Tag Archives: President Muhammadu Buhari

PRESIDENT BUHARI: THE UNHERALDED ACHIEVEMENTS, By FEMI ADESINA

Let me give due credit for the idea of this piece. President Muhammadu Buhari had said recently that elites in the country were not giving due accolades to his administration in terms of where it met the country, what it grapples with, and where it has been able to take the nation to, thus far.

The position of Mr President was widely published by the traditional and digital media, and it became an object of debate.

In the middle of it all, I received a phone call from Prince Nduka Obaigbena, Chairman of Arise Television and Publisher of Thisday Newspapers.

“Mr President says the elite have not given due credit to the administration. That means there are achievements that are not reported, underreported, or not celebrated at all. Come to Arise Television, and talk about it.”

It was a good opportunity. What else was my duty, if not to inform and educate the country (and beyond) on the work my principal was doing for the country? So, to Arise Television I went, on The Morning Show, anchored by cerebral journalist and my immediate predecessor in the office I currently occupy, Dr Reuben Abati.

The sparring session (that’s the way I see it) went well. Abati and his co-hosts came from different angles, trying to take me out with that sucker punch that would send me kissing the canvass. I floated like a butterfly and stung like a bee (apologies Muhammed Ali). At the end of it all, I believe we had a good show, with no side worsted.

So, what are the unheralded achievements of the Buhari Administration? What are the landmarks and milestones given scant attention by the elite, if even recognized at all?

Nigeria has challenges today. Very severe ones. Security is key in any country, if there would be progress and development. But here we are, battling insurgency, banditry, kidnappings, wanton killings, armed robbery, ethnic insularity leading to murder and mayhem, and other vicious criminalities. All these can only make a people sad and dolorous. But is that all there is to Nigeria of today?

The Buhari government is battling insecurity with all it has at its disposal. Naturally, the populace will want faster results, but some things are never by a sudden flight. You don’t just snap your fingers, and the problems disappear. And in the middle of it all, you must still continue to work, and make the time count for country and the people.

So, despite it all, what are some of the unreported or underreported achievements?

Annual budgets and how they perform have always been issues in the country. How timeously has the financial projections been delivered, and what has been the level of performance? These are germane to any economy.

The year 2020 was a remarkable one in the annals of mankind. A novel virus came, which you can’t see, smell or touch, but it succeeded in sending the world into a tailspin. There were national lockdowns round the globe, lives were lost in their numbers, economies suffered, and despondency was the order of the day.

But it was also the year Nigeria had resolved to return its budget cycle to January to December. It was achieved, and despite the fact that fallen oil prices compelled a review, the budget at the end of the day achieved 97.7% performance. Holy Moses! It never happened before. In normal years, without a gripping pandemic, and the need to balance between lives and livelihoods, our budgets never attained such records. You often talk of 50 or 60% performance, at the best. There were years in the past, when we even had 30% performance. But under Buhari, in a year of collapsed oil prices, and income at about a quarter of what we used to earn, here was 97.7% performance. Jumping Jehoshaphat! There must be more fiscal discipline in this government than Nigerians are crediting it for.

But did the news hug the headlines? Did it become the talking point of talk shows on radio and television? For where? No herdsmen were involved, so it was not going to be sweet to discuss. It was going to make the government of the day look good, so the elite was not interested. That was how that budget feat went uncelebrated, unheralded. Shout yourself hoarse announcing it, those who should run with it were uninterested. They would rather talk of yet unfulfilled promises in the areas of security, economy and anti-corruption.

We have always had stiff antagonism between states and the Federal Government. They were always like Tom and Jerry, with each striving to outdo and undermine the other. Till Buhari came.

At the advent of the administration in 2015, at least 27 states could not pay salaries. President Buhari did not ask them to stew in their juice, but rather made deft footworks, which bailed the states out of their predicament. Succor came for the people. Did it hug the headlines? No. Because herdsmen were not involved.

It used to be that Federal Government never gave states their dues in terms of refunds for projects executed. But not under Buhari. At the last count, about 700 billion naira had been paid to states as refund for road projects. The largest chunk of N78 billion went to Rivers, a state governed by the opposition party, and who’s governor rarely has good things to say about government at the centre. Also approved and paid were Paris Club refunds in excess of five billion dollars, owed by previous administrations. Uncelebrated, unheralded.

We have always talked about the need to have modular refineries in the country, to ensure that glitches in the supply of petroleum products were eliminated. For years, licenses were given, but there was only one such refinery working in the country. Till Buhari came, and recalibrated the oil industry. Today, many modular refineries are in the works, almost completed. Late last year, the Waltersmith refinery was commissioned by the President himself, and has gone into operation. But not a whimper from the traditional and social media. Why? No herdsman was involved. No interest.

Infrastructure. Ah, infrastructure. This is where Buhari would leave his largest footprints. Roads. Bridges. Rail. Airports. AKK gas pipeline. All to be delivered before the administration exits in 2023. Second Bridge over River Niger, built with mouth for 16 years under the administration of another political party, is now about 50% completed. Lagos-Ibadan Expressway racing towards completion. Abuja-Kaduna-Kano Expressway being reconstructed. Apapa-Oshodi-Oworonshoki Expressway being reconstructed.for the first time in 40 years. Bonny-Bodo Bridge and road finally underway, more than four decades after it was conceived. Rail projects round the country. Abuja-Kaduna, Warri-Itakpe already in operation, Lagos-Ibadan to be commissioned anytime soon, Ibadan to Kano under works, Kano to Maradi flagged off last week. Brand new airports in Abuja, Port Harcourt, Lagos, Kano. Enugu has been rehabilitated.

Headquarters of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) completed after decades of lack of will, the local content skyscraper dots the Bayelsa State skyline, the Nnamdi Azikiwe mausoleum completed in Anambra State after 22 years, all by Buhari. No plaudits. No accolades. All they talk about are things not done. No thanksgiving to God for small mercies, which are the real mercies. It all reminds me of the line from China Achebe, in Things Fall Apart, about a man and his consort: “If I hold her hands, she says; don’t touch. If I hold her foot, she says; don’t touch. But when I hold her waist beads, she pretends not to know.”

Why is President Buhari touching our waist beads, and some Nigerians, particularly the elite, are pretending not to know?

In areas where we had opacities, there is now transparency. The first audited financial report of the NNPC is now done in more than 40 years. The Open Treasury Portal now publishes Federal Government expenditure online. Corruption is being robustly fought. There is public sector reform in many areas. Our waist beads are being touched, but we are pretending not to know. Wetin?

Let’s look at private investments in the country. Such things never thrive, unless government provides the enabling environment. Now see what we have, under Buhari:

*Dangote Refinery. The largest single-train crude oil refinery in the world.
*Lekki Deep Sea Port. A brand new port to serve as alternative to Apapa port.
*Dangote Fertilizer and Petrochemical plant
*Segilola Gold Project in Osun State, described as “Nigeria’s most advanced gold exploration and production project.”
*Nigeria’s first ever gold refineries under construction in Ogun State and FCT
*Olam’s $150million investment in poultry feed mills, hatchery and breeder farms in Kaduna and Kwara states, commissioned in 2017
*GB Foods 20 billion naira tomato paste factory in Kebbi
*$250 million brewery by International Breweries Plc, commissioned 2018 in Sagamu, Ogun State, said to be the biggest in West Africa
*Indorama Fertilizer Plant Train 2, nearing completion in Port Harcourt
*NLNG Train 7, which will expand the company’s production capacity by more than 30%
*Agric investment hits 6-year high
And many more…

President Buhari is surely touching the waist beads of Nigerians. We should no longer pretend not to know.

*Adesina is Special Adviser to President Buhari on Media and Publicity

Full Speech of President Muhammadu Buhari to Nigerians over #EndSARS Protests

ADDRESS TO THE NATION BY HIS EXCELLENCY, MUHAMMADU BUHARI, PRESIDENT OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA ON THE ENDSARS PROTESTS, 22ND OCTOBER, 2020

Fellow Nigerians,

It has become necessary for me to address you having heard from many concerned Nigerians and having concluded a meeting with all the Security Chiefs.

2. I must warn those who have hijacked and misdirected the initial, genuine and well – intended protest of some of our youths in parts of the country, against the excesses of some members of the now disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).

3. On Monday 12th October, I acknowledged the genuine concerns and agitations of members of the public regarding the excessive use of force by some members of SARS.

4. The choice to demonstrate peacefully is a fundamental right of citizens as enshrined in Section 40 of our Constitution and other enactments; but this right to protest also imposes on the demonstrators the responsibility to respect the rights of other citizens, and the necessity to operate within the law.

