Why I Stand With Buhari By Femi Adesina

These are very difficult times in our country. Sad, mournful and dolorous times, as the New Year opened with killings in Rivers, Kaduna, Taraba, and Benue states, among others. Of course, there had been gruesome carnage on the Mambilla plateau mid last year, and bloodletting in Numan, Adamawa State, as well as in other places. Hell suddenly seemed to have enlarged itself against Nigeria. Sincere condolences to those who are grieving and mourning the loss of loved ones.

But instead of finding solutions, and joining to chart the way forward, some people are making political capital out of the killings. They are trying to use the orgy of bloodshed to advance their political interests, wanting to make it appear that it is a failure of the Muhammadu Buhari administration.

Faults are thick where love is thin. There is prejudice in Nigeria. Plenty. There is insularity, in prodigious quantity. There is animus, antipathy against anyone that is not of your ethnic or religious stock, or that belongs to a different political orientation or persuasion. If you meet him, kill him, if you can’t catch him, poison his footsteps, seems to be the singsong among some people. And as the build up to general elections next year gathers momentum, matters are made worse. Everything must be politicized, including wanton killings. There must be spurious handshakes across the Niger, and across the Benue, all for political gains.

But I stand with Buhari, and will always do. Why won’t you? Your snout is in the honeypot, licking the nectars of office, some cynics would say. Really? My bank balances do not indicate so. It is not just about money. It is about conviction. It is about believing in a man who can bring enduring change to our country, if we allow God to have His way through him.
Standing with Buhari through thick and thin is not about money, or the spoils of office, which are not even available in these lean times. In or out of my present position, I stand with Buhari. Sir Walter Scott wrote: “Other people’s resolutions may fluctuate on the wild and changeful billows of human opinion. Ours, now and forever, are anchored on the Rock of Ages.” In or out of government, I stand with Buhari. Why? You will get to know shortly.

There is strident attempt to defame, demean and de-market the Buhari government today. Who are those behind it? The crooks, thieves, freeloaders, who want business as usual. They hate probity. Their souls abhor accountability. They prefer the plunder of the past years, and can’t wait to see that epoch return. They engage in all sorts of misinformation and disinformation. Hate speeches. Fake news. Under us, you had leeks, onions and garlic to eat. You were fed manna till you wanted no more. When you were tired of the fluffy stuff, we gave you meat, you gorged yourself so much, till meat began to come out of your noses. They wouldn’t tell you about what William Shakespeare calls “the goodly apple, but rotten at the cheek.”

They won’t tell you about humongous amounts of money made from oil, which stood at over $100 dollars per barrel for about six years, and which they looted to the last cent. Foreign reserves; depleted. Excess Crude Account; looted. Federation Account; plundered. They turned the country to a wasteland, leaving an economy primed for recession. But deftly and sure-footed, the Buhari administration is building a new foundation for the economy, erecting an edifice that will stand the test of time, not a bubble that collapses with just a pinprick, not a will-o-the-wisp that vanishes in the midday sun.

That is why I stand with Buhari, and have stood with him since he was a military leader in the 1980s. I can trust this President. I can go to bed, knowing that my leader is not striking deals to fleece the country in the dead of night. I can trust that every money that comes into the coffers of Nigeria, will be used for the good of Nigerians. Am I saying it is a perfect administration? Such has not been forged from the smithy of the divine powers.

Every human enterprise will have its shortcomings, but on Buhari I still stand. I stand with him, and by him, any day.

Some people ask themselves: can we afford to be outside government for another four years from 2019? We would be dead! No access to the public treasury, which we know how well to abuse and plunder? To ravage and savage. They have spat into the sky, and collected the spittle with their faces. Rather than let Buhari be, we would employ all the tricks in the books. Defame, demean, de-market him. Is he not Fulani? He is supporting herdsmen causing murder and mayhem round the country. Trumpet it from the rooftops, even without a scintilla of evidence. He is sectional, and bent on Islamizing the country. He is fighting a one sided anti-corruption war. His war against insurgency is a fluke, not winnable.

They refuse to see massive investments in infrastructure, which would burst into full bloom in another year or two. Roads, rail, power. They refuse to see the rebounding economy, strides in agriculture and mining, all with good auguries for the future. They refuse to acknowledge the stock market, which recently recorded N15.78 trillion, the highest in the history of the country. What of N1.3 trillion spent on capital projects in 2016? And almost the same amount for 2017? No, they rather imagine how much of that amount they would have pocketed if they were in power, living in obscene luxury, while the rest of the country went to hell, if it wanted. They refuse to see the good things happening to the country. And none is as blind as those who deliberately refuse to see. All these and more are the reasons I stand with Buhari, and will always do. So that Nigeria can have a future and a hope. Our own Canaan, flowing with milk and honey.

After primitive fury was unleashed in Benue, and about 73 people were left dead, a sitting President eyeing reelection could also play politics with it, visiting and muttering the right words to impress the people. Nothing wrong. But for President Buhari, action speaks louder than words. Action stations, he told the security agencies. The Deputy Inspector General of Police in charge of Operations was first despatched, then the Minister of Interior, the Inspector General of Police himself, and then the Nigerian Army. Consultations were held with the governor of the state, with Benue elders, and now, a committee headed by the Vice President, made up of nine governors, has been set up to proffer solutions to farmers/herdsmen clashes. Action truly speaks louder than words.

