Fuel Scarcity: Presidency Gets Situation Report From Twitter

Nigerians have continued to lament what most of them describe as the ‘lingering’ challenges they face in getting the Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), popularly known as petrol.

The Issue of fuel scarcity has been the major discourse in the country as the people go through untold hardships to get the product amid the yuletide celebrations.

This has, however, generated blames from the critics of President Muhammadu Buhari while the Presidency has assured Nigerians that the issue would be resolved as soon as possible.

Following the reports that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has begun distribution of the product, the Presidency created a Twitter hashtag on Tuesday to monitor the situation across the country.

In their various briefs, some citizens said the product is still not available in their location while others alleged that oil marketers in their locality were selling above government approved pump price.

See reactions below;

Presidency Offers Truce to President Buhari’s Critics

The Presidency says it has forgiven those who made unpleasant remarks about the health of President Muhammadu Buhari while he was away in London on a medical vacation.

Senior Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu disclosed this in an exclusive interview with Voice of Nigeria shortly after the return of President Buhari on Saturday.

Shehu called on such people to join hands with government in order to take the country to the next level.

“We don’t want say that they should feel ashamed of themselves. We don’t want to drag this thing. The fact that they had made predictions that have now turned out not to be true, spreading falsehood in the process, we still forgive them, they are Nigerians like ourselves. Let them join the train and lets continue the journey. This country does not need bickering and bitterness over such issues, so we look forward to their joining hands with the government so that whatever objectives we have set for the country would be realized,” he said.

Garba Shehu said things still went well even in the absence of the President because the Acting President did very well.

“The situation where the President is not on his seat is not normal. We haven’t had him for quite some time now but things went very well for the country because the Acting President, ministers and heads of agencies he left behind, all did their job very well,” the Presidential Spokesperson said.

He said he was extremely happy at the return of the President and wished him well as he continues to direct the affairs of the nation.

VON

Presidency to Sign Budget Next Week

Nigeria’s presidency is expected to sign the 2017 budget into law next week, the speaker of the lower chamber of parliament said on Friday, in an effort to pull Africa’s biggest economy out of its first recession in 25 years.

The OPEC member’s recession was largely caused by low oil prices and militant attacks on Niger Delta energy facilities in 2016. Oil sales make up two-thirds of government revenue.

The budget must be signed by the president to become law. President Muhammadu Buhari has been on medical leave in Britain since May 7 and handed over power to his deputy, Yemi Osinbajo, in his absence.

“The 2017 Appropriations Bill … will be signed into law early next week,” said Yakubu Dogara, speaker of the House of Representatives, at an event to mark two years since parliament was convened after elections in 2015.

Two presidency sources, who did not want to be named, also said the budget would be signed next week.

The record 7.44 trillion naira budget passed by parliament’s upper chamber on May 11 was bigger than the 7.298 trillion naira draft spending plan submitted by Buhari in December. A government official last week said the presidency and lawmakers were still in talks over the spending plan.

Last year’s budget, passed in May 2016, was delayed for months due to disagreements between lawmakers and the presidency over spending plans that cut the supply of government money and deepened the economic crisis.

Donald Duke Takes Another Shot At Presidency

The former governor of Cross River State, Donald Duke, speaking at a programme titled ” The Nigerian Symposium For Emerging Leaders” held in Lagos on Tuesday said he would still take another shot at the presidency if the opportunity presented itself.
He said though he once aspired to the position but did not emerge the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), he would still contest for the highest office in the country at the appropriate time.

Duke explained that it was because of his preference for the presidency that he did not vie for any federal legislative seat after serving out his terms as governor.

“I do not have the flair for the legislature; standing up and sitting down at the chambers to raise a point. That was why I did not contest for the Senate but the presidency, after serving out my term as governor.
“I have contested the presidency before; I will still give it a shot when the opportunity presents itself. I believe I still have the energy in me,” he said.

The former governor canvassed for the reform of the country’s political system to accommodate wider participation and good governance.
He suggested the review of the electoral law to allow for an independent candidacy.
Duke said the country’s democracy would fare better if young people, who form the larger portion of the population, took a more active part in its political process, reported the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).

He said most developed countries have had young people as their leaders at one point or the other in their democratic history.
The former governor, however, said power was never given easily, urging young people to participate in the political process and use the prime of their lives to add value to the country.

“I want to urge young people in the country not to see leadership as if it belongs to some people and do nothing positive to be part of it.
“You can only make a difference in the prime of your life. You can actually add value now, not when you are above 50.
“So, you need to be part of the political process and play your part. It is your right to be there; nobody is doing you a favour.
“You represent more than 60 percent of the population, you don’t have to beg for it.

