Nigerians Paying For Sins Of PDP — Tinubu

Nigerians are paying part of the sins of the 16-year rule of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, through the lingering fuel crisis in the country, All Progressives Congress, APC, national leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, said yesterday.

Tinubu made the assertion on the fringes of a reconciliation meeting of APC South-West leaders at the residence of Aremo Segun Osoba.

Tinubu said: “For 16 good years, PDP destroyed the country. We should not be lamenting about petroleum queues today if they had seen what is necessary and done what is necessary for this country.

“We can’t be emotional and in self denial. If they had done Awolowo Road, if they had done Lagos/Ibadan Expressway, if they put priority on our rails, if they put priority on electricity generation and distribution, we will not be in this mess that we are today.

“Nigerians are impatient for what? I research Nigeria,they just want to see the direction of the economic policy and want to be certain of the future that we will not continue in the direction of leaderless, directionless and hopelessness of the past 16 years.”

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We’ll Move Nigeria Forward As Quickly As Possible, President Buhari Assures Nigerians Abroad

President Muhammadu Buhari Saturday in Washington DC assured Nigerians in the diaspora of his administration’s determination to move the country forward as rapidly as possible.

Speaking at an audience with a group of Nigerians who have distinguished themselves in various professions in the United States, President Buhari said that the present administration is fully committed to correcting the errors that have hindered Nigeria’s progress as a nation.

“We are determined to get things done properly this time and God willing, we shall succeed.

“We are working diligently to correct our mistakes as a nation. We will rehabilitate  and expand national infrastructure, and move forward as quickly as possible,” the President assured the group.

President Buhari also said that his administration will maintain contacts with Nigerian professionals in the diaspora and see how they can be best placed to contribute effectively to national development if they choose to come back home.

The President congratulated the five Nigerians he met with for their exceptional accomplishments, saying that he was very proud of them all.

The Nigerians received by President Buhari included Prof. Austin Esogbue, the only African to have served on the board of the United States’ National Aeronautical Space Agency.

Others were Jelani Aliyu, a leading car designer with General Motors, Prof. Nwadiuto Esiobu, a renowned Microbiologist and Biochemist, Dr. Yemi Badero, an Assistant Professor of Medicine and 13-year old Muriel Oduwole who has interviewed  18 world leaders.

 

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Metuh Breaks Silence, Says APC Deceived Nigerians With Empty Promises

The National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Olisa Metuh has finally broken his silence since his arrest and prosecution by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Speaking for the first time in his capacity as the party’s spokesman, Metuh described the lingering fuel crisis crippling economic activities nationwide as a clear evidence that the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) merely hoodwinked Nigerians with empty campaign promises of eldorado in order to vote the party into power and in the end, has nothing but pain and suffering to offer.

Reacting to the daily pains and anguish Nigerians are forced to face in the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration, Metuh in an exclusive e-mailed interview with THISDAY, said with the current state of the economy and the hopelessness in the polity, PDP would flush out the ineffectual APC from power in 2019.

He explained that the crushing difficulties the citizenry are forced to experience daily coupled with the president’s recent appeal for Nigerians to be patient with his administration were evidence that the “jury is out” on APC’s campaign promises.

“The dust shielding all the lies and propaganda against PDP has now cleared. The citizens have come to realise that they were misled. Rising inflation, lack of palliative programmes, abandoned infrastructure around the country, insecurity, inability to provide basic amenities like fuel, increased unemployment, youth restiveness, lack of with foreign exchange for legitimate business transactions, decline in direct foreign investment, above all, the growing impunity of the APC government at all levels will spell doom for it in 2019,” he insisted.

Metuh also accused the APC-led government of promising Nigerians what it could not deliver and acknowledged that the PDP lost the presidency to APC’s superior propaganda machine which orchestrated half-truths and lies to unseat the PDP in the 2015 elections.