President Buhari has not thrown his hat officially into the ring for a second term in office. But they are in mortal fear of him running. Therefore, they do all they can to dissuade him. Malign him, paint him black, devalue him before the electorate. But they don’t know that there are many devices in the hearts of men, but only the counsel of God shall stand. If God has ordained President Buhari to be in power beyond 2019, human effort to stop it can only end in futility.

I stand with Buhari, because it is solid ground for Nigeria. All other ground I see, at least for now, is sinking sand. For us, for our children, for generations yet unborn, Buhari is engendering a new country, whose builder and maker is God. Let the wailers wail; endlessly. Let the heathens rage; till they render themselves hoarse. Let them throw even the kitchen sink at him, they did worse in the build up to 2015. I stand with Buhari. I know his heart for Nigeria, and for Nigerians. Let people shed their prejudices. Let them eschew hate, and purge themselves of all malice. The future can only then be written in gold.

Adesina is Special Adviser to President Buhari on Media and Publicity

Delegated Leaders From Benue State Meet With President Buhari

Benue State Leaders are currently in a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari in Aso Rock, Abuja over incessant killings by herdsmen in the state.

According to reports, the leaders were led to the presidential villa by the Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom.

Delegates at the meeting are former Senate President, David Mark; former governor George Akume; the Tor Tiv, Prof. James Ayatse,; Senator Barnabas Gemade, former Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Michael Aondoakaa; Senator Joseph Wayas; and Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Terkimbir Kyamb and others.

There were also the Minister of Defence, Mansur Dan-Ali; Minister of Agriculture, Audu Ogbeh; Minister of Interior, Abdulrahman Dambazzau and other government officials.

Critical issues to be discussed at the meeting included how to bring an end to the current herdsmen crisis in Benue State.

 

2019: APC South East Caucus Adopts Buhari

The All Progressives Congress (APC), South East zonal caucus on Sunday at Uburu, Ohaozara Local Government Area of Ebonyi adopted President Muhammadu Buhari for second term.

The adoption was the high point of the outcome of the South East zonal caucus meeting held at the home town of the Minister for Science and Technology, Dr Ogbonnaya Onu in Uburu.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the meeting was attended by top party chieftains from across the South-East geopolitical zone.

The decision to adopt Buhari for a second term was contained in a five-point communique issued at the end of the caucus meeting.

The communique was jointly signed by National Vice Chairman of the party South East and zonal publicity Secretary, Mr Emmanuel Enukwu and Mr Hyacinth Ngwu respectively.

The document commended the President for infrastructural development of the South East zone, job creation and empowerment programmes.

The communique also lauded Buhari for appointing people from the zone as chairmen and board members of federal boards and parastatals.

“We appreciate the Igbo’s growing support and interest in the ruling All Progressives Congress.

“It is our unshakable belief that the quest of the Igbos for the Presidency is achievable in the shortest time only in APC and that time is 2023.

“We pledge our unalloyed loyalty to APC led Federal Government under Buhari and we hereby unequivocally and unconditionally assure the President of our support for his reelection for a second term in office in the 2019 general elections.

“The party in South-East commends the President for all the projects the government is executing in South-East particularly the abandoned Enugu-Onitsha and Enugu-Port-Harcourt high-ways, modernised second Niger Bridge, coastal and in land rail lines among others,”

The caucus in the communique further commended the leadership of the APC and maintained its unalloyed support and confidence in the leadership.

 

We Are Not Doing Bad In The Agricultural Sector- Buhari

President Muhammadu Buhari has assured Nigerians that his administration would not rest in continually reviewing and strengthening ongoing reforms in the agricultural sector until Nigeria regains its pride of place as a food exporting country.

In a statement signed by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, yesterday in Abuja, said the President spoke while receiving a delegation of the All Progressives Congress (APC) from Kebbi State at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

Buhari said the country’s huge rice import bill had dropped significantly by over 90 per cent, a development he noted was not good enough by his expectation.

“Beyond self-sufficiency, we must strive to become net exporters of food commodities.

“We are not doing badly in the agricultural sector and Nigerians and the world are beginning to appreciate our efforts. We will not be satisfied; we will work harder until we start exporting food.

“We are happy that rice and beans importation into the country has gone down by over 90 per cent, and visibly everyone can see how productive states, like Kebbi, have turned out to be, and states like Lagos, Ogun and Ebonyi are following the example,” he said.

He said Kaduna, Katsina, Kano and Sokoto states had already made remarkable turn-around in the sector, with more youths taking interest in entrepreneurship.

The President said he disagreed with the astronomical food import bill presented by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) from the inception of the administration, pointing out that it was later discovered to be “fraudulent practices” by some of the elites to deplete the foreign reserves.

“When I was told that the CBN had no savings after the windfall of selling oil for more than $100 dollars per barrel for many years, and the production was 2.1 billion barrel per day, I did not believe them, because majority of Nigerians cannot afford imported food; they rely on what is locally grown.

 

Despite Your Lies, Nigerians Still Prefer Buhari- Shittu To PDP

The Minister of Communications, Barrister Adebayo Shittu, has told the leaders of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) that despite their lies against President Muhammadu Buhari, many Nigerians still prefer his style of governance.

Barrister Shittu, said this in Ibadan while speaking with newsmen during the 50th birthday ceremony of a PDP chieftain in Oyo State, Engr. Oluseyi Abiodun Makinde.

The minister, who said the people of the country were neither fools nor ingrates, would appraise the president when he presented his score-card.

