Railway Holds Master Key To Transforming Nigeria’s Economy – Osinbajo

ADDRESS BY HIS EXCELLENCY, PROF. YEMI OSINBAJO, SAN, GCON, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA, AT THE OFFICIAL GROUND-BREAKING CEREMONY OF THE RAIL WAGON ASSEMBLY PLANT AT KAJOLA, OGUN STATE ON SATURDAY, 9TH OF NOVEMBER, 2019

It is my special pleasure this afternoon to perform the official ground-breaking ceremony of the Wagon Assembly Plant here in Kajola. The plant which is a private investment undertaken by Messrs CCECC. It is an important project for so many reasons. It is central in the production of rolling stock spare parts and maintenance equipment needed for the railway modernization programme being implemented by the administration of Muhammadu Buhari.

This ceremony is not just another event, it is a historic turning point, for us, the railway is not just an alternative and comfortable mode of travel, it holds the master key to transforming commerce in Nigeria and across the continent.

By linking our ports to rail lines and now, building the rolling stock locally, import and export business within and out of Africa’s largest market will be completely transformed. When completed, it is expected that the plant would produce some parts of the wagons for the Lagos – Ibadan and Abuja – Kaduna rail lines, but also for the central rail lines and to satisfy the needs of other rail operators within the West-African sub-region.

Secondly the citing of the plant here in Nigeria and the commitment to hiring Nigerians and Nigerian businesses affirms the Presidents directives in Executive Order 5 on prioritizing Nigerians and Nigerian businesses in the innovation, production and procurement of engineering projects and services.

The plant would offer an important platform for engineers, technicians, artisans and other professionals to gain the specialized skills required for the production and maintenance of rolling stock. This will invariably conduce to spin-off businesses in the region of operation in particular and across the country wherever rail networks are in existence. The plant is expected to generate about five thousand (5,000) direct and indirect jobs.

I have a message also for you from the President and this is to CCECC which is that we expect that you move on very quickly to the next phase of this project which is the assembly and construction of coaches and locomotives.

This for us will be a significant breakthrough and we look forward to hearing from you as quickly as possible when this will come into operation.

After completing the Abuja – Kaduna Railway project in July 2016, this administration commenced construction works on the Lagos – Ibadan Railway modernization project in March 2017, following which we initiated the rehabilitation and completion of the abandoned Itakpe – Ajaokuta – Warri rail line which was started over three decades ago.

Furthermore, last month, we signed an agreement with Messrs China Railway Construction Company International to construct the Itakpe – Ajaokuta rail line which will be extended from Itakpe to Abuja through Baro Inland Water Port in Niger State with a branch line to Lokoja in Kogi State. This rail line will link into the new Warri sea port being constructed under the agreement.

Also, we are optimizing the Lagos-Ibadan rail modernization project by extending it to the Apapa Port, the nation’s busiest port for the efficient movement of cargo from the port to various destinations. This will expedite import/export flows, decongest the ports, and depressurize our roads in the process.

Also, we are putting all mechanisms in place to achieve the swift completion of the Ibadan Inland Dry port which will off-take containers and cargoes from Apapa port through the Lagos – Ibadan rail line.

Let me take this opportunity to appreciate the support shown by the leadership of the host communities here in Kajola and around this environment, for this project and other relevant Federal and State government projects. The implementation of these projects is important. It is imperative that our host communities continue to support government’s efforts by effectively cooperating with the contractors in safeguarding and protecting these lasting investments so that we can ensure that all intended objectives and mutual benefits are attained.

Let me also commend the Federal Ministry of Transportation led by the very able and dynamic Hon. Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi or Chibuike Amaechi, (today he is Rotimi since we are in the South West) for the very hard work and commitment he has demonstrated from the inception of our rail modernization project. And also, to the Chinese government, particularly the investor, CCECC Nigeria Limited for this significant and strategic investment.

The vision you have shown and the initiative you have taken in the larger development journey of this great country will reap unparalleled rewards for you and great opportunity for our people.

In a few minutes, I will have the special privilege of performing the official ground-breaking ceremony for the establishment of this Wagon Assembly Plant here in Kajola Ogun State, and I hope that this will be only be the beginning of the development of the railway infrastructure, not only here in Ogun State, but across the country.

Thank you all and God bless.

Released by:

Laolu Akande
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media & Publicity
Office of the Vice President
9th November 2019

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Report Insinuating Vice President Didn’t Follow Due Process In Supervision Of Agencies Under Him Is False

Our attention has been drawn to a sensational report by The Cable published on September 17, 2019, which claims that His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari, has directed Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, to seek approvals for agencies under him.

The report suggests, falsely, that agencies under the supervision of the Vice President do not normally comply with established rules where presidential approvals are required. 

This is obviously misleading and aims only to plant seeds of discord in the Presidency, while attempting to create unnecessary national hysteria.

The agencies in question are established by law and the Vice President has always insisted on due compliance with the enabling statutes and other established regulations. 

Depending on the particular scope of activity in question, agencies may require management approval only, at the level of the Director-General or Chief Executive Officer. In this category falls the great majority of their day-to-day activities. 

