President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday administered oaths of office on members of the newly constituted Presidential Economic Advisory Council (PEAC).
Buhari, while inaugurating the eight-member Council at the presidential villa, Abuja set an agenda for what they should accomplish in the shortest possible time.
The President at a meeting with the council chaired by Prof. Doyin Salami charged them to focus on developing reliable data that would properly reflect what is happening in the country.
Buhari described the task before the PEAC as ‘‘most important national assignment’’.
‘‘As you develop your baseline study, I would like you to focus on primary data collection. Today, most of the statistics quoted about Nigeria are developed abroad by the World Bank, IMF and other foreign bodies.
‘‘Some of the statistics we get relating to Nigeria are wild estimates and bear little relation to the facts on the ground.
‘‘This is disturbing as it implies we are not fully aware of what is happening in our own country.
‘‘We can only plan realistically when we have reliable data. As you are aware, as a government, we prioritised agriculture as a critical sector to create jobs and bring prosperity to our rural communities.
‘‘Our programmes covered the entire agricultural value chain from seed to fertiliser to grains and ultimately, our dishes.
‘‘As you travel in some rural communities, you can clearly see the impact. However, the absence of reliable data is hindering our ability to upgrade these programmes and assure their sustainability,” he said.
The President also used the occasion to set agenda and expectations from the Council, constituted on Sept. 16, to replace the Economic Management Team (EMT).
On the Social Investment Programmes (SIPs), the President told members that his administration was working to measure the impact of the programme targeted at improving the well-being of millions of poor and vulnerable citizens.
To this end, the President said he had directed the new Minister for Humanitarian Affairs to commence a comprehensive data-gathering exercise in all Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps in the North East.
He said: “Today, we hear international organisations claiming to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on IDPs in the North East. But when you visit the camps, you rarely see the impact.
‘‘In 2017, when the National Emergency Management Agency took over the feeding of some IDPs in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa, the amount we spent was significantly lower than the claims made by these international organisations.
‘‘Therefore, actionable data is critical to implement effective strategies to address pressing problems such as these humanitarian issues.
‘‘I, therefore, look forward to receiving your baseline study as this will help us shape ideas for a sustainable and prosperous future,’’ the President said.
On his expectations from the council, the President urged them to proffer solutions on how to move the country and economy forward.
He directed the Council to coordinate and synthesise ideas and efforts on how to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in 10 years, working in collaboration with various employment generating agencies of government.
”I am told you worked throughout last weekend in preparation for this meeting.
”I have listened attentively to findings and ideas on how to move the country and the economy forward.
”Yes, Nigeria has exited the recession. But our reported growth rate is still not fast enough to create the jobs we need to meet our national ambition of collective prosperity.
”Reason being we had to tread carefully in view of the mess we inherited.
”Many of the ideas we developed in the last four years were targeted at returning Nigeria back to the path of growth.
”I am sure you will also appreciate that during that time, our country was also facing serious challenges especially in the areas of insecurity and massive corruption.
”Therefore, I will be the first to admit that our plans were conservative. We had to avoid reckless and not well thought out policies.
”However, it was very clear to me after we exited the recession that we needed to re-energise our economic growth plans. This is what I expect from you, ” he said.
President Buhari also assured the Council that the Federal Government would ensure that all their needs and requests were met before the next technical sessions in November.
He said all key ministries, departments and agencies would be available to meet and discuss with them on how to collectively build a new Nigeria that caters for all.
”Now, no one person or a group of persons has a monopoly of knowledge or wisdom or patriotism.
”In the circumstances, you may feel free to co-opt, consult and defer to any knowledgeable person if in your opinion such a move enriches your deliberations and add to the quality of your decisions, ” Buhari said.
Edited by Isaac Aregbesola/Sadiya Hamza
Ministry of Defence, others make presentations as Buhari presides over virtual FEC
President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday presided over the third virtual meeting of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) at the Council Chamber of the State House, Abuja.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the Ministries of Defence, Environment, Works and Housing as well as Finance, Budget and National Planning are expected to make presentations during the meeting.
Others Ministers present along side with the President at the chamber, and are expected to make presentations include those of Water Resources, Justice, and Aviation while the remaining ministers would be participating in the meeting from their respective offices.
