President Buhari Celebrates Golden Eaglets’ Victory; Urges Them To Go For The Cup

President Muhammadu Buhari has congratulated the Golden Eaglets of Nigeria for a fantastic beginning in the group opening match of FIFA World Cup Brazil 2019.

Nigeria Under-17 football team opened Brazil 2019 with a 4-2 win over Hungary, signaling their readiness to win the FIFA Championship for an unprecedented sixth time.

In a message to the team after the spectacular performance on Saturday night, President Buhari praised the boys for the determination to excel which they displayed throughout the match despite the brilliant performance of their opponents.

“It was a wonderful display that I am very proud of. You showed that there is nothing that cannot be achieved with determination and perseverance.

“I have followed your journey leading to your arrival in Brazil for the competition. I have equally noted your determination and confidence throughout your preparations.

“I have no doubt in my mind that you are determined to win the competition for an unparalleled sixth time,” President Buhari said.

He assured them of his continuing personal support and that of Nigerians for the entire period of the tournament.

The President also urged the team to continue demonstrating the resilient spirit of the Nigerian, and bring the cup home, adding that he will personally be monitoring their progress in the tournament.

President Buhari equally congratulated the handlers of the team, urging them to be sensitive to the needs of the youngsters in their burning desire to bring victory and honour to their fatherland.

Garba Shehu
Senior Special Assistant to the President
(Media and Publicity)
October 27, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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On The Roles Of Chief Of Staff And SGF

Recent media and social media reports on the responsibilities of the Chief of Staff to the President have suggested that the role has changed. This is not the case.

Today, under the Buhari II administration the role of Chief of Staff remains the same as it was under Buhari I.

It is worth stressing that the role and responsibilities of the Chief of Staff and the method of communication and arranging scheduling between Cabinet members and the President are, in Nigeria, based on the US model, where the same system operates – and has done for decades – in precisely the same way.

That role is to act as the head of the presidential administration at Aso Rock; to be an adviser to the President on any and all matters; to be the line manager for all staff at Aso Rock; and to manage appointments and scheduling for the President.

In the traditional presidential system, it is a primary function of a Chief of Staff, which may vary according to the needs and desires of each President, to supervise key State House Staff, control access to the office and the person of the President, manage communications and information flow and this includes that which binds the relationship with the two other arms of government.

During the President’s first term those were the responsibilities of the Chief of Staff, and they remain the same responsibilities today. There is no change.

When President Buhari explained to ministers that they would be expected to communicate with him and arrange scheduling to meet with him primarily via the Chief of Staff, he did so as many of the Buhari II Cabinet ministerial appointments are new appointments and cannot therefore be expected to know how matters of liaising with the President operate.

This is to stress that access to the President is open to ministers. It is not true that this is denied them in the Second Term.

The Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) on the other hand is responsible for ensuring the effective coordination and monitoring of the implementation of government policies and programmes. All cabinet matters must go through him.

Under this dispensation, a performance evaluation of ministers and Permanent Secretary will be maintained by the SGF. Two weeks after assuming office, they are expected to sign mandate acceptance documents.

It is time to end the unnecessary controversy, for the key appointees of the President to carry out their jobs.

Garba Shehu
Senior Special Assistant to the President
(Media & Publicity)
August 24, 2019

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Presidency Lauds Swift Confirmation Of Cabinet Nominees By The Senate

The Presidency praises the diligence of the Senate in confirming the ministerial nominees, whilst also ensuring a swift and efficient process.

The people of Nigeria want results, and with this list of ministers, we are confident they shall be delivered. Specific portfolios shall be assigned with the inauguration of the cabinet.

This is a fine, capable and committed group of individuals. Working together, they shall help achieve what we all want and labour toward: a secure, prosperous, corruption-free nation in which nobody is left behind, and talents can flourish.

The executive approaches this 9th National Assembly with a renewed spirit of openness and enthusiasm. Where once we sometimes found impasse, we welcome collaboration; where once suspicion took hold, together, we shall demonstrate mutual trust.

