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Buhari, APC, INEC urge tribunal to dismiss Atiku, PDP’s petition

President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday prayed the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal to dismiss petition filed by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its Presidential Candidate, Atiku Abubakar against his Feb.23 re-election.

Buhari made the prayer through his Counsel, Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN, in a motion adopted and argued on Tuesday before Justice Mohammed Garba-led five-man panel in Abuja.

Olanipekun submitted that the petition was fundamentally defective, adding that his client won the presidential “square and clear’’.

He explained that the allegations advanced by the petitioners were mere theoretical assumptions that could not stand the test of critical legal debate.

News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the tribunal also entertained the president’s motion that sought to effect amendment on the identities and addresses of counsel representing him.

Another of Buhari’s application seeking to mandate the tribunal to entertain all interlocutory motions before the commencement of proper hearing of the main petition was also adopted and argued.

Similarly, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) asked the tribunal to dismiss the petition brought by PDP and Atiku against a “flawless’’ election that won by Buhari.

Mr Yunus Usman, SAN, Counsel for INEC said that the electoral commission would standby the declaration of the second respondent (Buhari) as winner of the Fbe.23 presidential election.

Usman said the petition challenging the outcome of the exercise was “misguided’’, adding that the allegations of fraud made against the electoral body was “mischievous’’.

NAN reports that INEC’s application challenging the jurisdiction and competence of the tribunal to entertain the petition.

Usman further urged the tribunal to dismiss the petition as the petitioners failed to include the vice president, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, as a co-winner in the election.

“ The failure of the PDP and Atiku to include Osinbajo’s name as party should not be overlooked because whatever affects the president affects his running mate,’’ Usman said.

NAN also reports that three other interlocutory motions filed by the All Progressive Congress were argued and dispensed with.

Chief Lateef Fagbemi, SAN,  Counsel for the APC had urged the tribunal to strike out 18 paragraphs of the petition with frivolous assumptions among other prayers.

He submitted that the competence of the petition was questionable, adding that it would soon become a mere “lame duck’’.

Meanwhile, Dr Levi Uzoukwu, SAN, Counsel for the petitioners prayed the tribunal to discountenance all the arguments canvassed by the respondents, describing INEC’s position in the matter as “unusual”.

The presiding judge, therefore, fixed June 13 for the petitioners’ motions to be heard.

I rate Saraki and Dogara very low in area of patriotism- Buhari

President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday rated Senate President, Bukola Saraki, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, very low in the area of patriotism.

He based his assessment of the two leaders of the legislative arm of government on their refusal to pass the 2018 budget seven months after it was submitted by the Executive arm of government.

The president gave his assessment while answering question on a special interview programme on the Nigerian Television Authority, NTA, which was also broadcast on other platforms.

The president who spoke on the uncooperative attitude of the leadership of the National Assembly in their dealing with the Executive arm said they had a wrong impression of their role in government.

The president said rather than agree that the Executive arm should determine the run of government, the legislature thought they had the power.

His words:  I think it was wrong. It is the Executive which dictates the term and take it to the legislature to re-examine it, and agree or disagree with it.  But when they go around that they are the government, not the executive, then, there is a problem.

“I spoke personally to the Senate President, Saraki, and the leader of the House, Dogara.  They cannot deny it.  I told them how did they feel to hold the country to ransom for seven months without passing a budget?

“So, really, in terms of patriotism, I rate them very very low.”

The president said however, that he could not afford to do without them since it was the dictate of the constitution.

The president also spoke on the state of insecurity in the country saying the efforts to end it should be a collective one.

According to him, the perpetrators of crimes lived in the society and were known by the people in the different communities.

As a result, he said, it would be necessary for the people to expose the criminals in their midst in order to bring about peace in the society.

He emphasised the importance of security to investment.

The president said investors would only be attracted if there was a state of security.

“What Nigerians should do is to expose the kidnappers and the thief,” he said.

He reasoned that the government would not be able to provide all the jobs needed for every Nigerian alone, but with the contribution of the private sector.

To make that happen, he stressed, there had to be a state of security.

