Tag Archives: Muhammadu Buhari

President Buhari appoints former Super Eagles striker, Daniel Amokachi as Special Assistant on Sports

President Muhammadu Buhari has appointed former Super Eagles striker and Nigerian Football Ambassador, Daniel Amokachi as the Special Assistant on Sports.

This was confirmed by Buhari’s Special Assistant on New Media, Bashir Ahmaad.

Ahmaad tweeted: “President Buhari has appointed former Super Eagles striker and Nigerian Football Ambassador, Daniel Amokachi as the Special Assistant on Sports.”

South East Group threatens legal action against FG over $22.7B loan

Amaka Ani, Enugu

The National Coordinator of South-East Response Team (SOREST), Comrade Aku Obinna on Wednesday, June 25 said his organisation would exhaust all alternatives against the President Muhammadu Buhari for marginalising South East of Nigeria.

Briefing journalists at a Press Conference in Enugu, Aku wondered why it has become a tradition for the APC led federal government to continually and deliberately marginalise and discriminate against Ndi Igbo. He argued that since 2015, it has been one exclusion after another in infrastructure, appointments and other dividends of democracy.

According to him, “We want to draw your attention to the vexatious continuous marginalization and discrimination against the South East people by the President Buhari administration. As we are all aware, shortly after President Buhari was sworn into office for his first tenure, he told the world through a global medium that his government will treat South Easterners who he perceived and still perceives as not to have massively voted for him during Election unfairly.

“South East have been almost excluded and sidelined in the leadership of the country, the brazen and unchecked extortions of the the South Easterners by the several Federal security outfits road checkpoints and the high number of unaddressed extral judicial killings during peaceful protest.

“Mr President has commenced an action which we see as the height of marginalization and discrimination of his government against the South Easterners. This is the exclusion of the zone from benefiting from the current projects in the twenty two billion, seven hundred million dollars ( $22.7B) loan which the Federal Government is sourcing from several international lending institutions.

“We wish to reiterate our call on President Muhammadu Buhari, the parliament and international creditors to immediately put a hold to this transaction. South East zone should be captured in this project. Unless that is done, SOREST will be bound to take every necessary legal steps towards ensuring that the loan is not accessed”, he said.

6 reasons why the time has come for N-Power Batch C

Social media has been in a frenzy since the Friday June 19, 2020 announcement of the transition of N-Power Batch A and B scheduled for June 30th and July 31st, 2020 respectively.

According to a statement released by the ministry, the N-Power programme will begin enrolment of Batch C beneficiaries beginning June 26, 2020. The announcement noted that the move is sequel to wide consultations and review and will provide an opportunity for other Nigerian youth to access the programme which is intended to upskill them for employability and entrepreneurship in furtherance of the President’s vision of lifting 100 million Nigerians out of poverty by creating opportunities that will enhance their productivity.

The N-Power programme was inaugurated by President Muhammadu Buhari in 2016 under the National Social Investment Programme (NSIP) with the mandate of lifting citizens out of poverty through capacity building, investment, and direct support.
Quoting the Honourable Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadiya Umar Farouq, the statement noted that “we have commenced the transitioning of beneficiaries from Batches A & B into government entrepreneurship schemes and engaging private sector bodies to absorb some of the beneficiaries after the completion of psychometric assessment to determine competency and placement into various opportunities. The Federal government is committed to the continuation and expansion and as such will now begin enrolment and onboarding of a new Batch of beneficiaries. Skills acquisition for entrepreneurship and job creation are critical for an economy that will require a boost post-Covid-19 and we are gearing up proactively for the challenge.”

So why is there so much hue and cry over the transitioning and imminent exit of Batch A (who have spent over 40 months instead of 24 months) and B whose 24 month tenure expires in July? This piece intends to address the fundamentals of the programme as a means of showing that the time has come for other young Nigerians to benefit from the Federal Government’s key social investment programme.

Why the hue and cry? The Batch A and B beneficiaries have been unusually vocal for one simple reason. They are young and internet savvy and as such are quick to resort to social media to air their grievances. But how germane are their complaints? Let us consider the N-Power Programme vis a vis the National Youth Service Programme. Both are youth focused programmes with clearly defined terminal dates. The N-Power Programme was designed to terminate after 24 months after which another cohort will be enrolled. Batch A was taken on in September 2016 but was not transitioned before the programme was domiciled under the ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development. The minister upon assumption of office decided to retain the Batch A beneficiaries for the sake of continuity and in order to fully study the programme. Nine months later and after wide consultation, the ministry has decided to transition Batch A on June 30, 2020. The transitioning was clearly defined in the design and Batch-A beneficiaries refusing to exit the programme would be akin to NYSC members refusing to pass out after their one year of service.

