US releases evidence of massive corruption under Buhari govt.

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The United States Department of State has released what it termed evidence of impunity in the President Muhammadu Buhari-led Nigerian government.

The State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labour, in its Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2018, said that Nigeria under Buhari, had made little progress in efforts to limit corruption in its public service.

The US Congress makes it mandatory for the executive to produce a report on the state of human rights worldwide every year.

For Nigeria, the findings in the 2018 Human Rights Report, obtained by ThisDay, were largely similar to those of the previous year’s report.

The report added that “Although the law provides criminal penalties for conviction of official corruption, the government did not implement the law effectively, and officials frequently engaged in corrupt practices with impunity.

“Massive, widespread, and pervasive corruption affected all levels of government and the security services. There were numerous reports of government corruption during the year.

“The EFCC writ extends only to financial and economic crimes. The ICPC secured 14 convictions during the year. In 2016 the EFCC had 66 corruption cases pending in court, had secured 13 convictions during the year, and had 598 open investigations.

“Although ICPC and EFCC anti-corruption efforts remained largely focused on low and mid-level government officials, following the 2015 presidential election, both organisations started investigations into and brought indictments against various active and former high-level government officials. Many of these cases were pending in court.

“According to both ICPC and EFCC, the delays were the result of a lack of judges and the widespread practice of filing for and granting multiple adjournments.

“EFCC arrests and indictments of politicians continued throughout the year, implicating a significant number of opposition political figures and leading to allegations of partisan motivations on the part of the EFCC.

“In October the EFCC arrested and indicted former governor of Ekiti State Ayo Fayose on 11 counts, including conspiracy and money laundering amounting to 2.2 billion naira ($6 million). After a Federal High Court ruling, Fayose was out on 50 million naira ($137,500) bail.”

On financial disclosure, the report stated the constitutional requirement under the Code of Conduct Bureau and Tribunal Act (CCBTA) for public officials, including the president, vice president, governors, deputy governors, cabinet ministers, and legislators (at both federal and state levels), to declare their assets to the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) before assuming and after leaving office. The constitution calls for the CCB to “make declarations available for inspection by any citizen of the country on such terms and conditions as the National Assembly may prescribe.

“The law does not address the publication of asset information. Violators risk prosecution, but cases rarely reached conclusion.

“There were several reports the government or its agents committed arbitrary and unlawful killings. The national police, army, and other security services used lethal and excessive force to disperse protesters and apprehend criminals and suspects and committed other extrajudicial killings.

“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 2017 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, and the panel submitted its findings in February. As of November, no portions of the report had been made public.

“As of September there were no reports of the federal government further investigation 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 Nigerian Army (NA) forces in Zaria, Kaduna State. “

The report disclosed that the 2016 nonbinding report of the Kaduna State government’s judicial commission, which found that the Nigerian Army (NA) used “excessive and disproportionate” force during the 2015 altercations in which 348 members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) and one soldier died.

It said, “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.

“In 2016 the government of Kaduna State published a white paper that included acceptance of the commission’s recommendation to investigate and prosecute allegations of excessive and disproportionate use of force by the NA.

“As of September, however, there was no indication that authorities had held any members of the NA accountable for the events in Zaria. It also accepted the recommendation to hold IMN leader Sheikh Ibrahim Zakzaky responsible for all illegal acts committed by IMN members during the altercations and in the preceding 30 years. In 2016 a federal court declared the continued detention without charge of Zakzaky and his wife illegal and unconstitutional.

“The court ordered their release by January 2017. The federal government did not comply with this order, and Zakzaky, his spouse, and other IMN members remained in detention. In April the Kaduna State government charged Zakzaky in state court with multiple felonies stemming from the death of the soldier at Zaria.

“The charges include culpable homicide, which can carry the death penalty. As of December the case was pending. In July a Kaduna High Court dismissed charges of aiding and abetting culpable homicide against more than 80 IMN members. As of September the Kaduna State government had appealed the ruling. Approximately 100 additional IMN members remained in detention.

“In October security forces killed 45 IMN members that were participating in processions and protests, according to Amnesty International (AI).”

The report recalled the January 2017 bombing of an informal internally displaced persons (IDPs) settlement in Rann, Borno State, by the Nigerian Air Force, which resulted in the killing and injuring of more than 100 civilians and aid workers.

It said, “The government and military leaders publicly assumed responsibility for the strike and launched an investigation. The air force conducted its own internal investigation, but as of December the government had not made public its findings. No air force or army personnel were known to have been held accountable for their roles in the event. There were reports of arbitrary and unlawful killings related to internal conflicts in the North-east and other areas.”

The report also identified the following human rights issues in Nigeria: “unlawful and arbitrary killings by both government and non-state actors; forced disappearances by both government and non-state actors; torture by both government and non-state actors; and prolonged arbitrary detention in life-threatening conditions, particularly, in government detention facilities. Others are harsh and life threatening prison conditions, including civilian detentions in military facilities, often based on flimsy or no evidence; infringement on citizens’ privacy rights; criminal libel; substantial interference with the rights of peaceful assembly and freedom of association, in particular for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) persons; and refoulement of refugees.”

The report also identified as human rights abuse corruption; progress to formally separate child soldiers previously associated with the Civilian Joint Task Force (CJTF); lack of accountability concerning violence against women, including female genital mutilation/cutting, in part due to government inaction/negligence; trafficking in persons, including sexual exploitation and abuse by security officials; crimes involving violence targeting LGBTI persons and the criminalisation of status and same-sex sexual conduct based on sexual orientation and gender identity; and forced and bonded labour.

The report, however, noted that “the government took steps to investigate alleged abuses but took fewer steps to prosecute officials who committed violations, whether in the security forces or elsewhere in the government.

“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 report added. According to http://Dailypost.ng

Jeff Bezos Has Nothing On Mansa Musa – The Richest Man Who Ever Lived

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Jeff Bezos is currently the richest man in the world.

You can see Forbes’ ‘richest people in the world’ rankings here, to fill out the rest of the top spots.

When you check out the net worth of the wealthiest folks, it’s hard to imagine anyone having that much money.

Now picture someone being that rich – no, richer – in the 14th century.

The richest man of all time is Mansa Musa, according to the BBC. He was a West African ruler who was so rich that his generous handouts single-handedly destroyed a country’s entire economy:

Contemporary accounts of Musa’s wealth are so breathless that it’s almost impossible to get a sense of just how wealthy and powerful he truly was,” Rudolph Butch Ware, associate professor of history at the University of California, told the BBC.

Mansa Musa was “richer than anyone could describe”, Jacob Davidson wrote about the African king for Money.com in 2015.

He was born in 1280 into a family who ran an empire. His brother, Mansa Abu-Bakr, ruled the empire until 1312 before deciding to go on an expedition to discover new lands.

According to 14th Century Syrian historian Shibab al-Umari, Abu-Bakr was obsessed with the Atlantic Ocean and what lay beyond it. He reportedly embarked on an expedition with a fleet of 2,000 ships and thousands of men, women and slaves. They sailed off, never to return.

Mansa Musa inherited the empire when his brother didn’t return. During his reign, the kingdom of Mali, which stretched all the way to modern-day Niger, taking in parts of what are now Senegal, Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, The Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Guinea and Ivory Coast, grew significantly.

He annexed 24 cities, including Timbuktu.

During the reign of Mansa Musa, the empire of Mali accounted for almost half of the Old World’s gold, according to the British Museum.

And all of it belonged to the king.

As the ruler, Mansa Musa had almost unlimited access to the most highly valued source of wealth in the medieval world,” Kathleen Bickford Berzock, who specializes in African art at the Block Museum of Art at the Northwestern University, told the BBC.

“Major trading centres that traded in gold and other goods were also in his territory, and he garnered wealth from this trade,” she added.

Mansa Musa’s reign put Mali on the map – literally. The image above shows a Catalan map from 1375 showing Mansa Muli sitting atop Mali with a gold coin in his hand. He also advanced education in his country.

Mansa Musa returned from Mecca with several Islamic scholars, including direct descendants of the prophet Muhammad and an Andalusian poet and architect by the name of Abu Es Haq es Saheli, who is widely credited with designing the famous Djinguereber mosque.

The king reportedly paid the poet 200 kg (440lb) in gold, which in today’s money would be $8.2m (£6.3m).

In addition to encouraging the arts and architecture, he also funded literature and built schools, libraries and mosques. Timbuktu soon became a centre of education and people travelled from around the world to study at what would become the Sankore University.

The reason we don’t hear about him more often is because history is written by the victors.

After Mansa Musa died in 1337, aged 57, the empire was inherited by his sons who could not hold the empire together. The smaller states broke off and the empire crumbled.

Colonialism was the final blow that destroyed the empire. Had colonists arrived during Mansa Musa’s reign, things might have worked out differently.

One thing’s for sure – Bezos has nothing on this guy.

[source:bbc]

International Women’s Day, Nigeria women demand gender balance

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In celebration of the 2019 International Women’s Day (IWD) which comes up on 8th, March every year to recognise the roles women play in contributing their quota to nation buildings, Nigerian women have joined the rest of the world in demanding for gender balance for the development of the country.

Although it is difficult to say exactly when IWD began, research reveals that the first IWD was marked in 1911 and supported by over a million people in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland. However, it has since spread across nations of the world where people roll out the drums in celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women and their contributions to nation building.

With every year focusing on a particular theme to guide women globally in championing a course, the theme for this year, “Think big, Build smart and Innovate for Change #BalanceForbetter, is aimed at continuing determinedly to challenge bias and accelerate gender parity. It’s also a call-to-action for speeding up gender balance in business, politics, media coverage and wealth across the world.

The National President, African Women Entrepreneurship Programme (AWEP) and Executive Director, Ladela Group of Schools, Mrs Angela Ajala, while speaking on the theme for this year’s IWD said, this is the right time in Nigeria’s history to help find a better gender balanced world, adding that the theme, #BalanceForbetter, is very apt because in many countries, especially in Nigeria, there has not been balance for women in many areas. She said this is an opportunity for women to engage government on how to have a more gender balanced world in appointments, nominations and engagements at various levels of government.

She said, balance brings a rich mix to the thinking of what will help us solve the issue in Nigeria, stressing that we cannot keep having ideas in one direction. “Gender balance shows that we are going to have better outcomes in what we do. So, we are looking toward this in 2019 in what we are doing. One of the programmes we are doing with all our members across the 36 states is to present letters of engagement to all the 36 states governors asking for 40 percent inclusion of women in government to have a good balance,” Mrs Ajala said.

For gender balance to be achieved, she said women want awareness creation and implementation of developmental policies and opportunity to progress for women in government; “the policies that will push Nigeria forward.

“We are asking for regular interactive engagement with various agencies of government. Nigerian women need a step-by-step planning as we move on in the year and for the new dispensation to really move us forward to the next level in line with the slogan in gender balance.”