Scrutiny should never mean deadlock but proper governance. And with a new swathe of national legislators and ministers, we are confident the executive and the legislature can – in partnership – unleash the change Nigerians deserve.

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Presidency Welcomes IRI/NDI Report On 2019 Elections With Reservations

The Presidency welcomes, with reservations, the joint report of the International Republic Institute (IRI) and the National Democratic Institute (NDI) on the 2019 general elections in Nigeria and recommendations for the 2023 general elections.

It is instructive that President Buhari clearly won this vote and the report in no way disputes that fundamental fact.

President Buhari won by almost 4 million majority, with a 14% margin.

However, the most important thing in an election is that it reflects the will of the people which in our circumstances was acknowledged to have been a success by ECOWAS Observer Mission and YIAGA AFRICA whose parallel vote tabulation verified INEC’s presidential election result as announced. This we achieved.

We have developed a tradition of improvements in our electoral process through enforcement of our electoral law which resulted in the prosecution and conviction of electoral officers that were found wanting in compromising our electoral process.

We, however, agree notwithstanding, that there are improvements that must be made in the process for the future. The sheer size, terrain and remoteness of certain regions do pose serious logistical challenges.

They also pose a problem for electoral observers: across a country of over 190 million, only 40 observers were deployed to observe just 16 states + the Federal Capital Territory (Nigeria has 36 states).

It was unfortunate that the election was postponed yet imagine if the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had gone ahead unprepared. The delay undoubtedly resulted in a lower turnout.

Because they are registered to vote in their place of birth, and not where they live, many Nigerians could not make arrangements to travel back again.

But the fact still remains that major democracies of the world have equally recorded worst turnout in modern history.

The effect of voter turnout, at any rate, is a two-way traffic that affected both sides equally.

To pretend otherwise is wrong considering that in 2015, the INEC postponed the election by six weeks under a PDP President, whom – as an incumbent – it was said to help at the time. It didn’t make a difference. Similarly, neither did it aid the sitting President in 2019.

It is amazing that the electoral observers recommended that electoral laws are enforced, and perpetrators of crimes punished and at the same time implicitly criticise the removal of the Chief Justice of Nigeria for failing to disclose his assets as required by law. Which would they prefer?

The law is a matter of principle that takes its course regardless of time and circumstances. It is never a matter of convenience and indeed remains functional, operational and enforceable without due regard to the electioneering process.

As we have already said, we are committed to reviewing our electoral laws and processes, like every democracy across the world should.

We intend to build on the innovations of this election that facilitate inclusiveness and participation, such as providing braille for blind people to cast their votes among other innovations.

This election was won by the candidate who received the most votes. We value the report’s recommendations. We can assure they shall be assessed and evaluated.

Garba Shehu
Senior Special Assistant to the President
(Media & Publicity)
June 18, 2019

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Presidency Welcomes EU And Other Suggestions On Improving Elections In Nigeria

The Presidency has welcomed the report of the European Union (EU) on the 2019 general elections in Nigeria, promising to analyse it fully and act on the recommendations.

The Presidency notes that the EU observers had been invited to the country by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), and welcomed by the government of President Muhammadu Buhari.

This was a clear indication of the administration’s good intentions, commitment to a pure democratic process, and desire to improve for the next elections.

The EU noted in their report that there were marked improvements from previous elections, although stating that more work needed to be done.

The administration of President Buhari will work with all Nigerian citizens, state institutions, parties, civil society, the media and other experts to make sure that the improvements recommended by the EU are implemented, and that these areas of concern are addressed.

It is noteworthy that INEC is in receipt of a number of recommendations that form a part of the EU report.

The Presidency assures that the Commission is in safe hands and happy that they are currently engaged in root and branch reviews of the 2019 general elections and will input lessons learned into its recommendations for electoral and constitutional reforms.

We believe that the commission conducted a good election and will continue to improve on its processes and procedures.