5. As a democratic government, we listened to, and carefully evaluated the five-point demands of the protesters. And, having accepted them, we immediately scrapped SARS, and put measures in place to address the other demands of our youth.

6. On approving the termination of SARS, I already made it clear that it was in line with our commitment to the implementation of extensive Police reforms.

7. Sadly, the promptness with which we have acted seemed to have been misconstrued as a sign of weakness and twisted by some for their selfish unpatriotic interests.

8. The result of this is clear to all observers: human lives have been lost; acts of sexual violence have been reported; two major correctional facilities were attacked and convicts freed; public and private properties completely destroyed or vandalised; the sanctity of the Palace of a Peace Maker, the Oba of Lagos has been violated. So-called protesters have invaded an International Airport and in the process disrupted the travel plans of fellow Nigerians and our visitors.

9. All these executed in the name of the ENDSARS protests. I am indeed deeply pained that innocent lives have been lost. These tragedies are uncalled for and unnecessary. Certainly, there is no way whatsoever to connect these bad acts to legitimate expression of grievance of the youth of our country.

10. The spreading of deliberate falsehood and misinformation through the social media in particular, that this government is oblivious to the pains and plight of its citizens is a ploy to mislead the unwary within and outside Nigeria into unfair judgement and disruptive behaviour.

11. On the contrary, both our deeds and words have shown how committed this administration has been to the wellbeing and welfare of citizens, even with the steadily dwindling revenues, and the added responsibilities and restrictions due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

12. Government has put in place measures and initiatives principally targeted at youths, women and the most vulnerable groups in our society. These included our broad plan to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in the next 10 years; the creation of N75 billion National Youth Investment Fund to provide opportunities for the youths and the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) Survival Fund, through which government is:

a. paying three months salaries of the staff of 100,000 micro, small – and medium – enterprises,
b. paying for the registration of 250,000 businesses at the Corporate Affairs Commission,
c. giving a grant of N30,000 to 100,000 artisans; and
d. guaranteeing market for the products of traders.

13. These are in addition to many other initiatives such as;
a. Farmermoni,
b. Tradermoni,
c. Marketmoni,
d. N-Power,
e. N-Tech and
f. N-Agro.

14. No Nigerian Government in the past has methodically and seriously approached poverty-alleviation like we have done.

15. With regard to the welfare of police personnel, the National Salaries, Income and Wages Commission has been directed to expedite action on the finalization of the new salary structure of members of the Nigeria Police Force. The emoluments of other paramilitary services are also being reviewed upwards.

16. In order to underscore the importance of education in preparing youths for the future, this administration has come up with a new salary structure and other incentives for our teachers.

17. Let me at this point reaffirm the Federal Government’s commitment to preserving the unity of this country.

18. We will continue to improve good governance and our democratic process, including through sustained engagement.

19. We shall continue to ensure that liberty and freedom, as well as the fundamental rights of all citizens are protected.

20. But remember that government also has the obligation to protect lives and properties, as well as the right of citizens to go about their daily businesses freely and protected from acts of violence.

21. To our neighbours in particular, and members of the international community, many of whom have expressed concern about the ongoing development in Nigeria, we thank you and urge you all to seek to know all the facts available before taking a position or rushing to judgment and making hasty pronouncements.

22. In the circumstances, I would like to appeal to protesters to note and take advantage of the various well-thought-out initiatives of this administration designed to make their lives better and more meaningful, and resist the temptation of being used by some subversive elements to cause chaos with the aim of truncating our nascent democracy.

23. For you to do otherwise will amount to undermining national security and the law and order situation. Under no circumstances will this be tolerated.

24. I therefore call on our youths to discontinue the street protests and constructively engage government in finding solutions. Your voice has been heard loud and clear and we are responding.

25. And I call on all Nigerians to go about their normal businesses, and enjoin security agencies to protect lives and properties of all law abiding citizens without doing harm to those they are meant to protect. Let me pay tribute to officers of the Nigeria Police Force who have tragically lost their lives in the line of duty.

26. I would like to thank those state Governors, traditional and religious leaders who have appealed for calm and restraint. I also thank youth leaders who have restrained their followers from taking the law into their hands.

27. This government respects and will continue to respect all the democratic rights and civil liberties of the people, but it will not allow anybody or groups to disrupt the peace of our nation.

Thank you all. God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Finally, PRESIDENT BUHARI TO  ADDRESS NIGERIANS

Following detailed briefing by security chiefs on the current situation in the country, President Muhammadu Buhari will make a national broadcast Thursday, October 22, 2020 at 7pm.

Television, radio and other electronic media outlets are enjoined to hook up to the network services of the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) and Radio Nigeria respectively for the broadcast.

Femi Adesina
Special Adviser to the President
(Media & Publicity)
October 22, 2020

NIGERIA@60: Buhari’s Full Speech

INDEPENDENCE DAY ADDRESS BY HIS EXCELLENCY, MUHAMMADU BUHARI, PRESIDENT OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA ON THE OCCASION OF NIGERIA’S SIXTIETH INDEPENDENCE ANNIVERSARY, THURSDAY
1ST OCTOBER 2020

Fellow Nigerians,

I speak to you today as your President and fellow citizen on this epoch occasion of our country’s 60th independence Anniversary. As President, I wish to renew my appreciation to Nigerians for entrusting me with your hopes and aspirations for a better and greater Nigeria.

2. Today, it is my unique privilege to re-commit myself to the service of this great country of great people with profound diversities and opportunities. We are bound by destiny to be the largest and greatest black nation on earth.

3. At this stage in our nationhood it is important that we reflect how we got here to enable us work TOGETHER to get to where we aspire to be as a strong indivisible nation, united in hope and equal in opportunity.

4. On October 1st 1960 when Prime Minister Alhaji Abubakar Tafawa Balewa received the constitutional instruments symbolizing Nigeria’s independence, he expressed his wish that having acquired our rightful status as an independent sovereign nation, history would record that the building of our nation proceeded at the wisest pace.

5. This optimism was anchored on the peaceful planning, full and open consultation and harmonious cooperation with the different groups which culminated in Nigeria emerging as a country without bitterness and bloodshed.

6. Our founding fathers understood the imperative of structuring a National identity using the power of the state and worked towards unification of Nigerians in a politically stable and viable entity.

7. That philosophy guided the foundation that was laid for our young nation of 45 million people with an urban population of approximately 7million occupying an area of 910,768 square kilometers. These demographics led to development challenges for which major efforts were made to overcome.

8. Today, we grapple with multiple challenges with a population exceeding 200million occupying the same land mass but 52% residing in urban areas.

9. Sixty years of nationhood provides an opportunity to ask ourselves questions on the extent to which we have sustained the aspirations of our founding fathers. Where did we do the right things? Are we on course? If not where did we stray and how can we remedy and retrace our steps?

10. Upon attaining independence, Nigeria’s growth trajectory was anchored on policies and programmes that positively impacted on all sectors of the economy. However, this journey was cut short by the 30-months of civil war.

11. We came out of the civil war with a focus on reconstruction, rehabilitation and reconciliation that enabled the country to put in place world class development structures and a strengthened public service that well served the government. This positive trajectory continued with a return to democratic government which was truncated by another round of military rule.

12. For a cumulative 29 of our 60 years existence as a nation, we have been under military rule.

13. My summary of our journey so far as a nation is necessary to appropriately chart where we need to go and how to get there TOGETHER.

14. Today, I am aware that our economy along with every single economy in the world is in crisis. We still face security challenges in parts of the country, while our society suffers from a high loss of moral rectitude which is driven by unbridled craving for political control.

15. An underlying cause of most of the problems we have faced as a nation is our consistent harping on artificially contrived fault-lines that we have harboured and allowed unnecessarily to fester.

16. In addition, institutions such as civil service, police, the judiciary, the military all suffered from a general decline.

17. We need to begin a sincere process of national healing and this anniversary presents a genuine opportunity to eliminate old and outworn perceptions that are always put to test in the lie they always are.

18. The stereotype of thinking of ourselves as coming from one part of the country before seeing ourselves as Nigerians is a key starting point to project us on the road to our deserved nation’s evolution and integration.

19. To start this healing process, we are already blessed with the most important asset any nation requires for such – OUR PEOPLE – and this has manifested globally in the exploits of Nigerians in many fields.

20. It has been demonstrated time and time again that Nigerians in the diaspora frequently excel in science, technology, medicine, sports, arts and many other fields.

21. Similarly, the creativity, ingenuity and resourcefulness of the Nigerian at home have resulted in globally recognized endeavours.