In decision making where women are demanding for 40 percent representation, Mrs Ajala said this is necessary because men are the ones holding majority of the positions, including at the ministerial level. “Take for instance, if there are 40 ministers, there will be only five women, in such case, and it will be very difficult for their voice to be heard. That is why we are pushing for increased percentage. Already, Rwanda is doing 50-50 and the result is that things are happening in that place for the better. That is a country that was almost buried through genocide but has come up to be one of the leading countries in Africa.

So our demand is that if more women are given the chance, there would be ripple effect down to the economy, policy, environment and even the way of living,” she also stated.

Presidency Lists Buhari’s Achievements After Three Years In Office

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Presidency Lists Buhari’s Achievements In Security, Economy, Others After Three Years
File photo

The Presidency has released a fact sheet outlining the policy and programme achievements of the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration since it assumed office three years ago.

Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Garba Shehu, revealed this in a statement.

Looted Funds: The Opposition Is In A Position To Sponsor Mischief – Buhari

Concerned about the security situation in the country, he promised Nigerians that his administration would not rest until the perpetrators of the repeated killings are brought to justice.

The fact sheet, on its part, highlights the successes recorded so far in the three priorities of the President’s ‘change agenda’ – security, anti-corruption war, and economy – among others.

The present government has been criticised by many, including the major opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in its three priority areas.

But the Presidency has insisted at least one million persons displaced by the Boko Haram insurgency have returned to their homes and communities across the North-East since 2015.

It added that no fewer than 16,000 Boko Haram hostages have been freed from the terrorists’ captivity, including 106 of the Chibok girls abducted in 2014 and 105 of the Dapchi schoolgirls abducted in February.

The document also showcased the improving economic indices, rising investment in agriculture and infrastructure, and ongoing efforts to improve security in the north-central region of the country.

Others are the several measures taken to promote transparency and accountability in government finances, as well as the growth being experienced in Nigeria’s economy.

The details of the fact sheet released by the Presidency are highlighted below;

BUHARI ADMINISTRATION 3RD  YEARREPORT/FACTSHEET (MAY 2018)

ECONOMY

Economic growth is back, and consolidating:

  • The Economy is back on the path of growth, after the recession of 2016-17 (1.95 percent growth in Q1 2018)
  • The Buhari Administration’s priority Sectors of Agriculture and Solid Minerals maintained consistent growth throughout the recession.
  • Inflation has fallen for the fifteenth (15th) consecutive month, from 18.7 percent in January 2017 to 12.5 percent as of April 2018.
  • External Reserves of US$47.5 billion are the highest in 5 years, and double the size as of October 2016.
  • Total exports in 2017 were 59.47% higher than for 2016
  • In 2017, agriculture exports grew 180.7% above the value in 2016
  • In 2017, raw material exports grew 154.2% above the value in 2016
  • In 2017, solid minerals exports grew 565% above the value in 2016
  • In 2017, exports of manufactured goods grew 26.8% above the value in 2016
  • The first quarter of 2018 saw the fourth consecutive quarterly increase in capital importation since Q2 2017. The total value of capital imported in the quarter stood at US$6.3 billion, which is a year-on-year increase of 594.03%, and a 17.11% growth over the figure reported in the previous quarter.
  • The new FX Window introduced by the CBN in April 2017 now sees an average of US$1 billion in weekly turnover, and has attracted about US$25 billion in inflows in its first year (and a total turnover of $47.14 billion) – signaling rising investor confidence in Nigeria.
  • Nigeria’s Stock Market ended 2017 as one of the best- performing in the world, with returns in excess of 40 percent.
  • Five (5) million new taxpayers added to the Tax Base since 2016, as part of efforts to diversify Government revenues.
  • Tax Revenue increased to N1.17 Trillion in Q1 2018, a 51% increase on the Q1 2017 figure.
  • N2.7 Trillion spent on Infrastructure in 2016 and 2017 fiscal years, an unprecedented allocation in Nigeria’s recent history.
  • Fourteen (14) moribund Blending Plants revitalized so far under the Presidential Fertilizer Initiative (PFI); with a total capacity of 2.3 million MT of NPK fertilizer
  • The contribution of Solid Minerals’ to the Federation Account rose five-fold from N700 million in 2015 to N3.5 billion in 2017.

RESETTING THE ECONOMY, RESTORING GROWTH

The Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP), the Federal Government’s medium-term Economic Plan, was launched by President Buhari in April 2017. It charts a course for the Nigerian economy over the next four years (2017–2020). The Vision of the ERGP is to restore economic growth, invest in Nigerians, and to build a globally competitive economy, and the Plan aims to achieve these by focusing on five execution priorities:

  • Stabilizing the macroeconomic environment;
  • Achieving Agriculture and Food Security;
  • Ensuring energy efficiency (especially in power and petroleum products);
  • Improving transportation infrastructure; and
  • Driving industrialization, primarily through SMEs.

To fast-track the implementation of the ERGP, the Federal Government launched the ERGP Focus Labs, as a targeted 6- week intervention (March to April 2018) bringing together all stakeholders to identify bureaucratic bottlenecks impacting medium-scale and large-scale investment projects in Nigeria, and then generate ideas and resources to resolve them.

The just-concluded Phase 1 of the ERGP Focus Labs identified private-sector projects worth about US$22.5 billion – and with a potential for 500,000 jobs (in Agriculture, Transportation, Manufacturing and Processing, Power and Gas) – for unlocking by 2020.

Aligning of Monetary, Fiscal and Trade Policies:

Landmark initiatives here include:

  • The creation in April 2017 of a New FX Window for Investors and Exporters has helped stabilize the market. The new Window has attracted inflows of more than US$45 billion in its first year of operation.
  • The Buhari Administration has implemented a new Debt Management Strategy which targets a ratio of 60% to 40% between Domestic and External Debt. The other objectives of the strategy are to moderate growth in Debt Service Costs, free up space in the domestic market so that the private sector can have increased access to loans, and, to shore up External Reserves.
  • The strategy has been implemented through increased external capital raising to part finance the deficits in the 2017 and 2018 Budgets and the refinancing of short term high cost Nigerian Treasury Bills (interest rate of 16-18%) with lower cost External Debt (of 6.5% to 7.875%.)
  • Through the implementation of the strategy the Domestic to External Debt Ratio which stood at 84% to 16% as at June 30, 2015 improved to 73% to 27% as at December 31, 2017. Also, interest rates on FGN Bonds and NTBs have dropped from their previous levels of 16-18% to 13-14% per annum.
  • Establishment of the Nigerian Office for Trade Negotiations by the Economic Management Team (EMT). The NOTN has produced Nigeria’s first Annual National Trade Report, and is now compiling, for the first time in Nigeria’s history, a comprehensive database of Nigerian Trade Deals and Agreements.
  • The Renminbi-Naira Swap Agreement between the Peoples Bank of China and the Central Bank of Nigeria.

Bond Issuance in the International Capital Market

  • In 2017, the Federal Government successfully issued US$4.5 billion Eurobonds in the International Capital Market (ICM), US$4 billion was for the part financing of the deficits in the 2017 Budget (US$1.5 billion) and 2018 (US$2.5 billion).
  • The Eurobonds  were  not  only  highly  oversubscribed,  but Nigeria was able, for the first time to issue a tenor of 30 years. The significance of the US$1.5 billion Eurobond issued in November 2017 for 30 years is that Nigeria became the second country in Africa (after South Africa) to issue a tenor that long. In addition, the 30-year tenor was also ideal for financing capital projects which are long-term in nature.
  • The balance of US$500 million was used to redeem NTBs which matured in December 2017.
  • Also for the first time, Nigeria issued a Diaspora Bond in the ICM. The Diaspora Bond was US$300 million with a tenor of 5-years. The proceeds were used to part–finance the 2017 Budget.

New Securities issued in the Domestic Market

  • Under President Buhari’s administration, the Federal Government introduced  3  new products in the domestic market to promote financial inclusion, finance specific capital projects and offer local investors more products to enable them diversify their investment portfolio.
  • These were N100 billion Sukuk to finance 25 Road Projects across the country, N10.69 billion debut Green Bond to fund infrastructure projects that tackle climate change and the FGN Savings Bond.
  • A total of N8.126 billion from 11,366 retail investors has been raised through the Savings Bond since it was launched in March 2017.

Awards from External Institutions

  • The Government of Nigeria received multiple awards from reputable international bodies from its capital raising activities. Nigeria won three awards from EMEA Finance and one award from Global Capital.
  • These are: Best Sovereign Bond in Africa (Nigeria’s US$3 billion Dual-Tranche 10 and 30 year Eurobonds issued in November 2017); Most Innovative Bond (Nigeria’s US$300 million Diaspora Bond issued in June 2017); Best Naira Bond (Nigeria’s N100 billion 7-year Inaugural Sukuk issued in September 2017); and Global Capital Award (Best African Borrower).

Payment of Outstanding Pension Arrears & Claims

The Buhari Administration has released the sum of N54 billion to settle outstanding pension arrears from 2014, 2015 and 2016, as well as clear pensions claims up to March 2017.

Support to State Governments:

  • The Buhari Administration has extended more than N1.9 Trillion to State Governments, to enable them meet their salary and pension obligations, especially in the face of dwindling oil revenues over the last two years. The support has come in the form of the following:

o Budget Support Facility (Total of N606.55 billion extended to the States as of May 2018; in exchange for reforms in budgeting, IGR, debt management, overheads, etc.

o Paris Club Refunds

o Infrastructure Loans

o Loan Restructuring for Facilities with Commercial Banks: In 2015, the DMO restructured Commercial Bank loans with a total value of N575.516 billion for 23 States to reduce the debt service burden on the states. In exchange for their loans to  State  Governments,  the banks were issued  20-year  FGN Bonds at a yield of 14.83% per annum. The Restructuring Exercise benefited the States through:

  • Reduction in the monthly  debt service burden of States  from  between  55%  to  97%  for  various States;
  • Interest rate savings for the States ranging from 3% to 9% per annum;
  • Longer  repayment   period   for   the   loans   now converted into Bonds; and,
  • Freeing up of needed cash to run the machinery of Government.

GROWING WHAT WE EAT

  • The Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP) of the Central Bank of Nigeria (details below) has made available N82 billion in funding to 350,000 farmers of Rice, Wheat, Maize, Cotton, Cassava, Poultry, Soy Beans and Groundnut; who have cultivated about 400,000 hectares of land.
  • The ABP has substantially raised local production of rice; yields have doubled from 2-3 tonnes per hectare in areas; Nigeria’s paddy production has doubled compared to 2014 levels.
  • Between 2016 and 2018, eight new rice mills have come on- stream in Nigeria.
  • More than a billion dollars of private sector investments in the production of Rice, Wheat, Sugar, Poultry, Animal Feed, Fertilizers, etc, since 2015.
  • Nigeria’s milled rice production has increased by about 60 percent, from 2.5 million MT in 2015, to 4 million MT in 2017.
  • The Presidential Fertilizer Initiative (which involves a partnership with the Government of Morocco, for the supply of phosphate), has resulted in the revitalization of 14 blending plants across the country, with a total installed capacity in excess of 2 million MT. The benefits include annual savings of US$200 million in foreign exchange, and

₦60 billion annually in budgetary provisions for Fertilizer subsidies. The Scheme has also made it possible for Farmers to purchase Fertilizer at prices up to 30 percent cheaper than previously available.

