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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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2019 Budget: PDP Lawmakers Total Disgrace To Nigerians – Group

A political group in Nigeria has strongly condemned the unruly attitude and chants of Peoples Democratic Party lawmakers during President Muhammadu Buhari’s presentation of the 2019 budget.

The Initiative to Save Democracy (ISD) explained that the chant of ‘lies’ and rowdiness persistently carried out by the opposition party, was a disgrace to the country in its entirety.

President of ISD, Sunday James Akinloye, said the lawmakers made a mockery of themselves on national television, with the rest of the world watching how their unruly behavior painted Nigeria in a very bad light.

“I can’t believe this is happening in 2018. This is utter disgrace and shame to these lawmakers who have made a mockery of themselves on national television.

“Using words like “lies, lies, lies” while the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria addressed the world, is unthinkable and to do it repeatedly shows the kind of lawmakers we have in this country.

“They totally failed to live up their ‘Honorable’ tag by all yardsticks of decent public conduct as expected of civilized adults, in fact there is nothing honorable about these lawmakers.

“The irresponsibility they displayed will make us a laughing stock around the world. Very sad and unruly message they have passed to the rest of the world.

Akinloye explained that the attitude of the PDP lawmakers is the clearest indication that Nigerians must not vote for the party and its candidate in the 2019 election.

“If anything, they just did themselves a disservice with that pathetic showing. Nigerians must rise above electing indecorous persons in this kind of office.

The group however praised the budget presented by President Buhari, stressing that, it is a budget that adequately seeks to improve infrastructure, health, education and Social Investment Programmes.

“This is a people-oriented budget that seeks to affect the lives of every Nigerian positively. I hope the National Assembly will not delay its passage,” Akinloye said.

The group explained that the proposed N8.83 trillion of 2019 Aggregate Expenditure comprises of Recurrent Costs of N4.04 trillion; Debt Service of N2.14 trillion; Statutory Transfers of about N492.36 billion; Sinking Fund of N120 billion (to retire maturing bond to local contractors) and Capital Expenditure of N2.031 trillion (excluding the capital component of Statutory Transfers).

“The 2019 budget proposal will place the economy on the path of higher, inclusive, diversified and sustainable growth, in order to continue to lift significant numbers of our citizens out of poverty,” he said.

Quoting the budget presented by President Buhari, he said, “The underlying drivers of the 2019 revenue projections have been adjusted to reflect current realities.

“On the expenditure side, allocations to Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of Government were guided by the 3 strategic pillars of the ERGP, which are, restoring and sustaining growth; investing in people and building a globally competitive economy.

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Group Says Amnesty’s Report Is Inciting, Inchoate And Misleading

A political group in Nigeria has described an Amnesty International(AI) report on the farmers – herders clashes in the country as inciting, inchoate and misleading, stressing that the agency was by its report rejoicing and glorifying violence in Nigeria.

The Initiative to Save Democracy (ISD) stated that the report failed to consider a broad and historical view of the crisis, but deliberately limited the scope of its report from January 2016 to 2018 to pull the wool over the eyes of unsuspecting readers.

President of the group, James Akinloye said that by considering only these two years the content of the report was inconclusive and thus misleading as the herders – farmers clashes predates the period under review and readers would be deliberately misled to think the crisis started only within the last three years. 

The group went further to state that the title of the report HARVEST OF DEATHS was a clear indication that Amnesty International had ulterior motives and was seeking to incite violence in the country. 

“To title a report Harvest of Deaths is not just insensitive but also wicked. It is an attempt by Amnesty International to push for unrest in the country at a time when the country is already enjoying relative peace. The content of the report only seeks to open healing wounds. No responsible agency fighting for human rights titles its report Harvest of Death. Such a nomenclature is a mockery of the dead to start with.

“It is also ill-timed. Two months to an election is not the time to put out a report on a very sensitive subject- matter except one has a motive that is egregiously wicked and prejudiced,”  Akinloye said.

The ISD noted that the release of the report two months to an election suggests either sponsorship of its activities by members of the opposition party or an outright intention by the Amnesty International to influence the voting posture of Nigerians during the elections.

Akinloye argued that where a foreign body does a thing like this, it is investigated for election interference and a possible ban from the country.

He went further to note that: “the Amnesty report deliberately omitted a very significant arrest in the herders – farmers clashes; that is the arrest of Aliyu Tashaku who was the mastermind of most of the killings in Benue state which were masqueraded as clashes.

“The report falsely kept rehashing that government had not acted or arrested any persons, while failing to acknowledge the arrest of several Fulani herdsmen who were involved in killings and were being tried in courts in Benue, Taraba, Adamawa and Plateau States. This reveals the bias of Amnesty International and its agenda to plunge Nigeria into violence. It also failed to acknowledge the role of several militia groups in the region, many of whom had been arrested by government security agencies.”

Mr Akinloye stated that in the last 4 months most of the communities in the North Central had been experiencing relative peace due to the efforts of the government including the bringing to justice of perpetrators of the heinous killings. 

He further noted that the killings fell by over 90% in Benue State after the arrest of Alhaji Aliyu Tashaku who was reported to have been behind most of the killings in the state.

ISD noted that the government had done a lot and Nigerians were not blind to their efforts, it further called on the security agencies to increase their efforts to ensure a more peaceful country.

