How Buhari’s Visits Have Greatly Benefited Nigeria -BMO

President Muhammadu Buhari’s attendance at summits and other international fora is in the best interest of the country and aimed at exploring and expanding opportunities in security, trade and investment, science and technology, agriculture, transportation and oil & gas production, to mention a few.

The Buhari Media Organisation (BMO) made this observation in reaction to criticisms from some quarters on the President’s trip to Saudi Arabia to attend the economic forum of the Future Investment Initiative (FII).

In a statement signed by its Chairman Niyi Akinsiju and  Secretary Cassidy Madueke, BMO said that these meetings are no ordinary gatherings but avenues to attract potential investors and showcase the economic opportunities that abound in the country.

“As President Buhari makes a three-day state visit to Saudi Arabia to strengthen the diplomatic, trade and economic relations between the two countries, some had condemned the trip as unnecessary since the President just came back from Russia few days ago after a successful Russia-Africa summit. The summit was aimed at strengthening bilateral relations in areas such as solid minerals, reviving steel rolling mills (Ajaokuta and Aladja), rail transportation, security cooperation, oil and gas, agriculture (Wheat production and fertilizer) and education, to mention a few.

“It is worthy of note that the President is not only visiting and signing MOUs, the MOUs are being realised in physical projects such that in 2018 8Billon dollars came into Nigeria as Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) with 65 projects across the country. 

“We recall also that President Buhari’s working visit to China last year yielded additional investments in Nigeria exceeding $6billion. A total of $1billion is to be invested in the development of a Greenfield expressway for Abuja-Ibadan-Lagos. Similarly, Mambilla Hydro Power Project, which is capable of generating about 2,600 Megawatts of electricity will, when completed, be the biggest dam in Africa. Like the rail project, the Mambilla Hydro Project was conceived several years ago, precisely in 1982.

“President Muhammadu Buhari’s visit to Morocco has helped to revive abandoned Nigeria fertiliser blending plants. So far, 18 plants have been revitalized under the Presidential Fertiliser Initiative (PFI), with a total capacity of about three million metric tonnes of fertiliser which has created about 50,000 jobs across the value chains of Agriculture. 

“President Muhammadu Buhari also signed nine different agreements, including the Extradition Treaty between Nigeria and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) aimed at strengthening Nigeria’s anti-corruption campaign, Transfer of Sentenced Persons, Mutual Legal Assistance on Criminal Matters and Mutual Legal Assistance on Criminal and Commercial Matters, which include the recovery and repatriation of stolen wealth.”

According to BMO, what is obvious is that President Buhari is working to strengthen diplomatic relations, trade and the security of our nation. He has held series of meetings with serious investors and has fetched us investments in the range of billions of US Dollars.

“These are a few of the many outcomes of the President’s visits. Instead of condemning these visits, all Nigerians should be proud to have a President like Muhammadu Buhari who never loses an opportunity to showcase the country’s potentials at international fora.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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President Inaugurates, Sets Agenda For Economic Advisory Council

President Muhammadu Buhari Wednesday in Abuja administered oaths of office on members of the newly constituted Presidential Economic Advisory Council (PEAC), and also set an agenda of what they should accomplish in the shortest possible time.

Speaking at a meeting with the 8-man Council chaired by Prof. Doyin Salami, President Buhari charged them to focus on developing reliable data that will properly reflect what is happening in the country.

The President who called the task before the PEAC ‘‘most important national assignment’’, said:

”As you develop your baseline study, I would like you to focus on primary data collection.

” Today, most of the statistics quoted about Nigeria are developed abroad by the World Bank, IMF and other foreign bodies.

” Some of the statistics we get relating to Nigeria are wild estimates and bear little relation to the facts on the ground.

” This is disturbing as it implies we are not fully aware of what is happening in our own country.

” We can only plan realistically when we have reliable data. As you are aware, as a government, we prioritised agriculture as a critical sector to create jobs and bring prosperity to our rural communities.

”Our programs covered the entire agricultural value chain from seed to fertiliser to grains and ultimately, our dishes.

”As you travel in some rural communities, you can clearly see the impact. However, the absence of reliable data is hindering our ability to upgrade these programmes and assure their sustainability. ”

The President also used the occasion to set agenda and expectations from the Council, constituted on September 16, 2019, to replace the Economic Management Team (EMT).

