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Lekki shootings: ‘We stand by our report’, CNN replies FG

 

International Cable News Network, CNN, said its report on the alleged shooting of #EndSARS protesters by soldiers at the Lekki toll plaza on October 20, 2020, was “carefully and meticulously researched”.
CNN stated this in a report on Thursday in response to comments by the Nigerian Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, that the news platform practised “irresponsible journalism” by relying on fake videos sourced from social media to produce its report.
CNN had published an investigative report this week claiming soldiers fired live ammunition directly at protesters at the Lekki toll gate, a claim which Mohammed denied on Thursday.
“Like everyone else, I watched the CNN report. I must tell you that it reinforces the disinformation that is going around, and it is blatantly irresponsible and a poor piece of journalistic work by a reputable international news organization,” Mohammed told reporters at a press conference in Abuja today.
“This is very serious and CNN should be sanctioned for that,” he added.
The PUNCH reports that the minister also described the event of October 20, 2020 as a “massacre without bodies”, insisting that not a single body has been produced or a single family has come out to claim their family member was killed at the Lekki tollgate.
Reacting today in another story titled, ‘Nigeria threatens CNN with sanctions but provides no evidence Lekki toll gate investigation is inaccurate’, the cable news network said it stand by its earlier report on the Lekki incident.
“Our reporting was carefully and meticulously researched, and we stand by it,” CNN stated.
It added, “The report was based on testimony from dozens of witnesses, and photos and video obtained and geolocated by CNN. It painted a picture of how members of the Nigerian army and the police shot at the crowd, killing at least one person and wounding dozens more.
“CNN verified photos and videos acquired from multiple eyewitnesses and protesters using timestamps and other data from the video files. Video footage shows soldiers who appear to be shooting in the direction of protesters. And accounts from eyewitnesses established that after the army withdrew, a second round of shooting happened later in the evening.
“Prior to publishing the report, CNN tried multiple times to elicit comment from the Nigerian army and police. A Lagos State police spokesman declined to comment because of an ongoing investigation. While a statement from the Lagos State government said that there would be no comment while a judicial tribunal was underway.”
The Lekki incident has been condemned locally and internationally by civil rights organisations.
Lekki shootings: ‘We stand by our report’, CNN replies FG

#EndSARS! No Massacre in Lekki,CNN deserved to be sanctioned….Lai Mohammed

Good morning gentlemen, and welcome to this press conference. It's no longer news that the EndSARS protest last month degenerated into mindless violence after it was hijacked by hoodlums. In the aftermath of the protest, however, there are lingering issues, hence this press conference to take a holistic look at such issues.

2. Before we delve into those issues, let's look at the demand of the EndSARS protesters, whose campaign was aimed at ending police brutality and disbanding the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), and the response of the Federal Government:

THE FIVE DEMANDS OF THE #ENDSARS MOVEMENT:

i) Immediate release of all arrested protesters.

ii) Justice for all deceased victims of police brutality and

appropriate compensation for their families.

iii) Setting up an independent body to oversee the investigation and

prosecution of all reports of police misconduct within 10 days.

iv) In line with the new Police Act, psychological evaluation and

retraining (to be confirmed by an independent body) of all disbanded

SARS officers before they can be redeployed.

v) Increase police salary so that they are adequately compensated

for protecting the lives and property of citizens.

FEDERAL GOVERNMENT'S RESPONSE:

Gentlemen, the EndSARS campaign had barely begun last month when the

Inspector-General of Police announced, on Oct. 11th 2020, the immediate disbandment of SARS across the 36 State Police Commands and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

A day later, on Oct. 12th, 2020, President Muhamadu Buhari addressed the nation, stating: ''The disbanding of SARS is only the first step in our commitment to extensive police reforms in order to ensure that the primary duty of the police and other law enforcement agencies remains the protection of lives and livelihood of our people. We will also ensure that all those responsible for misconduct or wrongful acts are brought to justice.

Following up quickly on that, the IGP on Oct. 13 2020, ordered all defunct SARS personnel to report at the Force Headquarters, Abuja, for debriefing as well as psychological and medical examination. The officers were to undergo this process as a prelude to further training and reorientation before being redeployed into mainstream policing duties. The medical examination was carried out by the new Police Counselling and Support Unit (PCSU).

On Oct. 13th 2020, the presidential panel on the reform of SARS formally accepted the five-point demand of the #EndSARS protesters.

