Why EFCC Should Probe Buhari – Aisha Yesufu

Aisha Yesufu, co-convener of the BringBackOurGirls, BBOG, advocacy group has urged the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, to probe President Muhammadu Buhari over the purchase of some fighter jets.

She said the president should be investigated over the withdrawal of $469m for the purchase of the jets.

In a tweet, the activist noted that despite his immunity as the president, Buhari should be questioned by the anti-graft agency.

Yesufu wrote: “Dear @officialEFCC, you need to invite President Muhammadu Buhari to explain the withdrawal of $469m and also the reported inflation of the said jets to be purchased. ”

How Buhari Administration Encourages Human Rights Abuses – U.S. Government

Just days before President Muhammadu Buhari meets his American counterpart, Donald Trump, in Washington DC, the United States government has released a report indicting the administration of the Nigerian leader of the festering human rights abuses in the country.

The US Department of State in its “Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2017” blamed the reluctance of the Buhari administration to properly investigate allegations of abuses, especially by members of the armed forces and top officials and prosecute those indicted as the main impediment to fighting rights violations.

“Impunity remained widespread at all levels of government. The government did not adequately investigate or prosecute most of the major outstanding allegations of human rights violations by the security forces or the majority of cases of police or military extortion or other abuse of power,” the recently released report stated.

“Authorities generally did not hold police, military, or other security force personnel accountable for the use of excessive or deadly force or for the deaths of persons in custody. State and federal panels of inquiry investigating suspicious deaths generally did not make their findings public. In August the acting president convened a civilian-led presidential investigative panel to review compliance of the armed forces with human rights obligations and rules of engagement. As of November, the panel had not issued a report,” the report noted.

In the same vein, the report highlighted a number of rights abuses, including extrajudicial killings, allegedly carried out by the country’s security forces, which the government vowed to investigate but has failed to either do so or release the report of such investigations.

“As of November, the government had not adequately investigated or held police or military personnel accountable for extrajudicial killings of supporters of IPOB movement in 2016. Amnesty International (AI) reported that security forces killed at least 150 IPOB members or supporters and arbitrarily arrested hundreds from August 2015 to August 2016. The Nigerian Army (NA) reportedly investigated the incidents as part of a broader Board of Inquiry (BOI), but its full report was not made public. There have been no reports of discipline or prosecution of police or military personnel.

“As of November, there were no reports of the federal government further investigating or holding individuals accountable for the 2015 killing and subsequent mass burial of members of the Shia group Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) and other civilians by NA forces in Zaria, Kaduna State. The federal government had indicated it would wait for the results of a Kaduna State judicial commission of inquiry before taking further action to investigate or hold those responsible to account. In July 2016 the government of Kaduna made public the commission’s nonbinding report, which found the NA used “excessive and disproportionate” force during the 2015 altercations in which 348 IMN members and one soldier died. The commission recommended the federal government conduct an independent investigation and prosecute anyone found to have acted unlawfully. It also called for the proscription of the IMN and the monitoring of its members and their activities.”

The report also frowned at the disappearance of members of anti-government groups such as the Indigenous People of Biafra and members of the Shiite sect, Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN). The secret police, Department for State Security (DSS) was particularly blamed for arbitrary abduction of persons opposed to the government.

The U.S. government also chastised the country’s security forces for widespread use of torture and the use of evidence and confession obtained via torture during prosecution of suspects even though the law of the country clearly forbids it.

“The constitution and law prohibit torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment. The Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA), passed in 2015, prohibits torture and cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment of arrestees; however, it fails to prescribe penalties for violators. Each state must also individually adopt the ACJA for the legislation to apply beyond the FCT and federal agencies. As of November only the states of Anambra, Cross Rivers, Ekiti, Enugu, Lagos, Ondo, and Oyo had adopted ACJA-compliant legislation. In July both houses of the National Assembly passed an antitorture bill, which was waiting for the president’s signature.

“The Ministry of Justice previously established a National Committee against Torture (NCAT). Lack of legal and operational independence and lack of funding, however, prevented NCAT from carrying out its work effectively.

“The law prohibits the introduction into trials of evidence and confessions obtained through torture. Authorities did not respect this prohibition, however, and police often used torture to extract confessions later used to try suspects. Police also repeatedly mistreated civilians to extort money.”

Mr Buhari signed the anti-torture bill into law last December.

The report also highlighted the right abuses and violations allegedly perpetrated by the Special Anti-Robbery Squad(SARS) of the police and the Civilian JTF in the northeast of the country. It noted that despite social media campaign against the excesses of SARS and Amnesty International’s report detailing abuses perpetrated by members of the government backed Civilian JTF, the government has not taken any recognisable action to address the concerns raised.

Benue Church Killings Vile, Satanic, Buhari Says

President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday described as “vile, evil and satanic” the killing of worshippers and two priests at a Catholic church in Ukpor-Mbalom community in Gwer East Local Government Area of Benue State.

The President’s position was contained in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina.

Buhari described the killing of priests and worshippers as a calculated attempt to initiate religious conflict and plunge communities into endless bloodletting

He said the country under his leadership would not bow to the machinations of evildoers.

He promised that the assailants would be hunted down and made to pay for the sacrilege committed.

The President said, “I extend my sincere condolences to the government and people of Benue State, the Mbalom community, and especially the Bishop, priests and members of the St Ignatius’ Catholic Church, whose premises was the unfortunate venue of the heinous killings by gunmen.

“This latest assault on innocent persons is particularly despicable.

“Violating a place of worship, killing priests and worshippers is not only vile, evil and satanic, it is clearly calculated to stoke up religious conflict and plunge our communities into endless bloodletting.”

Reps Flay Buhari On Payment Of $462m For Fighter Jets, Says Its Impeachable Offence

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

Buhari is buying 12 Tucano aircraft from the US with the money.

The planes will be delivered in 2020.

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

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

The anger caused a brief rowdiness on the floor, forcing Dogara to intervene in a bid to calm down the lawmakers.

The eventual decision on Tuesday was that the letter should be properly tabled for debate on another date by the House so that it would take a position on the next line of action.