On the Social Investment Programmes (SIPs), the President told members that his administration was working to measure the impact of the programme targeted at improving the well-being of millions of poor and vulnerable citizens.

As such, the President said he had directed the new Minister for Humanitarian Affairs to commence a comprehensive data-gathering exercise in all Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps in the North East.

” Today, we hear international organisations claiming to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on IDPs in the North East. But when you visit the camps, you rarely see the impact.

” In 2017, when the National Emergency Management Agency took over the feeding of some IDPs in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa, the amount we spent was significantly lower than the claims made by these international organisations.

” Therefore, actionable data is critical to implement effective strategies to address pressing problems such as these humanitarian issues.

” I, therefore, look forward to receiving your baseline study as this will help us shape ideas for a sustainable and prosperous future, ” the President said.

On his expectations from the council, the President urged them to proffer solutions on how to move the country and economy forward.

The President directed the Council to coordinate and synthesize ideas and efforts on how to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in 10 years, working in collaboration with various employment generating agencies of government.

”I am told you worked throughout last weekend in preparation for this meeting.

”I have listened attentively to findings and ideas on how to move the country and the economy forward.

”Yes, Nigeria has exited the recession. But our reported growth rate is still not fast enough to create the jobs we need to meet our national ambition of collective prosperity.

”Reason being we had to tread carefully in view of the mess we inherited.

”Many of the ideas we developed in the last four years were targeted at returning Nigeria back to the path of growth.

”I am sure you will also appreciate that during that time, our country was also facing serious challenges especially in the areas of insecurity and massive corruption.

”Therefore, I will be the first to admit that our plans were conservative. We had to avoid reckless and not well thought out policies.

”However, it was very clear to me after we exited the recession that we needed to re-energise our economic growth plans. This is what I expect from you, ” he said.

President Buhari also assured the Council that the Federal Government will ensure that all their needs and requests were met before the next technical sessions in November.

He said all key ministries, departments and agencies will be available to meet and discuss with them on how to collectively build a new Nigeria that caters for all.

”Now, no one person or a group of persons has a monopoly of knowledge or wisdom or patriotism.

”In the circumstances, you may feel free to co-opt, consult and defer to any knowledgeable person if in your opinion such a move enriches your deliberations and add to the quality of your decisions, ” he said.

Chairman of Council, Professor Salami, said the mandate was about ”Nigeria first, Nigeria second, and Nigeria always, ” adding that it was about Nigerians, not as numbers, but as people.

He added: ”Our goal is that the economy grows in a manner that is rapid, inclusive, sustained and sustainable so that Nigerians will feel the impact. ”

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At NES25, President Buhari Says ‘Nigeria’s Unique Challenges Can Only Be Solved By Made In Nigeria Solutions’

President Muhammadu Buhari Monday in Abuja declared open the 25th Nigerian Economic Summit (NES25) with a charge to public and private sector leaders to look inward to solve the unique challenges confronting the nation’s socio-economic development.

President Buhari also pledged that his administration will continue to collaborate with the private sector in designing and implementing developmental projects that will keep Nigeria on track for sustained, inclusive and prosperity driven growth.

In his speech at the opening of the 2-day Summit, the President said the successful conclusion of 2019 general elections and the resort by aggrieved candidates to seek redress in the courts rather than the street was proof that Nigeria‘s ‘‘democracy is maturing.’’

‘‘I am informed that this year’s Summit has identified key job-creating sectors such as agriculture, manufacturing, ICT, creative industry and extractive industry as focus sectors.  

‘‘I am also told that your deliberations will focus on unlocking capital through our financial services sector to actualize the opportunities in these sectors.

‘‘In your deliberations, I would request that your proposals are productive, inventive and innovative keeping in mind that Nigeria’s unique challenges can only be solved by made in Nigeria solutions,’’ he said.  

Recounting the 2019 general elections, the President said Nigeria has shown the world that it is capable of electing leaders in a peaceful and orderly manner.

‘‘The elections have come and gone. Our country, once again, has shown the world that we can choose our leaders in a peaceful and orderly manner.

‘‘Apart from a few pockets of unrest, majority of voters exercised their civic rights without hindrance.