However, other activities, or procurements, with value exceeding a certain threshold, require Board approval. These may get to the agency Board chaired by the Vice President. In a few cases where Presidential approval is required, the Director-General must seek such approval from the President, through the Vice President. These rules have always guided the activities of statutory agencies and the ones under the Vice President’s supervision have always been so guided.  

To claim that in the first term of the Buhari administration, agencies of government have not been complying with the provisions (of getting final approvals from the President) is false, and the attempt to suggest the Vice President’s complicity in such irregularities is simply mischievous and reprehensible.

The effective and mutually respecting relationship between the President and the Vice President is well known to Nigerians and it is futile to insinuate otherwise. 

Even though the Vice President has a statutory role as Board Chairman of some government agencies under his office, with appropriate approval limits, which often do not include contract approvals; it is ludicrous to even insinuate that a Board Chairman approves contracts.

Evidently, the Federal Executive Council, which oversees Federal Ministries and agencies of government, is chaired by the President, and it is in its purview to approve or ratify award of contracts within the prescribed threshold. 

The Vice President remains committed to the service of his fatherland and will continue to do so despite the purveyors of fake news. We urge media organizations, as gatekeepers, to uphold truth, balance, fairness and objectivity in their reports.

Laolu Akande
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media & Publicity
Office of the Vice President
17th September, 2019

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Attacks On Nigerians Reckless, Run Against Ideals South African Leaders Fought For, Says Osinbajo

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, spoke to reporters in Kano, just now, answering questions on the xenophobic attacks against Nigerians in South Africa. Below are his verbatim comments:

“Let me say first that these recent attacks are condemnable. It is very sad and very unfortunate that the lives and livelihoods of Nigerians living in South Africa are once again being destroyed with such wantonness and with such carelessness and recklessness.

“It is unfortunate because Nigeria and Nigerians invested a great deal in the pulling down of apartheid. Besides, these acts of bigotry are entirely contrary to the very ideals that all the great South African leaders, including the present President fought for, and for which many gave their lives.

“Mr President has already spoken about this; and obviously we are very concerned and certainly intend to take this up with the authorities in South Africa in order to ensure that this sort of thing does not repeat itself. This is absolutely unacceptable and unconscionable.”

Released by:

Laolu Akande,
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity

Office of the Vice President
3rd September, 2019

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President Buhari Approves Re-Appointment Of Ade Ipaye As Deputy Chief Of Staff, Others

President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the re-appointment of Mr. Ade Ipaye as Deputy Chief of Staff to the President. Mr Ipaye who was former Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice in Lagos State works from the Office of the Vice President.

The President has also approved the re-appointment of Dr Adeyemi Dipeolu, Special Adviser to President on Economic Matters; Mrs Maryam Uwais who retains her position as Special Adviser to the President on Social Investment Programme as well as Senator Babafemi Ojudu, Special Adviser to the President on Political Matters.

Also, re-appointed is Dr. Jumoke Oduwole, who will now serve as the Special Adviser to the President on Ease Of Doing Business.

Equally, President Buhari has also appointed Mr. Ahmad Rufai Zakari as Special Adviser on Infrastructure, Mr. Obafela Bank-Olemoh, as Senior Special Assistant on Education Interventions, Mr. Louis Odion as Senior Technical Assistant on Print Media, and Mr. Ajuri Ngelale as Senior Special Assistant for Public Affairs in the Presidency.

All appointees are to serve in the Office of the Vice President.

Except for Zakari, Bank-Olemoh, Odion and Ngelale, all the other appointments take retrospective effect from May 29, 2019.

Laolu Akande
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity
Office of the Vice President

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BOSF Congratulates Laolu Akande On His Reappointment

Buhari Osinbajo Solidarity Front (BOSF) has congratulated Mr. Laolu Akande on his appointment as Senior Special Assistant (Media and Publicity) to the President, Office of the Vice President.

The group lauded Mr Akande for his devotion to his duties and also for his wit and proficiency.

“We write to congratulate Mr. Olaolu Akande on his expected reappointment as the Senior Special Assistant(Media and Publicity) to the President, Office of the Vice President. Our appreciation, and experience of the energy and strength with which Mr Laolu Akande devoted to his duty in the presidency, coupled with his wit, proficiency and effective delivery especially in these times of abnormal opposition we believe, midwifed his reappointment as SSA (Media and Publicity) to the President, Office of His Excellency, Vice President.

“BOSF is proud of him and his track record in the presidency. We understand the rigour the office poses, and we trust that his consummation and patriotism, goodwill and service to this country will urge him ahead in excellent continuity of the role.

“Buhari Osinbajo Solidarity Front is glad to congratulate him. We ask him to do more and keep being a model and image of hardwork to us. In real sense, Mr Laolu Akande remains an institution we study and draw inspiration from.

“Congratulations to the quintessential man and best wishes in his continued assignment to the good people of Nigeria.”

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Aftermath Of Akande’s Right Of Reply: Nigerians Mock Dele Momodu For Blocking People On Twitter

It is hypocrisy at its peak.