22. I am convinced that if we pursue our aspirations TOGETHER we would be able to achieve whatever we desire. That informed our adopting the theme TOGETHER to mark this epochal event.

23. Together we can change our condition for the better and more importantly, together we can do much more for ourselves and for our country.

24. I chose the path of self-reflection because this is what I do on a daily basis and I must confess that at most times, I always felt the need for a collective reflection as I know that the foundation for a solid future which this administration is laying can only be sustainable if there is a collective commitment by Nigerians.

25. Nigeria is not a country for Mr. President, any ruling or opposition party but a country for all of us and we must play our part, irrespective of challenges we face, to make this country what we desire.

26. To achieve this, we must focus our minds, TOGETHER as a people, on ways of resolving the identified critical challenges that underlie our present state. These include:
a. Evolving and sustaining a democratic culture that leaves power in the hands of the people;
b. Supporting the enthronement of the rule of law, demanding accountability of elected representatives and contributing to good governance;
c. Increasing our commitment to peaceful co-existence in a peaceful, secure and united Nigeria;
d. Harnessing and Optimizing our tremendous human and natural resources to attain our goal of being in the top twenty economies of the world and in the process;
e. Lifting 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in 10 years;
f. Strengthening institutions to make them stronger in protecting National Interests; and
g. Imbibing tolerance in diversity.

27. I am a firm believer in transparent, free, fair and credible elections as has been demonstrated during my period as a democratically elected President.

28. The recent build-up and eventual outcome of the Edo State elections should encourage Nigerians that it is my commitment to bequeath to this country processes and procedures that would guarantee that the people’s votes count.

29. The problems with our electoral process are mainly human induced as desperate desire for power leads to desperate attempts to gain power and office.

30. Democracy, the world over and as I am pursuing in Nigeria, recognizes the power of the people. However, if some constituencies choose to bargain off their power, they should be prepared for denial of their rights.

31. This call is made more urgent if we realise that even after a transparent, free, fair and credible election, desperation leads to compromising the judiciary to upturn legitimate decisions of the people.

32. It is necessary to, therefore support the enthronement of the rule of law by avoiding actions which compromise the judiciary.

33. Fellow Nigerians, our history has shown that we are a people that have the capacity to live peacefully with one another.

34. As a government, we remain committed to our constitutional oath of securing the lives and properties of the citizenry. I, however, call on the citizenry to also support government by providing the necessary community level intelligence in addressing these challenges.

35. In moving forward together, it is important to strengthen our economy to provide sustainable means of livelihood for as many Nigerians as possible so as to eradicate absolute poverty from our midst.

36. I want to re-emphasize my dedication and commitment, a dedication and commitment that propelled my public service career and informed my quest to continually seek for an opportunity to improve the lives of Nigerians, set the country on the path of prosperity and lead the country to a better future.

37. This administration has been focused on rebuilding and laying the foundations for a sustainable Nigeria. Of course, we have met and are still meeting the challenges inherent in any rebuilding initiative – more so that of a nation like Nigeria that has undergone avoidable levels of deprivation – but can be surmounted if we all work together.

38. I wish to re-iterate that our people and our spirit of excellence remains our most important asset.

39. In this wise, the need to return to our age-old ethical and high moral values would be necessary and this informed my launching of the National Ethics and Integrity Policy on Monday 28th September, 2020.

40. The policy would not implement itself and the first contact of the visibility of its implementation is the Public Service whose on-going reforms would be expected to be sustainable and give a radical re-direction in providing services to all Nigerians.

41. Fellow Nigerians, in addition to public health challenges of working to contain the spread of the Coronavirus, we have suffered a significant drop in our foreign exchange earnings and internal revenues due to 40 per cent drop in oil prices and steep drop in economic activities, leading to a 60 per cent drop in government revenue.

42. Our government is grappling with the dual challenge of saving lives and livelihoods in face of drastically reduced resources.

43. In this regard, sustaining the level of petroleum prices is no longer possible. The government, since coming into office has recognized the economic argument for adjusting the price of petroleum. But the social argument about the knock-on effect of any adjustment weighed heavily with the government.

44. Accordingly, in the last three years, we have introduced unprecedented measures in support of the economy and to the weakest members of our society in the shape of:
a. Tradermoni
b. Farmermoni
c. School Feeding Programme
d. Job creation efforts
e. Agricultural intervention programmes

45. No government in the past did what we are doing with such scarce resources. We have managed to keep things going in spite of the disproportionate spending on security. Those in the previous Governments from 1999 – 2015 who presided over the near destruction of the country have now the impudence to attempt to criticize our efforts.

46. In the circumstances, a responsible government must face realities and take tough decisions.

47. Petroleum prices in Nigeria are to be adjusted. We sell now at N161 per litre. A comparison with our neighbours will illustrate the point;

a. Chad which is an oil producing country charges N362 per litre
b. Niger, also an oil producing country sells 1 litre at N346.
c. In Ghana, another oil producing country, petroleum pump price is N326 per litre.

48. Further afield, Egypt charges N211 per litre. Saudi Arabia charges N168 per litre. It makes no sense for oil to be cheaper in Nigeria than in Saudi Arabia.

49. Fellow Nigerians, to achieve the great country we desire, we need to solidify our strength, increase our commitment and encourage ourselves to do that which is right and proper even when no one is watching.

50. Fellow Nigerians, let us collectively resolve to continue our journey beyond the sixty years on the clear understanding that as a nation we are greater together than being smaller units of nationalities. By the special grace of God we shall come through any transient challenges.

51. It is my sincere hope that by the end of this anniversary on September 30th 2021, we will all be proud of taking this individual and collective self-assessment for the progress of our great Nation.

Long Live the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

God Bless us all. Thank you.

Captain Hosa to Buhari: Pls tell Governor Obaseki to leave me alone

PRESS STATEMENT BY CAPT. (DR) IDAHOSA WELLS OKUNBO (CAPT. HOSA)

AN OPEN LETTER TO PRESIDENT MUHAMMADU BUHARI AND THE GOOD PEOPLE OF EDO STATE: PLEASE, URGE GOVERNOR GODWIN OBASEKI TO LEAVE ME ALONE

I have, for some time now, experienced an unprecedented dose of orchestrated bashings and campaign of calumny calculated to malign my person and cast aspersions on my hard-earned reputation.

This spate of coordinated attacks, with their attendant mode of vicious execution, can best be described as the unconscionable actions by attack dogs and hirelings of desperate Edo State Government on the watch of Governor Godwin Obaseki.

After a deep evaluation of these seamless attacks and poisonous bitterness against my person, I have come to the conclusion that, as a good-hearted Edo son, I do not deserve the embarrassing treatment. My pedigree will never, ever allow me to deliberately concoct any wrong against my State and its Governor, Mr Godwin Obaseki who, today, by the grace of God, enjoys the mandate of the good people of Edo State to preside over their affairs.

I am, however, shocked, bewildered and pained to observe that despite my very sincere, robust and stated commitment to support the anticipated pace of infrastructure development, progress and other social investment initiatives through the deployment of my modest goodwill and network of capital, for which I am eternally grateful to God, alas, the response has been to paint my person with a tar brush of public odium that verges on mischief.

I have, regardless of this very unpleasant experience, remained a lover and promoter of peace and will continue to be at peace with myself and most members of the society, but which by the Governor’s actions and inactions, it has become impossible.

My contributions to peace, progress and visible development of the economy of the state pursuant to our collective aspirations and shared commitments remain a fait accompli. These contributions are self-sacrificing without necessarily expecting any iota of reciprocal gesture or patronage from the Government of Edo State.

I, therefore, find it sickening and incomprehensible to understand or accept any justification for the series of sustained virulent attacks against my person in the social and print media by some agents of Edo State Government.

My long and trusted acquaintances of very many years will attest to my unrepentant fidelity to principles and facts. They know that I will not, through distortion of facts, destroy the integrity of such values to gain undue relevance, unnecessary attention and sympathy.

To be sure, I state the facts of matters as they are to the best of my ability, good conscience and the fear of God. It is therefore in this context that I set out to address contending issues in this statement.

Pursuant to my personal convictions and without any fear of contradictions, I have solidly supported the administration of Governor Godwin Obaseki without employing rhetoric but verifiable evidence of actuality in the last three years of his administration. These very modest contributions of solidarity include but not limited to:

1. In 2016, on assumption of office, I met with Governor Godwin Obaseki to discuss several ways of driving foreign investment and ultimately making Edo State an investment hub. Pursuant to this objective, I immediately sponsored the Governor and his team of officials on an investment pathfinder’s trip to China. This was done pursuant to my firm conviction in private sector-led participation as being the key to economic and industrial development of the State.