But, before the resolution, it was the Chairman, House Committee on Public Accounts, Mr. Kingsley Chinda, who raised a point of order to draw the attention of members to the alleged “constitutional breach” by Buhari.

He said both the 1999 Constitution and other laws in the country did not recognise spending by the President in “anticipation of approval” by the legislature.

Chinda stated, “This matter ($462m) came up last week. Today, Mr. President has admitted that the expenditure has already been incurred.

“We are supposed to be a watchdog, but as it is, we cannot bite. This is an impeachable offence and there is no misconduct that is more serious than this.

“I propose that we commence the impeachment of Mr. President, based on this infraction.”

Anti-Corruption Courts Responsibility Of Executive, Legislature – CJN

The Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen, says it is the duty of the Executive to set up special courts for cases related to corruption.

Mr Onnoghen stated this on Tuesday after he met with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Aso Rock Villa in Abuja.

The CJN had proposed the establishment of the courts to fast-track dispensation of justice on corruption cases.

Neither the presidency nor Mr Onnoghen disclosed the purpose of Tuesday’s meeting.

Below is a transcript of the CJN’s encounter with State House Correspondents at the end of the meeting.

Sir, can you please bring us to speed on why you are here today?

I am here to felicitate with Mr. President. As you are aware, he has just returned from the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting at the head of federal government delegation and there is also the need for regular interaction to keep him abreast of latest development in the Judiciary.

There is this claim that the Judiciary is not doing enough to ensure speedy trial of cases. What is your reaction?

Now, l believe that you know, with your experience of many years of practice that there has never been situation in which any case was taken to court and decided upon and the judge was not there to listen to the case, or having finished hearing, he refused to deliver judgement.

So, when cases are not tried expeditiously and the judge is there, ready to listen to the case, you come and for one reason or the other, you take a date to adjourn the case, and the courts grants the adjournment, which is normal during proceedings, you cannot turn round and blame the Judge for that. These are the basic things that everybody must know. We must all work together, cooperate for the system to move forward.

But if you keep thinking that the Judiciary is the culprit in this delay process, you are not telling the whole story. It is not the judiciary that would go and arrest someone before looking for evidence, it is not the judiciary that would go into investigations. No, we do not operate the Inquisitional mode of justice as it is practiced by the French. Our own is that an independent body must investigate, prosecute while the judge decides.

Are you happy with the performance of the judges so far?

Yes. So far, so good. Under the circumstances, l must admit that so far , so good. It is in order to enable you know the workings of the system that l set up the COMPRECO ( Commission for the Prevention of Corruption) committee. All along, everybody is passing buck, the prosecution will say it is not our responsibility, we are not the cause of the delay, the investigator will say l am not the cause, the judge will say, l am not the cause. So, the people must know who is the cause of the delay, that us why l set up that committee. And it is made up of both the defense counsel, the prosecutor and the Judiciary under the NJC.

What is your reaction to claims that the Judiciary is not on the same page with the Executive on the current anti-corruption war?

I have answered that before and l still say the same thing. We are on the same page with the Executive. There are three arms of government and these three arms constitute the government. The government is not only the Executive.

When shall we see the constitution of the special courts to try corruption cases?

It is the Executive in conjunction with the Legislature that has the prerogatives of setting up courts, including the Special Courts, under our Constitution and not the Judiciary. Once the Executive set up such courts, the Judiciary will run it by providing the manpower.

What is the latest now prisons decongestion?

You are seeing everything being done on the issue. Next week, we are continuing with our action. But there is one thing you need to know, there is the physical constraint about the congestion itself. How many were to be contained in a prison room and how many are there now. Secondly, you should also know that the actual prisoners are fewer compared with the total number you see there. This is where the issue of awaiting trial comes in and that is the aspect where prison decongestion is working on and l can assure you that this is being handled.

Christians Urged To Pray For President Buhari

Catholic Priest, Rev. Fr Julian Ibe, has urged Christians and Nigerians to pray for President Muhammadu Buhari.

Ibe made this call at St Charles Lwanga Parish, Apo on Sunday in Abuja saying the President and other political leaders should be interceded for by Christians for wisdom to overcome the challenges confronting the country.

Ibe, a priest of Zaria Diocese, said Christians should learn to pray for their political and spiritual leaders instead of criticising them.

“Pray for the President, no matter how you feel about his performance because it is difficult to be a leader.

“Leaders at times are surrounded by sycophants and they do not know who is telling them the truth or not.

“Please, whenever you have the opportunity to work with politicians, make sure you tell the truth.

“Also, pray for your pastors that they will follow the example of Jesus, the Good Shepherd, instead of following their personal desires which lead them astray,’’ he said.

According to him, the fourth Sunday of Easter is called Good Shepherd Sunday.

Ibe said a good shepherd would risk and lay down his life in order to protect his sheep, adding that Jesus willingly sacrificed himself for the sake of his sheep.

He, however, urged leaders to emulate Jesus Christ and sacrifice for their followers and those under them.

“Leadership is for service; it is not to lord it over those under you. As husband, you are to serve your wife and children.

“If you are a wife and you are the bread winner; you are to submit to your husband.’’

In addition, he urged Christians not to discriminate against other religions, saying“ Jesus died for every single person and salvation is meant for all.

“I agree with the Acts of Apostles, chapter four verse 12, which says salvation is found in no one else except the name of Jesus Christ.

“Also, the book of Hebrew, chapter one verse one, says in the past, God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways.

“So, God is speaking to us today in various ways and that is why some of us are affiliated with Christ by baptism, some by character and some by actions.

“Those that are affiliated to Christ by their actions are saved because every good deed is affiliated with Christ, so we should not criticise anyone.

“When a traditional worshiper does a good deed, he is affiliated with Christ; he is an anonymous Christian.’’

He further said that it was a privilege to be Christians and to be saved through the name of Jesus Christ.

 

Buhari’s 2019 Bid And Matters Arising By Garba Shehu

The country is gearing itself up for the General Elections in February next year and with President Muhammadu Buhari announcing that he will bid for the governing party, APC’s ticket to run for a second term, all hell has been let loose by the chaotic, ill-prepared opposition camp.

In democracies around the globe, second terms by incumbents are usually harder to get simply because, somehow, there is always some kind of anti-incumbency leading to a loss of faith among those supporters.

