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FEC approves multi billion naira contracts for interior sector

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The Nigerian Cabinet has approved the sum of N3.9 billion for the purchase of 22 fire fighting vehicles for the Federal Fire Service.
Interior Minister, Abdulrahman Danbazau disclosed this to State House Correspondents, while briefing them on the outcome of this week’s Cabinet meeting, presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari.
He said: “In 2016, we procured 21 fire fighting vehicles, in 2017 the procurement was for 22 fire fighting trucks and in 2018, it is a repeat procurement of what we did last year. The vehicles will cost N3, 952, 076, 338.35 for those fire trucks, water tankers and other related vehicles. The government is doing everything possible to ensure that fire incidents are contained and also controlled.”

The Minister said the trucks will be distributed according to flash points, where there are frequent fire incidents.
“We are just starting these, we have identified areas that have high fire hazards and we will continue to do this,” the minister stated.
Communication Centre
The Minster also announced that the Federal executive Council approved the sum of N for the building of a communication centre for the Nigeria Immigration Service.
He said the centre will help harness the data of the service, which presently is domiciled with various service providers.
“The Centre when operational will help bring together all the data used by the Nigeria Immigration Service under one roof. For now we have these data domiciled with the service providers and they are in piecemeal so at the proposed centre to be sighted within the headquarters of the Service, the data will be brought together so that the Immigration y can be able to interface with other institutions that have to do with internal security, border management and so on, like the Customs Service,” he said.
Danbazau said the rationale behind the idea is to be able to guarantee effective and efficient monitoring and management of such data.
He said the building, will cost N7, 119, 139, 883 including furnishing.
Green Maria
According to the Minister, the Nigeria Prisons Service also obtained an approval of N1.5 billion for the purchase of 116 special vehicles, known as Green Maria.
He said the vehicles would be used to convey suspects awaiting trial and inmates to court, for speedy dispensation of justice.
“An approval was given for the procurement of 116 operational Green Maria vehicles, which will cost N1, 584, 064, 560. This will be used to take inmates and suspects to the courts because we presently don’t have enough of such vehicles. There are over 5000 courts and about 240 prisons where on daily basis, we have to convey the inmates to the courts and for speedy dispensation of justice, we need to get more vehicles, So this development is going to improve the situation tremendously,” the Minister explained.

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POLLS SHIFT: ‘Incompetent’ Prof Ibeanu is related to Peter Obi, he must be removed now- BMO

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The Buhari Media Organisation (BMO) has called on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to relieve the head of its logistics team, Prof Okechukwu Ibeanu, of his duty.
The group said Ibeanu was responsible for the logistics issues encountered by the commission in delivering the presidential and National Assembly elections last weekend, firing the commission to postpone the election till February 23.
The group said since Ibeanu had failed, being a subset of INEC, then INEC had failed as an independent body.
A statement signed by the organisation’s chairman, Niyi Akinsiju and Secretary, Cassidy Madeley on Monday expressed doubts as to the preparedness of INEC in delivering a hitch-free elections as long as Ibeanu remains head of logistics, hence the need for his replacement.

It said, “Nigerians and the international community are all witnesses to the shoddy logistics arrangement for an election that INEC had all of four years to plan for.
“The 2019 election is not Nigeria’s first so there is no basis for the Commission to subject the country to such an embarrassing situation after it had continually maintained that it was ready to do better than that of 2015.
“But after getting all the funding it asked for, INEC surprisingly handed over one of the most important jobs in the electoral process to an individual that has barely spent eighteen months in the Commission and who is not known to have any prior working knowledge of the process.

“It is clear that the job of manning election logistics is not one that ought to have been given to a neophyte national commissioner and there is no way that Ibeanu could do better than he did on February 16 going forward.
“So there is no way his retention as the head of Electoral Operations and Logistics would be acceptable to Nigerians”
BMO also raised fears in the rumoured relationship between Ibeanu and a former chairman of INEC, Prof Maurice Iwu who, according to the group, is now a technical consultant to the opposition presidential candidate.
The statement also alleged that Ibeanu had a family tie with the Vice Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party ( PDP ), Peter Obi.
“PDP leaders have not and cannot deny that the man who left the country a legacy of its worst election in recent history had been playing a major role for them in the run up to the Presidential election and here we have someone he is close to manning a sensitive position at INEC
“Aside from Iwu, there are suggestions that Professor Ibeanu who is representing Anambra state in the commission is related to the Vice Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party Peter Obi.
“This is certainly not acceptable to us at BMO and we believe the only way INEC chairman Mahmud Yakubu could extricate himself from allegations of collusion with the opposition is for him to immediately remove Ibeanu from the role he handed him after succumbing to PDP’s serial blackmail”.