Dele Momodu has been mocked by many Nigerians for blocking them on Twitter after calling him out for fake news and lies that he peddles regularly.

It appeared that some Nigerians had had enough of the veteran journalist and were not going to allow him to continue to deceive people on social media anymore.

On Sunday Momodu, who has often been criticized and corrected for spreading fake news said he would block those who called him out for peddling lies against Mr. Laolu Akande, spokesperson to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.

“My main tweet of the day… why do trolls get angry when you block them; they come on your TL, like mannerless people, rain insults at you, and expect you to say “thank you for abusing me…” Jokers!!!” he tweeted before going on a blocking spree.

Reacting to Mr. Momodu blocking him, Tracy Chels wrote, “Dele Momodu is PDP 100%. This is one of the characteristics of PDP members, blocking anyone who speaks the truth.”

Kemisola Adekunle tried to make Mr. Momodu see reasons why blocking people is not the most idealistic thing to do. “How would you get feed backs on your posts when you block people that don’t support your views? I’m sure those ones you block are those who don’t submit to your views.”

Ibn Hanbal says Mr. Momodu should act more upright. “It is so sad Dele that you block people. With your civility and education, I expect you to correct him.

“Perhaps he may live in future to be a version of you. Give people opportunity to learn from you. Don’t block them because you famous. Fame is a gift,” he said.

David Olatunde posed a question to Mr. Momodu. “How many people would he block? He doesn’t need to block anyone.”

There were others who blasted Mr. Momodu because he built his career on criticizing people and he was not blocked.

“The man is a joke, he should not be taken seriously at all. He has insulted a lot of respectable people in the past and was never blocked. He has lost any integrity he had left.”

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Right Of Reply To Pendulum Open Letter To The VP, By Laolu Akande

My dear Bob Dee!

One could have easily made up his mind not to read or respond to anything you wrote after seeing the rather unprincipled queuing up behind Senator Bukola Saraki and then abandoning him, moving on to former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, and then deserting him as well. 

But I felt one should respond to your attempts to create a false narrative from the very hollow lamentation of the recent elections as the “worst in our history”.

In my view, those like your good self, veteran journalists, who have built a formidable platform in the public arena must strive always to use the platform for the larger public good. There have been several interventions from you that reflect such true public spirit, but some of us stridently disagree with what at times could be perceived as a self-serving journalistic conduct. Many would seem to agree that this was obvious in your recent open letter to the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, SAN.

But first, let me thank you for your gracious words of congratulations to President Muhammadu Buhari and the Vice President, and your admiration for the VP’s commendable performance in office. I am certain that your quest for public accountability derives from that admiration.

It is important to state that a citizen’s open letter to public figures or government authority is always welcome here and not necessarily a matter of right or exclusive access. For us, such matters of access for the people to their elected leaders is of normal cause and ought not to be a matter of exclusivity nor should we make a play of it as so special.

As is typical of your propaganda machinery, it begins with an outrageous lie by the principal then the operatives like yourself repeat it ad naseum. It appears you were not in this country when foreign and local observers accepted the results. Independent Foreign Observers commended the transparency and credibility of the Presidential and National Assembly elections.

Also, the Independent ElectionMonitor group, supported by the French Embassy, concluded that “based on the analysis carried out in this document as well as the actual observations of the election activities across the country, it is Election Monitor’s considered opinion that the 2019 Presidential Election results are consistent with the will of the majority of voters who took part in the elections notwithstanding the various infractions which also occurred as they were not on a scale significant enough to affect the overall outcome of the election.(ElectionMonitorNG)

YIAGA Africa’s Parrallel Voting Tabulation, relied on by international agencies, embassies and funders also said its  “findings show that for the presidential election the All Progressive Congress (APC) should receive between 50.0 per cent and 55.8 per cent of the vote.” And that “the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) should receive between 41.2 per cent and 47.0 per cent of the vote; these figures are consistent with the official results as just announced by INEC.

“For both APC and PDP, the official results fall within the PVT estimated ranges.” That YIAGA AFRICA results statement was based on reports from 1,491 polling units which are 98.4 per cent of sampled polling units. YIAGA AFRICA’s projections were reportedly also consistent with the officially announced vote shares for the other 71 parties who contested in the presidential election. It is also believed that the group’s projections were based on the results announced in the polling units and would have detected any significant manipulation occurring during collation at the ward, local government area, State and national levels. Also, “INEC’s official results for turnout and rejected ballots were also generally consistent with YIAGA AFRICA WTV estimates.” (Vanguard)

These are empirical facts, my dear Bob Dee, especially if you put your analysis through any rigorous tests. Propaganda and falsehood only need a willing sponsor.

Yes, observers mentioned pockets of violence and some malpractices, but none felt that these were sufficient to affect the credibility of the elections or its results. Frequently cited is Ago Palace in Lagos. One unit in a city of 20 million! In any event, the real question is, how did the violence in the comparatively few places where it happened favour the President? And how come the strong allegations of foul play by the likes of Godswill Akpabio in Akwa Ibom, George Akume in Benue and Ndoma-Egba in Cross River State (all APC Senatorial aspirants!) escaped your eagle eyes?