This will have wide ranging repercussions not just for the programme but other young Nigerians eager to access the programme and gain skills for employability and entrepreneurship.

How successful has the N-Power programme been? In his May 29th broadcast, the president commended the programme while stating clearly that – “our Social Investment Programme has continued to be a model to other nations.” With 500,000 beneficiaries already impacted in Batch A and B, many beneficiaries who tapped into the programme as a means of upskilling and becoming productive, have gone ahead to become gainfully employed or employers of labour.

What happens if Batch A and B are not transitioned? The fact is that the programme, as stated earlier, is designed to have a terminal date. So, if Batch A and B beneficiaries are not transitioned, there would be no opportunities for other young Nigerians to access the programme and it would not only defeat the purpose of the programme it will also rob other Nigerians of an important opportunity. The beneficiaries are supposed to gain skills that would prepare them for the job market or to become employers of labour and there are many success stories to back this up. Many under N-Agro have set up farms and some N-Power beneficiaries have become state aggregators for the National Home Grown School Feeding programme thus underlining the importance of the programme.

How will Batch C be different? Following a review of submissions and wide consultations which included a recent inter-ministerial meeting, the programme is being streamlined for effectiveness. To this end, Batch C will be markedly different from Batch A and B. First, to apply for Batch C, candidates must provide their BVN numbers. This is to ensure that gainfully employed youths do not also apply for the N-Power programme thus denying those who really need it. Secondly in fulfilment of its humanitarian remit, the ministry will also make special considerations for Persons living with disabilities under Batch C to cater to a special segment that makes up 15% of the Nigerian population.

Why is FG not employing the N-Power beneficiaries? The programme was designed to upskill beneficiaries in preparation for employability or entrepreneurship. Beneficiaries who pass the psychometric tests and are found suitable for employment will been gainfully employed while those who show aptitude for entrepreneurship will become employers of labour. The programme was not designed to absorb beneficiaries into the civil service.

N-Power and post Covid-19 Nigeria: The Covid-19 pandemic has taken a huge toll on economies all over the world and Nigeria is no exception. Post Covid-19 nations will need to rebuild their economies and the enrolment of a new cohort of N-Power beneficiaries under Batch-C is a proactive step to prepare Nigeria for that reality. As the Honourable Minister noted in the press statement – “Skills acquisition for entrepreneurship and job creation are critical for an economy that will require a boost post-Covid-19 and we are gearing up proactively for the challenge.”

Stop free migration of foreign herdsmen into Nigeria, SMBLF tells Buhari

Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum, SMBLF, on Tuesday, called on President Muhammadu Buhari to stop the free migration of foreign herdsmen into the country.

In a statement by Yinka Odumakin (South-West), Chief Guy Ikokwu (South-East), Senator Bassey Henshaw (South-South) and Dr Isuwa Dogo (Middle Belt), the leaders stated that the peace of Nigeria is currently under threat because of the activities of the herdsmen.

Recall that Governor Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano State had called on President Buhari to end the protocol on free movement that allows herdsmen from other countries to freely move into Nigeria.

SMBLF stated that it identifies with the governor’s demand.

The statement read: “The position of the governor better appreciates the lawlessness of the armed herdsmen that has led to the loss of hundreds of lives around the country in recent years with the Federal Government turning a blind eye to these atrocities or making statements that tacitly encourage them.

“We still have not come to terms with the declaration by the President last year, that Africans are free to come to Nigeria and obtain visas on arrival when he once identified Ghadafi militia men as a bulk of the troublers of Nigeria under the guise of herding.

“It is also worrying that while the police have been troubling those who own licensed guns to come and return them, herdsmen who carry illegal sophisticated weapons like AK-47 roam free all over Nigeria.

“It took nine months for the police to arrest some of the herdsmen who killed the daughter of Afenifere Leader, Chief Reuben Fasoranti.

“We do not also accept the statement of the Bauchi Governor and Miyetti Allah that Fulanis are free to move anywhere in Nigeria because each territory has indigenous owners.

“We encourage northern governors to move away from the mindset of Governor Bala Mohammed and support the reasonable call of Ganduje.

“The peace of Nigeria is currently under threat because of the activities of the herdsmen under whose roaming crimes of kidnapping, destruction of communities and killings of innocent people are taking place.