He said those who drove Nigeria into a mess through corruption and mismanagement during the 16 years of PDP’s misrule were the ones now accusing President Buhari of non-performance.

Shittu, however, told the PDP leaders that Nigerians appreciated the achievements of the President in the areas of the fight against corruption and insurgency and uplifting agriculture, infrastructure, education, and employment.

The minister said the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) would come out to showcase the achievements of the president for Nigerians to compare with those of the PDP that ruled it for 16 years at the appropriate time.

He said, “Nigerians voted for President Buhari because he was the only presidential candidate that could be trusted. The president is running a government devoid of greed and corruption. Although the work ahead is enormous, I am happy that a lot of positive changes have occurred in the areas of agriculture, education, infrastructure, and employment.”

The event was attended by the former governor of Ogun State, Otunba Gbenga Daniel; a former minister of Education, Professor Tunde Adeniran; a former minister of Police Affairs, Jelili Adesiyan, a former first lady in Oyo State, Alhaja Mutiat Olayinka Ladoja, and many other chieftains of the PDP.

Source: Sahara Reporters

Atiku Has No Kobo In Buhari’s 2015 Campaign – El-Rufai

Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State has challenged former vice-president Atiku Abubakar, to prove that he funded President Muhammadu Buhari’s campaign in 2015.

Speaking on a Voice of America (VOA) Hausa Service Programme, tagged “Democracy Today”, in Kaduna, El-Rufai said Atiku leaving the All Progressives Congress is not a surprise to the leaders of the party.

He said, “Agreed, in politics if you lose even only one person, it should worry you, but the utterances of the former Vice President that APC used his money who did he give the money to? For me, I know those that supported us with their money and property that we used during election, and I never heard the name of Atiku that he brought a dime. If Atiku said he brought money, who did he give it to? Let him come and say it and how much did he give and what was it used for?

“And, in fact, if Atiku brought money, I ought to know, because I was part of the leadership of the party and during campaign, along with former Governor Rotimi Amaechi. We were at the centre of the presidential campaign. Therefore, we are supposed to know. So, let him mention who he gave the money and how much?”

El-Rufai said: “We in the APC were aware from the outset that Atiku was going to leave the APC back to the PDP in December and we thank God that he left in November.

“Atiku had seen that we in the APC, especially the APC governors, had resolved to support President Muhammadu Buhari to run again in 2019. That is why he left APC since he was only looking for where to contest for president.

“Even in the 2015 APC primary election, Atiku didn’t come second; he was floored by Kwankwaso. So, even if President Buhari decides not to contest, Atiku knows that the APC ticket is not sure for him. Majority of the APC governors have endorsed President Buhari as our candidate for 2019.

“And God has continued to improve the health condition of the President. Each time I see him, I thank God and I still pray that God continues to give him sound health.

“So, by 2019, we are waiting to see Atiku contest; we are waiting to contest against him and see what happens. I cannot lose sleep because Atiku wants to contest because, by God’s grace, this is the reign of President Muhammadu Buhari.

Asked about a large number of APC members who are likely to follow Atiku to PDP, El-Rufai said: “Sure, we know that, we cannot rule out the possibility of some greedy people following him; those that are following material things. But, if people will consider how we can work for the progress of our country, everybody knows that you cannot compare Atiku with President Muhammadu Buhari.”

A Frolic On The Red Sea, By Femi Adesina

 a gust of chilly wind that said Akwaaba (welcome, in Ghanaian language) to me in the Jordanian city of Aqaba, that night of December 1, 2017. We had flown for about five hours from Abuja, as President Muhammadu Buhari was to attend a summit on combating terrorism in West Africa, convened by King Abdullah II of Jordan.

The presidential plane touched down at King Hussein International Airport at 8.15 p.m local time (7.15 p.m Nigerian time) and a cold embrace was what Aqaba offered. It was winter, and the city gripped you in a forceful bear hug that was icy cold. Nobody taught me before I made a dash for the vehicle that was to take me into the city.

I had checked the weather condition online before we left Nigeria. I was told 11 degrees cold. I was ready, but nearly not ready enough. That cold hug was more like six degrees. Incidentally, that turned out to be the only very cold evening, till we left Jordan three days later.

Three state governors-those of Osun, Kogi, Niger- had accompanied the President on the trip. I was in the same car with Governor Rauf Aregbesola of Osun State. Did the protocol people know that this was my own very governor, or it was mere coincidence? Well, we had a good conversation as we rode into the city. The governor talked about the historical significance of Aqaba, how some ceasefire had been negotiated in the city in the past, how it is the economic nerve centre of Jordan, how the country has no petroleum or many other mineral resources but was quite prosperous, and above all, how Jordan was an oasis of peace in a region characterised by almost perpetual turmoil. I was intrigued, and decided to write a travelogue after the trip.

So, this piece you are reading, was inspired by my discussion with Gov Aregbesola of the State of Osun, during the 15 minutes ride from the airport to the Intercontinental Resort, Aqaba.

Presidential trips are normally busy, very, very busy, as you have to keep Nigerians back home and those in the Diaspora updated on the activities of their President. But this trip was peculiar, in that it was about security, and not everything needed be reported. There was, therefore, some time for leisure. I used it. Wouldn’t you?

My room at the hotel overlooked the Red Sea. You only needed to draw your curtains (which I did on Saturday morning) and you were confronted by the majesty of the sea, with the waters shimmering in the early morning sun. The poet, John Keats, had written about feasting one’s eyes on the glory of the sea.