It is sometimes forgotten, and Bob Dee , you chose to forget, that for the previous 16 years before 2015, the PDP governments had conducted elections. Everyone is familiar with the incredible excesses of the elections and the election-observer reports so poignantly describe some.

In the 2003 elections which gave Atiku Abubakar and his boss a second term, Wikipedia observes that “Millions of people voted several times. The police in Lagos uncovered an electoral fraud, finding five million false ballots.”

But the 2007 elections got even worse reviews: “Following the presidential election, groups monitoring the election gave it a dismal assessment. Chief European Union observer Max van den Berg reported that the handling of the polls had “fallen far short” of basic international standards, and that “the process cannot be considered to be credible”, citing “poor election organisation, lack of transparency, significant evidence of fraud, voter disenfranchisement, violence and bias.” 

They described the election as “the worst they had ever seen anywhere in the world”, with “rampant vote rigging, violence, theft of ballot boxes and intimidation”). One group of observers said that at one polling station in Yenagoa, in the oil-rich South-South, where 500 people were registered to vote, more than 2,000 votes were counted.”

Your choice of words such as “theatre of war” to describe the presidential polls is not only inaccurate and questionable by and large, but also surprising considering the recent history of past presidential polls. And you have to tell us who described the elections as “the most dreadful and desperate”?

Besides these facts that you carefully chose to ignore, the contents of your letter read in part like a brief for the opposition, and, at other times, a judgment of an electoral tribunal in favour of the opposition. And such bias undermines the credibility of the author such as yourself.

It could even render the write-up confusing rather than informing the readers. For good measure, Bob Dee, maybe we should just remind our readers that not only are you an active member of the opposition, you have also benefited from significant business relationships with some in the opposition circles. And this is entirely within your right.

But that certainly discounts your assessment about the direction of our administration. It also devalues your criticism of the narratives that hold those who raped this country in the past responsible for the consequences of their corrupt activities while in government.

One also wonders whether it is your well-known personal relationship with the opposition that has beclouded you so much that you seek to assail the anti-corruption efforts which ordinary and well-meaning Nigerians have embraced.

Let me make it clear that the facts show that while some old members of the opposition have joined APC, that has not shielded those responsible for corruption and graft. In any case, even if old PDP members are now APC members, the current leadership of the country under the APC stands out as it is made up of two gentlemen with impeccable integrity. 

Old PDP members and all Nigerians are welcome just like sinners are embraced in the church, In fact, the church was opened for sinners to be converted. And what is skewed about the anti-corruption campaign when the two governors who have now been convicted for corruption are both APC?

Having said that, be rest assured that the APC as a party will articulate its defences to any allegations. For the records, it is an obvious fact and this must be reiterated that the Buhari administration has a commendable record of respecting the independence of INEC, a clear departure from what occurred under previous administrations. This government also ensures that it provides all the support INEC requires, as well as respects the independence of the judiciary and has ensured that security forces act within the ambits of law. Even international observers have made their comments accordingly and positively. 

As the Buhari administration always noted, every single loss of life is sad and lamentable. And previous elections have regrettably caused even far more losses. We must achieve an electoral system that doesn’t result in any such loss of life. However, the record of improvement from the past is clear as it were.

To characterize the will of the people as Pyrrhic victory represents what exactly needs to change in and about our nation. Indeed, our privilege as elites imposes the responsibility of trustees of power, wealth, values and direction of and for a nation in the interest of the people upon us. To narrow this interest or substitute our amplified voices as the vocal minority for the silent majority is not only taking liberties a little too far, but also losing tune and touch with our national realities. As leaders, we must reflect introspectively on how we have prioritized the people, and how we must continue to do so going forward.

This is what President Muhammadu Buhari is known for and it is what played out in the elections. It is the voices of the few and the devices of the privileged that the Opposition regarded and expected to hold up. That did not happen.

We respect the right to disagree and exercise that right through the established mechanisms, but we reject any denigration and the diminishing of the electoral outcome which is the true voice and expression of the people of this country.

As you noted, the whole concept of sin in the worldly context is a violation of the law of the land, and in the spiritual context, a violation against God. That you judge either as a matter of law, or ecclesiastically when you by yourself determine that this administration is “committing sin” is a departure from what your letter identifies as its objective. Victory in an election is a nation speaking up, while the victor is the symbol of that nation’s victory.

Both life, by its temporal nature, and the Constitution, by its term limitations and periodic elections, already ensure that we all know that everything but eternity is transient, and the example of that in our nation today is the rejection of the old order four years ago, and the most recent confirmation of that rejection by preferring the new and current order, and the Next Level of our national restoration and growth. 

Finally, thank you for declaring your belief that the APC “would have won” a handsome victory because that was exactly what happened! It is your equivocation about Atiku’s loss expressed in the same letter where you said you expected an APC “handsome victory” that left me and other readers confounded. What are we to believe?