Insecurity: Buhari meets Northern governors

President Muhammadu Buhari, on Monday, met behind closed doors with members of the Northern Governors’ Forum at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

Speaking to State House correspondents at the end of the meeting, Governor Aminu Masari of Katsina State said that the governors were in the villa to seek presidential intervention in addressing the menace of Boko Haram in the North East, banditry and kidnapping in the North West and the North Central regions.

He added that the governors briefed the president on their concerns about intractable security challenges in their respective states.

“The issue that brought us to the President is about the rising insecurity in the Northwest, Northcentral and Northeast.

“North east is known for Boko Haram insurgency but of recent what was known to be cattle rustling in Northwest and some parts of Northcentral has turned out to be something different from what we had before.

“So, this concern made us to come and brief the president so that urgent action would be taken in order to curb this deadly menace of banditry which is gradually graduating into insurgency.

”You know the north west with a vast forest area going to north central and  then even going  out of Nigeria.

“So, we need to act quickly and decisively so that it doesn’t turn into something else like what we had in the northeast,” he said.

He said the governors offered suggestions on how to tackle the problems, and that Buhari gave his word and commitment that something will be done by the Federal Government to assist the States check them.

Masari, however, declined to give the specific suggestions the governors offered as well as what the President pledged to do, saying that “the details are not for public consumption yet’’.

On the fate of the District head of Daura, Alhaji Musa Umar, who was abducted 26 days ago, he said: “I think the police are working serious and they have made some progress but for obvious reasons, they cannot disclose all what they have done for security reasons but work is going on.”

Buhari signs N8.9trn 2019 budget

President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday in Abuja signed the 2019 Appropriation Bill of N8.92 trillion.

The president submitted the budget of N8.83 trillion to the Senate but it was increased by about N90 billion by the Upper House, bringing the amount to N8.92trillion.

Dignitaries who witnessed the ceremony at the mini-conference hall of the president included the Senate President Bukola Saraki and the Speaker of the House of Representatives,Yakubu Dogara.

The Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha and the Chief of Staff to the President, Malam Abba Kyari also witnessed the signing of the budget.

Others at the event were the ministers of Finance (Zainab Ahmed), Budget and National Planning (Udoma Udo Udoma), Information and Culture (Lai Mohammed) and the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriations, Sen. Danjuma Goje,

Buhari signs 2019 Budget
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters (Senate), Sen. Ita Enang and his counterpart for the House of Representatives, Umar El-Yakub, were also at the event.

On June 6, 2018, Buhari signed the 2018 appropriation bill of N9.120 trillion into law.

Udoma said after the signing of the law that the budget would  help the president to consolidate the achievements of previous budgets and deliver on Nigeria’s Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) 2017-2020.

He expressed satisfaction with the implementation of the 2017 budget, which saw the N1.5 trillion implementation of capital projects during the 2017 fiscal year.

He said the government would work hard to recreate the same achievement and generate the revenues required to finance projects and programmes that would significantly improve the economy.

During the signing of the 2018 bill, the president further noted, with dismay, the cuts made by the National Assembly to the bill he originally presented.

He said the legislature made cuts amounting to N347 billion in the allocations to 4,700 projects submitted to them for consideration and introduced 6,403 projects of their own amounting to N578 billion.

The president said he only signed the bill because he did not want to further slow down the pace of recovery of Nigeria’s economy and further disclosed that he would  send “a supplementary and/or amendment budget” to the National Assembly to rectify the critical issues he raised.

Buhari’s Inauguration: FG declares May 29 work free day

The Federal Government has declared Wednesday, May 29, as a work free day, in commemoration of  the 2019 Presidential Inauguration.

The Minister of Interior, Lt.- Gen. Abdulrahman Dambazau, (Rtd), made the declaration on behalf of the Federal Government, in a statement signed by Mrs Georgina Ehuriah, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, on Monday in Abuja.

Dambazau congratulated President Muhammadu Buhari for his re-election and Nigerians for the successful conduct of the 2019 elections, which were widely acknowledged as peaceful, free, fair, credible and transparent.

Dambazau called on Nigerians to support the policies and programmes of the incoming administration.

He said these policies are all geared towards the improvement of the lives of the citizens, as well as the unity, growth and development of the nation, as it moves to the next level.

He expressed confidence that, with the collaboration of all Nigerians, the nation would be transformed in the next four years to a country that would be the envy of other nations.