2. As a show of reinforcement of solidarity for the Governor’s mandate when I was invited to the Edo Convention in Toronto, Canada, I again demonstrated my support for the Governor by my speech where I encouraged everyone to support his administration and also, on that occasion, donated 5 (five) houses worth N50m (Fifty million Naira) to support his housing project located in Benin city towards helping our Edo brothers and sisters in the Diaspora, all in a sustained campaign to share his vision, because I believed in the development template, which he sold to me and this I wholeheartedly accepted.

3. My advocacy to the political class and other critical Edo stakeholders on the need to embrace the virtue of patience with Governor Obaseki as he settled down for governance and infrastructure development remains legendary. This I did with a lot of passion without the least expectation for reward in any form. I was filled with ecstasy that Edo State had a new sheriff in town, an illustrious son, with a private sector background who had stepped in the saddle to pilot our dear State in the direction of development and prosperity. I never knew all these were ILLUSORY.

4. Only very recently, I joined some well-meaning sons and daughters of Edo State to donate generously to the Governor’s COVID-19 relief fund campaign. How more supportive could I have been?

It is instructive to mention that when the Governor requested my daughter to work with his administration, I obliged him even though the little allowance which was only sustained for 5 months and stopped, had to be subsidized from my office and none thereafter. In a bid to reinforce my support for the Governor, I purchased a brand-new Toyota Hilux van to enable her discharge her responsibilities effectively on the project she was assigned. From then on, she has neither earned from Edo State Government nor does she owe the State one kobo to the best of my knowledge.

My dear People of Edo State, the fundamental question, yearning for answer, is: WHAT WRONG DID I COMMIT FOR IDENTIFYING WITH GOVERNOR OBASEKI AND GALVANIZING SUPPORT FOR HIS ADMINISTRATION?

In the course of time, I heard he started having issues with former Governor, Comrade Adams Aliu Oshiomhole and, I was quite worried and vehemently pleaded with him to settle whatever the issues were and embrace the path of peace in the interest of the good people of Edo State. As a stakeholder in the state, I advised on the need to allow wisdom drive his decision-making processes. I emphasized the critical position of leadership he occupies. I further espoused the virtues of patience and sacrifice in public service as I considered these as sine qua non to achieving one’s vision. Following a series of complaints of abandonment by his friends and associates from the political class who knew my relationship with the Governor, I recommended to the Governor to bifurcate between politics and Governance.

I recommended the need to appoint a trusted and experienced politician to bridge the gap and manage his relationship with the political wing of his administration so as to avoid distraction as he faces the onerous task of steering the business of moving the State towards economic and developmental prosperity.

He, however, rejected my proposal and insisted politicians were rogues and would not patronize them or see them in Government House. Governor Obaseki told me without mincing words. He emphasized he would not be moved an inch about their responses or feelings on this particular issue, reiterating he did not need their support either. He told me clearly that he was not interested in pursuing any SECOND TERM agenda.

At a time, I spent almost three hours of my precious time in the Governor’s house, explaining to him the need to build synergy between him and Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, the then APC National Chairman, in the best interest of the development of our State. He was blunt that he was not interested in any peace talk and that he was embarking on a fight to the finish with Comrade Oshiomhole. Again, to prove that he meant every word of his threat, he sent a mutual friend to me that night when I got home with a warning that I should steer clear from the ensuing fight between him and Comrade Oshiomhole, else, he would inflict severe collateral damage on me. In fact, I was stunned by his message, yet I put a call to him the next morning to confirm the veracity or otherwise of this message delivered to me by our mutual friend. He confirmed it.

It is however interesting, as an aside, to mention that the Deputy Governor Philip Shuaibu, who I have always known as Comrade Adams Oshiomhole’s political son, did not, on his part, help matters. While efforts were on by various personalities for reconciliation, he announced that Comrade Oshiomhole should be arrested by the Police.

Following a series of very disturbing, ugly and unacceptable developments, I decided to hands off the matter. Indeed, I felt I had done all I could possibly to engender a peaceful atmosphere for governance and development of our state.

To God, my Father in Heaven, I am speaking the truth and will have no reason whatsoever to do otherwise. I am blessed beyond measure and expectations to His Glory. My pedigrees remain an integral influence on my conduct and character.

I have always believed in the virtues of Hard-work, Uncommon Service Delivery powered by exceptional personal integrity. These are the values I remain totally and irrevocably committed to. My passion for lifting the quality of lives of our people and developing our environment remains an existential imperative for me.

I am also totally committed to supporting our Traditional and rich Cultural Heritage which is the pride of the average Edo man. For my age, I am stoutly and irrevocably committed to certain intrinsic values that include but not limited to Honesty, Integrity, Peace, Progress and Support for Humanity. “Faith in God gives meaning and purpose to human life. It is also incontrovertible that POWER belongs to only God Almighty and no man will share His glory with HIM.”

Now, to hazard a guess as to why I became a target of unconscionable attacks by agents some of whom have claimed to be working for Edo State Government: it is true that overtures were made to me by well-meaning Nigerians from within and outside Edo State to run for the office of governor in 2020. I made them realise that there are several ways one can be of service to his people, not necessarily by holding public office and that I am satisfied with the business trajectories that I had charted for myself right from the outset and wasn’t interested in the office of the governor.

I believe, on getting this hint, the Governor decided to bare his full fangs, seeking to tear me apart. He did not want me to run for the position; yet he never sat with me at any point in time to solicit for my support and vote for his second term bid. The only time he made a remark about the governorship to me was at a reception in Lagos where he mockingly addressed me as “IN-COMING GOVERNOR”, which I immediately dispelled and told him, like I was telling others, that I wasn’t interested in the office of the governor.

Coincidentally, on that same day that the reception held in Lagos, the story of Nigerian Ports Authority’s move against my company, SAA, was published in THISDAY newspapers. The story insinuated I was interested in the Edo governorship race and numerous reports have come back to me that Obaseki was the one behind all of that.

As God would have it, while in the company of some friends in the governor’s house in Benin, on one occasion, I confronted him that he was the one behind the attack on my company. In a bid to defend himself, he put a call through to someone in Lagos and, perhaps, mistakenly, left the phone speaker on. He asked the person at the other end: “Why is the MD of NPA worrying Captain?” and the man replied: “Godwin, I thought you said this man was fighting you. The MD of NPA is fighting your battle for you.” I quickly told him that I had caught him. On this occasion, I had witnesses and, if further probed, names could be mentioned.

Secondly, Governor Obaseki was the Chair of the National Economic Council’s Ad-Hoc Committee on Oil Theft and Pipeline Vandalism and I got a feeler that a damaging report was going to be written about my company by the Committee. I was then given an opportunity to address the Committee on the matter to defend my company and its job. My defence was excellently delivered, but at the end of the day, when the report came out, it was still damaging even when I had complied with my threshold and responsibilities.

It is sad that Governor Obaseki has been paranoid about me even before he became governor, for reasons best known to him. I have since got to know that the disagreements between Comrade Oshiomhole and myself during his eight-year administration in Edo State were orchestrated from the background by Governor Obaseki who was at the time Chairman of that administration’s Economic and Strategy Team. But with patience, maturity and forgiveness from Oshiomhole and myself, we were able to, once again, rekindle the spirit of brotherhood and trust in our relationship.

So, I keep wondering what Oshiomhole must have done to Governor Obaseki to make it impossible for him to embrace reconciliation such that he would irrevocably commit himself to the project of pulling Oshiomhole down from the top of the very high Mountain Olympus, according to Honourable Patrick Obahiagbon, just because he had state power and resources. As my people would say: “Na wah oh!”

In the face of all these developments, I had maintained a high sense of equanimity, without taking it out on the governor. I stayed out of their politics, and made it publicly known I was not interested in the office of the governor because I knew from the outset that these attacks were, largely, politically-motivated. I guessed there were also shades of envy involved.

Validation: There was an occasion when the Governor wanted to frustrate the President’s visit to inaugurate my greenhouse farm in Benin and I had to reach out to the President directly to please oblige me on this occasion to inaugurate my farm, only for the Governor to call me that the President would not come out of his car. Of course, I knew that was improbable.

However, the movement of the Army Week celebration to Maiduguri was what then made it impossible for the president to come for the inauguration since that was the main assignment that the President was on a visit to Benin to accomplish. That singular act has discouraged me from the expansion programme for my farm coupled with the fact that the Governor had earlier pleaded with me to do a proposal on fish farming, which I directed my junior brother, who runs my farm, to embark on.