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In 1 in 4 Elections, African Voters Face Delays

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A last-minute decision to delay Nigeria’s general election, now re-scheduled for Saturday, has fueled doubt about the commitment to a free and fair poll in Africa’s most populous country.
For Nigerians, it’s an unwelcome, though not unfamiliar, outcome. The country hasn’t held a presidential election without a delay since 2007, when former President Umaru Yar’Adua handily beat sitting President Muhammadu Buhari.
But postponed polls aren’t exclusively a Nigerian concern.
Across Africa, 27 of 102 presidential elections have been delayed since 2009, based on data analyzed by VOA from various news reports and from the Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa, a not-for-profit organization based in Johannesburg, South Africa, focused on promoting credible elections.
Twenty of the 51 countries that held presidential elections experienced one or more postponements in the past 10 years. The delays ranged from two days to several years, with most lasting at least several weeks. Ivory Coast had the longest election delay — five years.
The root causes of the postponements vary, from civil wars and insurgencies to natural disasters and officials’ attempts to skirt constitutional term limits. Sometimes, election dates shift due simply to inadequate preparation.
When a country is unable to hold an election as planned, it can affect the credibility of the process. In Nigeria, voters told VOA they were confused and concerned.

But VOA’s analysis shows that an election postponement isn’t a sign of poor governance in and of itself — rather, both the strongest and weakest democracies experience the fewest election delays.
Delays & democracy
Each year, the Economist Intelligence Unit, an arm of the company that publishes The Economist newspaper, releases its Democracy Index. The Index ranks countries for attributes such as electoral process, political participation and civil liberties.
Overall, countries without election delays attained Index values in 2018 about 11 percent higher than those with delays. Countries without delays also scored about 24 percent higher on an electoral process and pluralism rating.

None of the countries with the highest overall scores, including Botswana, Cabo Verde, Mauritius and South Africa, experienced delays.
But a closer look reveals a more surprising finding: Countries with some of the lowest democracy index values, such as Burundi, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea and Zimbabwe, also encountered no postponements.

In the period reviewed, 10 countries considered “authoritarian” by the Economist Intelligence Unit delayed elections, but 15 governments with that classification did not.
For countries committed to improving governance and creating more inclusive democratic processes, postponements could be used to bolster turnout and encourage voting without violence or coercion. But governments that hold pro forma elections have little need to make such arrangements.
Future trends
Election delays show no signs of growing rarer.
The number of delays in Africa dipped slightly from 2012–2015, but picked up again in 2016, when 20 percent of elections were postponed. Last year, that number doubled.
Nigeria is the first postponement of 2019, but some countries face ongoing delays. In South Sudan and Libya, voters continue to wait for their chance to shape the directions of their countries after multiple delays.

For Nigerian voters, the most recent election setback came at a particularly frustrating moment, mere hours before the polls were set to open. With a week before the new date, the campaigns for both candidates, incumbent Buhari and challenger Atiku Abubakar, the former vice president, hope voters won’t be deterred.
With a close race projected, the candidates are advocating patience, and encouraging people to consider that every vote counts.



Salem Solomon
Salem Solomon is a multimedia digital journalist with the Voice of America’s Africa Division. She covers the latest news from across the continent, and she also reports and edits in Amharic and Tigrigna.
Salem’s multimedia and data-driven projects include How Western DRC’s Ebola Outbreak Was Contained, Unrest: Ethiopia at a Crossroads, Zimbabwe in Transition, Hunger Across Africa and How Long Have Africa’s Presidents Held Office?

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Buhari: Military to Be ‘Ruthless’ Against Election Tampering

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President Muhammadu Buhari attended the APC Caucus emergency meeting on INEC postponement of the February 16 elections, held at the party Headquarters in Abuja.

President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday warned that anyone trying to tamper with Nigeria’s postponed vote risked their lives and accused the electoral commission of incompetence.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) announced a week’s delay to voting in the early hours of Saturday, just as some of Nigeria’s 84 million registered voters were already making their way to polling stations.
Buhari said anyone trying to steal or destroy ballot boxes and voting material in the election now scheduled to take place this coming Saturday would be dealt with firmly.
“I have given the military and the police instructions to be ruthless. We are not going to be blamed for the bad conduct of the election,” he told an emergency meeting of senior members of his All Progressives Congress (APC) party in the capital Abuja.
He said anyone trying to intimidate voters or interfere with the voting “will do it at the expense of his own life.”
The opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP) has suggested that Buhari, a former military ruler who was later elected president in 2015, was behind the postponement in order to hold on to power.
The ruling party has accused the PDP of being behind the delay and colluding with figures within the electoral commission.
Neither party has publicly provided evidence to back up their allegations. The PDP criticized the president’s comments in which he warned people against tampering with election material.
“President Muhammadu Buhari’s threat to the lives of Nigerians, at the opening of APC’s national caucus meeting in Abuja today, is a direct call for jungle justice,” the party said in a statement.
All sides have, however, appealed for calm in a country where past elections have been marred by violence and intimidation. So far, there have been no signs of violence or unrest after INEC announced the delay.
Buhari faces a tight contest against the PDP’s Atiku Abubakar to lead a country that has Africa’s largest economy and is its top oil producer, but is plagued by corruption and wide gaps between rich and poor.