According to him, “I can tell you that our party was a victim of calculated propaganda orchestrated by the then opposition, which the unsuspecting public bought. While we were being mindful and decent in running only an issues-based campaign that was predicated on facts and truth, the then opposition was busy pushing all sorts of falsehood into the polity.”

Metuh explained that the ruling party’s poor performance to date was hardly surprising because it has neither a clear cut manifesto nor ideology, and predicted the implosion of the APC in the near future, adding that the veil that had covered Nigerians has now been lifted and Nigerians have now realised that all the promises were a hoax.
According to him, “To tell you the truth, I do not see the APC as a political party. It is merely a vehicle through which some individuals rode to acquire power by means of propaganda. That is why it does not have an ideology or clear-cut manifesto. All it had was a sort of bandwagon change mantra and unrealistic list of promises which the people have now realise are a hoax.”

The PDP spokesman added: “The APC has since lost its bandwagon followership and cannot face the challenge of governance. On the other hand, the PDP has regained the confidence of Nigerians and is ready to ride back to power. So in 2019, it is not only that the PDP will overwhelmingly beat the APC in the presidential election, but we would also regain all the states and constituencies we lost to the APC.”

Reflecting on the PDP’s loss to APC in last year’s general election, Metuh said: “As the spokesperson of the PDP, I would say that there were certain mistakes that were made from which lessons have been learnt. As a party that endeared democratic principles for 16 years, we accepted the results of the elections in good faith. As far as we were concerned, Nigerians spoke with regard to how they saw things at that material time and we have moved on.”
Speaking on what the PDP is doing to reposition and retake the presidency in 2019, he explained that “after the elections, we took time to do some stocktaking. We reviewed our activities through the post elections committee headed by the Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu.

“This committee made important findings and recommendations and we have started the implementation of those recommendations. I have no doubt that our party will bounce back stronger and better because we still remain the only true national party, committed to the national interest and overall wellbeing of the Nigerian people, irrespective of our imperfections,” Metuh added.

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1000 Young Nigerians to Receive N500million Naira Grant for Start Ups

The YESGrant will provide business training for up to 600 aspiring young entrepreneurs

Over 1000 Nigerians will this year be beneficiaries of N500Million Naira Grant seed capital set aside for young Nigerian entrepreneurs and students.

This was disclosed today during the launch of the YESGrant Scheme by the Nigerian Young Professionals Forum (NYPF) in partnership with Heritage Bank, which took place at the Four Point Hotel in Lagos, Nigeria.

The event which was very well attended by dignitaries, including representatives from the Nigerian University Commission (NUC), National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), as well as captains of industries and top Government Functionaries as  part of efforts to grow more indigenous entrepreneurs among young Nigerians and deliberately create over 50,000 jobs in the next 5 years of the program circle.

Speaking during the launch, Chairman of the Nigerian Young Professionals Forum (NYPF), Moses Siloko Siasia, said he was inspired by the big impact small businesses can have on the economy and that was why the grant was created to provide incubator support to enable young entrepreneurial postulants with creative ideas in Agriculture, ICT and creative economy start or expand their business concepts in those areas.

“I have built businesses from the scratch and I understand the challenges people face and that is why I am optimistic that if given the necessary support, young Nigerians will not only grow the Nigerian economy, they will completely revolutionize it”.

Speaking also, the Managing Director of Heritage Bank who was represented by the Head of Marketing Strategy Mr Obioma Emenike said he was optimistic that the initiative would lead to start ups and give a boost to economic growth and issued a call out to entrepreneurs to use their network to encourage their friends and colleagues  apply for it.

The YESGrant will provide business training for up to 600 aspiring young entrepreneurs spread across all geo-political zones in Nigeria and will encourage expansion, specialization and spin-offs of existing businesses, which is to enable young entrepreneurs access a wide business professional network and improve their visibility, while entrepreneurs will receive up to 2million Naira annually as grant.

The YESGrant is to enable Nigerian students with extreme financial need pursue their academic dreams and aspiration in the areas of research and technological/scientific innovation and it will also help low income and disadvantage students with their tuition of which over 500 students will benefit from this year’s grant .