“We call on the President to rise to the duty of his office to protect all Nigerians and hearken to the call of Governor Ganduje to halt these movements and prosecute those who are committing crimes against humanity under the guise of herding,” SMBLF noted.

OPEN LETTER TO PRESIDENT BUHARI AND ASIWAJU TINUBU ON EDO ELECTION

By Sebastine EBHUOMHAN

Your Excellency, my dear President Muhammadu Buhari and Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, I hope your families are well and safe. I hope also that this letter will meet the two of you, Sirs, in joyful mood.

Let me respectfully crave your indulgence, Mr President and the Commander-in-Chief of the Federal Republic, to begin with a reminder. On Monday, 26th September, 2016, you stormed Benin City with the National Leader of All Progressives Congress (APC) along with the then Governor of Edo State and present National Chairman of APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, to lead the governorship campaign of APC for Mr Godwin Obaseki, which he easily won, defeating the People’s Democratic Party (PDP)’s candidate then. This open letter highlights issues and conflicts arising from the current struggle for re-election by the incumbent, Mr Obaseki, in APC.

I will like to clarify before any other thing that I’m not a card-carrying member of APC or any other political party. Nonetheless, I am eminently qualified to write this letter based on the following facts. First, I am a bona-fide citizen of Nigeria from Edo State. Second, I championed your presidential election project in Benin owing to your unimpeachable integrity. Third, your promise to tackle corruption resonated with my patriotic zeal. Fourth, I have a son-father relationship with Comrade Oshiomhole. Fifth, I shared his overwhelming call to support the governorship aspiration of Mr Obaseki without a second thought. Sixth, I actively contributed to Mr Obaseki’s unarguable victory in many ways including the personal authorship and production and printing with the support of Barrister Emmanuel Usoh, an APC chieftain, 10,000 copies of the historic critical handbook titled: The Simple Agenda, Ize-Iyamu’s Manifesto of Sophism.

Holding and reading from that handbook in your hand, with the support of other party leaders inside Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium, you led Obaseki to victory in the election of Wednesday, 28th September, 2019.

Mr President, despite the fact that I refrained from bothering the governor with calls after he refused to pick my initial calls, neither him nor any other official of the government has had anything to do with me since the inauguration to this day even as I have never asked for any favour or privilege from the government. So, I had already moved on before his delegated authorities denounced me. But for over three years now as I have watched Governor Obaseki, I have seen him frittered away all the goodwill that ushered him into power with needless and avoidable statements and acts unbefitting of a state governor. In the process, he has totally alienated himself from those who united forces to give him election victory on a golden platter, and regrettably, polarised his party into factional camps as makes for the jugular of all those perceived to be unsupportive of his reelection bid. The irredeemable and irreparable damage to a once cordial relationship between Governor Obaseki and his party on the one hand and non-party members on the other hand has become a big question mark not just on APC’s unity ahead of the forthcoming governorship election, but also APC’s ability to win Edo State governorship election if it fields Obaseki.

To say that Mr Governor’s confidence has taken a blow and that fear has come upon him and his followers most since the failure of his blind pursuit of Oshiomhole removal as APC National Chairman instead of resolving his differences with all his helpers that he cunningly disparaged and chased away after attaining power, is stating the obvious. His mortal fear has been highlighted in the past days by his insistence for only an indirect primary election or nothing long before the National Working Committee (NWC) of APC unanimously adopted the direct mode of election.

Governor Obaseki changed gear to campaign against direct primary after his vocal demand for an unconstitutional “Right of First Refusal” as “a performer” gained no ears of both Edo APC and National APC. He believes he can only win by influencing the selected voters of indirect primary. The governor, in his predetermined arrogant, disrespectful and destructive course, had initially focused on that narrow but illegal narrative that would have conferred a concensus status on his aspiration. But that was not to be for a ‘leader’ that relegated, destroyed and attempted forcing his party leaders to adopt him, the same people he labelled with unsuitable names and chased away.

Considering how Oshiomhole and all his loyalists polished and assisted Obaseki for an effortless victory in 2016, the aspirant and later candidate would not have defeated his tougher, more popular, better prepared and more experienced opponents that contested against him in APC and other parties 2016 even as Oshiomhole’s Chairman of Economic and Strategy Team (EST), a backroom position.