‘‘Furthermore, we also saw an increase in the number of aggrieved candidates, and supporters, who took their concerns and grievances to the courts as opposed to the streets. This is how it should be.

‘‘Ladies and Gentlemen, what this clearly shows is that our democracy is maturing,” he said.

Reflecting on the manifesto of the All Progressives Congress (APC) party, the President noted that his administration’s economic policies in the last four years focused on the need to uplift the poor and the disadvantaged and encourage inclusivity.

‘‘During the elections, almost all candidates proposed their vision for the economy and for the country.

‘‘Our party, the APC, put before the country policies that focus on delivering prosperity to all Nigerians through enhancing security; eliminating corrupt practices in public service; supporting sectors that will create jobs; and promoting socially focused interventions to support the poorest and most vulnerable among us.

‘‘These areas are all interconnected and are equally important in creating a prosperous society for all,’’ he said.

Underscoring the importance of collective prosperity, President Buhari asserted that a prosperous society is one where majority of its citizens have an acceptable standard of living.

‘‘Today, many mistake prosperity with wealth. They are not necessarily the same.

‘‘Experts and analysts explain economic trends by making references to indicators of wealth.

‘‘Wealth, however, in its simplistic form, is money or other assets. In recent years, global events have shown that when a society and its leaders are driven and motivated by these alone, the ultimate outcome is a divided state of severe inequalities.

‘‘But a prosperous society is one where majority of its citizens have an acceptable standard of living and a decent quality of life,’’ he said.

The President also used the occasion to affirm that in addressing population growth, security and corruption matters in developing economies, policies and programmes must focus on promoting inclusivity and collective prosperity.

‘‘Nigeria is a country with close to 200 million people living in 36 states and the FCT.

‘‘A significant proportion of Nigeria’s prosperity today is concentrated in the hands of a few people living primarily in 4 or 5 States and the FCT. Some of the most prosperous Nigerians are here in this room. 

‘‘This leaves the remaining 31 States with close to 150 million people in a state of expectancy and hope for better opportunity to thrive. This, in the most basic form, drives the migratory and security trends we are seeing today both in Nigeria and across the region.

‘‘In the recent weeks, I have been to Niger Republic to attend the ECOWAS summit;  Japan with fellow African leaders to attend the Tokyo International Conference on African Development; the United Nations General Assembly in New York and South Africa on a State visit to exchange ideas on the common themes we share as the two largest economies in Africa.

‘‘What was very clear at these meetings, and numerous others I have been privileged to attend over the years is the increased consensus by leaders that to address population growth, security and corruption matters in developing economies, our policies and programmes must focus on promoting inclusivity and collective prosperity.

‘‘This shift implies that the concept of having competitive free markets that focus on wealth creation alone will be replaced by those that propagate the creation of inclusive markets which provide citizens with opportunities that will lead to peaceful and prosperous lives,’’ he said.

On the focus of this year’s economic summit which is discussing what Nigeria would be in the year 2050 when many studies estimate the country’s population will rise to over 400 million people, the President said:

‘‘As a government, our view is to equip our citizens with the means to seize any opportunities that may arise.

‘‘This means we continue investments in education, health care, infrastructure, security and strengthen and entrench the rule of law.’’

While wishing the 25th NES fruitful, robust and productive deliberations, the President praised the organizers and stakeholders of the Summit for sustaining the platform established since 1993 to deliberate on key issues on national development.

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President Buhari Congratulates Kano, Plateau Governors On Election Tribunal Victories

President Muhammadu Buhari has congratulated Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje of Kano State and Governor Simon Lalong of Plateau State on the affirmation of their victories in the March 2019 gubernatorial polls by the respective State Governorship Election Petition Tribunals. 

President Buhari, who is travelling with the two victorious All Progressives Congress (APC) party governors to South Africa on a State Visit, extended his goodwill to the duo on Wednesday shortly before departure from the Presidential Wing of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja.

The President described the verdict of the Tribunals as a victory for democracy, commending the people of Kano and Plateau States for maintaining the peace, allowing the due process of law to prevail and respecting the role of the judiciary in a democracy.

With the elections and tribunals now behind, the President urged the governors to unite their States by focusing more on inclusive and accountable governance and ensuring that all APC programmes targeted at improving the welfare of Nigerians are fully implemented.       