Furthermore, Students studying in Nigeria will receive up to 500,000 (Five Hundred Thousand Naira) while those studying in the United Kingdom will receive up to 3,000pounds and those studying in the United States will receive up to 5,000dollars annually as grant

To apply for the YESGrant available at www.YESGrant.com prospective recipients must be between the ages of 18- 40, be registered members of the Nigerian Young Professionals Forum (NYPF) and have an account with Heritage Bank prior to the disbursement of the funds in August 2016. Student’s award recipients must in addition provide their matriculation number and academic progression report.

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Dogara Commissions Mobile Clinic For Abuja IDPs, Encourages Nigerians To Support Those In Need

The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Yakubu Dogara, on Monday commissioned a mobile clinic at the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camp in Wassa, Abuja.

It would be recalled that the Speaker first visited the Wassa IDP to camp to donate relief materials on January 7, and it was during this visit that the IDPs requested for a facility which would be equipped to cater to their most pressing health needs.

The Speaker, in his address, lauded the efforts of Capt. Hosa Okunbo and encouraged other citizens to reach out and support IDP’s and the less privileged with whatever they can.

He also urged people in positions of authority to leverage on their personal relationships to provide urgently required facilities for the people, which may take too long to be provided by government.

“I was here in January to donate relief materials, and during my interaction with the IDPs, they expressed the need for a clinic”, he said. “I immediately got to work on it, but was told by the relevant agencies that it would be subjected to a long process as it would have to be deliberated upon, captured in the budget, and there would be another long process before it is finally implemented. I thought of the difficult terrain and how remote the area is, and realized the urgency; if a woman here falls into labour, before reaching Apo or even Garki, she most probably would have delivered in the car.”

“So I reached out to my personal contacts and brought up the discussion, and what we have here today is the result of that decision”, he concluded.

The Speaker has been very dedicated to the cause of Internally Displaced Persons in the country, and even travelled to Edo state by road in February to worship at the IDP camp in the state. He is also sponsoring a bill to establish the North-East Development Commission, which he says is necessary to ensure that the people of the North-East are protected and empowered by law.

The event had in attendance members of the House Committee on Disaster Management led by the chairman, Hon. Jibrin Satumari and representatives of respective service chiefs, among others.

The clinic was donated by Capt. Hosa Okunbo, a private citizen and businessman, as a result of the Speaker’s sustained advocacy for supporting IDPs and improving the conditions in which they live.

In his address, the Chairman of the House Committee on Disaster Management, Hon. Satumari described the Speaker as the rare sort of politician who keeps his promises, saying that: “if all of us [politicians] could keep our promises to the people like the Speaker has done, it would be very good.”

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Be Your Brother’s Keeper, Dogara Tells Nigerians

The speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Yakubu Dogara, has urged Nigerians to be their brother’s keeper by offering selfless services for the wellbeing of their fellow countrymen.

Dogara made the call in Nsukka, Enugu State, during the burial ceremony of Hon. Pat Asadu’s mother, Mrs. Ezinne Mary Asadu.

The Speaker, who described man as God’s ambassador on earth, reminded the gathering that in line with the teaching of the Jesus Christ, man must show love to one another.

“I will use this opportunity to call on us to rededicate ourselves to service. The question is, when we are gone, what would we be remembered for?” Dogara said.

He therefore called on Nigerians in particular and mankind in general, to judge themselves not by the time they lived on earth, but by their good works.

The Speaker went on to describe the late Mrs. Ezinne Asadu as a matriarch who lived an exemplary life, while urging her children to celebrate her demise, as she has successfully discharged her God given assignment.

“When we came in here last night during the wakekeeping, we saw a very jubilant gathering. That, to me, speaks louder than what I may have heard about the life and times of mama”, he said.

The speaker advised Hon. Asadu and his siblings to take advantage of the path set by their late mother and improve on it.