Those in attendance of the meeting included Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, Secretary to Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, Chief of Staff to the President and Prof. Ibrahim Gambari.
edited by Sadiya Hamza
Buhari condemns killing of UNIBEN student, Omozuwa
The president on his verified twitter page: @MBuhari on Tuesday directed the police to speedily and diligently investigate the case and ”ensure that all the culprits responsible for this barbaric act are brought to justice.
”I would like to offer my deepest condolences to the family and friends of Uwaila Omozuwa.
”I expect the Nigeria Police Force to speedily and diligently investigate this case and ensure that all the culprits responsible for this barbaric act are brought to justice,” the president stated.
Omozuwa, a 22-year-old microbiology student, believed to be a virgin, was raped and killed in a church where she went to conduct academic activities.
The killing of the university student has horrified many people across the country with human rights groups, public figures and government officials demanding justice for the deceased.
The Chairman of the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission, Mrs Abike Dabiri-Erewa, had on her twitter handle: @abikedabiri disclosed that one person had been apprehended in connection with the killing of Omozuwa.
She said the arrest was facilitated through the thumbprint of the suspect on the fire extinguisher used in attacking the victim.
Buhari commiserates with Delta fire victims
President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday commiserated with victims of the Ogbogonogo fire disaster in Delta, assuring them that they would not bear the burden of the incident alone.
The president spoke through the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Hajiya Sadiya Farouq, who led a team to visit Gov. Ifeanyi Okowa at Government House, Asaba.
The team, accompanied by the Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Mr Festus Keyamo, conveyed the feelings of Buhari to the governor.
Buhari commended the measures taken by Okowa to curb the spread of the fire and also reducing its effects on traders.
“The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) is with the State Emergency Management Agency to assist these hard working Nigerians, whose sources of livelihood were affected by fire.
“We need to let them know that once there is life, there is hope.
“We are also commending you and your team for the quick response which gave hope to the people.
“Immediately, we got wind of the incident, we sent relief materials to the state to cushion the effect of the fire on the people,” the president said.
Okowa expressed delight that Buhari was quick to respond to the fire incident.
He noted that only the creation of the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development could have made that prompt response possible.
“We want to express our gratitude to you and through you (minister) to our president.
“This visit is a thoughtful visit concerning the fire at Ogbogonogo Market.
“We have a warm relationship with NEMA and we are supporting the activities of your Ministry as it concerns assisting the needy in society.
“As a State Government, our youths are participating in different skill acquisition and wealth creation programmes.
“We have different programmes to support widows. We also have programmes for the less-privileged and the vulnerable.
“We appreciate this visit,” the governor said.
Buhari condoles with Dan Suleiman over wife’s death
President Muhammadu Buhari has commiserated with elder statesman and former military Governor of Plateau, retired Air Commodore Dan Suleiman over the death of his wife, Marie.
The president’s condolence message was conveyed in a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu, in Abuja on Tuesday.
“Buhari condoled with all family members and associates of the matriarch, whose investment of love in her family and community will always be remembered,” he said.
The president prayed that the almighty God will receive the soul of the deceased, who would be laid to rest at the weekend.
He also prayed that God would comfort the family she left behind.
Reps approve Buhari’s loan request
The House Committee on Aids, Loans and Debt Management, had presented its report through the Chairman, Rep. Ahmed Safana (APC-Katsina) at the House Committee on Supply.
Safana observed that out of the total borrowing of $22,898,446,773 as contained in the October 2019 re-forwarded request of President Muhammadu Buhari, a sum of $17,065,496,773 is for funds proposed to be borrowed from China Eximbank Bank.
He said out of the $22.799 billion loan, China Eximbank is to provide larger chunk of the fund worth $17.066 billion at 20 years maturity, 7 years moratorium, 0.5 per cent management fee, 2.75 per cent interest rate, 0.3 per cent commitment fee and 3-7 years duration.
The lawmaker said that the World Bank is to provide $2.854 billion at average repayment maturity of between 20 – 25 years, 1.25 per cent interest rate, 0.25 per cent commitment charge, 0.25 per cent front-end fee and five years duration.