MAKING BUSINESS WORK

Support for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises: The Administration has launched a series of funding and capacity development initiatives designed to support MSMEs:

  • The new Development Bank of Nigeria (DBN) has finally taken off, with initial funding of US$1.3 billion (N396.5 billion); to provide medium and long-term loans to MSMEs.
  • Minister of Finance Kemi Adeosun led the Nigerian delegation that negotiated with the World Bank Group (WBG), African Development Bank (ADB) and European Investment Bank (EIB), at the 2016 Annual Meetings of the World Bank Group and IMF, for the US$1.3 billion take-off loan.
  • The CBN approved the operating license of the Bank in March 2017, subject to the provision of a minimum capital requirement of N100 billion and other conditions, which have since been satisfied.
  • As a wholesale bank, the DBN lends wholesale to microfinance banks, which in turn on-lend medium to long- term loans to MSMEs. Already, the DBN has a N5 billion line of credit available to be accessed by MSMEs through its partner institutions.
  • Bank of Industry has disbursed more than N160 billion in loans since 2016. It has also established a N5 Billion Fund for Artisanal Miners, as part of the Federal Ministry of Mines and Solid Minerals Development’s Programme to boost Mining activities in Nigeria.
  • The MSME Clinics, which bring relevant Government Agencies together with small businesses operating in various cities across the country, to enable the Agencies provide direct support to these businesses. The interactions allow the Agencies better understand the issues facing small businesses, and provide a platform for speedy resolution. Fifteen (15) editions of the MSME Clinic have been held nationwide since it was launched in 2017.
  • The Ease of Doing Business Reform Programme (see below)
  • The Government Enterprise and Empowerment component (GEEP) of the Social Intervention Programme (SIP)

Ease of Doing Business Reform Successes:

  • The work of the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (inaugurated by President Buhari in August 2016) and the Enabling Business Environment Secretariat (EBES) resulted in Nigeria moving up 24 places on the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business rankings in 2017, and earning a place on the List of 10 Most Improved Economies.
  • The Nigerian Investment Promotion Council (NIPC) has compiled a comprehensive listing of all investment incentives in Nigeria, making it easier for existing and potential investors to have equal access to the information.
  • NIPC has also launched an online, multilingual, investors guide with the kind of basic information about starting a business, labour laws, taxes, land, etc that investors need to better understand Nigeria.
  • The Buhari Administration has, since 2017, issued three Executive Orders that positively impact Nigeria’s small business environment, as follows:

o Executive Order on Improving Efficiency in the Business Environment

o Executive Order on Promoting Local Procurement by Government Agencies

o Executive Order on planning and execution of projects, promotion of Nigerian content in contracts and science, engineering and technology

  • Some of the specific Ease of Doing Business Reform achievements are as follows:

o Passage, by the Senate, of the Companies and Allied Matters (Repeal & Re-enactment) Bill 2018 in May 2018, giving legal backing to some of the reforms already launched and being implemented by PEBEC/EBES.

o The new Bill permits the use of electronic signatures for company registration documents; provides for the submission of applications for reservation of names through electronic means; allows for a new form of legal entity known as Limited Liability Partnerships (LLPs), and makes it possible for a single person to form a private company in Nigeria; among other reforms.

o Creation of a National Collateral Registry (NCR). A NCR or Movable Assets Registry was established by the Central Bank of Nigeria, in May 2016. In May 2017, the Senate passed a Bill to give the NCR legal backing.

o A Palletization Policy issued by the Federal Ministry of Finance, which ensures that goods entering into Nigeria are properly stacked according to global best practices for efficient inspection and to discourage the usual rent seeking that comes with an outdated standard of 100% physical inspection of goods.

o Automation of business name reservation, submission of registration documents, payment of registration fees, generation of Tax Identification Numbers (TIN), and filing of federal Taxes.

o Implementation of functioning Visa-on-Arrival system for Business Visitors

DOING MORE WITH LESS

N1.219 Trillion was released for capital expenditure in the

2016 budget, and N1.476 trillion so far in the 2017 budget, making a total of N2.7 Trillion (about US$9 billion) in two years. This investment has enabled the resumption of work on several stalled projects — road, rail and power projects — across the country.

Savings:

Even at a time of low oil prices (and by implication low government revenues):

  • Nigeria’s External Reserves have doubled since October 2016, from US$24 billion to US$48 billion.
  • The Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA) has seen inflows of US$1.15 billion under the Buhari Administration (the first government inflows since the original US$1 billion which the Fund kicked off within 2012).

Infrastructure:

  • The Buhari Administration has demonstrated a single- minded commitment to upgrading and developing Nigeria’s Transport, Power and Health Infrastructure.
  • In May 2018, the Federal Government launched the Presidential Infrastructure Development Fund (PIDF), under the management of the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority. The PIDF is kicking off with seed funding of US$1.3 billion.
  • Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA) in March 2018 invested US$10m to establish a world-class Cancer Treatment Center at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), and US$5m each in the Aminu Kano University Teaching Hospital and the Federal Medical Centre, Umuahia, to establish modern Diagnostic Centres. These Centers should be completed before the end of 2018.
  • In 2014, the Federal Government spent these sums on the following sectors: Transport (N14 billion), Agriculture & Water (N34 billion), Power, Works & Housing (N106 billion). In 2017 those figures jumped to: Transport (N127 billion), Agriculture & Water (N130 billion), Power, Works & Housing (N325 billion).
  • Road Projects are ongoing across every State of the country; many of these projects had been abandoned in recent years because of mounting debts owed by the Federal Government to contractors.
  • The Buhari Administration issued a N100 billion Sukuk Bond in 2017, Nigeria’s first sovereign Sukuk Bond. Proceeds

from that Bond are funding 25 major road projects across the six geopolitical zones of Nigeria.

  • Upgrade of Nigeria’s 3,500km network narrow-gauge railway network has commenced, with the signing, in April 2018, of the interim phase of a concession agreement between the Government of Nigeria and an International Consortium led by General Electric (GE). The target of this Interim Phase is that within the next 12 months, passengers will experience reduced travel time by rail between Lagos to Kano, and, for the first time in over a decade, contracted and scheduled freight rail services will be available.
  • Abuja’s Light Rail system has been completed and will go into operation in 2018. The first line to be launched will connect the city center with the Airport, with a link to the Abuja-Kaduna Railway Line.
  • The Buhari Administration successfully completed the reconstruction of the Abuja Airport runway within the scheduled six-week period (March – April 2017).
  • The following Water Supply Projects and Dam/Irrigation

Projects have been completed by the Buhari Administration:

o Central Ogbia Regional Water Project, in Bayelsa

o Sabke/Dutsi/Mashi Water Supply Project, in Katsina

o Northern Ishan Regional Water Supply Project, serving

Ugboha and Uromi communities of Edo State.

o Kashimbila Dam, Taraba State

o Ogwashi-Uku Dam, Delta State

o Shagari Dam Irrigation Project, Sokoto State

o Rehabilitation of Ojirami Dam Water Supply Project, Edo State

  • More than 70 Ecological Fund projects awarded and completed by the Buhari Administration, across the six geopolitical zones of Nigeria (Flood Control, Erosion Control, Bridges and Dams, Channelization and Desilting, etc)
  • In 2017 Nigeria retained her Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Category 1 status, after a routine international audit.
  • In January 2018, a new Maintenance Repair and Overhaul facility with the capacity for aircraft C-checks and other comprehensive levels of maintenance was established in Lagos. This facility will save Nigeria an estimated $90m annually.
  • The 25 Road Projects being funded by the N100 Billion Sukuk Bond:

o Construction of Oju/Loko–Oweto bridge over River Benue to link Loko (Nasarawa state) and Oweto (Benue state) along route F2384

o Dualisation of Abuja–Abaji–Lokoja Road section I (International Airport link road junction–Sheda Village)

o Dualisation of Suleja–Minna Road in Niger State Phase II (km 40+000-km101+000)

o Dualisation of Abuja–Abaji–Lokoja Road: Section IV Koton Karfe–Lokoja in Kogi State

o Dualisation of Lokoja-Benin Road: Obajana–Okene in Kogi State

o Dualisation of Kano–Maiduguri Road linking Kano– Jigawa–Bauchi–Yobe

o Dualisation of Kano–Maiduguri Road linking Kano– Jigawa–Bauchi–Yobe–Borno States. Section III (Azare– Potiskum) in Bauchi

o Dualisation of Kano–Maiduguri Road linking Kano– Jigawa–Bauchi–Yobe–Borno States. Section IV (Potiskum–Damaturu road) in Yobe

o Dualisation of Kano–Maiduguri Road linking Kano– Jigawa–Bauchi–Yobe–Borno States. Section V (Damaturu–Maiduguri)

o Dualisation of Kano–Maiduguri Road linking Kano– Jigawa–Bauchi–Yobe–Borno States. Section I (Kano– Wudil–Shuari) in Kano

o Dualisation of Kano–Katsina Road Phase I, Kano Town at Dawanau roundabout to Katsina border in Kano

o Construction of Kano Western Bypass as an extension of dualisation of Kano–Maiduguri Road Section I

o Construction of Kaduna Eastern Bypass

o Rehabilitation of outstanding section of Onitsha–Enugu Expressway: Amansea–Enugu border

o Rehabilitation of Enugu–Port Harcourt dual-carriage Section I: Lokpanta–Umuahia in Abia

o Rehabilitation of Enugu–Port Harcourt dual-carriage Section II Umuahia tower–Aba Township Rail

o Rehabilitation of Enugu–Port Harcourt Road Section III: Enugu–Lokpanta

o Rehabilitation of Enugu–Port Harcourt Road Section IV: Aba–Port Harcourt in Rivers

o Dualisation of Yenegwe Road Junction–Kolo–Otuoke– Bayelsa Palm in Bayelsa

o Dualisation of Lokoja–Benin Road: Obajana Junction– Benin Section II Phase I: Okene–Auchi, Kogi/Edo states

o Dualisation of Lokoja–Benin Road: Obajana Junction– Benin Section III Phase I: Auchi–Ehor in Edo

o Dualisation of Lokoja-Benin Road: Obajana junction– Benin Section IV Phase I: Ehor–Benin City, Edo state

o Reconstruction and asphalt overlay of Benin–Ofosu– Ore–Ajebandele–Shagamu dual-carriage Phase IV

o Reconstruction of outstanding section of sections of Benin–Ofusu–Ore–Ajebandele–Shagamu dual-carriage Phase III

o Dualisation of Ibadan–Ilorin Road. Section II: Oyo– Ogbomosho Road in Oyo

Power Sector:

  • More than 2,000MW of additional power generation capacity by the end of 2018 – some of it via publicly owned plants (Afam Fast Power, 240MW); others through private sector investment supported by the Federal Government.
  • Launch of the Energizing Economic Programme which is bringing reliable and efficient power to economic clusters / markets around the country. Pilot projects currently being implemented in Aba (Ariaria Market), Lagos (Shomolu Printing Community, (Sura Shopping Complex), Kano (Sabon Gari Market) and Akure (Isinkan Market).
  • Launch of the N701 billion Payment Assurance Programme designed to resolve the liquidity challenges in the Power Sector by guaranteeing payments to Generating Companies and Gas Suppliers
  • Transmission Expansion and Rehabilitation Programme has resulted in a 50 percent expansion in Grid Capacity since 2015, from 5,000MW to 7,125MW as at December 2017.
  • Distribution Expansion Programme (DEP) was approved by the Federal Executive Council in February 2018 to increase distribution capacity in collaboration with the DisCos. Implementation of the DEP has commenced, with the issuance, in May 2018, of a call for tenders for the procurement of distribution substations and electrical equipment.
  • ‘Beyond the Grid’ Programme, a Public-Private Partnership scheme championed by the Presidency and the Niger Delta Power Holding Company (NDPHC), successfully deployed 20,000 units of ‘solar home systems’ to power rural households across 12 States, between July 2017 and April 2018.