President Buhari assured them that the Federal Government will continue to work with States to create economic growth that benefits everyone, and security for human lives, investments and the environment.

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How Buhari’s Social Investment Programmes Have Garnered Global Acclaim

In a strategy aimed at ensuring the continuity and sustainability of the Buhari administration’s Social Investment Programmes, the schemes are now being upgraded to a full ministry status with the take-off of the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development.

This move is coming after the first term successful implementation of the scheme directly from the Presidency, indicating the need to now institutionalize the SIP.

Endorsed by the Africa Development Bank (AfDB), World Bank and the World Economic Forum, as testament of its national impact in Africa’s most populous country, the National Social Investment Programmes (N-SIP) truly embodies what it means to go global while making local impact.

Regarded as the largest social protection programme in Nigeria’s history, the Social Investment Programmes has four broad programmes, namely: N-Power, Conditional Cash Transfers, National Home-Grown School Feeding and Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programmes, GEEP). 

At inception, the National Social Investment Office, NSIO,  in the Vice President’s office was responsible for overseeing the N-SIP since  2016, while issues of funding, contract awards and procurement had always been undertaken by the Ministry of  Budget and National Planning. 

Also an inter-ministerial  Steering Committee, chaired by the Vice President and composed of several Ministers including from the ministries of Education, Health, Finance, Budget and Planning, Labour and Employment, Women Affairs and others,  had policy oversight on the programme implementation.

In his Independence speech earlier today President Muhammadu Buhari  stated in order to “institutionalize these impactful programmes, we created the Ministry for Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development which shall consolidate and build on our achievements to date.”

Indeed the Social Investment Programmes have also been recognized by several local and international organizations for empowering Nigerians and meeting the urgent needs of Nigerians in different areas including providing employment, supporting small businesses and poverty alleviation.

Organisations like Action Aid (Nigeria), of Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice (ANEEJ), and the Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG) have all commended the NSIP for its nationwide social impact

The impact of the SIPs has duly attracted the attention of the rest of the world. Among the global recognition for the impact of its schemes are the Financial Inclusion Award, which was at the 2019 African Bankers’ Awards: where BOI won for the GEEP scheme; the Tutu Leadership Fellowship for 2019, where GEEP CEO, Uzoma Nwagba, named among recipients; the Public Social Entrepreneur award, given by Schwab Foundation, a sister organization of the World Economic Forum, WEF, to Mrs Maryam Uwais, the Special Adviser to the President on Social Investments; and recently.

One of the SIP components, GEEP, which is executed through the Bank of Industry (BOI) was recognized as the most impactful Financial Inclusion programme in Africa during the African Bankers’ Awards ceremony which held in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea on June 14th, 2019. The award was for BOI’s role in implementing GEEP, which includes the popular TraderMoni scheme. The awards event featured financial institutions and projects from all 54 countries in Africa, as well as the international community;

TraderMoni is one of the microcredit schemes under GEEP, where millions of petty traders get N10,000 loans. Upon repayment within 6 months, the beneficiary becomes eligible for a larger amount of N15,000 and all the way to N100,000 if and when the collateral-free loans are repaid. The other microcredit schemes are MarketMoni and FarmerMoni.

Also, in April, the impact of the SIPs was recognized by the African Leadership Institute when the GEEP COO, Uzoma Nwagba was named among the recipients for the prestigious Tutu Leadership Fellowship for 2019.  According to the AFL, Nwagba’s role in GEEP, which it described as “the world’s largest micro-credit scheme” was critical. “GEEP to date has leveraged the power of a technology-driven operation to disburse and manage a portfolio of two million loans to underbanked Nigerians, demonstrating the biggest advancement of financial inclusion via credit in Africa,” the citation read.

Recently, Mrs Maryam Uwais MFR, the Special Adviser to the President on Social Investments, was conferred with the prestigious Public Social Intrapreneur award by the Schwab Foundation, a sister organization of the World Economic Forum WEF. It was another pointer to SIP’s global endorsement. Uwais was named among 40 other global leaders selected from different countries to receive the award in recognition of their innovative approach and potential for global impact.

Similarly, with the N-Power job scheme, which currently engages 500,000 young graduates and 200,000 non-graduates in different key sectors, and the School Feeding Programme, which currently feeds almost 10 million school children in 32 states, the SIPs’ impact is truly felt nationwide.