On Oct. 15th 2020, the National Economic Council (NEC) directed the immediate establishment of State-based Judicial Panels of Inquiry across the country to receive and investigate complaints of police brutality or related extra-judicial killings, with a view to delivering justice for all victims of the dissolved SARS and other police units. The panel will include representatives of Youths, Students, Civil Society Organizations and would be chaired by a respected retired State High Court Judge. The panels have six months to complete its assignment.

Other decisions by NEC on the Demands:

- State Governors and the FCT Minister should take charge of interface and contact with the protesters in their respective domains.

- State Governors should immediately establish State-based Special Security and Human Rights Committees to be chaired by the Governors in their States, and to supervise the newly-formed police tactical units and all other security agencies located in the States. This will ensure the protection of citizens' human rights. Members will also

include Representatives of Youths and Civil Society, as well as the head of police tactical units in each of the States.

- Establishment, by the Special Committee on Security and Human Rights, of a Human Rights Public Complaints Team of between 2 to 3 persons to receive complaints on an ongoing basis. That team would be established by the Special Committee on Security and Human Rights.

- State Governors to immediately establish a Victims Fund to enable the payment of monetary compensation to deserving victims.

3. Finally, on the Federal Government's response, the National Salaries, Income and Wages Commission was directed to expedite action on the finalization of the new salary structure of members of the Nigeria Police Force.

4. Gentlemen, you can see, from the above, that the Federal Government was not only responsive but was also very responsible in its handling of the demands of the EndSARS protesters. The five demands were met (some with an immediate pronouncement and others by kickstarting the process of meeting them). Despite this, the protest continued and the demands kept expanding, until the protest was hijacked, leading to unprecedented violence characterized by killings, maiming, arson, looting etc.

THE ROLE OF FAKE NEWS, DISINFORMATION IN THE ENDSARS VIOLENCE 5. As I said earlier, what started as a peaceful protest against police brutality quickly degenerated into incredible violence despite an immediate response to the demands by the government. Keen watchers of the developments cannot fail to notice the role played by the social media in the EndSARS protest. As a veritable tool for mass mobilization, the organizers of the protest of course leveraged heavily on social media for that purpose. But on the other hand, the same social media was used to spread fake news and disinformation that catalyzed the violence that was witnessed across the country.

6. This development has reinforced the campaign against fake news and disinformation, which we launched in 2018. As a matter of fact, as far back as 2017, when we dedicated that year's National Council on Information to the issue of fake news and disinformation, we had been expressing concerns on the dangers posed by irresponsible use of the new media platform. The concerns culminated in the launch of the national campaign which I referred to earlier.

7. The social media was used to guide arsonists and looters to certain properties, both public and private. Pictures of persons, including some celebrities, who were supposedly killed at the Lekki Toll Gate by soldiers, were circulated widely, only for those persons to refute such claims or for the discerning to disprove such posts. As we have said many times, no responsible government will stand by and allow such abuse of social media to continue. The fake news/disinformation purveyors have latched on to our concerns to allege that the Federal Government is planning to shut down social media. No, we have no plans to shut down the social media. What we have always advocated, and what we will do, is to regulate the social media. Nigeria is not alone in this regard. The issue of social media regulation is an ongoing debate not just in Nigeria but around the world, including in the United States, which is the flag flyer of constitutional democracy. Even the owners of the various social media platforms, including Facebook, are increasingly joining the call for content regulation.

8. Some respected opinion leaders have been playing to the gallery on the issue of social media regulation by making inciting and incendiary statements, while some other individuals and groups have been threatening fire and brimstone over the issue of social media regulation. What they have failed to understand is that the only reason we are even able to have this debate is because we have a country. If we allow the abuse of social media to precipitate uncontrolled internecine violence, the kind of which was narrowly averted during the EndSARS crisis, no one will remember or be able to use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc, for whatever purpose. It is incumbent upon us all, therefore, to strike a balance between free speech - which this Administration is committed to upholding – and fake news/disinformation, which it is determined to fight..

'SOCIAL MEDIA MASSACRE' AT LEKKI TOLL GATE

9. While we await the Judicial Panel in Lagos to unravel what transpired at the Lekki Toll Gate, what we can say, based on testimonies available in the public space, is that the world may have just witnessed, for the very first time ever, a MASSACRE WITHOUT BODIES! Some have tagged it 'social media massacre'. The testimony of Brig.-Gen, Ahmed Ibrahim Taiwo of the Nigerian Army before the Panel was compelling, and I am sure many of you have listened to or watched it. The highlights, for those who may not have watched the testimony, are:

- Soldiers were deployed all over Lagos, including Lekki Toll Gate, after the other security agencies were overwhelmed on Oct. 20th 2020, upon the request of the state government.

