OAU Sex Scandal Exposes Buhari-Saraki Impotence By Tunde Odesola

Impunity is Nigeria’s Holy Grail. Every day, lawlessness unstrips decency and both dance naked to the brutal drums of anarchy as the clock ticks down to the zero hour when Nigeria would inevitably collapse upon all of us. Armageddon lurks, absurdity rocks but drunken and dazed Nigerian leaders poured more alcohol into the gourds of power, frolicking, dancing, stomping, sweating; drinking our future milk and honey together with the wine of today.

Today, I write as a survivor of serial sex abuse. I write because almost five decades after my experience, the scars of horrific molten images are still burning deep inside the depth of a mind that recalls clearly the defilement of a kid by a young lady, who was a close family friend. I still remember her name, Aunty Iyabo, the lastborn of Iya Ijebu, our landlady on a popular street in the Onipanu area of Mushin in Lagos State.

I was loved by her family that lived on the ground floor while my family lived on the top floor. Iya Ijebu, a big-time cloth merchant, particularly loved me, and so did her first son, who was popularly called minister. Minister would always buy me a bottle of soft drink whenever I came home with my report card from school. I really don’t know why, but Iya Ijebu, a light-complexioned, plump, old woman, and her family doted on me.

So, whenever her daughter took me to her room, everyone thought her gesture was in line with the family’s love. Aunty Iyabo would lock me up in her room, strip naked and do unprintable things with me. I was too young and naïve to know there was a difference between her strange fantasy and the washing of plates or sweeping. At times, she would get me under the tap in the bathroom, carry and press me insanely to her naked body. Later in her room, she would put my tiny hands to every part of her body and I would watch her wriggle. For some minutes, it could be fun to me – watching this ‘big aunty’ playing with a little me, covering us up with a huge blanket as she tickled, giggled and laughed.

After a while, I would lose interest in the groping, telling my big guest I wanted out, but she would beg with candies and biscuits and place my head on her bosom, rocking me with pleas and promises. I decided to open up on this personal experience because parents, guardians and the society largely believe that only female children need to be protected against sex predators. In my own case, though I found it strange, I didn’t even know what the aunty was doing wasn’t good, hence I didn’t deem it fit to report. Aunty Iyabo was a friend to my mum’s youngest sister, who lived with us.

The next case of sex abuse involves a postgraduate student of the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Monica Osagie, who has pointed the finger at her lecturer, Prof Richard Akindele, for allegedly demanding five days of sex (not rounds o) from her in a viral telephone recording.

Also, in the Land of Uncle Sam, a former USA Gymnastics team doctor, Larry Nasser, would spend 175 years in prison, following conviction for criminal sexual conduct after evidence and Victim Impact Statements by 156 women were heard by a federal court. Judge Rosemary Aquilina, who delivered the judgment, said she wouldn’t trust Nasser with her dog, adding that the 175-year sentence would begin after Nasser completed his 60-year federal sentence for child pornography. Several heads rolled in the wake of the scandal which was broken by the Indiana Star.

Investigation revealed that the 54-year-old Nasser had been sexually abusing teenage athletes under the guise of medical treatment since 1997 before the law caught up with him in 2017 and his sentencing in 2018. The team doctor had, in 2004, used PowerPoint presentation to prove to the police that his treatment was justified when a 17-year-old girl accused him. Survivors of Nasser’s sexual abuse, including Olympic champions Simone Biles, Aly Raisman and McKayla Maroney, said the Olympics team doctor touched them inappropriately.

The employer of Nasser, Michigan State, agreed to pay an unprecedented $500m as settlement to 332 alleged victims who filed a class action suit against the Michigan State University, where Nasser worked, just as law suits and claims pending before various courts have been on the increase.

According to reports, the university will also set aside $75m of the settlement for future claimants alleging sexual abuse. An attorney to some of the victims, John Manly, said in a statement, “This historic settlement came about through the bravery of more than 300 women and girls who had the courage to stand up and refuse to be silenced.”

Following the scandal, the President of MSU and the entire USA Gymnastics board resigned, acknowledging the need for institutional change. It was heard in court that allowing Nasser to examine and treat athletes alone in private rooms for over two decades was in violation of USAG’s standards of conduct.