While it is regretted that the elections in a few parts of the country witnessed some violence, among other shortcomings highlighted by the EU, we note however that none of these hitches affected the overall outcome of the elections.

Thankfully, EU did not question the results of the presidential election.

This is further proof that the polls reflected the overall will of Nigerians, and that the world is solidly behind the election of President Buhari for a second term.

Garba Shehu
Senior Special Assistant to the President
(Media & Publicity)
June 15, 2019

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Buhari: Why And How He Won, By Garba Shehu

President Muhammadu Buhari, who came to office in a seismic political shift that swept out of office 16 years of continuous rule by the People’s Democratic Party, PDP recorded yet another resounding victory to win a second term in office, leading his closest rival by a record-setting four million votes.

His party, the All Progressives Congress, APC gained the highest parliamentary majority in the Fourth Republic in the Senate and the House of Representatives, giving the President an ample room to carry out reforms he wished to carry out, but was outmaneuvered and frustrated by the Eighth National Assembly.
While campaigning for the 2015 general elections, President Buhari’s All APC made promises to end Boko Haram terrorism and secure the country for it to be efficiently managed; to restructure the economy, halt its downward slide and create jobs and to fight corruption because, as the president repeatedly says, “if Nigeria doesn’t kill corruption, corruption will kill Nigeria.”
His climactic victory against the then incumbent Goodluck Jonathan, his strong message on the three issues as listed above, his practical and serious approach helped to awaken a nation misled by characters who placed self above nation for sixteen years and more.
The Buhari administration has established for itself an anti-corruption reputation and has been in office nearing four years without a major scandal.  The African Union has on account of this, selected the President as the continent’s anti-corruption champion.
The Buhari administration can pat itself on the back for this achievement when it is viewed against the established culture in which corruption is the norm.
To win the war against corruption and institute transparency in the affairs of government, the Buhari administration introduced a number of fiscal reforms and plugged several leakages.
In the firm belief that the party was not mistaken about the problems facing the country, Candidate Buhari went into the February, 2019 campaign on the same issue platforms. The President and his party looked certain of victory from the sea of crowds that attended his political rallies all over the 36 states of the federation. He was the only candidate to have campaigned at least once in each state and the Federal Capital Territory.
These rallies attracted large crowds, mostly of the poor who are trusting in his impeccable qualities of honesty and integrity, and have bought into the idea that he will quickly push their country onto the top by lifting up the economy, creating jobs, securing the nation and ending the nightmarish corruption which had become the order of the day. Some of the events were marked by incidents of road accident, podium or building collapse and stampede leading to tragic losses of life.
At many of those well-attended rallies, the venues fell short of the people gathered. Thousands of supporters outside tried to barge into the inner rings of the venues. Pleas were not heard by surging crowds which resorted sometimes to throwing chairs, sachet water and bottles into the no-man zones in front of the stage.
It was evident from the commencement of the campaign that President Buhari had a a two-pronged election strategy, one to showcase the achievements of his administration in its first term and two, to cash in on his popularity with the lower rungs of the population. 
The party itself doubled down on President Buhari by zeroing in on his image as a diligent, coolheaded and incorruptible leader. In that enduring appeal, the APC saw a trump card going into the election.
Nobody can question President Buhari’s achievements. They are there for all to see.
The administration has significantly curtailed corruption to the point of abolishing what is called “grand corruption.” Given Treasury Single Account,TSA, the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information Scheme, IPPS, the Bank Verification Number, BVN number and Whistle Blower schemes, it is no longer possible for people in authority to, for instance, request the withdrawal of millions, or sometimes billions of Naira or US Dollars to be shared among party members as was the practice under the past administrations. To boot, the Buhari administration has signed onto the global Open Government Partnership, OGP.
Reforms are being carried out in the justice sector with a number of domestic legislations and international agreements to facilitate the identification, tracing, freezing, recovery and forfeiture of ill-gotten assets.
The administration’s primary sectors of agriculture and solid minerals have experienced growth of 180 and 565 percentage points respectively. Nigeria has today achieved near self-sufficiency in rice production.