“O ye that have your eyeballs vext and tir’d,
Feast them upon the wideness of the sea.
O ye whose Ears are dinned with uproar rude,
Or fed too much with cloying melody-
Sit ye near some old Cavern’s mouth and brood,
Until ye start as if the Sea Nymphs quired.

And that was what I did. I feasted my eyes on the wideness of the sea. It was blue, expansive, as far as the eyes could see.

Blue? But this one was supposed to be red. Well, in 2011, I had visited Israel, and while heading for the Taba border to cross into Egypt, for an expedition to Mount Sinai, I had passed by the Red Sea. It was blue, and I had taken our tour guide to task. This was how I conveyed the explanation in a piece published in Daily Sun on December 2, 2011:

“But is that sea really red? Not actually. Why is it then called the Red Sea? The water is actually bluish, as in any other sea, but the surrounding mountains are brown in colour, something like the hue that is called ox blood. So, in the afternoon hours, when the sun is at its peak, the mountains cast a reflection on the waters. The incandescence turns the waters almost red….So, what better name for the sea? The Red Sea.”

Since there was some time on our hands, before the bilateral meeting between President Buhari and King Abdullah II, on Saturday, I called some of the media people on the trip: Abiodun Oladunjoye, a deputy director in the Media Department of State House, Ismaila Chafe of News Agency of Nigeria, Rashidat Yusuf of Mitv, and her camera man, Kelvin Okeke. “Let’s go tour the city!” They were game.

We trooped into a bus, accompanied by a guide named Mustapha Abughalion. For the next hour, we were footloose in Aqaba, seeing many points of interest.

First port of call was the bank of the Red Sea. Aqaba is a desert city. In fact, it is said that it experiences rainfall only about twice or thrice a year, but God has compensated with the Red Sea, which brings some moistness to the atmosphere. And the sea is the source of commerce for the country. Different holiday resorts dot the long coastline, and these are patronized by people from all over the world. In 2010 alone, it is on record that Jordan received over 8 million visitors. Aqaba was also named the Arab Tourism City for 2011.

There is also the Port of Aqaba, which is the only one in Jordan. It was rated as Best Container Terminal in Middle East by Lloyd’s List in 2006, and we saw brisk business going on there.

Jordan is located on the tip of the Red Sea, between Asia, Europe and Africa. Aqaba is in southernmost Jordan, with a population of about 200,000 people. Another major city and capital of the country, Amman, has about 4 million people. In a country of about 9 million, Jordanians are five million, while the rest is made of people from Palestine, Syria and Iraq, most of whom came as refugees. Jordan is quite hospitable.

Aqaba is neat, squeaky clean. Street sweepers are seen on duty, picking even the tiniest specks. The traffic is very sane, with disciplined drivers. No stress.

A city called Petra is a World Heritage Site. Other tourist attractions, about 100,000 nationwide, include the Dead Sea, near Amman, the River Jordan itself, where Jesus was baptized, in fact, Jordan has been custodian over some holy sites in Jerusalem since 1924.

The two main world religions, Christianity and Islam, have venerated sites in Jordan. Al-Maghtais is believed to be the site where Jesus was baptized in the River Jordan, while Mount Nebo, Madaba and Machaerus, are also in the country. Moab, Ammon, and Edom, in biblical times, were located in today’s Jordan.

Archaeologists have found what is believed to be the site of the world’s oldest church in the country. It dates back to 3rd Century AD, slightly older than the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem, and the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. Both date back to 4th Century AD.

Though Jordan is about 98% Muslims, there is an indigenous Christian minority, about 5,000 of whom live in Aqaba. The city has several churches, and one Christian school, Rosary Sisters School.

Among holy Islamic sites in Jordan are shrines of Prophet Muhammed’s companions (Peace be upon him) like Abd Allah ibn Rawahah, Zayd ibn Harithah, and Muadh ibn Jabal.

Aqaba is about 20 minutes away from Saudi Arabia, and we drove till we were five kilometres away, before turning. One could see the longing in Rashidat Yusuf’s eyes. She would have given anything to be able to get into Saudi, and perhaps, do a quick Umrah. Some other time, Hajiya.

Surrounded by tumultuous countries, bordered directly by Saudi Arabia, Palestine, Iraq and Syria, how come Jordan is so safe? Apart from the November 9, 2005 bombing of three hotels in Amman by Al-Qaeda, killing 60 people and injuring 115, there have been no incidents. Internal security is quite high, and Jordan has good relationship with the West. It also has a peace treaty with Israel. King Abdullah II is known as a man of peace.

Health care in Jordan is world class. In fact, medical tourism yielded over 1 billion dollars in 2010. Jordan is rated top in the region, and 5th world overall.

I had some options in my spare time on the third day. I could go scuba-diving, or take a cruise on the Red Sea. Scuba-diving? I shouldn’t be like the cricket that got so well fed, and burst its own tummy. Any form of diving was ruled out. You go diving so faraway from home, and mischief happens to you, the wailing wailers would have a field day, laughing till they fainted.

With Oladunjoye and Chafe, we paid for a cruise in a glass boat on the Red Sea. Why is it called glass boat? The bottom is made of glass, so you could look at the seabed. One could see all sorts of creatures in the sea, the flora and fauna. We saw different species of fishes, water snakes, sea turtle, sea weed, wreckage of boats, and so many other things. Under the sea is a treasure trove.

