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Video: Attempt to stop Maina probe exposes Buhari as a Hypocrite – Reno

Former aide to ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, Reno Omokri, said attempt to stop the probe of pension thief, Abdulrasheed Maina has exposed the president as a hypocrite.

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Angry Atiku threatens to sue Unongo’s N200bn over Fulani leadership claim

Former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar on Monday threatened to sue a leader of the Northern Elders Forum, Paul Unongo, for accusing him of being the chief financier of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN).

The association is the national body of Fulani herdsmen.

Atiku’s aide had on Saturday debunked the allegation.

Atiku, in a letter by his lawyer, Mahmud Magaji (SAN), warned Unongo to retract “the blatant and malicious falsehood” within seven days.

He also asked Unongo to publish the retraction in all national newspapers.

Atiku asked Unongo to, within 30 days of receiving the letter, pay him (Atiku) N200bn as damages.

Part of the letter sent to Unongo read in part, “You made this assertion even when you knew that in fact and in truth you never had any such discussion with our client.

“The above allegations aside from being frivolous, callous, baseless and unwarranted are utter falsehood and unjustified.

“Your mischief has gravely defamed our client and painted him in very bad light as a sponsor and instigator of violence across the country, a character you know he does not possess.

“Having given much of his life to the service of his country in various capacities, rising to the enviable position of Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria from 1999-2007, our client has continued to function as an elder statesman and stakeholder in the nation’s polity whose core interests lie in the general welfare and unity of the Nigerian populace devoid of ethnic/religious divides.

“Take notice that our client takes strong exception to these allegations and considers same as an act of character assassination.

“Hence our instruction to:

“Demand of you and we so demand that you retract your mischievous allegations and tender an unconditional apology to our client, such apology should be published in all the national dailies, not later than seven (7) days from the receipt of this letter, inclusive of the date of receipt; and

“Pay to our client by way of damages the sum of N200bn not later than 30 days from the receipt of this letter, inclusive of the date of receipt.

“Take further notice that should fail, refuse and or neglect to abide by our simple demands, we would have no choice than to subject you to the regours of litigation and this we shall do without any further reference to you.”

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Liberia: The Rise of George Weah, by Reuben Abati

George Weah’s emergence as Liberia’s President-elect after the December 26 run-off election generated considerable interest among Nigerians for a number of reasons. Number one is George Weah’s popularity.  The first African footballer to win the Ballon D’or, FIFA Player of the Year, three-time African Footballer of the Year, ex-Monaco, ex-Paris Saint-Germain, ex-AC Milan, Chelsea, Manchester City, former protégé of Arsene Wenger, virtually every football fan in Nigeria had a feeling of connection with the Liberian football star turned politician and  President-elect. In Nigeria, football is the most uniting element within the public space; thus, once it became apparent that George Weah was set to become the 25th President of Liberia, the social media in Nigeria went into an overdrive. The Liberian President-elect probably got more congratulatory messages from Nigerians on Facebook and Twitter.

Number two: Weah’s victory came at a time when there was scarcity of good news in Nigeria. As Christmas 2017 approached, Nigeria suddenly found itself in the throes of an embarrassing scarcity of fuel, which left many motorists stranded and Yuletide activities effectively crippled. An already frustrated citizenry seemed helpless as governmentofficials and oil marketers traded blames. The former lied openly in the face of shocking revelations about the politics of fuel subsidy. For the football community, George Weah’s victory brought some measure of good news.  It was as if their favourite footballer had scored a special goal.

Number three reason is the relationship, which both George Weah and his Vice-President-elect Jewell Howard Taylor have established with Nigeria. Weah, in the company of Prince Yommie Johnson, who once lived in Ikoyi, Lagos had visited Pastor Temitope Joshua of The Synagogue Church in Nigeria before the election. Pastor Joshua seems to have a reputation across the African continent and beyond for being able to assist persons to become President. Weah’s victory was immediately linked to Pastor Joshua and the prayers he had offered to God on his behalf. Ms. Howard Taylor is the former wife of former Liberian President, Charles Taylor, now in prison for war crimes. Charles Taylor was in exile in Nigeria before his trial at The Hague. His wife, now Vice President-elect has maintained very strong relationships with Nigeria, indeed one of the first persons to take to the media to celebrate her was her Nigerian fashion designer and her husband.

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Number four reason and perhaps the most telling is: the-grass-to-grace-story, the-slum-to-palace, football-pitch-to-Presidential-Villa, inspirational trajectory of George Weah’s career. The new President-elect represents a symbol of hope and triumph over adversity for not just young Liberians but other young persons across the continent, especially in Nigeria. I have heard many young Nigerians profess in the last week, that “if George Weah can make it, they too can make it.” Raised in a slum, from the poorest parts of Liberia, George Weah’s qualities were first strikingly revealed through his football career. He tried to give back to his country as an international football star, and once during the civil war, he single-handedly funded his country’s national soccer team.

He retired in 2003. In 2005, he returned home to run for the Presidency of Liberia. His opponent was the Harvard-trained public administrator and ex-World Bank accountant, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf. Weah was the people’s preferred choice (28.3 to 20%) but the Presidential election went on to a run-off. Weah lost the second round once the public was reminded that he was just a gifted footballer without even a Secondary School Certificate! Weah took this as a challenge and decided to seek formal education.  He sat for the Secondary School Certificate Examination in 2006 at the age of 40. He proceeded to the United States and got a degree and a Masters’ degree. Then he returned to Liberia to pursue his dream afresh.