“Just make the effort to make that change and contribute your quota to nation building,” he said.
Duke also took a swipe at former President Olusegun Obasanjo, saying as president, the latter was disconnected from reality.
The former governor, who urged his audience to always consider the age of those that presented themselves to serve, said: “Old people in government are usually disconnected from the realities on ground.”

 

PUNCH Saga: The Guardian Newspaper’s Portrayal of President Buhari ‘Uncharitable’ –Presidency

The presidency has dismissed as sheer mischief, the attribution of the unfortunate expulsion of the Punch reporter Mr. Lekan Adetayo from the Villa to the person of President Muhammadu Buhari.

Reacting to the Guardian Newspaper’s headline report entitled “Memories of Decree 4” the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu, said it was wrong and improper to use the isolated incident to judge the character of the President as if he was responsible for what happened.

According to him, the President has not and would never approve the oppression and humiliation of any journalist in the course of carrying out their legitimate duties.

He explained that the Guardian was behaving like someone waiting eagerly to attack the President at the slightest opportunity in order to portray the incident as evidence of his alleged dislike of the media.

Mr. Shehu added that despite the President dissociating himself from the unfortunate incident and the affected journalist being recalled, the Guardian still chose to go for the President’s jugular, holding him personally responsible for an action he knew nothing about.

The Presidential Aide noted that such headline was misleading and mischievous because it was seeking to portray the President personally in bad light, with the sinister purpose of making him look like an enemy of the media.

According to Shehu, since he was sworn into office, President Buhari has not oppressed any media house or journalist on account of writing unfavourable reports about him or his government.

He reiterated the President’s respect for the freedom of the press and his commitment to protect their liberties at all times.

News Diary

Presidency Condemns Media Attack on Corruption War

The Presidency has warned it will not succumb to media attacks nor be deterred by false accusations by disgruntled elements to quenched its anti-graft war.

“The war against corruption is here to stay. As long as President Muhammadu Buhari is in power, Nigerians can rest assured of that.

“It will not succumb to media attacks. It will not be deterred by false accusations. It will not be quenched by disgruntled elements.’’

The Presidency was reacting to retired Col. Dangiwa Umar’s media attacks against the ongoing anti-corruption campaign.

Umar had accused the government of being unfair in the war against corruption.

But presidential spokesman, Malam Garba Shehu, in a statement issued in Abuja on Monday, condemned Umar’s media attack

Shehu said that by now, President Buhari’s administration was quite familiar with the barrage of verbal attacks that have accompanied the determination to fight corruption.

“A number of Nigerian elite who are uncomfortable with the disruption of business as usual, have fought viciously, usually via the media.

“However, this comment, coming from Umar, is highly disappointing because he is not in a position to label accusations. He should, instead, allow other to do this.

“Curiously, despite the various accusations and media attacks, no one has so far come forth with any evidence of President Buhari’s selective approach to the war against corruption,’’ he said.

Shehu challenged anyone or organization with any evidence of bias or partiality in the fight against corruption to make it public

He stated that all the agencies involved in the war against corruption were allowed freedom to carry out their responsibilities, without any interference whatsoever from the Presidency.

“If Umar or anyone else feels that they have any evidence to the contrary, they are encouraged to make this public.

“Ultimately, the final frontier of the war against corruption is the judiciary.

“After the anti-graft agencies have gathered proof of corruption and made arrests, they present the accused before competent courts of the land, who have the final say on who is guilty of corruption and who is not.’’

Shehu maintained that President Buhari had never interfered with the judicial process, despite publicly expressing his frustration with how slowly corruption cases were handled.

“A number of Nigerian elite have over the years benefitted from various forms of corruption, including monthly payouts from the office of previous National Security Advisers.

“Let me clarify that this is not in reference to Col. Umar in particular.

“The Buhari’s administration has offended so many of our greedy elite by putting a stop to this, plugging many of the holes through which our country’s resources, belonging to each and every one of us, were looted by a few.“

He explained that these elite who have been benefitting from corruption have been frustrated, but the government would not allow allow them to frustrate the war against corruption.

(NAN)

Presidency Orders Contractors in Niger Delta to Resume Work Within 30 days

The Federal Government has given contractors 30 days to resume delayed development projects in the Niger Delta oil region or face prosecution, the presidency said on Tuesday.

The government has been trying to build new roads and launch other projects to drag the region out of poverty and create jobs, aiming to give local people alternatives to joining the militants attacking oil facilities.

The government has “directed that the list of all contractors who have not returned to site within the stipulated period be compiled and submitted to the Ministry of Justice and the Economic Financial Crimes Commission for investigation and prosecution,” it said in a statement.

Many projects have been delayed due to the collapse in oil revenues or to graft accusations.