Mr Akinloye also added that the security agencies should, while investigating the many claims of Amnesty International, also investigate the body itself as it may be financed by persons seeking to distabilise the country

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Group Insists Fani-Kayode Is Threat To National Unity

A political group in Nigeria has reiterated its call that former aviation minister Femi Fani-Kayode be arrested for divisive messages peddled on social media.

The President of the Initiative to Save Democracy, ISD, James Sunday Akinloye, noted that hate must be erased from Nigeria’s politics especially hate messages and fake news.

He explained that if Nigeria’s democracy must grow, then certain persons must be used as example to other that there are laws regulating social media in Nigeria and that people cannot just concoct fake stories.

He noted that it has been four days since ISD petitioned the Nigerian Police and DSS to arrest Fani-Kayode but that there is still no action.

“We read with interest the response by South-South Political Vanguard describing our petition to the Nigeria Police Force and the Department of State Services as a ploy to gain cheap political ploy but this is not true.

“We are dedicated to ensuring that Nigeria’s democracy is preserved and that certain persons who have evil agenda are brought to book by the law. There should be a reaction to every action, Akinloye argued.

He pointed to some messages on Twitter written and published by Fani-Kayode. “For example, days before President Muhammadu Buhari visited the United States, he urged President Donald Trump to subject President Buhari to a DNA test because he is Jubril from Sudan. How can anyone say that? he quizzed.

He then pointed to yet another tweet by the former campaign spokesperson for Goodluck Jonathan in 2015. In Fani-Kayode’s own words, “The man that is there today is Jubril from Sudan and not Buhari. Buhari is dead and he never came back from London. Only his body did. They invoked the spirit of Jubril and placed it in Buhari’s body. It is a common ritual amongst Satanists. Many lives were sacrificed in the process,” he tweeted on 5 April 2018.

Akinloye argued that the group has made photocopies of the hate messages and fake news which were peddled by Fani-Kayode and have attached it to a petition that will be taken to the police and DSS this week.

“It is important that we do not allow ourselves to be carried away by a response from a group that does not understand the gravity of fake news and hates speeches.

“First we think the Nigerian Police should arrest him immediately and then charge him to court. We have evidences of his cybercrime and the hate it has sown amongst young Nigerians in their formative years.

“We have hundreds of responses to some of his post which shows how it was shaping the ideology and philosophy of some Nigerians towards hate and divisiveness and we will not stand and watch kids who are just joining social media to be swayed by this kind of messages.

Akinloye noted that if the DSS and police refuse to arrest Fani-Kayode then his group along with others will stage a peaceful protest both in Lagos and Abuja, Nigeria’s capital.

“If we must embark on a peaceful protest, so be it. Enough of hate speeches and fake news. Mr Fani-Kayode must understand that there are cybercrime laws and if you err, then you should be punished.

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Group Replies PDP On Trader Moni, Says Nigerians Not For Sale

A political group in Nigeria has rejected the main opposition party’s claim on Trader Moni, a Social Investment Programme (SIP) initiated by the Buhari government.

Reacting to the claims of PDP, Sunday Akinloye, chairman of the Initiative to Save Democracy (ISD) explained that Nigerians are not for sale at any price.

He noted that because the PDP is a heavily corrupt party, its sees any money transaction as a bribe-giving relationship. “The PDP must note that Nigerians are wiser now and are not for sale. The Trader Moni scheme is very laudable as it has reached close to one million Nigerians.

Akinloye noted that the All Progressives Congress led government does not believe that Nigerians can be bought but instead they have dedicated their service towards the betterment of the people. “The traders who accessed Trader Moni early are already paying back the loan. Nigerians must know that these loans are tied to Bank Verification Numbers and must be repaid.

“The traders were not even asked for their Permanent Voters Card as claimed by the PDP. All you need to be eligible is to be a petty trader.

“The PDP merely reflects their kind of corruption-minded politics which failed to benefit the people for 16 years. They are bitter that they added no real value to Nigerians and will do anything to pull down a good government.

Akinloye explained that while there are so far over 809,000 beneficiaries of TraderMoni, over 1.1 million Nigerians – market women, traders, artisans, farmers – are currently beneficiaries of Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme (GEEP), which comprises FarmerMoni, MarketMoni and TraderMoni.

FarmerMoni loans start at N300,000 and are for farmers in farming clusters, via farm aggregators, while MarketMoni is a 6-month interest-free credit of between N50,000 and N300,000 for small businesses – medium-scale traders, market women, artisans, and youth in market associations – under the auspices of their cooperative societies.

Under the TraderMoni scheme, beneficiaries can get access to a higher facility ranging from N15,000 to N100,000 when they repay N10,000 within the stipulated time period.

“PDP are insulting Nigerians by suggesting that our people are for sale,” Akinloye stressed, “No amount is good enough, our people’s right to choose their leaders is priceless, let PDP stand on their own record and stop this abuse of our collective identity,” he added.

He then went on to explain that TraderMoni, which is part of the Federal Government’s Social Investment Programme (N-SIP), is designed to assist petty traders across the country expand their trade through the provision of collateral and interest-free loans from N10,000. The loans are repayable over a period of six months.

The scheme, which has since been formally launched in 33 states and the FCT, is expected to reach 2 million petty traders by the end of the year,

Also, through TraderMoni scheme, the Buhari Administration aims to take financial inclusion down to the grassroots, and uplift Nigerians at the bottom of the pyramid, considering the contribution of petty traders to economic development.

The Federal Government is also aware of the fact that many of the petty traders don’t have what the commercial banks require to grant them loans.

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