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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.

 

Why Buhari’s government is failing – Ango Abdullahi

The spokesman of the Northern Elders Forum (NEF), Prof Ango Abdullahi, has blamed the failure of President Muhammadu Buhari’s to bring visible development to the people on the political system in the country.

According to him, Buhari is a good man who found himself in a wrong system that hamstrung the realization of his good intentions for the country.

Abdullahi, however, said Buhari should welcome politicians who wish to vie for the Presidential ticket of the All Progressive Congress (APC) ahead of 2019 general elections as the outcome of the party primaries and the main election would be a way of assessing his own performance in office.

He told Sun newspaper: “You see, the problem is the system. Buhari may be a good person; he could be a gentleman who wants to work honestly but in a wrong system. It was a system of military fiat when he was a head of state, but the system he finds himself now does not allow him to manoeuvre.

“He has to cross many hurdles and checkpoints at the National Assembly and his party before he can execute anything meaningful, and all these squabbles are not based on principle but personal interests, either at party level or at constituency or at the level of the judiciary.

“All this really will make it impossible for a good person or committed person to operate effectively in this country in the manner which will accelerate development. Perhaps, you might ask the question if we can really change?

“Buhari might not have failed, but the system of government that he is operating in has substantially failed in the same manner as the ones before it.

“You see the fact that Buhari is incumbent does not automatically confer on him the candidature of the party in the next election if there is internal democracy in the party. The fact that you are a sitting president does not mean other members of the party cannot contest against you. If I were Buhari, I will welcome competition in my party.

“This is an opening for democracy in my party and I will ask people to come and test their popularity. If he has done well, people will re-elect him. This is a confirmation he has done well and that both the party and voters trusted him. I criticize all political parties for the system they employ in conducting primary elections.

“The one I am most familiar as good was the one used by Social Democratic Party (SDP) in 1992, that was a direct primary election, where every member of the party has a chance to come and vote for who will represent him as a councilor, chairman, governor or president. In direct primaries, all parties have chance to come, cue and vote or elect any person of their choice.

“But the current delegate system brings nothing except corruption. Once the parties are corrupt, certainly, government must be corrupt, this is what is happening now all over the country.”