The presidency also ordered the ministry of environment to ensure “progress” of an cleanup of oil spills in the Ogoniland area, a project delayed for years.

“The Federal Government has issued a new set of directives in its bid to accelerate the implementation of the (President Muhammadu) Buhari administration’s new vision for the development of the Niger Delta,” it said in a statement, referring to the contractors’ order.

The government has been holding talks with militants to end attacks on oil production facilities which cut the OPEC member’s output by 700,000 barrels a day for several months last year.

But a lack of development and an army crackdown on thousands of illegal refineries in the southern swamps, which process crude oil stolen from oil majors and state oil firm NNPC, have raised tensions.

Militants behind last year’s attacks called for more of Nigeria’s energy wealth to go to the Delta.

Reuters

Saraki:Budget to be Passed Soon

The National Assembly Nigerian aims to pass the 2017 budget by the end of March, the president of the Senate said on Tuesday.

“This month is our deadline to finish work on the budget and return it to the executive,” Senate President Bukola Saraki said after a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari and the head of parliament’s lower chamber.

Buhari presented his record 7.298 trillion naira ($23.21 billion) budget to lawmakers in December.

The budget must be agreed by lawmakers before being passed back to the president and passed into law.

Heads of ministries and agencies of government have already appeared at the National Assembly to defend their budget.

We have Received Buhari’s Letter – Senate

The Senate on Tuesday confirmed that it had received the letter from President Muhammadu Buhari extending his vacation in the UK.

Senate spokesperson, Sen. Aliyu Sabi gave the confirmation on Tuesday while briefing members of the Senate Press Corps.

Sabi said that but for the suspension of plenary for budget consideration at committees’ level, the Senate would have read the letter from President Buhari.

Sabi said that the Senate usually reads all correspondences after resumption of plenary but only felt it was necessary to confirm that the letter from Mr President had been received.

“As you are aware the senate suspended plenary to carry out one of the most important duties which is the interaction with the MDAs on the 2017 budget.

“Before we suspended plenary we received a letter from Mr President which was dated 18th, January 2017 where he informed the Distinguished senators that he was proceeding on his vacation for 10 days.

“In the letter he stated very clearly that the vice president will take charge of the running of the country.

“This is a normal thing and of course based on that timing Nigerians were expecting the return of Mr President.

“Now, we are in receipt of the second letter from Mr President where he is informing the senate that he is extending his vacation.

“This arose because in the first letter he did informed us that he will use that to see his doctors.

“In this second letter he is informing the senate that he is extending his vacation because in the cause of that routine medical check up they were still some test his doctors still want to run.

“This is a constitutional provision and let me say it is within his prerogative to do so and we are in receipt of that letter accordingly.

This is why we had to brief you so that we are now confirming that yes we are in receipt of that letter formally and we know that many things have been going on but this is our formal and official pronouncements to Nigeria on this particular subject matter,” he said.

When asked if the date of Buhari’s return was stated in the letter or it was indefinite, Abdullahi stated that the letter did not say indefinite “because indefinite is taking the matter out of context.”

He added, “But, then, he said he’s extending (his vacation); that is, beyond the 10 days he had asked for and because the tests that are going to be run are not in his hands (to be determined by him) – it is in the hands of the doctors – he is not giving us a date. But, definitely, he’s extending (his vacation) and I think that is what is important.”

Recall that the Presidency on Sunday released a statement that the vacation of the President had been extended and a letter sent to the National Assembly to that effect.

However, some people doubted the authenticity of the letter which prompted the Senate to confirm the receipt of the letter.

NAN

VP Prof. Yemi Osinbajo Steps In As Acting President

Vice President Prof. Yemi Osinbajo steps in to be Acting President as President Muhammadu Buhari leaves for the United Kingdom today on a short leave, which is part of his annual vacation. He is expected to resume work on February 6, 2017.

During the vacation, the President will also undergo routine medical check-ups.

The President said “I’m traveling to the UK today on a short leave, part of my annual vacation. I’ll be back at work on February 6.”

“I have formally notified the President of the Senate, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, in line with the Constitution. Vice President Professor Yemi Osinbajo will act as President while I’m away.”

In line with Section 145 (1) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), the President of the Senate, and Speaker, House of Representatives, have been duly communicated.

While away, the Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, will perform the functions of the Office of the President.

Like Agba Osun, Presidency Begins Monthly Payments Of N5,000 To One Million Poorest Nigerians

The Buhari administration has now started the payment of N5, 000 monthly stipends to the poorest and the most vulnerable in the country through the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) of its Social Investment Programmes, SIP. Recall, the federal government had modeled most of its social welfare scheme after many successful programmes in the state of Osun.

