders to intensify collaborative efforts to combat the scourge of terrorism across the world after a series of fatal attacks ?claimed by Islamic State ?were unleashed on France.

France’s President Francois Hollande described the attacks as ‘act of war’.

“President Buhari calls on all peace-loving nations of the world to intensify ongoing multilateral cooperation and collaborative actions aimed at bringing the scourge of international terrorism to a speedy end for the benefit of all nations.” his media aide Garba Shehu said in statement on Saturday.

Shehu noted that the President was shocked by the attacks and commiserated with the government and the people of France.

Shehu said “President Buhari has received with great shock & profound sadness, news of the dastardly terrorist attacks on innocent civilians in Paris. On behalf of the government and people of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, President Buhari conveys his heartfelt sympathy to President Francois Hollande and the people France.”

France was in a nationwide state of emergency Saturday after a night of horror in Paris when gunmen sprayed restaurants with bullets, massacred scores of concert-goers and launched suicide attacks near the national stadium, killing at least 128 people, according an AFP report.

At least eight militants, all wearing suicide vests, brought unprecedented violence to the streets of the French capital, in the bloodiest attacks in Europe since the Madrid train bombings in 2004.

Armed with AK47s and shouting “Allahu akbar”, four of the group marched into a rock concert at the Bataclan venue in eastern Paris, murdering at least 82 people and taking dozens hostage.

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N64bn Independence Expenses Claim: Jonathan Calls El-Rufai A Liar

Former President Goodluck Jonathan has branded Nasir el-Rufai, governor of Kaduna state, a ‘liar’ for alleging that he spent N64 billion on October 1 celebrations between 2010 and 2015.

The statement, titled “We never spent billions on independence anniversary — Jonathan”, was issued on behalf of the former president on Sunday by Abubakar Sulaiman, the immediate past minister/deputy chairman, National Planning Commission.

Sulaiman said the Jonathan administration spent only N332.6 million for the celebration in five years — an average of N66 million per year.

The Muhammadu Buhari administration spent N70 million on the 55th independence anniversary on Thursday in what was described as a low-key celebration.

Sulaiman said former President Olusegun Obasanjo was “perhaps” right in his assessment of el-Rufai as somone who has a penchant for lying, for unfair embellishment of stories and his inability to sustain loyalty for long.

BELOW IS THE FULL TEXT OF SULAIMAN’S STATEMENT.

We were taken aback by the recent comment reportedly credited to His Excellency, Governor Nasir El-rufai where he claimed that the immediate past President, His Excellency, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan’s administration spent N64billion to cover the country independence anniversary spending in five years.

The break down, according to the governor showed that N13billion was spent in 2011, N15billion in 2012 and N14billion in 2013 and N22billion allegedly spent in 2014.

This tissue of lies was contained on his facebook comment on Thursday. Ordinarily, we would have allowed this to go as just ranting of a favour seeker , but for the sake of ordinary Nigerians who were abreast of happenings under the administration and also those who never did, we will like to set the record straight.

It is important to correct the misinformation so that the unsuspecting public would not be misled. For the record,  a breakdown of our anniversary  spending between 2012 to 2014 amounted  to N332.6million.

We challenge the Office of the Government of the Federation (OSGF) to publish these details for the consumption of the public.

For the record, a breakdown of our spending for this event between 2012 and 2104 goes thus; 2012-107.6million; 2013-45million and 2014 had 180million. So, the question here is where did the billions as claimed by el-rufai emanate from?

Even though that of 2010 and 2011 are not handy now, but it should be known that they  all fall within the same bracket as the one stated, except  that the 2010 anniversary was a golden one  when the country marked her 50 year of independence. But even then, not such outrageous sum was either budgeted or expended.

Again, it is germane  to explain the increase in the 2013 anniversary spending for the purpose of accountability. The National Honours Award Investiture was incorporated into the celebration, thus making it two events in one, hence the  N174,800,000.00 budget.

We also want to add that the said award investiture could not hold in 2013 and the approved budget rolled over and was utilized to organise the investiture in 2014.

It is high time government functionaries desisted from abusing their immunity by destroying history and trading on lies just to gain cheap popularity or curry one favour or the other from certain quarters.

Perhaps President Olusegun Obasanjo was right in his assessment of el-rufai when he said in his latest memoir, My Watch that his vivid recollection of him (el rufai) is his penchant for lying, for unfair embellishment of stories and his inability to sustain loyalty for long.

That exactly is what el-rufai has done with his ungodly fabrication of lies against Jonathan government. One hopes that  President Buhari would be on guard against being misled by the likes of el-rufai who are hell bent on misinforming the Nigerian publics.

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Why This Year’s Independence Day Calls For Celebrations, By Johannes Oluwatobi Wojuola

Independence Day all over the world is celebrated with an insightful reflection on a country’s political, social and economic liberation from the control of another country. It is a celebration of a newness and at every year which it is marked, it calls for a check on the calendar and diary to inquire; so far, how far?

