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Buhari Overthrew Shagari to Prevent Ekwueme from Becoming President – Utomi

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A political scientist and former Special Assistant to ex-President Shehu Shagari, Prof. Pat Utomi, tells Bayo Akinloye, in this interview that had Gen. Muhammadu Buhari not toppled the government of his principal through a military coup in 1983, Nigeria would have become better today. He also notes that there is more unhappiness, unemployment, poverty and despair in the country today than ever before. Excerpts:

Do you think the recognition of MKO Abiola by the federal government came a little too late?

The life of 25 years is a very short time. In the United States, people are still lobbying for people who ‘were convicted for one thing or the other’ about 200 years ago to get formal pardons. So, in the life of a nation, I think that 25 years is not a terribly long period of time. At least, people like us, who were active in the (June 12, 1993) struggle, are still around. Will it have been better if it was done 22 years ago? Sure. But I don’t think that it was bad being done eventually.

Do you find it ironical that neither President Goodluck Jonathan nor President Umaru Yar’Adua honoured Abiola but it took a dictator-turned democrat, President Muhammadu Buhari, to award the late Abiola with the GCFR?

Well, in the world of politics, nothing is a straight-line graph. The bottom line is that our country desperately needs healing right now. We desperately need the past being reconciled (with the present) so that we can move forward. There is too much pain bottled-up and this bottled-up pain is being seen often not understood in many of the so-called security challenges around the country – whether in kidnapping, insurgency, terrorism. In many ways, these are connected to many injustices of the past. This country is full of historical injustices. Somebody has to take the lead in trying to help heal those wounds, because they are preventing progress that we should be making as a country.

Do you think the honour will put a closure to many open wounds in the country?

It will start but it won’t close, because the open wounds are too many and too many people, who are closer to those problems, still bear personal animosities. Nigeria has seen all manner of things. There were much genocide you can think of in the 20th century – Nigeria experienced a significant one. I’m not talking about something far away. In the Nigerian civil war, I had experienced it first-hand. I also was one of those, who resisted the annulment of June 12. The files are still full in the court in the SSS files of attempt to kill me. I’m talking, because I survived. People like Kudirat Abiola didn’t survive – so injustices are many.
The injustice has deepened the cleavages of ethnicity and religion – personally, I don’t feel any of those. There’s a joke I keep saying to people that if people realise how small these things (ethnicity and religion) are. I’m privileged to be very close friends with both the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto and the Sultan of Sokoto. When I go to Sokoto on some occasions the sultan, the bishop and I sit on the floor eating. I just wish all the people quarrelling in Nigeria can see the three of us sitting on the floor eating and joking about everything. Then they will know they shouldn’t be quarrelling and abusing one another on the Internet. Political leaders need to show leadership in helping to heal some of these wounds.

Is it correct that the award given to Abiola and Gani Fawehinmi was to woo the South-west ahead of the 2019 presidential election?

I was not there when the decision was made. So, I don’t know what the motivation was – I’m not guessing. But it’s not a crime in politics to make such moves. I can’t speak with any authority on what the motivation was, because I wasn’t there.

Talking about 2019, you’re a member of the Nigeria Intervention Movement. Do you think this movement can wrest power from the incumbent? Who are the possible presidential candidates you are considering to contest against President Buhari?

Again, this is part of the thing with attempts to create a movement to achieve certain goals. Sometimes they get misunderstood. Sometimes they get confused. Sometimes people have different perspectives and come to the table. Let me preface a little talk about social movement in Nigeria and my involvement with social movements. I don’t think we’ll be revealing something new when we say Nigeria is a horribly governed country. It is far from its potential for some many simple reasons.
In my view, sometimes some people will say because it has had terrible, wicked, and greedy past leaders – maybe it’s true or not but I tend to think that the wickedness of such people are exaggerated. I think the biggest problem with Nigeria is that it has had leaders, who were not educated enough and wise enough to understand the consequences of their actions. I think if the people, who usually were holding a gun to Babangida’s head to annul the (June 12) election only had the broader picture of the consequence above their immediate self-interest, they’d probably act differently.
Let me start with June 12: I was principal to the founding of one of the most important movements of that time called the Concerned Professionals. It was designed to draw into the political arena people who ordinarily would say, ‘Leave these soldiers; leave these politicians. God will judge them.’ Don’t wait for God to judge them. God has given you a brain, so be active in deciding your own future. We supported NADECO.
Now, the whole idea of the Nigeria Intervention Movement was to repeat the same movement that we built up under the Concerned Professionals – that if we can attract a lot of professionals, they can then go into whatever party they want to. They can take over the existing parties and turn them around – If they think it’s not working they can create another party. The NIM as I understood it was not designed to be a political party. It’s a force designed to create capacity to take over an existing party or create a new one.

A former Chief of Army Staff, Gen. Alani Akinrinade, said the security architecture of Nigeria must be changed. What do you think?

I believe that and looking at the security architecture in Nigeria one important thing to bear in mind is the state of the economy. The more we have unemployed people and the more we have bad or poor education – as most people are certificated but they’re basically illiterate – the easier it is for people, who have grievances to recruit people and brainwash them to become agents of disruption of normal order.
The general state of anomie that seems to be overtaking us in Nigeria, for me, significantly is economy. Therefore, the beginning of thinking insecurity is thinking a developmental state that aims to create a full employment economy – people who are educated enough in civic matters to resist those who seek to use them to abuse the state. Of course, there are other aspects of the security architecture that need to be reviewed. Of course, Gen. Alani Akinrinade is one of the most outstanding officers of the Nigerian Army and still alive. He knows what he’s talking about. So, we need to listen to people like him.

Only six states – all from the South-west – out of the nation’s 36 declared June 12 a public holiday. Does that bother you?

I think there’s a matter of how people try to draw emphasis to things that are unnecessary and unfortunately, Nigeria has got into this very sad ethnic arithmetic in which things are interpreted in ethnic ways. I often repeat a statement that came from the World War II by Reverend Martin Niemoller, who said, ‘First they came for the Jews and I said these Jews are too troublesome anyway. Then they came for the communists and I said well thank God I’m not a communist. Then they came for the Catholics and I said at least I’m a protestant and finally they came for me but there was no one else to speak up.’

Why do you think the 30 other states didn’t celebrate June 12?

I just think it’s because they consider it as something that is too politically problematic. ‘Let just leave it. The day that the South-west succeeds then we would join them.’

Some are worried about Buhari’s possible second coming, citing his poor health records as president. Do you really think that should be a cause for concern?