For President Buhari, who won with massive votes in 2015, his major challenge is to do as well as he did, or even better. He came to power with a lot of expectations and Nigerians had, justifiably placed very high hopes on him.

As we said sometimes back, he as a consequence, has become a victim of the tyranny of expectations. The weight of unrealistic expectations has evidently blinded many of the people from seeing the revolutionary changes happening across the nation.

Nigerians expected him to undo the damage in several decades of misgovernance and naturally, many are already feeling frustrated that he hadn’t done that in three years.

The problem with our opposition is that beyond fault-finding, they are unable to give or innovate a vision of their own on how they can make the nation better.

A so-called Third Force has failed to get political traction since it birth. This is understandable, given that they have promised to give the country everything that is new but have so far produced no new faces, no new ways of doing things. Certainly, there is no face that can be called the President of Nigeria.

For the Peoples’ Democratic Party, PDP parading itself on the glory of being the largest opposition, the party has not less than 10 leaders acutely ambitious to rule Nigeria. It will take them minimally two to three terms of presidential tenure that is eight to twelve years to reinvent the party.

Looking at the entire opposition landscape, it can be said that they cannot be united by ideology, the type that made the pre-2015 opposition fuse into a formidable challenger that pushed an incumbent out of office. There is in no way therefore, they can choose leaders with unanimity.

What then they have taken to, is scaremongering by fanning ethnic and religious divisions among the minorities especially in the Middle Belt where hundreds of innocent citizens are confronted with violent death.
Before they take the words out of my mouth, let me state that the spate of those killings are tragic and unacceptable. They ought not happen and I am aware of how sad the Presidency is about these unfortunate goings-on.
And there is so much that is being done to end the killings.

More, however, could still have been achieved if there is cooperation extended to the security agencies by everyone, and by everyone, I mean especially the political opposition. A political warlord recently ordered the provocative stoning of a Nigerian Air Force personnel as their chopper landed in a Northeastern state.

Today, government has irrefutable evidence that much as most of these killings are arising from herdsmen-farmers attacks, some of it is driven by politicians. The recent arrests by the army in Taraba State point to a clear political sponsorship, and the kingpins, some of whom have been arrested have been handed over to the DSS for further investigation. Others who are being sought have either gone into hiding or they are pulling strings of blackmail to force the hands of government to abandon the search for them.

It is clear by now that the Middle Belt killings even if they are not caused by the opposition are no doubt seen as a political opportunity to set the tone for the 2019 elections.

Another matter of great disappointment is the ongoing attempt to victimize a group of religious leaders, the Arewa Pastors Initiative for Peace, representing 45,000 members, simply because they paid a visit to President Buhari. We see this development as an unnecessary distraction at a time the country should be united against its common problems and challenges.

We are both mystified and disturbed by the growing lack of tolerance and accommodation by some groups who see it as their birth right to visit and address the President on their issues but lack the modicum of respect for others to do the same. It is regrettable that an innocuous visit is becoming a subject of needless and unprintable attacks on the President and his visitors for doing nothing wrong.

For the avoidance of doubt, the President would not want to set a dangerous precedent for the country by discriminating against any group exercising their democratic rights of freedom of speech and association.
An important motivation for President Buhari’s bid for second term is that the gains made from 2015 should not be frittered.

Buhari is not involved in corruption and is not desperate for the office. He is among the few leaders we have who are not obsessed with money, cars and homes but working passionately for the country’s economy, peace and safety. If a corrupt politician wins, we will go back to where we were in 2015.

Many by now have forgotten where we are coming from. The daily bomb blasts in our cities between 2012 and 2015 including the deadly attack on the United Nations office in Abuja have been forgotten by many. The Juma’at Mosque bomb attack on Kano that left 300 dead and the theft of 270 girls in Chibok as they assembled to write their final exams, with 113 yet to return have for many, faded into history.

We lived in perpetual fear. I remember the story of the roadside Mosque in one settlement in which a black plastic bag was noticed by the congregation as the Imam led in prayer. The entire congregation fizzled out, the Imam realizing that he was left alone only from the eerie air of silence after everyone had quietly left.

Today, religious gatherings and crowded markets have resumed. Witnesses reported that Abuja and Kaduna witnessed the largest simultaneous assembly of people when the Tijjaniyya Islamic movement celebrated their Maulud a week ago without the fear of bomb blasts.

Cabinet meetings are now about how trillions of Naira are to be used to provide long delayed infrastructure such as roads, bridges, railway, power, drugs and equipment for hospitals. Grand corruption, by which ministers sat around the table to share money drawn from the treasury has been ended.

A majority of our people are farmers who depend on good rains, access to land and fertilizer to grow the food they eat and sell the surplus to make money for school fees for their children and where possible, add a wife or two and make the Hajj or other plans. This administration has broken the jinx of fertilizer shortage and its high cost and has put land clearing for agriculture on a priority.

Loans at low or no interest rates are being given by the Central Bank of Nigeria, the Bank of Agriculture, the Bank of Industry and the Development Bank. It will take years to raise our rising population from poverty. Even in China, with the world’s fastest growing economy, this, still, is a work in progress.

The administration is doing so much for women, children and our enterprising youths. This is the first time anyone has given our country a social welfare scheme.

President Buhari Returns from Commonwealth Heads of Gov Meeting

President Muhammadu Buhari has returned to Abuja after his visit to the United Kingdom– British relations and also participated in the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting ( CHOGM).

The President on April 9 left Abuja for London after he announced his intention to seek re-election in the 2019 general election.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the presidential aircraft which left London at about 1p.m.(Nigerian time), landed at the presidential wing of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, at about 7.10p.m.

President Buhari was received at the airport by service chiefs, Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Alhaji Muhammed Bello and Chief of Staff to the President, Malam Abba Kyari.

Others at the airport to welcome the president included the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu and other presidential aides.

While in London President Buhari on April 16 held bilateral talks with British Prime Minister, Theresa May, where he asked for more British investments in Nigeria.

Buhari commended British companies; Unilever, Cadbury, and many others.

The President noted that the companies had stood with Nigeria through thick and thin. He said they remained in Nigeria even when the country fought a civil war.