- Before deployment, the soldiers were briefed on the Rules of Engagement, which they adhered to all through

- Soldiers at Lekki Toll Gate fired blank ammunitions into the air

- Blank ammunition cannot do any damage to the flesh, not to talk of killing anyone

- Firing live ammunition into the crowd, as some have alleged, would have led to mass killing, which never happened.

10 Sadly, the purveyors of fake news and disinformation succeeded in deceiving the world that indeed there was mass killing in Lekki, even when, till date, not a single body has been produced and not a single family or relative has come out to say their child or ward was killed at Lekki. More surprising and irresponsible is the fact that some people have been calling for sanctions against Nigeria or against Nigerian government officials on the basis of a hoax. This is one of the dangers of fake news and disinformation. Once fake news is out, many run with it, without looking back, even when the truth is

eventually revealed. We therefore want to use this opportunity to ask those who have alleged massacre at the Lekki Toll Gate to go to the Judicial Panel to present their evidence(s) to the world or simply admit that they have goofed.

CNN's REPORT OF KILLINGS AT THE LEKKI TOLL GATE

11. Like everyone else, I watched the CNN report. I must tell you that it reinforces the disinformation that is going round, and it is blatantly irresponsible and a poor piece of journalistic work by a reputable international news organization. CNN engaged in incredible sensationalism and did a great disservice to itself and to journalism. In the first instance, CNN, which touted its report as an exclusive investigative report, sadly relied on the same videos that have been circulating on social media, without verification. This is very serious and CNN should be sanctioned for that. CNN merely said the videos were ''obtained by CNN'', without saying wherefrom and whether or not it authenticated them. Were CNN reporters and cameramen at the Lekki Toll Gate that evening? If the answer is no, on what basis were they reporting? Relying on second or third hand information and presenting it as ''CNN Investigation''? Why didn’t the CNN balance its story by showing the compelling testimony of Brig.-Gen. Taiwo before the Judicial Panel in Lagos? Is this one-sided reporting what is expected from an international media organization or any serious news organization? If CNN had done its investigation properly, it would have known how fake news and disinformation were trending during the EndSARS crisis. The BBC even did a report on this, and we recommend that report to CNN. Talking about the BBC, a reporter with the BBC’s Pidgin Service, Damilola Banjo, was at Lekki Toll Gate protest ground that night. She was quoted as saying soldiers were indeed at the Toll Gate but they shot ‘’sporadically into the air’’ and not at the protesters. CNN that was not at the scene reported otherwise.

12 In airing its so-called investigative report, CNN conveniently forgot that on Oct. 23rd 2020, it tweeted, from its verified twitter handle, that the military killed 38 people when it opened fire on peaceful protesters on Tuesday, Oct. 20th 2020. Less than a month later, the same CNN, in what it called an EXCLUSIVE report based on a rehash of old, unverified videos, was only able to confirm that one person died in the same incident.

13 In its jaundiced reporting, CNN was blind to the fact that six soldiers and 37 policemen were killed in unprovoked attacks. Obviously, CNN did not consider the security agents human enough. CNN, in its 'investigation', was blind to the wanton destruction of property in Lagos and across the country. Also, CNN was blind to the burning of police stations and vehicles all over the country. Instead, it went to town with unverified social media footages, in its desperation to prove that people were killed at the Lekki Toll Gate. Again, This is irresponsible journalism for which CNN deserves to be sanctioned. We insist that the military did not shoot at protesters at Lekki Toll Gate. They fired blank ammunition in the air. Again, anyone who knows anyone who was killed at Lekki Toll Gate should head to the Judicial Panel with conclusive evidence of such.

THE ROLE OF THE SECURITY AGENCIES

14. At this point, it is important to say that the Federal Government is very satisfied with the role played by the security agencies, especially the military and the police, all through the EndSARS crisis. The security agents were professional and measured in

their response. Even when their lives were at stake, they exercised uncommon restraint. Their professionalism and measured response saved many lives and properties. For example, despite arresting hordes of looters during the violence in Lagos, the army treated them humanely and even counseled them before handing them over to the police. The same cannot be said of those who unleashed mayhem on the security agents, killing and maiming them, sometimes in such a barbaric manner that is unprecedented in these parts. As I said earlier, six soldiers and 37 policemen were killed all over the country during the crisis. This is in addition to 196 policemen who were injured; 164 police vehicles that were destroyed and 134 police stations that were razed.

