What Does Buhari Owe Them?, By Azu Ishiekwene

Governor Yahaya Bello does not need to jump into the fire, yet. The Kogi State governor who had, in fact, sprained an ankle in what might have been a practice match for the big leap, was saved the trouble after President Muhammadu Buhari finally gave the hint that he would run for a second term in office.

The governor had said that if Buhari asked him to jump into the fire, he would. Perhaps the only thing that might have tempted him to jump without Buhari asking is Buhari refusing to run again.

The Kano State governor, Abdullahi Ganduje, has also been saved the trouble of incurring expensive legal fees. Days before Buhari gave the hint that he would re-contest, the Kano State governor threatened to sue Buhari if he decided not to run or delayed the announcement any further.

Also before he was pressed to the edge of the cliff, the chairman of the All Progressives Congress, John Odigie-Oyegun, had said, like it or not, Buhari must run because Nigeria had no alternative.

The surprise is not the vows of extreme personal sacrifice that the Buharists have made to force his hand or their extravagant it’s-him-or-no-other posture.

We have seen it many times before. In an earlier life, Asari Dokubo threatened that President Goodluck Jonathan was incapable of declining to contest re-election. “E no fit na! Ah…How?” Dokubo mused in a video that was aimed below the former president’s belt, targeting his self-esteem.

Tompolo, the militant, oil pipeline guardian and saboteur-in-chief, joined in the gravy train to warn that any attempt to stop Jonathan from re-contesting might end the country.

A mini version of this familiar drama was staged years earlier when former army and defence chief, T. Y. Danjuma, said he would go on self-exile if then candidate Olusegun Obasanjo was not elected president in 1999.

The politicians are taking a leaf from the old playbook. There’s a sense in which it seems that Buhari owes these fellows something that he is not even entitled to think about before consenting to. Much more than his talismanic effect that they think they need to win in their own corner, they probably think he also owes them the nation’s soul as a burnt offering.

He wants to run again, not because he is convinced it’s best for him or the country, but because “he’s responding to the clamour by Nigerians.” By the way, a free people do not clamour; they request.

But it’s understandable. Bello owes his improbable rise to power to Buhari; and whatever Odigie-Oyegun may be going through now, without Buhari’s backing, he would have been finished long ago.

As for Ganduje, he is in the Buhari bandwagon for what he can get – the same motivation that attracted him to former Governor Rabiu Kwankwaso, whom he served energetically for eight years, with the famous double-minded loyalty of many PDP politicians.

The surprise is not the overzealousness of Bello and co. It’s the anguished silence of those who supported Buhari, not just in 2015 when he won, but each time on the three previous occasions when he lost.

A chunk of his original supporters who lifted him from the deck – those his wife, Aisha, feared might rebel – has been silent, resigned in malicious acquiescence, or stirred up in angry defiance.

When Buhari did not look like it, T. Y. Danjuma was one of the few who not only believed in him, but who also put his money where he mouth was.

In the days when Buhari’s All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) could barely pay for space for a public rally and a PDP arrowhead said candidate Buhari did not know the difference between a Blackberry phone and the berry fruit, Danjuma was among the very few that Buhari could still depend on.

As at Tuesday when Buhari announced his intention to run for office again, his government’s poor handling of the deadly herdsmen-farmers clashes had put a wedge between him and Danjuma.

For the first time in the last 15 years, Buhari would take the plunge unsure of the active support of Danjuma, one of his most ardent supporters now bruised and left stranded by government officials for his frank comment on Taraba.

Tunde Bakare may not have had the same long relationship with Buhari like Danjuma but his honesty and total commitment since he ran as the president’s running mate seven years ago has been tested again and again in recent times.

…neither Danjuma nor Bakare nor Kwankwaso nor Ortom matters as much as the hundreds of thousands of young people who had invested their hope in Buhari, eight million of whom have lost their jobs since he took office three years ago – an average of two million plus every year he has spent in office.

Hours after Buhari signaled his intention to run again, Bakare reportedly told Daily Sun that he would support Buhari, if the president pitched him; but you could almost feel that the hubris of a presidential wedding party train in Kano only hours after the kidnap of the Dapchi girls and the incompetent handling of the herdsmen-farmers’ killings have taken their toll on Bakare.

This was not the Buhari he ran with seven years ago. But why, the bow has left the arrow: he’s welcome to run again.