Indeed, millions of Nigerians can testify of the impact of the largest social welfare programme in sub-Saharan Africa. This is because since its implementation in 2016, the N-SIPs have impacted over 12 million direct beneficiaries and over 30 million indirect beneficiaries, comprising family members, employees of beneficiaries, cooks and farmers.

Justice Tienabeso Bibiye
 
Communications Manager,
 
National Social Investment Office NSIO

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President Buhari Visits South Africa Over Welfare Of Nigerians

President Muhammadu Buhari departs Abuja Wednesday on a three-day State Visit to the Republic of South Africa, following an invitation by President Cyril Ramaphosa, to discuss welfare of Nigerians, and find common grounds for building harmonious relations with their hosts.

The visit comes against the background of recent xenophobic attacks, the evacuation of hundreds of Nigerians and the exchange of visits by Special Envoys of Presidents Buhari and Ramaphosa.

While in South Africa, the Nigerian leader will hold a town hall meeting with Nigerians living in the country, with a view to sharing in their experiences and reassuring them of Nigerian government’s commitment to working for the protection of their lives and property and promoting peaceful co-existence.    

President Buhari and his host will preside over the South Africa/Nigeria Bi-National Commission, during which a progress report will be presented. At the end of the meeting, both leaders will sign a joint communiqué.

The President and his delegation including Nigerian business representatives will also participate at a South Africa-Nigeria Business Forum with their host counterparts.

President Buhari will be accompanied by Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje of Kano State, Governor Simon Lalong of Plateau State and Governor David Umahi of Ebonyi State.

Others are: Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama; Minister of Defence, Maj. Gen. Bashir Magashi (retd); Minister of Power, Eng. Saleh Mamman; Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola; Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Arch. Olamilekan Adegbite; Minister of Police Affairs, Maigari Dingyadi; and Minister of State, Industry, Trade and Investment, Amb. Mariam Katagum.

Also on the trip are: National Security Adviser, Maj. Gen. Babagana Monguno (retd); Director-General, National Intelligence Agency, Amb. Ahmed Rufai Abubakar; and Chairman/CEO Nigeria Diaspora Commission, Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa.

The President will return to Abuja on Friday.

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President Buhari Pledges Adequate Funding For Judiciary, Inaugurates Annex Building Of National Industrial Court

President Muhammadu Buhari Monday in Abuja pledged that his administration will continue to adequately fund the judiciary to enable it discharge its responsibilities. 

The President also said it is the collective duty of the three arms of government to ensure fair justice delivery and safeguard the rights of all Nigerians.    

The President spoke at the commissioning of the annex building of the headquarters of the National Industrial Court of Nigeria (NICN), Area 3, Abuja, which also marked the valedictory session of the President of the Court, Justice Babatunde Adejumo. 

President Buhari said: ‘‘You will all recall that in 2014, the entire budgetary allocation to the judiciary was N68 billion. 

‘‘Today, the judiciary budgetary allocation has gone up to N100 billion. Rest assured that we shall continue to adequately fund the judiciary to ensure it is enabled to discharge its responsibilities.’’ 

The Nigerian leader used the occasion to appeal to the three arms of government to continue collaborative partnership to ensure that policies, programmes and projects of this administration positively impact the lives of Nigerians. 

‘‘Simply put, all Nigerians, regardless of ethnicity, religion and politics deserve peaceful and prosperous lives. 

‘‘Where these basic rights are trampled upon, Nigerians deserve fair justice delivery.  

‘‘It is therefore our collective duty to work collaboratively to ensure that such rights are safeguarded,’’ he said. 

Congratulating the President of the Court on his retirement and meritorious service to the country, the President said Justice Adejumo’s numerous contributions are well known and appreciated. 

‘‘I am confident his legacy will have a positive impact on those who follow him,’’ he said. 

Speaking on the mandate of the Court, the President recalled that it was established as a specialised Court to adjudicate on disputes arising from and relating to labour, industrial and employment matters. 

‘‘Indeed, it is the Court in Nigeria that is constitutionally mandated to perform these functions. Thus, the performance of this court directly impacts Nigeria’s ease of doing business indices,’’ he said. 