The boat was captained by a teenage boy named Yahaya. I could feel my heart moving into my mouth as we got into the middle of nowhere. Coward! Yes, I agree. I have sailed on the Atlantic Ocean, Indian Ocean, and many other seas. But I am still a coward where water is concerned. Chinua Achebe wrote that we often stand in the house of a coward, to point at the ruins of the house of a brave man. I agree. Yahaya obviously saw the fear in my eyes, and he gestured that I should not panic.

I chuckled as I remembered my wife. If she could see me, she would have exclaimed: “This man, is this what I sent you to Jordan to do?” But she didn’t know until I was back from the voyage. Men and their escapades!
Human beings can fear, instead of exercising faith. It is natural. In the middle of the deep, I began to scare myself. What if a mighty wave came, and submerged the boat? What if the engine suddenly stalled? What if fire broke out? What if the boat ran out of petrol? What if… Get thee behind me, Satan!

The only fright we had was when we met a military gunboat on patrol. It was at top speed. The waves it created made our boat bob up and down, and it was an uneasy experience. It subsided after some time.

To appreciate the glory of God, take time to go out on the sea. The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament His handiwork, says the Good Book. In another place, it says “they that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters; these see the works of the Lord, and His wonder in the deep.” Every man needs that experience.
There were big seafaring vessels we met. Only God knows what part of the world they were coming from, with all sorts of names. Chakra. Costa Mediterranea. Shark’s Bay. And many others.

After about an hour, when we sighted our hotel right by the seashore, it was pure relief. The sail had been good, I’ll recommend it to anyone who has the heart for it. It sure has therapeutic value. But was I glad to step on solid ground again? All other ground is sinking sand. This was terra firma. Water was terra incognita. I’ll rather have my feet planted on solid ground at any time.


  • *Femi Adesina is Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to President Muhammadu Buhari

Your President is Working Hard- John Oyegun

The National Chairman of All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief John Oyegun, commends President Muhammadu Buhari for his hardwork in making things better. He also urges all Nigerians to give the needed support.
Oyegun spoke in Uyo on Saturday while flagging off the APC local government election campaign in Akwa Ibom, slated for Dec. 2.

“Your president is working hard to turn things around for better. APC needs people of vision, people with passion to bring about a new Nigeria,” he said.

Oyegun said that the APC was poised to reposition Nigeria on the path of progress by sweeping away corruption and the evil of the past.

He said that he was overwhelmed by the crowd at the rally ground, describing it as an indication that the Akwa Ibom people were ready to embrace change.

Oyegun, who received formally some defectors from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) led by Sen. Nelson Effiong, representing Akwa Ibom South Senatorial District, said that APC was proud of the state.

He described Sen. Effiong as a gentleman; a man of vision and integrity, who could look into the future.

The national chairman commended the defectors for seeing the new Nigeria which APC had promised to deliver to all Nigerians.

Speaking on behalf of the new entrants into APC, Sen. Effiong, said that he had the vision of change 10 months ago and took the decision to join the party.

Effiong commended President Buahri for taking Nigeria to the promised land and assured the APC National Chairman that the party would win the forthcoming council election convincingly.

“I assure you sir, that we are here in the party with open mind and we will take the state to the main fold of Nigerian politics in 2019,” Effiong said.

In his welcome address on the occasion, the APC State Chairman, Dr Amadu Attai, said that the Akwa Ibom people were committed to supporting President Buhari because of his sincerity.

Attai, who applauded the Social Investment Scheme of the Federal Government, also thanked the APC-led government for taking Nigeria out of recession.

He commended the quality and purposeful leadership of the party at the national level and promised that APC would work hard to win the local council election in Akwa Ibom.

In his goodwill message, the chairman of APC Governors’ Forum, Gov. Rochas Okorocha of Imo, commended APC in Akwa Ibom for presenting a very strong opposition in the state.

Okorocha said APC was the way to follow in Nigeria because the party was the antidote to corruption in Nigeria.

Wise Men Still Come From The East By Femi Adesina

At His incarnation, wise men gifted in astronomy came from the East, all the way to Bethlehem, in the south of Jerusalem, to worship Jesus Christ. They are today known as the Magi, who gave the newborn gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.

There is a lot to say on the significance of each gift item, but that is not the purpose of the writing today. Maybe, another day, as the need arises. What we need from that nativity story is that the wise men came all the way from the East, following a star that led them to Bethlehem. In our country Nigeria, we have the geo-political zone called the South-east, and wise men still come from there. In plenty numbers. This week, it was brought out in bold relief.

President Muhammadu Buhari was in two states of the South-east on Tuesday and Wednesday, and what a delightsome, myth-shattering visit it has become. It is one visit that has torpedoed the negative narrative deliberately conjured by some mischief makers over the years, that President Buhari does not like people from the East, and neither do the people like him.

Now, that assertion is fiction, pure apocryphal, conjured and concocted by some people to serve narrow political ends. In his first shot at the presidency in 2003, who was Buhari’s running mate? Dr Chuba Okadigbo. Where did he come from? Ogbunike, town of the famous cave, in the South-east. And in 2007, candidate Buhari looked towards the East again. He picked Chief Edwin Ume-Ezeoke, a former Speaker of the House of Representatives in the Second Republic, as running mate. And in 2011, I remember very clearly. Buhari was on the march again, and needed a running mate. Socio-political leadership of the South-east forbade any of its sons from being running mate to anyone. Their candidate, they said, was Goodluck Jonathan, who then was completing the term of Umaru Yar’Adua. So, Buhari looked westward, and picked the cleric, Tunde Bakare. But did he demonstrate any animus towards the East? Not at all.