In recent times, many of us have been talking about restructuring and all of that. One of the things I said to myself is that I want to become a village man. I want to focus on local issues and leave Abuja alone – let Abuja take care of itself. By the time I fix my village maybe I can then find out what’s happening in Abuja. Besides, I’m not a doctor; I can’t tell who is well or who is not well.

Some have suggested that there should be an independent team of medical doctors to test the fitness of presidential candidates before contesting in the 2019 poll. Do you agree?

You can’t single one person out. If you’re going to test the fitness of all the public office holders then we should test the fitness of every aspirant in any position.

This time round one would have thought that you would also throw your hat in the ring to contest the presidential poll. Why are you not contesting?

When I turned 60 two years ago, I wanted to retire completely. I said I had reached what should be called a retirement age and I was told that the academic age (of retirement) is 70. I’m more interested in serving Nigeria from the edge, where it stands than on a position or a title. One of the things that I focus on a great deal is the concept of the leader, who has no title. If I could find a way of making a difference without holding a position, I’ll be happier. There’s an obsession in this country with titles and positions. I want to make a difference.

There have been accusations that Buhari’s war against corruption is largely being waged against individuals in the opposition party. People say the anti-corruption war is not transparent. What more do you think the government can do to show sincerity and transparency?

I’ll just give the same answer I gave when they accused Obasanjo of the same thing that Ribadu was attacking his opponents – going after his opponents. I said: ‘Okay, it’s good. At least you people did something. Whether you’re the man’s friend or enemy let them go after you. If they finish catching his enemies then he can get to his friends.’ I think that people will always say something. Let’s deal with corruption; it doesn’t matter who it is.
Besides, catching people is important now that two governors are in jail. My prayer is that before the end of this year, we should have at least ten governors in jail. Why is it important for them to go to jail? Not that I want them to suffer – many of them are my friends, very good friends for that matter – but because I want us to learn a lesson that will be a deterrence in the future. But more importantly, my preferred approach is an approach that makes it more difficult to be corrupt than the one that catches those who have been corrupt.

The APC is battling to have a common front going into 2019 elections. Do you see the party failing next year?

It’s not a fair question to ask me, because I’m a member of the APC. So, what will I say that would be fair? Perhaps, I should not say anything.

Buhari has often been accused of nepotism and condoning corrupt practices of people in his government like Babachir Lawal. What is your thought on that?

I’m assuming the investigations are going on and when there is enough information, some actions will be taken. As a matter of principle, I would think that it’s important to clear that there are no secret sacred cows. In fact, people around you should be the first to be held accountable, because it points straight at you if you don’t hold them accountable. I would hope that such philosophy is borne in mind. But people should not also be persecuted just because they are close (to the government). There should be some kind of balance in these matters.

Killings in the North-Central have continued unabated. What do you think is responsible? How can these be stopped?

You know again that part of the problem that I have with the limitation of the public sphere in the market place of idea in Nigeria is that it has been reduced to a certain level of mediocrity that quality conversation is absent today in Nigeria. The issues in the North-Central are deep and complex. But they have been treated as Islamisation. First of all, the herdsmen-farmers clashes are part of a major sociological challenge in a transition society, transiting from an agrarian society towards an industrial society.
Fifty years ago, the herdsmen were principally entrepreneurs; they own their cattle and the land tenure system was different. But they were able to reach some kind of accommodation with the farmers. They were generally allowed in certain corridors, where crops were not planted. They didn’t bother farmers too much. But with time, our society became increasingly urbanised, the corridors. We do not do enough as a society to move into a ranch economy.
More than 30 years ago, we should have been there. Again, one of the failures of this country is failure in economic planning with continuity. As for back as the 1950s, Chief Obafemi Awolowo was setting up ranches especially a huge one in northern Ondo that has been disused for some time now. If we had continued with ranches at that time and if the railway system had not collapsed and we could have had a system in Yobe State or Jigawa processing meat put in cold storage in trains would get to Lagos within a day, the people would get their meat easily.
The second part of this sociological challenge is that these herdsmen are entrepreneurs 50 years ago, because you’ll see the cattle belonged to them. But today those cattle we see around probably belong to people in the National Assembly, some governors – even some southerners, who have invested in that business. The herdsmen basically are now labourers with no stake. They are, in fact, going through a transition crisis and there’s no brain to discuss the issue as it is and the simple answer is Islamisation.

Politicians have been accused of fueling the herdsmen-farmers violent conflict. What is your take on that?

The politics of Nigeria is very simple, because most of the politicians have nothing to offer. Therefore, they look for something that creates a cleavage that they can then use a fake or mere sentiment to attract us. So, the failure of the political class is what leads to problems of these cleavages in our society.

You were a special assistant to former President Shehu Shagari. What was the experience like? And how do you feel that the dictator now turned democrat, who toppled that government is ruling now?

First thing about my experience is that I learnt very early. I was 27 years old at the time. But I didn’t get appointed, because I was somebody’s son or uncle. At that age, I had two master’s degrees and a PhD. Therefore, I was coming to the table with something. Not only the degrees I had but I had served in the US as an intern in the US Congress. I knew how the American system worked and that was what I was bringing to the table.
Obviously, I dealt with frustration of the system and I kept talking about the permanent secretary that worked with me – every day I’d not sleep at night working on what we could change in the system to make it work for the Nigerian people. Once I began to talk to the PS, he’d say: ‘you know if you do this you’ll step on the toe of the minister of that.’ One day, I said to him: ‘Mr. PS is there anything that’s possible to do?’ My point is one of the great lessons from my experience was a decision that I made then that I’d never go back into public life without critical enough mass to make a difference.
This was the reason when President Yar’Adua asked me to join his cabinet and I told him I couldn’t give him advice, because but I didn’t want to be a token. To his credit, President Yar’Adua said to me that I’d make a greater difference inside than from outside and I said okay find seven good people and I’d be pleased to be the eighth and then he threw it back at me and said I should find the seven good people and come with them. Unfortunately, he didn’t live long enough. The view I hold about what we’ve been through the years can be found in an interview I gave to the New York Times, January 8, 1984.
In that interview I said Nigeria would one day feel sorry that they had thrown the baby out with the bath water (as many rejoiced over the coup led by Gen. Buhari that ousted the government of Shagari). I think any living Nigerian with brain will know that Nigeria would have moved further ahead today if that coup didn’t take place on December 31, 1983, although – in my view – I was convinced that the coup was done to prevent Dr. Alex Ekwueme from becoming the president in 1987.

Has Buhari made the country more divided or united than he met it?

I think we have been polarised as a country and it is much worse today clearly – whether somebody caused it or not, the bottom line is that the country is more polarised today. It’s important to begin the healing process, which is why I embraced the June 12 honours – it’s a good process.