INVESTING IN PEOPLE

The Federal Government has disbursed N42.2 billion in UBE Matching Grants to 26 States and the FCT, N851.5 million Special Education Grant to 23 States and private providers of Special Education, and N2.2 billion Teachers Professional Development Fund to 33 States and the FCT.

All 4 components of the Social Investment Programme (SIP) have now taken off.

  • The SIP is the largest and most ambitious social safety net programme in the history of Nigeria, with 140 billion released and more than 9 million direct beneficiaries so far —
  • 200,000 N-Power beneficiaries currently participating and receiving N30,000 in monthly stipends (another 300,000 new enrolments being processed, to take the number to 500,000 this year)
  • Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme (GEEP): N15.183 billion in interest-free loans ranging from N50,000 to N350,000 disbursed to more than 300,000 market women, traders, artisans, farmers across all 36

States of the country and the FCT, under GEEP. (56 percent of the loans have gone to women).

  • In terms of advancing the financial inclusion goals of the Buhari Administration, GEEP has led to the opening of 349,000 new bank accounts/wallets for beneficiaries and intending beneficiaries.
  • In November 2017, GEEP was chosen as the pilot programme for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Policy Innovation Unit in Nigeria.
  • Home Grown School Feeding Programme (HGSFP):

Currently a total of 8.2 million pupils in 45,394 public primary schools across 24 states: Abia, Anambra, Enugu, Ebonyi and Imo (South East); Akwa Ibom, Cross River and Delta (South South); Osun, Oyo, Ondo and Ogun (South West); Benue, Niger and Plateau (North Central); Kaduna, Katsina, Kano, and Zamfara (North West); Bauchi, Taraba, Borno, Gombe and Jigawa (North East).

  • Over 80,000 direct jobs have since been created from the School Feeding Programme; with 87,261 cooks currently engaged in the 24 participating states. All 36 states of the Federation and the FCT will eventually benefit from the Programme.
  • The Health aspect of the programme has seen over 3 million pupils dewormed in 6 states, the deworming programme is a bi-annual programme aimed at eradicating and reducing the burden of worms.
  • Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT): 297,973 families benefiting from the CCT Scheme, which pays N5,000 monthly to the poorest and most vulnerable households in the country.

NEW VISION FOR THE NIGER DELTA

The Buhari administration’s ‘New Vision for the Niger Delta’ brings together a robust set of promises, solutions, targets and initiatives aimed at ensuring that the people of the Niger Delta benefit maximally from the region’s oil wealth.

The New Vision offers a detailed response to the 16-point Demand Agenda submitted to President Buhari by the Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) in November 2016.

Tangible results of the New Vision so far include:

  • Take-off of the Nigerian Maritime University in Okerenkoko, Delta State. The University was granted approval in January 2018 by the National Universities Commission (NUC) to commence undergraduate degree programmes effective 2017/18 session, and commenced academic activities on April 12, 2018.
  • President Buhari had last year approved an increase in the take-off grant allocated to the Maritime University from the N2 billion earlier announced, to N5 billion. Similarly, in November 2017, an additional N1 billion was approved by the President to support essential infrastructure works and staff recruitment in the University.
  • Setting aside of US$170m seed funding for the Ogoni Clean Up, in an Escrow Account established for that purpose. The Escrow Agreement Signing Ceremony took place in April 2018.
  • Approval by President Buhari of an additional N35 billion for the 2016 budget of the Presidential Amnesty Programme
  • Approval for the establishment of Modular Refineries across the nine States of the Niger Delta – the first two Refineries are already under construction, and will be completed by the end of 2018.
  • Resumption of construction work on abandoned projects across the Niger Delta, including the all-important East-West Road.

ANTI-CORRUPTION & TRANSPARENCY

FISCAL REFORMS; PLUGGING LEAKAGES

New Whistleblowing Policy:

  • The new Whistleblowing Policy introduced by the Federal Ministry of Finance in December 2016 has since then yielded the following in recoveries (arising directly from whistleblower tips):

o N13.8 billion from tax evaders (In May 2018, the Government paid N439.2 million to about 14 whistleblowers who gave specific tips on tax evasion).

o N7.8 billion, US$378million, £27,800 in recoveries from public officials targeted by whistleblowers.

  • The Ministry of Finance has received a total of 8,373 communications on contract inflation, ghost workers, illegal recruitment and misappropriation of funds, as a result of the Whistleblower Policy.
  • Of this number of communications, 1,231 are specifically whistleblowing tips.
  • The Ministry has undertaken 791 investigations and completed 534 of those investigations. Ten are presently under prosecution and four convictions have been secured.

Increased Oversight of MDAs

The National Economic Council (NEC), under the Chairmanship of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, approved the audit of key federal revenue generating agencies, with revealing results: a total sum of N526 billion and US$21 billion was underpaid to the Federation Account between 2010 and 2015. NEC has now approved the extension of that audit to cover the period until June 2017.

Also, the Buhari Administration is addressing the issue of poor levels of remittance of operating surpluses by MDAs. From remitting only N51 million between 2010 and 2016, JAMB went on to remit N7.8 billion in 2017, and is on course to remit a similar amount in 2018.

The Presidential Initiative on Continuous Audit (PICA):

  • PICA was set up by President Muhammadu Buhari to strengthen controls over Government finances through a continuous internal audit process across all Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), particularly in respect of payroll. Through the activities of PICA, 54,000 fraudulent payroll entries have been identified, with payroll savings of N200 billion.

Expansion of TSA Coverage:

  • On August 7, 2015, President Buhari issued a directive to all Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to close their accounts with Deposit Money Banks (DMBs) and transfer their balances to the Central Bank of Nigeria on or before 15th September 2015.
  • The TSA system was launched in 2012, but failed to gain traction until President Buhari’s executive order in August 2015. As of May 2018, the TSA system has been implemented in 92 percent of all MDAs.
  • The TSA allows the managers of the Government’s finances, including but not limited to the Ministry of Finance and the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation, to have, at any point in time, a comprehensive overview of cash flows across the entire Government.
  • This decision to fully operationalize the Treasury Single Account (TSA) system—a public accounting system that enables the Government to manage its finances (revenues and payments) using a single/unified account, or series of linked accounts domiciled at the Central Bank of Nigeria — has resulted in the consolidation of more than 17,000 bank accounts previously spread across DMBs in the country, and in savings of an average of N4 billion monthly in banking charges.
  • The TSA has brought the following benefits:

o Improves transparency and accountability in the management of all FGN receipts by providing a consolidated view of Government’s cash flow.

o Blocks the leakages and abuses which hitherto characterized Public Finance Management in Nigeria.

o Ensures availability of funds for the execution of government policies, programmes and projects

o Controls aggregate cash flows within fiscal and monetary limits

o Improves management of domestic borrowing programme

o Enables investments of idle funds

  • The Ministry of Finance continues to fine-tune the system to improve its efficiency, and has also commenced an audit to ensure that all funds due to the TSA are remitted into it.

Deployment of BVN for Payroll and Social Investment

Programmes:

  • Considering that personnel costs are the Federal Government’s largest expenditure line, the Federal Government has given priority to the deployment of the BVN for payroll and pension audits. The use of BVN to verify payroll entries on the Integrated Personnel Payroll Information System (IPPIS) platform has so far led to the detection of 54,000 fraudulent payroll entries.
  • The Federal Government has also ensured the deployment of BVN system to serve as the verification basis for payments to beneficiaries and vendors in the Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP), the N-Power Scheme and the Homegrown School Feeding Programme (HGSFP)

Creation of Asset Tracking and Management Project

  • The Federal Ministry of Finance launched the Asset Tracking and Management Project (ATM Project) in 2016. By the ATM Project, the Federal Government is, for the first time, able to locate, identify, assess and evaluate all its moveable and immoveable assets on a real-time basis.
  • Also, a Central Asset Register was created and domiciled in the Ministry for recording the actual quantity, value, condition and location of all the capital assets belonging to the Federal Government. These initiatives are in line with the requirements of the International Public-Sector Reporting Standard (IPSAS), which has been implemented by the Ministry of Finance.

Replacement of old Cash-Based Accounting System with an

AccrualsBased System:

  • Cash accounting makes no reference to the liabilities that the Federal Government may be required to meet in the future nor does it recognise the benefits that will be obtained from assets purchased over a period of time.
  • The cash accounting system fails to capture information on public sector assets and liabilities which may present the illusion of positive financial results in the short term, at the expense of longer-term fiscal stability and sustainability.
  • Accruals-based accounting, on the other hand, presents the true financial position of the Federal Governments assets and liabilities, which would help the Government plan future funding requirements for asset maintenance and replacement, and the repayment of existing and contingent liabilities and, thus, better manage their cash position and financing requirements.
  • It provides comprehensive information on Government’s current and projected cash flows, leading to better cash management. For example, the conversion from cash accounting to accrual accounting led to the discovery of unrecorded debts owed contractors, oil marketers, exporters, electricity distribution companies and others.

Enlistment into Open Government Partnership (OGP):

  • In May 2016, President Buhari attended and participated in the International Anti-Corruption Summit organised by the UK Government. At that Summit he pledged that Nigeria would join the OGP, an international transparency, accountability and citizen engagement initiative.
  • In July 2016, Nigeria became the 70th country to join the OGP. Following this, Nigeria constituted an OGP National Steering Committee (NSC), which went on to develop a National Action Plan (2017–2019) that aims to deepen and mainstream transparency mechanisms and citizens’ engagement in the management of public resources across all sectors.
  • In 2018, Nigeria was elected to lead the OGP, alongside Argentina, France, and Romania. All four new members of the OGP Steering Committee will serve for three years starting on October 1, 2018.