Today, even as an incumbent with a plummetted popularity, it is doubtful if Obaseki can pick APC’s ticket in a free, fair and credible field that includes the following heavyweights. Dr Pius Odubu is a lawyer and the immediate past Deputy Governor for eight years, who has had eight solid years respectively as Representative and State Assembly lawmaker. Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, a lawyer, farmer and clergy, has been a former Secretary to Edo State Government and former South-South Vice Chairman of ACN besides directing Oshiomhole’s and Jonathan’s elections in Edo State in the past. Dr Chris Ogiemwonyi had also risen to the pinnacle of NNPC management before retirement. Mr Charles Airhiavbere is a retired Army Major-General with extensive experience in Edo State politics. Ditto, Mr Saturday Uwulekhue, a former Edo State NDDC Commissioner.

Looking at the initial field of APC aspirants for next month’s primary, can Obaseki thump his chest that he can defeat any of the eight other aspirants fairly? Indeed, only dialogue, persuasion and horse trading could have ensured a concensus adoption of Obaseki instead of the labelling, profiling, intimidation, harassments, threats, estrangement, assaults, arrests, violence, removal of office holders and destruction of personal properties that he adopted.

The question is: what is an election in which an incumbent aspirant is only confident of winning if he could influence the process?

It is within the power of the NWC of APC to adopt any mode for Edo APC primary. Governor Obaseki, like any other aspirant, lacks the power to dictate the mode or process of primary he wants to contest. Article 13, Section 4, Sub-section 13 of APC constitution empowers the NWC to decide on a mode of primary election subject to the approval of NEC. So, ab initio, the grandstanding of Obaseki and his henchmen was a futile exercise that simply justify his fear of losing.

The decision of the APC NWC is also legally backed by Section 87 of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended).

Furthermore, the Supreme Court of Nigeria has lucidly clarified whatever doubt is left through a judgment delivered by John Inyang Okoro, JSC, on 17th September, 2015, in a case between Appellant Mahmud Aliyu Shinkafi of People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and Respondents Abdulazeez Abubakar Yari of All Progressives Congress (APC) and Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) that the decision of the national party is supreme.

As Obaseki’s government vehemently argues that the indirect mode of election is the best tactic to contain the outbreak of coronavirus in Edo State during APC’s primary, reality indicates contrary even from the viewpoints of the government. First, the governor had been claiming he has a foolproof plan for the containment of COVID-19 already compelling residents to maintain social distance, use face masks, ban large gatherings, observe night curfew, manage cases of outbreak etc. Second, the government had sought to go ahead with hosting the National Sports Festival for tens of thousands of visitors scattered across different game venues in Edo State, insisting it was prepared to host, until the Federal Government suspended the games. Third, it is seen daily, in spite of the government efforts, how traders relocated from markets to public schools observes no distancing owing to lack of space even as they still pay taxes and daily tickets. Fourth, the government claimed it is prepared against COVID-19 to welcome stakeholders of roughly not less than 5,000 voters, aspirants, observers, media, security, traders, onlookers and other stakeholders in a single location for an indirect primary. Fifth, it follows therefore, that tens of card-carrying members drawn from Edo State’s 192 wards that come together for a direct primary election in atmospheres where the rules of COVID-19 are respected, is better for the interest of the people of Edo State.

Moreover, the promoters of indirect system cannot be myopic to overlook the task of undergoing a shorter and lesser direct process to select delegates for an indirect primary, especially in the absence of a party convention. How they intend to go round this hurdle in days, I don’t know.

Perhaps, APC NWC must have approved direct primary after considering all the risks. As commendable as it is, NWC’s decision provides an equal democratic platform for all aspirants. And since Obaseki, as incumbent, says his popularity is overwhelming, there is no better way to elect the party’s flag bearer than through the free, fair and credible votes of ordinary members, who Obaseki may find difficult to convince for votes after chasing them away with whips.

The direct primary gives ordinary APC members the right to vote. The right to vote gives them constitutional power and protection.

According to Lyndon Baines Johnson, “This right to vote is the basic right without which all others are meaningless. It gives people, people as individuals, control over their own destinies.”

Often called by his initials, LBJ was an American politician who served as the 36th President of the United States from 1963 to 1969 after serving as the 37th Vice President from 1961 to 1963.

In his view, Professor Itse Sagay (SAN), lauded the direct primary as a most democratic system. Other experts and political scientists readily concur with him.

In spite of the general recommendation of direct primary, the spoken words and body language of Governor Obaseki has been disturbing since NWC announcement. With undenied reports of unrequited visits with the aim of meeting Mr President and the National Leader assuming headlines in place of strategies to win the primary, Governor Obaseki’s run from pillars to posts have made him a Conservative, aptly defined by a former United States President, Franklin D. Roosevelt as: “A man with two perfectly good legs who, however, has never learned how to walk forward.” The dilemma, Mr President, is: how does a man who has never learn to walk with his two good legs suddenly run with them when they are wobbling in fears?