What areas do you think the present administration should improve on?

Every government everywhere can improve on some areas, because life is work-in-progress – but very importantly, the economy. There’s despair in the land. There’s such a level of unemployment, unhappiness and poverty in the country. I think normal economic policy is not enough anymore.

 

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Obiano Decorated as “Champion of Democracy” in Boston

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By James Eze (eziokwubundu@gmail.com)
The Governor of Anambra State, Chief Willie Obiano has been honoured as Nigeria’s Champion of Democracy by the Nigerian American Multi-Service Association (NAMSA) in Boston at the weekend.
The Nigerian American Multi-Service Association (NAMSA) is a Boston based umbrella association of Nigerians in Massachusetts that is dedicated to promoting and preserving the culture and heritage of all people of Nigerian/African descent in the United States, working assiduously to provide supportive environment through education, networking opportunities and other services that would help their fellow compatriots adapt and thrive.
The ceremony which brought the Governor’s business tour of Boston to a glorious climax was marked by effusive encomiums from members of the organization who represent the various segments of the Nigerian sub-culture in Boston.
Bestowing the honour on Governor Obiano, the President of the Association, Mr Godwin Nnanna lauded him for proving through his stellar performance, that good governance is possible in Nigeria.
According to him, the recent triumph of five Anambra girls who won the Gold Medal at the World Technovation Challenge in San Francisco did not drop from the skies. “It is a product of sound policy making and implementation,” Mr Nnanna observed, pointing out that all performance indicators have been pointing skywards since Governor Obiano took over the reins of leadership.
He praised the Governor’s stream of excellent performances which he said had kept Anambra steadily in the news and urged him to remain steadfast on the path of purposeful governance as it was the only hope for Nigeria to overcome her myriad of development challenges.
Mr Nnanna expressed the gratitude of NAMSA to Governor Obiano and his wife, Ebelechukwu, for honouring the Association with their presences and assured them of the resolve of the association to lend a helping hand to his efforts to bring rapid development to Anambra State.
Echoing Nnanna’s laudatory, other prominent leaders of the association like Prof Ajibola Osinubi, Dr Joyce Nwosu, Ms Nkoli Onye and Prof NT Izuchi praised Governor Obiano’s sterling accomplishments in office and urged him not to drop the baton in his second term.

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Meghan Markle is pregnant and the internet is obviously going into meltdown

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Kensington Palace has announced that the Duchess of Sussex is expecting a baby, due in spring.
Earlier this year the world watched with glee as the wedding between Prince Harry and actress Meghan Markle made us all forget about our troubles and divisions.

Naturally, given the popularity of the couple, the internet has erupted with reaction to the happy news.

Others joked that the baby has been sent to heal the UK’s Brexit blues, joking that the baby will likely arrive on the date the UK leaves the European Union.

Apparently, Harry and Meghan announced the news to the family at Princess Eugenie’s wedding last week. We can’t say we’d be happy with such  upstaging antics…

But thankfully the entire family are said to be delighted… Even Eugenie.

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No travel ban list: Presidency

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The Presidency has denied issuing a list of Nigerians affected by a travel ban as it also clarified that the Executive Order No. 6 is not a political weapon against opposition but part of revolutionary efforts to rid Nigeria of corruption.
Malam Garba Shehu, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity issued the clarification today after a national newspaper published a list containing 50 names of people cutting across the two main political parties and the military establishment.
“I want to confirm to you that we have not issued any list and we are not doing so”, the presidential aide said.
“These cases are well known and to say this or that name is on it will open the door to further accusations, including trial by media.
“The Immìgration Service and other security agencies have the mandate of the President to carry out enforcement and they will do so giving due respects to individual rights, in line with the constitution,’’he said.
The presidential aide was reacting to a trail of criticisms over the implementation of the EO6 by the federal government.
Shehu dismissed the insinuation in some quarters that the activation of the EO 6 was targeted at some individuals or politicians in the country.
“EO 6 is not only revolutionary to the efforts to rid Nigeria of corruption but a manifestation of systemic changes that are required to make necessary adjustments as we carry on with the war against corruption.
“The very essence of the order is to make for speedy trials and conclusion of graft cases.
“The order is not politics and there is no political gain behind its activation.
“These high profile cases we are talking about have been ongoing for between seven to 10 years with no end in sight. These cases were mostly originated by administrations other than this one.
“What is clear is that the access to these resources by the suspects has enabled them to be in a composition to sometime compromise investigation, prosecution and trial.’’
He further explained that, in most of the cases, the courts were held in a helpless position by legal acrobatics paid for from corrupt enrichment by the suspects.
He, therefore, expressed the hope that the new measures put in place would compel everyone involved to make for a speedy conclusion of these cases.
“If it is your money, you have it back. If it belongs to the public, it goes back to the treasury,’’ he said.
Shehu added that the question of the constitutionality of the restriction order had been answered by the fact that “a court of the land has given government a clean sheet.’’
“The Executive Order is legal and constitutional and therefore implementable.
“One of the cardinal objectives of the government under our constitution is to fight corruption. Fighting corruption is a responsibility and obligation upon the government,’’ he further maintained.

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Herdsmen and Farmers: Realities, Response and Resolution of a National Dilemma

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Herdsmen and Farmers: Realities, Response and Resolution of a National Dilemma

A Lecture Delivered by the Governor of Anambra State, His Excellency, Chief Willie Obiano at Double Tree by Hilton, Boston, Massachusetts, USA to mark Nigeria’s 58th Independent Anniversary.

It is a great honour to stand before you today to deliver a Lecture on Nigeria’s 58th Independent Anniversary. I had looked forward to this moment just as I had looked forward to the month of October in particular. Every October, I celebrate two of the most important women in my life… my wife and my country. Yes, my beloved wife, Ebelechukwu, marked her birthday last Sunday. So, you can see how important October is to me.

Ladies and gentlemen, I sincerely do not know where the idea of looking at a country as a woman came from but there is probably no better way to look at Nigeria than to see her as a beautiful woman…very lovely and glamorous, but full of shakara. A beautiful woman needs care and tenderness to remain fresh and glamorous. Nigeria needs care and tenderness to reward our hopes and fulfil our dreams. Nigeria needs us now more than we need Nigeria. And we must not let her down!

Engaging Nigeria
Indeed, it is difficult to think of Nigeria without thinking of her enormous gifts and endowments; or her many unfulfilled promises. With an estimated population of almost 200 million people and a land area of 923,768 square kilometres, Nigeria is potentially a big country. But sitting on the 157th position in the global Human Development Index in 2017, it is obvious that Nigeria has not kept the promise of a huge material wealth to her population. It is not for want of effort on her part though but a challenge of sustainability.