As for Kwankwaso under whose watch Kano delivered perhaps the most consequential single block of votes in the 2015 presidential election, and Governor Samuel Ortom who was, in fact, one of the earliest to endorse a Buhari second term, both have fallen on the wrong side the power play. There is an irrational fear of Kwankwaso’s clout, while Ortom is out of favour for standing up for the people of Benue.

But neither Danjuma nor Bakare nor Kwankwaso nor Ortom matters as much as the hundreds of thousands of young people who had invested their hope in Buhari, eight million of whom have lost their jobs since he took office three years ago – an average of two million plus every year he has spent in office.

It doesn’t matter what those who are happy to be trampled over for Buhari’s re-election may say, he’ll be walking a more difficult road this time. Not necessarily because most second term presidents are victims of a jaded honeymoon, but because he has done little in three years to straighten his own path.

He has been a ceremonial president enjoying the pleasure and entitlement of office, while part outsourcing and part abdicating the dirty work.

His wife was right. The rebellion she predicted is on and gaining momentum. But it’s not just among his core supporters, as she had said. Millions of Nigerians who may not have voted for him but yet gave him the benefit of the doubt that he would be a president for all have been heartbroken and left behind.

That forlorn hope, the broken promise, will come back to haunt him, and the latter-day interlopers will find it hard to save him.

Yahaya and co would not need to jump into the fire for Buhari. The fire will come to their doorsteps.

Azu Ishiekwene is the MD/Editor-In-Chief of The Interview and member of the Board of the Paris-based Global Editors Network.

Buhari Extends Amnesty For Tax Evaders

President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the extension of the Voluntary Assets and Income Declaration Scheme (VAIDS) to June 30, 2018.

The extension after the original March 31 date is based on the appeals of professional bodies and individual taxpayers, the Presidency said in a statement.

It said no further extension of time will be approved after June 30.

The president added that a new date was also given, based on the conviction of the Ministry of Finance that the overall objective to increase compliance will be attained, and additional revenue will accrue.

A fresh Executive Order will be made to give legal backing to the new timeline.

According to President Buhari, “For a nation of people who are competitive and driven, it is not a pride that we are the lowest performer in tax to GDP, not just in Africa, but in the world.

“Nigeria’s growth needs are such that every Nigerian must do his duty to his nation, to his neighbour, and to himself.

“Hiding monies overseas, evading taxes by manipulation, and other unwholesome practices, have never developed a country, and for Nigeria to attain her true potential, these must stop.”

The President urged Nigerian companies and individuals to join the government in the rebuilding mission, “and do the right thing by taking this window of extension to regularize.”

He added that the right thing may not be convenient or comfortable, “but in the long run, we will all have a nation we can be proud of.”

President Buhari further urged tax authorities to use the extension window to perfect plans to prosecute those who fail to regularize their tax status.

The statement by spokesperson Femi Adesina adds the below:

VAIDS is one of the key policies being used by the Federal Government to re-position the Nigerian economy and correct inherited underdevelopment.

The country has one of the lowest tax collection rates in the world at just 6% of GDP. This was partially a function of the reliance on oil that saw us abandon the historical revenue collection systems and switch to a culture of sharing resources, rather than generating them.

President Buhari had last year launched the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP), and the VAIDS tax amnesty is first in the series of reforms that will transform our tax system and provide sustainable predictable funding for all tiers of government.

Tax revenues will ensure that public infrastructure is provided, and public services are funded to improve the lives of the people.

Taxes redistribute wealth from those who have more to those who have less, and VAIDS is one of the windows to achieve such.

Buhari Meets Archbishop Of Canterbury

President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday received Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, at the Abuja House, London.

The Presidency had said Buhari who travelled to the British capital on Monday would be holding a series of meetings with some individuals before participating in the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meetings scheduled for April 18-20.

In one of the pictures of the meeting released by the Presidency showed Welby presenting a copy of his book, ” Reimagining Britain: Foundation for Hope” to Buhari.

The Nigeria High Commissioner to the UK, George Oguntade and the Secretary-General of Anglican Communion, Archbishop Josiah Idowu-Fearon also joined the leaders for the photograph session.

A statement earlier issued by the Presidency indicated that Buhari will be discussing inter-religious harmony in Nigeria and the world with Welby who was described as the President’s good friend.

Buhari is also scheduled to discuss Nigeria-British relationship with Prime Minister, Mrs. Theresa May.