The election has been fought over Buhari’s handling of the economy amid fragile growth and growing unemployment as the country recovers from a recession in 2016. Rising insecurity, notably in regions under attack by Boko Haram and other Islamist militants, is also a big worry.
The INEC cited logistical difficulties and problems with transporting election material to far-flung or conflict-ridden areas, and denied any political pressure had been brought to bear in its decision to suspend the vote.
Buhari said there was a need to scrutinise the issues that caused the postponement.
“Definitely the reasons why such incompetence manifests itself has to be explained to the nation. After the election we have to know exactly what really happened,” he said, promising that an investigation would be launched.
INEC had said that campaigning would be suspended until the new voting day on Saturday. But, after the two main parties said they intend to resume campaigning, the electoral body made a U-turn and said in a statement on Monday evening that campaigning would be allowed until the end of Thursday.

 

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2019 ELECTION: I Endorsed Only APGA Candidates — Obiano

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Gov. Willie Obiano of Anambra State has denied claims by candidates of some political parties in the state that he had endorsed them for the forthcoming general elections, saying that he had endorsed only candidates of All Progressive Grand Alliance, APGA.
The Commissioner for Information and Public Enlightenment, Mr. C. Don Adinuba, who reacted on behalf of the governor, said it had come to the knowledge of the state government that a number of political parties and their candidates participating in the 2019 general elections, were boldly claiming that Governor Obiano had endorsed them, adding that there was no iota of truth in such claims. He said that in order to make the claim look authentic, many candidates had published in their campaign posters, fliers and banner, their pictures with Governor Obiano, even when many of the photographs were taken with the governor at public functions without the governor knowing about them.
According to him, some of the parties and their candidates had pledged to publicly declare support to Governor Obiano and join or rejoin APGA once they win, alleging that some of them had even forged statements purportedly made by the Anambra State Commissioner for Information and Public Enlightenment, supporting their candidatures. The Commissioner said: “The Anambra State government wishes to state categorically that the claims are false, misleading and disingenuous. Governor Obiano endorses only APGA candidates in the forthcoming election. “As the APGA national leader and chairman of the APGA Board of Trustees, he cannot endorse candidates contesting on the platform of other political parties. “Anambra people should therefore, disregard the claim by the politicians that Chief Obiano has endorsed them when they are not APGA candidates.
These politicians want to use Chief Obiano’s immense popularity to hoodwink Anambra State voters and make them vote for candidates other than those of APGA.” Adinuba said though the overwhelming majority of Anambra people were too sophisticated to fall prey to such a trick, it was important to bring to the fore the grand design by people seeking public office by all means to cajole the people. The trick, he argued, was nothing less than “419” because the perpetrators want to obtain power through false pretence .
“For the umpteenth time, the good people of Anambra State are encouraged to vote only APGA, so that the ongoing excellent work in various facets of our existence will continue. “Anambra State has now become about the most competitive state in Nigeria and the most peaceful and stable in the country. Ndi Anambra will not tolerate anything which can disrupt the present development trajectory,” the Commissioner said.

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Former Nigerian leader appeals to Nigerians to remain calm

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Former Nigerian leader, General Abdulsalami Abubakar, has appealed to Nigerians to bear with the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, on the postponement of the Presidential election of the country which was scheduled to hold on Saturday.
General Abdulsalami, who spoke on behalf of the National Peace Committee urged Nigerians not embark on protests resulting from the postponement of the elections.

The former president, who is the Chairman of the Committee, made the appeal in an interaction with the media in Minna, Niger State, central Nigeria.

“As much as possible, we have to bear the disappointment, because some of us traveled to our various locations in order to do our civic responsibilities. Unfortunately the election was postponed with a week,” he said.

General Abdulsalami told Nigerians to pray for the nation’s electoral umpire to conduct free fair and credible elections in the country.

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EFCC Releases Hot Phone Lines To Report Vote Buying

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFFC, has released telephone numbers to enable Nigerians report cases of vote-buying.
The Acting EFCC spokesman, Mr Tony Orilade, in a statement in Abuja urged members of the public to provide authentic information that could lead to the arrest of culprits engaging in vote-buying during elections.
The release gave the numbers to call as 08141219896, 09077928772, 09051923475, 09074456025, 09051916064 and 09066270016 for Abuja Headquarters, while Abuja Zonal Office are 08033492025 and 08123827088 as Lagos is 08033106347, 08123827088, and Enugu 07064917920 among others.
According to the release a handsome reward awaits informants with authentic information in accordance with the Whistle-blowing Policy of the Federal Government.

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Atiku Not Perturbed By Poll Postponement

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The presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Atiku Abubakar has said he is not perturbed by the sudden postponement of the Presidential and National Assembly elections few hours to the opening of polls.

Atiku Abubakar said he was not expecting the postponement which came barely six hours to the polls but appealed to the electorate to remain calm and be law abiding.
He said the leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, will come out with a position after its stakeholders’ meeting expected to hold in Abuja.

Meanwhile, the Adamawa state chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Tahir Shehu has warned the Buhari administration against plunging the country into an endless crisis.
The Adamawa state chairman also called on the security agencies not to overheat the already charged political atmosphere in the country.

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FG Re-Opens Borders

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The federal government has ordered the reopening of all land borders earlier closed due to the postponement of the elections earlier scheduled for February 16th. 2019.

A statement signed by the Comptroller General Of Immigration Muhammad Babandede said all immigration officers should continue with their regular patrol to ensure all persons crossing the land, air and sea borders travel with valid documents and also pass through recognised routes.