Again, thank you for your open letter. Be rest assured that the Vice President and the President would continue working for the good of all Nigerians in the Next Level.

Laolu Akande is Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Office of the Vice President

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Strong Momentum & Continuous Growth In Economy Further Show Buhari Administration’s Policies Working

In what is a clear indication of the effectiveness of the economic policies of the Buhari presidency, Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) figures recorded a marked improvement in the fourth quarter of 2018.

According to the National Bureau of Statistics, NBS, the GDP figure for the last quarter in 2018 is 2.38 per cent, reflecting continuous growth.

Below is a statement released in response to the new GDP figure by the Special Adviser to the President on Economic Matters, Dr. Adeyemi Dipeolu:

“The latest figures released by the National Bureau of Statistics, 2.38 per cent for the fourth Quarter (Q4), 2018 show an appreciable improvement in the growth performance of the economy. The figures are encouraging in several respects.

Notably, the growth recorded in the fourth quarter of 2018 (Q4 2018) was higher than both the growth of 1.81% in Q3 2018 and in the corresponding fourth quarter of 2017.  Indeed, quarter-on-quarter growth from Q3 2018 to Q4 2018 was 5.31%, which signals a great potential for a higher annual growth rate.  

In annual terms, the growth rate more than doubled in 2018, rising to 1.93% as compared to 0.82% in 2017, again reflecting the strong momentum of growth.

Also notable is the fact that growth in Q4 2018, and indeed for the whole year, owed a great deal to the performance of the non-oil sector. The non-oil sector grew at 2.7% in Q4 2018 as compared to 1.14% in the oil sector. The non-oil sector also grew by 2% in the whole year 2018 which was considerably better than its growth in the whole of 2017, which was 0.47%.  The share of the non-oil sector in GDP was 92.94% while the oil sector contributed 7.06%. 

With the maintenance of this trend, the economic diversification objectives of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan are well on their way to being met.

It was encouraging that agriculture which accounts for 26.15% of total GDP grew by 2.46% in Q4 2018, while manufacturing grew by 2.09%.  The service sector which accounts for 53.62% of GDP registered its strongest growth performance in 11 quarters.  

Transport and storage, as well and information and communication, were particularly notable growing at 13.91% and 9.65% in the whole of 2018. This owes a lot to the investments that are being made in roads and rail as well as in broadband infrastructure.

The NBS figures also show that 39 out of 46 economic activities recorded growth in Q4 2018 which shows that growth across sectors is becoming more mutually reinforcing.  

This growth is consistent with the policies and principles of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) relating to macroeconomic stability and economic diversification.  When better economic fundamentals like lower inflation rates, increased foreign reserves, a more stable exchange rate and increased capital inflows are taken together with increased investments in the real sector, infrastructure, the social sector and business environment; it portends well for economic performance in 2019 and beyond. 

Indeed, the economy remains well on course to grow by 3% in 2019 as estimated in the Medium-Term Expenditure Framework.”

The Buhari administration will continue to pursue the ERGP diligently and Nigerians can expect that economic conditions will continue to get better even as we move on to the Next Level.


Laolu Akande 
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media & Publicity 
Office of the Vice President 
12 February, 2019

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February 16, 2019: Why Nigerians Will Not Look Back, By Laolu Akande

In this past three and a half years of the Buhari presidency, one, thankfully, has learnt, experienced and been part of quite a number of things. One of those things is the amount of dedication, the depth of patriotic zeal and sheer hard-work that is going on in this administration.

I know the President’s determination to end grand corruption, not only by his exemplary personal example, but by insisting on the proper processes and by empowering institutions. I know the level of intellectual exertions and sheer human rigour that the Vice President daily brings to his work. Even most, if not all Nigerians and close watchers of Nigerian events, have settled on the notion that not only are both gentlemen, honest people of integrity, but that they are also truly united in taking Nigeria to where this country truly belongs. We have seen the direction of the Change promised, it is a right direction, and direction is destiny.

Today, in the early days of a new year in which elections are due in a matter of weeks, there is simply no match for this team, be it in vision or political probability and other forms of readiness to take Nigeria forward. The choice can’t be more stark: between Buhari and Osinbajo on the one hand and Atiku and Obi on the other. Whichever way you dice it, this is a black and white, open and close case.

So, we have an opposition that is led by a politician that represents the failure of the past, backed by a running mate who seem determined to simply bamboozle the Nigerian people with any imaginable talking point regardless of veracity, who himself have openly conceded to being part of the problem.

Let us start from there. Former Governor Peter Obi concedes in a Channels TV video of August 2018 (which has actually gone viral) that he was part of the decision not to save for the rainy day; his own admission before he joined this race. His principal, former Vice President Abubakar Atiku admitted that he was in charge when the electricity power reforms were being bungled and, by his own admission, money simply went down the drain while he was VP and similarly in all the other PDP presidencies that followed. So, we have about $16B thrown out the window by the opposition and their flag-bearer indeed owned up to that confounding profligacy, and incredible acts of corruption, waste and mismanagement.