The minister wished the incoming administration, a most fulfilling tenure and Nigerians a memorable Presidential Inauguration Day.

Buhari obtains assets declaration form, asks CCB to keep it safe from his opponents

President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday obtained his assets declaration form ahead of his second term.

The Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) presented the forms to him and and Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo at the presidential villa in Abuja.

He urged the CCB to keep his form safe, saying he is sure that a lot of people who have “tested the bitter pill” of his anti-corruption war will seek to fight back by 2023 when his second term will end.

Buhari promised to fill his form the forms quickly and dispatch it to CCB.

“I am very pleased that you are here. I assure you I will quickly fill this form and dispatch it to you. At the end of 2023, I believe there are a lot of people that will like to get back at me. So please, make sure you keep it safely because there are people who believe they shouldn’t be questioned and some of them are already in trouble. I expect them to fight back and this is one of the instruments. So, I hope you will keep it. Thank you very much indeed.”

Buhari, who commended Muhammad Isa, CCB chairman, for accepting to serve, said: “I am very pleased. I think I am meeting you for the first time since your appointment. I thank you for accepting to be in this very important institution and I thank you very much for serving me my forms which I must fill constitutionally before my second term of office.

“I think we cannot over emphasise the importance of your office because Nigerians are notorious for cutting short and not giving account of their public responsibilities and we are trying to impress it on our nation and the world that this administration is based on accountability.

“It is only institutions like yours that will bail us out from the efforts that we have been making to make sure that people in public offices do not abuse that public office and that those who come in and those that are leaving in certain positions make sure that they hold the integrity of the office and of the country generally in high esteem.”

Isah was accompanied by Murtala Kankia, Emmanuel Attah and other board members

In 2015, Buhari declared his assets but they were not made public, sparking a nationwide outrage. The CCB had said it had no legal powers to publicise Buhari’s assets.

However, in September 2015, Garba Shehu, presidential spokesman, released a statement saying the president had less than N30 million to his name before he took office on May 29, 2015.

According to the statement, Buhari owned five houses in Kaduna, Daura, Kano and Abuja, and has two undeveloped plots of land, one in Kano and the other in Port Harcourt, Rivers state.

He added that Buhari had farms, an orchard, ranch, livestock including 270 cattle, 25 sheep, five horses, a variety of birds and a number of economic trees.

Buhari refuses to disclose new cabinet members

President Muhammadu Buhari says he will not make any comment about those who will make his next cabinet.

Fielding questions from reporters after his 10-day trip to the United Kingdom, Buhari said he is ready to settle down and swear in the new cabinet.

A reporter had asked him, “What kind of people will make your next cabinet?” and he responded: “I won’t tell you.”

The president also refused to respond to the question on whether he compiled a ministerial list while in London.

On the widespread kidnappings in the country, Buhari said he noticed Mohammed Adamu, acting inspector-general of police, had lost weight, saying it is a sign that he is working hard.

The presidential aircraft which conveyed the president from London landed at the presidential wing of Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, at 6:24pm.

Those at the airport to welcome the president were Abba Kyari, his chief of staff; Muhammed Bello, minister of the federal capital territory (FCT); Tukur Buratai, chief of army staff; Ibrahim Magu, acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), and some presidential aides.

Buhari proceeded to the UK on a “private visit” on April 25.

Again, house of reps summons Buhari over insecurity

The House of Representatives has again summoned President Muhammadu Buhari to appear before it over the insecurity in the country.

The lawmakers summoned the president while deliberating on a motion on insecurity raised by Ahmed Safana from Katsina state.

The development comes less than a month after the lawmakers summoned the president over the same issue.

The president, who is currently away on a private trip to the UK, did not honour the summon till date.

At Thursday’s plenary, the lawmakers lamented the incessant killings being recorded in parts of the country as a result of attacks by bandits among others.

The latest of such attacks was on Wednesday night when some female cooks and other staff were from their school in Zamfara state.

Yusuf Lasun, deputy speaker, said lack of adequate government policies and actions have been part of the major causes of the security challenges.

“Is there any government in the last eight years that have shown us why people are being killed? No government,” he said.