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‘It is Not the Business of Ohaneze to Adopt Candidates’

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Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige is one of the leading figures in the All Progressives Congress (APC) within the South-east zone and one who had once taken the party to electoral victory in a senatorial contest. Ngige tells Onyebuchi Ezigbo of the strategies and calculations to be deployed by his party to overrun opponents in the general election.

In 2015 President Buhari secured less than 200,000 votes in the South-east and of recent leaders from that region who are members of APC have often boosted that in 2019 it would be different that the president will score a good number of votes, where does that confidence come from considering that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Vice President candidate is from that region?
True the PDP has a Vice Presidential candidate from my zone and I can tell you that it won’t be easy for them. Politics and winning of election is all about calculation and strategic positioning and measured steps towards a direction. Two things are happening; in 2015 election there was no voting in most of the South-east and South-south states. Votes were allocated, the card reader hadn’t become functional it was just new and it can be tampered with and at the end of the day most votes were allocated. So Muhammadu Buhari was allocated 18,000 votes in the entire Anambra state; is it possible? When my local government alone, Idemili South had 80,000 registered voters, Idemili North had 200,000 registered voters you are talking about 280,000 votes. Even if they want to allocate they can’t do it now because they are not in charge of police and army like that time. They took police, army, navy everything and armour tanks and drove us away, in fact they put a price on my head when I was going to the collation centre. I got a call they said I shouldn’t go because the situation has been taken over from the centre but I refused I wanted to go because I am not afraid of death. So my boys insisted and I said they can go so they started chasing them about. It was my boys chasing them around that resulted in the writing of only 600,000 votes for Jonathan against the 1.2 million votes promised that they would bring. This time it won’t happen they will go and cast votes and whatever is cast is what we will announce. We are not interested in rigging or chasing people about with armour tank. Secondly, the Vice President of the PDP is former Governor Peter Obi my successor in Anambra state. I can tell you that those who are shouting that Obi is this and that are the elites who are looking for one thing or the other and people who don’t believe that Muhammadu Buhari has done something good in their lives because he is already building infrastructure for them. They want money.

They want all the monies that have been trapped by the TSA to be pushed down again on the table for them to start taking. That one is no longer possible. Peter Obi hasn’t been a wonderful governor as people expected him to be because I am the one to tell you because I know what I handed over to him. He is making noise that he handed money over to Governor Obiano. I was the first to leave money. I left N3.8 billion cash in the bank and I am not counting the bank shares we bought and dividend but because of propaganda they shouted that the left eighty something billion naira for Obiano and I left a lot of infrastructural work done, federal roads of which he received close to N15 billion as refund after my tenure. I was the first person to handover schools to the missionaries in Anambra state. I built more 880KM of roads. If you go there today you will see the roads I built 15 years ago they are still standing and most of them have no single potholes because I used first class contractors. So for people to say because he chose Obi ‘this will happen’. Nothing will happen. If anything, Peter Obi has no influence in South-east apart from Anambra. Even in Anambra Central Senatorial district we are going to battle him in there. Presently, I can tell you that in Anambra state Obi and I will struggle for the votes. We are not going to be pushed down like we were the last time.