Just so we don’t leave matters to conjecture, or hearsay, here are the words of the former VP in a May 25, 2014 Channels TV interview: “We collected money from local governments, States and others. Five sets of contracts were given. Some contractors were paid 100%. We left, nothing was achieved. Then President Yar’Adua came, he also made available money and it went down the drain. President Jonathan came, he also made money available and it went down the drain.”

Now add to that, the matter of grand corruption. If you are in my job environment in the media and communication arena, you could even think this matter has been over-flogged. We have been told by some that we should stop talking about it and rather focus on what we have succeeded in achieving.

Yes, we have succeeded in relaunching a massive infrastructural era in the history of this country, spendingan unprecedented N2.7 Trillion in two budget cycles on capital expenditure, even when our revenues are at times 60% lower than previous administration. And we have the projects in practically every State and geopolitical zone. Yes, it is true that the World Bank endorsed the economic direction of the administration when it ranked Nigeria among the top ten reforming economies in 2017, the same year we moved up 24 places in the bank’s global Ease of Doing Business ranking.

Yes, we have put in place an Anchor Borrowers Programme for farmers, where close to 800,000 farmers have benefited from soft loans to help in the agricultural diversification of the economy. This explains in good part what The Punch Newspaper editorial of December 31, 2018 described as “Nigeria’s Rice Revolution,” praising the quest for self- sufficiency.

Yes, we have been paying pensioners (in different public sectors) their claims that had backlogged for years and which were not paid when oil was selling at over $100. Yes, we have hired half a million otherwise unemployed graduates across the country and are feeding about 9.3m primary school pupils in 26 States one free nutritiousmeal a day.

Yes, almost 2 million petty traders are collecting a N10,000 initial loan – a collateral and interest free micro-credit scheme called TraderMoni – to support their bottom of the ladder trading; traders who otherwise have no access to any form of credit. This is besides MarketMoni, where traders and artisans are getting between N50,000 to as much as N300,000 soft loans to enlarge their business. We have done about 400,000 of such loans. And yes, we have a Conditional Cash Transfer of N5,000 monthly to the poorest and most vulnerable among us, with almost 300,000 Nigerians benefiting, although we are targeting one million.

Now, the point is we were able do all these even when we are earning less, at times 60% less, simply because President Buhari has ended grand corruption! So, there is no such thing as ‘stop talking about grand corruption.’ My Principal has in fact come under some orchestrated media onslaught on account of the anti- grand corruption narratives. But we have to talk about it! We should not and would not relent because honest leadership is very central today for Nigeria’s leadership. 

Nigerians are now comparing those highlights with the opposition party’s 16 years of grand corruption, lies and visionlessness. Certainly, the people are wiser and will not be given to the comprehensive display of grand deceit that is now hallmarking the campaign of the other party.

Besides, how can you set aside the several instances – at home and abroad – of settled facts regarding corrupt PDP leaders including its current presidential flag-bearer? In many of such cases these are open secret and theprosecution of these cases would certainly have to be taken to their logical conclusions sooner or later, both at home and abroad.

One example that readily comes to mind is the February 2010 report of the US Senate Permanent Investigations Subcommittee that implicated the PDP flagbearer. This is what the Chairman of that committee, Senator Carl Levin, had to say then:

“Our third case history examines Jennifer Douglas, a U.S. citizen and a wife of Atiku Abubakar, former Vice President and former presidential candidate in Nigeria. From 2000 to 2008, she helped her husband bring more than $40 million in suspect money into the United States through wire transfers from offshore corporations. Ms. Douglas is alleged in a 2008 civil complaint filed by the Securities and Exchange Commission to have received $2.8 million in bribe payments from a German conglomerate, Siemens AG. Siemens has pleaded guilty to criminal charges and settled civil charges related to the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, and told the Subcommittee that it sent payments to her account at Citibank. The Subcommittee located three wire transfers, substantiating $1.7 million in payments from Siemens to Ms. Douglas in 2001 and 2002. Of the $40 million, the Subcommittee traced nearly $25 million in offshore wire transfers into U.S. accounts controlled by Ms. Douglas, provided primarily by three offshore corporations called LetsGo, Sima Holdings, and Guernsey Trust Company.”

Continuing, the report added that, “Ms Douglas indicated that all of the funds came from her husband and professed little familiarity with the offshore corporations actually sending her the money. In addition, two of the offshore corporations wire transferred about $14 million over five years to American University in Washington DC to pay for consulting services related to the development of a Nigerian university founded by Mr. Abubakar.”

According to Levin in that report, this kind of corruption “is a cancer that corrodes the rule of law, undermines economic development and eats away at the fabric of civil society. Corruption can destabilize communities, and lead to failed states, lawlessness and terrorism.” In fact, the accomplices in some of the criminal cases that developed out of this are cooling their heels in jails, including a former US Congressman. Whoever thinks Nigerians will fall for the grand scale deceit that attempts to ignore this reality will learn a telling lesson next month!

Which is why I am confident that there is no way Nigeria is going backwards. It just won’t happen. The days of politics and governance based on outrightly raw personal aggrandizement have not quite disappeared, but you bet those days are now numbered.