Irrespective of any reason, observers are unanimous that such visits at 11th hour mirror attempts to drop names and gain undeserving endorsements or upper hand in the heart of voters and the public. They have therefore urged you, Mr President and the APC National Leader, not to give Governor Obaseki or any other aspirant any audience, endorsement or support ahead of Edo APC primary election in line with your democratic etho of neutrality. This is also their message to the Progressive Governors’ Forum, which leadership that has Obaseki as Vice Chairman has been seeking illegally and unconstitutional route to influence the forthcoming primary election in Edo State.

The danger of Nigeria’s ruling APC under the leadership of President Buhari and Asiwaju Tinubu losing its only state in Nigeria’s South-South Region is real and looming if the party hands its ticket to Obaseki in a tainted primary election. While APC remains the only visible party in Edo State today, the unpreparedness of the opposition for the election is underlined in the readiness of the PDP to accept Obaseki in its platform with less than a month to party primaries.

It is not surprising, therefore, that Obaseki, who no longer enjoys the support of majority leaders and members of APC, has continuously flirted with other parties just as he has been openly endorsed and invited to the PDP to contest its primary. Speaking on this issue recently in Benin, the PDP Vice Chairman for South-South Zone, Chief Emmanuel Ogidi minced no words when he insisted the governor will be welcomed if he desires to defect.

“If Governor Obaseki comes, we will take him. We can’t drive anybody from entering our party. Our doors are wide open.”

“I am not, however, aware that he has started negotiation with us with a view to defecting. If the governor has seen the light and wants to come to the PDP, he is welcomed.”

“There is going to be a primary. The PDP does not award its ticket. If you win the primary, you become the candidate.”

Whether Governor Obaseki will eventually contest the primary, withdraw from the contest or defect to another party is a decision he is constitutionally entitled to announce after reconsidering his slim chance of winning. But of utmost fidei is APC’s promise to organize on an equal platform, subject to democratic rules of credible election instead of parochial wishes of elders, political office holders, power of incumbency, manipulation of security, exploitation of health crisis etc. It depends entirely on Obaseki to decide how to realize his agenda on 22nd June, bearing in mind that Comrade Oshiomhole has no problem with him, whatsoever, but that the governor’s problems are directly with friends, loyalists and sons of Oshiomhole that Obaseki cheated and took for granted. Again, it is not deniable that Obaseki, without a political structure, is severely disconnected from the grassroots he seeks to lean on.

I have listed below for your perusal an outline of anti-party offences allegedly committed by Governor Obaseki since November 2016.

(i) Appointment and patronage of ‘strange’ and imported people dubiously branded as “technocrats”.

(ii) Branding, profiling, rejection, shaming, arrest and detention of political leaders.

(iii) Abandonment of strategists that helped Obaseki to win election, an action that portrays him as an ingrate.

(iv) Muzzling of dissenting voices, which clearly breaches the Freedom of Speech and other rights enshrined in Sections 38, 39 and 40 of Chapter IV of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic.

(v) Fraudulent abandonment of his predecessor’s policies and projects with which he campaigned and won his election.

(vi) Loss of 2019 presidential election in his ward, local government area and district.

(vii) Nocturnal inauguration of Edo Assembly with nine legislators and refusal to issue fresh proclamation to inaugurate 14 lawmakers as constituted authorities directed; a clear violation of Article 21, Sub-section 3 of APC constitution.

(viii) Imposition of Edo Assembly Speaker.

(ix) Opposing the appointment of Edo sons into the NDDC and other federal offices.

(x) Suspension and call for arrest of APC National Chairman.

(xi) Masterminding removal of APC National Chairman.

(xii) Rejection of APC National Reconciliation Committees.

(xiii) Open call for attack of political leaders opposed to his re-election, especially the National Chairman who house was later blocked in response to the call, clearly violating Article 21, Sub-section 7 of APC constitution.

(xiv) Demolition of properties and businesses of people opposed to his re-election.

(xv) Assault, violence, bombing and assassination attempts.

(xvi) Attack on APC rallies held to receive new members.

(xvii) Initiation of direct and indirect court cases against APC NWC, APC National Chairman, NASS leadership etc. without exploring and exhausting internal redress mechanisms, a clear breach of Article 21, Sub-section 10 of APC constitution.

(xviii) Using APC platform to explore inapproriate talks with the opposition.