He said that the African Development Bank (AfDB), is to provide $1.889 billion at average repayment maturity of 20 years, 0.75 per cent service charge, 0.5 per cent commitment charge, 5 years grace period, 1.127 per cent interest rate and 5-8 years duration.
According to him, Agencie Francaise de Development (AFD) is to provide $480 million at 15-20 years maturity, 4-7 years grace period, 2.6 – 2.9 per cent rate in USD based on Libor floating market rates (1.3 per cent in Euros in Euribomarket rates) depending on loan maturity, 0.5 per cent commitment fee, 0.5 per cent appraisal fee and five years duration.
He said German Development Bank is to provide $200 million at 15 years maturity, 5 years grace period, 3.99 per cent interest rate, 0.25 per cent commitment fee of the undisturbed amount and 0.4 per cent management fee of the loan.
He also said that the Islamic Development Bank is to provide $110 million at average repayment maturity of between 25 years, Service Charge not exceeding 2 per cent, 2.5 per cent interest rate and four years duration.
The breakdown of the approved loans include, $350 million World Bank Development Policy Operation loan for Kaduna and $110 million Islamic Development Bank Health Systems Projects Loan for Katsina State.
Reacting to the adopted report, the Deputy Minority Leader, Rep. Toby Okechukwu said that the approval does not meet the expectations of the people down south.
“First and foremost, there are certain strategic projects that ought to be there, one is the Western Corridor Rail line, which goes from Lagos to Kano and the Eastern Corridor Rail line that goes from Port Harcourt through Enugu to Makurdi, Plateau down to Maiduguri.
“They were established the same day, they commenced the same day, and they were completed the same day they were operating.
“So to take one in exclusion of the other is not appropriate,” he said.
According to him, it is an infrastructural sufficiency to give impetus to the eastern corridor passing through South South, South East, North Central and North East.
“If you check all these areas, what you will see is that we have trouble from Boko Haram to agitations to militancy; we have challenges in these areas and when you don’t undertake economic activities that will improve it, you are not helping.
“So it is our considered opinion that they should have been a priority; we appreciate the effort of Mr. Speaker in terms of trying by all means for the past 4 months to accommodate these Lines but of course there was no initiation for it.
“This is where you find out that the budget or loan approval is as good, but we need to think globally,” he said.
Okechukwu, however, appreciated the provision that says that the South East should be prioritised in the next borrowing plan.
He said that loan approval should have waited until the feasibility study is completed so that the South East and North East are sufficiently accommodated.
I’ll stand by you, Buhari tells AfDB President Adesina
Mr Femi Adesina, the President’s spokesman, in a statement, quoted the President saying:
“In 2015, when you were to be elected for the first term, I wrote to all African leaders, recommending you for the position.
“I’ll remain consistent with you, because no one has faulted the step I took on behalf of Nigeria.’’
The President pledged that Nigeria would work with all other leaders and stakeholders in AfDB to ensure that Adesina was elected for a second term built on the record of his achievements during his first term.
The African Union had already endorsed the incumbent AfDB President as sole candidate for the continent, but some other stakeholders are trying to ensure that Adesina is re-investigated on some allegations, and rendered ineligible to run.
Giving a background to what was happening in the bank, Adesina, a former Nigerian Minister for Agriculture, said the 16 allegations raised against him were trumped up, “and without facts, evidence, and documents, as required by the rules and regulations of the bank.”
“My defense ran into 250 pages, and not a single line was faulted or questioned.
“That was the end of the matter, according to the rules. It was only if I was culpable that a fresh investigation could be launched.
“I was exonerated, and any other investigation would amount to bending the rules of the bank, to arrive at a predetermined conclusion,’’ Adesina said.
“You helped me to get elected in the first place, and you have supported me robustly all along, and the African Union unanimously endorsed my re-election,” he declared.
Adesina also described the new Chief of Staff to the President, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari, as “a man of integrity, and of global standing.”
AfDB President visits Aso Villa, meets Buhari
NAN reports that the agenda of the meeting between the president and Adesina was unknown as at the time of filing this report.
Buhari noted that a report dated May 5, 2020, signed by Niale Kaba, Chairman of the Bureau of the Board of Governors, indicated that Dr Adesina had been exonerated of allegations against him by whistleblowers.