In 2014, he was elected to the Liberian Senate, beating Sirleaf’s son, Robert, to the Montserrado County seat. In 2017, he was elected President, twelve years after his initial attempt and as Johnson- Sirleaf’s successor. Among young Nigerians, he is the very paragon of determination and ruthless single-minded volition. Young Nigerians are so unhappy; they are slaves of inspirational stories such as this. They troop to churches in large numbers because they are looking for hope and motivation. Above all, they like the fact that George Weah is just 51.  It is the kind of age bracket many Nigerians want for their next President. Contemporary circumstances have made them wary of making the mistake of electing into office anyone who may be too old to govern.

To this situational and relational connection with the just concluded Liberian Presidential election should be added the fact that Nigeria played a major role through the ECOWAS Ceasefire Monitoring Group (ECOMOG) during the two Liberian civil wars (1989 – 1997; 1997 -2003). Many Nigerian families are forever linked to Liberia through ECOMOG. Many Liberians also came to live in camps in Nigeria and forged life-long relationships. This should further draw attention to one point: Elections or democratic processes in Africa are no longer isolated events. In many cases, there are cross-boundary factors and influences and the much sought-after African integration and cooperation is far more effective at the level of person-to-person diplomacy. The failure of African governments to promote this by providing the infrastructure and the political will, beyond seasonal rhetorical talk, is part of the bane of the integration process in Africa.

So much for why the election in Liberia has caused notable excitement in Nigeria; democracy is as much about imageries as it is about realities. When he takes the oath office on January 22, 2018 to become Liberia’s 25thPresident, George Weah will have to deal with many realities. He came to power on the crest-wave of popularity. Liberia’s youthful population is on his side. He is their hero. But he will need more than popularity to rule that country of 4.5 million people which has a history that is even far more complex than that of Nigeria. In an acceptance speech that came a bit late, George Weah spoke a lot about God, trip to Jerusalem, reconciliation, appeal to Liberians in Diaspora to come home and how his first task would be to deal with corruption. The details of what else he intends to do, he says, will be unveiled at a later date. The general tone of thatacceptance speech shows President-elect George Weah may still have a lot to learn.

He campaigned on the platform of change. Popularity will not guarantee that change. In the past 12 years, President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf has managed to ensure post-conflict peace and stability in Liberia and has raised the profile of her country in the West African sub-region. Her autobiography – This Child Will Be Great (2009) may sound pompous but she is definitely ending her tour of duty as the first great President in Africa’s oldest democracy: Nobel Prize Laureate, first African woman President, under her watch, Liberia’s external debt was written off, some war-time infrastructure were repaired and she brought in investors, particularly the Chinese. Liberia also regained her voice within the international community, even if Mama Ellen has been accused of being too pro-American. It is also under her watch that Liberia has recorded the first democratic transition since 1944, and despite the initial hiccup of a run-off (recent Presidential elections in Liberia have ended with a run-off – 2005, 2011 and 2017), the 2017 election still ended peacefully. George Weah should see the need to build on her legacy.

There are expectations, not just from the young Liberians who voted for him, but also across the continent. The Liberian economy remains weak, and far removed from its potential, given the country’s rich resource base; unemployment is double-digit, infrastructure deficit is high. The process of reconstruction initiated under Sirleaf needs to be fast-tracked to provide jobs for the people and to reassure them that their country is truly on the path to restoration and progress. When the people hear the word “change” during political campaigns, they imagine that it is real and immediate. In recent elections in Nigeria, Ghana, Gambia, and now Liberia, the people’s democratic engagement has been anchored on this rhetoric of change. It is also what the protesters in Cameroon, Togo and DR Congo are currently demanding. To promise the people change and deny them that change is to betray their trust and goodwill.  

The George Weah Presidency is the product of enormous goodwill. George Weah should therefore realize, early enough, that the coalition that has brought him to power is not a coalition merely in name; it is a coalition with implications that cannot be taken for granted. Senator Jewell Howard Taylor led her party to join the George Weah group to produce the now formidable Coalition for Democratic Change. Prince Yommie Johnson who had been in another camp eventually joined the coalition to ensure victory. But perhaps Vice President Joseph Boakai also provided the needed oxygen of sportsmanship when in his concession speech, he decided to put Liberia first. He said: “I reject any temptation of imposing pain, hardship, agony and uncertainty upon our people. My name will not be used as an excuse for one drop of human blood to be spilled in this country.” This Goodluck Jonathan-inspired speech is most instructive. President Johnson-Sirleaf also deserves praise for allowing democracy to run its course. It is not always that African politicians agree to lose gallantly and choose to be magnanimous in either victory or defeat.

In The Gambia, Yahya Jammeh had a change of mind. In Cote d’Ivoire, Laurent Gbagbo forced the issue and ended up at The Hague. In Kenya, Raila Odinga, leader of the NASA opposition is about to start a shameless dance. He has again dismissed the outcome of the last Presidential elections in that country as unacceptable. In January 2018, he says we should expect “civil disobedience, peaceful protests, non-cooperation with and resistance to an illegitimate regime in addition to People’s Assemblies.” This kind of tendency to see politics as a zero-sum game is the biggest challenge to the democratization process in Africa.          

George Weah has promised to fight corruption. In 2010, Transparency International labeled Liberia the most corrupt country in the world. President Sirleaf sacked a few Ministers but seven years later, the subject remains an embarrassment. The crisis persists. Weah, however, must resist the temptation to turn his anti-corruption campaign into a McCarthy-style witch-hunt/persecution of his predecessors in office.  