“But like Oliver Twist, we ask for more investments. We are encouraging more British companies to come to Nigeria.

“We appreciate the support you have given in training and equipping our military, particularly in the war against insurgency, but we want to also continue to work with you on trade and investment.’’

Buhari also briefed the Prime Minister on the strides in agriculture, which he said had put Nigeria firmly on the road to food self-sufficiency.

“I am very pleased with the successes in agriculture. We have cut rice importation by about 90 per cent, made lots of savings of foreign exchange, and generated employment.

“People had rushed to the cities to get oil money at the expense of farming. But luckily, they are now going back to the farms. Even professionals are going back to the land.

“We are making steady progress on the road to food security,’’ he said.

The President recalled that the All Progressives Congress-led government had campaigned on three major issues, to secure the country, revive the economy and fight corruption.

According to him, as the 2019 general election approaches, politicians are already pre-occupied with the polls, while he is bothered more about security and the economy.

“We have elections next year, politicians are already pre-occupied with the polls, but I am bothered more about security and the economy,’’ he stressed.

Prime Minister May, in her remarks, said Britain would continue to work with Nigeria in the areas of training and equipping the military.

She also said that her country would continue to assist Nigeria on the rehabilitation of abducted schoolgirls freed from by Boko Haram.

On April 18 President Buhari delivered his keynote address at the Commonwealth Business Forum at Guildhall, London, where he enjoined leaders of the Commonwealth to avoid trade wars and work collectively to preserve the global trading order.

The Commonwealth Business Forum (CBF) with the theme, “Making Business Easier between Commonwealth Countries”, was part of events at this year’s Commonwealth Heads of State Meeting, CHOGM- 25.

President Buhari said: “If we are to make business easier between our countries and going beyond the Commonwealth, we must avoid trade wars and work collectively to preserve the global trading order, support regional initiatives as well as support domestic structural reforms that focus on the priorities of individual countries.”

He reiterated his belief in wealth creation and employment opportunities within the Commonwealth.

President Buhari called on the members of the Commonwealth Business Forum and prospective investors to participate in the 2018 “UK/Nigeria Trade and Investment Forum” at the London Stock Exchange.

The President also met with the Chief Executive Officer of Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Mr Ben van Beurden in connection with Shell and other partners’ plan to invest $15b in Nigeria’s oil industry.

NAN observed that no statement was issued on the outcome of the meeting which was held behind closed doors.

However, an earlier statement in Abuja by the President’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu, said the Shell investment ventures would lay “the foundation for the next 20 years production and domestic gas supply, bringing with it all the attendant benefits both to the economy and the wider society.’’

President Buhari also met with the Archbishop of Canterbury, His Grace Justin Welby and chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, in London.

Archbishop Welby said it was always a delight to see President Buhari, “whom I have tremendous respect for.’’

“You have my best wishes on your recent decision. I read your declaration speech.

“We are neutral as a church, but we will pray for you. Great statesmen are those who run for the good of their country. We will be praying for you.”

The Archbishop presented President Buhari with a copy of his recent book, ‘Reimagining Britain. Foundations for Hope.

President Buhari on April 15 received members of the Buhari Diaspora Support Organisation, led by Mr Charles Sylvester. He reassured the group that his administration would always justify the trust and confidence reposed in it by Nigerians.

He said:“We will do our best to justify your trust in us, and that confidence won’t be abused.

“I am happy that people like you are here on your own, defending the country. You have shown courage and sacrifice.

“I assure you that your confidence in us won’t be abused, we will do our best to justify it.”

President Buhari also said that Nigeria was gifted with tremendous human and natural resources, but regretted that “the failure of some of the leadership we had in the past led to our not being able to capitalise on resources to improve the lot of the people.”

The President said his administration has not done too badly benchmarked against the state of the nation in 2015.

He explained that government was doing its best to recover looted funds, noting, however that it was impossible to identify and recover all the loots.

NAN reports that the president’s visit to London witnessed various rallies in support of his administration.

On April 20 some Nigerians converged in front of the Nigerian High Commission in London, to rally in support of the APC-led Federal Government.

“The President is resetting the country on the path of growth and development,’’ said Mr. Stephen Kifordu, from Delta State, the leader of the group.

According to him, there is no credible alternative to Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo in the 2019 election, noting that the group represents the aspiration of many Nigerians who want progress for Nigeria.

Kifordu said “Nigeria is attractive to investors because of Buhari’s fight against corruption in the country.’’

He claimed that the previous administration gave room for rot and corrupt activities.

“We have a President in Nigeria that people can look at and trust that “If I invest in Nigeria, my investment will not be stolen.

“When we talk of security, he has done security in terms of Boko Haram and in terms of the Niger Delta,” he said.

Explaining further how President Buhari is ‘resetting’ the country, Kifordu said “it is the primary role of the police and not the military to protect Nigerian citizens and President Buhari is enforcing this.

“The Police is the number one organisation that takes care of our security. It is only when we are under attack that the military comes in.

“In past years, we have seen the issue when the military jumps on board without paying regard to the police. Then suddenly when something happens in Nigeria, Mr President says deploy the police, people are saying don’t deploy the police.

“President Buhari is resetting our country. He is bringing us back to the way things should be.”

This support rally came 24 hours after a group bearing Biafran flags staged a protest in front of the Commonwealth House in Westminister, London.

Buhari: The Race For 2019, By Dele Agekameh

It is often said that all good things must come to an end; and that presupposes that bad things eventually end, too. Depending on where you stand on the performance of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration, the message from the president last week was that his civilian stint at the helm of power may not be coming to an end just yet. By declaring his ambition to run again in 2019, the president has set the ball rolling for the uncertain race ahead.

For those who have been groaning under the weight of the decisions and seeming indecisions of the Buhari administration, the news was met with some dismay, while the president’s loyal supporters appear to be grateful for the confirmation of their wishes. President Buhari has taken the entire country on a course with his style of leadership over the last three years. For the most part, the people have felt like spectators at a political concert due to his lack of connection with the ordinary Nigerian. Whether his performance has been good or bad, he now seeks to render his swansong as leader of the country and it is left to be seen if the people are interested.

