Nigeria’s Diamond Jubilee Celebration: FG Calls For Active Involvement Of Nigerians In Creating A Brand, Other Event Elements

On the 1st of October, 2020, Nigeria will be celebrating its Diamond Jubilee as it turns 60 years. It is a day that reminds every citizen about the dawn of the nation we call our country, a diverse nation with resilient and hardworking people. Nigerians have gone far and wide, impacting their communities and the world at large.

To celebrate Nigeria’s Diamond Jubilee, the Federal Government of Nigeria, under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR has approved an inclusive National Independence Celebration program in line with Covid-19 protocols and guidelines. To ensure inclusiveness, the thematic and creative aspects of the event would be designed by Nigerians for Nigeria. The theme of the celebration is “Together at 60.”

As the saying goes, we are only as strong as we are united, as weak as we are divided. The Federal Government therefore wants to use this opportunity to celebrate our strength as one indivisible country. Also provide opportunity for Nigerians to choose their brand and harness the power of our creative minds to create other elements that will form the Brand of the Anniversary. The Sub Committee of the Interministerial Committee came up with a challenge in which they are looking for talented, critical thinking and creative individuals or teams to produce the slogan, photograph, and a poem for Nigerians to mark the country’s 60th Anniversary, from 1st October 2020 to 30th December 2021.

To vote for the best brand and participate in the challenge, visit the challenge portal: https://nigeriaAt60.gov.ng. The best brand and concept will be presented to His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR and will be used in celebrating Nigeria’s 60th Anniversary. The winners will also receive prizes, in addition to being part of this epoch-making event.

As the country eagerly awaits the unveiling of the winning brand and other elements of the celebration, we look forward to the active participation of all.

Dr Isa Ali Ibrahim (Pantami), FNCS, FBCS, FIIM
Honourable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy,
Chairman, Diamond/Innovation/Change Sub-Committee,
Nigeria @60 Interministerial Committee

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APC Hails Buhari, Sunday Dare, On National Youth Investment Fund: “Historic, Innovational and Transformational”

The All Progressives Congress has commended President Muhammadu Buhari for approving the National Youth Investment Fund, describing the approval as historic, innovational and transformational, the party stated that the President did not flinch in making this happen due to his passion for the development and growth of young people.

In a statement issued by Barrister Ismaeel Ahmed, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Social Investment and a member of the APC National Caretaker Committee on behalf of the APC and young stakeholders of the party, Barrister Ismaeel stated that the announcement of the fund was well received by young Nigerians, in delight and in gratefulness.

“On behalf of the party and especially its young progressives, I wish to express our sincere gratitude to His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari (GCFR) for being attentive and understanding to the real concerns of young people and his magnanimity in approving this Fund without hesitation or much ado.”

“The APC, its Youth Wing and Young Stakeholders welcomed with joy, the approval of the National Youth Investment Fund (NYIF) by the Federal Executive Council led by President Muhammadu Buhari (GCFR) on Wednesday, 22nd of July 2020 following a memo presented by the Honourable Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Mr. Sunday Dare.

“The NIYF which amounts to Seventy Five Billion Naira (N75,000,000,000.00) is to run for a period of three (3) years in the first instance. The Fund will be designed to support innovative and creative ideas of young people across various skills, talents, industry, etc.” the statement read.

The fund according to the Honorable Minister, will be administered as a loan facility to beneficiaries during the period. Indeed, what makes this approval a historic event is the simple fact that this is the first time that an administration in the history of Nigeria is committing funds specifically targeted to the development of young people. 

Ismaeel Ahmed also commended the Minister of Youth and Sport, Mr Sunday Dare for being what he described as a “Chief Driver” of the fund.

“A big kudos to the The Honourable Minister, Mr. Sunday Dare, a true friend of the Young people, a hands-on Minister and thorough Party man who understands the manifesto and the vision the party has for Nigerian Youths and the future at large.  I am extremely thankful for his ideas which he pushed forward through the memo that gave birth to this. His passion towards matters pertaining to the welfare, empowerment and development of young people is highly commendable.