Following his successful submission of the proposal, having invested so much hard work, resources and time, he was blocked out after the money was collected from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for its actualization and, as a matter of fact, the project never happened to our greatest surprise. All these and more had discouraged me from further investment in the expansion of my farm and also further investment in Edo because the business environment was now looking a little bit too toxic and harsh for my liking.

When Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu returned to the All Progressives Congress (APC), Governor Obaseki and his men attacked me for facilitating his return to the Party, which came as a surprise to me. Pastor Ize-Iyamu is not unknown to many people as a politician and as a Nigerian; everyone knows he has his constitutional right like everyone else to join any party and legitimately play politics. So why attribute his return to me?

My dear people of Edo State, what have I done wrong to deserve the barrage of invectives being ceaselessly hurled at me by agents of the State Government? Even for the purpose of argument, don’t I have a right to associate with and support a candidate of my choice?

I have built enormous goodwill in Edo State, which money cannot buy. Regardless, I had issued statements severally calling out for them to leave me out of their politics. It is very regrettable and saddening that my name has now been dragged within Edo State political firmament where I have never, ever harbored any personal interest to run for any political position.

I wish to make this save-my-soul appeal to all well-meaning Edo indigenes and Nigerian citizens both at home and in the Diaspora to tell Governor Obaseki to stop these continuous attacks on me, my family and my business. I have been told how they intend to burn my farm and revoke the Certificates of Occupancy of all my houses in Benin City. I have already alerted the Police to this heinous plot. But, what have I done to deserve this bellicose treatment?

My good people of Edo State, I have always wished for a state where we can have a desirable atmosphere to bring about investment opportunities and create employment for our teeming youth population. There is nothing I desire from the State Government other than to create enabling environment for me to bring investments back home, create opportunities for employment and, in the long run, retire peacefully in my old age.

I call on our people to tell Governor Obaseki and his team to leave me alone to exercise my fundamental human rights and, in particular, allow me exercise my freedom of choice without intimidation and blackmail. I am sincerely worried about the desperation and intolerance of the Governor. I am honestly worried that these agents and hirelings may go beyond the limits of their mandate at the risk of my life and that of my family, including the destruction of my personal and corporate investments which have taken me decades to put in place. I have never before experienced this high level of intolerance, wickedness and envy from anybody in my life, until now from a so-called friend and fellow Benin Man.

My dear people of Edo State, I plead with you to save my soul from the hands of the Edo State Government. As it is, I cannot fight any government and even if I can, I am not interested in doing so and, if so pushed, will surely fight within the ambit of the laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The Edo government should, therefore, be told to leave me alone. Today, those who are fighting me have the machinery of government to do so on spurious claims that I have been funding all activities of the opposition against the Governor.

My philanthropic gestures, charity works and compassionate heart to bless fellow human beings is not tantamount to misplaced spending. These are humanitarian enterprises to which I have committed my entire life. I am not, in any way, associated with imprudent spending on sponsorship of opposition against the Governor or anybody for that matter. It’s also very sad that they kept hammering on financial sponsorship while underrating my enormous wealth of goodwill, which is far more than money they solely rely on.

Against the backdrop of these scenarios, and regardless of the attacks on me, my admirers and the teeming youths who see me as their role model and Goodwill Ambassador need not be told, as they know where I stand on the critical issue of choice of the next Governor of Edo state in order to move our state forward towards rapid development and economic prosperity.

If, therefore, on the basis of my personal conviction and the exercise of my fundamental rights of association and choice, Governor Obaseki and his team carry through their threat to burn my farm and revoke the Certificates of Occupancy of my houses in Benin, it will be a worthy price to pay for my conviction and the courage of my choice. It is imperative for me to categorically state that if that, indeed, happens, it will only facilitate my resolve to excuse myself from Benin as long as this wickedness remains directed at my person, family and my businesses.

I also believe that our dear state has had a fair share of discriminating treatment in opposition politics as witnessed during the Oshiomhole era. It is therefore important that Edo State reorders its priorities and works in concert with the Federal Government rather than drift, once again, to the oppositional flank.

This press statement, which I have tried to make as detailed as possible, has become necessary in order to present my case to the good people of Edo state to enable them to know what I have been going through in my sincere effort to galvanise support for the Obaseki administration. It is pathetic that our State, under the Obaseki administration, has become a laughing stock, a butt of jokes about violence, disrespect for processes, rule of law and outlandish character assassination being the orders of the day. We must rise to reject these negative profiles.

I am, sincerely, wondering that since the last election and the atmospherics in Bayelsa State, where we had ex- militants, have become more peaceful than what is playing out in Edo state, even in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic challenges, there is a need for collective reasoning to embrace peaceful conduct. Human lives are sacred and the governorship ambition of any man-caring and God-fearing candidate should not be more important than the blood of any man or woman. We need peace and harmony in the coming days, months and perhaps years ahead.
It is significant to place on record the fact that I am NOT using this medium to seek for settlement because I have already chosen my path, to wit: to align with the Federal Government of Nigeria, in this circumstance, in order to realise the goal of developing our dear state.

My dear brothers and sisters of Edo State, without a modicum of doubt, I have remained steadfast, resolute and irrevocably committed to the peace, progress and development of our State through various initiatives. I have graciously, to the glory of my Creator, gleefully shared God’s bountiful blessings to my deserving brothers and sisters in the face of the plethora of challenges and hunger that I see on the faces of my fellow citizens who manage to reach out to me.

This has remained my hallmark and imperative with a view to alleviating poverty while also reducing huge dependence on Edo State’s perceived lean resources following ceaseless lamentations about the ingratitude of the State Governor to a large community of those who helped him to power but who he abandoned on assumption of office. My assistance to deserving citizens has been carried out within the limits of God’s compassion and mercy on my life and I have never been noisy about it. Yet, Governor Obaseki seeks to destroy my personal and business interests that I have solidly built in the last thirty-two years when I retired as a certified commercial Pilot at the age of 30 to chart the business trajectory.

My dear good people of Nigeria and Edo state, in particular, IN CONCLUSION: if I could suffer all this injustice for no just cause, so you can imagine how many innocent citizens of Edo State that Godwin Obaseki and his agents would have been STANDING ON THEIR NECKS THAT CAN’T BREATHE.

God bless you all.
Long live my good people of Edo State!
Long live Edo State!
Long the live the Federal Republic of Nigeria

OBA GHA TO KPERE! ISEE.

Signed
Captain (Dr) Idahosa Wells Okunbo (JP)

Full Text of Democracy Day Speech by President Muhammad Buhari

President Muhammadu Buhari

Fellow Nigerians, The 2020 celebration of Democracy Day marks 21 years of uninterrupted civil administration in our dear country. This day provides us an opportunity to reflect on our journey as a nation, our achievements and struggles.

It is a day to honour our founding fathers who toiled to establish our republic and every Nigerian who has worked tirelessly to sustain it. We are celebrating this year’s Democracy Day despite the COVID-19 pandemic which afflicts our nation and the whole world.

It is indeed a very difficult time for everyone especially those who have lost loved ones to the virus and those whose sources of livelihood have been severely constrained by the stringent measures we introduced at every level of government to contain the virus and save lives.

The dedication of our health and other essential services staff towards containing this virus is a testament of our courage and resilience as a people and as a great nation, and I use this opportunity to say thank you to all of you for your service to the nation.

Sustaining our democracy thus far has been a collective struggle, and I congratulate all Nigerians and particularly leaders of our democratic institutions on their resilience and determination to ensure that Nigeria remains a shining example of democracy.

In my 2019 Democracy Day address, I promised to frontally address the nation’s daunting challenges, especially insecurity, economy and corruption. I therefore find it necessary to give an account of my stewardship on this day.

We have recorded notable achievements in the course of implementing our nine priority objectives and are establishing a solid foundation for future success.

On the economic front, our objectives have remained to stabilize the macroeconomy, achieve agricultural and food security, ensure energy sufficiency in power and petroleum products, develop infrastructure, fight corruption and improve governance.

We have witnessed eleven quarters of consecutive GDP growth since exiting recession. The GDP grew from 1.91% in 2018 to 2.27% in 2019 but declined to 1.87% in the first quarter of 2020 as a result of the decline in global economic activities due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Every single economy in the world has suffered a decline. Ours has been relatively moderate.

In order to stabilize the economy, the Monetary Authority took steps to build the external reserves which resulted in improved liquidity in the foreign exchange market.

The external reserves grew from $33.42 billion on April 29th 2020 to about $36.00 billion in May, 2020 which is enough to finance seven months of import commitments.