What do you make of the recent endorsement from the leadership of Ohanaeze for the PDP Presidential candidate?
Ohanaeze is a socio cultural organisation. In a bid to please their masters they went overboard. First and foremost they went overboard to do an endorsement in November 2018 and when the strategy committee of Ohanaeze confronted them in the executive they denied. They said they endorsed them just like every other person whereas the clips showed that they were in that meeting in Nike Lake Resort Hotel. I am telling you we found it difficult to still conceal what they were doing so just two weeks ago they put this meeting on a date that Mr. President was visiting Anambra state. I personally spoke to the Ohanaeze President General who is my personal friend of many years and I said to him we have a guest so he should do us that favour of moving this meeting so that we can all attend, so that the governors of the South-east will also be involved; the governor of Anambra and Enugu who will welcome Mr. President to their domain because the President was to commission CBN Centre of Excellence build in Nsukka. These were functions created for that day and he said no that he couldn’t do so because this meeting had been long fixed and I said no the president of the nation fixed an appointment in our place. So finally he said we can move the hours. He said no he can only move it to 4pm so I spoke to Ebonyi state governor who is the chairman of governor’s forum and I said look at the problem we have with the current Ohanaeze maybe you can intervene because you are supposed to be part of this meeting. I had already contacted the governor of Anambra state so he said he will take it up with him which he did. In fact I personally invited him and said it is your function, you should be there and the Governor of Anambra also told me he invited him. The Governor of Ebonyi called me and said I should tell my colleagues that we would be accommodated that the meeting will be for 7pm because he had spoken with him. By 6pm, the President departed at Enugu airport and we started heading to the meeting which we arrived around 6:30 pm and we were told that the meeting was concluded by 20 minutes past 5pm and that they have endorsed the candidate of the PDP. Two things are clear; Ohanaeze is a socio cultural organisation not known for endorsement of any candidate. What you are supposed to be doing is to get the candidates and give them your demands not going to endorse because it is clear in our constitution that we are not allying with any political party and some people have tried it before unfortunately they got their fingers burnt. With all due respect, Professor Nwabueze in 1999 without clearance from Ohanaeze general assembly endorsed Olu Falae against Obasanjo. Olu Falae was flying the flag of APP/AD alliance and Obasanjo won the election and they held it against the Igbos and claimed that it was late Chief Alex Ekwueme that secretly told Nwabueze to go and endorse Falae. Little did they know that it caused a lot of bitterness between Alex Ekwueme and his friend Nwabueze. Nwabueze is a strong willed man so he did that by his own judgment thinking he was doing the Igbos good and Obasanjo antagonised Alex Ekwueme and all of us who are members of Ohanaeze and all of us who he felt were close to Chief Alex Ekwueme and that was how he took some mafias from South-east and made them his friends. At another time, they went and endorsed in 2003 and the same thing happened. In 2015 the immediate predecessor of Nwodo and the Secretary General, my good friend went and endorsed President Jonathan and said he is Ebele Azikiwe Jonathan, that he is their brother and they failed because President Buhari beat Jonathan in the 2015 election. The claim of marginalisation because of that endorsement and even the award and allocation of votes that followed there after some APC members used it against all of us in the APC. They said there was no vote from us that the election was won without input from the South-east. That gave rise to the famous five percent; those who gave me five percent and those who gave me 95 percent being peddled against Mr. President. In any case we are all human beings if someone looks you in the face and says ‘I will not vote for you’ and you eventually win the election and he didn’t vote for you and you saw he didn’t vote for you even though it is a secret ballot buy you also saw that there was allocation tell me would you be very happy? I am not trying to justify anything. All I am saying is that we can’t be adopting candidates. We can see the second Niger Bridge. He has committed N3 billion. No other government has done it. He put it in the national budget and put it as a flagship project in Nigeria and we are funding it. Unlike the previous governments that said it should done on PPP basis for foreigners to invest and collect money this president said I am building direct. Okonji Ewela when they came into the senate caucus of the South East in 2011 when we became senators the first meeting they came and told us that it is an PPP that they are doing on second Niger Bridge and investors are coming and I told them that they should clear away with that kind of proposal. We did a bridge to connect FCT which cost N80 billion. It was funded from the federal budget and at the time they came the Niger Bridge was estimated at N110 billion and Madam Okonji Ewela and my friend Pius were saying that it would be built on contractor PPP and I said no and that was what happened. Today this man is building second Niger Bridge. He is building Enugu to Okigwe to Umuahia to Aba to Port Harcourt which was abandoned in the last 16 years. He is building Enugu, Oji River, Awka to Onitsha also abandoned during PDP regime so I have no apologies to say that this man is doing well. A lot of us, the South-east governors don’t believe in what they have done. Governor Obiano has voiced his discernment. I have worked in Ohanaeze, I was Secretary in Ohanaeze strategy committee, I was deputy chairman of Ohaneze Ndigbo as President of Aka Ikenga. I brought Aka Ikenga from Lagos and we organised a forum for South-east delegates under Abacha regime to go to the constituent assembly. We did it with our own resources.
No one will talk to me about Ohanaeze or Igbo politics. I have paid my dues. I was president of Aka Ikenga for six years. All these people that are parading themselves can’t talk to me about Ohanaeze or Igbo politics and no one can tell me that he loves Igbos than me. The Igbos of Anambra know that I love them more than any of these people that are parading themselves up and down. I put my life on the line for the people of Anambra state so that they would have good things and I am also ready to put it on the line again for the Igbo nation so that they can secure their future in the nation and the only way they can secure their freedom is for them to follow a man who has shown signs that he loves everybody, that he is working for everybody. People say that Obi is Vice President what is Vice President? The shortest route for the president of Igbo extraction is for them to vote for APC and in 2023 by the rotation principle even if it is not entrenched in our constitution but has become a norm and convention now the presidency will come back to the South and when it comes back to the South on moral grounds it will be the turn of the people of the South-east. We must struggle for it and it starts now. We must show our party that we can deliver. We must show our party that if we are given the ticket in South-east, we can do something with it.