Nigerians are now paying attention to the undeniable fact that a federal administration which earned less resources in a little over three years has more to show for it than all previous administrations in the 16 years before it, including several years when oil was selling in the international market for over $100.

That does not take rocket science to figure out. According to OPEC statistics between 2010 and 2014, Nigeria earned over $383B from oil sales. Yet at the end of 2014 and into 2015, the nation’s foreign reserves was as low as below $30B. Fast forward to 2015 to 2018, even when oil prices dropped, Nigerias foreign reserves has increased significantly. As at January 4, 2019, Nigerias foreign reserves stood at $43B, the highest in the last six years.

Let me conclude on a slightly personal note. I believe with all my heart that President Buhari & Vice President Osinbajo are on a restoration mission and it is divine.  There are many like me who had prayed and hoped for a dutiful government that will reform the Federal Government. The truth is: that prayer has been answered. And while there is still so much left to be done, we as a people must ensure that we stay the course and give our nation a true opportunity to fulfill what I believe is a manifest destiny already. What use is their in going back to Egypt?

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Attack On Tradermoni Is An Attack On Hard-working Nigerians, Says Laolu Akande

The call by some individuals under the auspices of a group named Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum to suspend the TraderMoni, one of the microcredit schemes of the Buhari administration’s Social Investment Programme, is both unbelievable and unfortunate, according to Mr. Laolu Akande, Spokesperson to the Vice President.

Akande, who was reacting to news report credited to the group, noted that such an attack on the Social Investment Programme (SIP) is a direct confrontation with the millions of Nigerians benefitting from all the SIPs, especially the projected 2m total who will be receiving the collateral-free loans by the end of the year.

“It is deceitful for anyone or group to accuse the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, of advance vote-buying through TraderMoni, a micro-credit scheme designed to assist the bottom of the pyramid petty traders nationwide. This was the false claim contained in a communiqué jointly signed by the leadership of a group called Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum recently.”

According to Akande, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media & Publicity, “We do not think the Nigerian people are up for sale, nor can they be bought. Such suggestions are an insult on our collective identity. And calling for the suspension of a scheme that improves the businesses of ordinary, hardworking Nigerians, like petty traders, is not only unfair, but an attack on the common man.

“The Social Investment programme of the Buhari administration started in 2016, and the TraderMoni scheme is a part. So, it is false to even insinuate that the scheme was meant for advance vote-buying when it was conceived two years ago.

“TraderMoni, which is part of the Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme (GEEP) under the SIPs, 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.

“Also, it would seem naysayers cannot withstand the fact that this administration is fulfilling its promise. Would they rather share the funds among themselves instead of supporting petty traders? Afterall, in some few instances, a combined sum of N100 Billion was shared under the former administration. If that N100 Billion had been given to petty traders as loans, like the Buhari administration is doing now at N10,000; 10 million petty traders nationwide would have been beneficiaries.

“We will not choose to engage with the notion that Nigerians and their loyalty are for sale. This administration has proven over and over again that it is committed to the welfare of everyday Nigerians, the common man. That is why we started the largest Social Investment Programme in the history of our country. And we will not relent in staying connected with our people.

“This is a major reason why TraderMoni, which has since been formally launched in 33 states and the FCT, will continue nationwide as we intend to reach 2 million Nigerians by the end of the year. Over 809,000 Nigerians are currently beneficiaries of the microcredit scheme.

“Despite this being a season of upcoming elections and desperate politicians resorting to desperate measures, it is irresponsible for any group to play politics with the welfare of ordinary Nigerians – hardworking petty traders, who are simply making honest living and trying to support their families – and a microcredit scheme which is meant to help improve their businesses and means of livelihood.

“Besides the fact that petty traders are major contributors to the informal economy, most of them do not have access to loans from commercial banks which require collateral or interest, which would help them grow their business, and so the country’s economy.”

“Again, through TraderMoni, the Buhari administration is empowering ordinary Nigerians by improving financial inclusion in the grassroots.”

Akande clarified further that beneficiaries of TraderMoni are not required to show their Personal Voters Cards (PVCs) or any document to qualify for the interest-free loans. This is why the enumeration is done in the open markets and wherever the traders ply their trade.

“The Social Investment Programme includes the Home Grown School Feeding Programme (HGSFP); Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT); Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme (GEEP) (MarketMoni, FarmerMoni & TraderMoni) and the N-Power job scheme

“The Home-Grown School Feeding programme is now feeding over 9 million primary school pupils a free meal a day in 26 states nationwide; while almost 300,000 Nigerians are beneficiaries of the Conditional Cash Transfer.

“So far, over one million Nigerians are beneficiaries of GEEP schemes – MarketMoni, FarmerMoni and TraderMoni, while 500,000 young Nigerian graduates have been employed under the N-Power job scheme.

“Thus, we urge the group to halt its needless attack on the largest and most ambitious social investment programme in Nigeria’s history, and rather join hands to help our people.

“The Buhari administration remains committed to the welfare and upliftment of the common man and all Nigerians, regardless of party affiliations, and the Social Investment Programme is one of the major planks of this administration to improve their livelihood.”