“To all the young people of Nigeria, this is a win that should be cherished, appreciated and utilized to yield the results the NYIF targets. I believe that with proper and judicious management, the set objectives will be achieved.”

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NSITF Management Denies Alleged Suspension, Says Minister Overreached Himself

The Management of NSITF read the press release published by some media outfits that the President has suspended the management of NSITF and announced same.

We wish to state that President Muhammadu Buhari has not suspended the management of NSITF and did not make such announcement. The person mentioned in the media report is not a staff of the President.

For clarity, we need to mention that we received a letter from the Hon Minister of Labour and Employment Sen Chris Ngige stating that he is doing a procurement audit on NSITF and that Management is suspended.

We note that the Minister’s action is against President Buhari’s directive through the Secretary to the Government of the Federation that stated clearly that no Minister should suspend or sack any head of agency appointed by President Muhammadu Buhari.

The memo stated that Ministers should follow procedures by going through the governing board of the agency that will now make recommendations to the SGF to act if there is need. We are sure that President Buhari will not be part of any illegality and lack of due process.

Meanwhile, the management of NSITF is open to any form of investigation by the appropriate agency as there is nothing that the management will hide or is hiding. We have been in receipt of several letters by the minister and several petitions written against NSITF by the Minister of Labour, Sen Chris Ngige and we will make all communications available to the public and relevant authorities.

The Management of NSITF is still discharging its duty as appointed by Mr President.

NSITF Management.

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“You Appointed the Best Man To Head NBET”, Obiano Tells Buhari

Governor Willie Obiano has commended President Muhammadu Buhari for appointing Dr Nnaemeka Ewelukwa the chief executive of the Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading plc (NBET), popularly known as the Bulk Trader.

“You couldn’t have appointed a more qualified, competent and reform-minded technocrat for the job”, Governor Obiano said in the letter to Buhari, according to a statement in Awka today by the the Anambra State Commissioner for Information and Public Enlightenment, C. Don Adinuba.

The Minister of Power, Engineer Saleh Mamman, announced two weeks ago President Buhari’s approval of Dr Ewelukwa as replacement for Dr Marylyn Amobi, also from Anambra State, whose five year tenure will end on July 24.

“It is self-evident that the president recognizes the critical role of the NBET in the electricity value chain in Nigeria and so went for the best to help move the entire power sector in a different direction”, Chief Obiano declared.

Dr Ewelukwa, the NBET general counsel until his appointment, has been involved in Nigeria’s power sector reform for at least 10 years, having worked at the Presidential Task Force on Power (PTFP), headed by Professor Bart Nnaji before he was appointed the Minister of Power in July, 2011, and led the greatest revamping of Nigeria’s perennially problematic power sector.

As the pioneer NBET general counsel and secretary, he led the team which negotiated with independent power producers on power purchase agreements (PPAs) and thus enabled huge investments from the private sector into Nigeria’s electricity generation business.

Governor Obiano observed that the new NBET CEO played a key role on the team which identified serious legal, regulatory and policy constraints to the development of Nigeria’s electricity and suggested ways to overcome the challenges.

“Due to the exceedingly impressive work done by such outstanding technocrats as Professor Nnaji and Dr Ewelukwa, the British and American governments, among others, assisted Nigeria to develop the critical power infrastructure”, noted the governor who also recalled how such global firms as General Electric of the United States, Siemens of Germany and Daewoo Heavy Industries of South Korea took an unprecedented interest in the country’s power sector.

Chief Obiano described Ewelukwa as “infectiously humble and principled, a team player and farsighted leader with a good international exposure, key leadership requirements in today’s globalized world”.

The governor said he is confident that Dr Ewelukwa would bring glory to Nigeria the way a number of Anambra indigenes given critical national assignments discharged their duties.

“The whole nation”, he stated, “remembers with nostalgia the fantastic work done since the restoration of democracy by such sons and daughters of Anambra State like Professor Chukwuma Charles Soludo as the Central Bank governor, Professor Dora Akunyili as the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration (NAFDAC) Director General; Engineer Ernest Ndukwe as the CEO of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and Mrs Oby Ezekwesili as head of the Due Process Office before becoming the Minister of Solid Minerals and later Minister of Education; as well as Engineer Emeka Eze as the Bureau for Public Procurement Director General”. 