To illustrate this point, as at 2015, Nigeria was rated as the 20th largest economy in the world with a nominal GDP in excess of $500 billion. A year earlier, it had overtaken South Africa to become Africa’s largest economy. Consequently, the World Bank rated it an Emerging Market and Nigeria became a Regional Power on the continent, a Middle Power in International Affairs and an Emerging Global Power. Yes, Nigeria has shown tremendous promise. So, I have no doubt that Nigeria can and shall attain greatness. It is just a matter of time!

Ladies and gentlemen, this is not an empty rhetoric. Nor is it a statement driven by excited optimism. If history is any guide to memory and knowledge, then we may remember that the area known today as Nigeria covers a wide expanse of geography that once brimmed with outstanding human achievements. Long before much of the world knew anything about civilization, the area that covers Kaduna and Plateau States gave the world the Nok Culture which dates from between 1000 BC to 500 BC. It documents a movement in civilization that covers the Neolithic or Stone Age and the beginning of the Iron Age. It drops hints about what might be the oldest organized human society with current research suggesting that the Nok Culture may have predated the founding of Rome by about 500 years. In contemporary history, the ancient Eri Kingdom in my own Anambra State, the glorious Benin Kingdom, the Yoruba Kingdoms, Kanem Bornu Empire and the great Hausa city states are a sparkling confirmation that greatness is neither strange nor new to modern Nigeria. And if our ancestors did it, then we too can do it. The key is in our own hands!

Introducing the Dilemma
Nigeria is a fascinating study in human tribulations and resilience. But that is not an extraordinary story. Every progressive society known to man has its own stories of socio-political turbulence, mutual suspicions, bitter rivalries, armed conflict or full blown war.

Essentially, since the end of the Biafran War, Nigeria has had many dangerous disagreements, violent eruptions, wild protests and other symptoms of a society in transition. But none of these past experiences is as menacing and wide-spread as the recent clashes between farmers and cattle herders. Even at their most violent peak, the exploits of the dreaded terror group, Boko Haram, were restricted mostly to the North East region of Nigeria. But the violent clashes between the herdsmen and farmers present a different test of willpower. What many Nigerians would like to understand is why everyday people who have lived together for ages would suddenly become each other’s dread. Why the farmer who is bound to his ancestral farmland by sweat and blood should run for his dear life when he hears a rustle in the tree. Why the herdsman who had walked the open fields of Nigeria with his dropping straw hat and a harmless stick across his shoulders should suddenly become a source of fear and anxiety. And finally, why after 58 years of living together as a country, we have allowed this mild irritation to develop into a national nightmare?

Ladies and gentlemen, once in every while, I ask myself hard questions and I think you should do same too. I ask myself if all that history had taught us about our ancestors were a heap of lies. Are we the true heirs to the Nok Culture, the great Eri Kingdom, the Kanem Bornu Empire, the Benin Empire, the Ife and Oyo Empires or even the more recent Opobo Kingdom where King Jaja taught the British a few lessons in trade and statecraft? Are we the true inheritors of all those great civilizations that our ancestors wrought with their own hands? Are we the great grandchildren of those great men and women who created those magnificent kingdoms and ran them with unbelievable efficiency? If we are, how can we not manage a mild headache like an argument between a farmer and a cattle herder? Again, I ask HOW?

Why the Stakes are High
Nigeria is the 12th largest producer of petrol in the world, the 8th largest exporter and the 10th largest confirmed reserves of crude oil but what keeps Nigeria going is Agriculture. That is why I made Agriculture the number one pillar of my Economic Blueprint. All statistical and geographical facts point us in the direction of Agriculture and that is why the stakes are sincerely high. It may be important to know at this juncture that in agricultural terms, Nigeria has 91 million hectares of land. 84 million of these hectares are arable. But only 40% of our arable land has been cultivated. Nigeria also has 230 billion cubic meters of water and has abundant rainfall in over two thirds of her territory. These facts make Agriculture the natural route to greatness for Nigeria. Our founding fathers knew this and designed all their economic plans with it in mind. That was what led to the groundnuts pyramids and made Nigeria the largest producer of palm oil and the second largest exporter of cocoa at the dawn of independence in 1960. And this is why the stakes are high!

Indeed, the stakes are high because the National Bureau of Statistics estimates that 25% of Nigeria’s GDP comes from Agriculture while 70% of Nigerians are employed in the Agricultural sector. At the same time, recent studies indicate that Crop Production accounts for 93.45% of overall nominal growth in the agriculture sector. In the light of this therefore, a disruption of the natural balance that has kept things together is bound to throw large populations out of employment, create avoidable food scarcity and lead to a painful loss of revenue. A clear demonstration of what could happen when a disruption occurs in the food supply chain could be seen from the acute shortage of tomatoes that hit Nigeria in the early part of 2017. The scarcity was so severe that tomatoes became an instant metaphor for Nigeria’s national grief.

On the other hand, Nigeria is home to about 22m cattle. The other day, the Minister of Agriculture was quoted as saying that Nigeria consumes about 90,000 of this figure per day. Lagos alone consumes 6000 cattle per day. At N150,000 per head, the cow business stands at about N3.4 trillion or $16.2 billion today. This is a huge amount of money. The cow business is a big business. And that is also why the stakes are so high!

The Sources of Trouble
One of the most recurrent causes of conflict between the cattle herders and farmers is cattle-rustling. Herders often point fingers at farmers for their missing cattle which they consider a serious loss of revenue. There is also the usually unspoken emotional attachment that the herders have to their cows which outsiders to the cow business do not easily understand. They rightly or wrongly believe that herders exact revenge in blood for missing cows because of this strange attachment. Another point of conflict that is regularly cited is that cattle herders graze their livestock on the crops of farmers, ruining a whole season of work and throwing families into avoidable hunger. In some instances too, herders brazenly graze on large industrial farms thereby destroying huge investments. Not quite long ago, it took all the political will of the government of Anambra State to move cattle herders away from the famous Coscharis Rice Farm in Anambra State which is valued at over $200 million dollars. We can all imagine what would have happened if we had not intervened. There are so many other reasons offered for these bloody conflicts. But what no one has been able to tell us is the reason why they seem to have risen just when the flames of Boko Haram began to die down.