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N-Power: FG Announces 2016 Volunteers To Enjoy Continued Payment After December

It was good news for hitherto agitated 2016 volunteers of the N-Power scheme who were due to exit the programme by December as the  Federal Government has announced continued payment of stipends to N-Power 2016 Batch 1 beneficiaries beyond the expiry month of December 2018.

In a statement issued by Laolu Akande, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity Office of the Vice President, on Monday in Abuja, said funding for the continued payments is contained in the 2018 budget.

However, Akande said that beyond the payments of stipends, the Federal Government is also exploring further options to seamlessly move the beneficiaries from the government job programme to positions where they were able to earn a sustainable income.
He said that the transition would be through a plan, designed to enable them become valuable, all-rounded employees, employers or entrepreneurs.

plan is basically an extension of the exit date of December 2018 for the first batch of 200,000 to enable them continue to offer their valuable services in their various communities while still earning their stipends.

“They are also to partake in the Enhancement Programme that would seamlessly transition them into numerous economic opportunities in both the public and private sectors of the economy.

“The N-Power is a job employment and empowerment scheme for hitherto unemployed Nigerian graduates under the Buhari Administration’s National Social Investment Programmes (N-SIP).

scheme is the largest post-tertiary employment programme in Africa, comprising N-Power beneficiaries that are paid a monthly stipend of N30, 000 and are deployed as volunteers into various sectors of need in the public space, such as health, agriculture, education and public finance.

“For the first time in Nigeria, the N-Power beneficiaries applied and were selected for the programme in an objective, efficient and transparent manner, without the need for ‘connections’ to anyone of influence,’’ he said.

He said that based on conservative projections, the N-Power scheme would provide jobs for at least 10 million Nigerians by 2023.

Akande said that since it commenced in 2016, the N-Power scheme, which had beneficiaries in all the LGAs of the 36 States of the Federation and the FCT, had so far, provided jobs for half a million young Nigerian graduates nationwide.

He said that all the N-Power beneficiaries were given the opportunity to select and own electronic devices for continuous learning as they grew; depending on the selected vocations of entrepreneurship, and to boost the Knowledge Economy.

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How VP’S spokesman Became A Target As Corruption Fights Back, By Chukwudi Enekwechi

Mr. Laolu Akande is the latest target in the seemingly determined fight back of the defenders of our national commonwealth.

He is no slouch in media matters, being an accomplished reporter and leading journalist who became a national editor way back in 1997 before his 30th birthday. His last reportorial assignment was at the US where he represented The Guardian newspaper including reporting from the White House and the UN. Since he left the paper is yet to fill the vacuum he filled for very many years before returning to Nigeria in 2015. Laolu Akande’s journalism credential is sterling and he has brought this to bear in the way he relates with reporters and media practitioners on his present job.

If one newspaper reporter chooses to isolate himself when most media practitioners have always commended his way of handling thorny media issues, then it’s unfortunate and shows something else including bad belle is at play here.

The art of information management requires that synergy exists between reporters/media and the government. It does not necessarily imply that a frosty relationship must exist between the media and government. The basic knowledge we acquire in mass communication class is the need to communicate so that the society will continue to develop and not to use the power of the pen to destroy. This does not obviate the watchdog role of the media.

To the best of my knowledge, Laolu Akande has in the course of his duties passed the integrity test and indeed surpassed the expectations of many Nigerians in his job performance. In discharging his assigned duties he has always been calm and collected. His human relations has remained a source of pride to many of his colleagues in the journalism profession.

A close contact with Mr. Laolu Akande will prove to any discerning mind that his humility is disarming and sense of judgement inspiring. For many people Laolu Akande has utilised any available opportunity to mix well with his colleagues and he does not have a record of begrudging people, even his adversaries.

In the estimation of many Nigerians Mr. Akande’s decision to leave America and return to serve in the present administration is a mark of patriotism and it is only deserving that we avail him of our support as he continues to serve the nation in his present capacity.

Nigeria is at a stage when all hands must be on deck to support the Buhari administration in its efforts to reposition the country, and this can only be realised with the cooperation of all Nigerians including the media. It does not augur well for practitioners in a strategic sector like the media to be pulling apart when they can work together for the interest of the ordinary Nigerian.

As a proof of the impression most Nigerians have about the Vice President’s spokesman Mr Laolu Akande, here are some of the reactions on social media:
” I am interested in knowing Laolu Akande, the man; quietly being an indispensable figure at the villa, for good reasons” – Alexander Nochie Onukwe (@nochieonukwe).
” When you are good, you are good! Laolu Akande, Welldone Sir….” – Siraj (@sirajabdsamiu).
” I can’t but admire the candour with which Laolu Akande is reporting the activities of the Acting President” Son of David (@osy_suave).

The above randomly selected quotes aptly speak for themselves about the person of Laolu Akande and his job rating. I rest my case.

By Chukwudi Enekwechi (JP)
An Abuja-based Journalist
Kwechis19@yahoo.com

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