He will also meet the Chief Executive Officer of Royal Dutch Plc, Mr. Ben can Beuden in connection with Shell and other partners’ plan to invest $15bn in Nigeria’s oil industry.

Shortly after Buhari arrived London, some Nigerians based in the British capital on Tuesday protested the decision of the President to seek re-election. The Presidency had, however, said the protest would not distract Buhari from his mission in the UK.

 

 

 

Why Buhari Deserves To Be Re-Elected In 2019 – APC

The All Progressives Congress (APC) has explained why Nigerians should re-elect President Muhammadu Buhari in 2019.

Speaking during his appearance on Channels Television’s Politics Today on Monday, the National Publicity Secretary of the party, Bolaji Abdullahi, believes re-electing the President is in the interest of the nation.

“I think the framers of our constitution know that four years cannot be enough to achieve the full realisation of all that government tries to achieve,” he said. “I think it is in the interest of Nigeria that we allow the work that has started in the last four years to continue.”

Mr Abdullahi made the comments hours after President Buhari declared his intention to seek re-election at a closed-door meeting of the APC National Executive Committee (NEC) in Abuja.

The President had told party leaders at the meeting that his decision was in response to the clamour by Nigerians to recontest in 2019.

On his part, the APC spokesman said the President’s declaration did not come as a surprise as many party leaders and members across the country have been appealing to him to make his intention known.

He noted that the delay by the President to make his intention known was already creating anxiety among members as the general elections draw nearer.

Abdullahi, however, said members were delighted that President Buhari finally announced that he would recontest, saying his declaration has given some kind of direction to the party.

On how certain it was that the President would emerge the party’s candidate at the primary election, he said was not in the position to comment on such but maintained that President Buhari deserves to be re-elected.

“What I believe as a member of the party is that the work that Mr President has started a little over three years ago is so fundamental to the development of this country that he needs the opportunity to build on that and to consolidate on it.

“President Muhammadu Buhari has brought something to this country that is different, and what he has brought to this country that is different is that his avowed commitment to ‘fight against corruption’ is so fundamental that sometimes we lose the understanding of what it means,” the APC spokesman said.

He pointed out that the conversations around corruption on a daily basis in the country have shown that Nigerians have not accepted corruption as a way of life, stressing the need to re-elect the President.

We Never Had The Clue That Buhari Will Seek Re-Election – Spokesperson

The Presidential spokesperson has reacted to President Muhammadu Buhari’s declaration of the intention to seek re-election saying those who work closely with him never knew Mr President will give it a ‘second shot.’

Femi Adesina, who spoke as a guest on Channels Television Breakfast Programme, Sunrise Daily, on Tuesday, when asked why the President had to wait for the APC NEC meeting to declare his intention to run after months of speculations, said they never had an inkling that the President will seek re-election.

“If anybody says that they knew it was going to happen is just a matter of surmising or conjecture. For those of us who work closely with the President, we didn’t have that feeling. We didn’t at all. Nobody could say for sure that Mr President was going to take a second shot,” he said.

Reacting to criticisms that have trailed the President’s declaration of interest in the 2019 elections, Adesina said everyone is entitled to their opinion as Nigeria is a country with the population of over 180 million and everyone has the right to express themselves.

 

President Buhari in May 2017 left Nigeria for the United Kingdom, London to seek medical treatment abroad. This was after he handed over power to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, who functioned as Acting President then. He spent 103 days in London and returned in August 2017. This has left many Nigerians wondering about the health status of the President.

When asked if Nigerians still have the need to bother about the President’s health, now that he is seeking re-election, Adesina said Mr President is a man of integrity and would have yielded to warnings if his doctor deems him unfit.

“What his doctor says is between him and his doctor. Unless you know it, it doesn’t have to bother you. The president is a very responsible man and if there was any warning from his doctor, he wouldn’t have ventured into this,” he said.

Mr Adesina also clarified that the President was misquoted when he said he will not run for a second term because of his age. He added that concerning the President’s statement in 2011 when he said will do just one term, it is no longer ‘applicable.’

“That’s a misquote. If there is anything on record like that, it is a misquote. I was with him in South Africa when he said he wished he had become president at a he was a military governor that he would have done a lot more for Nigeria.

“The other one about doing one term was when he was running in 2011. But did he win in that year? No, the victory came in 2015. So that being quoted in 2011 is not applicable again.”

“Why President Buhari Is Running For A Second Term”

President Muhammadu Buhari has formally announced his intention to seek a second term in 2019.