When President Buhari and the All Progressives Congress (APC) swept aside the behemoth Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in 2015, there was some hope for a new beginning. International opinion about the development was that of ‘measured optimism’, with Barack Obama, then U.S. president, congratulating Nigerians for their courage. Last week, when the New York Times picked up the news of President Buhari’s declaration, he was referred to as the “Nigerian president beset by health problems, Boko Haram and calls for him to step aside…”. Notwithstanding the harsh reactions of some Nigerians to that description, the words may be a true representation of the president at this time and it gives some insight into how he is perceived abroad.

It is irresponsible for anyone to dismiss the criticism of the president. For instance, the president’s long absences from the country for health reasons are not ideal for a growing democracy. In making his declaration, one would have expected a longer and more detailed statement by the president to the people, where he should have given assurances of his good health, if he really thinks himself fit to continue in his position. It would have shown an awareness of the justified concerns of Nigerians for his health.

President Buhari may not have been the messiah the people expected, but he was the messiah that was available against the corrupt machinery of the PDP… While all the focus was on anti-corruption, Boko Haram was under-estimated and many more security concerns like the clashes between herdsmen and farming communities, were allowed to fester.

Also, beyond Boko Haram, the insecurity in the country right now cannot be ignored, especially when the president is seeking an extra $1 billion to purchase military equipment to fight the insurgents, amidst deadly communal clashes instigated by herdsmen and other security concerns. The country should not have to wait for the president’s party to endorse him before hard facts are laid out explaining how these issues will be handled.

President Buhari may have now become a candidate for the primaries in his party, but he is still the president of the country and as such owes the Nigerian people explanations about his future moves and plans to further the work of his government. A declaration made at the National Executive Committee meeting of the APC and relayed to the people afterwards by a representative on twitter is demonstrative of the cold and distant relationship of the president with the Nigerian people, especially since the announcement was made just before a trip to London, which may likely be another unannounced health excursion. If one didn’t know better, one could interpret the president’s body language as that of arrogant disregard for the people he leads.

President Buhari may not have been the messiah the people expected, but he was the messiah that was available against the corrupt machinery of the PDP. Anti-corruption became the buzz word of his campaign and integrity, the selling point of candidate Buhari. While all the focus was on anti-corruption, Boko Haram was under-estimated and many more security concerns like the clashes between herdsmen and farming communities, were allowed to fester. Even the fight against corruption has rarely crossed partisan lines since 2015.

Although the president has now declared for 2019, there are still many pockets of opposition against his ambition. Even before his declaration, the Senate leadership had launched a crackdown on pro-Buhari lawmakers with a rash of suspensions on those whose support of the president was deemed to be disruptive to the workings of the house. The latest victim is Senator Ovie Omo-Agege of Delta State who accused the Senate of changing the order of elections to hurt President Buhari’s second term chances. The Bukola Saraki-led Senate has not always been in step with the president and the Senate president himself is a dark horse within the ruling party. The APC increasingly displays uncanny resemblance to the party it deposed in 2015, with in-fighting that may eventually lead to its collapse, if not in 2019, then soon thereafter.

What is indeed best for the country is an extended period of stability, which requires continuity at some level. Whether this should be a continued Buhari presidency or continued APC rule is difficult to ascertain, but a radical change in government is the last thing that the country needs right now, especially if it means a return to the hands of a kleptocratic order…

While Buhari’s government has indeed made great strides to open the economy to foreign investment by tightening ship and plugging many leaks through which public funds are lost, the effort of the government has rarely reflected in the daily life of the people. This ‘abstract’ success and the lack of sincere communication with the people have done more harm than the APC realises. There are many angles for credible opposition forces to exploit in the coming elections and it will be a mistake for the APC or the president to become complacent in the run in to the elections. At this juncture, the PDP has the upper hand as the major opposition party and it may only need to pick a candidate that is everything Buhari is not, which may be a long list of things from the “spinach” served to the people in the last three years.

As often, in election cycles in the country, there are strategic quarters that are important to secure electoral victory. Buhari’s main advantage is the much revered “power of incumbency” and the commonsense of maintaining a government of continuity. Already, the feelers have it that the important rulers of the North, like the Sultan of Sokoto and the Emir of Kano, may be working to mobilise the great numerical strength of the North in his favour. The problem is that there are many Northern candidates that may prove to be ‘stronger’ candidates than Buhari, if only the PDP can capitalise on this. Indeed, the APC itself can come to this realisation. The South-East may also be crucial, as the APC has been on a pacifying mission there to capture the votes.

As things stand, there is great likelihood for the two top political parties to field Northern candidates on the basis of the questionable zoning formula that they tend to operate. In four years, the APC has come to resemble the PDP in many ways, so that it is difficult to make any real projection about the dividing lines between the two parties. Any number of APC potential candidates can become PDP candidates in the near future. Names like Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso and even Bukola Saraki come to mind in this regard. One feels that those, even within the APC, who think Buhari does not deserve his swansong in 2019, may rightly or wrongly outnumber those who are truly in support of the president.

What is indeed best for the country is an extended period of stability, which requires continuity at some level. Whether this should be a continued Buhari presidency or continued APC rule is difficult to ascertain, but a radical change in government is the last thing that the country needs right now, especially if it means a return to the hands of a kleptocratic order under the weakened PDP, apology or no apology. The last elections seemed like a break away into different and better times for the country, but it now appears that Nigerians will again be faced with the devil’s alternative in 2019.

All Said, Why Should I Vote Out Buhari? By Peter Claver Oparah

As 2019 approaches, those who brought Nigeria to its knees, vandalized and wrecked it and left it for dead before 2015 are busy trying to weave a comeback mantra that will help them access power once again in 2015 after a disastrous 16 years trauma that left Nigeria for dead.

They are being joined in this vain mission by those who thought the coming of Buhari would shift the looting tent to their side and as it never happened, they became bitter, inconsolable enemies of the regime. Also in the train are the confused ideologues who have good intentions initially but are so disoriented as to be captured by the pedestrian feel-good stories of a utopia which Buhari would have wrought even with the fact that he inherited the most austere economic realities.