In 2015, the man, easily the most colourful politician, greatest crowd puller of this season in Nigeria, threw his hat into the ring again. The East was still in bed with Jonathan, completely besotted, vowing to swim or sink with their brother, Ebele Azikiwe.
Buhari looked westward again, picked Professor Yemi Osinbajo, as running mate. A large part of the East was dug in, not minding to play what may be called ‘poor politics’ in the process. When the dust of the elections settled, Jonathan was holding the shorter end of the stick. Buhari coasted to the presidency, but the entire East had given him just about 180,000 votes, less than what some local councils gave in other parts of the country. To make matters worse, the East had refused to re-elect its own son, Dr Chris Ngige, as senator. If Ngige had been given a mandate, he would have effortlessly emerged Senate President, and see what the region would have benefitted. But the large number opted for self-immolation, voted Ngige out, and later began to scream marginalization. But if you ask me, it was a self-inflicted wound. Result of poor politics.

That was the background that some people twisted, and used to paint the scenario that President Buhari does not like the South-east.

But happily, there had been voices of reason from the region, pre-2015 presidential election. The Ralph Obiohas, Chris Ngiges, Festus Odimegwus, Fr. Ejike Mbakas, Orji Uzor Kalus, Osita Okechukwus, J.C Ojukwus, and many others, had warned their people not to put their eggs in one basket. And they have turned out to be wise men, being joined today by thousands of other wise people.

You know what the mistakes of 2015 did to Ndigbo? It consigned them to perpetual opposition politics, playing in the periphery. For such an illustrious and enterprising people, that was unfortunate, if not tragic. If they continued that way, there was no silver lining in the sky for the future.

Nigeria is configured in a way that the person who builds the largest coalition is the one who can emerge President. The Igbo should naturally produce the President one day, that is what fairness demands. But how would that ever happen, if they continued to play poor politics? If you continue to swim in small pools, you stand the risk of being submerged in bigger waters. But now, things are changing. The wise men are making a difference.

Back to Ebonyi, the famed Salt of the Nation, where we arrived last Tuesday. Governor Dave Umahi is of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), and he is also Igbo. If he were to play narrow politics, he should have nothing to do with President Buhari. But the Ebonyi State helmsman has proven himself a wise man from the East. He has cultivated a good relationship with the President, and achieved the feat of being the first state in the South-east to host the President on a State Visit.

President Buhari consented to the visit, thus showing him to be a pan-Nigerian leader, true father of the nation. If overriding sentiments had prevailed, then the President would not have chosen a state controlled by the opposition PDP for his visit, and definitely, not a state in a ‘hostile region.’ But not President Buhari, who has always maintained that no part of the country would be treated unfairly under his watch.

Landing at Enugu airport, before proceeding to Abakaliki, capital of Ebonyi State, by chopper, was the first breath of fresh air. The airport was gaily decorated, with banners, billboards and posters of the President and Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State, who was also on hand to receive the President. He is also of the PDP, but a wise man from the East. You don’t play the politics that shuts you out of the national grid, lest you get sentenced to perpetual half current, or no current at all. The reception at Enugu airport, and , indeed, in all the places we visited, Abakaliki and Awka, would make you relish and savour the aroma of brotherhood and national cohesion.

Before the visit, there had been attempt by those behind negative narratives, to frighten the President away. They forgot he was a General, and such people don’t scare easily. However, the reception and applause all round gave a true picture of what subsists in the country. This is a President widely and massively loved-in the North, the South, East and West.

Not only is Gov Dave Umahi a wise man from the East, the royal fathers in his state are of the same mind. They gave President Buhari the traditional title of Enyioma 1 of Ebonyi, meaning Trustworthy Friend of Ebonyis. Commendable.

Also joining the train of wisdom, are the traditional rulers of South-east, as a body. They gave the President the title Ochioha Ndigbo, meaning Leader of Igbo People. I tell you, this is the way to build a cohesive nation, promote brotherliness, and guarantee fairness and equity, rather than the poor politics of the past. More than at any other time, the wise men from the East have given a handshake across the Niger, and only the future will show the positive impact of that initiative.

Former Ebonyi State governor, Sam Egwu, immediate past governor, Martin Elechi, former Senate President, Anyim Pius Anyim, former Culture Minister, Ambassador Frank Ogbuewu, former senator, Julius Ucha, and many others, were part of the healing process in the East. Ogbuewu said President Buhari, by the visit, had proven that he was not truly for some people, but for all Nigerians. Egwu, on his part, disclosed that Gov Umahi had charged those of them currently in the National Assembly from Ebonyi, to always give support to policies of the Federal Government, despite belonging to different political parties. That’s the way to go.

The traditional rulers of the South-east, through their leader, Eze Eberechi Dick, commended the President for fighting insecurity, for fighting corruption, promoting agriculture, and generally bringing hope of a better future.

“You are a great leader. We love you so much. We are solidly behind you,” the monarch said.
Trust the President to throw in a wisecrack. After being decorated with the paraphernalia of chieftaincy, he said:”I will tell my personal photographer to frame the picture, and I will put it in my sitting room in Daura, where I will eventually end up.” That’s a man who knows the transience of power and official positions. East or West, home is the best. Daura would always be home.