Gauging the National Rhetoric
Anyone who has followed the farmers and herdsmen conflict will recall that when it started, many people did not know what to make of it. It began slowly like a typical quarrel between unfriendly neighbours and quickly grew in dimension and scale into a national tragedy. And when conversations eventually began about it, views were polarized along ethnic and religious lines. While that should be expected, our diversity should be our strength and not our weakness. However, the dominant views that emerged from the deluge of commentaries and opinions are quite fascinating. There have been strong moves for the establishment of Cattle Colonies. There has also been an effort to introduce a National Grazing Reserve Bill. Interestingly, neither the establishment of cattle colonies nor the National Grazing Reserve Bill has gained the acceptance of the Nigerian people. On the contrary, many Nigerians prefer that rather than roam freely in the wild, cattle should be properly ranched as is the case in most countries in the world. They argue that since cattle-herding is a private business, it should not be allowed to evolve into a public headache!

Introducing Anambra State
For purposes of enlightenment only; not as a prescription of what should be the standard response to this national dilemma, I would like to share the Anambra story here. I avoid prescriptions because prescriptions are usually subjective and easily misunderstood. Now, Anambra presents a very interesting scenario. Anambra is blessed with natural gas, crude oil, bauxite, kaolin, salt, gypsum, lead, lignite, limestone and iron ore among others. We have the largest retail market in West Africa. With an economy of N3.8 trillion, Anambra has the lowest poverty rate in Nigeria with $1,615 per capita. And if Anambra were an independent country, our GDP would be 17th in Africa. We have great tourism potentials with the Ogbaukwu Caves and Waterfalls in Owerre-Ezukala and Ogbunike Cave in Ogbunike. Anambra is the 10th most populous state in Nigeria with a population density of 860 per square kilometre. And in the past four years, we have been Nigeria’s safest state. With only 4,844 square kilometres of land, Anambra is Nigeria’s second smallest state. It is just slightly bigger than Lagos. But while Lagos has expanded into the sea with the Eko Atlantic City Project, Anambra has lost a sizeable chunk of her precious land to over 950 gully erosion sites. Anambra has 100% arable land. Land is not something we have in abundance in Anambra, and with the growing reports of violent clashes between farmers and herdsmen over land, my administration needed to think its way out of the danger that loomed over Anambra.

Solving a National Dilemma
In Anambra State, we like to look at the big picture. We realize that diversity is life and that if God wanted a homogenous world, He would have made everyone look the same. Being the birthplace of the Igbo, our worldview is broad. We believe in the ancient Igbo saying that the world is like a dancing masquerade; you cannot appreciate its full splendour if you choose to watch it from the same spot. This philosophy is at the heart of our people’s wanderlust and drive for success. We are almost everywhere on the planet. The large Anambra Community in this great city is enough proof of this.

Now, during our routine scenario-planning in 2015, we foresaw the impending threat by herdsmen in some parts of the country and moved quickly to save Anambra State from the looming attack. That was long before the menace of the herdsmen took over the front-pages of our national newspapers. Our counter strategy was to include the threat of a possible attack from them into the security architecture of Anambra State. We had prided ourselves as Nigeria’s safest state for a while and we did not want that profile to be shattered. Once we did that, our next step was to set up the Herdsmen/Farmers Cattle Menace Committee. Members of this Committee are leaders of the Hausa-Fulani Community, government officials, the traditional rulers of agrarian communities and the Service Commanders of the various security agencies in the state. Through the mediating influence of this Committee, an agreement was sealed between the agrarian communities and the herdsmen, which specifies that compensation would be paid by either party for breaching the rules of engagement between them. In other words, the herdsmen would pay compensation if they allowed their cattle to destroy people’s farms while the host communities would pay for confirmed cases of cattle rustling or any other breach of the agreement reached with the herdsmen.

To further strengthen our interface with the Hausa-Fulani Community, I appointed one of them known as Garuba Haruna as my Special Assistant on Islamic/Hausa-Fulani Affairs with the mandate of nurturing and sustaining cordial relations between the farming communities and the cattle herders. This agreement was unanimously applauded by all the members of the committee including Mr Sidiq Gidado, the Chairman of the Fulani Herdsmen Association in the South East. Similarly, the leader of the Muslim Community in the state, Alhaji Sule Momodu also commended our decision to give a Hausa-Fulani a position in the government; the first since the creation of the state.

The lesson here is that we must create more room for tolerance and diversity in our communities. That is one of the sustainable ways of forestalling extremist tendencies and maintaining peace in our communities. Many Nigerians may not know that 1% of the population of Anambra State does not speak Igbo Language. They speak Igala Language. But my administration appointed an Igala man, Bonaventure Enemali, as a Commissioner and a member of my Cabinet; another first since the creation of Anambra State. It is a gesture that carries a loud message of tolerance and inclusiveness.

Finally, Nigeria must hasten up to join the 43-nation group of Climate Vulnerable Forum. This Forum is a global partnership of countries that are most vulnerable to global warming and have come together to negotiate for special concessions and considerations from the United Nations. Many analysts have pointed at climate change as one of the remote causes of the violent clashes between farmers and herdsmen. They point at the rapid pace of desert encroachment in the far North as the reason behind herdsmen’s invasion of farmlands in the North Central and some parts of Southern Nigeria. It is believed that membership of the Climate Vulnerable Forum will attract some concessions that will checkmate the spread of this national anxiety. This is an option worth exploring!

The Anambra Success Story
At the risk of sounding immodest, I would like to observe that under my watch, Anambra State has evolved into one of the model states in Nigeria today. And there is really no magic to it. We simply started with clearly defined Vision and Mission Statements which serve as a roadmap to our overall development drive. When we started out, we declared that our Vision was to make Anambra State the 1st Choice Investment Destination and a hub for industrialization and commercial activities. We also declared that our Mission was to make Anambra State a socially stable, business-friendly environment that would attract both indigenes and foreigners to seek wealth-creating opportunities. To ensure the realisation of these two Statements, we crafted a Blueprint known as the Four Pillars of Development which revolves around Agriculture, Industrialization, Trade and Commerce and Oil & Gas. The Vision and Mission Statements come together in a perfect synergy with the Four Pillars of Development to make up my dream for Anambra State. We also have what I call the Enablers. There are fourteen of them. The Enablers are those basic things that must be in place for the Pillars to function. Some of the Key Enablers include Security, Education, Health, Roads and Social Infrastructure, the Environment, Finance, Transportation, Public Utilities and others.