They have massed together to lead an erroneous chorus that Nigerians should vote out Buhari in 2019. Sho? Some of us who have been assaulted by this perverse gospel have asked why we should vote out Buhari but we have gotten no convincing answer than a rehearse of a more perverse narration of how Buhari has turned Nigeria to a land of hunger and misery and how killings have been happening under Buhari? Is that so? When you prod further, what you get is a string of poorly articulated narration of how life was a seamless bread and butter affair in Nigeria before Buhari came. If you try to run some comparisons to prove this story, they tell you to forget the past and face the future.

Truth is that those who weave sordid stories to make Buhari look bad are so afraid to confront the past, which itself introduces a huge paradox to their badly-arranged stories. Can you face the present and the future without excursing into the past? To them, life should start from May 29, 2015 when Buhari took over from the scandalous regime they ran. That itself, is a cut-and-paste effort to manipulate. It is as fraudulent as the claim of these same people that they have repented (and you ask, repent from what?) and their more notorious request to be allowed back to power. They are so pathologically hunted by the past they created that they make every effort to shout down any person that refers them to the hell they presided over here for a whole 16 years. They want Nigerians to abridge their memories and senses and join them in voting out Buhari based on their micro-managed but hardly agreeing narratives, which sees Buhari as having failed. Some of them are even telling Nigerians that Buhari has proven not to be the solution to our problem.

Since we have an Eldorado they claimed they did here in 16 years, which other problems are they talking about? Which problems are they claiming they will offer solutions to when they brought down heaven on earth to Nigeria n their 16 messy years in power? PDP claimed they did beyond expectation so why are they apologizing and telling Nigerians of their readiness to be born-again rulers if given back power?

But then, the question remains; why should I and other Nigerians vote out Buhari and bring back the locusts? Should I vote Buhari out because he is meticulously rebuilding an economy that was eaten down and ran in red during a providential oil boom? Do I vote out Buhari because he is frantically building up our foreign reserve that was so badly vandalized when oil, our solo export product, went at over $120 a barrel and the country was exporting over 2.5million ever day? Do I vote out Buhari in 2019 because he is achieving this unbelievable feat at a period the oil price crashed to between $27 to $50 a barrel and our daily sale volume was cut to as low as below 700,000 barrels a day because those that lost their power to loot saw oil facilities as one of the sectors they must avenge their electoral defeat on? Do I vote out Buhari because at this very arid economic turn, he is making the highest investment in capital projects?

Do I vote out Buhari in 2019 because he has channeled all the money that would have used to service the gluttony and bacchanal greed of party men, cronies, hirelings, friends, subalterns, bed mates and party members of the party in power and its government to critical capital projects that will drive the Nigerian economy? Should I vote out Buhari because he adamantly refused to bow to the pressure to sustain the corruption omnibus and ensure Nigerians live straight and narrowly without stealing from the treasury? Do I vote out Buhari because he has taken up the nation’s decayed infrastructures and is fixing them in a way no other government has done in the past?

Do I vote out Buhari because he decided to implement strict monetary policies to save Nigeria’s resources from yam eaters, rodents and plunderers who are anchoring the noisome battle for his replacement? Do I vote out Buhari because the treasury raiders who looted a richly endowed country dry before he came feel that he should satisfy their senses of entitlement and continue abandoning the infrastructure that should drive our growth as a nation? Do I vote out Buhari because he has stopped evil servants from operating millions of phantom accounts through which they bleed the treasury while we collectively suffer? Do I vote out Buhari because the economy is no more about looting, plundering, sharing and stealing?

Should I vote out Buhari because he has insisted that he will neither chop nor allow pests to feast on our commonwealth? Should I vote out Buhari because he insists that Nigerian wealth must serve us all instead of a ravenous few? Do I vote out Buhari because in a period of austerity, he saved states that went bankrupt when we were having  oil boom and had made them solvent through prudent and honest management of our economy? Do I vote out Buhari in 2019 because he insists that Nigerians should work for what they earn? Should I vote out Buhari because he is fixing federal roads, the power sector, the energy sector in a way no government has done in the history of the country?

Do I vote out Buhari because he is no longer feeding corrupt-former leaders who not only looted Nigeria to the bones but insist on being serviced by what remains of the treasury? Do I vote out Buhari in 2019 because he is no longer pandering to the indecent corrupt interests of the legislature whose members are being ran ragged by frustration that they are no longer enjoying the bazaar as they used to do? Should I vote out Buhari because he is no longer deploying sacks of billions of Naira to bribe the legislature on sundry issues? Should I vote out Buhari because some of his party men who expected being spoon-fed from the national purse are disappointed he is not doing so? Do I vote out Buhari because those that stole the country to the bones and who thought they had escaped with their loot are being called by to return what they stole?

Do I vote out Buhari because the professional scavengers that flood around the seat of power with the hope of free-loading from our commonwealth have been made extinct? Do I vote out Buhari because he stopped the murderous escapades of Boko Haram that killed in tens of thousands, that took a huge size of Nigerian landmass and subjected the entire country to unrestrained attacks and untamed danger? So do I vote out Buhari because he is building the Second Niger Bridge for which past regimes duped my Igbo people? Do I vote out Buhari because he is building the enormous Mambilla Power Station which past governments played around with for decades without as much as turning the foundation soil on the project site?

Should I vote out Buhari because he is building massive railways across Nigeria? Should I vote out Buhari because he is meticulously building a viable economy from the rubble of the chaos he met on ground? Should I vote out Buhari because the vampires that wrecked the public treasury are angry and baying bare blood because, for the first time in the country’s history, they have lost access to the treasury? Do I vote out Buhari because the vampires that sucked life out of us especially in the fatal 16 years’ period before 2015 are wailing their eyes out and feigning hunger as an elaborate dubious project to take another injurious bite on us?

Do I vote out Buhari because he paid off trillions of Naira past governments owed contractors for contracts they used to enrich their members? Do I vote out Buhari because he paid off over N600 billion subsidy the past regime owed fuel importers and saved the energy industry from collapse? Do I vote out Buhari because he has rebuilt what remained of the four refineries that previous governments abandoned as  scraps? Do I vote out Buhari because he stopped the payment of fraudulent subsidy to phantom fuel importers as was the culture before he came? Do I vote out Buhari because sundry, corrupt interests are no longer being awarded fake contracts where they walk away with the contract monies without even visiting the project sites? Do I vote out Buhari because he paid off trillions of Naira owed pensioners in federal government ministries, parastatals and agencies during our unfortunate oil boom? Do I vote out Buhari for the trillions spent on the most ambitious social intervention scheme to rescue the most vulnerable in our society, which is the most elaborate any government has ever embarked in Nigeria?