On his part, the Enugu State governor, Rt. Hon. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, thanked the Speaker and other dignitaries for finding time out of their tight schedules to pay their last respects to their colleague’s mother.

Hon Asadu, who is the Chairman, House Committee on Ports and Harbours, said while their loss is irreplaceable, they are touched by the calibre of people who attended the funeral ceremony, saying it is a sign of his mother’s good work on earth.

 

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Dogara Mandates Committees to Promote Potentials of Nigerians In Diaspora

The speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt Hon Yakubu Dogara, has stated that the House of Representatives Committees on Diaspora, Foreign Affairs, Sports and Commerce will liaise with Nigerians in diaspora with a view to developing their potentials for the country’s benefit.

The speaker said this when he received a delegation ?of some Nigerian boxers led by the chief executive officer of Nigeria Diaspora Direct Investment Summit, Mr Bimbo Folayan, in his office yesterday.

According to a statement issued his spokesman, Mr Turaki Hassan, the speaker promised the delegation which comprised of two thriving Nigerian Boxers resident in the United Kingdom that the parliament will do all within its powers to promote Nigerians doing well all over the world, even if it entails new legislation.

“I will direct all relevant committees of the House, including Diaspora, Foreign Affairs, Sports, Commerce to work to develop a model to appropriately respond to the situation we are faced with,” he stated, referring to the current situation, in which Nigerians are not supported to develop their potentials for the country.

The speaker further stated that: “Potentials are meant to be developed; If we don’t invest in this potential, we will not be able to get everything we could have achieved from them.”

Earlier, Mr Folayan informed the speaker that the two boxers were welterweight boxing champions based in the United Kingdom who have failed despite several attempts to get ?Nigerian government to support them to reach for higher titles under the Nigerian colours.

He appealed to the speaker to push for relevant agencies of government to help develop the boxers to become world class so that Nigeria will be ranked among countries with ranking boxers and also draw direct investment to Nigeria through sports.

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OPINION: Between Protesting And Fixing Power: Delicate Options Before Nigerians By Sulaimon Mojeed-Sanni

When the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) rolled out the war drums on February 8, 2016 , in a nationwide protest against the planned increase in electricity tariff by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) under a firm believe that poverty-stricken Nigerians will further be pauperized if the increase is sustained, I converse within myself to know if Nigerians are truly in need of steady power supply or have they been inflicted with the Stockholm syndrome that they are loving their condition of perpetual darkness. The recurring theme during the protest was that Nigerians will not pay more for darkness, continue to be subjected to estimated billing and demand that meters should be provided for all consumers even before muting the idea of any increase. Laudable as the demands are, it is rather unfortunate that, since the protest, the flash of progress witnessed in the power sector in the early days of this administration has declined to a near total blackout across the country.

 

The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, NERC, under a  Multi-Year Tariff Order, MYTO 2.1 approved electricity tariffs increase by pegging the increment between N9.60 and N14.80, which was supposed to be effective from February 1, 2016. It also announced the removal of fixed power charges for all classes of electricity consumers, stressing that power users would henceforth only pay for what they consume. The new tariff rate according to NERC will last till December 2018 and Consumers might even enjoy a decrease in what they pay as the years progress. From the position of the Regulator and Distribution Companies (Discos) the increase in tariffs was necessary for improvement of electricity infrastructure that had suffered decades of neglect. It is believed that the increase will help to mitigate the negative cash flow and revenue shortfalls that have bedeviled the power sector.

 

Going by the undeniable revelation by Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, it is obvious one of the major problems with the power sector is the way and manner the privatization process was handled; cronies and friends who lack fund took over a prime sector needing huge funding to achieve a turnaround.  Rather than lament, the Minister is of the opinion that Nigerians proceed from where we are albeit with some level of sacrifice and trust in the current government to fix the situation.  “This is a problem that has been here for 16 years if we put it mildly. It is a problem that has been here 100 years ago if we put it really extremely… I think we can solve this problem if you give us the tools that we need to do it. I think that this problem can be solved, and the day that we feel that it cannot be solved, I will gladly come and tell you that I don’t think it will work,” Fashola was quoted to have said in one of his effort to justify the increase in tariff.