The MSU, however, argued that as a state institution, it enjoyed sovereign immunity, which shielded it from civil liability. Legally, complicity and collusion are not criminal offences per se in this instance, argued USAG, but a survivor of Nasser’s abuse, Olivia Cowan, said, “I want MSU and USAG to know what they have done is on the very same level of accountability as the crime Nasser has committed.”

The OAU sex scandal and the Nasser narrative explain the difference between Nigeria and the US. Whereas the US Senate, following the report by Indiana Star, wrote a letter to USAG president and CEO, Steve Penny, expressing concern and calling for immediate steps to report the complaints received and install future safeguards, the Nigerian Senate has never discussed nor taken any action on the everyday reports of rape and other sexual abuses across the country.

Instead, the Bukola Sarake-led Senate failed to sit for duties for a whole day when it visited Senator Dino Melaye who allegedly got injured while attempting to evade trial for some purported offences.

In Nigeria, perpetrators of sex abuse are seen as victims, who need deliverance themselves, but in the US, they are seen as criminals whom the society needs to be delivered from. After the OAU sex scandal broke, some members of the society said Osagie, probably, would’ve consented to the professor’s advances if he didn’t demand five days of sex. But a national outrage greeted the unmasking of Nasser in the US.

Victims of Nasser’s ignoble actions freely came out to testify in the US, but many Nigerian victims of sex abuse keep silent for fear of stigmatisation. As soon as the Nasser story broke, police began their own independent investigation but the police in Nigeria have not said anything on the OAU sex scandal several weeks after. When the law eventually caught up with Nasser, he received its full wrath. At no point was there any plot to subvert justice or make Nasser get off with a light sentence. The reverse is always the case in Nigeria.

Whereas all relevant organisations made public statements in the case of Nasser, the Nigerian Presidency, Senate, Academic Staff Union of Universities, Federal Ministry of Education, National Universities Commission etc have refused to comment on the wave of sexual abuse plaguing the nation’s higher institutions. When these public institutions don’t even see sexual abuse as an alarming scourge, how would they find a solution to it?

The imprimatur of our national failure doesn’t reside only in the army of youths plaguing our day with bank-robbery horror or the orgiastic ritual killings stalking our night. They’re also located in the complicity of a maladministered and misdirected government weakened at the seams by corruption, suspicion, ineptitude and lack of vision.

Buhari Jets Out To London For 4 Days Medical Leave

President Muhammadu Buhari will travel to London on Tuesday to see his doctor, his media Garba Shehu said in a statement on Monday.

Buhari is expected to be in London until May 12.

“In the course of the technical stop-over for aircraft maintenance in London on his way back from Washington last week, the President had a meeting with his doctor,” Shehu said. “The doctor requested the President to return for a meeting which he agreed to do.”

The president was in London between January 19 March 10, 2017, to “undergo routine medical check-ups” during a short holiday.

On his return, he tacitly acknowledged that he was very ill, telling his cabinet members that “I couldn’t recall being so sick since I was a young man.” He also said he had “blood transfusions, going to the laboratories and so on and so forth.”

He returned to the United Kingdom on May 7, 2017, for the same reason and did not return until August 19.

Shehu, last week, said medical reasons were not behind Buhari’s ‘technical’ stopover in London on his way back from the United States.

“The big jet is under repair. So, the president is using a small plane and there is a limit to the distance the small plane can cover,” he told AFP.

“The technical stopover I talked about is that the journey from the US to Abuja is broken into two.”

Buhari Writes Senate For Approval To Buy Helicopters From US

The Nigerian Senate has read a letter from President Muhammadu Buhari seeking approval to purchase six Tucano helicopters worth $496,374,470 (151, 394, 421, 035 Naira) from the US.

According to the president, the helicopters are meant to support the drive to improve the security of the nation.

See the tweet from the Senate below:

UPDATE: The President of the Senate, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, has just read an Executive Communication from President Muhammadu Buhari, informing the Senate about his ‘anticipatory approval’ for the release of $496,374,470 to purchase 12 Super Tucano aircraft. pic.twitter.com/BYig8TNiW0

— The Senate President (@SPNigeria) April 25, 2018

Meanwhile, members of the House of Representatives did not mince words on Tuesday when they said President Muhammadu Buhari committed an “impeachable offence” by authorising the purchase of $462million jets for the military without appropriation by the National Assembly.