15 Also, the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, the Nigeria Customs Service and Nigeria Immigration Service all lost infrastructures, equipment and other valuables to attack by hoodlums during the crisis. Eight medium security custodial centres in six

states (Edo, Lagos, Abia, Delta, Ondo and Ebonyi) were attacked, with 1,957 inmates set free and 31 staff injured.

16. The Federal Government will therefore not accept a situation in which some so-called human rights bodies and jaundiced media organizations will continue to harass the security agencies over their roles during the crisis. Soldiers, policemen and other security agents deserve commendation, not condemnation, except, of course, their critics are saying they are not human beings and that their own rights do not matter. It is

depressing and demoralizing to continue to vilify men and women in uniform, who themselves were victims of senseless violence unleashed by hoodlums. The role of the human rights organizations, in particular, became suspect after they simply ignored the brutal killing and maiming of security agents during the crisis, as well as the orgy of violence that left 57 civilians dead, 269 private/corporate facilities burnt/looted/vandalized, 243 government facilities burnt/vandalized and 81 government warehouses looted, and instead continued to dwell on the bodiless and bloodless 'massacre' at Lekki Toll Gate. They did not see anything wrong in the public and

private properties that were burnt or looted, neither did they see anything wrong in the fact that some of the businesses that were looted belonged to struggling young men and women. All they could see in their biased view of the whole situation was a hoax massacre.

DJ SWITCH

17. Still on the alleged Lekki Toll Gate massacre, one of the purveyors of fake news and disinformation during the EndSARS crisis was DJ Switch, real name Obianuju Catherine Udeh, even though she claimed to have authentic evidence of mass killings. Surprisingly, instead of presenting whatever evidence she may have to the Judicial Panel, she chose to escape from the country under the pretext that her life was in danger. I ask: in danger from whom? The military has come out to say they never sought after her. To the best of our knowledge, the police never declared her wanted. Her conduct thus becomes suspect. Who is she fronting for? What is her real motive? Who are her sponsors? If she has any evidence of killings, why is she not presenting it to the Panel? If she was so desperate for asylum in any country, does she have to resort to blatant falsehood to tarnish the image of the country just to achieve her aim? In the fullness of time, this lady will be exposed for what she is, a fraud and a front for

divisive and destructive forces. At this juncture, we want to appeal to countries that have made hasty judgements on the basis of fake news and disinformation emanating from the EndSARS crisis to endeavour to seek and find the truth.

SANCTIONS ON SOME TV STATIONS

18. In the aftermath of the EndSARS crisis, the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) fined three broadcast stations for using unverified and dangerous information from social media. Commentators, many of whom didn't even know why the NBC imposed the fine, rushed to allege an attempt to stifle free speech. Unknown to them, the stations themselves know that they breached the Broadcasting Code. Two of them have paid their fines in full, while the third has paid a part of the fine, with an appeal for time to pay the balance.

19. The position of the Federal Government is that not only were the fines justified, the NBC was indeed lenient. It is sad to see the traditional media jettisoning the age-long gate-keeping process and instead rushing to rely on the free-wheeling social media - devoid of any gate keeping - for news. Sadly, there is an emerging trend in which even the traditional media is freely using materials from social media without taking the pains to verify their authenticity. This is a dangerous trend that must be curbed, in the interest of the media practitioners themselves, the profession and indeed the country.

20. Had the NBC wielded the big stick, some broadcast media organizations would have faced more severe sanctions than mere fines. Recall that an otherwise reputable broadcast media organization had carried a fake report that the Ecumenical Centre in Abuja was on fire during the violence that followed the protest. Though the organization in question later retracted the story, the kind of reprisal attack this could have sparked is better imagined. Also, another reputable broadcast media organization featured a report that identified a maintenance worker atop a bank building overlooking the Lekki Toll

Gate as a sniper, leading to attacks that destroyed many of the bank's branches. The organizations have not even been sanctioned for this terrible disinformation, yet rabble rousers have latched on to the fines to make all sorts of baseless allegations.