Liberia is indeed a complex country. It remains divided along ethnic and traditional lines. Samuel Doe triggered a crisis with his victimization of traditional power centres and the ethnicization of his government when he filled virtually every position with members of his Krahn group. President Johnson-Sirleaf has been similarly accused of nepotism, filling positions with family members and friends and having the temerity to justify her decision. George Weah is expected to be a unifying figure. The people are hoping that he would help transform Liberia into a “level playing field”: create open and equal access to opportunities, bridge the yawning gap between the rich and the poor, pave the country’s roads, make electricity accessible to the majority and create jobs for the unemployed.

Those who voted for him are used to his dexterity on the football pitch; although football and political leadership are not the same things, Weah as President will need the same passion and all the skills of a footballer. He must hit the pitch running, make use of every opportunity, work hard, keep his eyes on the ball, play as a team, display leadership, and score goals. The ball will be passed to him on January 22. He should not disappoint. 

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‘Sack cabals holding you captive’, Mbaka tells Buhari

Fiery Catholic priest, Rev Fr. Ejike Mbaka, on Monday warned President Muhammadu Buhari to sack the cabal holding him in captivity otherwise he would be changed.

Mbaka made the call during his New Year message at the Emene Enugu Adoration Ground.

He said: “I had wanted to pray for you and go because I don’t want anybody to attack me. I don’t want the Bishop to invite me; I don’t want politicians to attack me anywhere. But God forced me, you must say it. Listen to me. 2017 became one of the most horrible years in this country and that is the message.

“The Lord says, Nigerians, he says, captive Nigerians, you will be speedily rescued; Nigerians, things are very very difficult, hard and tough nowadays; the hardship is not from God, they are man- made. The wicked cabals and satanic agents in this country have wickedly kidnapped the goodwill and good intentions of Mr. President, Muhammadu Buhari; his good intentions have been kidnapped; President Buhari must wake up and sit up immediately or heaven demands him, heaven demands Buhari, our President to change all those who are holding and caging him in captivity; if he will not change them, he will be changed. Mr. President wake up; sit up; God said you are toying with the privilege given to you. There is no time; Nigerians are dying in your hand; people are not happy with your system. Change or you will be changed; God said that Buhari is in trouble; Buhari is hypnotized; Buhari is in a horrible bondage and Buhari’s mantra has been cannibalized. Unless President Buhari quickly and strategically, positions the right people and changes the former ones inaugurated by him, the wind of change that he himself inaugurated will blow him away shamefully. “The wind will be too strong that Mr. President and the cabal will be blown out of office shamefully. The wind will be irresistible for it will come like a hurricane. Buhari can handle this problem but number one, his office, if he is not careful, another will take it.

“Number 2, if he is doesn’t want to move Nigeria forward, God says He himself will plan a strategy of moving Nigeria forward. His pattern of battling corruption is not just archaic and barbaric but is witch-hunting and terribly selective. Mr. Buhari as the President, why should you be picking and choosing those that you and your so-called EFCC man would want to arrest, so that your party becomes a hideout for criminals, so that any person who does not want to be arrested will become an APC person? Is that not corruption on itself?

“Change or you will be changed, after all you are the one who introduced change as your mantra. Nigerian economy is in shambles and Nigerians are in sorrow. Nigeria is not just passing through an economic depression but also it is a time of economic repression and compression. Very soon, Nigerians will know that the country is in terrible mess. The cabals have messed up the President and confused him. So, Mr. President, you are to be blamed, not your cabals. You have your brooms, but the cabals have their bags; either you sweep them away or they throw you into the bag.”

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“Nigerians are in sorrow”, Transcript of Mbaka’s prophesy about Pres. Buhari

By Rev. Fr. Ejike Mbaka

“I had wanted to pray for you and go because I don’t want anybody to attack me; I don’t want the Bishop to invite me; I don’t want politicians to attack me anywhere. But God forced me, you must say it. Listen to me. 2017 became one of the most horrible years in this country and that is the message,”

“The Lord says, Nigerians, he says, captive Nigerians, you will be speedily rescued; Nigerians, things are very difficult, hard and tough nowadays; the hardship is not from God, they are man-made; the wicked cabals and satanic agents in this country have wickedly kidnapped the goodwill and good intentions of Mr President Muhammadu Buhari; his good intentions have been kidnapped.

“President Buhari must wake up and sit up immediately or…heaven demands him, heaven demands Buhari, our President to change all those who are holding and caging him in captivity; if he will not change them, he will be changed; Mr President wake up; sit up; God said you are toying with the privilege given to you; there is no time; Nigerians are dying in your hand; people are not happy with your system. Change or you will be changed; God said that Buhari is in trouble; Buhari is hypnotized; Buhari is in a horrible bondage; Buhari’s mantra has been canibalised.

“Unless President Buhari quickly and strategically, positions the right people and changes the former ones he inaugurated by him, the wind of change that he himself inaugurated will blow him away shamefully. The wind will be too strong that Mr. President and the cabal will be blown out of office shamefully. The wind will be irresistible for it will come like a hurricane. Buhari can handle this problem but number one, his office, if he is not careful, another will take.

“Number 2, if he doesn’t want to move Nigeria forward, God says He himself will plan a strategy of moving Nigeria forward. His pattern of embattling corruption is not just archaic, barbaric but is witch-hunting, terribly selective. Mr Buhari as the President, why should you be picking and choosing those that you and your so-called EFCC man would want to arrest, so that your party becomes a hideout for criminals, so that any person who does not want to be arrested will become an APC person? Is that corruption on itself?

“Change or you will be changed, after all you are the one who introduced change as your mantra. Nigerian economy is in shambles and Nigerians are in sorrow. Nigeria is not just passing through an economic depression but also it is a time of economic repression and compression. Very soon, Nigerians will know that the country is in terrible mess.