(xix) The celebration of APC’s loss of Bayelsa State.

(xx) Lack of transparency and accountability largely underlining lacking openness in Obaseki’s government, in spite of record showing it has received over N320 billion from FAAC till date.

(xxi) Poor governance and mismanagement of Edo State economy, which many people have cited for his inability to commission any notable project till date.

(xxii) Closing down the College of Agriculture Iguorhiakhi and showing disobedience to the judgement of the National Industrial court.

(xxiii) Closing down the Tayo Akpata University of Education formerly known as College of Education , Ekiadolor.

(xxiv) Covering up the sudden disappearance of his serving Commissioner for Arts, Culture, Tourism and the Diaspora, Mr Osaze Osemwegie-Ero, rumoured to be detained in Europe since last November, 2019, following an alleged arrest with huge money.

Obaseki denies all the allegations against him, however, even as his body language portrays resignation to fate owing to the adoption of direct primary.

Obaseki’s biggest pain today is suddenly finding himself home, dry and abandoned. Confronted with an increasingly revolting foot soldiers throwing in resignations, he will have to learn to walk alone, no thanks to the peaceful adoption of Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu as the concensus aspirant of all the APC aspirants. For POI, as Ize-Iyamu is popularly known, it is deserving for his humility, courage, determination and organization (expect more from me on POI and GGO). But for Obaseki, should he decide to contest or withdraw for others or entirely defect from APC, it can only bring more shame, pain and uncertainty. He is not helped by the fact that the PDP is already selling nomination forms to aspirants. Left with no option, a signal for the disruption of APC’s direct primary, as his aides are threatening, will force the NWC to submit Ize-Iyamu’s name as Electoral Act empowers a party to do.

Mr President, between the parallel lines above: confusion, dilemma, regret and anguish supremely mock the thoughts of Governor Obaseki, his advisers and supporters, which makes any presidential audience, endorsement or support for a return to Dennis Osadebey Avenue a reward for ingratitude, unkindness and inhumanity.

Sebastine EBHUOMHAN is a multiple award-winning journalist from Edo State resident in Abuja. He can be reached at: usie007@yahoo.com or 08037204620.

President Buhari participates at Online Summit of Non-Allied Movement in Response to Covid-19

President Muhammadu Buhari Monday in Abuja said only a collective international approach will mitigate the devastating effect of COVID-19, while assuring that the Federal Government will intensify efforts to monitor, test and isolate more people, especially at the community level.

President Buhari, who participated in a virtual Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), said national, regional and global strategies would be required to tackle the pandemic, which, he said, had ravaged humanity and caused unprecedented devastation to the well-being of people, their livelihoods, and global economy.

“The theme of this extra-ordinary Summit ‘United Against COVID-19 Pandemic,’ aptly reflects the importance for a proactive approach and the need for multilateral cooperation in finding quick solutions to the challenges that COVID-19 pandemic poses to our nations.

“Since the outbreak of the disease, countries have made concerted efforts to limit the spread of the pandemic within and outside their borders as well as treating those infected by the virus.

“Two weeks ago, we in West Africa came together to work out a common sub-regional response to the crisis. The summit appointed me the Champion to lead our efforts on fighting the pandemic in our region.’’

The President said the task before the international community remains daunting, and more needs to be done to reduce the impact of COVID-19.

According to him, “It is now clearly evident that no nation can independently and singlehandedly tackle a pandemic of this nature which is no respecter of borders, regions or status.

“Invariably, enhancing multilateral cooperation through exchange and sharing of best practices is imperative to overcome the disease. We must, therefore, form a united front against this common enemy by being coordinated and timely in our responses.

“Furthermore, we must all encourage and empower our scientists and medical experts to join the quest for a vaccine and cure to this universal plague.’’

The President told Heads of State and Government of the Non-Aligned Movement that the central role of the United Nations and the World Health Organization (WHO) in fighting the pandemic must be acknowledged and leveraged for the benefit of all member nations.

“It is, therefore, essential to fully collaborate and support their initiatives in coordinating the international fight against the pandemic. Such efforts should include the protection of our medical workers, provision of medical supplies, especially test kits and ultimately, finding a vaccine to cure the disease.’’

President Buhari urged international financial institutions to assist member states in cushioning the negative impact of the pandemic in the spirit of solidarity, which will include extending concessional loans, technical support, lowering of tariff on medical equipment and consumables, sharing of expertise in case management, adopting open trade policies, as well as outright debt cancellation.