 

Despite the potential of good return on investment inherent in the power sector considering the huge volume of consumers as occasioned by Nigeria’s population, it is believed that institutional investors are skeptical of investing because of the porous nature of government policies and unending labour issues with its attendant bureaucratic bottlenecks. Is it not worrisome that from an all-time high 5,075 megawatts generated capacity, the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) recently confirmed that the power generation level has dropped to an all-time low of 1,580 Mega Watts (MW), thereby dampening hopes of early resolution of the nation’s power supply crisis?

 

The power generation shortfall, aside from gas pipeline vandalism caused by fellow Nigerians (saboteurs actually) was attributed to the on-going industrial dispute in the nation’s power sector.  It is said that staff of National Network Control Centre in Osogbo (where the national grid is operated) went on solidarity strike with their members in Ikeja Disco who failed competency test. In the same manner, other major generating plants in the country, Egbin, Delta, Omotosho and Afam power plants are shutting down. Then one begins to wonder to whose advantage are the protests and strikes? How many are those who are afraid of a Nigeria with a steady power supply?

 

What Nigerians crave for is an enabling environment that allows them to create wealth. The 2,300 – 4,600 megawatts being currently generated is grossly inadequate to serve over 170 million people, (32 million households) and over a geographical spread of 926, 232km. By average standard, a population of 1 million people requires 1,000 megawatts, so Nigeria requires 170,000 megawatts for 170 million people. The available power should ordinarily only be distributed amongst 4 million electricity consumers constituting 12.5% of the population. An indication we are far from Uhuru. But the Association of Nigerian Electricity Distributors, ANED, has said that with a cost reflective tariff, it will be able to mobilize adequate investment for the power sector. Thus, the onus is on the Federal Government to consistently provide the enabling environment for Foreign Direct Investments and to showcase the vast opportunities in the sector and the Nigerian economy at large to stimulate and generate the desired foreign investment and technological advancement in power generation and distribution.

 

For some electricity consumers, their crux against the increase is the issue of not having prepaid meters and estimated billing, but the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) has come up with a creative alternative which should serve as a reprieve to consumers who can afford to pay for meters. Under the Cash Advance Payment for Metering Initiative (CAPMI) introduced by NERC, consumers who pay for meter under the CAPMI would not pay for electricity if they were not metered in 60 days. “Under the scheme, willing electricity customers are allowed to pay into a dedicated account opened by the electricity distribution companies for purchase and installation of meters 45 days after payment. Such customers are to be refunded their money with interest over a period of time by discounting their monthly bills.” This in my view settles the prepaid meter debacle.

 

It will be foolhardy to expect steady power supply across the country at the same time or expect that everybody be metered at the same pace. Just like with Nigerian Telecommunications Limited (NITEL) before its privatization, not everybody had NITEL lines; when it was privatized not everybody could afford SIM cards and calls were as high as N50 per minute without the option of per second billing. Up till this moment, there are places in the country that telephone service is still alien to, but we couldn’t have halt collective progress because of them. Today, the story of exorbitant price for SIM cards or making a call is different and people can even afford having 4 SIM cards and 3 phones. That is the purpose of liberalizing the industry. It is an evolving sector, infrastructure provision will be a continuum but Nigerians must set forth at dawn (apologies to Professor Wole Soyinka).

 

My only challenge with the privatization of the power sector is the elimination of competitiveness, service delivery and customer relations. The general understanding of privatization is to allow for competitiveness but a situation where Abuja Disco or Ikeja Disco controls an entire region without alternatives that consumers can pick from looks absurd. Though not an expert in engineering, one would expect to have alternative services just like in the telecommunication sector, with the freedom to determine who to buy energy from. Either way, Nigerians need to understand the sacrifice to be made in rejigging the economy. With 18 – 24 hours of power supply, one can only imagine the ingenuity of Nigerians that will blossom.