Agriculture remains the key to our economic diversification strategy.

The Presidential Fertilizer Initiative programme continues to deliver significant quantities of affordable and high-quality fertilizers to our farmers.

This initiative has also revived 31 blending plants and created a significant number of direct and indirect jobs across the value chain.

Government is also revamping the cotton, textile and garment sector via a CBN Textile Revival Intervention Fund that would considerably reduce foreign exchange spent on cotton and other textile imports.

Through the food security initiative, we are promoting “Grow What We Eat” and “Eat What We Grow”. I am also delighted that more and more Nigerians are taking advantage of the opportunities in the agriculture and agri-business sector.

I assure you that government will continue to support the Agriculture sector through the CBN Anchor Borrowers Programme and similar schemes.

To protect our farming investments, we have deployed 5,000 Agro-Rangers and employed 30,289 in our para-military agencies. We are also integrating rural communities to the formal economy by extending access to credit and inputs to rural farmers and building feeder roads.

Our efforts on growing non-oil exports have started to yield some results. For instance, in the past year, our revenue from Cocoa and Sesame Seed increased by $79.4 million and $153 million.

Africa presents a huge opportunity for our export base diversification and we are developing our strategy to grow intra-Africa trade through the Africa Continental Free Trade Area Agreement.

Nigeria has risen by 25 places on the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business ranking from 146th to 131st and is now rated as one of the top ten reforming countries.

This development is due to the Visa on Arrival policy, consistent promotion of initiatives that expand facilities available to Micro Small and Medium Scale Enterprises, robust electronic registration and payment system, seamless processing of business registration and reduction of cost of registering business by 50%. We are confident that on-going efforts would result in further improvement of this rating.

We remain committed to expanding our mining sector. To this end, I have directed the resuscitation of the Ajaokuta Steel Plant based on Government-to-Government financing and a Public-Private Sector financing.

With foreign and domestic investments and the participation of Small Scale Miners, we are harnessing the supply value chain in gold production.

We would also be launching a fully digitized mineral rights management platform for quick processing of mineral rights application, digitization of records and plugging revenue leakages.

The Power Sector remains very critical to meeting our industrial development aspirations and we are tackling the challenges that still exist in the delivery of power through different strategies.

We are executing some critical projects through the Transmission Rehabilitation and Expansion Programme including the:

a. Alaoji to Onitsha, Delta Power Station to Benin and Kaduna to Kano;

b. 330kv DC 62km line between Birnin Kebbi and Kamba;

c. Lagos/Ogun Transmission Infrastructure Project;

d. Abuja Transmission Ring Scheme; and

e. Northern Corridor Transmission Project.

Our agreement with Siemens will transmit and distribute a total of 11,000 Megawatts by 2023, to serve our electricity needs.

On transportation, another critical sector to improving our economic competitiveness, we are growing the stock and quality of our road, rail, air and water transport infrastructure.

Through the SUKUK-Funded Road Projects, a total of 412km of the targeted 643km road projects have been completed, representing 64%.

The Presidential Infrastructure Development Fund projects are also progressing very well.

On the 2nd Niger Bridge, piling work has been completed and the approach roads are being constructed. 48% of work on this bridge has been achieved.

We have constructed 102km of the 376km Abuja – Kaduna – Kano Road, representing 38%, and the 42.9km Obajana – Kabba Road is 87.03% complete.

Furthermore, the Federal Roads Maintenance Agency has completed routine maintenance on over 4,000km of federal roads out of the 5,000km targeted.

We are extending and upgrading our railway network too. We are introducing more locomotives, coaches and wagons for the Abuja-Kaduna Rail Line.

The Central Ajaokuta – Itakpe – Warri Line has been completed and is being extended from Itakpe to Abuja on one end and from Warri Town to Warri Port on the other.

The Lagos-Ibadan Rail Line is 90% completed and would be extended to the Lagos Port which would help address the long-standing gridlock at the Apapa port.

The Kano–Maradi Single Track Standard Gauge Railway, Coastal Railway Project & Port Harcourt–Maiduguri Standard Gauge Railway,with its associated branch lines running through the South Eastern & Gombe States, industrial park & Bonny Deep Sea Port are all ready for concessioning.

Government continues to make investments in the Aviation sector to position it as a travel and trade hub in West Africa and the wider African continent.

Airport Terminals in Abuja, Lagos, Kano and Port Harcourt are being expanded, while the rehabilitation of the Enugu Airport is almost completed.

All our airports are being raised to international standards with the provision of necessary equipment, especially navigational aids, to guarantee world class safety standards.

For the first time in over ten years, Nigeria is conducting bidding process for 57 Marginal Oil Fields to increase revenue and increase the participation of Nigerian companies in oil and exploration and production business.

We continue to grow local content in other areas of the oil and gas sector with the disbursement of funds from the $200 million Nigerian Content Intervention Fund to indigenous manufacturers and service providers.

With sustained engagement of youths, opinion leaders and other stakeholders, we have restored peace in the Niger Delta Region and maintained our oil production levels.

The Head office of the Niger Delta Development Commission will be commissioned shortly. The Funding of sections I–IV of the East-West Road shall be pursued with a view to completing the project by the end of 2021.

Furthermore, I am determined to ensure that development meant for the people of the Niger Delta get to them so I have authorised a Forensic Audit of the Niger Delta Development Commission.

Digital Economy continues to play an important role in our development agenda as we move into the age of Artificial Intelligence.

Since the creation of the Ministry of Communication and Digital Economy,the National Digital Economy Policy & Strategy has been launched. Steps have been taken to achieve a reduction of connectivity cluster gaps from 207 to 114 as well as increase the level of 4G coverage by 30%.

Nigeria remains committed to expanding access to quality education to enhance the productivity of its citizens and would continue to pursue the enforcement of free and compulsory basic education for the first 9 years of schooling.

In pursuit of this, we have launched the Better Education Service Delivery for All in 17 states, established additional 6 Federal Science and Technical Colleges and currently executing a pro-active Teacher Training Plan with all states of the Federation.

In our revision of the operations of specialized education funds & to implement reforms that would optimize their benefits to the sector, we have adopted a Public-Private Sector Partnership for provision of infrastructure & also collaborate with the private sector to create jobs.

Our pursuit of affordable housing for the low and middle-income earners has received a boost with the delivery of 1,200 housing units, provision of 520 service plots with infrastructure through a Public Private Sector partnership & issuance of 868 mortgages totaling N7.7 Billion.

Similarly, Home Renovation Loans totaling N16.2 Billion have been granted to 19,210 people.

To enable sustainable access to safe and sufficient water to meet the social, cultural, environmental and economic development needs of all Nigerians, we continue to expand our water supply, irrigation and dam facilities.

The Completion of Amauzari, Amla Otukpo and other 42 Earth Dams with combined job creation of about 43,354 direct jobs and 71,172 indirect jobs, would provide more support for irrigation agriculture and water supply.

To further institutionalize our effort in this regard, I signed the Executive Order 009 on Ending Open Defecation in Nigeria.

In order to improve our forest cover & in fulfilment of my commitment at the 74th Session of the United Nations General Assembly in 2019,we have commenced the planting of 25 million trees. This initiative will also contribute to our effort to mitigate the effect of climate change.

In the area of security, we remain unshaken in our resolve to protect our national infrastructure including on-shore and off-shore oil installations, secure our territorial waters and end piracy in the Gulf of Guinea.

Ending insurgency, banditry and other forms of criminality across the nation is being accorded appropriate priorities and the men and women of the Armed Forces of Nigeria have considerably downgraded such threats across all geo-political zones.

All the Local Governments that were taken over by the Boko Haram insurgents in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa have long been recovered and are now occupied by indigenes of these areas who were hitherto forced to seek a living in areas far from their ancestral homes.

The total collapse of the economies of these areas, which constituted a threat to our food security, has also been reversed with the gradual recovery of farming and other economic activities.

I regret recent sporadic incidents with tragic loss of lives in Katsina and Borno States as a result of criminals taking advantage of COVID-19 restrictions. Security Agencies will pursue the perpetrators and bring them to swift justice.

I must implore state and local governments to revamp their intelligence assets so that the Security Agencies can nip in the bud any planned attacks in remote rural areas. I send my heartfelt condolences to all the relatives and communities affected.

As part of the strengthening of our internal security architecture, the Ministry of Police Affairs was created.

Amongst others, Government has expanded the National Command and Control Centre to nineteen states of the federation, resuscitated the National Public Security Communication System and commenced the implementation of the Community Policing Strategy.

Government has similarly established a Nigerian Police Trust Fund as a public-private sector vehicle for alternative sources of funding security activities.