The president made his plan known to the National Executive Committee of the All Progressives Congress.

His office issued the statement below on the announcement giving further details on the president’s decision.

See Full statement below:

PRESIDENT BUHARI TO SEEK RE-ELECTION IN 2019

President Muhammadu Monday in Abuja declared his intention to seek re-election in 2019.

President Buhari made the declaration at a closed-door meeting of the National Executive Council of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

The President said he was responding to the clamour by Nigerians to re-contest in 2019, adding that he wanted to give NEC the honour of notifying them first.

Shortly before making the declaration, the President presented a speech on the report submitted by the APC National Executive Technical Committee.

His remarks:

REMARKS BY HIS EXCELLENCY, MUHAMMADU BUHARI, PRESIDENT, FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA, ON THE REPORT SUBMITTED BY THE ALL PROGRESSIVES CONGRESS NATIONAL EXECUTIVE TECHNICAL COMMITTEE 9TH APRIL, 2018

I am delighted to welcome you all to this very important meeting in the affairs of our party and our country. I want to specifically thank members of the Technical Committee for a job well done within the limited time frame.

2. It shows a great sense of commitment to the ideals of our party with a view to consolidating and positioning the party to continue delivering good governance in the overall interest of Nigerians.

3. With the present state of the party and based on the report submitted by the Technical Committee, It is important to focus on how to move the party forward by avoiding actions detrimental to the interest of the party. Considering that politics is a game of numbers, we must not be a house divided against itself and must try to note, appreciate and accommodate our differences as far as the law permits.

4. Upon my review of the Report, my position is to ensure that the party tows the path of unity, legality and cohesion and not that of division.

5. Therefore, I am stressing that we should strengthen our internal democracy by organising the Party’s Congresses and Convention where election of National Executive Committee members would be held. This will automatically end the cases filed by members seeking orders of Court compelling the party to hold its Congresses.

6. I also believe that the current executives should be free to vie for elective positions in the party if they so wish as permitted by our Party constitution.

7. However, considering the provision of Article 31(1)(iii) of the APC Constitution which requires any serving officer desirous of seeking re-election to resign from office 30 days before election, I am not sure of the practicality of present serving officers’ ability to meet this condition.

8. Accordingly, the party may consider granting waivers to party executives at all levels so that they are not disenfranchised from participating in the elections should they wish to do so, provided this does not violate our rules.

9. Necessary waiver(s) should also be extended to executives at the Ward level whose tenures may have elapsed, and indeed to anyone knocking at our doors from other political parties. This is in the spirit of the Right to Freedom of Association guaranteed by the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended).

10. In this circumstance, the party should officially issue a statement on the above Waivers so that our house may be full. We all must not be ignorant of the times, and the journey that is ahead of us.

11. Just like our party symbol; “the Broom,” which typifies strength in unity, let us strive to remain united in our purpose. Victory is sure by the Grace of God, and together we must continue to sanitize Nigeria’s political environment.

12. Once again, I welcome you all to this meeting with the hope that we will, in our deliberations today, conduct ourselves without rancour and promote the highest interest of the party and the nation.

Thank you.

Garba Shehu

Senior Special Assistant to the President

Media & Publicity

April 9, 2018

“APC Convention: Oyegun Eligible To Re-Contest Only If………….”

President Muhammadu Buhari has said that the current leadership of the governing All Progressives Congress (APC) led by John Odigie-Oyegun is not eligible to seek re-election in the forthcoming congresses and national convention of the party.

Mr. Buhari, who was speaking at the National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting of the APC at the national secretariat of the party in Abuja on Monday said based in the provision of Section 30 (1) (3), any officer currently serving and wants to seek re-election must resign their appointments 30 days before the election.

The president said based on that provision, the current National Working Committee (NWC) led by Mr. Oyegun and other officials across the states are not eligible to run.

He, however, said if they choose to seek re-election, they may be allowed through waiver.

Mr. Buhari said if the party wishes to grant such waiver, “a statement granting the waiver should be issued by the party immediately.”

Buhari Declares For 2019

President Muhammadu Buhari has officially declared to contest the 2019 General Elections.

The President made the announcement at the National Executive Committee Meeting of the All Progressives Congress APC on Monday morning in the wake of battles many believe might signal the exit of the incumbent national chairman of the ruling party, John Odigie Oyegun.