This issue of 2023 presidency is one of major plank of APC campaign in the South East. The party has not decided on it. Don’t you think that you are building castle in the air when indeed there is no such decision within the party?
Decisions of this nature are not taken four years away from when it will happen. ‘The come comes to become the men would be separated from the boys’. So when 2023 comes, the party will speak. The gladiators who are interested will come out and it will be the turn of the South if Muhammadu Buhari does another term. He even said it in the South-west rally in Ekiti that he isn’t seeking for third term because some people have tried it and failed but he has only a second term so we should support him to go for a second term. After his second term, the different zones in the South will come out and lay claims and make their point so there is no question of building castle in the air, we are being realistic. It is those that are saying the Vice President in PDP is a step away from presidency that are building castle in the air and not us in APC. When the time comes for the shuffle or the push, we will do it
Why did it take so long to resolve the issues with ASUU?
In 2017, ASSU went on strike. They had at that time about 12 points which we tried to address, we addressed them. Some of the issues are the ones in court now which is about pension reform which they floated for university workers. They made that demand in collaboration with other people operating universities ; Non Academic Staff Union, (NASU); National Association of Technologist (NAT) so that was one thing that unified all for a common demand. So government told them what to do, set the process in motion for them and they started. Midway they felt there was a lot of money and they were required to make some deposit and they paid some deposit and but later found out that they didn’t have an office which was locked which you can call the headquarters of the organisation, They didn’t have personnel so we summoned PENCOM and they got that together. It was there in 2017 negotiations, it is also there now but we resolved it finally because there has been an issue with an operating licence. Again there was the issue of end allowances both for NASU, NAT and SANU and of course with ASUU which is called ‘End Academic Allowance’ which are all part of a generic allowance therefore last time we paid them N31 billion. This time around that they have been computed collectively to know the aggregate amount because at that time in 2017 they were paid N30 billion by the Jonathan-led administration and this government came and said it will be verified by the Presidential Initiative on Continuous Audit (PICA). So PICA was looking at that and we discovered that it wasn’t necessary for PICA to do that because PICA was more of looking at allowances and salaries. So we felt that a consultant should be engaged by the former minister to audit the usage of the N30 billion before the new one can be released which was an agreement that was done. So we gave the auditors and they worked on it and found out that government was in arrears of that money from 2013 to 2016. So we owed them N105 billion which were allowances earned from extra teaching, extra work in laboratories, and allowances earned by those who ordinarily will do what we call overtime so government saved and paid it.
In 2017, we released N31billion to them. On that N31billion they were asked to bring a template for the sharing between the various workers in the various universities and that was just concluded early this year. The money is being paid to them which came in two tranches of N23 billion and N8 billion making N31 billion. That was the agreement which spilled over to 2018. One month ago, the last tranche of N8 billion was paid to the various unions because they had problems in carrying out the template for the payment. Then there was the issue of revitalisation of the universities. Again we gave then N20 billion as a sign of good faith that the agreement they reached with President Jonathan in 2009 that we believe in it notwithstanding the fact that we had a negotiating committee which was supposed to get alternative source of funding for the revitalisation of the universities. Take note that President Jonathan’s administration paid them N200 billion in 2013 after four years and they had programmed that they would be paying N220 billion every year for six years and that was what was in the agreement and that came to N1.3 trillion. Therefore when they could not pay in 2013, the administration went into TETFUND money and took N200 billion and paid the universities which was just like recycling. We don’t want to do that, we are looking at alternative source of funding so we gave them this money and said it is an act of good faith. The summit for the alternative source for funding completed its work and reported to the president where they listed and categorised alternative source of funding for university education because come to look at it; everybody knows education is an expensive business and that is why even in the best of climes like the United States of America students have to pay, they have to go for loans, even in Nigeria there was a time that students were paying from loans. So these were the things that government thought about, saying let’s look for an alternative source of funding. Today, you now know that there is an education tax and that tax goes to TETFUND and another education tax goes to UBEC. So that raised its head again and we appealed that the workshop had to finish but the president isn’t yet decided on the sources of funding. However, N25 billion was dedicated to universities for them to go on until government makes its final decision. There are other issues like human calculations that resulted in shortfall in salaries of people and immediately it was brought to our notice Finance Ministry intervened, the Accountant General’s office made up the payment for the shortfall. About N15.4 billion was released for the university system alone and they confirmed that they had received the money starting from about one month ago. The last was Tafa Balewa University that got their money last week. Therefore, all those issues were almost done with, however, I must tell you that ASUU saw a different kind of negotiation with me. I believe in being bitterly frank, straight forward and saying things as they are. Whatever they cannot get I tell them. For example one of their requests was that the University Panel renegotiating the 2009 agreement should be disbanded and we said no. I even referred them to the various statutes and conventions that no partner in a negotiation between an employer and an employee can dictate who would be in your team to come for the negotiation. So we can’t tell labour people that we don’t like the face of Mr. A and Mr. B and in the same way they can’t when a panel has been set up to negotiate something, you turn back and say you suspect that Mr. Babalakin because he had appealed for a university license for a private university so therefore he shouldn’t lead the negotiation party on government side.
They consulted their constituency and came back two, three times and finally they saw reason and we agreed because everything that has a beginning, has an end. That panel should be commencing work on the February 18th and they are to finish their work by March 28 and turn in their report which is six weeks to conclude their work. Other issues they raised include visitation panel because they wanted the rot in the university system cleared which we also felt the same way. This is an anti-corruption government. In fact they were aiding us in what we wanted to do so we had no problem in putting up Visitation Panels. They also talked about state universities being inferior in terms of funding and infrastructure. We then set up a Standing Committee comprising of ASUU members, NASU members, other unions in the university and on the government side, Pro- chancellors of universities as members. It is a seven man panel and they are supposed to be the Standing Committee that meets with the governors under the auspices of Governor’s Forum and also commissioners for education on things they want rectified. About eight issues were handled during this period and I can tell you that we had to do what we had to do so that they can get back to schools and our children can go back. A lot of people registered in university campuses to vote in the election and if these universities are closed then these students won’t be able to vote.