“The major problem is the kind of policy we give out, either at state or local govt level. It took Bill Gates to come and tell us in Nigeria that we’ve neglected health and education.”

Mohammed Monguno from Borno state suggested that the insecurity in the country could be related to the high rate of unemployment.

“If we are going to feed the 200 million Nigerians, it is only thoughtful that we can create jobs for the youth so that they can have a means of livelihood,” he said.

“If care is not taken, if the situation is not curbed, we will not be able to sleep. There are places in my community that you cannot travel to with a jeep or flashy car.”

The lawmakers subsequently resolved to summon the president to address them on efforts being made to tackle the insecurity in the country.

Tight security at Lagos airport ahead of Buhari’s visit

A high number of security operatives were, on Wednesday, deployed to strategic positions at the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos, ahead of the working visit of President Muhammadu Buhari to the state.

According to NAN, the security operatives were already at their respective positions around 7.15am.

They included officers from the Nigerian air force (NAF), Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) and Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC).

Also on ground were officials of the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) who controlled traffic within the airport and its environs.

Buhari is visiting Lagos, the commercial capital of Nigeria, to inaugurate some projects executed by the Lagos state government.

The projects are – Institute of maternal and child health (Ayinke House), Lagos theatre, Oshodi transport interchange and international airport road as well as 820 mass transit buses.

Meanwhile, here are the roads to be closed during the president’s official visit to the state.

Motorists are advised to avoid the roads while those who find it unavoidable to ply the listed roads were advised to be patient and co-operate with traffic managers.

JUST IN: Buhari meets Kano, Zamfara, Ogun govs

President Muhammadu Buhari again on Friday met with three state governors elected on the platform of the All Progressives Congress.

The President’s Personal Assistant on New Media, Bashir Ahmad, disclosed this on his Twitter handle, @BashirAhmaad.

Ahmad listed the governors who met with Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja to include Abdullahi Ganduje (Kano), Ibikunle Amosun (Ogun) and Abdulaziz Yari (Zamfara).

“President Muhammadu Buhari this afternoon, met with Governors of Kano, Ogun and Zamfara States at the Presidential Villa, Abuja,” he wrote.

Although the president’s aide did not disclose the purpose of the meeting, it is believed to be part of ongoing efforts to resolve the post-primaries crises that erupted in the ruling party in some states.

More to follow…

Buhari, 13 APC governors storm Osun for Oyetola

President Muhammadu Buhari led top members of the All Progressives Congress (APC) to Osogbo, capital of Osun state, for the rally of the ruling party ahead of Saturday’s governorship election.

Isiaka Oyetola, a former chief of staff to Aregbesola, is the APC candidate in the election.

Speaking during the rally, Buhari said “Oyetola is ready to work”.

Buhari appealed to the people to vote massively for Oyetola to continue the “good works” of Rauf Aregbesola, the incumbent governor.

Abdullahi Ganduje, governor of Kano; Akinwunmi Ambode, governor of Lagos; Nasir el-Rufai, governor of Kaduna, Simon Lalong, governor of Plateau, attended the rally.

Other governors are governors are Abiola Ajimobi (Oyo), Ibikunle Amosun (Ogun), Rotimi Akeredolu (Ondo), Abubakar Bagudu (Kebbi), and Godwin Obaseki (Edo).

El-Rufai, who spoke on behalf of the governors, said many of them will stay back in Osun until the election is over.

Why Nigeria didn’t sign Economic Partnership Agreement –Buhari

President Muhammadu Buhari has stated the reasons why Nigeria refused to sign the Economic Partnership Agreement among ECOWAS countries

According to a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, Buhari spoke while receiving Letters of Credence from the Head of Delegation of the European Union to Nigeria, Ketil Karlsen, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

The President told his guest that Nigeria had been reluctant to sign the Economic Partnership Agreement among ECOWAS countries because of the need to protect the economy, especially the industries and small businesses that currently provide jobs for majority of Nigerians.

The President noted that the signing of the agreement will expose the industries and small businesses to external pressures and competitions, which could lead to closure and job losses.

“We are not enthusiastic about signing the EPA because of our largely youthful population. We are still struggling to provide jobs for them, and we want our youths to be kept busy.