Son of a leading academic lawyer, Ewelukwa studied law at the University of Nigeria, Enugu Campus, before proceeding to the London School of Economics to specialize in international business law and Queen Mary College of the University of London where he took a doctoral degree in privatization of state-owned enterprises and reform of the Nigerian power sector.

Author of three authoritative books on electricity transactions, the new NBET CEO is also a member of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators.

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Post-Covid Economy: Buhari Government Thinking In The Right Direction – GEPIn

The Economic Sustainability Plan put up by a Committee led by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, which was submitted to President Buhari last Thursday has received commendation from the Global Economic Policy Initiative (GEPIn).

It described the plan as “well-hatched” and “timely,” especially given the current fears over Nigeria’s economic prospects post-COVID.

The group in a statement signed by its Chairman, Bernard Okri, stated that there were genuine fears and concerns how Nigeria’s economy would fare in a post-COVID world, but that the proposal submitted to the President by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo had assuaged most of these fears.

“The dedication of the Committee, led by Professor Osinbajo is commendable – more commendable is that their submissions came in at the right time. Nigerians across the country are genuinely worried and concerned about the economic climate post-COVID 19. This document has assured many, if not most of us that the government has a good plan, one in the right direction in fact.

The group noted that the Committee was a robust and inclusive one and thus was able to produce an all encompassing document.

“This document is an assurance to Nigerians that they have nothing to worry about. It assures of growth and a resilient economy despite the pandemic. 

“The philosophy behind the document is that Nigeria consumes what it produces – this is something we as a group have constantly stressed for years. 

“This ultimately means improving and funding our local industries to meet the country’s production deficit in critical sectors. This the document proposes, as well as boosting our manufacturing capacity – an endeavour we should long have embarked on when the country was earning its most under previous administrations. 

“Pumping more money into agriculture and infrastructure is proposed, so as ti act as conduits to funnel funds into the economy. This is a very welcome proposal. As the country fears a recession, the fundamental way out is to put in more funds into critical sectors that would serve as boosters to other dependent sectors.”

The group stated that the proposal targets 10s of millions of Nigerians and its implementation would be critical if the country’s economy must survive post-COVID-19. 

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Nigerian Professionals: Ambassadorial Nominees Are Thoroughbred Diplomats, Would Serve Nigeria’s Best Interest

Described as: “Round peg in round hole, truly deserving.”

A group of professionals in Nigeria, under the aegis of Young Nigerian Professionals have commended President Muhammadu Buhari for the nomination of 42 thoroughbred career diplomats as Ambassadors-designate, describing them as “round pegs, fit in round holes,” and “truly deserving.”

The forum in a statement signed by its Chairman, Charles Folayan said they were elated by the choice of these nominees, some of whom they had interacted with, at Nigerian Missions abroad and found to be diligent, hard working and patriotic.

According to Folayan, the forum is confident of the prospective Ambassadors’ capacities to deliver on President Buhari’s policies at the global arena whenever they are posted after clearance by the Senate.

“We can affirm that this list was carefully put together by the President in line with his foreign policy objectives. The nominees are seasoned diplomats, who have served in various countries with distinction; they are good men and women with the highest sense of commitment and responsibility. Wherever they have served, they were the darling of the Nigerian communities and their host officials.” Charles noted.

“Of particular interest is I. A. Yusuf, a nominee from Kogi State with whom the forum had interacted at more than one Nigerian Mission abroad. We know him for his exemplary character, integrity and his positive disposition towards Nigerians in his host countries, especially the students and professionals. He offers help with ease, to anyone who demands help.

“In all our encounters, we noted that when Yusuf gives his word, he keeps it; he has an unflinching penchant for timeliness; and importantly he demands diligence and love for Nigeria from associates and those he works with, that whatever is to be done must be done in the national interest and must be done right.