 

The expenses we make today in fueling generators are against the collar and has been sniffling businesses. Can we not pay a bit more to reduce the frustrating pollution that regularly emanate from generator usage? It is indeed worrisome that Manufacturers under the aegis of Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) are also protesting the tariff increase without considering the amount expended on diesel and petrol to power their generating sets and how that adds up to their running cost thereby making their finish products expensive. The other day Nigerians, youths in particular went on a bitter philippic attack against the Minister of Power, Works and Housing on social media calling him a failure for not bringing light to our homes forgetting the bitter pill he asked us to take if we want light.

 

The Minister while responding to a question on what the problem is with power sector, made Nigerians understand that the decision to increase tariff is a bitter pill which he implore Nigerians to take with the hope that the endemic problem will be fixed under his astute watch. Rather than trust the government (even with all its failures), Nigerians chose to dance the macabre dance along with some fat-neck labour unions pretending to be serving the interest of the generality. My experience with some of the come-raids (an euphemism for comrades) have shown that most of their protests are often channeled at making appearances, showmanship, attention-seeking; a means of arm-twisting the government in power to set up a committee that they, the labour leaders will be part of and raking in little finance under the guise of mobilization and serving the interest of the selfish few who do not want Nigeria to develop, in this case, redundant old NEPA staffs, Importers of Generators and the cabals in the oil sector. Nigerians need to stand straight, it is either we do things the old way and remain in darkness or sacrifice to get the urgently needed light.

 

For me, I chose to follow Fashola’s path to light than NLC/Civil Societies protest of darkness.

 

Sulaimon Mojeed-Sanni writes from Abuja via smojeeds@yahoo.com, he tweets from @OmoMojeed

 

 

 

Editor: Opinion expressed on this page are strictly those of the author and does not necessarily reflect the views of abusidiqu.com and its associates

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CBN Reveals $20bn Lying Idle In Few Nigerians Domiciliary Accounts

The Central Bank of Nigeria on Thursday disclosed that few powerful Nigerians have a whopping $20 billion, about N4 trillion lying idle in their domiciliary accounts.

CBN Deputy Governor in charge of Financial System and Surveillance, Dr. Joseph Nnana, who disclosed this said their decisions to keep such a huge amount in foreign currency, is affecting the Naira.

Dr Nnana, who spoke during an interactive session with the Joint National Assembly Committee on Appropriation however, assured that those involved in this economic sabotage would regret their action once the 2016 Budget is passed.

He told the session chaired by Senator Danjuma Goje that, “Naira problem is not our own (CBN) making. Some individuals are speculating on the dollars to the detriment of naira.

“Why should we have individuals that have $20 billion in different domiciliary accounts idle? Volatility in exchange will not continue after the passage of the 2016 Budget.

“Those who speculate on naira will have their fingers burnt by that time because we are going to embark on aggressive liquidity mop-up to make the naira stronger.”

Speaking, Senator Goje said the implementation of the N500 billion intervention fund contained in the 2016 Budget proposal would not be feasible “since there are no clear implementation strategies”.

According to him, “There is no detailed, clear cut structure being laid down for implementation of this project because what we have in this budget is N300 billion Recurrent and N200 billion Capital.? We had to push hard yesterday to get some details, which is not convincing.

“For instance, the explanation we got is that N5, 000 will be given to one million Nigerians. Who would choose the one million people? What structures do you have in place to make sure that you choose the right people?

“We have not gotten clear explanations to these numerous issues surrounding the implementation of this money.? Even the afternoon school feeding contained in the budget is not feasible because some students study under non-conducive environment. Will feeding them enhance their learning?”

Goje suggested that the money be added to the budgetary allocation for sectors like power, transport and health, while those responsible would map out better strategy against 2017.

He also assured that the 2016 budget would be passed on March 17, as promised.