To reduce security challenges through our external borders especially smuggling of oil products out of the country, inflow of small arms and drugs into the country and equally protect our local manufacturers, we introduced operation “Ex-Swift Response” closing our borders from August 20th 2019, and have considerably succeeded in meeting its objectives as well as improving our national revenue.

EXCLUSIVE! 60 Years in 60 Minutes: Femi Adesina narrates the story of his life to Jungle Journalist Media Limited

Some weeks before the total lockdown of Nigeria and the rest of the world, two journalists found their way into the regal office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, where they were privileged to speak with the Special Adviser to the President on Media, Chief Femi Adesina.

ThankGod Ofoelue, Publisher/Editor-in-Chief of Jungle Journalist Media Limited, and his counterpart, Chidipeters Okorie, who is the Publisher of Time Africa Magazine met with Chief Adesina, where he entertained them to a one hour story about his life.While the interview went on, they had the rare opportunity of meeting with the Executive Governor of Ondo State, Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu (SAN), who breezed in to have a brief chat with the Media Adviser.

Adesina told a lot many things about himself that is nowhere else in the public domain.

Here, Jungle Journalist Media Limited reproduces word for word, the adventures of Femi Adesina, from birth to present, narrated in 60 minutes.

Excerpts:

Some people look up to you, especially we that are new in journalism. May we know who Femi Adesina is?

(Laughs) You want me to tell the story of almost 60 years in how many seconds? He is a Nigerian journalist, hails from Osun State, schooled in Osun. Then it was Western State, then it became part of Oyo State, then it became part of Osun State.

I went to the university in Ife, and went into journalism and since then,1986, I have not done anything else. Though I have not been in the newsroom since 2015 when I came to work in the newsroom, but I see what I do now as an extension of the journalism.

On the other side, I was involved in news processing, managing a newspaper, but now I am a content provider for the media. That’s Femi Adesina.

Mr President, Muhammadu Buhari and his Special Adviser on Media, Mr Femi Adesina

Tell us about your childhood

My childhood- my father was a principal and my mother was a school teacher. You know when an educationist brings you up, it’s tough. Our house was like an extension of the school. My father tell stories of how tough he was. Just as he was tough in school, so was he tough at home. But it worked together for our good, because today, we are thankful he bought us up that way. We are five boys and two girls. If he didn’t bring us up that way, we may have got out of hand.

Where is he now?

Gone. Gone the way of all flesh. My father died in 1995, he was 70 and my mother died in 2013, she was 75.

What exactly would you say you captured from them?

I want to also believe that the discipline helped me in life. I wouldn’t call myself someone that lived carelessly. My parents thought us to always be focused and to stay in line. So it reflects in everything I do. And I like the personal discipline he gives you.

For instance, people ask me what I admire about President Muhammadu Buhari. It is personal discipline. If you see him, it’s patterned lifestyle. In some ways he reminds me of my father, those are some of the things I admire about him among many others. In terms of integrity, in terms of incorruptibility, my father was well known for those qualities.

What was your university days like?

We had a very tough father so going out of the house to school was like liberty. All the things we couldn’t do under him, we began to do, all the things young men will do. But what changed the direction of my life was that I got born again early. Immediately after National Service, we got born again so it kept me in check.

In the university up to national service, if you wanted to see anybody that could organise a party, it was me. But fortunately, I got born again and so didn’t burn my candle at both ends.

President Buhari in warm handshake with Adesina

What did you study in the university?

English, and then I later did professional studies in journalism.

You have any regrets from that past?

No I think I was lucky that I didn’t dance too far. I danced enough but not too far.

At what point did you meet your wife?

I met my wife in 1988, the same year I got born again. I actually met her when I was going to a crusade, and she sat behind me when I got to that crusade. It was at that crusade that I gave my life to Christ. One thing about me is that once I decide a thing, I don’t look back. Once I answered that altar call, my life changed. In fact, all my friends with whom we did all the things we did together couldn’t believe it.

Femi Adesina(second from left), and his wife, Nike Adesina

What particularly attracted you to her?

I wouldn’t know, I remember, you see, she is a twin. My sister was living in a house along with her twin. They are not directly identical but they have some similarities. I was walking along the road and then I saw her. I thought it was her twin and we greeted. After I walked down and she had walked down, I wanted to look back to be sure if she is the one I know. As I looked back, she also looked back and we caught each other in the act. So later at the crusade, she came, sat behind me and that was how we started talking.

One thing about me and her is that we can talk. We can talk and talk for hours, and it has helped us in the marriage. We have been married for 29 years, but because we talk about everything, it has really helped us.

Adesina stretches his hand to receive a handshake from President Muhammadu Buhari

What is your family like?

I have two kids, grown now because my son is 27 already and he is a pilot. Then my daughter studied French, she runs a French Training Institute, and am glad that both of them are doing very well.

Tell us about your job experience

I left university in 1986,and went to serve in Lagos State Television. In my secondary school, my teachers, I dint know what they saw in me and will either say that I will be a journalist or a lawyer. So eventually I opted to go into journalism. I would have read journalism direct but Ife didn’t offer it then. So I studied English. Then I went to LTV, then to Radio Lagos, then Vanguard and from there I went to Concord Press and then to Tribune and was in the editorial board. Then to the Sun. I was the founding editor of Daily Sun.

What has the road being like? Rough?

No, I take pride in the fact that I climbed every rung in the profession. I started as a cub reporter, and then I became s staff writer, then a senior writer. Then I became Chief Correspondent. From it I became a Deputy Features Editor, then Features Editor. Then I became Editor at the National Concord all the rings of the ladder I climbed, and when Sun was established, I became the Founding Editor. After five years, I became Executive Director of Publications. After that, I became Deputy Managing Director/Deputy Editor in Chief. Then I also became President, Nigeria Guild of Editors.

So if there is any position in journalism, I have held it all.

Currently, people are beginning to say that Adesina is becoming too ‘pen arrogant’ in terms of addressing issues. What do you think of this?

I really don’t know what they mean by that, but one thing about me, my father used to say ‘Femi will always say his mind’. I told you my father was tough but it didn’t stop me from saying my mind. Even now as I work for the president, if there is anything to say, I say it he way it is. Am the type of person that says my mind, and I can say it to anybody with joy being rude or disrespectful.If some people interpret that as being arrogant, it’s because they don’t understand who I am.

What is the work like at the Presidency?

I am here today because I admire the person I have come to serve. If it were not President Buhari, I definitely wouldn’t be working in government. All my career from the day I left school was in the private sector. I didn’t plan to ever work in government. But because I had always admired President Buhari, right from when he became the military Head of State, I was already a 3rd year student in the university when he cane and so you can’t call it hero worship, I knew my mind. I was old enough to know what I wanted and I began to follow him since that time.I love his discipline, his simplicity, his accountability, integrity. He is not like the average man who lets it eat into his head, he holds power with simplicity. All the things I like, all the things I admire are found in him, so the offer now came to come and work with him, I took it.At that time, I was MD/Editor of a thriving newspaper, I was president, Nigerian Guild of Editors, I didn’t need a job. But because it was Muhammadu Buhari, I took it. I was not looking for a job, I didn’t want it, I didn’t want to work in Government. But because it was Muhammadu Buhari, I took it. If it was somebody else I would never have accepted it. That was not what I wanted for my life.

What is the one thing you don’t like about Mr President?

There is no human being alive that is perfect. But when you have people who have virtues that outstrip their failings, you easily overlook the failings.

My next question is multi-headed: how do you cope working in the presidency and managing to be with your family?

My family lives in Lagos and it’s a big sacrifice. Before I came to work in Government, I had been married for 25 years, I have never separated from my family except when you travel as a journalist and you know we travel often. But to live apart, it has never happened. So for the first time, 25 years into marriage, I had to come to live in Abuja and it’s not easy.

There are lonely days and lonely nights, but fortunately my children were already grown when I came to work in Government. My son was already a pilot, my daughter was in final year. If they were younger, I would have moved them to Abuja. But I try to go to Lagos as often as possible, minimum once a month. My wife spends all her vacation here and my son, because he is a pilot, anytime he stops over in Abuja comes to stay with me.

Adesina(Left), Okorie(middle) and Ofoelue(far right) during the visit

I remember when you lost your sister and I read your lamentations

It was very painful, every time I remember it. She was a professor in dramatic arts and she was travelling from Ibadan to Lagos, she had an accident and died. It’s still very painful. Don Williams said ‘some broken hearts never mend. In that area, all Adesinas broken hearts are not mended, but we still trust in God and have moved on.

What is your regret in life?