The decision of Buhari to re-contest has also been subjected to criticisms after he spent 104 days in the United Kingdom last year on medical leave.

Since his return, he has however remained in the country making several visits to different parts of the country to commission projects and attend to private and official functions.

President Buhari rode to power in 2015 after defeating incumbent Goodluck Jonathan in his fourth attempt to rule the West African nation.

The Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai was the first to confirm the development on Twitter.

His SSA on New Media, Bashir Ahmad also confirmed the development.

See tweet below:

Nigeria’s number one citizen has been threatened by explosive letters by two former Heads of State, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo and General Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida as well as threats by the opposition not to contest the 2019 polls but the latter has since resolved to come back again.

Buhari’s second term bid was backed late last month with both Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and the National Leader of the All Progressives Congress APC, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu during the APC Leader’s 66th birthday colloquium in Lagos with the trio including the President boasting that the former Head of State will rule Nigeria once more in 2019.

Buhari Returns from Daura

President Muhammadu Buhari has returned to Abuja after a weekend trip to Katsina and his home town of Daura.

The presidential aircraft carrying the president and some of his aides took off from the Umaru Musa Yar’Adua International Airport, Katsina, at about 10.45a.m.

The aircraft landed at the presidential wing of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport at 11.28a.m.

The Chief of Staff to the President, Malam Abba Kyari, the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Alhaji Muhammed Bello, some security heads and other presidential aides welcomed the President at the airport.

While in Daura, President Buhari visited the family of late Senator Mustapha Bukar, who died last week.

He also received no fewer than nine senators who also came on a condolence visit to The Bukars.

Buhari on a visit to Bukar’s family, said the deceased was his very close ally “in difficulties and in joy.”

“His death has deeply touched me personally and officially,” the President said, adding that Nigeria would miss the wisdom and political sagacity of Bukar.

Buhari prayed fervently for the repose of the soul of the deceased and urged the family to bear the irreplaceable loss.

He described Bukar as humble, honest, hardworking and a God fearing personality who placed national interest above all other considerations.

“He played politics with decency, decorum and understanding; his death is a personal loss to me and the nation in general.”

David Mark at 70

President Muhammadu Buhari has congratulated former Senate President, and Senator representing Benue South, Sen. David Alechenu Mark, on his 70th birthday.

In a statement, yesterday, Buhari felicitated with the family, friends and political associates of the former military officer, who served the country variously as governor, minister and Senate President.

As he turns a septuagenarian, the President commended the maturity, stability and focused legislation he instituted in the upper chamber during the eight years he served as Senate President, and the dutifulness that culminated in the passing of many bills.

Buhari said the wealth of experience the senator has gathered over the years would be most useful for the country’s development, especially in sustaining peace.

“I know Buhari very well, He is not corrupt”, Orji Kalu

Orji Kalu, a former Governor of Abia State proclaimed that President Muhammadu Buhari will return in 2019 if he re-contests despite the series of attacks from former President Olusegun Obasanjo and others. In his words, he vouched for the President and claimed to know him well enough.

Kalu said this in an interview with journalists in Ile-Ife, Osun State, on Friday, after his peace and advocacy visit to the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi.

The former governor said Obasanjo, who spent eight years in office, was the least person competent to attack Buhari’s integrity, adding that the former President did not allow anybody to criticise him while in office.

He said, “Talking of integrity, Obasanjo is incompetent to criticise President Buhari. When I was the governor of Abia State, I wrote letters to President Obasanjo, criticising him and because of that, he swore to make life difficult for me. He is today writing letters every week, attacking Buhari.

“I know Buhari very well. He is not corrupt. He does not own property anywhere. Some people should not just put the country in crisis. Whatever they may have in plan, Buhari will return in 2019.”

The former governor said that Buhari had demonstrated that he loved the country more than Obasanjo and added that there was no way Nigerians would dump the President based on the series of letters written by Obasanjo to discredit him (Buhari).

Kalu also said that the Igbo could realise the ambition of producing Buhari’s successor in 2023, stating, “We can’t do it alone. Late Chief MKO Abiola came to my mother’s house in Abia many years ago seeking political support.

“While discussing with my mother, MKO said no one could clap with one hand. I will also adopt that adage. We Igbo can’t do it alone. The rest of the country should assist us to realise this ambition.”

Earlier, the Ooni of Ife thanked Kalu for promoting unity and peaceful coexistence among Nigerians.