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2016 Budget: Buhari’s N500bn Social Investment Votes, Greatest Duty To Nigerians — University Don

A don, Dr. Adetunji Ogunyemi, on Monday said the social investment votes of President Muhammadu Buhari in the 2016 appropriation bill was the greatest service to Nigerians.

Ogunyemi is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of History, Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife, Osun State.

“There can be no better way of executing a social contract between the citizen and the state” than the unprecedented social investments that the Buhari budget has done.

He made the observation in a statement titled “Reconstructing the social equity blocks of the Nigerian state: The Buhari 2016 Budget template’’.

“Still the greatest social responsibility portion of the 2016 budget and particularly in the capital budget is that which earmarks the sum of N500 billion directly to job creation, financial support to artisans and cash grants to the extremely poor segment of the Nigerian population.

“This involves the direct cash transfer under the programme government has chosen to call Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) wherein one million extremely poor Nigerians would receive N5,000 every month in the form of social safety net to shield them from total pauperisation.

“There is another N60 billion soft loan to one million small scale producers and artisans via Bank of Industry in an apparent support for small scale enterprises and the creation of jobs in the rural areas.

“This plan of expenditure which factors into the calculus of Federal Government’s spending profile I regard as the greatest duty ever done the Nigerian state since 1982,’’ Ogunyemi added.

Ogunyemi said the plan of the Buhari administration to directly employ 500,000 graduate and NCE teachers and deploy them to the rural areas “is another pan-Nigerian outlook of this 2016 budget’’.

The lecturer noted that the provision for skills acquisition training to 370,000 non-graduates and one-meal-per day to 100,000 pupils were exemplary.

According to him, there can be no better way of executing a social contract between citizens and the state than this.

“I insist that this 2016 budget, if faithfully implemented, would lead to the reconstruction of those blocks of social equity long pulled down by the harsh capitalist orientation of government at the centre since the 1980’s,’’ he stated.

He explained that the budget was a relief to “those who have ceaselessly clamoured for the rebuilding of the social blocks of equity between the government and the citizen by transferring a significant proportions of public expenditure to the greatest number of the population”.

Ogunyemi also noted that for the first time since 2010, the Federal Government had taken a bold step in the provision of infrastructure by making capital provision of N1.8 trillion, being 30 per cent of the N6.08 trillion appropriation.

He observed that the capital allocation in 2016 was about 223 per cent higher than the N557 billion allocated for capital projects in 2015.

He said previous allocations had focused more on governance and providing for political office holders’ needs than on provision of infrastructure for the common good with recurrent estimates taking between 67 percent and 89 percent of budget between 2010 and 2015.

“No greater disservice to economic development could be more than that particularly to the building of critical economic infrastructure,’’ he said.

Ogunyemi said that budgets should not be used only as instrument of economic growth and development but also as an instrument of social equity, balance and camaraderie among the population.

“I see this year’s budget as an attempt to, in real terms, to transfer resources from the resource-surplus to the resource-deficient sectors of the economy especially the poor,’’ he said.

According to him, the Buhari budget in spite of some of the errors indicated, is an attempt to build human capital, reduce poverty and create inclusive growth pattern in the economy such that the poor are directly touched by government spending and are no longer alienated.

The lecturer, however, cautioned that the greatest challenge was in the implementation of the budget which had been the problem with previous ones.

Accordingly, he called on the implementers of the 2016 budget to key into the new philosophy of efficiency and diligence of the document.

He also urged the Buhari administration to have the political will to sanction every infraction of it.

“Deconstructing corruption in Nigeria is just the key to this and this can be done by entrusting people who have shown they can be relied upon for things of honour and good report with the task of budget intelligence.

Patriotic moral agents are therefore needed to drive this 2016 pro-people budget so that blocks of equitable wealth re-distribution among the country’s eco-social forces can be well constructed.

 

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Boko Haram Suspects: Army Frees 271 Nigerians, 4 Foreigners

The Nigerian Army on Friday released 275 detainees after they had been cleared of being members of the Boko Haram terrorists group.