CONCLUSION

21. In conclusion, gentlemen, let me reiterate the following:

a) The Federal Government was responsive and responsible in meeting the demands of the EndSARS protesters

b) The irresponsible use of social media by some unscrupulous persons aggravated the violence that erupted in the wake of the EndSARS protest and helped to precipitate the violence. While the government has no plans to shut down the internet, it will work with stakeholders to regulate the social media to curb abuse

c) Those who use the social media responsibly have nothing to fear, but those who abuse it have every reason to be worried, as no responsible government will stand by and allow a few unscrupulous elements to set the country ablaze.

d) CNN goofed in its preconceived stance that the soldiers who were deployed to Lekki Toll Gate indeed shot at protesters, killing some of them. CNN relied heavily on unverified and possibly-doctored videos, as well as information sourced from questionable sources, to reach its conclusion. This should earn CNN a serious sanction for irresponsible reporting.

e) While the Judicial Panel sitting in Lagos works to unravel what really transpired at the Lekki Toll Gate, available evidence so far points to the world's first case of MASSACRE WITHOUT BLOOD OR BODIES.

f) The Federal Government commends the security agencies for acting professionally and showing utmost restraint all through the EndSARS protest and the ensuing violence, an action that saved lives and properties

g) Human Rights Organizations should note that the security agents are also human beings and they have rights too. Even if the organizations, for whatever reasons, are reluctant to recognize the human rights of security agents, they should quit vilifying them as they are wont to do. It is also disheartening that the human rights organizations have not seen anything wrong in the mindless violence that was perpetrated in the name of EndSARS.

h) DJ Switch (Obianuju Catherine Udeh) should quit peddling falsehood and present her case, with verifiable evidence, to the Judicial Panel sitting in Lagos. No agency of government has declared her wanted hence she has no reason fleeing or seeking asylum anywhere.

i) The sanctions imposed on some broadcast media organizations by the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) are justified, in view of the unprofessional acts of the organizations which were in clear breach of the Broadcasting Code, as stated by the Commission. It is also imperative for the traditional media to authenticate information

from the social media before pushing such to the public

22. Gentlemen, I thank you for your kind attention. I will now take your questions which must be strictly on the issues I have addressed here.

#EndSARS! No Massacre in Lekki,CNN deserved to be sanctioned….Lai Mohammed

President Buhari congratulates Joe Biden,Says Nigeria looks forward to a greater cooperation with the US

President Muhammadu Buhari has congratulated former Vice President Joe Biden on his election as new President of the United States "at a time of uncertainty and fear in world affairs." According to the statement released by Garba Shehu,the Senior Special Assistant to the President,the Nigerian leader said "your election is a significant reminder that democracy is the best form of government because it offers the people the opportunity to change their government by peaceful means." According to President Buhari, "the most powerful group are not the politicians, but voters who can decide the fate of the politicians at the polling booth." He noted that "the main fascination of democracy is the freedom of choice and the supremacy of the will of the people." The President added that "respect for the will of the people is the very reason why democracy remains the best form of government, despite its limitations from one polity to another, and from one society to another." According to him, "I am thrilled by the fact that you are an experienced politician who had served as Congressman for 40 years and a Vice President for eight years. This is a remarkable track record that gives us hope that you will add value to the presidency and world affairs." President Buhari also noted that, "with your election, we look forward to greater cooperation between Nigeria and the United States, especially at economic, diplomatic and political levels, including the war against terrorism." On international affairs, President Buhari urged Mr. Biden to "deploy your vast experience in tackling the negative consequences of nationalist politics on world affairs which have created divisions, conflicts and uncertainties." The Nigerian leader also called on Mr. Biden "to introduce greater engagement with Africa on the basis of reciprocal respects and shared interests."

President Buhari congratulates Joe Biden,Says Nigeria looks forward to a greater cooperation with the US

One Good Turn Deserves Another! President Buhari congratulates Akeredolu on re-election as Ondo Governor

President Muhammadu Buhari rejoices with Rotimi Akeredolu SAN, on his re-election as Governor of Ondo State for another four-year term.

The President lauds the resounding victory of the Governor at the election held on Saturday, October 10, 2020, noting that the votes garnered “show that one good turn surely deserves another.”

He thanks the people of Ondo State for keeping faith with their Governor, and the All Progressives Congress (APC), noting that “the people know the person and party that truly serves them, and have spoken in clear voice and unmistakable terms.”

President Buhari appreciates the electorate in Ondo State for comporting themselves decently and in order, and for exhibiting conduct that indicates that the country is making progress in its electoral behavior.