Ladies and gentlemen, after four years on the saddle, I am quite happy with the decision we took on matters pertaining to security. I have come to realize that for most of the developing world, security is the master-key to sustainable development. When we assumed office on March 17, 2014, we knew that no matter how bright our ideas or how eloquent our rhetoric was, if we failed to tackle the persistent challenge of insecurity in Anambra State, we would be dead on arrival as an administration. So, we designed a security architecture that helped us stamp out crime of all shades from Anambra State. And today, because of our decision to make security the number one priority of Anambra State, because we have donated a gunboat to the Naval Outpost in Onitsha to secure our waterways and 25 smart cars to the police to patrol our streets and alleyways, and finally because we occasionally launch surveillance helicopters into Anambra skies to detect threats beyond the range of human eyes, our dear state is a better place and we are within a touching distance of our vision and mission as a government.

Ladies and gentlemen, the results are there to see in all key areas of development. Commercial and socio-cultural activities have been on a steady rise in Anambra State. The impact is so much that in 2016/2017 when Nigeria’s economy went into deficit, the sub-national economy of Anambra State grew by 1% because of the measures we initiated to fight recession. We established the Anambra State Investment Promotion and Protection Agency (ANSIPPA) to anchor our investment drive. The Agency swiftly became a One-Stop investment powerhouse, offering first class solutions to all investment enquiries. It signed 42 MoUs across various sectors in the state valued at $5.4 billion out of which $1.6 billion worth of investments had come from the indigenes of the state alone.

We have also recorded many success stories in our drive for investments into Anambra State but I will mention only three here because of time. We have some interesting case studies especially in the agricultural sector where some indigenous entrepreneurs like Coscharis Farms has invested $200m in a large mechanized rice farm located in Anaku. We also have JOSAN Agro Limited which has invested $180m in an Integrated Farm in Ufuma and Umumbo and finally, Lynden Farms Limited which invested $180m in a modern integrated poultry farm in Igbariam. Similarly, our rice production output currently stands at 345,000 metric tons. When my administration took over four years ago, Anambra was producing only 80,000 metric tons. We have also paid a serious attention to roads and infrastructure. We built three iconic flyovers which have become aesthetic landmarks in Awka and Amawbia as well as the longest bridge in the South East of Nigeria which leads to the oilfields. Lately, we have focused a lot of attention on giving a facelift to our cities. We rolled out the Light-up Anambra Campaign which has turned our cities, towns and communities into dazzling beauties at night. Our quest to enhance the beauty of our cities recently witnessed the remodelling of the famous DMGS Roundabout in Onitsha. We have turned it into a magnificent monument with five long elephant tusks rising from the base to form a canopy of unity at the top over a refurbished sculpture of the Great Nnamdi Azikiwe. The five tusks symbolically represent the five states of the South East held together in unity by a bead at the top. Indeed, the remodelling of the DMGS Roundabout further confirms that leadership must inspire the society to remember what it might so easily forget. It was this impulse that informed the deceision of my administration to introduce a remarkable State Anthem which has powerful lines that inspire the citizens as they sing it at every event. By the Grace of God, I will continue to build monuments like the DMGS Roundabout to constantly remind Ndi Anambra of our common heritage and the imperatives of social peace. Indeed, Anambra State is on the rise! We have put our house in order and we are now ready to welcome the world.

We have had a fruitful interactive session with European businesses in June this year during my investment tour of Austria. And we are here today in Boston to open our doors to American investors. We would never contemplate all these if we didn’t consider Anambra safe enough for investors or if live with the dread that any part of Anambra State could suddenly come under the assault of some cattle herdsmen. To you our brothers and sisters in the Diaspora, I say, come home and invest and change the story of our people. Let us be guided by the encouraged by the inspiring stories of the contributions of the Jewish Diaspora to the greatness of the modern state of Israel today. The Nigerian Diaspora can do just the same. Nigeria is a better place today than it used to be!

In conclusion therefore, as we celebrate Nigeria’s 58th Independence Anniversary, we may do well to remember that no human society, no matter how advanced is without conflicts. So, the conflict between herdsmen and farmers is just one more hurdle Nigeria must scale on her way to a stronger union. And we can all lend a hand in the search for a sustainable solution to this dilemma by building more tolerant, more diverse and more inclusive communities.

God bless Nigeria
God bless Anambra State
Thank you

Willie Obiano
Governor

Governor Obiano's Tour of BostonDetermined to ensure that Anambra State remains the safest state in Nigeria, Governor Obiano recently visited the offices of IV & C in Boston Massachusetts. IV & C is the security firm that developed the hi-tech security gadget that was used in tracking down the Boston Marathon bomber.Governor Obiano is not sparing any efforts in his search for ideas and innovations that will make Anambra State a better place.Enjoy the video below….

Slået op af James Eze i Lørdag den 13. oktober 2018

 

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FG places foreign travel ban on 50 persons under EO6 : FULL TEXT

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The Federal Government has placed a foreign travel ban on no fewer than 50 high profile persons directly affected by Executive Order 6 (EO6).
The affected persons are already on the watch-list and are restricted from leaving the country pending the determination of their cases.
Malam Garba Shehu, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, confirmed this development in Abuja on Saturday.
He said this development followed the instant judicial affirmation of the constitutionality and legality of the EO6.
He said already President Muhammadu Buhari had mandated the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice to implement the Order in full force.
“To this end, a number of enforcement procedures are currently in place by which the Nigeria Immigration Service and other security agencies have placed no fewer than 50 high profile persons directly affected by EO6 on watch-list and restricted them from leaving the county pending the determination of their cases.
“Also, the financial transactions of these persons of interest are being monitored by the relevant agencies to ensure that the assets are not dissipated and such persons do not interfere with, nor howsoever corrupt the investigation and litigation processes.
“It is instructive to note that EO6 was specifically directed to relevant law enforcement agencies to ensure that all assets within a minimum value of N50 million or equivalent, subject to investigation or litigation are protected from dissipation by employing all available lawful means, pending the final determination of any corruption-related matter,’’ he added.
Shehu said the Buhari administration had reassured all well-meaning and patriotic Nigerians of its commitment to the fight against corruption, in accordance with the 1999 Constitution (as amended) and the general principles of the Rule of Law.
He, therefore, maintained that the administration would uphold the rule of law in all its actions as well as protect the right of citizens as guaranteed by the Constitution.
“We, therefore, enjoin all Nigerians to cooperate with the law enforcement authorities towards ensuring a successful implementation of the Executive Order 6 which is a paradigm-changing policy of the Federal Government in the fight against corruption,’’ he said.