Creation of Efficiency Unit (EU) to spearhead the efficient use of government resources, and ensure reduction in Recurrent Expenditure:

  • The Efficiency Unit was set up in November 2015, to reduce wastages, promote efficiency, ensure prudence and add value for money in all government expenditures.
  • The Unit monitors Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of government, identifying and eliminating wasteful spending, duplication and other inefficiencies, and identifying best practices in procurement and financial management
  • The Efficiency Unit’s efforts have resulted in the following

o The Federal Government has saved N34 billion on Travel & Transport for 2016 compared to 2015 figures, and a further N57 billion also on Travel & Transport in 2017 compared to 2016.

o On Office Stationeries & Computer Consumables, the Government saved N24 billion in 2016 as against the previous year, and a further N10 billion in 2017 compared to the 2016 Expenditure on the same Line Item.

o The Efficiency Unit has recommended to the Accountant General of the Federation the use of Debit Cards by government officials for payments instead of cash, to plug loopholes and improve accountability in public spending.

Oil and Gas Reforms:

  • Since August 2015, NNPC began publishing its performance monthly (NNPC Monthly Oil & Gas Report) in newspapers and various new media platforms and most importantly on the NNPC website to improve transparency and probity.
  • The controversial Offshore Processing Arrangement (OPA) has been cancelled and replaced with a ‘Direct Sales and Direct Purchase (DSDP)’ scheme with reputable offshore refineries.
  • US$6.8 billion accumulated in Cash Call arrears (as of December 2015) by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) in its Joint Ventures (JVs) with International Oil Companies (IOCs) has been negotiated down to US$5.1 billion, translating into immediate savings of US$1.7 billion. A long-term repayment plan has been drawn up for the balance of US$5.1 billion.

JUSTICE REFORMS

Establishment of Presidential Advisory Committee Against

Corruption (PACAC)

  • PACAC was established by President Buhari in August 2015 to, among other things; promote the reform agenda of the government on the anti-corruption effort, and advise the present administration in the prosecution of the war against corruption and the implementation of required reforms in Nigeria’s criminal justice system. It was the very first committee the President set up after he was sworn into office.
  • PACAC has empowered Judges and Prosecutors to operate effectively in carrying out their responsibilities through Workshops on the new Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015.
  • PACAC has:

o Trained both Federal and States Prosecutors on proper drafting of charges.

o Helped anti-corruption agencies devise clearer strategies for obtaining forfeiture of assets suspected to have been acquired fraudulently, mainly from State Coffers, before prosecuting suspected culprits. Part of this work has involved painstakingly reviewing existing Laws (like the Money Laundering Act, 2004, the EFCC Act, 2004 and the ICPC Act, 2000), to identify and highlight sections directly conferring powers of forfeiture on Nigeria’s anticorruption agencies. This advocacy has led to a significant increase in the use of Non-Conviction Based Asset Forfeiture Mechanisms by anti-corruption agencies;

o Organized workshops for the Management and Protection of Assets, and recommended the establishment of a Central Asset Management Committee – the Presidential Committee on Asset Recovery (PCAR), headed by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, which superintends a dedicated Central Bank Account that receives all recovered funds, for coordination and transparency of management and oversight.

o Produced manuals, protocols and Standard Operating Procedures to assist ACAs in their work. These include the Corruption Case Management Manual; the Plea Bargaining Manual; Sentencing Guidelines in High Profile Cases; the Framework for the Management of Recovered Stolen Assets, Asset Recovery Strategy Document, Corruption Case Management Manual; Framework for the Management of Recovered Stolen Assets; etc.

o Drafted a Bill for the establishment of Special Crimes Court

o Initiated the whistle-blower policy of the Federal Government (see Whistleblower Policy for details)

Domestic Legislation & International Agreements

  • The Buhari Government submitted an Executive Bill for the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters between Nigeria and other foreign countries, to facilitate the identification, tracing, freezing, restraining, recovery, forfeiture and confiscation of proceeds, property and other instrumentalities of crime, in February 2016. In May 2017 the Senate passed the Bill into Law.
  • Nigeria has signed Agreements and MOUs with various countries to boost international cooperation for the investigation, tracking, freezing and return of stolen assets.

New Prison Data Management System:

Pilot Project completed at Kuje Prison, and launched in July 2017 with the installation of a new data management system (the first

of its kind in any prison in Nigeria), as well as Hardware equipment (computers, server, LAN connectivity, webcams, etc). National rollout being worked on; deployment will be in 86 Nigeria Prisons Service (NPS) locations across 16 States.

Sexual and Gender-Based Violence Response Teams

The Presidency has provided technical support to the following States for the establishment of Sexual and Gender-Based Violence Response Team (SGBVRT):

FCT: SGBVRT launched February 2017

Kano and Anambra States; February 2018

Delta State; March 2018.

SECURITY

Northeast

  • Revitalization of the Multi-National Joint Task Force (MNJTF), aimed at combating trans-border crime and the Boko Haram insurgency.
  • El-Kanemi Warriors Football Club returned to their home base in Maiduguri in April 2016, two years after relocating to Katsina State because of the insurgency
  • Emirs of Askira and Uba returned home in May 2016, two years after fleeing their Palaces on account of the Boko Haram insurgency
  • Public Secondary Schools resumed in Borno State on Monday September 26, 2016, after two years of closure
  • Maiduguri-Gubio and Maiduguri-Monguno Roads reopened in December 2016, after being closed for three years.
  • Capture of Boko Haram’s operational and spiritual headquarters, “Camp Zero”, in Sambisa Forest, in December 2016. Following this, the Nigerian Army conducted its Small Arms Championship from 26th to 31st March 2017, a measure aimed at enabling the Armed forces to dominate the area, and avoid regrouping by the terrorists.
  • Chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) Borno State Chapter declared the 2017 Easter Celebrations as the best and safest since 2009.
  • Arik Air resumed flights to Maiduguri in May 2017, three years after suspending operations to the city.
  • Nigerian Military reopened Maiduguri-Bama-Banki Road in March 2018, four years after it was seized by Boko Haram.
  • More than a million displaced persons have returned to their homes and communities across the Northeast, since 2015.
  • More than 16,000 Boko Haram hostages have been freed from Boko Haram captivity, including 106 of the Chibok Girls abducted in April 2014, and 105 of the Dapchi Girls abducted in February 2018.
  • Transfer, in 2016, of two AW 101 Helicopters from the Presidential Air Fleet to the Nigerian Air Force, for deployment in support of Operation Lafiya Dole in the North East.
  • Also transferred to the Nigerian Air Force: three Airbus Helicopters H135 and three AS365 Dauphin helicopters, from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC)
  • Establishment of a Naval Outpost in the Lake Chad Basin.
  • Establishment of the 8 Task Force Division in Monguno to further strengthen military presence in the North East.

North Central

  • Deployment of a Joint Military Intervention Force (JMIF), comprising Regular and Special Forces personnel from the Army, Air Force and Navy, and working in collaboration with the Nigeria Police Force, Department of State Security (DSS), and Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps (NSCDC). The JMIF is commanded by Major General Mutiu Yekini.
  • On Monday 14th May, 2018, Chief of Army Staff, Lt Gen. Tukur Buratai, flagged-off the Army’s newly-established 2 Battalion Forward Operating Base (FOB) in Kanfanin Doka Village, Birnin-Gwari, Kaduna State.
  • Establishment of a new Area Command and two additional Divisional Police Headquarters in the Birnin Gwari Local Government Area of Kaduna State.
  • In May 2018 the JMIF kicked off ‘Operation Whirl Stroke’, to counter armed herdsmen and militia groups operating in and around Benue, Nasarawa, Taraba and Zamfara States.
  • Establishment by Nigerian Air Force of Quick Response Wings (QRW) in Benue, Nasarawa and Taraba States, and deployment of Special Forces to these QRWs.
  • The Nigeria Police Force has recently inaugurated a new

Mobile Squadron in Takum, Taraba State.

  • At the end of April 2018, the Nigerian Air Force took delivery of a second batch of 2 brand new Mi-35M helicopter gunships to boost internal security.

Successful Military Operations across the country:

  • Operation Lafiya Dole, and Operation Last Hold, to defeat Boko Haram, in the Northeast
  • Operation Whirl Stroke, operating in Benue, Nasarawa, Taraba and Zamfara states, to tackle the menace of armed herdsmen, cattle rustlers, communal militias, kidnappers and other bandits.
  • Exercise Crocodile Smile I (September 2016) and II (October 2017) to curtail the menace of militant activities in the Niger Delta:
  • Exercise Obangame, a multinational operation aimed at securing and protecting the Gulf of Guinea.
  • Operation Awatse, a joint operation between the Military and the Police, in South West Nigeria, to flush out militants and pipeline vandals. Commenced July 2016, and still ongoing.
  • Exercise Python Dance I (November 2016) and II (September 2017) in the South East, to tackle kidnappers and militant elements.

MAJOR ARRESTS / CRIME SYNDICATES DISMANTLED

  • Arrest in July and August 2015 of 20 Boko Haram terrorists (including bomb experts) by the DSS in Lagos, Kano, Plateau, Enugu and Gombe States. Among the arrested were those responsible for coordinating and executing suicide attacks in Potiskum, Kano, Zaria and Jos: Usman Shuaibu (aka Money), Ahmed Mohammed, Adamu Abdullahi (aka Babpa), Ibrahim Isa, and Muttaqa Yusuf (aka Mohammed Sani).
  • Arrest in April 2016 of Usman Mohammed, aka Khalid Al- Barnawi, leader of the Ansaru terrorist group and one of the most wanted terrorists in the world, with a US$6m United States bounty on his head. He’s currently being prosecuted alongside his accomplices.
  • Arrest in March 2017 of Amodu Omale Salifu, leader of an ISIS affiliate group active in North Central Nigeria, plotting to bomb foreign embassies.
  • Arrest of two suspected Ansaru leaders, Ahmed Momoh and Al-amin Mohammed Jamin, in April 2017 at Igarra in Edo State. The two were confirmed associates of Abu Uwais, a prominent Ansaru kingpin terrorising residents in Kogi and Edo states.
  • In December 2017, the following notorious kidnappers were killed in Kogi State: Ahmadu Sulaiman (aka Oga), Shumo Haruna (aka Halilu Aliyu) and Abdullahi Abdulkadir aka Maijaki. They were responsible for high-profile killings and kidnappings in/around Ajaokuta.
  • Militant, Don Waney, responsible for several murders in Rivers State, killed by the military in January 2018
  • Badoo ritualists’ gang, dismantled in Lagos State. Kingpin and herbalist, Fatai Adebayo, was arrested by the Police in January 2018.
  • In January 2018, four suspects notorious for robbing and/or kidnapping commuters in Kogi State and its environs, were arrested by the DSS in Otokiti, Adavi LGA of Kogi State: Mohammed Kabir (aka Master and Nicko), Muhammed Musa (aka World Best), Audu Emmanuel (aka Sneider) and Jallo Yunusa.
  • On 17th February, 2018, at Irrua, Edo State, DSS operatives arrested a gang of high profile kidnappers who dominated

the Kogi and Edo corridors: Umar Abubakar (aka Small), Abubakar Ahmadu (aka Sarkin Yaki), Aliyu Abubakar (aka Koroko), Aliyu Mohammed (aka Chogo) and Abubakar Umaru (aka Bokolori).