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FULL TEXT OF HIS EXCELLENCY, PRESIDENT MUHAMMADU BUHARI’S BROADCAST TO THE NATION, FEBRUARY 14, 2019

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President Muhammadu Buhari has on Thursday evening made a nationwide broadcast in which he addressed issues concerning the general elections and gave his stewardship.

The president emphasised his commitment to peaceful and credible elections.
He advised the people, particularly the youth, not to allow themselves to be used for violence during the elections.

FULL TEXT OF HIS EXCELLENCY, PRESIDENT MUHAMMADU BUHARI’S BROADCAST TO THE NATION, FEBRUARY 14, 2019

Fellow Citizens,
On Saturday, February 16, 2019, you will, once again, be called upon to choose the leaders who will pilot the affairs of our great nation for the next four years. This is a constitutional right which should be freely exercised by all eligible voters.
2. I wish therefore to start by assuring all Nigerians that this Government will do its very best to ensure that the 2019 elections take place in a secure and peaceful atmosphere.
3. It was indeed such free, fair and peaceful elections that made it possible for our Government to emerge, despite the fact that we were contesting against a long-standing incumbent party.
4. And as your president and a fellow Nigerian, I ask that you come out and queue to fulfill this important obligation you have to yourselves and your fellow citizens – and to our common future.
5. Let me at this point, reaffirm the commitment of the Federal Government to the conduct of free and fair elections in a safe and peaceful atmosphere. Just yesterday, I signed the Peace Accord alongside 72 other presidential candidates.
6. I want to assure all Nigerians, the diplomatic community and all foreign election observers of their safety and full protection. Any comments or threats of intimidation from any source do not represent the position of the Federal Government of Nigeria.
7. As Government has a critical role in maintaining the democratic traditions, so do citizens. I therefore urge you all, as good Nigerians, to take a personal interest in promoting and maintaining peace in your respective neighbourhoods during the elections. This is certainly not a time to allow personal, religious, sectional or party interests to drive us to desperation.
8. At this point, I want to make a special appeal to our youth: Do not allow yourselves to be used to cause violence and destruction. The people who want to incite you are those preparing the ground for discrediting the elections. Having lost the argument, they fear losing the elections.
9. When you elected me in 2015, it was essentially in consequence of my promise of CHANGE. We committed ourselves to improving security across the country, putting the economy on a sound footing and tackling rampant corruption, which had in many ways become a serious drawback to national development.
10. Our Government spent the last 3 years and 9 months striving faithfully to keep this promise, in spite of very serious revenue shortages caused mainly by a sharp drop in international oil prices and an unexpected rise in the vandalisation of oil installations, which, mercifully have now been curtailed.
11. We nevertheless pressed on in our quest to diversify the economy, create jobs, reduce commodity prices and generally improve the standard of living among our people.
12. The damage that insecurity and corruption have done, over time, to our collective livelihood is incalculable. However, it is pleasing to note that our frontal attack on these twin evils is gaining momentum and bringing about visible progress.
13. The recovery of the economy from recession is complete and Nigeria is back on the path of steady growth.
14. The key to creating more jobs lies in accelerating this momentum of economic growth. Happily, we have succeeded in making the fundamental changes necessary for this acceleration, and we are now beginning to see the efforts bearing fruit.
15. Our ease of doing business policies and programmes are already impacting medium, small and micro industries, as well as Manufacturing, Mining and Agriculture, among other key sectors.
16. Our commitment to critical infrastructure – that is Roads, Rails, Bridges, Airports and Seaports – will create more jobs, improving the efficiency and competitiveness of our industries.
17. Many of these projects are at different stages of completion, and those who use them regularly will attest to the fact that even while construction is ongoing, they are beginning to see reduced travel times. This will ultimately translate to reduced costs and greater convenience, making transportation, and business in particular, much easier.
19. The economic recovery that we promised is well underway, as demonstrated by the recently released statistics. In 2018, the economy grew by 1.93%, with the Fourth Quarter growth being 2.38%, up from 1.81% in the Third Quarter.
20. Remarkably, the strong economic performance was driven by the Non-Oil sector, which grew at 2% as at full year. Indeed, Non-Oil growth rose to 2.7% in the Fourth Quarter of 2018, up from 2.32% in the Third Quarter. These results further underscore our commitment to diversifying the economy away from the past dependence on Oil.
21. Other indicators confirm the economy’s steady recovery. Our monthly food import bill has declined from $664 million in January 2015 to $160 million as at October 2018. Inflation fell from 18.72% in January 2017 to 11.44% in December 2018. Our External Reserves have risen from $23 billion in October 2016 to $43.12 billion as at 7th February 2019.
22. Now that the recession is well behind us, our next task is to redouble our efforts, accelerate the growth and use it to create even more jobs for our people.
23. The Executive Orders, No. 5, and No. 7 issued by me, and the recently approved National Infrastructure Maintenance Policy demonstrate our commitment to accelerated job creation and infrastructure development.
24. We believe that Governments cannot simply proclaim jobs into existence. Job creation will only expand as a result of economic policies that enable the private sector to flourish, and this is the approach our Administration has taken.
25. Executive Order No 5, which Promotes Nigerian Content in Contracts, as well as Science, Engineering and Technology, will preserve and prioritize job creation for our citizens.