“Presently, our industries cannot compete with the more efficient and highly technology-driven industries in Europe. We have to protect our industries and our youths,’’ he said.

Buhari, who commended the EU for its support for the rehabilitation of the North East, noted that the Nigerian economy was already being repositioned to attract more investments that will create jobs.

In his remarks, Karlsen said the EU would continue to support Buhari’s administration in the key priorities it listed — security, economy and the fight against corruption.

He said the EPA was designed to accommodate and protect some economies that would find it difficult to compete.

“We are hopeful that there will be a signature on the agreement,’’ Karlsen added.

Buhari also received Letters of Credence from the Ambassador of Italy, Dr. Stefano Pontesilli; and the Ambassador of Spain, Mr. Marcelino Ansorena.

Air passengers, commuters stranded as Lagos blocks major roads over Buhari’s visit

Many residents of Lagos are groaning as a result of the vehicular restriction on major roads in the state, compounding the traffic gridlock in the metropolitan city.

The roads were blocked because of President Muhammadu Buhari’s two-day visit to the state.

As part of measures to control the traffic situation, the Lagos state government declared Thursday a work-free day.

It also announced that roads leading to some of the projects the president would inaugurate would be shut.

The projects are the Lekki Deep Sea, Eko Atlantic City, Ikeja Bus Terminus, among others.

But residents who woke up as early as 4am where still trapped as commercial buses and other unauthorised vehicles were restricted from plying the Agege Motor Road, Airport Road, Mobolaji Bank-Anthony Way, Eko Hotel Round about and different spots in the city.

Security operatives also mounted strategic places around the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, and various locations across the state.

Banners and billboards with the president’s photographs were also put up along the roads, while many of his supporters lined across the roads.

Most of the passengers trekked long distance before getting to the airport.

Some airlines had to delay their flights to enable passengers meet up. In a statement, Air Peace said the traffic diversion was affecting its operation. The airline also empathized with its passengers.

“We empathise with our esteemed guests who are having a challenge accessing the airport to catch their flights due to the diversion of traffic at various points In Lagos,” the statement read.

“This is currently affecting flights out of our base in Lagos despite the availability and readiness of our crew to operate their flights.

“We urge our valued guests to remain calm, while we monitor the development and take steps to minimise the impact of the resulting flight disruptions.”

Kehinde Adebowale, a Lagos resident said that she trekked a distance of two kilometers on her way to work on Thursday.

“I trekked from Ile-Zik after Cement Bus Stop to Alausa (a journey of three kilometres). I have not done such since I started working five years ago,” she said.

“No matter the excuse given, it’s not fair for us to be treated like this because of one man. Just one man.”

Ayebo Olubunmi, another resident, lamented the effect of the closure of major roads on people during Easter period.

“I am supposed to go to church in Yaba but I am trapped in Egbeda just because Mr President is inaugurating some projects. Is he greater than God?” she asked.

“How on earth could they have disrupted our plans because of a man who is supposed to be serving us? I do not have words to describe how I feel over this callous act.”

In his reaction, Adewale Martins, Catholic archbishop of Lagos, described the president’s visit as ill-timed.

In a statement signed by Gabriel Osu, director of social communications, the archbishop lamented that the president’s visit coincided with the “most important days of the year for Christians when they celebrate the events of the salvation of the world”.

He said Christians would be subjected to “untold hardships” due to the closure of roads and the ban of commercial motorcycles on many routes.

“It is really unfortunate that the timing of the visit would create such hardships for people and deprive some of their right to worship and take part in the most important feast of their faith,” he said.

Buhari is currently attending the 10th colloquium of Bola Tinubu, a leader of the APC, in Lagos.

This is the president’s first official visit to the state since his emergence in 2015.

Buhari seeks repatriation of loot, signs agreement with Switzerland

President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday signed the instrument of ratification of a Memorandum of Understanding among Nigeria, Switzerland and the International Development Association that will lead to the repatriation of illegally-acquired assets to Nigeria.

The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, disclosed this in a statement made available to journalists.

Buhari offers amnesty to repentant Boko Haram insurgents

President Muhammadu Buhari says the government is ready to accept Boko Haram members who are willing to lay down their arms “unconditionally”.

The president said this on Friday when he received the 105 Dapchi schoolgirls recently released from Boko Haram custody.