“The cabals have messed up the President and confused him. So, Mr President, you are to be blamed, not your cabals. You have your brooms, but the cabals have their bags; either you sweep them away or they throw you into the bag. Heaven cried that your methodology is not just archaic but too sluggish., very slow. The situation in Nigeria needs speed but you are too dull.

“Your change mantra is questionable; you are to change your change or you will be disgraced out of office. Your agriculture scheme has an anti-agenda that is cancerous. Why should be talking about agriculture and you leave the Fulani herdsmen? Farmers don’t have hope; don’t you hear what is happening in the country? Can’t you use your presidential mandate and help the less privileged?

“The spirit of God says that Mr President is just president in the mouth; he is not the real president per say; he is a pseudo president, people are running the government the way they like and giving him to articles to sign; Mr. President doesn’t know what is happening in his government, what a pity. But no matter what is happening, God assured us that Nigerians and Nigeria are not just in His hands but in his heart and his eyes.

“Mr president tried his best to war against insurgency, he tried to stop excessive spending, living in opulence, he is an expert in stopping opulent life, swindling of government property but the way he is going after it, he is too slow. God loves him and gave him the mandate, he wanted to fight corruption but corruption is fighting him back, so that anyone who wants to perform corruption in a very smart way, will run into APC. Mr President wake up, save destiny and save your integrity. God said that the sitting President is not the one Nigerians trusted, wake up. There are areas the President started doing well before he became sick; anybody can become sick, don’t rejoice because Mr. President is sick; we prayed and God granted him healing but you know that age is not on his side. Even if you are healthy but you are not strong, there will be the problem.

“So, Mr. President, as I was waiting on the Lord, I’m asked to advise you, don’t come out for 2nd tenure, after this, retire, peacefully. Mr. President you are the cause of your own problem. God gave you an adviser, a wonderful mentor, a visionist, a matriarch, in the person of your wife, Aisha, but you don’t want to listen to her, that woman is heartbroken, because she understood that you are not yourself. Come back to yourself or you will cry by the time you will be sent out of office. So, those who are encouraging you to come out and run again, they want to disgrace you shamefully and publicly.

“We keep on praying for your quick recovery but you know when the President is sick and age is not on his side, the message came, that is why the government schools are sick, the government hospitals are sick, the government roads are sick; power, electricity, sick, the economy is sick; unemployment becomes the order of the day, our graduates, our youths are living in abject poverty and hopelessness, the countrymen are sick, hunger is ravaging the people of God; investors have no more confidence in Nigeria. The agro-vision has become a mere illusion; even to take loan for farm has become the favour of the rich, so that as you keep on fighting corruption, many who are around you are incubating and manuring corruption. Business men are confused; because they don’t know to do as a result of the unstable economy.

“Some of us may begin  to ask, but why did God choose Buhari at all? God has His reasons; when he chose Saul, He had His reasons, but at a time he rejected Saul, that is God for you. Jesus chose Judas, in His divinity he chose Judas as an Apostle, the same Judas betrayed Him and Judas office another took; you can see the message is not sweet.

“The same God chose Jonathan, Goodluck, during the oil boom, had Jonathan invested well, then Nigerians won’t be suffering what we are suffering now; even in his hometown Otuoke, go to Niger Delta, there was no impact of governance, nothing. That’s why God pushed him out. Mr. President, if you don’t want to be pushed out, you have to wake up. So, God who chose Buhari, it is for a purpose. At a particular time in the life of Jonah, the whale swallowed him; at time Jonah could not prophesy, he could not do his prophetic duty again; that is how Buhari’s vision was swallowed.

“And then what shall be done. God doesn’t make mistake. When God said Buhari will become the President, he became the president; when God decided to put Adam and Eve in paradise, he loved them, but at a time, the same God chased them out.

“So, the cabal thing, Mr. President Nigerians are getting disappointed in you; I was thinking of the kind of prayer we are going to share, because this year is a year of primary for all the parties. Some will start this year, I am not talking about PDP or APC, I’m praying God to give us a man after His heart. Now, it is the turn of the Northerners, the Northerners will complete their eight years.

“If Mr President, Buhari will not continue, if you go to Gombe, go to Gombe, it was a rural state, the present Governor there, Ibrahim Hassan, has turned that place into almost an ultra modern city and that man was a former accountant general of the country. If you go to Gombe, you won’t know Gombe again; why can’t such a person come out; I don’t know the party he is in; and he is still a young man; in his early 50s, whether in PDP or APC I don’t know but whoever is doing that kind of magic in Gombe can handle Nigeria. A man who did PhD in accountancy, chartered in marketing, chartered in accountancy, a lot of things, a guru, we need somebody with such aura.

“And the Gombe people will tell you, he does not discriminate between Muslims and Christians, he is shielding even Christians there. Some pastors he gave them land, gave land for churches. I am not campaigning for him, but I am talking about somebody who can lead us forward, somebody with vision, with agenda, to change Nigeria is not difficult; wherever such a person is, let his party make him available for Nigerians to see it.

“Before it will be the turn of the Igbos, it is not yet our turn, it will soon be our turn, when it is our turn, all of us will talk about it. Therefore my people, we are talking about value chain economy; healthy economy; security in the country, employment, educational system that is working, then God disclosed a time when most of our run-away Nigerians started coming home. A time is coming when Nigerian is going to be a country that is worthy for investment, investors will come from the North, South and East, from foreign countries to invest in Nigeria; at that time, the people can see that the government of Nigeria and the pattern of governance is our problem. God has given Nigerians everything and He says, ‘Nigerians be patient with me.’ It will not take time I will begin to deal wickedly to those who are dealing wickedly to you people. Those who are punishing you, I will punish.