Under the CCT, one million Nigerians would receive N5000 monthly payments as a form of social safety net for the poorest and most vulnerable as budgeted for in the 2016 Budget. In the first batch that commenced last week, nine states would be covered, and many of the beneficiaries have already reported receiving their first payments by Friday last week, December 30, 2016.

Funds for the commencement of the payments in four states were released last week to the Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System (NIBSS) – the platform that hosts and validates payments for all government’s social intervention programmes. Funds for another set of five states to complete the first batch of nine states would follow soon.

Though the sequence for the payment of the money would be operationally managed by NIBSS, beneficiaries in Borno, Kwara and Bauchi States have started receiving the money. The other states in the first batch to commence the CCT payments are Cross Rivers, Niger, Kogi, Oyo, Ogun & Ekiti States.

The nine pilot states were chosen because they have an existing Social Register that successfully identified the most vulnerable and poorest Nigerians through a tried and tested community based targeting (CBT) method working with the World Bank. However other states have already begun developing their Social Registers and would be included in subsequent phases of the CCT implementation.

Beneficiaries of the Conditional Cash Transfer of the Federal Government would be mined from the Social Register, initially developed by 8 States through a direct engagement with the World Bank. Those states are featured in the first batch, with the added inclusion of Borno States where a validated list of IDPS were compiled in addition to the Social Register which is expected to go round the country.

Working with the World Bank, the CBT process has now been adopted for developing the Social Register in the other States around the country, for transparency, objectivity and credibility in the selection of the poorest and most vulnerable beneficiaries for the programme.

The Federal Government will actually commence community mobilization for the creation of the Register in more States soon, to expand the scope and reach of the CCT across the country.

Meanwhile, Plateau, Jigawa, Adamawa, Anambra, Benue, Enugu, Katsina & Taraba States have so far complied with the stipulated framework provided, and are set for the community based targeting method for the development of their Social Register within their jurisdictions.

These States are to be followed by Delta, Gombe, Kaduna, Kano, Imo and Ogun States. Once the community mobilization, identification and selection processes are completed, the information garnered from the poorest households would be entered onto the Social Register in the states and the National Register at NIBSS, after which the cash transfers would be disbursed to the beneficiaries.

All the funds approved for the Federal Government’s Social Investment Programmes, SIP, are domiciled with the Ministry of Budget and National Planning. In addition, the payment information and processes for all beneficiaries of the Federal Government’s SIP are hosted at NIBSS, as the Consolidated Beneficiary Register, to ensure and fortify efforts at authentication and verification, as well as for effective and efficient programme management.

With the commencement of the CCT, the Buhari administration is now implementing four of the Federal Government’s SIP.

Besides the CCT, the N-Power Volunteer Corps designed to hire half a million unemployed graduates which has now engaged 200,000, and the National Homegrown School Feeding Programme now running in three states, the Buhari administration has also kicked-off the Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme, (GEEP).

Under GEEP, soft loans ranging from N10,000 to 100,000 have been designed for artisans, traders, market women among others.

Already, thousands of cooperatives, market women associations, farmers and enterprising youths, have been identified and registered for the purpose, on an ongoing basis, and the disbursement of the soft loans through the Bank of Industry have started since Nov 25, 2016.

At the last count, for the first phase, beneficiaries have been drawn from the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Abia, Adamawa, Bauchi, Delta, Imo, Kwara, Kano, Katsina, Lagos, Osun, Oyo, Ogun and Kogi States.

However, disbursements were halted and deferred until after the festive season. Vetting and approval of beneficiaries are now being continued through the month, with the expectation and plan that by month-end disbursements would have been made to 33,000 beneficiaries.

Regarding the 200,000 beneficiaries of the N-Power programme, close to 50% of the graduates, have now been physically verified, and started receiving their monthly stipends of N30,000 last week. A second batch of 300,000 unemployed graduates are expected to be selected early this year to make up the half a million target set by the Buhari administration.

The verified graduates are now being deployed to work as assistant teachers in schools, as community health aides and as agricultural extension workers, in more than 20 States of the Federation. These States include; Abia, Adamawa, Bauchi, Anambra, Benue, Cross Rivers, Borno, Gombe, Edo, Jigawa, Katsina, Plateau, Kogi, Osun, Rivers, Zamfara, Niger, Sokoto, Ogun and Taraba.

Government has also started the implementation of the National Home-grown School Feeding programme designed to feed 5.5 million school children for 200 school days in the first phase of the programme. Although the initial design was to feed pupils in 18 States, funding challenges had affected an earlier take-off. But the programme has now commenced in Osun, Kaduna and Anambra States. More states are expected to join this new year.

In the new year, it is the plan of the Federal Government to scale up the implementation of the SIP to touch the lives of millions of Nigerians in fulfillment of it’s promises and in furtherance of its Change agenda.