The lawmakers became angry as soon as the Speaker, Mr. Yakubu Dogara, read a letter from Buhari, informing the House that the expenditure was done in “anticipation of approval” by the National Assembly.

They noted that the letter was a “mere afterthought”, as the expenditure had been done already.

Nigeria’s Lazy Conversation By Lasisi Olagunju

In 2014, Richard Dunne made a dubious history by becoming the highest own goal scorer in Premier League history. He scored ten of such backward goals – six at Manchester City, three at Aston Villa and the tenth at QPR. President Muhammadu Buhari is in the same class. He loves exhibiting a raw talent for slamming the ball into his own net. He scored a loud one at the Commonwealth last week. Our president mortally hurt his army of youthful worshippers. Buhari announced to the whole world that a lot of Nigerian youths under his care “do nothing,” “have not been to school” and yet want everything, including education and health, free of charge.

That London gaffe was a blow that has left his fans of “illiterate” youths dazed. But the one who burnt down the village barn would have at least one ardent lover. And you know, when in love, the other person comes first in care and happiness. Wounded and alarmed, lovers of Buhari quickly recovered and reached for clean water to bathe their idol, hence the sly attempt to drag Chief Obafemi Awolowo into the Buhari ‘lazy’ talk. They claim that what Buhari said in 2018, Awo had also said 44 years ago. They claim that Chief Awolowo in 1974 said the trouble with Nigerian youths was that they slept too much. And they quoted him copiously.

It was easy for Buharists and Buharideens to cut and paste Awo’s sentence. They won’t cut and paste the context of the statement. Chief Awolowo spoke in the context of having access to free education as an inalienable right of every citizen. Where that access was provided and some persons still preferred sleep over learning was what he condemned. General Buhari is the opposite of Awo. He did not speak as a philosopher on the same wave length with Awo. Unlike Chief Awolowo, President Buhari made “doing something” a condition for accessing free education and free health. That is Buharism, not Awoism – and it is quite revealing. If you don’t like my drift, go and read our president again.

The president for the first time spoke about free education. And what did he say? His verdict is that the Nigerian youth must work before qualifying for free education. That is the opposite of what Awo stood for. If Awo’s welfarist position was the thesis, Buhari’s blot was the very antithesis. And this too: I thought a man cannot lose an in-law unless he has a wife; but with General Buhari, a bachelor can validly claim that his in-law is dead. Is it logical for someone who does not want to be educated to be demanding free education? Our president did not ask himself that question before he spoke in London on Wednesday. He claimed that “a lot of” the youths of his country “do not do anything” and “have not been to school”…yet they want “…education free of charge.” I do not understand our president. Can someone who has never gone to school and who does not want to be educated be, at the same time, said to be demanding free education? My English teacher taught me something about coherence and cohesion. I cannot see either in that presidential statement.

But why have we all stopped working since last week because President Buhari suggested that “a lot of the youths” of Nigeria are lazy bones? Everyone has not stopped whining since. Why are we angry? Is it not the truth that anyone who keeps his chains is a lazy fool? So, you do not know that a soul in fetters is an idle doll? If the youth is not lazy, he would do something and break the shackles.

“I was born a slave, but nature gave me the soul of a free man.” That was Toussaint Louverture’s engagement of his life of slavery. Louverture was the leader of the slaves who brought down France’s Saint-Dominique and created Haiti – their own country. Today, the Haitian revolution is proudly listed as “one of the most successful slave revolutions in world history.” The revolution did not just bring an end to slavery like other slave revolts, it moved a huge step forward by creating the world’s first country of ex-slaves. When is the Nigerian youth stepping out to create his own country of freedom?

To the rich and powerful, there is only one explanation for being poor, and that is indolence. The weak poor is powerless and poor because he is lazy. The slaves of Saint-Dominique revolted when they thought they had had enough of the oppression of their overlords. The cup of Nigeria too should be full one day. Until it is full, the kids of the poor will remain lazy and illiterate. My greatest fear is that when the bubble bursts in here, the ‘lazy’ will go for the wrong victims. The slaves will go for their defenceless defenders. There is the Irore bird in Yorubaland. Weak and threatened, it builds its nest close to bees and wasps. When it does that, it escapes the killing fingers of wanton boys. The slave owners of Nigeria are weak but they have moats around them. They are big men with incredible foresight. They do not live near their victims. They live in fortresses built of distance and weapons. They are wisely ensconced in cocoons of pleasure and calm and peace. They are far from the inanities of the madding crowd. They are safe and can proudly pronounce the youths of their country idle and uneducated.