The allegations were thoroughly investigated by the Ethics Committee of the Board of Directors, and a recommendation made to Governors of the African Development Bank, and African Development Fund.
“On the basis of the results contained in the report of the committee, I am of the view that we should adopt its conclusions by declaring that the President is totally exonerated of all the allegations made against him,’’ the report by Kaba indicated.
However, the U.S Treasury Secretary, Steven Mnuchin, had called for an independent probe into the allegations by a group of whistleblowers against the AfDB President.
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo, had, in May, written a letter to some former leaders on the African continent to rally their support for Adesina, who has come under severe pressure mounted by the US government as he seeks a second term at the helm of affairs of the bank.
Buhari approves ministry’s request for security of telecoms infrastructure
President Muhammadu Buhari has approved a request by the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Pantami, for provision of security for telecommunications infrastructure across the country.
Pantami said this in a statement signed by Mrs Uwa Suleiman, the Spokesperson for the Minister, and made available to newsmen on Tuesday in Abuja.
As part of Federal Government policy, the minister had championed efforts to identify telecommunications infrastructure as critical national infrastructure, with a view to protecting them from vandalism and theft.
The minister said also that the president had directed that necessary physical protective measures be put in place to safeguard telecommunications infrastructure across the country.
He explained that the Nigerian telecommunications industry, depended on a number of infrastructure that played critical roles in the smooth delivery of telecoms services in the country.
“The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, has led to a massive migration to digital platforms and has increased the level of importance of Critical National Infrastructure to the sustenance of our economy and the security of the nation.”
Pantami, however, said that the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) Defence Headquarters (DHQ) Nigeria Police Force (NPF) Department of State Security Services (DSS) and the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) had been notified of the president’s directives.
He thanked the president and commended the security agencies for the commitment they demonstrated in securing the infrastructure.
The minister urged all the Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) to ensure that they further reduced the prices of data and calls for the citizens, adding that this was to reciprocate the gesture.
He also requested the MNOs to submit a comprehensive list of their facility locations all over the country.
“We are also working toward the reinforcement of these directives through appropriate regulatory instruments
“The implementation of the National Broadband Plan (NBP) and the implementation of the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy, both unveiled by the president, have repositioned the ICT sector.
“This is evident by the recent Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) Report released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) which showed that the ICT sector contributed an unprecedented 14.07 per cent to the total GDP in the first quarter of 2020.
“We are confident that this will address the challenge of vandalism of our critical national infrastructure.
It will also go a long way in supporting the implementation of the National Broadband Plan (2020-2025),” the minister said.
Minister, Buhari’s Aide, others react as Majek Fashek dies in New York
The Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Mr Festus Keyamo and Laurreta Onochie, an Aide to President Muhammadu Buhari have reacted to the death of the legendary Reggae star, Majek Fashek.
The Raggae star a.k.a rain maker, died after battling with cancer for nearly a year.
Omenka said the singer died in New York, where he was receiving treatment, adding that the doctors advised he should be moved close to his family, which informed his being moved to New York where his wife and three sons live.
He said contrary to insinuation that the Raggae legend died in London, he was moved from London to New York in September 2020 on the advice of the doctors that he should stay close to the family.
He said Majek was separated from his family for 10 years until last year when they were reunited on the advice of his doctors that he should be close to his family.
Majek was said to have died at age of 57 as he was born March 7, 1963.
However, the minister in a tweet said, ” R.I.P my big brother, Mr. Majekodunmi Fasheke (aka Majek Fashek), the ‘Rain Maker’ and extraordinarily gifted musician.
Similar, Senator Shehu Sani inrin histhis reaction said, “some years ago I met Majek Fashek near a train station in New York before he returned to Nigeria, he was a shadow of the man many of us loved decades ago.
According to him, Majek rode through a rough and dangerous terrain in life, he tried to pick up and now is gone, he was an unforgettable legend.
Laurreta Onochie, an Aide to President Muhammadu Buhari said ” at last he rests, he escapes the life that held him captive.
According to her, h”escaped a world where talented people are milked till nothing is left; where no vice can touch him.
“But we won’t forget you as younger people, your music moved our feet and gladdened our souls, sleep well,” she said.
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