  • Cattle Rustling kingpin, Tsoho Buhari, aka Buharin Daji, killed in Zamfara State in March 2018. Several members of his gang have also been killed or arrested by security forces. (On 14th December, 2017, Umar Abubakar (aka Yellow),

one of his top associates, was shot and killed by DSS in a gun battle in Adavi LGA, Kogi State.

  • Arrest in May 2018 of 56 suspected criminals / kidnappers

/ gunrunners in and around Birnin-Gwari, Kaduna State, by the Nigeria Police Force

  • Major masterminds of the Offa Robbery, in Kwara State, arrested by the Nigeria Police Force in May 2018.

DIPLOMACY AND INTERNATIONALRELATIONS

Re-establishment of Nigeria’s position and influence in the regional and global arena. Fragile/broken relations with the United States, United Kingdom, South Africa, and with neighbouring countries (Chad, Niger, Cameroon) have been revived and strengthened since June 2015. The Meeting of the was the first since 2009.

Nigeria’s prominent participation in the London Anti-Corruption Summit and the Commonwealth Conference on Tackling Corruption, in May, 2016 in London. Major outcomes of these events include:

  • The signing, in August 2016, of an MoU with the UK Government on modalities for the return of Nigeria’s stolen assets in the UK.
  • The establishment of a Global Forum for Asset Recovery (GFAR), hosted by the governments of the US and UK in December 2017, and focusing on assisting Nigeria and three other countries to reclaim their stolen assets.
  • Nigeria joined the Open Government Partnership (OGP) in

2016 and developed a National Action Plan, which is already being implemented.

  • In 2016 Nigeria signed an Agreement on the identification and repatriation of Illicit Funds with the United Arab Emirates during President Buhari’s Visit to that country.
  • The Federal Government under President Buhari has engaged the governments of Switzerland, Jersey Island, United States, United Arab Emirates, and Liechtenstein among others, in an effort to ensure the repatriation of Nigeria’s stolen assets.
  • So far, the Swiss government has repatriated US$322 million in Abacha Loot. The money is currently warehoused in a Special Account in the CBN, and will be deployed towards the Federal Government’s Social Investment Programme.
  • The Buhari Administration has mobilized International Support for the War against Boko Haram, forging strong partnerships with key countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom, France and Germany, ECOWAS, the AU, the UN, and others. After years of stalemate, the United States has finally agreed to sell weapons to Nigeria, and the sale of 12 Super Tucano Aircraft by the US Government to Nigeria has just been finalized.
  • Revamp of the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) comprising troops from Nigeria and Chad, Niger, Cameroon and Benin.
  • Successful evacuation and repatriation of more than 10,000 Nigerian migrants from Libya, with the support and partnership of the International Organization for Migration (IOM).
  • Following Nigeria’s successful rallying of OPEC and Non- OPEC members to discuss stabilisation of the global oil market in Doha and in Algiers, and the successful negotiation of an exemption from the OPEC production freeze agreed at the 171st OPEC Ministerial conference in Vienna in November 2016; oil prices rose to US$55/bbl for the first time in 16 months. Nigeria has since then continued to engage fruitfully with OPEC.

Bilateral Relations:

CHINA:

Billions of dollars in concessional infrastructure funding for critical road and rail projects. President Buhari’s April 2016 official visit to China has unlocked billions of dollars in infrastructure funding, primarily for road and rail projects;

It also yielded a Currency Swap Agreement between the Peoples Bank of China and the Central Bank of Nigeria.

UNITED STATES (USA)

Renewed cooperation in Security and Anti-Corruption. The US Government is supplying 12 Super Tucano Aircraft to Nigeria, as well as repatriating recovered looted monies and assets stashed in the US.

Nigerian and U.S. militaries collaborated to host, April 2018 in Abuja, the 2018 African Land Forces Summit, the largest gathering of African Army chiefs, to discuss cooperation aimed at improving security on the continent.

UNITED KINGDOM (UK)

Nigeria in 2018 commenced the implementation of Automatic Exchange of Tax Information (AETI) protocol with the United Kingdom. This Protocol will provide the Nigerian Government with data on bank accounts, property and trusts held in the UK by Nigerian nationals, and will support the Voluntary Assets and Income Declaration Scheme (VAIDS) by allowing Nigerian tax authorities to check the accuracy of declarations received regarding overseas assets and income.

MOROCCO:

The Presidential Fertilizer Initiative (which involves a partnership with the Government of Morocco, for the supply of phosphate, as well as technical assistance), has resulted in the revitalization of 14 blending plants across Nigeria.

SWITZERLAND:

US$322 million in looted Abacha funds repatriated to Nigeria in December 2017. The funds are being warehoused in a special account of the Central Bank of Nigeria, and will be disbursed as part of the Buhari Administration’s Social Investment Programme interventions.

UNITED ARAB EMIRATES (UAE):

Nigeria has signed and ratified an Extradition Treaty with the United Arab Emirates that allows extradition of Nigerians who flee to the UAE after committing crimes in Nigeria.

Source:http://Channelstv.com


Nigeria has become the poverty capital of the World

The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) to end extreme poverty by 2030 is unlikely to be metno thanks, in large part, to Nigeria.

A woman sits outside a shed as she waits for food rations at an internally displaced persons (IDP) camp on the outskirts of Maiduguri, northeast Nigeria June 6, 2017.

new report by The World Poverty Clock shows Nigeria has overtaken India as the country with the most extreme poor people in the world. India has a population seven times larger than Nigeria’s. The struggle to lift more citizens out of extreme poverty is an indictment on successive Nigerian governments which have mismanaged the country’s vast oil riches through incompetence and corruption.

The 86.9 million Nigerians now living in extreme poverty represents nearly 50% of its estimated 180 million population. As Nigeria faces a major population boomit will become the world’s third largest country by 2050it’s a problem will likely worsen. But having large swathes of people still living in extreme poverty is an Africa-wide problem.

Crucially, of those countries in top ten, only Ethiopia is on track to meet the United Nations’ SDG of ending extreme poverty by 2030. Outside the top ten, only Ghana and Mauritania are also on track with the SDG target. Indeed, of the 15 countries across the world where extreme poverty is rising per World Poverty Clock data, 13 are currently in Africa.

As a consequence, the mission to end extreme poverty globally is already at risk. By July 2019, 83 million people would have been lifted out of extreme poverty since January 2016but the number is 37 million people fewer than the required to meet the 2030 target.

CountryPercentage of population in extreme povertySDG1 status
Nigeria46.7Poverty rising
Democratic Republic of Congo77Poverty rising
Ethiopia23.4On track
Tanzania35Off track
Mozambique61.8Off track
Kenya30Off track
Uganda34.2Off track
South Africa24.6Off track
South Sudan93Poverty rising
Zambia57.2Poverty rising

Source:http://qz.com

Kadaria Ahmed Grills Atiku On His ‘Corruption’ Record

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Kadaria went further to probe Atiku’s time in office, beginning with his time as a Customs officer at the Apapa Ports and the setting up of a logistics company that did clearing and forwarding while he was a Customs officer. She also asked if Atiku would consider that an abuse of office.

Atiku Abakar, presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and his running mate, Peter Obi, are currently responding to questions on why Nigerians should elect them in the forthcoming elections.

The programme is tagged ‘The Candidates’, and is anchored by Kadaria Ahmad. ‘The Candidates’ is a presidential town hall co-production between Daria Media and the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), with support from the MacArthur Foundation. It is taking place at Sheraton Hotel, Abuja.

“Do you believe Nigeria has a corruption problem?” Kadaria asked.

Adjusting in his seat, Atiku’s responded as follows: “Certainly, Nigeria has a corruption problem. There is no doubt about that. In my view, corruption is the use of your privileged position to either enrich yourself, your relatives or even your friends. In other words, abuse of office.”

Kadaria went further to probe Atiku’s time in office, beginning with his time as a Customs officer at the Apapa Ports and the setting up of a logistics company that did clearing and forwarding while he was a Customs officer. She also asked if Atiku would consider that an abuse of office.

Atiku said: “Well, it was an issue of share purchase. At that point, it was very very lawful for any public officer to purchase shares. You must remember — I don’t know how old you were — there was indigenisation decree which was passed by the then military government which allowed public officers to legitimately acquire shares in the attempt to indigenise most of the companies that were operating at that time that were owned by expatriates.”

Responding to the question on the fact that the company was set up with another shareholder, an Italian, with the focus as clearing and logistics, Atiku responded: “It is not correct. The company was not registered as a clearing and forwarding agency at the time. It was a registered company to undertake logistics in oil and gas and that is what it still does, no more, no less.”

Continuing, she asked: “This company metamorphosed in 2006, and was given extended 25-year concession in some key ports in this country. But more than that, it was given monopoly for the oil and gas sector, at a time you were the Vice-President of Nigeria. Do you see that this could be a moral problem?”

Atiku answered: “Again, you’re very very incorrect. The issue of monopoly was not there. There were still companies that we met in the ports that were doing exactly what the company was doing. So, there is no question of monopoly. It is a complete misrepresentation of the facts. There was no monopoly at all. There was competition and there is still competition.”

The conversation continued:

Kadaria: This information is on your company website, by the way. 

Atiku: You should have also crosschecked to see whether what the company is saying is correct or not.

Kadaria: Your company made a mistake on whether you have a monopoly?

Atiku: It is possible.

Source: Saharareporters.com

At just 21, Iddris Sandu is the tech genius behind Uber, Instagram and Snapchat

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When Iddris Sandu was in high school, he developed a mobile software that would later gain the attention of former U.S. president Barack Obama and land him at the White House, where he received the honorary presidential scholar award.

He was only 16 years old. Now 21, the Los Angeles-based young man is the unconventional tech guru who has accomplished many incredible feats, including being responsible for algorithms that have made Uber, Instagram and Snapchat what they are today.

The software engineer considers himself a “cultural architect” and said he aims to “level the playing field” between Silicon Valley and young communities of colour.

Iddris Sandu. Pic credit: The New York Times

Born and raised in Harbor City, California with parents from Ghana, Sandu would never forget a harrowing experience he had when he was eight – his father had wanted to take him on a trip to Ghana.

“But on the fourth day of the trip, he abandoned me in this village, took my passport and came back to the States,” Sandu told Oxford University’s Music and Style Magzine, adding that he was abandoned for almost nine months before getting into contact with an NGO which helped him travel back home.

He got back to the U.S. when the first-ever iPhone was unveiled, and this started his journey into the tech world.

“I just got super inspired. I thought – this device is going to change the world. The reason why the iPhone was so important was because it was the first time when regular consumers could develop for other regular consumers. Before, you really had to work at a tech company for multiple years to be able to offer any sort of input or to create an app. But Apple made it so mainstream. I knew it was the future,” he said.