Our president is bold, blunt and consistent. What he says in “the other room,” unreported, he goes to London to magnify. And you are in Nigeria, whining, stomping your feet on the canvas of power. What can the angry goat do to its confident owner? The mind of power is a marvel: If you are not lazy, you would be working in the Central Bank like their children. You would be in the Federal Inland Revenue Service and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation like their in-laws.

I can imagine what remains in that mind that belched last week’s London declaration. And he didn’t see the horror on the white faces that heard him. That country he chose for that ‘lazy’ talk takes care of all its youths. It cares for young people in work; for young people looking for work; for young people in school; for young people out of school and for those looking for education. Our own leaders here look at the youth and his sweat and wonder what the problem is with him. They say even when the youth is allowed some privileges to have good jobs, he still insists on going to scavenge abroad. Because he is lazy, all he thinks about is traveling out to create problems for the white man in his own country. The president said so the last time he was out of Nigeria. The children of the lazy are the poor causing logjams hawking on the streets and at foreign embassies. No matter how much help you give them, they insist they must go to the dunghill to scavenge. A lion’s cub will never be seen walking the dense forest without the royal swag. Carrion is meat for vultures; leopards don’t eat rotten flesh.

Nigeria is hostile to the young. It is true. But the solution is not in short-cuts. President Buhari’s lovers would insist he was right. Maybe it is true that the Nigerian youth is laid back and lacks a vision of himself in freedom. They want gold without digging for it. Our president spoke what the white man said 300 years ago. A 1798 entry of the Encyclopedia Britannica accused the black man of: idleness, treachery, revenge, cruelty, impudence, stealing, lying, profanity, debauchery, nastiness and intemperance.”

Very extremely unfair, racist assessment! But whose fault? You won’t find that characterization in any encyclopedia today, but it does not mean that much has changed. What changed is the level of diplomacy of the white man. Today, some persons here, even if it would cost them election or reelection, won’t mind using these very words for their countrymen. The specimens used for that 18th century assessment were slaves sold abroad by their kith and kin. Today’s victims are those being forced by the system to sell themselves to slavery. But can you have your country by running away from it? “A friend just left a N1million-per-month job to relocate to Canada. That is like the 4th person around me relocating in the last six months. What is happening in Canada? It is getting scary.” That is from a very brilliant young man lamenting on Facebook two weekends ago. One of his friends reacted adding his own worries: “Many of my friends are relocating en masse. I mean, well established guys with well-paying jobs in Nigeria. It is really disturbing.” Running away from Nigeria won’t make life better for anyone; definitely not for the refugee.

Toussaint Louverture “was born a slave” but he was clear that nature gave him “the soul of a free man.” He did not sit down lamenting his life in slavery. He did not run away either. He stayed, fought and broke down the walls of servitude and a free Haiti was born. Buhari won’t change his “lazy” opinion because we are abusing him. Nothing and no one will make him recant. What will convince the resolute is the resolve of the “lazy” to do something positive about his station in life. In 1798, the black man was lazy. One hundred and thirteen years later in 1911, the world saw no reason to modify its opinion of the black man. It was even worse. The Eleventh Edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica (1911) notes that black children who were “sharp, intelligent and full of vivacity” in childhood soon got degraded on approaching adulthood. “The intellect,” it says “seemed to become clouded, animation giving place to a sort of lethargy, briskness yielding to indolence…”

That was it. Indolence again! The authors felt the black man had remained where he had always been- a burden unto the world; an enemy of no one else but of himself. Were they wrong? Even today, 2018, what is our own opinion of ourselves? Our president spoke in London and the world heard him clearly

Nothing Controversial About $1bn Military Fund Approval, Says Presidency

The Presidency on Friday responded to critics of President Muhammadu Buhari for approving the sum of $1billion for the purchase of military equipment to fight the insurgency in the country saying there’s nothing controversial about it.

The President’s approval of the fund has sparked criticism from many including the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) which asked Nigerians to resist it. The President’s Senior Special Assistant, Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu in his reaction on Channels Television Breakfast Programme, Sunrise Daily, said the critics are just ‘blowing hot air.’

