Presidency Appeals To NASS To Reconvene

The Presidency on Sunday appealed to the National Assembly (NASS) to reconvene as urgent matters pending before it may affect the running of Nigeria and matters affecting Nigerians.

The appeal was made by the Senior Special Adviser (SSA) to the President on National Assembly Matters, Sen. Ita Enang at a news conference in Lagos.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that the Nigerian Senate, on July 24 adjourned sittings for the next two months.

President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki announced the adjournment at plenary following a motion on the siege on Saraki and the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, by security operatives.

The Senate is expected to reconvene on September 25th.

NAN, however, reports that some of the pending urgent issues before the adjournment included the approval of a supplementary budget to fund the 2018 budget and the 2019 General Elections.

The supplementary funds would enable the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to commence preparation for the 2019 polls.

Also pending are several key appointments for the EFCC, ICPC, Deputy CBN Governor and AMCON among others.

Enang said that although the Senate had lined up those matters before the adjournment, there was a need for them to resume because of the urgency required for the approval.

“We are appealing to Senate leadership and all caucuses of the National Assembly to see this as a clarion call for the good of the nation.

“As the Liason Officer between NASS and the federal government, I know it is not the intention of the Lawmakers to make Nigerians suffer.

“The NASS vacation is usually planned to coincide with school vacations so that members can spend time with their children.

However, this is an election year and the budget has just been appended to hence the urgent need to give approval for Supplementary funds for it.

“We are not compelling them, we are appealing to them. As a liaison officer between the Presidency and the NASS, my duty is to make sure that both arms stay together and work in harmony” he said.

On the defections in the house, Enang explained that it had nothing to do with the performance of President Muhammadu Buhari and that the issues for defection were personal and domestic to the political actors.

According to him, the defections are perennial and usually happens in election years where politicians look for platforms to achieve their aspirations.

“In all the defections, they have maintained that they do not have problems with the federal government.

‘There is too much competition within the major political parties. Politicians study the platforms and would not want to be where they may not get the tickets especially for those seeking re-election. Some need automatic tickets but their party may say no.

“Defections are not a sign of anything to worry about in a political party. None of the defectors is complaining about the executive treatment of their people but about winning nominations for tickets outside,” he added.

Lai Mohammed Seeks God’s Guidance For Presidency

The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, on Wednesday, sought God’s guidance for the present administration “through the interesting times Nigeria is currently passing through.”

Mohammed said this in his opening prayer at the ongoing weekly meeting of the Federal Executive Council holding at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

President Muhammadu Buhari who recently returned from Lome, Togo, where he was appointed the chairman of the Economic Community of West African States is presiding over the meeting.

The meeting which also has Vice President Yemi Osinbajo in attendance started a few minutes after 11am.

The defections that have hit the ruling All Progressives Congress continued on Tuesday as Senate President Bukola Saraki, Kwara State Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed and Nigeria’s Ambassador to South Africa, Alhaji Ahmed Ibeto, finally left the party and returned to the Peoples Democratic Party.

Fifteen Senators and 37 members of the House of Representatives had two weeks ago defected to the PDP as well.

36 Finalists Emerge In Maiden MSME Awards – Presidency

The Presidency has said that 36 finalists have emerged for the first ever National Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) sector awards scheduled for August 2.

Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Office of the Vice President, Laolu Akande, in a statement said, the 36 finalists were selected from businesses across the country in a process that started on July 3, 2018.

The 36 finalists comprised three MSMEs in each of the 12 award categories designed for the programme.

The 12 categories are; MSME of the Year, Young MSME of the Year, Most Friendly MSME State, Excellence in Creative Arts, Excellence in Agriculture, Excellence in Manufacturing, Excellence in Technology Innovation and Excellence in Fashion and Style.

Others are, Excellence in Leather Works, Excellence in Furniture and Wood Works, Excellence in Beauty, Wellness and Cosmetics as well as Excellence for Non-Profit Service to Humanity.

The awards, which is being organised by the National MSMEs Clinic, is an initiative of the present administration and domiciled in the Office of the Vice President.

It is aimed at encouraging innovation, hard work, dedication and industry in the MSMEs sector as the winners will go home with different category of prizes including the grand prize of a brand-new car, cash rewards amongst others.

According to Akande, this was in line with the Muhammadu Buhari administration’s commitment to continue to support growth in the MSMEs sector.

There Were More Killings Under Your Watch – Presidency Tells PDP

President Buhari says ongoing killings should not be politicised, but the latest statement could further deepen partisan bickering.

Although President Muhammadu Buhari warned against politicising the ongoing killings across Nigeria, his aides have yet again reminded Nigerians that deadly attacks resulting in high number of deaths did not start under his government, but rather a reality which Nigerians lived through for the most part of Peoples Democratic Party’s 16-year rule.