Just 10 years old then, Sandu started learning programming on his own for the next two years at a public library and this was where he got spotted by a designer from Google, who offered him an internship opportunity at the company’s headquarters.

At age 13, he got his first experience with programming and worked on many projects such as the initial Google blogger, Google Plus, among others.

Yet, Sandu was determined to affect change, hence, at the age of 15, he designed an app for his high school that gave students turn by turn directions to navigate their classrooms.

A young Iddris Sandu — TEC Leimert

Being the only school in California that had an app made by a student, Sandu received wide acclaim that would later afford him a meeting with former President Obama.

During that same period, Sandu wrote an algorithm that he would go on to sell to Instagram and by the age of 18, he was already consulting for Snapchat before landing at Uber, where he created a software (Autonomous Collision Detection Interface) for its self-driving cars.

With the passion to bridge the gap between the informed and uninformed, and to inculcate into young people like him the need for invention and creativity, he left major tech companies to bring that change.

“Information is one of the highest forms of class. And that is what keeps people divided. You should be able to think on a higher level, instead of being strictly consumers. And people of colour in particular are more likely to be consumers than creators. It’s really hard to get out of poverty or to change the structure of economic power if you’re always going to be a consumer rather than creating. Shifting that narrative is what I’ve been trying to do. And thus far, it’s worked, it’s successful.”

From encouraging the study of STEM subjects in schools and at higher levels, Sandu, in 2017, met rapper Nipsey Hussle at local Starbucks, and in three weeks, they had transformed an abandoned storefront in Los Angeles into the Marathon Clothing Store.

The smart store offers exclusive music and other content to customers who have downloaded an app, said The New York Times.

The store leveraged Iddris’ tech and design background and Nipsey’s cultural influences, sparking the interests of many journalists as well as hip hop and cultural icons like Russell Westbrook, Vegas Jones of Roc Nation, among others.

In an interview with the CNBC, Sandu said the store has helped him bridge the gap between culture and technology, and would love others to do same.

“We are living in the digital revolution,” he said. Although “we are all constantly exposing ourselves to content in real-time.”

“We need to address the largest issues affecting communities and build infrastructure on that,” Sandu said.

The tech wizard has since partnered with Kanye West and Jaden Smith on some future businesses, clothing lines and disaster relief projects that are set to launch in 2019, according to CNBC.

Iddris Sandu — CNBC.com

Having created his own music, putting together the sonics and instrumentals in just 3 days to form a full album, the creative technologist is working on a book about recent initiators, including Kanye West; Robi Reed, a casting director; and Edward Enninful, the editor of British Vogue.

With the drive to use all his networks to empower young people in America to make a positive impact in their communities, the unconventional tech genius is already on his way to become a leader for the next generation of influencers and entrepreneurs.

Drama at presidential debate: Buhari absent, says he is busy; Atiku walks away from debate

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Moghalu, Ezekwesili, Durotoye unfold plans

The two major presidential candidates, President Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress, APC, and Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, stayed away from yesterday’s presidential debate organised for five selected candidates to showcase themselves to the electorate.

In their absence, the trio of Oby Ezekwesili of  Allied Congress Party of Nigeria, ACPN, Fela Durotoye of  Alliance for New Nigeria, ANN, and Dr. Kingsley Moghalu of Young Progressive Party, YPP, took the centre stage at the debate organized by the Nigeria Election Debate Group, NEDG, in conjunction with the Broadcasting Organisation of Nigeria, BON.

The debate, moderated by Mark Eddo, was staged at the Congress Hall of the Transcorp Hotel, Abuja.

Atiku, who flew in from the United States, appeared for the debate but stepped aside from the stage on the grounds that Buhari was absent.

*The drama that led to his pulling out of the event started as he was being fitted with microphone preparatory to the debate.

He explained that he could not debate  issues arising from Buhari’s policies in his (Buhari) absence.

Speaking as he walked out,  Atiku said: “I am walking out because I expected to come and debate  with Mr. President. The President has been in office for the past three and  a  half years. He is not here to defend that record. So who am I going to debate with?  If he is on his way, when he comes, I will come back.

“I came back from the US to participate in this debate but the President is not here.”

The Senate President and Director-General of the PDP Presidential Campaign Organisation, Senator Bukola Saraki, who accompanied Atiku to the TranscorpHilton Hotel venue of the debate, also said:

“We have always made it clear to the organizers that our candidate is ready to debate with the President. When we were told in Washington DC that the debate will take place, we thought the President will be here. Our candidate is ready to debate with the President anytime he is ready”

In a statement he released after he walked out, the PDP presidential candidate  said: “We came here for a  presidential debate, not a candidacy debate, and I, Atiku Abubakar, cannot challenge or question an administration where the man at the helm of the affairs of the nation is not present to defend himself or his policies. After all, you  cannot shave a man’s head in his absence.

“I do not believe in attacking a man who is NOT here to defend himself. As a leader and former vice president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, let me first apologise to all Nigerians, my fellow candidates and the moderator for the APC Presidential Candidate’s absence in this debate. His non-appearance is a slight on ALL of us and our democracy.

“I,  however,  challenge President Buhari to choose a date and time for a debate where he will be present and I will be there, hopefully with the other candidates as well.”

‘Why Buhari stayed away’

A high level Presidency source told Sunday Vanguard, last night, that the Buhari Campaign wrote the NEDG on  Buhari’s  decision to opt out because the arrangement did  not suit him.

A statement  by Buhari’s  Campaign spokesman, Festus Keyamo, explaining the absence of the President, said he had taken up other formats to market himself. It also noted that Buhari’s  time was overstretched by the activities of yesterday that saw him commission projects during a campaign visit to Niger State.

“In addition, the busy and hectic official and campaign schedules of Mr. President clashed with this programme. Today (Saturday), Mr. President commissioned the Baro Inland Water Port in Niger State and campaigned in Niger and Plateau States where his time was over-stretched by the tumultuous and mammoth crowds in both  states (as seen by Nigerians on live television) and only returned to Abuja late this evening”, the statement said.

‘No answers’

The claims of the two men, nonetheless, the three candidates present at the debate  took turns to lampoon Buhari and Atiku over their absence.

Ezekwesili said she was not surprised by their absence, noting that they, by their action,  had announced their exit from the leadership contest. She said that if they cared about Nigeria, they would have come for a contest of ideas related to how Nigeria could  be saved.

Durotoye, on his part, labelled the absence of the two men as a matter of pride, saying that pride comes before a fall.

Moghalu said the two men did not come because they did  not have answers to the questions troubling the country.

“They cannot answer the intricate questions of the economy or even security on which they rode to power”, the YPP candidate said.

“They are not here because of arrogance. They believe  we  cannot  without you. They believe we are trapped. They are not here because they cannot answer the questions.

“One of them is a kettle and the other is a pot and they call themselves black.”

The three candidates subsequently took questions on insecurity with Moghalu tracing the continuing insurgency in  Nigeria to corruption, saying that instead of Nigeria degrading Boko Haram, the Islamist group had degraded the Nigerian military.

He pointed out that Nigeria was the poverty capital of the world, and  added that the North-East was the poverty capital of the country as he vowed to squarely tackle the problem of poverty in the region.

Durotoye, on his part vowed to harness  intelligence to address the problem of insecurity in the country and through it beef up the capacity of the military.

Ezekwesili  said she would make the military and indeed Nigerians know that “there is a new sheriff in town” and  at the same time bring a new approach by sending special forces after  insurgents.

Economy

The three candidates spoke extensively on the economy.

On diversification, Durotoye pledged to focus on agriculture, housing and road construction which, according to him the three most important sectors.

“We will ensure we fix power, roads and provide housing for our people and that should create 30 million jobs for our people”, he said.

Ezekwesili said she would lift no fewer than 80 million Nigerians out of poverty.

“Nigeria, our country, is in dire need to be rescued urgently. According to Chinua Achebe, the problem of Nigeria is massive failure of leadership”, she said.

“When people are more productive, they earn more, when they earn more, they lift themselves out of poverty. Our plan is to lift at least 80 million Nigerians out of poverty”, she said.

“I bring with me, a track record of service. I have the capacity, the competence and the character to take this country to where it deserves.

“We have no business being the world capital of poverty. Our politics have become politics by the politicians, of the politicians and for the politicians”, she added.

Besides questions posed by the moderator, the candidates  responded to online questions  asked by  comedienne, Emmanuela, a  former Big Brother Nigeria housemate, Bisola Aiyeole, among others.

By Emmanuel Aziken, Political Editor, Joseph Erunke, Omezia Ajayi and Dirisu Yakubu

Source: vanguard.com

Ezekwesili, Durotoye and Moghalu


CITY OF BELIEVERS Episode 4

The highways and major streets are mostly scanty between 6am and 11am, after which traffic begin to build. By 4pm, the town had regained its liveliness. Bars located at strategic locations began to get set for customers who will invade them in no distant time. At half pass 6pm or there about randy he men and bleached nude ladies takes center stage. The people who sang Hosanna songs, gave fat, qualitative offerings and asked God for special visitation; those who were sober in the morning are the same people twisting their waist, dancing one corner dance in bars and taverns Sunday evening. Ndola is not a prayerful somebody but never failed to pray that when Jesus is set for the second coming, let it not be Friday night or Sunday evening.


In one of the churches Ndola visited, Maranatha Gospel Church, I think, one of the most revered elder was a regular customer with the Financial Crimes Commission for embezzling government social security funds meant for people with disabilities. He, however, sows bountifully from the proceeds of his kleptomanic act and reap bountiful praise from the altar. Ndola was told of a woman of substance in the congregation whom young women in the church looks up to. She had a special seat in the church even though she can’t remember the last time she cooked for her husband and is always away on political and business trips. When he queried a friend who was a member of the church, he got to understand that the “substance” used to qualify the woman is literally her bulging front, sumptuous backside and probably the imagination cast on her bank account. Her understanding of the scripture is anything but substance.


In all the churches he visited, Ndola saw how believers were enticed by the allures of wealth and riches, forgetting the gospel of “it will be easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than a rich man to enter heaven”. How could believers miss such an invaluable, explicit message and go after vain things? he’ll ask himself but not getting answers. In most of the places of worship Ndola visited, all he could see was how truth of the gospel was being brazenly murdered in the cold hands of lies and deceit.


Ndola picked a Christian novel, In His Steps, written by Charles M. Sheldon, to keep him company towards the end of his over two years never ending adventure. It is the story of a church whose members under the leadership of their Pastor and through the leading of the Holy Spirit took upon themselves the arduous task of walking in Jesus’ steps. They vowed not to do anything unless they are convinced beyond reasonable doubt that their actions would be Jesus’ probable action. Therefore, instead of amassing wealth and riches, they sold their properties and channeled the proceeds to the work of the gospel. They sacrificed everything they had, material and otherwise, for the sake of the gospel and became the conscience of a nation. The more he read In His Steps, the more he saw stark contrast between what being a believer should mean and what it has become.