“I think a lot of the judgements are hasty. After the Federal Executive Council approval, ministers will go to the President, they will seek approval of the President of the council, the council will approve and then say go to the National Assembly

“The process has begun, it’s not concluded, therefore, everyone will be involved. The President will not breach the constitution of this country. Approval at that level is granted, there is nothing controversial.

“The Attorney-General will bring a draft bill to FEC, the president will approve and then say take it to the National Assembly. The draft budget before it got to the National Assembly, the FEC signed and approved it. I think the people are just blowing hot air,” he said.

One of the critics, Governor Ayodele Fayose had alleged that the approval was a move by the All Progressives Congress (APC) led government to raise funds to finance the 2019 presidential election and the July 14 governorship poll in Ekiti State.

Shehu, debunking these allegations, Shehu said the fund is to tackle insurgency which is a challenge to the nation. He insisted that Nigeria is at war with Boko Haram, although technically defeated, but the nation cannot rest on its oars in the insurgency fight.

“I think they don’t have anything to talk about, that is why they are blowing hot air over this issue. There is a mandate given to elected leaders.

“This is a country that is at war with the insurgency, although technically defeated but the challenges are enormous. 34 of the 36 states have military being deployed to them. People will say when you’ve defeated Boko Haram why do you need funds but if you check around, all over the world, the countries do most spending in peacetime.”

Shehu explaining how the $1billion fund will be used said it will be evenly spread at various aspect of the nation’s security and restock arms and ammunition of the troops which he said is already depleted.

“There is police and there is also the military. It’s going to touch on every aspect of security in the country. We are not talking about buying footwear or uniforms which is routine. We’ll re-equip the military that has depleted much of its stock fighting criminality, insurgency and terrorism across the country,” he said.

“We need this money to restock. The Nigerian Army, the Police, they ought to have arms that they can use in situations where they are needed. It’s not as if we have no idea of what to do with this money, it is also true there is still some finishing jobs to be done to Boko Haram. There is a lot of attention that needs to be paid to the police, violence in the central sections of Nigeria, challenges in the Delta, the Navy and all of these. There’s a lot to be done with this money.”

2019 Elections: Alake Of Egbaland Backs Buhari

The Alake of Egbaland, Adedotun Gbadebo, has backed the move of  President Muhammadu Buhari to run for a second term saying he deserves to be re-elected to enable him consolidate on the policies and programmes he has initiated to transform the country.

He revealed this when a former governor of Abia State, Orji Uzor Kalu, led members of the National Movement for the Re-election of President Buhari, on a courtesy visit to his palace in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital.

The monarch spoke a day after former President Olusegun Obasanjo asked Nigerians not to vote for Buhari and his party, the All Progressives Congress, APC.

Gbadebo, who described the president as a focused and sincere leader, said he had charted a worthy path for the nation to transform it to an enviable height.

He said Nigeria could not afford to allow the policies initiated by the Muhammadu Buhari-led administration to be discarded should another leader be elected.

“I am part of the campaign team soliciting that Buhari should be given another chance to lead for another four years to complete the great work he has started.

“Those who drafted the constitution to allow for a second term have envisaged that while a leader takes time to formulate policies and put programmes in place, he needs more time for them to germinate before they begin to translate such to benefits for the people.

“Unfortunately, policy somersault has become a prominent feature in the history of governance in the nation.

“When a leader goes after four years, virtually everything he has done will be turned over by whoever comes after and we can no longer afford this wastage,” he said.

The monarch described Kalu as a detribalised person, who in spite of being an indigene of the South East Zone, had continued to campaign for Buhari .

Earlier in his address, the former governor commended the monarch for the peace initiatives in the state.

Kalu, who noted that a prominent feature of the peace initiative was the freedom to support any candidate in an election, declared that members of the group have been travelling across the country to solicit support for the president ahead of the 2019 polls.

“We are for oneness of this country. We are for leaders who are sincere to lead us well and who are equally committed to the rules and tenets of democracy.

“The greatest challenge of our country is leaders not obeying the law.

“When they are leaders, they did not obey the law and when they go out of leadership, they criticise everybody who wants to obey the law.

“President Buhari has continued to adhere to the tenets of democracy and abide by the constitutional provisions of the country in tackling the challenges of the nation,” he said.