The girls — abducted on February 19 — were released by the insurgents on Wednesday.

“While further efforts are being made to secure the release of every abducted citizen in Nigeria, government is ever ready to accept the unconditional laying down of arms by any member of the Boko Haram group, who show strong commitment in that regard,” he said.

“We are ready to rehabilitate and integrate such repentant members into the larger society. This country has suffered enough of hostility. Government is therefore appealing to all to embrace peace for the overall development of our people and the country.”

He added that government remains determined to bring back the Chibok schoolgirls in the insurgents’ custody.

“While parents of the Dapchi girls rejoice because of the reunion with their children, I want to appeal to the Chibok community never to lose hope or to despair,” Buhari said.

JUST IN: Reps to override Buhari on Peace corps bill

The House of Representatives says it will override President Muhammadu Buhari’s veto on the recently rejected Peace Corps Bill.

This means the House will exercise its power to make a passed bill to become a law, without the assent of the president.

The House’s move, however, will only be effective if a similar decision is taken by the Senate.

The decision to overrule the president was announced Wednesday by the House spokesperson, Abdulrazak Namdas.

He told journalists at the National Assembly that apart from the widely anticipated Peace Corps bill, the House will commence the process of overriding the president’s veto on nine other bills.

The bills are: A Bill for an Act to establish the Chartered Institute of Treasury Management; A Bill for an Act to establish the Nigerian Council for Social Works; and A Bill for an Act to amend the currency conversion, freezing orders act to give discretionary powers to the judge of high court to order for forfeiture of assets of affected persons, and a bill for an act to establish the police procurement fund.

Others are, A Bill for an Act to amend the environmental health officers council registration Act; A Bill for an Act to establish the Chartered Institute of Loan and Risk Management of Nigeria; A Bill for an Act to establish the Chartered Institute of Public Management of Nigeria; A Bill for an Act to establish the Chartered Institute of Exports and Community Brokers of Nigeria; and A Bill for an Act to establish the Federal University, Wukari.

President Buhari, at various times, either rejected the bills or did not communicate his decision to the House after the stipulated 30 days.

On the Peace Bill, Mr Buhari said in a letter to the House that he would not sign the legislation considering its financial and security implications.

He also in 2017 refused to sign the bill establishing the University of Wukari, Taraba state, based on what he described as wrong use of some phrases in the bill.

The National Assembly is empowered by Section 58(5) of the 1999 Constitution to override the president’s veto on Bills.

The House requires 240 members to make up its two-thirds, while the 109-member Senate requires 73 members to veto the president’s assent.

JUST IN: Igbo leaders endorse Buhari for second term

Leaders of the All Progressive Congress (APC) in the south-east have endorsed President Muhammadu Buhari for a second term.

Speaking with State House correspondents on Monday, Ogbonnaya Onu, minister of science and technology, who led a delegation to Buhari, said the president has done enough to merit a second time.

The delegation comprised Rochas Okorocha, governor of Imo state who was represented by Eze Madumere, his deputy, serving members of the national assembly, former governors, all the ministers from the south-east, members of the national working committee and national executive committee of the APC.

“The APC leadership in the south-east met on December 31 last year and endorsed the president for a second term,” he said.

“We have come today to reaffirm that and to assure Mr. President that the party is working very hard to win future elections.”

The minister said Buhari was very happy with the calibre of people that were in the delegation.

“He was very happy because you can see the caliber of people in this delegation, a very high-powered delegation,” he said.

“The president was very happy that such a delegation thought it fit to visit him.”

Asked if the meeting which was less than 10 minutes was all about politics and nothing on what is bothering the south east, Onu said, “Oh yes. We first commended the president on the efforts he is making to make sure that there is development in the south-east.

“For example, the major roads that run through the five states, if you take the Enugu-Port Harcourt Road, Enugu-Onitsha-Owerri road, this administration has worked very hard.

“I travelled by road to Port Harcourt on the 12th of this month and I can tell you that very significant improvements have taken place. In the past, it used to be promises, but now it’s action.

“The second Niger Bridge in the past was a promise but now there is action on that very important bridge which is not just for the south-east but for the whole country as a matter of fact.