“We believe that the Ambassadors-designate will bring to Nigeria, the benefits of their abundant network of relationships across the world.”

The statement went ahead to encourage the Ambassadorial nominees to remain steadfast to the values that saw them rise to where they are.

The forum asked them to keep their eyes on the ball in order to justify the confidence reposed on them by President Muhammadu Buhari.

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Post-COVID-19: What President Buhari Is Doing, And Will Do, By Presidency

There is global anxiety on what the future holds for humanity post-COVID-19, particularly in respect of the economy, healthcare, job security, and general wellbeing.

Naturally, Nigerians are not immune from the disquietude, as they belong to the global community.

Below is a checklist of some measures that President Muhammadu Buhari has taken, and will further take, to make life abundant for Nigerians. This should assuage some apprehensions:

Ø An economic team, headed by the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning has been set up to examine the impact of COVID-19 on the economy.

Ø Economic Sustainability Committee headed by the Vice President to define a post-COVID-19 economy for Nigeria.

Ø Task force set up on free movement of farm produce headed by the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development.

Ø Plans afoot to tackle weak health systems and infrastructure through establishment of standard laboratories, intensive care units, and isolation centres in all states of the Federation. The health infrastructure will eventually be recalibrated for the good of the people, and in readiness for future emergencies.

Ø As long term measure, emphasis will be placed on integrating local content in proven researches in cure, and production of materials in the heath sector.

Ø A Fiscal Sustainability Plan to complement the suite of monetary and banking interventions recently announced by the Central Bank of Nigeria.

Ø A mass agricultural programme to be put in place.

Ø Major rural road construction programme.

Ø Mass housing programme.

Ø Large scale installation of residential solar systems, utilizing mainly local materials.

Ø Expansion of the Social Investment Programme.

Ø The 2020-2022 Medium Term Expenditure Framework and the Budget 2020 assumptions and targets have already been revised.

Ø Time-sensitive expenditures are to be prioritized over less critical spending.

Ø Extant financial controls are to be strengthened to detect, eliminate and sanction instances of waste, funds misappropriation and corruption.

Femi Adesina

Special Adviser to the President

(Media and Publicity)

May 14, 2020

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Buhari: Pastor Andimi’s Faith Should Inspire All Nigerians

President of Nigeria eulogizes Brethren leader executed by Boko Haram, and criticizes terrorist efforts to divide Christians and Muslims in Africa’s most populous state.

MUHAMMADU BUHARI
Nigerians everywhere, those of belief and those of none, are mourning the death of pastor Lawan Andimi, taken from us by Boko Haram for his refusal to denounce his Christian faith.

I did not know Pastor Andimi personally. Yet Nigerians and I both know him and his church by their works: healing, caring, feeding and educating, particularly in the northeastern regions of my country—in those areas threatened for too long by terrorists. Every day, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria (EYN) places itself there bravely where the brotherhood of man is most in need of sustenance.

Pastor Andimi’s ministry was located only 60 miles from the town of Chibok, from where in 2014 the world witnessed the shocking kidnapping of 267 schoolgirls. That even one individual—this time a man of the church—could still be taken by the terror group seven years later might be viewed as evidence the terrorists are fully functional, and undefeated. But it is not.

Since I was first elected to office in 2015, 107 of the Chibok girls have been freed. Today we seek the others. Boko Haram are no longer one, unified threat, but fractured into several rivals. These splinters are themselves degraded: reduced to criminal acts which—nonetheless no less cruel—target smaller and smaller numbers of the innocent. We owe thanks to the Nigerian defense forces, bolstered by our partnership with the British, American militaries and other countries that we are winning this struggle in the field.

But we may not, yet, be completely winning the battle for the truth. Christianity in Nigeria is not—as some seem intent on believing—contracting under pressure, but expanding and growing in numbers approaching half of our population today. Nor is it the case that Boko Haram is primarily targeting Christians: not all of the Chibok schoolgirls were Christians; some were Muslims, and were so at the point at which they were taken by the terrorists. Indeed, it is the reality that some 90 per cent of all Boko Haram’s victims have been Muslims: they include a copycat abduction of over 100 Muslim schoolgirls, along with their single Christian classmate; shootings inside mosques; and the murder of two prominent imams. Perhaps it makes for a better story should these truths, and more, be ignored in the telling.