Speeches, ceremonies, fireworks, parties, prayer services, sermons, picnics, carnivals and rallies would oft be held – all purposely or flippantly celebrating the history, government, economy and taking stock of the journey so far.
Independence Day is a similitude of a person’s birthday: it signifies the birth of a sovereign entity, the coming to being of a nation-state out of a hitherto chrysalis state. And most often, the labour that precedes the birth of a nation state comes with a struggle – bloody in some unfortunate case; tough, rough and a fray in others. On whichever road the birth came through, liberation calls for celebration.
But Nigeria’s independence may not mean a big deal to many Nigerians, save the fact that it remains a cherished holiday that liberates the middle-class and civil servants from the shackles of work and sundry demands. Its significance has been downplayed; with little or no patriotic patronage for this day which happens to be the precursor of almost everything that we hold dear in the sacrosanct entity of the nation of Nigeria today. 
Nigeria gained its independence from its colonial masters – Britain – fifty-five years ago, amidst prospects – notwithstanding disagreements that reared their heads among the then regional leaders as to when was “practicable” for a date of independence. Today, that is history. Since that historic event of October 1st1960, our prospects have been better told than seen: we have danced to the tune of different leaders who set out their agendas that were best seen on paper than known in reality; we have been the victims of civil strife and internal animosities; the state of the nation has been threatened by interests – justly and unconscionably – of persons who have felt dissatisfied by the nation’s treatment of their interests.
From civilian rule to military rule, and to civil rule, and back to military rule, the helm of our nation’s leadership has vacillated from here to there before fate brought us to the threshold of civilian rule which we have been married to for the past 16 years. The expectations of the rebirth of a democratic era that took place on May 29, 1999 were high. It was the third time since independence that we were going to taste the fruits of democracy.
Nigerians and even the whole world envisioned in this rebirth the herald of a bright future for the country, one that would throw us into the comity of the world’s leading economies; the re-attainment of our axiomatic role as a centric power bloc in Africa and a major player in world politics. That election saw the emergence of former President Olusegun Obasanjo returned as President of Nigeria, who ruled for eight years under the umbrella of the People’s Democratic Party. The late President Umaru Musa Yar’adua was elected President thereafter but died two years into his tenure and was unfortunate not to see to the actualization of his 7 Point Agenda for Nigeria, leaving behind his Deputy, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan who was thereafter elected in 2011 as Nigeria’s President promising Nigerian’s a breath of fresh air.
Dr. Goodluck Jonathan eventually lost to Nigeria’s current President, Muhammadu Buhari, in the keenly contested battle of CHANGE and CONTINUITY of the 2015 elections after it seemed that former President Goodluck Jonathan had failed to deliver on his promises of fresh air; and to stem the insurgency in the North East and after corruption had been more honoured in its elevation than it had suffered in its abasement.
Like I noted in my letter to President Muhammadu Buhari penned at the fore of the election victory, Nigerians voted him as a ‘messiah to rescue us … [from] the monstrous corruption whose distasteful bite on our system has brought our economy and social fabric to a hemorrhage’; to revive a dwindling economy, to provide security of lives and property, to vivify our rusty international relations, to plug leaking revenues, to fix up the frail transport and education sectors, among others. 
The vote of confidence bestowed on President Buhari was premised on his known stand and unalloyed position on corruption, and as we have come to appreciate it: the formidable and hardboiled body language of Mr. President. The question may then arise, what makes our 55th Independence celebration – the 16th since our last taste of military rule – different and more auspicious than ever? With a new rider on the saddle, would this be just another October 1st celebration where Nigerians would cluster in their numbers to party without appreciation of the cause; while working class professionals would see it as another day off to rest from work pressures?
The hope that was fostered in Nigeria on the 29th of May 2015 provides a non placet answer to the above questions! And the strides of Mr. President sincethe 29th of May further strengthen the avouchment of President Buhari as a man set on a mission to give significance to October 1st to Nigerians: that the labour of our heroes past shall never be in vain!
HOPE!
President Buhari set off on promises hinged on the tripartite angles of providing security, fighting corruption and engendering youth employment through a stimulation of the economy. 
The President upon being sworn-in gave breath to the first leg of his promises when in his swearing-in speech directed that the Military Command Centre for the fight against Boko Haram be moved to Maiduguri at the heart of the war. Now, that was a basic move wanting an order from the right leadership, and President Buhari did not wait to show his leadership and military prowess there. Thereafter he met with the then service chiefs, who he later changed to press-up able, war-ready and troop-leading Generals. These moves have stemmed hopes among the communities of North-Eastern Nigeria; hopes not just from believing in the resumé capabilities of these Generals but from a posteriori ostensible results from the warfront and sundry: from the re-capturing of hitherto held Boko Haram camps and territories, to the communal cooperation of the Multinational Joint Task force with $21 Million released for the establishment of the headquarters of the force, to the evident boost of morale among the troops, to the steady return of economic activities in some hitherto abandoned towns, to promised technical and material support by World leaders to fight the terrorists to an end. 
These hopes are indeed not founded on the reverie of changed leadership but on the palpable victory that has been self-evident in the war against the insurgents in the North Eastern parts of Nigeria. The President has given a 3 months period – which ends in December – in which the war must be won. 
The President’s stance on corruption has been long known and appreciated – even by those on the other side – his disposition has not been put to a contest that it ever bowed with its tail between its legs.
A beauty in good leadership is watching its positive effect trickle down. That is why corporate governance principles in the public sector code today advocate for top-bottom approach to accountability, disclosure and positive ethos among the board and the Ministers with the knowledge that once these sacred values are imbibed in the hierarchy they would flow – like a spring – down to the lower echelon. And that is what Nigerians have today appreciated as the body language of Mr. President. That enduring ethos of incorruptibility has somewhat started a revolution in government ministries, departments and agencies. All of a sudden, but not without the knowledge of the new Sheriff in town, electric power supply has increased around the country – with over 4,600 Megawatts now being generated. I count it joy that our country today can boast in a fortified and unimpeachable hope that corruption has found a genuine adversary who is bent on uprooting it from the Nigerian system. 
The promises of the Buhari administration to provide a meal a day for Nigerian pupils in primary schools and the payment of N5,000 monthly to 25 million Nigerians is still in the by-and-by; and assuredly, when the 2016 budget is presented by the President, it would be accordingly catered for. Looking forward to these masses oriented packages are a reflection of a reborn Nigeria worth celebrating comeOctober 1st, 2015!
These hopes are not based on obsequious belief in the persona and capabilities of President Buhari; but they are funded on two indefatigable substances of humanity: Truth and Tangibility!
The war against Boko Haram is indeed being won; Nigeria’s international relations has been bolstered to attract unprecedented Foreign Direct Investment in our economy, and even to support our security personnel; the economy stands strong and exuberant even after having been left battered by the previous administration and starved by dwindling oil prices – our foreign reserves fell from $49 Billion to $27 Billion within November 2013 and April 2015  even when our earnings from crude oil were at the windfalls. This same reserves shot up to $31 Billion in  the first 2 months of President Buhari’s coming into power – despite oil being sold at an all time low of $43 to $47.
Many more plans in the kitty are yet to materialize and it is just over a hundred days plus: indeed better days are ahead, and it can be surmised that the 2016 budget that would be submitted by President Buhari would be a catalyst and the next phase for President Buhari to focus on infrastructure, revamp of key sectors and other activities that would engender sustainable growth and job creation in Nigeria.
Truly so, there is a cause to celebrate: October 1st 2015 is not just any other holiday but a day to celebrate Nigeria’s propitious comeback to the stage of world leadership and a state with the interest of the masses truly represented. President Buhari is on the path to CHANGE Nigeria for the better. And these self-evident truths show that Nigeria’s future is not bleak as it may have seemed a year ago. Talk about a new Sheriff who means business and give me a reason to adorn my green agbada come 1st of October!
 