In a statement Thursday afternoon, presidential spokesperson, Femi Adesina, said the PDP was playing politics when the major opposition party declared a week-long national mourning in memory of those killed last weekend in Plateau State.

The police put the figures of those killed around 100, but witnesses and organised groups like the Christian Association of Nigeria are estimating over 200 deaths in the killings which affected several communities in Barkin Ladi Local Government Area between July 23 and 25.

Mr Buhari was in Jos, the state capital, located about 50 kilometres north of the affected communities, to commiserate with the state government and reassert his administration’s commitment to hunt down the killers and ensure justice for the victims.

The PDP, which became Nigeria’s major opposition party following its defeat at the 2015 general elections, announced Wednesday evening its flag would be unfurled at half-staff at its local and national chapters across the country for the next seven days.

For concrete action, the party said the “people of Plateau State” should “exercise their rights as global citizens, work with other public-spirited Nigerians and groups and take President Muhammadu Buhari and his government to the International Criminal Court (ICC) at the Hague for acting helpless in the face of continuous mass killings in our country.”

“The PDP firmly holds that the life of every Nigerian is sacred. All Nigerians must be protected whether they are Birom, Basange, Igbira, Tiv, Idoma, Hausa, Igbo, Fulani, Gbagyi, Yoruba or from any other tribe whatsoever,” the party added. “The fundamental duty of government all over the world is the protection of lives and Nigerians can no longer continue to fold their hands while compatriots are being daily hacked down by marauders.”

In both tone and deed, the PDP’s move to rally Nigerians appeared an uncomfortable development for the State House, prompting Mr Adesina to exhume a string of past killings he said occurred without declarations of national mourning by the opposition party when it was in power.

Rather than exercise “decorum, deep introspection” and help proffer “actionable ideas” on how to end the senseless killings in the country, the PDP danced “on the graves of the dead, playing cheap, infantile politics,” with its national mourning, Mr Adesina said.

Mr Adesina said the PDP’s mourning exercise would fail because “Nigerians are politically discerning, and cannot be hoodwinked by cheap antics.”

The spokesperson went on to list the following past incidents and called out the PDP for allegedly failing to mourn the casualties at the time.

– November 20, 1999. Odi, in Bayelsa State, was invaded on orders of a PDP President. About 2,500 people killed. No national mourning.

– Between February and May, 2000, about 5,000 people were killed during riots over Sharia law in different parts of the North. No national mourning.

– In 2001, hundreds of people, including the old, infirm, women and children were killed in Zaki Biam. No crocodile tears.

– Between September 7-12, 2001, Jos, Plateau State, erupted in internecine killings. Between 500 and 1,000 people were killed. Flags were not flown at half mast.

– In February, 2004, at least 975 people were killed in Yelwa-Shendam, Plateau State. No mourning by the then ruling PDP.

– Between November 28 and 29, 2008, Jos was in flames again, with 381 deaths. No mourning.

– In 2010, 992 people killed in Jos. Mum was the word.

– In 2014 alone, according to Global Terrorism Index, at least 1,229 people were killed in the Middle Belt. No mourning.

– Boko Haram killings in PDP years were over 10,000. PDP flags were still fluttering proudly in the sky.

 

Why NASS Increased 2018 Budget – Presidency

The Presidency has given reasons for the upward adjustment in the 2018 budgetary figure from the initial N8.6 trillion to N9.12 trillion by the National Assembly.

It said the move was due to the need to accommodate the upward swing in the price of crude oil in the international market after the budget was tabled before the National Assembly.

Making this revelation, a Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters, Senator Ita Enang, told Vanguard that the delay in the passage of the budget and the rise in the price of oil in the international market contributed to the change in the size of the budget.

Enang stated that the additional amount would be applied to capital projects while reducing deficit, adding that the government would not dwell much on controversial issues in the budget.

He said, “When you submit the budget to the legislature, if there are indices that change in the budget, the budget can also change.

“The increase in the budget was discussed between us the executive and the legislature because oil price was about $55- $58 per barrel when we submitted the budget.

“At the time the budget was ready to be passed, oil price rose to about $70- $71 per barrel and the executive and the legislature teams met and said we can raise the benchmark from Mr. President’s proposed benchmark of $45 per barrel to $50 per barrel.

“So, that makes some money available and, of course, we had intended that the budget should be passed by December. Budget, having not been passed by December 2017 to January 2018, there were some other sources of revenue which came in.

“We agreed with the legislature that part of it should be applied towards reducing deficit and some applied to some capital projects and that is the reason the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma, made some submissions on some capital projects to the Appropriations Committee of the National Assembly, the Senate and House of Representatives and passed them to the Appropriations Committee which has been accommodated to a greater extent.

“We are not at this time going to get into discrepancy whether the budget was increased rightly or wrongly, we are only going to look at what Mr President directed us to look at in terms of budget details.”