“We also thanked him because the people of the south-east are very enterprising people, so when you are building a railway network, it is important that all major commercial towns are linked up by rail and also gas distribution. And the president gave direct instructions that this should be done and we are very happy. Is not just good for the south-east is good for the nation.”

The delegation also asked Buhari to name an asset after former Vice-President Alex Ekwueme who died in London last year.

“We also thanked the president for the role the federal government is playing under his leadership on the burial of one of our very great sons, former vice-president of this great nation, Dr. Alex Ekwueme,” he said.

“And we told him that the people of the south-east will be happy if a national asset is named after him as a way to show that the nation is also appreciative of his important contributions to nation-building.”

Buhari approves payment of pension to retired Biafran police officers

Succour has come the way of police officers who served in the defunct Biafran Police during the 30 months Civil War as President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the payment of pension to those who were granted presidential pardon in 2000.

The Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate ( PTAD ) yesterday announced that about 162 of such retired police officers and 57 next of kin of those who died will be paid their pension benefits in the first phase of the payment with effect from tomorrow in Enugu.

A statement from the PTAD management said after their pardon, a verification exercise was conducted for them by the defunct Police Pension office and recently by PTAD and the Police Service Commission.

The statement reads: “The general public would recall that Nigeria witnessed an ugly Civil War between July, 1967 and January, 1970 and as a result of that unfortunate period in our history, some members of the Armed Forces, the Nigeria Police and paramilitary officers who took part with the secessionist were dismissed from the service.

“The dismissal of those officers was commuted to retirement in the year 2000 through a Presidential Amnesty granted on May 29, 2000 by the Administration of the then President, Olusegun Obasanjo.

“A verification exercise was conducted for the pardoned officers by the defunct Police Pension Office and recently PTAD on one hand and the Police Service Commission on the other.

“Despite the presidential pardon and verification of these officers, many of them remained unpaid years after the pardon. However, the present administration under the able leadership of President, Muhammadu Buhari has graciously given approval for the payment of pension entitlements to these officers and their next of kin.”

Restructuring not same as break-up, Afenifere tells Buhari

 

The pan-Yoruba socio-cultural group, Afenifere, and its northern counterpart, the Arewa Consultative Forum, on Sunday, disagreed on President Muhammadu Buhari’s Independence Day’s broadcast.

Buhari had, in the broadcast, said irresponsible groups had hijacked the restructuring debate, decrying what he called the folly of “hot-headed” youths.

The ACF said the broadcast was timely, but Afenifere said the advocates of restructuring meant well for the country.

The National Publicity Secretary of the Forum, Alhaji Muhammad Biu, told one of our correspondents in Kaduna that the broadcast was a scorecard of the President’s administration on security, economy and corruption.

He noted that the ACF advocated peaceful and meaningful dialogue on all issues of national importance and the use of democratic institutions to achieve better results.

The ACF’s spokesman stated, “The President’s independence anniversary speech was timely and appropriate considering the issues raised. It was a scorecard of the Buhari administration on security, economy and corruption which was the hallmark of his campaign promises.

“On the issue of restructuring, we totally support the position of the President which has been our position all along.

“Agitations that come with threats and intimidation have no place in our present democratic dispensation. The ACF will therefore support any restructuring that comes with clarity of purpose, just, fair and equitable to all sections of the country.”

But Afenifere’s National Publicity Secretary, Yinka Odumakin, in an interview with The PUNCH, said Buhari should distinguish between the two camps and take the necessary steps to salvage the nation.

He stated that Buhari was promoting those working for the break-up of the country by ignoring the demands of Nigerians for restructuring.

Odumakin added, “He should separate those agitating for restructuring from those calling for a break-up of the country. I think he is confusing restructuring with break-up.

“Those calling for restructuring are those working to avert the breakup of Nigeria while those opposed to it are the ones working for the break-up of the country.

“Let the President deal with restructuring; if he does not listen to the agitations for restructuring, he is promoting those who are working for the break-up of the country.”

A northern elder statesman, Dr. Junaid Muhammed, said the speech by the President was “not realistic,” noting that some of the claims of Buhari were not true.