Johannes Oluwatobi Wojuola, lawyer and Editor-in-chief of LOL! Magazine writes from Abuja

 

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Buhari Condemns Burkina Faso Coup, Calls For Civil Transition Immediately

President Muhammadu Buhari and the Federal Government of Nigeria unreservedly condemned Wednesday’s detention of the interim President, the Prime Minister and other ministers of the transitional government of Burkina Faso in an apparent coup d’etat.

A statement issued by his spokesperson, Femi Adesina, stated that Buhari and Nigeria align with ECOWAS, the African Union and the United Nations in rejecting the brazen contravention of the constitution and transitional charter of Burkina Faso by elements of the Presidential Guard under the leadership of General Gilbert Diendere.

“President Buhari and Nigeria urge the Defense and Security Forces of Burkina Faso to keep faith with the agreed transitional programme for the return of the country to full democratic rule after elections, which were due to be held in the country on October 11, in support of which Nigeria has donated 20 pick-up vans to the National Electoral Commission of Burkina Faso,” the statement said.

The statement then stated that while welcoming the news that the interim President, Mr. Michel Kafando has now been freed, “Buhari and Nigeria also demand the immediate release of Prime Minister Isaac Zida and other detained ministers.”

“Nigeria will give the fullest possible support to ongoing efforts by the ECOWAS mediatory team of President Macky Sall of Senegal and President Boni Yayi of Benin Republic to quickly restore Burkina Faso to the path of order, democracy and constitutionalism.”

“The President urges the people of Burkina Faso to remain calm and steadfast in support of the transitional order, elections and democratic governance with the full assurance that Nigeria, ECOWAS and the international community will uphold their right to peace, freedom, democracy and good governance,” the statement read.

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