Why should I vote out Buhari? Do I vote out Buhari because he has stopped the drainpipe of freaky importation of freebies that served as feeding bottle for corrupt politicians before he came? Do I vote out Buhari because he stopped the importation of foodstuffs and through this bold action, has made Nigeria a sustainable agricultural country where citizens feed themselves? Do I vote out Buhari because of the agricultural revolution he is doing in Nigeria, which has seen the country unravel as sustainable food producer from its recent past as a top food importer? Should I vote out Buhari because he has made politics a non-rewarding venture unlike in the past? Do I vote out Buhari because he had securely locked up our treasure box and restrained access to it to even his appointees and supporters? Do I vote out Buhari because he is strongly ranged against the gargantuan corruption complex from which most Nigerians eke out a living?

These are just few posers I want those that have launched a project to get Nigerians to turn against Buhari. I don’t know of any incoming leader but I make bold to say that President Buhari has done far more than any other President that ruled Nigeria. I am open to correction by any person that feels otherwise and this would be done through telling us any president that has done better by listing what such president did. So are these reasons why I should vote out Buhari? Make no mistake about it, the project to stop Buhari flows from no patriotic reasons but squarely on the reality that Buhari has capped official stealing and plundering. It is for the singular reason that Buhari has plugged our treasury from these leeches that he is making huge investment in growth-driving capital ventures even when we are going through difficult economic realities because the oil we have, over time, depended lazily on, has met turbulent times.

So, on what ground will I and millions of Nigerians that endured very desperate pressures in 2015 to vote out the moths and rodents, not vote in Buhari in 2019 to continue the good works he is doing? Is it because the looters and their accomplices that neigh the country’s treasury have weaved enough incoherent and contradictory lies against Buhari that I will dive into a fatal voyage in 2019? Is it because those that ate down our country are breathing enough vain fury? Is it that we are simple-indeed enough to be taken advantage of by desperadoes that want power for its corrupt ends? Is it that those who raped and pauperized us before 2015 are right in their feeling that we are a simple-minded and memory-challenged people as to fall for any silly prank Never! I see no reason why we should not vote more emphatically for Buhari in 2019; not based on who he is but on what he had done with the mandate we gave him in March 2015 and based on the fact that he is the most assured hand to deepen the recovery of Nigeria and the setting of a credible template for the growth of Nigeria.

Osinbajo: Loyal To The Core

To many analysts, the position of vice-president is more of a spare tyre than the high political office it is. But, Prof Yemi Osinbajo (SAN) has endowed the seat with visibility and honour. Group Political Editor EMMANUEL OLADESU writes on the activities of the loyal deputy and the cordial relations between him and President Muhammadu Buhari.

Since the Second Republic, Nigeria has produced five vice-presidents – Dr. Alex Ekwueme (1979-1983), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar (1999-2007), Dr. Goodluck Jonathan (2007-2009), Namadi Sambo (2009-2015) and Prof. Yemi Osinbajo (SAN) (2015 till date). However, observers agree that Osinbajo, legal scholar, priest and technocrat, is a deputy with a difference.

He has two main priorities in government. The mess of 16 years created by the Peoples Democratic Party PDP) should be successfully cleared. Also, Nigerians should team up with President Muhammadu Buhari to lay a new foundation of national prosperity and progress. The message on the lip of Osinbajo is that Nigeria will surely recover.

In the last three years, the dynamic, hardworking and loyal vice-president has been assisting President Muhammadu Buhari in the task of navigating the ship of state. The former university don and Lagos State Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice is more than a spare tyre. At his disposal are the weapons of incisive wit, knowledge of the economic problems, understanding of the heterogenous country and sense of patriotism. In recent times, he has become the administration’s anti-corruption curator. The president and vice president are on the same page in the anti-graft war. The anti-graft battle is becoming increasingly challenging as corruption is fighting back. But, he is confident that corruption will not eventually kill Nigeria because the progressive administration will not allow it.

“When you fight corruption the way we re fighting it, corruption is going to fight back. But, we are determined,” Osinbajo said during the 10th Bola Tinubu Colliqouiun in Lagos.

For Osinbajo, governance is not business as usual. Good governance is not a tea party. The challenges are being tackled. Yet, new ones are staring the country in the face. President Buhari made four promises-economic revival, security, anti-corruption war and job creation. To Osinbajo, government has been steady in fulfilling these cardinal promises, despite the constraints. The government has alleged that trillions of naira were stolen by privileged functionaries under the past administration. If the resources are available, Osinbajo said much burden would have been alleviated. The stolen funds would have been creatively used for people-oriented projects across the six geo-political zones.

The vice president has lamented that when the country was making huge money from crude oil, less was achieved, compared to the when the price of oil has crashed in the international market and activities of vandals in the Niger Delta have crippled production. He has urged the bewildered country to take solace in the fact that there is a lot to show for prudent spending under the Buhari administration.

Irked by the fetival of looting, the vice president said that there is no country in the world that will allow its resources to be plundered and still expect its economy to be economically viable. “Corruption is an existential problem for Nigeria. From all I have seen in government in the past three years, the corruption of the previous five years is what destroyed the Nigerian economy, ” he added.

The vice president’s style of engagement has brought government closer to the people. He has maintained a constant and consisted communication channel with Nigerians, who are nevertheless impatient about the prospect of economic recovery. For example, his visit to the Niger Delta has doused a measure of tension. Today, government is being applauded for the Ogoni Clean-Up, the setting up the Maritime University and modular refineries. He is also the coordinator of the working group trying to tackling the farmers/herdsmen crises. Government is busy fighting the infrastructure battle. Through the programe of economic diversification, increased funding for agriculture has led to job creation. Government is not relenting in fixing the power and rail sectors.