It is a simple fact that these now-failing terrorists have targeted the vulnerable, the religious, the non-religious, the young, and the old without discrimination. And at this point, when they are fractured, we cannot allow them to divide good Christians and good Muslims from those things that bind us all in the sight of God: faith, family, forgiveness, fidelity, and friendship to each other.

Yet sadly, there is a tiny, if vocal, minority of religious leaders—both Muslim and Christian—who appear more than prepared to take their bait and blame the opposite religious side. The terrorists today attempt to build invisible walls between us. They have failed in their territorial ambitions, so now instead they seek to divide our state of mind, by prying us from one from another—to set one religion seemingly implacably against the other.

Translated into English, Boko Haram means “Western teachings are sinful.” They claim as “proof” passages of the Quran which state that Muslims should fight “pagans” to be justification for attacks on Christians and those Muslims who hold no truck with them. They are debased by their wilful misreading of scripture—at least those of them who are able to read at all.

Of course, there is much of Christianity and Islam—both in teaching and practice—that are not the same. Were that not so, there would be no need for the separateness of the two religions. Yet though these unread terrorists seem not to know it, there is much between our two faiths—both the word and the scripture—that run in parallel.

For the Bible teaches, “Each one must give as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion” (2 Cor. 9:7), while the Quran states: “There is no compulsion in religion” (2:256). Similarly, the Bible states:

“For if anyone is a hearer of the Word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror” (James 1:23). The Quran concurs: “Those who believe and do good works, theirs will be forgiveness and a great reward” (35:7).

I call on Nigeria’s faith leaders, and Nigerians everywhere, to take these words of concord—and the many more that exist—to their hearts and their deeds. Just as my government, and our international partners, quicken our campaign to defeat Boko Haram within and without our borders, we must turn our minds to the future. There is no place in Nigeria for those who seek to divide us by religion, who compel others to change their faith forcibly, or try to convince others that by so doing, they are doing good.

Rather, we might all learn from the faith and works of Pastor Andimi. There seems little doubt he acted selflessly in so many regards—giving alms and prayers to both Christians and Muslims who suffered at the hands of the terrorists. And he passed from us, rightly refusing to renounce his faith that was not for his captors to take, any more than his life. His belief and his deeds are a lesson and an inspiration to all of us.

Muhammadu Buhari is President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

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A Letter From President Buhari At New Year

My Dear Compatriots,

NIGERIA’S DECADE

Today marks a new decade. It is a time of hope, optimism and fresh possibilities. We look forward as a nation to the 2020s as the opportunity to build on the foundations we have laid together on security, diversification of our economy and taking on the curse of corruption. These are the pledges on which I have been twice elected President and remain the framework for a stable, sustainable and more prosperous future.

Elections are the cornerstone of our democracy. I salute the commitment of the millions who voted in peace last February and of those leaders who contested for office vigorously but fairly, submitting to the authority of the electorate, the Independent National Electoral Commission and judicial process. I understand very well the frustrations our system has in the past triggered. I will be standing down in 2023 and will not be available in any future elections. But I am determined to help strengthen the electoral process both in Nigeria and across the region, where several ECOWAS members go to the polls this year.

As Commander-in-Chief, my primary concern is the security of the nation and the safety of our citizens. When I assumed office in May 2015 my first task was to rally our neighbours so that we could confront Boko Haram on a coordinated regional basis. Chaos is not a neighbour any of us hope for.

We have been fighting on several fronts: violent extremists, cultists and organised criminal networks. It has not been easy. But as we are winning the war, we also look to the challenge of winning the peace, the reconstruction of lives, communities and markets. The North East Development Commission will work with local and international stakeholders to help create a new beginning for the North East.
The Federal Government will continue to work with State Governors, neighbouring states and our international partners to tackle the root causes of violent extremism and the networks that help finance and organise terror. Our security forces will receive the best training and modern weaponry, and in turn will be held to the highest standards of professionalism, and respect for human rights. We will use all the human and emerging technological resources available to tackle kidnapping, banditry and armed robbery.