FULL STATEMENT :
STATE HOUSE PRESS RELEASE
PRESIDENT BUHARI DIRECTS IMPLEMENTATION OF EO 6 IN FULL FORCE
Following the instant judicial affirmation of the constitutionality and legality of the Executive Order 6 (EO6), President Muhammadu Buhari has mandated the Attorney-General of the Federation and the Minister of Justice to implement the Order in full force.
To this end, a number of enforcement procedures are currently in place by which the Nigeria Immigration Service and other security agencies have placed no fewer than 50 high profile persons directly affected by EO6 on watch-list and restricted them from leaving the county pending the determination of their cases.
Also, the financial transactions of these persons of interest are being monitored by the relevant agencies to ensure that the assets are not dissipated and such persons do not interfere with, nor howsoever corrupt the investigation and litigation processes. It is instructive to note that EO6 was specifically directed to relevant law enforcement agencies to ensure that all assets within a minimum value of N50 million or equivalent, subject to investigation or litigation are protected from dissipation by employing all available lawful means, pending the final determination of any corruption-related matter.
The Buhari administration reassures all well-meaning and patriotic Nigerians of its commitment to the fight against corruption, in accordance with the 1999 Constitution (as amended) and the general principles of the Rule of Law.
Accordingly, this administration will uphold the rule of law in all its actions and the right of citizens would be protected as guaranteed by the Constitution.
We, therefore, enjoin all Nigerians to cooperate with the law enforcement authorities towards ensuring a successful implementation of the Executive Order 6 which is a paradigm-changing policy of the Federal Government in the fight against corruption.
Garba Shehu
Senior Special Assistant to the President
(Media & Publicity)
October 13, 2018

 


This article was written by Ismaila Chafe

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Obiano Explores Partnership Possibilities with Cambridge Innovation Center, Boston

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By James Eze
The Governor of Anambra State, Chief Willie Obiano yesterday stormed the famous Cambridge Innovation Centre in Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), in Boston, Massachusetts in search of ideas that would nurture technological talent in the state as demonstrated by the five Anambra school girls who won a Gold Medal at the World Technovation Challenge in the Silicon Valley in San Francisco, USA.
Cambridge Innovation Center (CIC) is one of the leading technology incubation centers in the world where smart tech-heads with bright ideas are given an ideal environment to evolve innovative ideas and a strategic platform to pitch their ideas to venture capitalists who have the financial resources to fund new technological ideas.
The Center is located in the heart of MIT and usually patronized by brilliant graduates from Harvard, MIT, Boston University and many other leading Ivy League universities in New England and beyond.
Conducting Governor Obiano and his team around the facility, the Relationship Manager of the Centre, Kristyn Fratus explained that the volume of funds that was available to Centre was many times the volume of venture capital available to all of the United Kingdom.
Governor Obiano’s mission in the Centre was to carry out a first-hand assessment of the place, discuss possibilities of partnership and adapting the model to jump-start his dream of turning Anambra State into a leading technological hub in the West African region; a move which he started by inaugurating the Anambra State Creative Economy Council shortly after he took the oath for his second term in office.
Governor Obiano believes that Anambra youths have enough creative flare and brain power to contribute to the on-going global hi-tech race but lack the environment that would inspire them to bring out their best.
While on tour of the Center, the Governor interacted with young bright tech-heads at the Innovation Café and discussed the possibilities of their visiting Anambra State to interact with the youth and offer new hi-tech solutions to the developmental needs of the state. One of the bright tech-heads the governor met with at the Center is Nigeria’s Ezinne Uzo-Okoro who had spent fourteen years at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and 22-year old Indo-Swiss, Divyanshu Varshney, founder and president of virtual reality company among many others.
Governor Obiano left the center convinced that he had found the solution he needed to harness the creative potentials of Anambra youths which were on full display during a recent talent hunt organized by the Ministry for Youth Entrepreneurship in Awka.
The Governor was accompanied by his Chief of Staff, Mr Primus Odili, his Principal Secretary, Sir Willie Nwokoye, Member Representing Ayamelum in Anambra State House of Assembly, Hon Uche Okafor and Alex Onukwue, National President of Anambra State Presidents General.

Gov Obiano

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Atiku/Obi: South East was never consulted – Umahi

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The Chairman of the South East Governors Forum and governor of Ebonyi State, Engr. David Nweze Umahi, has expressed shock over the choice of former governor of Anambra State, Mr Peter Obi as the running mate to the presidential candidate of PDP, Alhaji Atiku Abubarkar without consulting with the leaders of the zone.

Umahi said the earlier statement quoting him as congratulating Peter Obi was never with his knowledge and dissociated himself from the statement, saying that the position of the entire South East zone has always been that any position zoned to the South East must be deliberated upon by the leaders of the zone.

He said in the case of the appointment of Mr. Obi as Atiku’s running mate, neither the governors, nor Igbo leaders were consulted, a situation he said was a great departure from the earlier agreement.

The governor appologized to Nigerians and Ndigbo for the statement, adding that his Chief Press Secretary acted without his knowledge and wish to state categorically that he has nothing personally against Peter Obi or any other person emerging as the running mate to the presidential candidate of PDP.

He said that any position zoned to Ndigbo must be discussed and agreement reached so that the right thing is done in line with the perculiar nature of Igbo politics and their quest for politics of inclusiveness.

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Atiku Explains Why He Picked Obi as Running mate

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The Atiku Presidential Campaign Organisation (APCO) Friday night confirmed that former Governor of Anambra State, Mr. Peter Obi, had been picked by the Peoples Democratic Party Candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, as his running mate.
APCO also gave reasons why Obi was picked, explaining that his choice was largely influenced by his youthfulness, vast knowledge of global and local economics as well as being a financial expert, an experience which it said Nigeria was in need of at this point in time.

In a statement issued Friday night, the Director General, Atiku Presidential Campaign Organisation (APCO), Otuba Gbenga Daniels, described Obi as an astute professional who had laid his footprints across the corporate world.
Daniels said Obi, born on 19th July, 1961, attended the Christ the King College, Onitsha and later proceeded to the University of Nigeria, Nsukka where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy.
He said Obi was also a graduate of several international and national institutions such as the Lagos Business School, Harvard Business School, London School of Economics, Columbia Business School, Institute of Management, Switzerland, Kellogg Graduate School, Oxford University and Cambridge University.

He said Obi was the Chairman, Board of Security and Exchange Commission (SEC); former Chairman, Fidelity Bank PLC; former Chairman, Guardian Express Mortgage Bank; former Chairman, Future Views Securities; former Chairman, Paymaster Nigeria; former Chairman, Next International Nigeria; former Director, Guardian Express Bank PLC; former Director, Chams Nigeria PLC; former Director, Emerging Capital: former Director, Card Centre PLC.
Daniel said Obi is a member of the British Institute of Directors (IOD), Nigerian Chartered Institute of Bankers and Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG).