Muhammed, a Second Republic member of the House of Representatives, said, “Frankly speaking, the speech is not realistic. There is nothing and there was nothing meant to be spectacular or unique about the speech of the 57th anniversary. It is celebratory. Where we have a leader who is articulate or is in a firm control of the government, the speech could have been an avenue to mobilise and regain the confidence of the people.

“As far as I am concerned, there is nothing in the speech to energise, galvanise or persuade me. The government muddled up a speech that should be about matters of national importance with personal reminiscences of being a young officer. This romantic lamentation does not have a place in this speech.

“Some of the claims the President made were clearly dishonest. For example, he claimed that his agricultural policies have been a success. As far as I am concerned, that cannot be true because I don’t even know the policies.

“If I don’t, I am sure millions of other Nigerians don’t know too. When you see the functionality of a policy, you know it is working.”

A civil society group, Concerned Nigerians, said the President’s actions and comments gave rise to the agitations for restructuring, insisting that Buhari’s appointments were sectional and promoted nepotism.

The National Coordinator of the group, Deji Adeyanju, attributed the agitations for secession by the South-East youths to Buhari’s style of governance and actions.

“The President should look all around him; the Director General of Department of State Services is from his village; the people in charge of INEC are his kinsmen and all the service chiefs are from the North.

“If he looks around him, he would find the answers to why people are making the agitations for restructuring,” he added.

Adeyanju called on the President to practise unity through his conduct, noting that he portrayed himself as a sectional leader by overlooking the ultimatum by the northern youths to the Igbo while coming down hard on Igbo youths calling for secession.

Buhari, Osibanjo, Oyegun, others for APC Abia mega rally

President Muhammadu Buhari, Vice President Yemi Osibanjo, All Progressives Congress (APC) National Chairman, John Odigie Oyegun and other ranking members of the party are expected to participate in the party’s mega rally in Abia State.

The State Publicity Secretary of the party, Comrade Benedict Godson while speaking with newsmen on Monday in Umuahia, the state capital after the inauguration of the party’s Contact, Mobilization/Rally Committee said that the event would hold in the state capital in October.

Godson said that the essence of the planned mega rally was to present new members of the party including former Governor of the state, Dr. Orji Kalu, Chidi Onyeukwu Ajaegbu, immediate past President Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN), Dr. Sampson Uche Ogah, CEO Masters Energy and former Abia PDP governorship aspirant in 2015 election, Chief David Ogba Onuoha, MD of defunct Bourdex telecommunication and Abia North Senatorial candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, MD of defunct Hallmark Bank and brother to former senate president (Adolphus Wabara), Mark Wabara among other Abia political big weights who will be presented to the public at the event scheduled to hold at the state capital.

According to Godson, the rally was preparatory to the party’s efforts to woo more supporters ahead of the 2019 general election.

Earlier in his speech, state chairman of the party, Hon. Donatus Nwankpa who stressed that the party’s doors were wide enough to accommodate others who may join the party even after the rally charged the committee to work hard in order to make sure that the event was a success.

Nwankpa who recalled how the immediate past government in the state barred the incumbent President Buhari from making use of public facilities during the campaigns and the use of state’s machinery to frustrate efforts of the founding fathers of the party in the state to reach out to intending in 2015.

The state chairman of APC maintained that he was sure that the people in the party and the popularity of the party in the state, that they were going to produce the next Abia governor.

He restated that the party would not zone the governorship position in the state to any zone, stressing that the party through an open and credible primaries would present candidates who are willing to serve Abians and deliver dividend of democracy to all parts of the state.

“A governor is like a father with many children. He loves the children equally and shares his wealth to them without favouring anyone. APC will produce a governor and leaders that have the interest of their subjects at heart. We are not going to promote godfatherism, but to present candidates based on their acceptability by the people who will elect them through a credible primary.”

Chairman of the committee and deputy chairman of the party, Chief Ogumka Adiele promised that they were going to do the work entrusted in their care with their best.

Adiele assured that the committee would make sure that more people would join the party before the event holds, stating that they would make sure it became a success.

Other members of the committee including Hon Acho Obioma, former House of Rep member and chairman Akoka Federal College of Education Governing Board Council, Chief Oxford Wabara and others pledged their commitment in ensuring that they work cooperatively with the committee’s chairman to produce a positive result.