The new Ministry of Police Affairs increased recruitment of officers and the security reforms being introduced will build on what we are already delivering. We will work tirelessly at home and with our allies in support of our policies to protect the security of life and property. Our actions at all times will be governed by the rule of law. At the same time, we shall look always to engage with all well-meaning leaders and citizens of goodwill to promote dialogue, partnership and understanding.

We need a democratic government that can guarantee peace and security to realise the full potential of our ingenious, entrepreneurial and hard-working people. Our policies are designed to promote genuine, balanced growth that delivers jobs and rewards industry. Our new Economic Advisory Council brings together respected and independent thinkers to advise me on a strategy that champions inclusive and balanced growth, and above all fight poverty and safeguard national economic interests.

As we have sat down to celebrate with friends and family over this holiday season, for the first time in a generation our food plates have not all been filled with imports of products we know can easily be produced here at home. The revolution in agriculture is already a reality in all corners of the country. New agreements with Morocco, Russia and others will help us access on attractive terms the inputs we need to accelerate the transformation in farming that is taking place.

A good example of commitment to this inclusive growth is the signing of the African Continental Free Trade Area and the creation of the National Action Committee to oversee its implementation and ensure the necessary safeguards are in place to allow us to fully capitalise on regional and continental markets.
The joint land border security exercise currently taking place is meant to safeguard Nigeria’s economy and security. No one can doubt that we have been good neighbours and good citizens. We have been the helpers and shock-absorbers of the sub-region but we cannot allow our well-planned economic regeneration plans to be sabotaged. As soon as we are satisfied that the safeguards are adequate, normal cross-border movements will be resumed.

Already, we are making key infrastructure investments to enhance our ease of doing business. On transportation, we are making significant progress on key roads such as the Second Niger Bridge, Lagos – Ibadan Expressway and the Abuja – Kano highway. 2020 will also see tangible progress on the Lagos to Kano Rail line. Through Executive Order 007, we are also using alternative funding programmes in collaboration with private sector partners to fix strategic roads such as the Apapa-Oworonshoki Express way. Abuja and Port Harcourt have new international airport terminals, as will Kano and Lagos in 2020. When completed, all these projects will positively impact business operations in the country. These projects are not small and do not come without some temporary disruption; we are doing now what should have been done a long time ago. I thank you for your patience and look forward to the dividends that we and future generations will long enjoy.

Power has been a problem for a generation. We know we need to pick up the pace of progress. We have solutions to help separate parts of the value chain to work better together. In the past few months, we have engaged extensively with stakeholders to develop a series of comprehensive solutions to improve the reliability and availability of electricity across the country. These solutions include ensuring fiscal sustainability for the sector, increasing both government and private sector investments in the power transmission and distribution segments, improving payment transparency through the deployment of smart meters and ensuring regulatory actions maximise service delivery.

We have in place a new deal with Siemens, supported by the German government after German Chancellor Angela Merkel visited us in Abuja, to invest in new capacity for generation, transmission and distribution. These projects will be under close scrutiny and transparency – there will be no more extravagant claims that end only in waste, theft and mismanagement.

The next 12 months will witness the gradual implementation of these actions, after which Nigerians can expect to see significant improvement in electricity service supply reliability and delivery. Separately, we have plans to increase domestic gas consumption. In the first quarter of 2020, we will commence work on the AKK gas pipeline, OB3 Gas pipeline and the expansion of the Escravos – Lagos Pipeline.

While we look to create new opportunities in agriculture, manufacturing and other long neglected sectors, in 2020 we will also realise increased value from oil and gas, delivering a more competitive, attractive and profitable industry, operating on commercial principles and free from political interference. Just last week, we were able to approve a fair framework for the USD10 billion expansion of Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas, which will increase exports by 35 percent, restore our position as a world leader in the sector and create thousands of jobs. The Amendment of the Deep Offshore Act in October signalled our intention to create a modern, forward-looking industry in Nigeria. I am confident that in 2020 we will be able to present a radical programme of reform for oil and gas that will excite investors, improve governance and strengthen protections for host communities and the environment.