 

PHOTONEWS: Buhari Meets APC Governors

President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday met behind closed doors members of the All Progressives Congress Governors Forum.

The meeting was also attended by Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, SGF, Boss Mustapha, COS Abba Kyari among others.

Photos from the meeting are below as sent by Novo Isioro, Osinbajo’s official photographer.

Buhari’s Refusal To Sign African Trade Treaty ‘Disappointing’ — Obasanjo

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has asked President Muhammadu Buhari to reconsider his stance and sign the Africa Continental Free Trade Area agreement before it is too late.

The former president expressed disappointment that Nigeria was not among the 44 member countries of the African Union that endorsed the agreement.

“That President Buhari didn’t sign the free trade agreement in Kigali is disappointing; I hope he signs it before it is too late,”Mr. Obasanjo was quoted as saying.

“Egypt started the discussion on the formation of the Organisation of African Unity but didn’t conclude it and Nigeria took over. Nigeria was also central to the discussion of the free trade agreement, but I am surprised that the country withdrew from signing.”

The agreement was signed during the 18th Extraordinary Session of the Assembly of (AU) Heads of State and Governments on March 21 in Kigali, Rwanda.

Nigeria and South Africa were two of Africa’s biggest economies that withheld their assent to the agreement meant to establish a common protocol to allow free movement of goods and services among member nations of the AU. South Africa later signed.

Seven other countries, including Burundi, Guinea Bissau and Eritrea also did not sign the agreement.

Although the Federal Executive Council had given consent for Nigeria to sign the agreement, Mr. Buhari canceled his schedule to attend the AU meeting at the last minute.

Prominent interest groups like the Nigeria Labour Congress and Manufacturers Association of Nigeria kicked against the treaty, saying aspects of the agreement would hurt Nigeria’s interest.

Consequently, the decision to sign the agreement was postponed to allow for adequate consultation and inputs from interest group, particularly with the NLC, which called the treaty a “renewed, extremely dangerous and radioactive neo-liberal policy initiative.”

But, Mr. Obasanjo, who was named on Friday as chair of the Advisory Council for Intra-African Trade Fair organised by African Export-Import Bank in conjunction with the Egyptian government for December 2018, said he was surprised Nigeria refused to sign the trade agreement.

He recalled the leading role Nigeria played in founding the free trade agreement initiative, saying apart from Egypt, which started the discussion on the formation of the Organisation of African Unity, Nigeria was central to all discussions on the agreement.

The AfCFTA treaty is one of the flagship projects of the AU Agenda 2063 to create a single continental market for goods and services, with free movement of business persons, investments and a single currency.

Signatories to the agreement so far included Niger, Rwanda, Angola, C.A.R., Chad, Comoros, Congo, Djibouti, The Gambia, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Mauritania, Mozambique, Cote D’Ivoire, Seychelles, Algeria and Equatorial Guinea.

Others include Morocco, Swaziland, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Democratic Republic of Congo, Guinea, Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritius, South Sudan, Uganda, Egypt, Ethiopia, Sao Tome and Principle, Togo and Tunisia.

Buhari Commissions N50b Sugar Estate In Niger

President Muhammadu Buhari has commissioned the N50 billion Sunti Golden Sugar Estate which he said will employ 10,000 people directly.

Speaking in Sunti in Mokwa local government area on Thursday, Buhari said the magnitude of nvestment in the sugar estate is a clear manifestation that the policies on economic diversification  of the government is attracting the right kind of support and engagement.

“With N50 billion invested into Sunti  Golden sugar Estate, this makes it the largest Agro-allied investment in Nigeria today. The sugar factory will produce 100,000 metric tonnes of sugar annually, employ 10,000 people directly and a network of 3,000 small scale outgrowets of sugarcane. ”

The President stated that the socio-economic impact of the company’s investment cannot be quantified as lives would be changed and the impact on the national economy will be significant.

He further noted that the benefits of the River Niger have been overlooked for long stressing on the need for proper utilization of the masses of bodies and how it can be converted for commerce and investment.

Buhari then reassured Nigerians that the administration is committed to the transformation and diversification of the economy adding that they will continue to support businesses and investors by creating enabling business environment.

He stated that sugar have been identified as a key commodity that is critical to national food security adding that the sugar factory will help stem the tide of importation of sugar, save foreign exchange and create wealth amidst rural poverty.