“In Nigeria today, there is the hidden tribal religious and interdenominational wars that are looming. God is promising that He will send a credible President that will handle the unity of the country not by shooting anybody but by preventing the occurrence; even if the person is in a no party; whether the person is in PDP, PDP is not bad; it is the same people that go to APC: drop their umbrella and pick broom, but instead of using the broom to sweep away corruption, they are using it to sweep money into their pockets. So, those who love Mr. President don’t be angry; from the same pulpit where his dynasty was prophesied, the wind is blowing again. When God says, ‘His office let another take, then Nigeria will move forward, and corruption will be adequately embattled in the proper sense, then he economy will improve and Nigerians will rejoice.

“Many families will be visited by the spirit of death, so the people of God are encouraged to soak themselves in the blood of Jesus Christ. The secret of victory over this spirit of death is continuous dwelling in the blood of the lamb.”

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Kogi Gov. Bello attacks Kogi workers, say they are lying about unpaid salaries

Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello has issued a cease and desist warning to civil servants in his state who he accused of making false claims about unpaid salaries. 

“It is also important to sound a warning to those Civil Servants who defame government with claims of long months of unpaid salaries in order to solicit money from gullible people, or evade their own contractual or domestic obligations,” Bello said.

Governor Bello who addressed the people of Kogi on New Year Day said that most of the claims of the civil servants were exaggerated and political. He accused them of creating the stories as an alibi to avoid their obligations and said that the delay in salary payments were caused by a now concluded verification exercise. 

Below are the three issues he tried to address in the speech:

Staff Verification Excercise is Responsible for Delayed Salary

“I would like to reiterate that our staff screening and verification exercise has since ended. Cleared civil servants have been earning their rightful salaries for months now, albeit with some hiccups now and then due to evident reasons. In December, we made attempts to clear all backlogs within the limits of the available funds, while doing our best to avoid fresh arrears from building up.

“This information on payment of salaries in relation to the screening exercise is important to dispel the persistent use of alleged non-payment by dishonest and discredited politicians to gain political capital under guise of fighting for Kogi State Civil Servants.

There is a Financial Crisis and It’s Not Easy

Bello admits there is a financial crunch facing the state but said it is country wide and that his administration has managed to achieve a lot in spite of the situation. He however maintained that there was no easy way out.

Here is what he said;

“In spite of the generally harsh financial circumstances in the nation, we were able to commence new projects, continue old ones and even complete a good number of others across the three senatorial districts of the state.

“The biggest challenge facing this administration still remains the paucity of funds to finance our development programmes. It is clear that no magic solution exists for the shortfalls in liquidity which has hit governments all over the world, Nigeria included. The only viable option before us is to increase our creativity in maximising existing sources of funds while developing new ones.”

Turning to Agriculture to Create Jobs

 “l am therefore pleased with the progress we have made in agriculture as an alternative source of income and employment. Our first harvest from the experimental farm at Omi Dam was hugely satisfying, considering that it is an initial effort. The first batch of Confluence Rice hit the market in December, 2017. This is a source of income we hope to nurture from domestic sales, and if there is a surplus, distribution to other parts of the country and even overseas export.

“Our rice renaissance is traceable to the Agricultural Revolution Programme (ARP) which we launched with fanfare early in 2017 and have been working on since. Similarly, cashew, cassava, sugarcane and benniseed are some other crops we have big plans for. “We have made advanced progress with possible investors to cultivate these on an industrial scale in 2018. By the end of year, we should be able to attribute at least 15% of our income to earnings from the agricultural sector.”

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Wike, Magnus are my boys, says Amaechi

Former Governor of Rivers State, Rotimi Amaechi has said he is not bothered by the number of politicians that has left him.

Amaechi spoke at an event to mark the birthday of the Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, Dakuku Peterside in Port Harcourt.

He said was not unusual for politicians to break their loyalty after their benefactor leaves office.

Amaechi who is now the Minister of Transportation also said he has always known that the likes of Senator Magnus Abe, Gabriel Pidomson and Nwuke Anucha who he described as his closed friends would desert him.

“There are only two people I can refer to as my boss: Sir Rufus Ada-George and Dr. Peter Odili but every other politician whether relevant or not is my boy.

“They were all under me. Mention them: Wike, Austin Opara, Pidomson, Magnus, just name them.

“But there is something I know that as a politician immediately you leave office those who were under you will abandon you immediately you leave office.

“On the Governorship issue, they are running to the President because they know I am close to the President.

“The only thing they need to hear is for the President to simply say Amaechi is my son in whom I am well pleased and you will see how they will all come back.

“They are trying their luck because they now have access to the President or because they know people who have access to the President.

“Time will tell,” Amaechi said.

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Buhari: Nigeria’s problem more of process than structure

President Muhammadu Buhari has replied agitators for restructuring of the country and said Nigeria’s problems have more to do with process than structure.

The president made his position known in a broadcast to the nation in Abuja on Monday

According to him, he has kept a close watch on the on-going debate about “restructuring”, and opined that no human law or edifice is perfect.

“Whatever structure we develop must periodically be perfected according to changing circumstances and the country’s socio-economic developments.

“We Nigerians can be very impatient and want to improve our conditions faster than may be possible considering our resources and capabilities.

“When all the aggregates of nationwide opinions are considered, my firm view is that our problems are more to do with process than structure.