When the President entered the township stadium in Abakaliki, the applause was inspiring. One was tempted to ask, is this not in the South-east, where they say they don’t like Buhari? The same thing was to repeat itself in Awka, when the President entered the Alex Ekwueme Square, where the campaign for Anambra governorship holding this Saturday was being concluded. It was applause all the way, signposting the fact that the East was ready to jettison poor politics, and return to the mainstream. It was a roll call of who is who in Nigerian politics from the South-east, who have now teamed up with the All Progressives Congress (APC). Emeka Ojukwu junior, son of Dim Emeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, who used the occasion to publicly join the APC, summed it all up, by pointing out that when his father came back from exile in the early 1980s, he did not join a regional party, but opted for a national one. He concluded: “It is time to stop operating in the periphery. It is time to leave the shadows for light.” Home truth for all Nigerians, and for Ndigbo particularly, if you ask me.

There is no way you can tell the Igbos not to aspire for presidency of Nigeria at a time in future. It will be contrary to fairness and justice. But then, the region must start playing astute politics. It must leave the shadows for light. It must sustain the hand of fellowship it has extended to the rest of the country, as shown in the warm reception for the President in Ebonyi and Anambra states. Wise men abound in that region, I say again.

During the reception in Ebonyi, Gov Umahi announced a gift of 2,000 bags of rice, 2,000 tubers of yam, and a white horse for the President. I saw the Enyioma 1 of Ebonyi open his mouth in amazement. While thanking his host for the gift, he promised to send the cargo to Daura, his hometown, for the people to share. Trust me, I told Mohammed Sarki Abba, the President’s senior aide, seated beside me: “I’ll ask Mr President for 50 of those bags of rice, before you send them to Daura. I’ll then distribute them to my own friends in the name of Ochioha Ndigbo.”
And that’s exactly what I’ll do. The Enyioma 1 would surely oblige. Lol.

Adesina is Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to President Muhammadu Buhari

Police Intensify Efforts As IPOB Threatens President Buhari’s Visit

The Ebonyi State Police Command on Monday warned the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra and political parties’ supporters against disruptive acts during President Muhammadu Buhari’s visit to the state on Tuesday.

IPOB had early on Monday told President Buhari not to come to the South-East, which it referred to as ‘Biafraland,’ or else he would not leave the geopolitical zone alive.

However, the Ebonyi State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Titus Lamorde, who gave the warning in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria in Abakaliki, assured the people that the command was well equipped to deal with all forms of security challenges before, during and after the President’s visit.

According to Lamorde, any individual or group of persons that foment trouble before, during and after the visit would be severely dealt with, as people are advised to conduct themselves well.

“I will not disclose the number of personnel we have drafted for security reasons, but I assure citizens that enough personnel have been deployed across the state to ensure a hitch-free visit.

“The President’s visit is a welcome development as the citizens should cooperate with security agencies to make it a successful one,” he said.

He stated that his officers had been adequately trained to relate well with the citizens during the visit and advised people to conduct their activities within the confines of the law.

“We would not meddle in political issues as a security outfit, but the visit is development-oriented because of the numerous projects the President would inaugurate.

“My officers would not intimidate or harass individuals or groups as the duty of ensuring a hitch-free event is a collective one,” he said.

However, IPOB has vowed that Buhari will not go back alive if he decides to go ahead with his plans to visit the zone.

The President is billed to visit Ebonyi State on Tuesday (today) his first visit to the South-East since he assumed office in 2015.

IPOB said “blood will flow” if the President failed to heed the warning by going ahead with the trip.

The pro-Biafran group, which gave the warning in a statement by its spokesman, Emma Powerful, referred to Buhari as ‘Jubril of Sudan.’

In the statement, entitled, ‘Jubril of Sudan masquerading as Buhari must stay away from Biafraland or else blood will flow,’ IPOB claimed that an alleged impostor, one Jubril from Sudan, was actually the person parading himself as President Muhammadu Buhari, who it referred to as the “late dictator.”

The secessionists, in the same vein, said Buhari’s visit to the South-East would amount to an insult to the memory of all Biafran activists who died at the hands of federal troops since the President assumed power in 2015.

The group warned that the South-East Governors’ Forum and the leadership of the Ohanaeze Ndigbo were provoking violence and bloodshed by allegedly inviting Buhari to the zone.

“This is tantamount to an Israeli politician inviting Adolf Hitler to visit Jerusalem to mock the Jews he slaughtered in concentration camps during the holocaust,” the statement said.

Warning the President to stay away, the statement added, “It is with a heavy heart and grave sense of responsibility that we IPOB worldwide under the supreme command of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, announce to the world that those who are completely committed to provoking bloodshed in our land may have finally succeeded.

“The consequences of any fallout from the visit of the impostor Jubril to Ebonyi State will rest squarely on the head of Chief John Nnia Nwodo (President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo) governors Dave Umahi (Ebonyi), Rochas Okorocha (Imo) and the rest of the South-East governors.

“Bringing this version of ‘Buhari’ to insult the memory of those killed at Enugu, Nkpor, Igweocha, Aba, Onitsha and lastly Umuahia will not be tolerated by IPOB and every right thinking Biafran.