Churches faced strong and defiant opposition from mosques. These two “holy” structures festooned every nook and cranny of the city and Ndola once flirted with the idea of taking his adventure to the mosques but jettisoned it before it formed, for obvious reasons. But then he has seen and known veil wearing, virgin looking ladies whose beyond the veil activities is a cesspit of despicable acts. Once he heard the chairman of the Sharia enforcers board said, “statistics shows that the rate of consumption of beer at mozilla dropped by 40% during the last Ramadan”. Government monies got missing under people pious enough to build small mosques in their homes. Ndola went to the market one fateful afternoon for shopping but met faithful believers praying. He waited for about a quarter of an hour and still got cheated by the man who just finished praying. Churches and mosques sprang up every now and then. And the more these sacred structures litter the city, the more beer joints opened with unprecedented returns on investments. Concomitantly more brothels opened and the business prospered.


There was a subtle but obvious supremacy battle among the believers for the soul of the city and the battle was fought from every front. Even the airwave was polluted not by pungent smell of wastes and toxic gasses alone but the blaring of horn speakers to the consternation of everything sane. Government and governance was hijacked by the believers. Government gatherings were kicked started by prayers from the belligerents who monopolized everything and denied pagans their right to believe in whatever they believe in let alone pray to it. And while the supremacy battle raged, governance suffered, government recorded less and substandard projects and even more money got missing or cannot be accounted for.


The city of believers was sufficiently but unofficially dichotomized into left and right; one set of believers stayed concentrated on one side and the other on the other side – preparatory for eventualities like crisis. Those that are courageous enough to stay on other side of the divide were either called heroes or just stupid. Politicians took advantage of the situation and cashed heavily on it.
The terrible nature of the city grew and gained status with every passing day. Living conditions of the downtrodden slipped from bad to awful; the wealthy became more brutal and selfish, ignoring the needs of the poor; minors were raped sometimes to dead; young men embraced gambling and christened it youth empowerment. Crime took center stage and law enforcement agents became even more corrupt and complicit to the soaring rate of crimes.


Ndola’s work gave him the opportunity to meet a number of wealthy people, politicians and other office holders; men of timber and caliber the poor city has christened them. Almost all of them are humble and humane and want the best for the state. They all have rejected bribes dangled before them and insisted on the right thing to be done. They all gave the ultimate advice that birthed the only noticeable project that was executed under the current administration. They all were patriotic, non-nepotistic and fear their creator who detests evil; something Ndola couldn’t reconcile. Such is the kind of self-seeking, self-righteousness that defined this city: all the believers are right while everything was wrong and every believer’s prayer is an opportunity to cross to the city of unbelievers where things seem to be working.
Believers who believe in nothing, Ndola will mock.

CITY OF BELIEVERS Episode 3

Uncle Bakari was a very good man with good intentions towards Ndola, obviously. His elder brother, Ndola’s father, had sacrificed his school to ensure his younger brother, uncle Bakari, went through school without hitch since their poor mother could not afford to send them two to school; a favour uncle Bakari wants to return. He took Ndola to live with him, enrolled him in school and ensured he had all he needed. Having seen how much his uncle sacrificed, Ndola determined in his heart to repay this act of benevolence. He behaved myself, worked his socks off and graduated with Second Class, lower division, Civil Engineering. Not long afterwards he was called up for National Youth Service and served with a construction engineering firm where they had several projects and he saved money. He communicated with his uncle almost always and relayed to him the scope of their work except, of course, the money he was getting. He told the uncle they were given stipends when they knew how much the company was getting from the numerous projects; Monkey de work, baboon de chop, he will say. It was a lie. His unsuspecting uncle empathized with him nonetheless and encouraged him to concentrate more on learning rather than the money. He loved his uncle even more for understanding his “predicaments.”


Uncle Bakari gave him the final surprise of his life two months after he’d completed his youth service. He took Ndola out for a stroll, they went to an area at the fringes of the town, entered a compound and handed him a key to a two bedroom apartment and an employment letter with Office of Surveyor General. The only thing he told Ndola was, “don’t forget your parents”. Ndola couldn’t thank his uncle enough.


Years later with a car, a good job, money, no particular girlfriend and full of youthful exuberance, Ndola became as free as morning air and felt he had the capacity to do whatever he wanted to do. One fateful evening, he was struck by a rather weird idea. The idea was for him to visit all the churches in town. He laughed it off immediately. But the more he reasoned on the futility of such an idea, the more it faced and harangued him. He tried to explain it away but the idea got stuck in his head living him with no option than to brood on it. He remembered one of his favourite quotes by William Blake: what is now proved was once only imagined. That was all he needed. He started planning on embarking on the adventure and to document every aspect of it. Therefore, on Sunday 12thJune 2005 Ndola started his adventure with a visit to Jesus the Saviour Church (JSC). The church was well organized and the ushers were humane and amenable but the choir was lousy and noisy. Announcements and offerings were as done in most churches. Soon it was time for sermon. The preacher preached on gossip. The tune of the message seemed to suggest there was a sort of a gossip syndicate in the church who specializes in spreading the pastor’s flirtatious evangelism with all manner of women in the church. Well, it sounded so initially. But as the sermon progressed, the tune changed and became cautionary, foretelling the dangers that await anyone that may want to indulge in such an unworthy demonic activity. The Pastor was shouting and jumping from one side of the pulpit to the other, speaking in strange tongues and most times vaguely pointing accusing fingers and threatening fire and brim storm should anyone want to touch the apple of God’s eyes. Needless to say the scriptural text and the message had nothing in common. Ndola was uncomfortable most of the time and only wanted the service to end so he could get home and rest. He still got migraine as the result of noise since he sat not far from one of the speakers. But as it was customary, he had to wait after service to be spoken to by the welfare committee chairman since he’d indicated earlier that he was a new comer. He was given a visitors form to fill in his bio. He did. But hindsight told him to alter some traceable facts. Therefore, his address became No 23 Dambe Street and phone number ended with 4 instead of No 25 Horsefield Street and 6 respectively.


The following Sunday he visited Church of Christ on Holy Mountains (CCHM). Ndola rarely settled on his seat when he became disenchanted. He’d crossed path severally with the lady leading choruses. The last time he saw her was at a night club down town last Friday. He never concentrated on the service neither did he indicate he was a first timer. He reduced his offering by half and left without saying a word to anyone.


The Sunday after, he visited Divine Visitation Chapel (DVC). There was children dedication, birthday celebrations and one other programme he can’t remember. The song by the choir to usher in the speaker was, to say the least, exhilarating. Then it was time for sermon. The Senior Pastor, Rev. Dr. Wright introduced the topic, Divine visitation, and happed on it, quoting scripture from Genesis to Matthew to Mark and other books and chapters and verses of the scripture where God, an angel visited someone and how their lives never remained the same. The woman sitting next to Ndola kept saying “visit me Lord”, “visit me Lord”, “I need your visitation”, interjecting almost every sentence from the preacher with “yes”, “yes pastor”, “go on Pastor”, “I receive it Lord”. Ndola thought he got irritated at some point and almost shut her up and allow them listen. But that seem to be a norm. Somewhere up front sat a young man who has obviously mastered the art of selecting key words from the pastor’s sentence and repeating them. There were also pockets of exclamations here and there and a whistle blowing members spread across the church.


Rev. Wright seemed to have schooled in some western schools and still retained some phonetics, a vantage advantage he’s used to hold his parishners captive. If there is anything that suggests anything out of place with the Man of God, it was sufficiently concealed in his demeanor. Ndola instantly liked him; his tone, command of language, and ability to tell earthly stories with heavenly meanings. He was soft spoken and amiable. His fifty five minutes sermon felt like it lasted just 25. Ndola never wanted Rev. Wright to stop. He wanted the man of God to continue speaking, to continue telling those stories and linking them with heavens. But Dr. Wright was the man. He understood the value of leaving when the ovation is high and ended exactly after fifty five minutes. The choir sang “we wait on you” and they departed. But for Ndola’s evangelical orthodox root which held sway, he would have picked membership card. Ndola dwelled on Rev. Wright’s message for the rest of the day, became born again, albeit momentarily, and wished for a visit from Jesus.


Ndola spent the next few weeks discussing the homely Rev. Dr. and DVC became almost a yardstick for measurement for him. Not until he strayed into his local church for an internment service of someone he knew that he was reminded of the dangers of using earthly standards against heavenly standards. The preacher spoke as though he knew Ndola was soaked in that danger. The sermon made him relaxed his near fanatical view of Rev. Wright but did not completely jettison it.


At the Evangelical Church for All Nations, a young man was called by the Bishop and he soberly walked forward, turned and looked at the congregation. The Bishop read Galatians 6:1-5, then told the congregation that the young man standing before them had falling into the sin of fornication, has accepted his shortcoming and has agreed to be placed under church discipline. From his seat Ndola scanned the youthful congregation with the hope of seeing something, anything out of place but nothing. They all wore innocent look of innocent children and even seem to be asking God for mercy on behalf the young man. But he knew if they were to be placed on the same pedestal as the young man, the church may have to change its name to The Church of Discipline. As the young man walked to take his new seat, which will now be the back seat, where he’ll be confined till when the discipline ends, Ndola shook his head at the hypocrisy of the rest of them and revered the young man’s courage. He left church that day even more worried. He was even more surprised and worried because he’s never seen anyone placed on church discipline because they stole government money or told a lie and was wondering if sin has strata


Ndola enjoyed his worship at Jesus Walk on Water Bible Church, except probably for a song that was sung which he didn’t totally agree with. The popular Hausa chorus is sang;
“Mai girma, Mai girma, Mai girma.
Babu wani kamar da kai.
Babu wani kamar da kai”
loosely translated
“Your Lordship, your Lordship, Your Lordship.
There is none like you.
There is none like you”.
But he heard worshippers at Jesus Walk on Water Bible Church sing;
“Mai girma, Mai girma, Mai girma.
Kai meyar da ni kamar da kai.
Kai meyar da ni kamar da kai”.


It becomes “Your lordship, your Lordship, Your Lordship. Make me to be like you” when translated. But since that wasn’t the original song, the wording made Ndola uncomfortable and he sang the original song in protest and on top of his lungs but soon realized it is an exercise in futility. He reasoned that he can’t fight the crowd who had the advantage of musical instruments and speakers although that also gave him cover to sing the real song without drawing attention to himself. He conceded defeat but continued to brood on the wordings. And after thorough scrutiny and juxtapositioning, Ndola concluded that it was him that was being rather jingoistic; there is nothing wrong in wanting to be like Jesus. As matter of fact, it is the best thing a believer can aspire to be. He starred the name of the church on his diary as one of the churches he may likely revisit in the future.


In over two years Ndola’d visited hosts of churches; Glory Palace, Ever Increasing Faith, Methodist, Protestants, Christ the Risen Star, Holy Ghost Assembly, Rivers of Baptism, Mountain of Resurrection, Tomb of Rest, Holy Accession Ministry, about a hundred and twenty or more churches and he haven’t even gone halfway.