The President noted that the completion of the Annex Building will further enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of justice delivery by the Court. 

‘‘Furthermore, the socio-economic impact of this Court cannot be downplayed as it also provides the platform for employees, retirees as well as the dependents of deceased employees to find justice when treated unfairly,’’ he added. 

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President Buhari Lauds Bill Gates/Aliko Dangote For Service To Humanity

President Muhammadu Buhari Wednesday applauded the contributions of Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, as well as Aliko Dangote Foundation to humanitarian and developmental activities in Nigeria.

Meeting with the duo at the sidelines of the 74th United Nations General Assembly in New York, the President said they have touched humanity in many positive ways, and congratulated them “for achieving what you had set out to do.”

“Thanks for deriving pleasure in helping people. Congratulations to you for returning part of your wealth to the people in diverse ways. Whatever we save in areas in which you have intervened, we can deploy to other areas like building of infrastructure,” President Buhari said.

On agriculture, in which Alhaji Dangote makes huge investments, the President noted that farmers were very happy in Nigeria now, “as we have made fertilizer available, cut the price by half, and given many other incentives. They have no regret going back to the lands. The more we invest in agriculture, the better for us.”

Mr Gates congratulated President Buhari “for assembling a cabinet that excites us,” saying he was pleased that one of the priorities of the administration was human capital development, of which health, nutrition and education are key components.

Noting that Bill and Melinda Gates as well as Aliko Dangote Foundations keep track of Nigeria’s attainments on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), as enunciated by the United Nations, he submitted that they were encouraged that there was improvement in reduction of child mortality.

“Every local government area has better health/education situation today than in year 2000. We are delighted about that. Nigeria is our biggest commitment in Africa. It’s only in India we do more in the world,” Mr Gates said.

On polio eradication, he said Nigeria reached a zero wild polio virus free milestone for three years in August, noting that the next six months were critical, so that the country could finally be declared polio free.

Alhaji Dangote appreciated the Nigerian military for helping with vaccination in the theatres of war while fighting insurgency, thus adding to the advances in the country’s polio status.

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My Head Swelled And Swelled, As The World Celebrated Buhari’s Anti-Corruption Credentials, By Femi Adesina

Wednesday was a helluva day. Filled to the brim. We didn’t call it a day till 9 p.m (2 a.m Nigerian time), and it was with all pleasure that I dived into bed about an hour later. Sweet embrace. Sleep. William Shakespeare calls it “sweet nourisher in life’s feast.” We must give glory to God for creating sleep. That’s why it’s not good to murder sleep. Serious trouble.
How did Wednesday go?

President Muhammadu Buhari met with the President of Portugal, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa. The latter said it was always inspiring for him, each time he sat near the Nigerian President.

Purpose of the meeting? Portugal would be hosting Europe-Africa Forum in Lisbon next year, and the Nigerian leader was being invited to declare the event open.

“Please come, we’ll like to see you” de Sousa said. “We’ve been waiting for you for three years. Please come, even if it’s for just half a day. Many African leaders have visited us, but we want Nigeria. Please come to Lisbon.”
The President said our own President was looking quite well: “You are so fit! Your opponents say you are ill. I guess that is just to disturb you.” General laughter.

President Buhari said he would consider the invitation, apologizing that he hadn’t visited all the while. “I was very busy in the first term, knowing that I was going to face re-election. Now that we are in second and final term, we will consolidate on what we’ve done in first term, so that I can retire in peace and comfort.”

Next. Former Prime Minister of Australia, Hon Kevin Rudd, who now spends his time advocating for water, sanitation, and discouragement of open defecation round the world. He is chairman of a body called Water and Sanitation for All. He says his children now call him ‘Global Sultan of Sanitation.’ Interesting.

President Buhari told him what Nigeria was doing in the area of water and sanitation, including declaring a state of emergency in November last year. Target date for eradicating open defecation is 2025. Ex-PM Rudd shared a slogan made popular in India by PM Narendra Modi, particularly directed at ladies: ‘Never marry a man, unless he can provide you with clean toilet.’ Lol. Many men would surely be sentenced to eternal bachelorhood, if that happens in Nigeria. But happen it must, President Buhari assured. He said the country would step up advocacy against open defecation, and clean water would be provided for all.