“Tuesday, 14th November, 2017  will be recorded in history as a very bloody day should that Jubril masquerading as Buhari attempt to land on Biafran soil.

“We have remained passive and peaceful but it appears that the Hausa/Fulani slave politicians in Igboland are hell-bent on provoking us to become violent.

“Whoever advised Ohanaeze Ndigbo and Igbo governors to embark on this suicide mission does not wish them well.”

IPOB also alleged that Buhari’s planned visit to Anambra State on November 15 was meant to finalise plans by the All Progressives Congress to rig the November 18 governorship election in the state.

Threatening the President with death, the pro-Biafran group said, “Our message is short and simple. Jubril a.k.a. Muhammadu Buhari will be exposed to the world as the impostor he is by making sure he never goes back alive.

“We will die with him should he set his foot on the sacred land of Biafra. He will not go back alive.”

The group further claimed that Buhari ordered soldiers to kill its leader, Nnamdi Kanu, whose whereabouts is unknown.

“He (Buhari) played a key role in all the theatres of genocidal mass slaughter of the Nigerian/Biafran War (1967-1970). He instructed soldiers to kill Nnamdi Kanu at his Afaraukwu, Abia State residence two months ago. We are yet to know our leader’s whereabouts or that of his parents.

“They (Hausa/Fulani) hate our people with a passion, they love killing us, so his coming is only to celebrate what he sees as the final defeat of our people. He will not go home alive.”

IPOB warned that those who invited Buhari to the South-East would pay dearly.

“All those who plotted this visit will pay dearly. When the time for vengeance comes there will be no forgiveness.

“We are going to perish together with this ‘Buhari’. It’s a promise,” the statement added.

Meanwhile, an election observer group, Youth Initiative for Advocacy Growth and Advancement, on Monday asked security agencies and other stakeholders in the Anambra State governorship election to address the “vote-and-die” threat issued by IPOB before Saturday’s governorship poll.

The Project Manager of YIAGA, Cynthia Mbamalu, stated this in Awka, the Anambra State capital, at a press conference to update newsmen about the group’s activities towards the poll.

Describing the threat as serious, the group said it could lead to voters’ apathy if their fears were not allayed.

It said YIAGA’s investigation showed that there was palpable fear among citizens, especially voters, about the threat.

It called on traditional rulers, president-general of town unions, the police, the Independent National Electoral Commission and other stakeholders to address the issue and allay the fears of voters before the poll.

 

EDITORIAL: As FG Presents The 2018 Budget

If there is anything to be said of Tuesday’s laying of the estimates of next year’s budget at the National Assembly table, it is that the exercise may have finally responded to the imperative of the moment in terms of early preparation by the executive branch. As against last year when it was presented on December 14, 2016, barely 10 days to Christmas after which the lawmakers broke for their yuletide vacation, the expectations this time are of its early passage.

 

Just like last year’s, there is a lot of good things that can be said of the overall thrust of the budget. First is the size. Although, a far cry from what is required to match the yawning infrastructure deficit , the total figure – N8.612 trillion –a 16 per cent increase above the 2017 figure of N7.441 trillion– largely mirrors the expectations of Nigerians for a big pie to jumpstart the economy and now beginning to crawl out of a recession.

 

The second is its clear-headed realism.

 

As against last year’s benchmark price of $44.50 of crude oil per barrel, the federal government quite sensibly, put the reference price at $45. The same could be said of oil production with a modest increase of 100,000 barrels per day increase over the 2017 target of 2.2 million. In a topsy-turvy political economy of crude oil, it is the least the federal government can do to tamp down on expectations.

 

Third – and we consider this just as important – is the bold push to get big ticket projects ongoing. We refer to the Mambilla Hydro Power project, the power transmission projects, the railways and other critical projects designed to put the economy on a sustainable path of growth. All of these are, no doubt, important to give the economy the much needed fillip. How far the federal government can deliver on these as well as bring to completion, on-going projects, particularly those to be rolled over from previous years will go a long way to determine its overall efficacy as a governance instrument.

 

Of course, we must in equal measure admit to some of the flaws that have since become a recurring feature of the budgetary process. One of these is the disproportionate allocation to recurrent expenditures particularly the huge wage bill and the other costs of running the government on one hand and the humongous cost of debt servicing on the other. Although, a vast improvement from what obtained in the past, that the federal government would spend two-thirds of the entire budget on running the bureaucracy and the government continues to be a measure of how skewed the exercise is. Were things to be normal, it should be the other way round.

 

As it is, the ball is now in the court of the National Assembly. In other words, the real job has only just begun. A good way to start is to inquire how the 2017 budget went. What is the state of implementation? What are the challenges? Were the revenue targets met, if not why not? Admittedly, the President alluded to the shortfall during his presentation. Nigerians of course deserve to know the specifics – which ministries, departments and agencies were involved and what is being done about it. This process must go with the understanding that the era when agencies earned the revenue and spent as they liked is gone forever.

 

And what do Nigerians want from the budget?

 

Most certainly – it is nothing of the arcane world of esoteric figures that the budget has come to represent and which have come to mean nothing in practical terms to the man on the street. For the ordinary citizen, they want to see the living proof of the budget in the visible improvements to their lives and living conditions: in good roads, in vastly improved security environment, in cheap and efficient public transportation system, and steady electricity supply to their homes and businesses. To the extent that an early passage of the budget can only be a good step towards delivering on those objectives, the National Assembly has a bounden duty to make it happen. And urgently too.