“Within the spirit of South-South cooperation, we must also assist one another, particularly the less developed and less endowed member states with technical, medical, and financial assistance. It is by so doing that we can rightly claim to uphold the Bandung Principles of equality, mutual interests, and cooperation.’’

On efforts to control the spread of the virus in Nigeria, and ameliorate the economic effect, the President said:

“We have closed our land borders and airports and reduced seaport activities in a bid to curb imported cases from entering the country. Unfortunately, the number of confirmed cases continues to rise as a result of community transmission of the disease.

“Accordingly, we have increased our efforts to monitor trends of the disease, established more isolation centres and stepped up testing at the community level and of potentially vulnerable groups.’’

He said various relief materials were handed out, including medical and food supplies as well as conditional cash transfer to about 3.6 million vulnerable households affected by the stay at home order, while responding to the economic needs of citizens by supporting households and Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) affected by COVID-19 induced economic downturn.

The President noted that a Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 was set up, and the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control strengthened to face challenges of mobilization, sensitization and implementation of all decisions.

President Buhari commended His Excellency, Ilham Aliyev, President of the Republic of Azerbaijan and Chair of the Non-Aligned Movement for organizing the extra-ordinary summit, and condoled with all members that lost citizens to COVID-19.

In his remarks to the Summit, President of the UN General Assembly, Tijjani Muhammad-Bande, pledged that his office would continue to work with NAM to promote partnerships and galvanise the needed engagement to defeat COVID-19 and reduce its impact on communities.

While commending WHO, NAM member-states, civil society and the private sector, for providing vital support and services in the fight to defeat the pandemic, the President of the General Assembly called on all those that have the capacity, to financially support the UN’s COVID-19 Global Humanitarian Response plan.

‘‘COVID-19 has disrupted billions of lives with far-reaching effects on the health and livelihoods of people.

‘‘The International Labour Organization estimates that workers will lose as much as 3.4 trillion US Dollars in income by the end of 2020. Global health systems are under enormous stress and global travel has been severely impacted.

‘‘States, corporations and families are already counting losses that could only be imagined in a state of war. Without alternative sources of income, workers and their families will have no means to survive,’’ he said.

Muhammad-Bande, who is also Nigeria’s Permanent Representative to the UN, said while no country is spared from the scourge of this pandemic or its socio-economic impact, developing nations are bearing the heaviest brunt of it – even if they do not experience an outbreak of COVID-19.

He warned that the pandemic had deepened pre-existing inequalities between and among nations, putting immense strain on tenuous systems and plunging those in the most precarious contexts into deeper poverty and hunger.

Maka Chukwu I can’t kill myself, by Femi Adesina

NO, I WON’T INHERIT ANYBODY’S ENEMY

If Nigeria should die (which we don’t pray for), then hatred killed her. Done in by hateful hearts and lying tongues. People who hate others for no just cause, and they want to recruit you into the hatred binge. But I have news for them: I won’t inherit anybody’s enemy. Never!

These people, filled with bile and malevolence, in the gall of bitterness and bondage of iniquity, are everywhere; worship houses, homes, offices, in the media (social media particularly), on talkshows, phone-in programs, the academia, anywhere and everywhere. They hate their country, its leadership, anything good, and I dare say, they even hate themselves.

Last week, on this platform, I wrote on how the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) mixed bias with sympathy in its handling of the sad execution through decapitation of Rev Lawan Andimi, of Michika, Adamawa State, by Boko Haram. I stand by every word written in that piece. No apologies.

The column last Friday generated a lot of ruckus from some quarters, and it was very revealing. Some of those that we call ‘men of God’ are nothing but ordinary men, subject to the frailties of the next man. But the standard of God remains sure, having this seal: God knows those who are His own.

So, what am I really writing about? Haters, who want you to inherit their hatred. Those who have antipathy and animosity towards others, and who want to recruit you into their ranks. And when you don’t budge, the accusations are legion: he has sold his soul to the Devil. His god is now his belly (and what corpulent belly mine is!). What he would eat has rendered him blind to reason. And so on, and so forth. After all that, what? I simply tell them. No, I won’t inherit your enemies. I even join Timaya to sing:

Leggo
I can’t kill myself o
I can’t kill myself
Allow me to flex o
This life I can’t kill myself
Maka Chukwu I can’t kill myself o.

Yes, if I begin to hate anyone at this point of my life, I am killing myself. I am swallowing poison. Hatred is poison. And you can’t swallow poison, and expect it to kill your neighbor.