Government has launched a series of funding and capacity development initiatives to support Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises.  The work of the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC), inaugurated by President Buhari in August 2016 has resulted in moving Nigeria up 24 places on the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business rankings, and earning a place on the list of 10 most improved economies.  In this regard, the administration has issued a number of Executive Orders on improving efficiency in the business environment and promoting local content.
The Buhari administration has also demonstrated a single-minded commitment to upgrading and developing Nigeria’s transport, power and health infrastructure.
Road projects are ongoing across every state of the country, with many of these projects having been abandoned for many years.  
The country’s narrow-gauge rail network of 3,500 Kms is currently being upgraded; Abuja’s light rail system has been completed and commissioned with a link to the Abuja-Kaduna rail line, which has equally been completed and launched.  The Ibadan-Lagos standard gauge rail is being test run.  Ibadan-Kano has been awarded.
The administration has successfully reconstructed the Abuja Airport runway, completed and commissioned new terminal buildings in Port Harcourt and Abuja with Lagos, Kano, Enugu and the others soon to be inaugurated.
Several water supply projects and dam/irrigation projects have been completed and many more on the way to being delivered.  About 100 ecological projects have been awarded and completed in the six geopolitical zones.
The Buhari administration has more than doubled power generation capacity.  It has increased generation to 8,100 MW and expanded transmission to more than 7,000 MW capacity, and has successfully deployed thousands of solar power systems to rural and urban households.
This is an administration that has been investing in people. It has introduced a social Investment Programme (SIP), which so far, has four components.  These are the N-power employment scheme that is hitting 500,000 this year, the home grown school feeding program that feeds more than nine million school children across the federation, the Government Enterprise and Empower Program, GEEP giving out interest-free loans to millions of market women, traders, artisans and farmers and the conditional cash transfer, CCT which pays N5,000 monthly to the poorest and most vulnerable households in the country.
In dealing with security, one of the first major steps by the Buhari administration was the revitalisation of the Multi-national Joint Task force, MNJTF aimed at combating transborder crime and the Boko Haram insurgency.  The MNJTF has the support and participation of neighbouring countries Niger, Chad, Cameroon and Benin, in addition to Nigeria.
On the day of his inauguration, the President had directed the relocation of the command and control centre of the Boko Haram war to Maiduguri, the epicentre of the insurgency.
The military has since proclaimed victory over the Boko Haram terrorists, following the capture of their operational and spiritual headquarters, “Camp Zero” in Sambisa Forest.
So far, more than one million displaced persons have returned to their homes and communities.  About 20,000 hostages have been freed. One hundred and six (106) Chibok Girls, abducted in April 2014 and 105 Dapchi Girls abducted in February 2018 have been released and reunited with their families
In the area of diplomacy and international relations, the Buhari administration has re-established Nigeria’s position and influence in regional and global arena. 
As a political leader, Muhammadu Buhari enjoys three formidable assets– his record as a disciplined former Army General, his reputation as an honest leader who has not allowed corruption to flourish under his watch when he served as a state Military Governor, Minister of Petroleum and Military Head of State and the public perception of his record as one who stands for and by the truth, Mai Gaskiya.
The main opposition to President Buhari, the Peoples Democratic Party failed to realize how much these qualities meant to ordinary Nigerians; they did not reckon with the disillusionment of the citizens with their perceived acts of commission and omission for the 16 years they were in power.
They must by now, have realized with a with benefit of hindsight, that demonization and denigration of an individual does not bring in poll dividends. In their campaigns, they chose to demonise and denigrate Muhammadu Buhari as President. It did not pay.
Before and after this election, there is no face in the opposition who can match President Buhari’s inspiring character and personality. Many, including this reporter believe that it wasn’t the rail, road or achievements in the power sector that won this election for President Buhari. No doubt, these and many others are important. They may have added a bit here and a bit there. But what won it for him, was the focus by the voter on the single most important factor of Mai Gaskiya.
 Mallam Garba Shehu is the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity

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Amount Of Foreign Currency Flooding The Country Alarming, Says President Buhari

President Muhammadu Buhari has expressed astonishment at the huge amount of foreign currency flooding the country intended to influence the general elections beginning on Saturday.
 