This article was written by Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja

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Nigerian opposition party candidate Abubakar chooses running mate – spokesman

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The main opposition challenger to Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari in next year’s elections has selected a former governor from the southeast of the country to be his running mate, the candidate’s spokesman said on Friday.

Atiku Abubakar, a former vice president who will stand as the candidate for the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in the February 2019 vote, chose Peter Obi, formerly governor of the South-Eastern state of Anambra.

The choice points to a bid to generate support in the southeast, where Buhari has polled badly in past elections and cracked down on secessionists by deploying troops on the streets. Geographical affiliations are crucial in a nation of 190 million people from 250 ethnic groups.

“Former governor of Anambra State, Peter Obi is the vice presidential candidate of the People’s Democratic Party,” Abubakar’s spokesman said in text message.

Obi had a background in business prior to entering politics. Abubakar has long enjoyed support from Nigeria’s business elite and as vice president from 1999-2007 implemented a liberalisation programme in areas such as the telecoms sector.
Buhari’s handling of one of Africa’s biggest economies since taking office in 2015 has already become a campaign issue. The country emerged in 2017 from its first recession in 25 years but economic growth remains sluggish and inflation is above the central bank’s single-digit target.

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Nigeria’s Opposition Preys on President Buhari’s Weakness: A Faltering Economy

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Opposition candidates seeking to unseat Nigeria’s president, Muhammadu Buhari, are attacking his economic record and treatment of foreign investors as election season intensifies in Africa’s most populous country. Four members of Buhari’s own party who have defected to the opposition to challenge him are pitching themselves as more business-minded candidates who can jump-start a sluggish economic recovery.
Their criticisms of Africa’s biggest oil-producing nation, which is set to hold elections in February, come as two clashes highlight Buhari’s vulnerability on economic policy, even as rising crude prices deliver a boost.
The administration has come under fire for a decision by the central bank and attorney general to impose $10 billion in penalties on South African mobile giant MTN. The president’s office has also lashed out at HSBC over a research note for clients suggesting that Buhari’s re-election would stunt economic growth.
His former allies are pouncing on discontent with the economy. The campaign slogan of Bukola Saraki, president of the Nigerian Senate, is “Let’s Grow Nigeria.” Aminu Tambuwal, governor of Sokoto state and a presidential hopeful, said, “The economy is not showing any real signs of improvement.” Sen. Rabiu Kwankwaso, another contender, said earlier this month that the Buhari administration had “destroyed” the economy.

”If the opposition was to ask the average Nigerian, ‘Are you better off than you were four years ago?’ the answer would be no”.

Buhari was considered all but unbeatable as recently as a few months ago. But this week an important state election offered him a stark warning. His All Progressives Congress party found itself in a runoff to defend the governorship in Osun state, which it controls and which will be central to the president’s re-election prospects.
Lagos’ business elite hopes that a Buhari defeat would help revitalize Africa’s largest economy, which has stumbled out of a recession brought on by the oil crash, but made worse, critics argue, by the administration’s economic mismanagement.
The administration has defended its record, touting achievements that include a rise in foreign reserves; a current account surplus; significant power, road and rail infrastructure investment; and a drop in inflation. Its policies have helped Nigeria move up 24 positions on the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Index, from 169 in 2016 to 145 in 2017. Vice President Yemi Osinbajo is also widely admired in the business community.

Even critics concede Buhari was dealt a bad hand in a country where oil accounts for 56 percent of government revenue, entering office in 2015 as crude prices slumped.
“But if the opposition was to ask the average Nigerian, ‘Are you better off than you were four years ago?’ the answer would be no,” says political analyst Chris Ngwodo. “There have been huge job losses, and the country is barely inching out of recession.”
GDP growth slumped to an annualized 1.5 percent in the second quarter, causing economists to lower their forecasts for 2018 growth to 2.3 percent. The Nigerian stock exchange is among the worst performing in the world this year.
Buhari claimed his party’s presidential nomination in September. It is unclear yet whether the opposition can unite behind a candidate who can overcome voter apathy in the south and the president’s strength in the populous north. So far, multiple parties are holding separate primaries in October, each picking their nominee. But the president’s approval ratings are near record lows, touching 45 percent in the most recent survey by NOI Polls.
This month the president’s office let loose on HSBC, which in July released a research note that criticized the government’s convoluted exchange rate regime for causing a range of “inefficiencies” and said a second Buhari term “raises the risk of limited economic progress and further fiscal deterioration.”
The president’s office was not pleased. “What killed Nigeria’s economy in the past was the unbridled looting of state resources by leaders, the type which was actively supported by HSBC,” read an official statement, accusing the bank of facilitating money laundering by Nigerian politicians. An HSBC spokesperson said it had no comment on the matter. In a country known for corrupt politicians, Buhari is widely seen as clean, and has been praised for cracking down on public graft, even as some of his allies have been ensnared in scandal.
Adeyemi Dipeolu, economic special adviser to the president, wrote in an op-ed this week that the HSBC analysis lacks nuance. “While the economy has not yet reached desired growth levels, there are positive developments in macroeconomic conditions, the real sector, the business environment, social investments and infrastructure,” he wrote.
Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, one of the first high-profile politicians to defect and challenge Buhari, said in a statement that the administration’s attack on HSBC was “comical and pathetic.” Abubakar told reporters last month that the Buhari administration’s battle with MTN, the country’s largest mobile carrier, was evidence of how the president had “actually driven out foreign investment by his policies.”
The MTN saga began on Aug. 29 when the central bank ordered the mobile company — which has over 50 million subscribers in Nigeria — to return $8.1 billion it allegedly illegally repatriated. In addition, the attorney general said the company owed $2 billion in back taxes. The news wiped one-third off the company’s market value. MTN denies all wrongdoing and has filed a lawsuit against the government.
The central bank has since struck a more conciliatory tone. “I am very optimistic we will resolve the matter and I believe that everybody will be happy. MTN will be happy, the banks will be happy. [The central bank] and government would be happy,” Godwin Emefiele, central bank governor, told reporters this week, following a statement last week stressing that Nigeria “will continue to welcome foreign investments and investors.”
But critics say the aggressive moves against some of Nigeria’s biggest foreign investors is emblematic of a Buhari mentality that, they argue, is stuck in the 1980s, when the president ruled Nigeria as head of a military government.
“It really speaks volumes [about] the mindset of the government,” says one Lagos-based executive.

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Can’t get on ANSSID?
If you have been having challenges getting your Anambra State Social Service number, here is what to do:
• send an email and ANSSID login details to: info@airs.an.gov.ng for immediate assistance.
• Visit the ANSSID HELPDESK or call HELPLINES: 07066727750 or 07033822851

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