As the coordinator of some of the economic activities designed to alleviate the suffering of the masses, Osinbajo has lived up to expectation. Through proactive economic reforms, Nigeria has now achieved a leap in terms of ease of doing business. Also, concrete achievements have been recorded in the area of reviving the small and medium scale enterprises through financial aids. Human capital development is a priority of the Buhari administration. In this area, Osinbajo is a driver of change. The safe school project and other initiatives driven by HEVP have received commendations from stakeholders.

Many factors aided the choice of Osinbajo as the running mate to Gen. Buhari in 2015. But, the greatest factors are his competence, integrity, ability to deputise without undermining or subverting his principal, integrity, impeccable character and his antecedent as Nigerian with a national outlook. As the deputy president, he has not allowed power to use him. The proof of his loyalty end exemplary leadership came into fore when the president was on a medical trip abroad for over 100 days. Osinbajo held the country as one united and indivisible entity, thereby earning the appreciation of his boss.

He had emerged as the vice presidential flag bearer, not from the point of view of being an Ogun State indigene or a former Justice Commissioner in Lagos State. He became the running mate on the strength of the convincing argument that Buhari needed a decent, loyal and hardworking Christian Nigerian from the Southwest to meet the inevitable and non-negotiable criterion of the ethnic-religious divide.

His nomination was received with jubilations, not only in the Southwest region, but across the federation. But, in particular, the nomination has implications for the Southwest. It marked the beginning of a synergy between the larger North and the politically conscious and economically developed Southwest. Since 2007, the Southwest had been complaining about marginalisation. Thus, Osinbajo’s nomination promptly restored a sense of belonging to the six states. On account of the Buhari/Osinbajo joint ticket, the region became more committed to the All Progressives Congress (APC) agenda for change in 2015. Also, across the 36 states, the elite gravitated towards the Buhari/Osinbajo ticket. Both men were perceived to be tested, trusted and courageous, in terms of devotion to public good.

Both Buhari and Osinbajo paraded intimidating credentials. At 73, the former military leader was on the soap box in 2015. With the 56s year-old Osinbajo beside him, the joint ticket was a blend of old age and youthfulness. Buhari, a committed Muslim from the North, and Osinbajo, a Christian cleric from the Southwest, were strengthened in their determination to challenge PDP President Goodluck Jonathan, a Christian from the Southsouth, and his deputy, Vice President Namandi Sambo, a Muslim from the North, to a duel. There was parity as far as ethnic and religious factors, which politicians have successfully incorporated into contemporary politics, were concerned. The line of demarcation wass the differential qualities of the APC and the PDP tickets. Therefore, Nigerians took Buhari and Osinbajo seriously.

Buhari stood for honour and discipline as a leader. He is simply incorruptible. Osinbajo has been committed to the strengthening of democracy through his judicial reforms as Attorney-General and Justice Commissioner. He is an advocate of the protection of the temple of justice from the vulgarities of political life and societal vices.

Buhari/Osinbajo ticket in 2015 represented a rare Muslim/Christian ticket. It dwarfed the Jonathan/Sambo Christian/Muslim ticket, owing to the complaints about the 16 years of looting, misrule and boredom. The battle for Christian votes was be interesting. Apart from legal advocacy, the church is also Osinbajo’s constituency. The charming and charismatic lawyer is not a nominal Christian. He has a mass appeal in the Christendom as an exemplary preacher and doer of the word. Like Buhari, Osinbajo is morally predictable and excellent.

From 1999, Osinbajo has been a loyal, dependable and silent labourer in the progressive vineyard. His legal counsels, administrative acumen, uncanny capacity for research, understanding of the workings of government and sense of calmness and balance have been acknowledged by the academia, the bar, the bench, the government and the political class he has served with his best of ability,

Many believe that Osinbajo came into limelight, following his appointment as the Attorney-General and Commissioner. But, he has been around for a longer period. Ubder the Babangida administration, he was a Special Assistant to the Federal Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Prince Bola Ajibola. As a university teacher, he has taught promising Nigerians from the six geo-political zones, who still perceive him as a mentor and role model. As a university don at the Lagos State University (LASU), Ojo and the University of Lagos, Akoka (UNILAG), he was a great scholar. His intellectual stature reflects in his teachings, rigorous research and seminal contributions. The diminutive scholar is a six feet of intelligence. The orator is good in debate. But, he always avoided scandals. When LASU was engulfed with protracted crises, which threatened a peaceful atmosphere for teaching and research, he refused to take sides in the divisive and highly destabilising crises. Osinbajo retraced his steps to UNILAG.

As a lawyer, Osinbajo was not in the mould of luminaries who indulged in trivialities. He is a thorough prosecution lawyer, who does not indulge in the politicisation of sensitive cases to make a political capital out of litigation. He has often shunned financial inducement by unscrupulous elements to subvert the state in litigations involving the government and enemies of progress.

His assets are the power of ideas and imagination, organisational acumen, and steady inclination towards reforms. Brilliant, professionally assertive, focused, and loyal worthy causes, Osinbajo had hidden talents, which were unraveled by his involvement in politics and governance in the past. Many believe that he had added value to the progressive administration at the centre.

In fact, Buhari and Osinbajo share common traits and ideas about how a developing country should be run by visionary leaders. Osinbajo’s thoroughness, modesty, aversion for graft, belief in the role of law in human development and passion for people’s welfarehave made him and Buhari a perfect match. The law profesor is averse to primitive accumulation. It is indeed a mark of humility that, despite his achievements as a scholar, legal luminary and priest, Osinbajo has kept a low profile. Like Buhari, his public service career has been devoid of scandal. His colleagues inthe Federal Executive Council have descr5ibed him as a man of impeccable character, honesty, discipline and integrity.

These may be the reason both the president and his deputy have been partners in progress. Unlike the Obasanjo administration, there is no acrimonious relationship between the President and the Vice President. Since the duo do not have skeletons in their cupboards, and they are not in government to enrich themselves, Nigeria have been better for it.

But, it is not yet uhuru. The president and his deputy still have a lot to do in the area of security. More should be done to build on the past achievements. Also, the economy is still recovering at a snail-like speed. According to observers, if there is improved security and the economy is revived, Nigerians will heave a sigh of relief.