Recall that the National Assembly had last week passed the 2018 Appropriation Bill of N9,120,334,988,225 for the 2018 fiscal year, representing an increase of N508 billion from the N8.612 trillion proposal presented to the joint National Assembly by President Muhammadu Buhari late last year.

“PIB Yet To Get To The Presidency”

The Presidency on Wednesday said President Muhammadu Buhari has yet to receive a copy of the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill recently passed into law by the National Assembly.

The harmonised version of the bill was passed by the National Assembly on March 28.

There have been media reports indicating that the clean copy has been sent to Buhari for presidential assent.

But the Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters (Senate), Ita Enang, in a two-paragraph statement made available to journalists in Abuja on Wednesday said Buhari has yet to receive the bill.

The statement, dated May 16, was titled “Re: Petroleum Industry Governance Bill.”

Enang said that his investigation revealed that the bill was still “undergoing standard legislative processes of the National Assembly,” preparatory to transmission.

The statement read, “Further to several enquiries by the media, interest groups, and the public in respect of within named bill, may I please state that the said bill has not yet been transmitted by the National Assembly to the President.

“From my enquiries, the bill is still undergoing standard operating legislative processes of the National Assembly preparatory to transmission, please.”

The chairman of the Senate Committee on Petroleum Resources (Upstream), Omotayo Alasoadura, had earlier been quoted as saying that the harmonised bill would be presented to Buhari on March 30.

The initial delay was thought to have been caused by the fact that March 30 was declared a public holiday to commemorate Good Friday.

The bill, when signed into law, is expected to instill best global practice in the nation’s oil industry.

Presidency To Danjuma: Your Self-Defence Call Shocking, Scary

The Presidency on Saturday said the recent call made by a former Minister of Defence, Lt.-Gen. Theophilus Danjuma (retd.), that Nigerians should not rely on security agencies but defend themselves in the face of killings across the country as shocking and scary.

It said unrestrained pronouncements were capable of encouraging criminal gangs to defy legal governing and democratic institutions.

The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba, Shehu, said these in a statement made available to journalists.

Shehu urged prominent Nigerians to use their national influence wisely and shun public declarations that are capable of threatening national security.

He also advised former leaders to take advantage of the various fora where they can advise the government on security matters without resorting to the exploitation of emotional sentiments.

Shehu wondered if any country can survive if its citizens rise against its military.

He said Nigerians must be careful to avoid the mess that destroyed other African countries like Somalia.

Despite Danjuma’s verdict on the armed forces however, the presidential aide commended the Nigerian military’s efforts to maintain peace and stability, “despite being pulled in various directions by elements determined to destabilise the country and government for their selfish reasons.”

The statement read, “The Presidency wishes to appeal to prominent Nigerians, who have national influence, to use their influence wisely and not continue to engage in public declarations that are likely to inflame emotional passions and threaten National Security.

“The Presidency is very worried that criminal gangs will feel justified in defying legal governing and democratic institutions, and authority of legitimately elected democratic government if unrestrained pronouncements are made.

“Silence can be dignified, but sometimes it can be misinterpreted and exploited. It is both shocking and scary to hear the recent comments by a senior citizen calling for Nigerians to defend themselves.

“The Presidency commends the Nigerian military’s efforts to maintain peace and stability, despite being pulled in various directions by elements determined to destabilise the country and government for their selfish reasons.

“What country would survive if its citizens rise against the country’s organised, trained and equipped military?

“We advise former leaders to take advantage of the various fora where people with a history of national security can offer advice to the government without resorting to the exploitation of emotional sentiments.

“The civil war motto: ‘To keep Nigeria one is a task that must be done’ rings very timely at this time in our nation’s history. We must be careful to avoid the mess that destroyed other African countries like Somalia.”

The reaction came exactly one week after Danjuma last Saturday while speaking at the maiden convocation of the Taraba State University, Jalingo, and the 10th anniversary of the institution told Nigerians to defend themselves against killers in the country, saying  the armed forces were not ready to defend them.

The former Chief of Army Staff had stated, “I am not a politician and politics is one profession I don’t want to belong to because if I am a politician, I will not say what I am going to say to you now.

“When I arrived in this arena, I saw rich cultural display and I was amazed at the rich cultural heritage of our people. Taraba is a mini Nigeria with diverse ethnic groups living together peacefully, but the peace in this state is under assault.

“There is an attempt at ethnic cleansing in the state and of course, some rural states in Nigeria. We must resist it. We must stop it. Every one of us must rise up.

“Our Armed Forces are not neutral. They collude with the bandits to kill people, kill Nigerians. The Armed Forces guide their movements; they cover them. If you are depending on the Armed Forces to stop the killings, you will all die one by one.