“We tried the Parliamentary system, we jettisoned it. Now there are shrill cries for a return to the Parliamentary structure.

“In older democracies, these systems took centuries to evolve so we cannot expect a copied system to fit neatly our purposes.

“We must give a long period of trial and improvement before the system we have adopted is anywhere near fit for purpose,’’ he explained.

The president, however, stressed the need for a closer look at the cost of government and for the public services long used to extravagance, waste and corruption to change for the better.

He assured that his administration would continue to be ever receptive to ideas which would improve governance and contribute to the country’s peace and stability.

On the electioneering season approaching, President Buhari said politicians must avoid exploiting ethnicity and religion by linking ethnicity with religion and religion with politics.

He emphasized that such dirty politics should be avoided at all costs if Nigerians must live in harmony.

“In this respect, the rest of Nigeria could learn from the South Western States which have successfully internalised religion, ethnicity and politics.

“Political discourse should be conducted with civility, decorum and in a constitutional manner.

“We all have a collective responsibility to strengthen our democracy and entrench the rule of law.

“We should draw encouragement from the series of by-elections conducted by INEC last year which were generally violence free and their outcomes adjudged to be free and fair.’’

On security, the president reassured the citizens that security of life and property is still top of his administration’s agenda.

He said: “We have since beaten Boko Haram.

“Isolated attacks still occur, but even the best-policed countries cannot prevent determined criminals from committing terrible acts of terror as we have seen during the past years in Europe, Asia, Middle East, elsewhere in Africa and in America.’’

According to him, the All Progressives Congress led Federal Government remains determined to protect all Nigerians in line with its election pledge and promises.

The president thanked the nation’s Armed forces, the Police, other para-military forces and traditional authorities whom he said were working round the clock to ensure that all citizens engaged in normal business in reasonable safety.

He noted that terrorism and urban crimes were world-wide phenomena and the security forces were continuously adapting their responses to changing threats.

With regard to rampant cases of kidnappings, President Buhari stated that government had taken “immediate short-term measures to combat this new evil creeping into our societies’’.

He revealed that tighter police methods and swift and severe punishment for those proved to be engaged in kidnapping would soon be adopted to check the menace.

On Niger Delta, Buhari said government would continue to engage responsible leadership of the communities to help in identifying and addressing genuine grievances of the region.

He daif the Federal Government, in collaboration with the United Nations, had been recording satisfactory progress in the ongoing clean-up programme in Ogoniland and other parts of the Niger Delta.

“I am grateful to all the Governors and other Political & Community leaders of the Niger Delta states for their part in bringing relative peace to the areas,’’ he added.

President Buhari used the opportunity to thank all Nigerians who prayed for him during his illness in 2017.

“I feel deeply humbled by your prayers and good wishes and I am more determined than ever to serve you to the best of my ability. And I wish everyone a Happy New Year.

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Days of business as usual are over – Buhari

President Muhammadu Buhari has again warned that the days of business as usual are over and advised that Nigerians have got to get used to discipline and direction in economic management.

In his New Year broadcast on Monday, he also said, it is in view of this reality that in 2015 he appealed to people to go back to the land.

He announced that Nigeria would stop importation of rice from 2018, to encourage the production of local rice.

“I am highly gratified that agriculture has picked up, contributing to the government’s effort to re-structure the economy.

“Rice imports will stop this year. Local rice, fresher and more nutritious rice will be on our dishes from now on.

“By the same token, I am today appealing to enterprising Nigerians with ideas and unemployed graduates and other able-bodied and literate men and women with ideas, not to just sit and wait for employment from the government or the Organized Private Sector.

“Great nations are built by enterprising people who turn their hands to anything that circumstances dictate,’’ he said.

He noted that the All Progressives Congress-led Federal Government was slowly stabilising the economy.

The president further said that the diversification efforts embarked upon by the government had resulted in improved output, particularly in agriculture and solid minerals sectors.

He also maintained that the relative exchange rate stability had improved manufacturing sector performance.

On power, President Buhari noted that more Nigerians across the country were experiencing improved power supply to their homes and businesses.

He, however, observed that power had remained a concern to his administration because not many people enjoyed regular and reliable supply.
(NAN)
He stated that the Payment Assurance Guarantee Scheme, which started in January 2016, had enabled the Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trader to raise N701 billion to assure Generation Companies of at least 80 per cent payment for any power delivered to the national grid.

Consequently, he said generation had now reached 7,000 megawatts while on Dec. 8, 2017, the country achieved 5,155 megawatts of power delivered to consumers, the highest level ever recorded.

According to the president, several moribund projects have been revived while repairs of Afam Power Station added 110MW in 2017 and another 240MW will be added this year through a private investment partnership.

“Katsina Power Project is now being tested and producing 10MW of power from wind for the first time in Nigeria. It should be fully operational this year.

“The Zungeru 700MW Hydroelectric Power Project, stalled by court cases is due for completion in 2019.

“The transmission and other requirements to operate the 30MW Gurara Phase 1 Hydroelectric Plant, the 40MW Kashimbilla Hydroelectric Plant and the 215 MW Kaduna Gas/LPG/Diesel Power Plant will also be completed this year.

“A landmark project, Mambilla Hydroelectric Power Project, is at last taking off. This project has been on the drawing Board for 40 years,’’ he said.

The president, however, revealed that the engineering, procurement and construction contract for the Mambilla 3,050 megawatts project had been agreed with a Chinese joint venture company with a financing commitment from the government of China.

He said 2023 was targeted as completion period for the project.