On Sunday this week, one female Christian leader tried to reach me. She didn’t get through. She then called my friend, Emmanuel Bello, a Christian from Taraba State, also serving in this government. What was her message, as conveyed to me later by Bello:
“All you Christians, serving in this Muslim government…”

Really? Muslim government. What a hateful heart! Sinister mind. Because the President is a Muslim, the government is a Muslim one. Is it a crime for a man to be committed to his religion? In the first cabinet assembled by President Buhari in 2015, Christians outnumbered Muslims by one, until James Ocholi sadly died, and he was replaced by a Muslim, which I believe was not a deliberate design. The number then became even. Yet, it is a “Muslim government.”

I have always said it. God has placed Christians and Muslims in almost equal numbers in the country, and one faith cannot wish the other away. We must stay here and salvage it together.

In almost five years of working closely with President Buhari, I have not seen the slightest hint of religious bias. I remember that first Christmas season in 2015. I had approached the President, telling him I wanted some days off, to be with my family at the Yuletide season. He told me:
“The Vice President is a church person. You are also a church person. All of you Christians, go, we Muslims will stay behind. When you come back, I too will go for a few days.” We laughed.
And that is the way it has been every year. Yet, it is a “Muslim government,” and the President doesn’t want to hear about Christianity at all. So I must inherit the enemies of those who lack understanding.

I can’t kill myself o
I can’t kill myself
Allow me to flex o.

It has got to a point that when I say anything, haters turn it upside down. They distort it, give it a negative slant, and post in the media. I say A, they scream: he said B, C, D. What is the intention? To generate hate and opprobrium towards me. I just laugh, and begin to pick my teeth. They do not know that on that Great Day, that awesome day, man will account for every careless word, including all evil rantings on social media. That Great Day is coming, that Great Day is coming , that Great Day is coming by and by…

I have news for those who want me to inherit their hatred for President Buhari, because he is not of their ethnic group or of their religious persuasion. I have been following the man from 1984, when I was a third year student in the university. I became a Christian of the born again stock in 1988. It still did not change my opinion about Buhari. He was , still is, and will remain my hero. It’s not because I serve in government. I could have done without the job, and can still do without it, though it’s always a privilege to serve one’s country. But President Buhari will remain my man. Any day. It’s a futile exercise then to try to recruit me into the ranks of his enemies. No, I won’t inherit anybody’s enemy, because as weak a man as I am, I want to be a better Christian. I strive for it daily. If I falter and stumble, I rise up and get going again. Christianity has no room for hatred. I tell you, no matter the title you parade; Archbishop, Apostle, Prophet, Reverend, Founder, whatever. If you hate, that Great Day will fish you out. There will be great surprises on that day. Weeping and gnashing of teeth, because you hated your country, its leader, people of other religions, ethnic groups, and you even hated yourself.

“Absolute and entire ugliness is rare,” says John Ruskin, the art critic and writer. Between last week and now, don’t think only the wailing wailers have had a field day. No matter their ululation on social media, they are still a tiny though vocal minority. Nigerians of goodwill have been in touch with me, offering solidarity and prayers. And they include bishops, clerics, Christian groups and associations. They see absolutely no malice in what I wrote. They equally know the vile effects of hatred, so they have encouraged me to stay the course, no matter the noise of the market.

I must thank Philip Agbese, whom I don’t know, and never met. (Been trying to source his phone number, so I could express my appreciation to him). He wrote an article titled ‘Between CAN and Adesina; who is really wrong?’ Balanced, even-handed piece. I saw some malicious comments that I hired him to do the write up. Do you hire a person you’ve never met?
I thank all people of goodwill, who have been able to truly divide the word. I bear no malice towards CAN leadership, I only stand by every word I’ve written and said. Hatred may kill Nigeria if we are not careful, and to think church leaders would be part of the culprits, makes me shudder. Resentment is a poor prop for anyone to lean on. But the leadership of Christianity in Nigeria is sadly manifesting resentment against a man who has only come to serve, and empty himself for the country. Nigeria is not there yet in terms of security, economic revival, fighting corruption, but we are firmly on the way there.

I say it again. I have chosen the course I want to follow, and I have a right to it. Like Shakespeare wrote, if you hate me, I will always be in your mind. But if you love me, I will always be in your heart.
And like Timaya sang;

Many many years me I don dey go
Still dem go say me I no dey try
I can’t kill myself o
I can’t kill myself…

Adesina is Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to President Buhari

PHOTONEWS: Goodluck Jonathan visits President Buhari again

The photos below were taken when President Buhari received former President Goodluck Jonathan in State House on 30th Jan 2020.