“This ethnic cleansing must stop in Taraba State and other rural states of Nigeria otherwise Somalia will be a child’s play.

“I ask every one of you to be alert and defend your country, defend your territory and defend your state. Defend yourselves because you have no other place to go. God bless our country.”

The Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, and other individuals have since supported Danjuma’s call.

Presidency Confirms Release Of Dapchi Girls

The Presidency on Wednesday confirmed the release of students of Government Girls’ Science and Technical College, Dapchi, Yobe State who were abducted by the Boko Haram sect on February 19.

The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, confirmed this in an interview.

Shehu promised to give further details on the development later.

“Yes, the girls are being transported to safety. We will give details later. We thank God,” the presidential spokesman said.

The girls’ release came exactly one week after President Muhammadu Buhari visited the school where they were kidnapped.

Buhari had during the visit last Wednesday reassured parents of the abducted schoolgirls that the Federal Government will not rest on its oars, until their wards are safely brought back home.

The President, who was accompanied by Governor Ibrahim Gaidam of Yobe State, said he had directed full scale aerial surveillance and investigation to ensure that the girls were returned safely.

“I have read the full report of what happened in Dapchi. As I received the report, I was saddened and I am praying that God will continue to console you,” he said.

Buhari also said government will ensure that the Boko Haram menace is totally brought to an end.

“Boko Haram was in control of many local councils in Borno and some parts of Yobe State before we came. Now it has resorted to using young girls for suicide missions in mosques, churches and motor parks.

“We will not spare their members. We will ensure that Boko Haram meets its waterloo. By the will of God, I have directed the police and reinforced them, and the army and air force to keep searching until the children are returned alive,” he said.

FG Cancels Wednesday’s FEC Meeting

The Presidency has announced the cancellation of Wednesday’s weekly Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting in the State House, Abuja.

A statement by President Muhammadu Buhari’s Special Adviser, Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, said the meeting was cancelled because the president would be participating in an international conference on Lake Chad Basin in Abuja for the better part of the day.

The statement read: “The meeting of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) will not hold on Wednesday, February 28, 2018.

“This is due to the participation of President Muhammadu Buhari and a significant number of ministers at the High-Level Meeting of the International Conference on Lake Chad Basin, at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja, for the better part of that day.”

Presidency Queries IGP Over Unlawful Detention Of Elombah Brothers

The Presidency has queried the Inspector General of Police IGP, Ibrahim Idris for unlawfully arresting Tim and Dan Elombah on New Year’s Day.

In a letter signed and addressed to Festus Keyamo SAN, the solicitor to the Elombah brothers, the Deputy Chief of Staff to the Vice President, Ade Ipaye assured Keyamo that Osinbajo has asked the IGP to submit his own response to the petition.

In the letter with the identification number, SH/OVP/DCOS/Misc/0022, Ipaye also said that the Vice President is aware of the matter and concerned about the issue.

The Elombah brothers were arrested on Jan 1, 2018 at their family house in Nnewi, Anambra State allegedly for publishing an article that maligned the personality of the IGP.

The article was said to have been published on Elombah.com.

The matter is still in an Abuja High Court.

Here is a copy of Ipaye’s letter

Presidency Reacts To Soyinka’s Comments, Insists Security Not Failing

The Presidency has reacted to comments made by Professor Wole Soyinka in which called on Nigerians to defend themselves in the heat of prevailing security challenges.

Speaking about the call during his appearance on Politics Today, the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, noted that the Federal Government would review the suggestion from the Nobel Laureate.

“What Professor Soyinka has said can just be one of the proffered solutions which will be looked out,” he said on Tuesday. “I have spoken about the nine governors’ committee headed by Professor (Yemi) Osinbajo who is the Vice President of the country.”

Adesina said this a few hours after Professor Soyinka decried the spate of killings in parts of the country.

The revered scholar had told journalists in Lagos that the phenomenon of herdsmen and farmers clashes was not new, but an issue that has graduated to an alarming state in the last eight years.

He then called for an organised resistance to the menace, describing the herdsmen as a new breed of Boko Haram and internal colonialists.

Reacting to some of the issues raised by the Nobel Laureate, Adesina refuted claims that the security apparatus was in a near comatose, insisting that the security agencies were rising up to the challenges.

According to him, the issue of herdsmen and farmers crisis is a national emergency that “determines to be interrogated from different sides.”

“There is a security apparatus in the country which is working to secure the country,” Adesina insisted.

“Yes, there are challenges, but that apparatus is rising to those challenges. I would not agree with you that it is failing.”

The administration of President Muhammadu Buhari has come under severe criticisms in recent times over Nigeria’s security among other issues.

The President was also accused by some people of not being sensitive to the killings that have led to the death of many innocent Nigerians since the beginning of the year.

In his reaction, President Buhari said it would be dishonest to say he was enjoying himself and not doing anything to stop the killings.