We can expect the pace of change in technology only to accelerate in the decade ahead. Coupled with our young and vibrant population, this offers huge opportunities if we are able to harness the most productive trends and tame some of the wilder elements. This is a delicate balance with which many countries are struggling. We are seeking an informed and mature debate that reflects our rights and responsibilities as citizens in shaping the boundaries of how best to allow technology to benefit Nigeria.

During my Democracy Day speech on June 12, 2019, I promised to lay the enduring foundations for taking a hundred million Nigerians out of mass poverty over the next 10 years. Today I restate that commitment. We shall continue reforms in education, health care and water sanitation. I have met international partners such as GAVI, the vaccine alliance, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation who support our social welfare programmes. I will continue to work with State and Local Governments to make sure that these partnerships deliver as they should. Workers will have a living wage and pensioners will be looked after. We are steadily clearing pensions and benefits arrears neglected for so long.
The new Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development will consolidate and build on the social intervention schemes and will enhance the checks and balances necessary for this set of programmes to succeed for the long term.

I am able to report that the journey has already begun with the passage and signing into law of the 2020 Appropriation Act. As the new decade dawns, we are ready to hit the ground running. Let me pay tribute to the Ninth National Assembly who worked uncommonly long hours to make sure that the 2020 budget scrutiny is both thorough and timely. The close harmony between the Executive and Legislature is a sharp contrast to what we have experienced in the recent past, when the Senate kept the previous budget for 7 months without good reason just to score cheap political points thereby disrupting the budgetary processes and overall economic development plans.

Our policies are working and the results will continue to show themselves more clearly by the day. Nigeria is the most tremendous, can-do market, offering extraordinary opportunities and returns. Investors can look forward with confidence not only to an increasing momentum of change but also to specific incentives, including our new visa-on-arrival policy.

They can also be certain of our unshakeable commitment to tackle corruption. As we create an environment that allows initiative, enterprise and hard work to thrive, it is more important than ever to call out those who find the rule of law an inconvenience, or independent regulation an irritation. We are doing our part here in Nigeria. We will continue to press our partners abroad to help with the supply side of corruption and have received some encouragement. We expect more funds stolen in the past to be returned to us and they will be ploughed back into development with all due transparency.

This is a joint initiative. Where our policies have worked best, it has been because of the support of ordinary Nigerians in their millions, numbers that even the most powerful of special interests cannot defy. I thank you for your support. Transition by its very nature carries with it change and some uncertainty along the way. I encourage you to be tolerant, law abiding and peace loving. This is a new year and the beginning of a new decade – the Nigerian Decade of prosperity and promise for Nigeria and for Africa.

To recapitulate, some of the projects Nigerians should expect to come upstream from 2020 include:

47 road projects scheduled for completion in 2020/21, including roads leading to ports;
Major bridges including substantial work on the Second Niger Bridge;
Completion of 13 housing estates under the National Housing Project Plan;
Lagos, Kano, Maiduguri and Enugu international airports to be commissioned in 2020;
Launching of an agricultural rural mechanisation scheme that will cover 700 local governments over a period of three years;
Launching of the Livestock Development Project Grazing Model in Gombe State where 200,000 hectares of land has been identified;
Training of 50,000 workers to complement the country’s 7,000 extension workers;
Commissioning of the Lagos – Ibadan and Itakpe – Warri rail lines in the first quarter;
Commencement of the Ibadan – Abuja and Kano – Kaduna rail lines also in the first quarter;
Further liberalisation of the power sector to allow businesses to generate and sell power;
Commencement of the construction of the Mambilla Power project by the first half of 2020; and
Commencement of the construction of the AKK gas pipeline, OB3 gas pipeline and the expansion of the Escravos – Lagos pipeline in the first quarter of 2020.

Thank you very much!

President Muhammadu Buhari
State House,
Abuja.
1st January, 2020

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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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