Next. Two men of wealth, and of power. Their kind of wealth naturally confers great influence anywhere in the world. Bill Gates, and Aliko Dangote. Before they came in, one of us had jocularly said: “I hope they would announce a gift of one million dollars to each of us before they leave.” I would simply faint, I responded . If I got revived, and saw the pile of money, I would faint again. Remember the late Justice Ovie Whiskey? He was the electoral commission boss sometime in Nigeria. When someone accused him of collecting inducement in millions of Naira to swing victory to a particular side, he said he had never seen a million Naira before, and that if he saw it, he would simply faint. So, don’t blame me if I faint at the sight of a million dollars.
Gates and Dangote gave the President updates on the polio war, progress on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), agriculture, and many others. Their host lauded them for their help to humanity, saying: “Thanks for deriving pleasure in helping people.” (I thought they would drop the one million dollars gift for each person at that time, but alas, they didn’t).
Next again. President Julius Mada Bio of Sierra Leone. He came to discuss matters that affected his country, the West African sub-region, and Africa in general.

Now, to the big one for the day. High Level Side Event on Promotion of International Cooperation to Combat Illicit Financial Flows. It was organized by AUDA-NEPAD in conjunction with Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) of Nigeria. President Buhari presented a keynote address, was supported by President Edgar Lungu of Zambia, and President of Ethiopia, Sahlework Zewede. President of UNGA 74, Professor Tijjani Muhammad-Bande, was also there, as well as key figures from round the world.
In his keynote address, President Buhari lamented the evil that corruption was doing to Africa. Quoting from the 2014 Global Financial Integrity Report, the Nigerian leader noted that Nigeria alone lost minimum of $157.5 billion between 2003-2012, adding that such massive loss of assets resulted in dearth of resources “to fund public services or to alleviate poverty,” in the country.

According to him, “This is why, as Africans, we have no choice but to break the back of corruption…That is why our government has made it a war we intend to win. We will give all it takes to ensure there is no hiding place for purveyors of corrupt practices who are truly enemies of the people.”

Stressing the need to strengthen good practices on asset recovery and return, President Buhari said that, “In the last five years, our government has made significant progress to curb corruption,” adding: “We have recovered millions of dollars stolen from our country.”

Then followed a session in which my head swelled, and swelled, as keynote statements were made by personalities from across the world. Ori mi wu, as the Yoruba people would say. Almost all the speakers were not done, till they had eulogized President Buhari for his commitment to integrity, transparency and accountability. It was one evening every right thinking Nigerian in the hall felt proud of our President. I just was afraid that my head could burst before the end of the event, as speaker after speaker poured encomium on the Nigerian President, the anti-corruption champion of Africa.

You see why some of us believe in the man, and can follow him blindfolded into battle? But pitifully, a prophet often does not have honour in his own country. Interventions came from African Union Commission, European Commission, Norway, Namibia, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), former Prime Minister of Niger Republic and CEO of AUDA-NEPAD, Sweden, South Africa, and many others. Almost everyone had good words about the Nigerian leader and his passion for anti-corruption.

My greatest takeaway from the seminal evening was perhaps the declaration by Mr Mukhisa Kituyi of UNCTAD. He said corruption was a matter that brings shame to the African continent. He praised President Buhari “for offering leadership,” and then threw a challenge: “Let other African leaders stand up to be counted.” Food for thought, indeed.

Adesina is Special Adviser to President Buhari on Media and Publicity

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President Buhari Condoles Von DG, Osita Okechukwu, On Loss Of Wife

President Muhammadu Buhari sympathizes with Mr Osita Okechukwu, Director-General, Voice of Nigeria, on the loss of his wife of 30 years, Tina, aged 57.

The President shares in the grief of the Okechukwu family at this time of distress, asking God to console and comfort them.

Losing a dear wife and mother, President Buhari opines, is time of deep travail for any family, particularly one who was so devoted, and a rallying force for the household.

The President laments the loss of a true Nigerian, who had schooled in Kano, Enugu-Agidi in Anambra, her state of origin, Maiduguri, and Sango-Otta, Ogun State, thus fluent in Igbo, Yoruba and Hausa, among other languages.

The Okechukwu family, the President says, should draw succour from God Almighty at a time like this, and take comfort in the quality of life the departed lived.

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