In his address, Niger state Governor, Alhaji Abubakar Sani Bello said Nigerlites are proud farmers adding that the sugar estate would utilize the farmers and make them productive.

He said that 2018 have been earmarked as the year of agricultural revolution in the state calling on investors to invest into the state which is a perfect model for investment.

Bello said that the sugar mills which is one of the two sugar mills in the country will produce 4,500 metric tonnes of sugar per day.

The governor then appealed to the President for the speedy completion of the Suleja road,  Tegina-Kontagora road and Mokwa-Jebba road in order to attract more investors into the state.

The Chairman of Flour Mills of Nigeria, Mr. John Coumantaros said the Sunti sugar factory is to ensure that local sugar is produced in Niger state adding that the factory is showcasing the shift in the focus from crude oil to agriculture.

He said that the Sunti Sugar factory will save Nigeria 100 million dollars on foreign exchange every year strengthen the capacity and economic status of the people.

The Chairman commended President Buhari for his policies which have been good and have lead to private sector growth across the country.

The Sunti Golden Sugar Estate occupies 17,000 hectares of land in Mokwa local government area of Niger state out of which 10,000 hectares is being used as sugarcane farm.

Court Restrains National Assembly From Re-ordering Election Timetable

The Federal High Court in Abuja on Wednesday ordered the National Assembly to stop taking any further actions on the Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill, 2018, which seeks to provide the order in which the Independent Electoral Commission must conduct the 2019 general elections.

The restraining order issued by Justice Ahmed Mohammed is to last till March 17, which is the next hearing date.

Delivering ruling on an oral application by Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), lawyer to the plaintiff, Accord Party, Justice Mohammed held that the restraining order was made to preserve the substance of the main suit.

President Muhammadu Buhari had on Tuesday informed the National Assembly that he had withheld his assent to bill which was earlier passed by both chambers of the National Assembly.

There have been threats by some legislators that the National Assembly would evoke its powers under section 58(5) of the Constitution to override the President’s withholding of assent by two-third majority votes of both chambers.

The oral application by Olanipekun for a “preservative order” was opposed by the counsel representing the National Assembly, Chinelo Ogbozor, during the Wednesday’s proceedings.

The Attorney-General of the Federation, the 2nd defendant to the suit, was not represented by a counsel.

But INEC, the 3rd respondent, was represented by its lawyer, Mr. Taminu Inuwa, who said he had no objection to the application.

Ruling, he judge held that the National Assembly was not likely to suffer any prejudice if it was restrained from going ahead with the amendment processes before the next hearing date.

He added that on the other hand, if no restraining order was issued and the National Assembly went ahead to exercise its powers under section 58(5) of the Constitution by overriding President’s withholding of assent, the essence of the whole suit would have been defeated.

The judge therefore ordered all parties to maintain “status quo ” Tuesday.

He fixed ‎Tuesday for the hearing of the motion for the interlocutory injunction, the same order which was granted during the Wednesday’s proceedings but would likely last till the final determination of the suit if the application succeeds.

The Accord Party, is by its suit challenging the constitutionality of the ‎ongoing amendment of the Electoral Act.

Buhari Writes NASS To Withhold Electoral Act Amendment

President Muhammadu Buhari, has written to the National Assembly to withhold assent to the amendment of the 2010 Electoral Act.

The letter was read on the floor during plenary by the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki.

In a letter addressed to Senate President Bukola Saraki, President Buhari stated that he is declining assent to the amendment of the Electoral Act because the amendment to the sequence of the election in section 25 of the principal Act may infringe on the constitutionally guaranteed discretion of INEC to organize, undertake and supervise all elections provided in section 16(a) of the constitution.

He also stated that the amendment to section 138 of the principal Act to delete two crucial grounds upon which an election may be challenged by candidates unduly limits the right of candidates to a free and fair electoral review process.

President Buhari further stated that the amendment to section 152(325) of the principal Act may raise constitutional issues over the competence of the National Assembly to legislate over local government elections.

Earlier in February, the Joint Committees of the National Assembly agreed on some of the amendments to the Electoral Act.

The amendment of the electoral act facilitated the collaboration between the joint committees.

Both the Senate and House of Representatives agreed to the earlier amendment by the House of Representatives that the National Assembly election will come first, followed by governorship and state Houses of Assembly and finally the Presidential election which will now come last.