I can’t think of any rather there is plenty to count, really plenty. I think the reason I have no regrets is that I got converted early. So all the mistakes I could have made, I didn’t make them because God was guiding my steps. My only regret now is when I fail God.

What time do you have to write all the things that you write?

I have one grace, and it’s because writing flows in me naturally. I can write anywhere – in the plane, car, anywhere. In fact as a reporter, most of my best stories were written on the road. On the express, I will be writing. When I get to the office and submit it to the editor, it will lead the paper and people will not know they I wrote it on the highway.

So God has given me that grace, and that’s why I still can write despite the nature of the job I do.

President Buhari Receives Madagascar’s COVID-19 Herbal “Drugs From Guinea Bissau’s President Embalo, Says “I Will Listen To Science”

President Muhammadu Buhari Saturday at the State House, Abuja, received the Madagascan native formulation against the Covid-19 pandemic, and reiterated that he will listen to science before allowing traditional or any new medicines to be administered on Nigerians.

At an audience meeting with President Umaro Sissoco Embalo of Guinea Bissau who brought along with him the samples of the traditional medicine as shared to African nations by Madagascar, President Buhari said his position on all such herbal or traditional medicinal postulates had remained the same.

“We have our institutions, systems and processes in the country. Any such formulations should be sent to them for verification. I will not put it to use without the endorsement of our institutions,” said the Nigerian President.

On the main reason for his visit, President Embalo said having stabilized his country after the tussles that attended the general elections won by him, he had come to seek counsel from his “father,” President Buhari on his plan for a “government of national unity” and a proposed war against corruption in his country.

He also said that his new government met a country beset with a number of issues and problems, the resolution of which would require tremendous assistance from the “big brother,” Nigeria.

“Problems of Guinea Bissau are problems of Nigeria. I have come to you as your son. I need your help and assistance to make the people happy. I will not let you down, neither will I put you in any difficult situation,” the visiting leader told President Buhari.
In response to these demands, the Nigerian leader commended “General“ Embalo on his confirmation as President and for stabilizing the country. “I commend your political dexterity in getting the opposition to join the proposed unity government,” he said.

President Buhari restated the determination of Nigeria to keep West Africa politically stable and promised to support the new government in Guinea Bissau. “I will cooperate and help in every way possible,” assured the Nigerian President.

President Buhari also used the opportunity of the visit to praise the good work that the President of Niger Republic, Mahamadou Issoufou, who is the current Chairman of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) is doing in the sub-region, and commended him for keeping him informed of all that is happening around.

Buhari to Abaribe: You should be in jail for failing to produce Nnamdi Kanu

President Muhammadu Buhari has replied Senator Eyinnaya Abaribe who called for resignation over an alleged increase in the spate of insecurity in the country.

Recall that on Wednesday during Senate plenary, Mr Abaribe called on Mr Buhari to resign as the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, following his failure to secure the country.

However, in a swift reaction, the President, through his Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, said Mr Abaribe’s call is foolish.

According to the President, the Senator is supposed to be in jail for his failure to produce IPOB leader, Nnamdi Kanu for whom he stood as surety.

Read the statement below :

SENATOR ABARIBE’S CALL ON PRESIDENT BUHARI TO RESIGN IS FOOLISH

President Buhari to resign on what basis?
Just because some characters think that President Buhari should resign, then they expect him to quit. That call does not represent the opinion of the country. This is the opinion of an arm chair critic, known for making stray comments.

If a leader like President Buhari needs to resign, there are millions of other Nigerians who need to resign, including Senator Abaribe who unlocked the door to enable the escape of traitorous and treasonable suspects.

He signed the bond for the court to release Nnamdi Kanu on bail, from which moment the suspect disappeared into the thin air. Senator Abaribe has failed repeated deadlines to return Kanu to the court for trial, yet he has the effrontery with which to accuse someone of failing to the bidding of the law.

This is a man who should have replaced the suspects he failed to produce in the correctional facility.

Abaribe’s party raped the nation and left it collapsing in 2015 and President Buhari is fixing things up all the years he is in office.

President Buhari is working hard to keep Nigeria and Nigerians out of the harm terrorists have unleashed in the entire Sahel and Sub-Saharan Africa with the support of Nigerians and our foreign friends, he is going to finish off these terrorists. He alone can do it.

Presidency Lists Buhari’s Achievements In Niger Delta

The Presidency yesterday presented a long list of the areas the Muhammadu Buhari administration has touched in the Niger Delta region.

It showed how the administration elevated the region and the progress it made in the Ogoni clean-up.

A statement by the Senior Special Assistant (SSA) to the President on Media and Publicity, Laolu Akande, said the administration’s New Vision for the Niger Delta region had made progress in various areas of the region’s developmental programme.

These, it said, include reorganisation in the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Eastern ports’ development and other areas.

The Presidency said the progress report on the Niger Delta New Vision indicated clearly that “since the Ogoni clean-up commenced in January 2019, with 16 contractors moving to site, 21 sites have so far been handed over to contractors by Hydrocarbon Pollution Restoration Project (HYPREP) under the Federal Ministry of Environment”.

It added: “This is besides the commencement of the Maritime University in Delta State, now on full steam with over 1,000 students spread across 13 undergraduate courses in three faculties and the progress made in the establishment of modular refineries, including the Niger Delta Resources Refinery (NDPR), which has now moved from 1,000 barrels per day (bpd) to 6,000 bpd a couple of weeks ago.

“There are altogether six modular refineries currently at different stages of completion in the six Niger Delta states of Rivers, Delta, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River and Imo.”

Giving details on the Ogoni clean-up, the statement said: “The 21 sites where remediation works are ongoing are located in four of the local government areas in Ogoni land, namely: Eleme, Tai, Khana and Gokana.”

The Presidency said the Buhari administration had received local and international commendations on the Ogoni clean-up.

The 2011 United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) report on Ogoni land, devastated by decades of oil spills, was not implemented until June 2016, when the Buhari administration kick-started its implementation.

Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo kick-started the clean-up in the region.

The Presidency said: “The commitment of the Buhari administration to the Ogoni clean-up has received several local and international endorsements with visits to the sites by the Dutch Ambassador, British Deputy High Commissioner, U.S Ambassador, German Ambassador, Norwegian Ambassador, UNEP team, among others, all attesting to the progress being recorded in the clean-up.”

Giving an insight into the progress report, the statement quoted many of those who have attested to the good job on the clean-up.

“I can see that work is ongoing and hopefully it will produce results soon,” the Netherlands Ambassador to Nigeria, Marion Kappeyne Van de Coppello, said in August 2019 when she visited one of the sites in Ebube community, Eleme Local Government Area of Rivers State.

“Also, during an inspection visit, the UNEP team leader, Mr. Mike Cowing, said the re-engagement of the UNEP team for the Ogoni clean-up shows the commitment of the Federal Government to effectively implement the UNEP Report.

“We see that very sincere plans are being put together. We are part of the planning and we would be part of the implementation,” Cowing said.

On modular refineries in the region, the Presidency said: “So far, six modular refineries are currently at different stages of completion in the Niger Delta region. The refineries are located in six states in the Niger Delta: Rivers, Delta, Akwa Ibom, Imo, Bayelsa and Cross River. This includes the Niger Delta Petroleum Resources Refinery (NDPR), in Ogbele, Rivers State, which was refining at 1,000 bpd, and was recently upgraded to 6,000 bpd.

“The Federal Government’s Presidential Amnesty Presidential Amnesty Programme continues to engage ex-militants and youths in the Niger Delta region in formal education, vocational skills acquisition and empowerment schemes, while creating jobs for beneficiaries.

“The Niger Delta region is also benefitting for the Buhari administration’s efforts to improve the country’s infrastructure, including the Bonny-Bodo road and bridge project.

“This is an important road and bridge going across the Opobo channel, being undertaken as a collaboration between NLNG and the Federal Government.

“When completed, the 34-kilometre Bonny-Bodo road and bridge project, which was flagged off in October 2017, would connect several major communities and boost socio-economic development in the region.

“There is also the Itakpe-Warri rail line project, which is now complete and ready for inauguration. The rail line would handle passenger, commercial and freight services.

“The Federal Government is also in the process of developing sea ports in the region, including Warri, Ibaka deep see port, among other development projects, like the establishment of Export Processing Zones (EPZs) to boost economic activities.

“In the same vein, the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) is being repositioned for better delivery. It would be recalled that following the directive of President Muhammadu Buhari, the NDDC has since begun the audit and verification of projects and contracts in the nine Niger Delta states to better serve the people of the region in terms of development,” the statement said.