Maj.-Gen. Hassan Umaru, the Theater Commander, Operation Lafiya Dole, handed over the detainees to Gov. Kashim Shettima at a ceremony in Maiduguri.

Umaru said that the detainees included 271 Nigerians and two nationals each of the republics of Cameroon and Niger.

“Today we are releasing 275 persons who have been in detention over suspicion of being involved in terrorism. Our crack team of joint investigators has screened and cleared the persons that are in the process of being released here today,” he said.

He said that the detainees included 142 males, 49 females, 22 under aged and 50 children of cleared females.

“The persons being released comprise 142 males 49 females, 22 under aged, 50 children of cleared females, two Nigeriens and two Cameroonians,” the theatre commander said.

He said that they were being released in line with the principles of justice and fair play.

“Inline with the principles of justice, equity and fairness, we deem it fit to release them to their families,” he said.

He expressed sadness over their detention and urged them to consider it as their contribution to efforts to return peace in the country.

“Their stay in detention had not been palatable due to restrictions imposed on them and loss of freedom.

“However, I see it as their sacrifice and contribution toward the return of peace in our country,” Umaru said.

He said that the army had transferred eight other suspects to the police for further investigations.

“Eight cases that are criminal in nature will be transferred to the police for further action,” Umaru said.

“We wish to assure Nigerians that no individual will be unjustly or unduly incarcerated. We remained committed to the protection of fundamental Human rights of every citizen of Nigeria and foreigners alike”.

Governor  Shettima commended the military for a job well done.

Shettima said that the action had confirmed that the military was a respecter of the law.

“This action bears testimony to the fact that we are running a very professional force, contrary to insinuations from several quarters speculating arbitrary killings, detention and dehumanisation of suspects.

“This is about the third or the fourth time we are receiving detainees to be reunited with their families,” he said.

Shettima added: “The Nigerian Army deserves special commendation for all the sacrifices it has been making for us to have peace in this part of the world.

“We want to urge the detainees to be worthy ambassadors to go back home and be the catalysts for promoting peace and development in our society. As a responsible government, we are going to give tokens to each of the detainees.

“Those that can be trained in vocational skills and other professions will be trained in specific professions. For those of school age, we will insist with the parents that they must have access to education.

“Education is a right and not a privilege and it is compulsory in this part of the world,” the governor said.

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Presidency Responds To Allegation That Buhari Called Nigerians Criminals

The Presidency on Tuesday described as misconstrued, the various interpretations of President Muhammadu Buhari’s comments in an interview he granted to the United Kingdom-based Telegraphnewspaper on February 5.

The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu, in a statement on Tuesday said the wave of negative reactions to the President’s remarks about the reputation of Nigerians abroad was as a result of an incomplete understanding of Buhari’s point.

“President Buhari was asked about the flood of migrants from Nigeria and the fraudulent applications for asylum put in by people desperate to leave their motherland at any cost, and it was this question that elicited his response,” he said.

Shehu encouraged Nigerians to avail themselves of a full text of the interview, which has now been made available on the Telegraph’s website.

He added that it was preposterous for anyone to imagine that the President of Nigeria would describe all the citizens of the country he leads as criminals, when he himself is a Nigerian – obviously not a criminal – and when there are many Nigerians of honest living making their country proud all over the world.

“Unfortunately, there are also Nigerians giving their country a bad image abroad, and it is to those Nigerians that the President referred in his comments,” he said.

He added that people may play politics and online games with the President’s comments, but the fact of the matter remains that Nigeria’s reputation abroad has been severely damaged by her own citizens.

He added, “These Nigerians who leave their country to go and make mischief on foreign shores have given the rest of us a bad reputation that we daily struggle to overcome.”

Shehu called attention to the many efforts of Buhari to clean up the image of Nigeria, such as the war on corruption, stating that acknowledging that one has a problem is the first step to preferring a solution.

“President Buhari is very aware of the problems the people of Nigeria face both at home and abroad, and he is not shying away from admitting them even as he focuses on solutions to bring them to a permanent end,” he added.

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