26. Executive Order 7, on the Road Infrastructure Development and Refurbishment Investment Tax Credit Scheme, seeks to mobilize private capital and capacity for infrastructure development.
27. It responds to the demands of manufacturing and industrial complexes which wish to construct access roads without waiting for government, so long as they are allowed to recover the cost from taxes they would have paid to government.
28. We expect that this approach will boost industrial expansion and rural development, consequently creating more jobs for our people.
29. Similarly, our recently issued Maintenance Policy targets artisans, carpenters, welders, tailors, painters, bricklayers, electricians, plumbers, landscapers and many more Ordinary Nigerians at the base of our economic pyramid who will get regular and large-scale opportunities to improve themselves.
30. It is an economic solution that also brings the relevant artisans and professionals into long term sustainable employment to maintain our Schools, Court Rooms, Hospitals, Police Stations, Federal Secretariats and other Public Buildings.
31. Human Capital Development has also been a key priority for this Administration, which has increased investments in health and education. Innovative measures have been introduced to complement the traditional budgetary allocations to the relevant Ministries.
32. For instance, Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority has invested US$21 million in three healthcare projects as a Public Private Partnership with three Federal medical institutions. These include two modern Medical Diagnostic Centres located at Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital, Kano and the Federal Medical Centre, Umuahia; as well as one outpatient Cancer Treatment Centre in Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Lagos – which I commissioned on 9th February 2019.
33. Of course, our radical commitment to developing Critical Infrastructure is the foundation upon which we will deliver an all embracing national prosperity and a shared commonwealth.
34. There is no country that aspires to greatness without spending massively on its Critical Infrastructure. Rather than the discredited policy of ‘stomach infrastructure’, which could only benefit a few for a little while, we are focused on real infrastructural development for the growth of our economy and the long-term benefit of all Nigerians.
35. When you voted for our message of CHANGE, you invited us to assume office and depart from that bad and most regrettable choice. We have responded by making a choice for real infrastructure of Roads in every State, Housing in 34 States, Power Stations across Nigeria, Rail from Lagos to Kano.
36. The choice that now confronts us is whether we want to continue with real infrastructure development, which is the road to prosperity and jobs or return to the era of ‘stomach infrastructure’.
37. Agricultural Self-Reliance and Food Security is also a choice we made in fulfilment of your mandate for change.
38. Our Presidential Fertiliser Initiative has resulted in savings of US$150 million in foreign exchange due to local sourcing of inputs at 16 Blending Plants. It has also conserved N60 billion in Subsidies as well as supported tens of thousands of farmers and agro-dealers nationwide.
39. Our Anchor Borrowers’ Programme has substantially raised local rice yields from as low as two Metric Tonnes per hectare, to as high as eight Metric Tonnes per hectare.
40. Through this programme, the Central Bank of Nigeria has cumulatively lent over N120 billion to over 720,000 smallholder farmers cultivating 12 commodities across the 36 States and Abuja. Targeted crops and livestock have included cattle, poultry, fish, cassava, soybeans, ground nut, ginger, sorghum, rice, wheat, cotton and maize.
41. As a result, we have seen a remarkable rise in the production of key agricultural commodities. I am pleased to note that in major departmental stores and local markets, there has been a surge in the supply of high quality Nigerian agricultural produce.
42. Behind each of these products, are thousands of industrious Nigerians working in factories and farms across the nation. Our interventions have led to improved wealth and job creation for these Nigerians, particularly in our rural communities.
43. Again, these outcomes have been a major departure from the previous focus on consuming imported food items, which literally exported our children’s jobs to food-exporting nations, whilst depleting our precious foreign exchange reserves. This, of course, caused a closure of our factories while keeping open other peoples’ factories.
44. The choice made by this Administration to assist farmers directly and promote agriculture in every way possible has gone a long way to enhance our food security while enabling us to tackle poverty by feeding over nine million children daily under our Home-Grown School Feeding Programme. It also puts us clearly on the road to becoming a food secure and agriculture exporting nation.
45. Next to Agriculture, we are focusing on Manufacturing Sector. The Purchasing Managers Index, which is the measure of manufacturing activities in an economy has risen for 22 consecutive months as at January this year, indicating continuous growth and expansion in our manufacturing sector.
46. I will conclude by going back to where I started: that our choices have had consequences about employment and cost of living.
47. In making your choice this time, please ask yourself whether, and in what ways, others will do anything different to address the issues of Agriculture, Infrastructure, Security, Good Governance and Fighting Corruption.
48. If they are only hoping to do what we are already doing successfully, we are clearly your preferred choice.
49. Think carefully and choose wisely. This time, it is a choice about consolidating on growth for Jobs and Prosperity.
50. February 16th is all about a choice. But it is more than a choice between APC and the opposition. It is a choice about you, it is a choice between going back or keeping the momentum of CHANGE.
51. The road to greater prosperity for Nigeria may be long, but what you can be assured of is a Leadership that is not prepared to sacrifice the future well-being of Nigerians for our own personal or material needs. You can be assured of my commitment to remain focused on working to improve the lives of all Nigerians.
52. Thank you very much for listening. God bless you, and may God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

 

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