President Buhari also noted with delight that the Transmission Companies of Nigeria (TCN) and the Niger Delta Holding Company had added 1,950 MVA of 330 down to 132 KV transformer capacity of 10 transmission stations and 2,930 MVA of 132 down to 33 KV transformer capacity of 42 sub-stations.

He said the sub-stations included those at Ikot Ekpene, Aba, Alagbon, Ajah, Ejigbo, Funtua and Zaria.

He stated that the Federal Government was working with the privatised distribution Companies to overcome the continuing challenges of distribution.

Buhari, therefore, expressed the hope that these massive public works should spearhead the recovery and lead millions back to employment.

“You will recall that it was not until last year that we got out of the economic recession, into which the country had fallen as a consequence of past unsustainable economic policies, which projected short-term illusory growth.’’ NAN

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Full text of President Buhari’s 2018 New Year address

President Muhammadu Buhari this morning delivered a national broadcast to Nigerians.

In the speech, the president spoke on issues like the ongoing fuel scarcity, calls for restructuring, the electricity situation, among others.

Read the president’s full speech below…

I join my fellow citizens this morning to welcome and celebrate the New Year 2018. This year promises to be pivotal in our quest for CHANGE.

Unfortunately, I am saddened to acknowledge that for many this Christmas and New Year holidays have been anything but merry and happy. Instead of showing love, companionship and charity, some of our compatriots chose this period to inflict severe hardship on us all by creating unnecessary fuel scarcity across the country.

The consequence was that not many could travel and the few who did had to pay exorbitant transport fares. This is unacceptable given that NNPC had taken measures to ensure availability at all depots. I am determined to get to the root of this collective blackmail of all Nigerians and ensure that whichever groups are behind this manipulated hardship will be prevented from doing so again.

Such unpatriotism will not divert the Administration from the course we have set ourselves. Our government’s watch word and policy thrust is CHANGE. We must change our way of doing things or we will stagnate and be left behind in the race to lift our people out of poverty and into prosperity.

My address to fellow Nigerians this morning is devoted mainly to informing you about the intense efforts this Administration is putting to address our country’s huge infrastructural deficit.

We are going to make significant in-roads in advancing road, rail and power projects across the country.

The Ministry of Power, Works and Housing is one of the drivers of this Government’s commitment to renew and increase Nigeria’s stock of infrastructure in order to achieve global economic competitiveness as targeted under the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan.

With regards to Railways, we have set ourselves ambitious targets. Already in construction stage is the Lagos-Kano Standard Gauge Railway.

The line should reach Ibadan from Lagos by the end of 2019 and will carry two million passengers per year and five million tons of cargo will be transported every year giving a substantial boost to the country’s economy.

Construction of the Kano – Kaduna segment is expected to commence this year and reach Kaduna by the end of 2019. By the end of 2021 the two ends will be joined so that we will have standard gauge railway across the main North-South trading route.

The Abuja – Kaduna route will be boosted by additional rolling stock next Thursday and will be able to handle one million commuters annually.

At the same time I have approved and negotiations will be concluded in the first part of this year for the Port Harcourt to Maiduguri line covering Aba, Owerri, Umuahia, Enugu, Awka, Abakaliki, Makurdi, Lafia, Jos, Bauchi, Gombe, Yola and Damaturu. The Abuja to Itakpe line will go through Baro and terminate in Warri with construction of a new seaport at Warri.

Negotiations are also advanced for the construction of other railway lines, firstly from Kano to Maradi in Niger Republic passing through Kazaure, Daura, Katsina, Jibia to Maradi.

Secondly, Lagos to Calabar the “Coastal Rail” through Ore, Benin, Agbor, Asaba, Onitsha, Sapele, Ughelli, Warri, Yenagoa, Otuoke, Port Harcourt, Aba, Uyo and Calabar. In the next few years, all these Nigerian cities will be linked by functional modern rail systems, giving enormous boost to the social and economic life of our people.

With respect to the Abuja Capital Light Rail, progress has reached 98% completion, as at 64% completion when we assumed office. Only test runs remain before start of operations.

This train service will stimulate economic activities in the Federal Capital and provide residents with an efficient and safe transportation system. Twelve railway sub-stations around the capital over a 45.2 kilometre route will serve as a catalyst and a pull factor to the economy of the area. The Light Rail System will reduce traffic congestion and carbon emission in line with the Administration’s policy on climate change.

Management of the Federal Road Maintenance Agency (FERMA) has been reconstituted and has been charged with a 12 week rapid intervention in road repairs to cover all the geo-political zones. Government is undertaking repairs and maintenance of 44 roads within the six geo-political zones.

Twenty five major highways will be funded under the N100b SUKUK facility. Each geo-political zone will benefit by an equal amount of N16.67b. The following major highways are to receive special attention:

a. Oyo – Ogbomosho,

b. Ofusu – Ore – Ajebandele – Shagamu,

c. Yenagoa Road Junction – Kolo Otuoke – Bayelsa Palm,

d. Enugu – Port Harcourt Dual Carriage Way,

e. Onitsha – Enugu Expressway,

f. Kaduna Eastern Bypass,

g. Dualization of Kano – Maiduguri Road,

h. Dualization of Abuja – Lokoja – Benin Road,

i. Dualization of Suleja – Minna Road.

In addition, Government has approved work to start on the re-construction of Abuja – Kaduna – Zaria – Kano road which is in a state of disrepair. Work will soon start and is expected to be completed in 2019.

More Nigerians across the country are experiencing improved power supply to their homes and businesses. However, power remains a concern to this government because too many people still do not have regular and reliable supply.

The Payment Assurance Guarantee Scheme which started in January 2016 has enabled the Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trader to raise so far N701 billion to assure Generation Companies of at least 80% payment for any power delivered to the national grid.