Speaking during the Federal Executive Council, FEC meeting Wednesday, the President accused some politicians of flouting money laundering regulations in their desperate bid to capture political power.
 
President Buhari, however, commended the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC for successfully tracking the money in “millions of United States dollars.”
 
The EFCC success followed the presidential directive to investigative agencies to probe a number of high profile cases.
 
Reassuring the nation of his administration’s determination to wage a relentless war against money laundering and terrorist financing, the President again appealed to Nigerians, especially politicians to place the interest of the country above all others, as they troop out to cast their votes in the coming elections.
 
Garba Shehu
Senior Special Assistant to the President
(Media & Publicity)
February 21, 2019

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President Buhari Will Campaign For All APC Candidates, Says Presidency

The Presidency says President Muhammadu Buhari, who is the leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and its presidential candidate in the forthcoming general elections, will campaign for the party and all its candidates.

A presidential spokesman, Malam Garba Shehu, made this known in a statement while reacting to media enquiries over the hosting of Gov. Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun by President Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, on Sunday.

Amosun was accompanied by the Ogun state governorship candidate of the Allied Peoples Movement (APM), Abdulkadir Adekunle Akinlade, during the visit.

The statement read: “Following repeated media enquiries on the matter, the Presidency wishes to state in clear and unmistakable terms that as a party leader and a candidate on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the coming elections, President Muhammadu Buhari will campaign for the party and all its candidates.

“This, however, does not mean that he, as the nation’s leader, will decline courtesy calls or offers of support from citizens including candidates flying the flags of other parties.

“There is no doubt that the President has no competition here in terms of popularity in the coming elections. But the more support he gets, the wider the margin of victory there will be.

“So please let there be no confusion about this. President Buhari is APC. He will campaign for all APC candidates, but he welcomes support and endorsements.’’

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Presidency Warns PDP To Stay Off Buhari’s Family

The Presidency has warned the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, not to make the family of President Muhammadu Buhari a campaign subject in the 2019 elections.

In a statement issued on Wednesday, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu said the PDP should rather address consequences of their 16-year of rule in Nigeria than bring the President’s family into the 2019 elections.

“The PDP leadership cannot afford to make family an issue in this campaign. Need I say more? The only thing I want to add is that PDP is engaging in mud-slinging because it finds it easier than speaking on their despicable 16-year record in the course of which they abused the trust of Nigerians…They made a mess of everything including the economy, security, and infrastructure. It has come to the destiny of President Muhammadu Buhari to correct their mistakes.

“The PDP doesn’t see anything beyond grabbing power, power at all costs. It is an irony that a party that boasted as being the largest in Africa is now begging small parties for alliances. A Presidential contest is more than the issuance of daily press releases containing falsehoods,” Shehu said.

He however, stated that if the PDP wants to make family the issue in the coming elections, the APC would gladly accept the challenge.

“They have launched a campaign for the Presidency, a campaign that has failed to get any traction. The whole thing is not working; that President Buhari is unstoppable,” he stressed.

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Presidency Cautions Appointees, Aides Against Extortions

The Presidency has issued a stern warning to political appointees, government officials and party men against influence peddling for corrupt pecuniary gains and other forms of extortion.

Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, told State House Correspondents on Tuesday in Abuja that complaints of extortions of innocent people by what he called “self-serving name droppers and influence peddlers” is causing increasing embarrassment to the Presidency.

According to Shehu, “President Buhari had made it very clear since his inauguration that he won’t tolerate any form of impropriety by his appointees, aides, and government officials who abuse and misuse their offices for illegal financial advantages.”

The media aide explained that using one’s office or influence for private advantage or financial gains is corruption, warning that the President would not tolerate any conduct by anybody to use his name to extort innocent people.”

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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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