Consequently, generation has now reached 7,000MW. On December 8, 2017 the country achieved 5,155MW of power delivered to consumers, the highest level ever recorded.

Several moribund projects have been revived. Repairs of Afam Power Station added 110MW in 2017 and another 240MW will be added this year through a private investment partnership.

Katsina Power Project is now being tested and producing 10MW of power from wind for the first time in Nigeria. It should be fully operational this year.

The Zungeru 700MW Hydroelectric Power Project, stalled by court cases is due for completion in 2019. The transmission and other requirements to operate the 30MW Gurara Phase 1 Hydroelectric Plant, the 40MW Kashimbilla Hydroelectric Plant and the 215 MW Kaduna Gas/LPG/Diesel Power Plant will also be completed this year.

A landmark project, Mambilla Hydroelectric Power Project is at last taking off. This project has been on the drawing Board for 40 years, but now the engineering, procurement and construction contract for the 3,050MW project has been agreed with a Chinese joint venture Company with a financing commitment from the government of China. Completion is targeted for 2023.

As I mentioned earlier, the Transmission Company of Nigeria can now distribute all the 7,000MW that can be generated. TCN and the Niger Delta Holding Company have added 1,950MVA of 330 down to 132KV transformer capacity of 10 transmission stations and 2,930MVA of 132 down to 33KV transformer capacity of 42 sub-stations including Ikot Ekpene, Aba, Alagbon, Ajah, Ejigbo, Funtua and Zaria.

This Administration is working with the privatised distribution Companies to overcome the continuing challenges of distribution.

These massive public works should spearhead the recovery and lead millions back to employment. You will recall that it was not until last year that we got out of the economic recession into which the country had fallen as a consequence of past unsustainable economic policies which projected short-term illusory growth.

The government is slowly stabilizing the economy.

It was in order to change the steady and steep decline that we adopted the more sustainable policies and programmes captured in the Economic Recovery Plan. Diversification efforts have resulted in improved output particularly in agriculture and solid minerals sectors. The relative exchange rate stability has improved manufacturing sector performance.

We have got to get used to discipline and direction in economic management. The days of business as usual are numbered.

Two years ago I appealed to people to go back to the land. I am highly gratified that agriculture has picked up, contributing to the government’s effort to re-structure the economy. Rice imports will stop this year. Local rice, fresher and more nutritious will be on our dishes from now on.

By the same token, I am today appealing to enterprising Nigerians with ideas and unemployed graduates and other able-bodied and literate men and women with ideas not to just sit and wait for employment from the government or the Organized Private Sector. Great nations are built by enterprising people who turn their hands to anything that circumstances dictate.

In respect of political developments, I have kept a close watch on the on-going debate about “Restructuring”. No human law or edifice is perfect. Whatever structure we develop must periodically be perfected according to changing circumstances and the country’s socio-economic developments. We Nigerians can be very impatient and want to improve our conditions faster than may be possible considering our resources and capabilities. When all the aggregates of nationwide opinions are considered, my firm view is that our problems are more to do with process than structure.

We tried the Parliamentary system: we jettisoned it. Now there are shrill cries for a return to the Parliamentary structure. In older democracies these systems took centuries to evolve so we cannot expect a copied system to fit neatly our purposes. We must give a long period of trial and improvement before the system we have adopted is anywhere near fit for purpose.

However, there is a strong case for a closer look at the cost of government and for the public services long used to extravagance, waste and corruption to change for the better. I assure you that government is ever receptive to ideas which will improve governance and contribute to the country’s peace and stability.

As the electioneering season approaches politicians must avoid exploiting ethnicity and religion by linking ethnicity with religion and religion with politics. Such must be avoided at all costs if we are to live in harmony.

In this respect the rest of Nigeria could learn from the South Western States who have successfully internalized religion, ethnicity and politics.

Political discourse should be conducted with civility, decorum and in a constitutional manner. We all have a collective responsibility to strengthen our democracy and entrench the rule of law. We should draw encouragement from the series of bye-elections conducted by INEC last year which were generally violence free and their outcomes adjudged to be free and fair.

Before I conclude my address I must reassure my fellow citizens that security of life and property is still top of our government’s agenda. We have since beaten Boko Haram. Isolated attacks still occur, but even the best-policed countries cannot prevent determined criminals from committing terrible acts of terror as we have seen during the past years in Europe, Asia, Middle East, elsewhere in Africa and in America.

Our government remains determined to protect all Nigerians in line with our election pledge and promises. On behalf of all Nigerians let me offer our thanks to the Armed forces, the Police, other para-military forces and traditional authorities who are working round the clock to ensure that you and I go about our normal business in reasonable safety.

Terrorism and urban crimes are world-wide phenomena and our security forces are continuously adapting their responses to changing threats.

With regard to rampant cases of kidnappings, we are taking immediate short-term measures to combat this new evil creeping into our societies. Tighter police methods and swift and severe punishment for those proved to be engaged in kidnapping are on the way.

With respect to Niger Delta, Government is still engaging responsible leadership of the Communities to help in identifying and addressing genuine grievances of the region. Our clean-up programme in collaboration with the United Nations is making satisfactory progress.

I am grateful to all the Governors and other Political & Community leaders of the Niger Delta States for their part in bringing relative peace to the areas.

Finally let me again express my heartfelt thanks to all Nigerians who prayed for me during my illness last year. I feel deeply humbled by your prayers and good wishes and I am more determined than ever to serve you to the best of my ability.

Good morning. And I wish everyone a Happy New Year.