He also gives kudos to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for organizing credible, free and fair election, and to security agencies which ensured that orderliness was enthroned and maintained.

The President urges Gov Akeredolu to be humble and magnanimous in victory, and serve the people of Ondo State even better than how he did in the first term, noting: “when you serve with heart and might, the people respond in like manner, and we can easily get to where we are headed as a country.”

Femi Adesina

Special Adviser to the President

(Media and Publicity)

October 11, 2020

One Good Turn Deserves Another! President Buhari congratulates Akeredolu on re-election as Ondo Governor

Man Who Trekked to Celebrate Buhari in 2015 gets Car,N2million from Gombe Governor

Dahiru Buba, the man who said he trekked from Gombe to Abuja to celebrate President Muhammadu Buhari’s victory in 2015 has received a car and a cash gift from Inuwa Yahaya, governor of Gombe state. 

 

TheCable had reported how Buba, a native of Dukku local government area of Gombe state, sought financial assistance to treat limb pains that he allegedly developed after the walk.

Buba, who said he only got a certificate for his feat in 2015, lamented that life became unbearable for him and his family as a result of the physical challenge.

But on Monday, five years after the ”great trek”, Buba was given a car and N2 million by the Gombe state governor.

In a statement, Ismaila Misilli, media aide to Yahaya, quoted the governor as saying no genuine effort or sacrifice will go unrewarded no matter how long it takes.

“For taking the pains and risks to show solidarity with Mr President and our great party, people like Buba should not be neglected,” he said.

“By embarking on that solidarity trek, Dahiru Buba had shown patriotism and support, he should therefore be appreciated and encouraged”.

The governor said he made sure that medical attention was given to Buba, and that he (Buba) is now responding to treatment.

“So, on learning about his condition, first I directed that he should be taken to the hospital for proper medical attention and I am happy that he is now better after undergoing his first round of treatment,” he said.

“As far as we are concerned in the APC and in this administration, no genuine effort or sacrifice will go unrewarded, no matter how long it takes.

“So, on behalf of our dear President and our beloved party, we say a big thank you for your show of support and solidarity”.

Buba thanked the governor and the president for the honour and promised judicious use of the gifts.

Man Who Trekked to Celebrate Buhari in 2015 gets Car,N2million from Gombe Governor

Obasanjo, Jonathan, other former leaders meet President Buhari virtually

 

President Buhari was joined by former President Olusegun Obasanjo, former Head of State, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida, former Head of State, Gen. Yakubu Gowon, former President Goodluck Jonathan, Head of Interim Government H.E. Chief Ernest Shonekan and former Head of State Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar during a Virtual Meeting with Former Heads of State in State House on 23rd Oct 2020. The outcome of the meeting was not however outside the raging outrage in the country, which many believe is not being properly addressed by President Buhari.

Obasanjo, Jonathan, other former leaders meet President Buhari virtually

President Buhari presents 2021 Draft Appropriation Bill to National Assembly

President Muhammadu Buhari, has presented the 2021 budget to a joint session of the National Assembly.of Nigeria.

Read the 2021 BUDGET SPEECH:

Budget of Economic Recovery and Resilience

Delivered By: His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari President, Federal Republic of Nigeria At the Joint Session of the National Assembly, Abuja Thursday, 8th October 2020

PROTOCOLS

1. It is with pleasure that I present the 2021 Federal Budget Proposals to this Joint Session of the National Assembly.

2. Distinguished and Honourable Leaders, and Members of the National Assembly, at this juncture, I wish to commend your tremendous efforts in approving the revision of the 2020 – 2022 Medium-Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy Paper, and passage of the 2020 Appropriation (Repeal and Amendment) Act, in response to the Coronavirus Pandemic.

3. Today marks an important occasion in our quest to accord the federal budget process the seriousness it deserves. In line with our commitment, we have worked extra hard to ensure early submission of the 2021 –2023 Medium-term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy Paper, as well as the 2021 Appropriation Bill. It is my sincere hope that the National Assembly will pass this Bill into law early enough to enable implementation by 1st January 2021, given the collaborative manner in which the budget was prepared.

4. In the course of this address, I will present the highlights of our budget proposals for the next fiscal year. The Honourable Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning will, later, provide the full details of these proposals.

Recent Developments

1. The 2021 Budget was prepared amidst a challenging global and domestic environment due to the persistent headwinds from the Coronavirus Pandemic. The resulting global economic recession, low oil prices and heightened global economic uncertainty have had important implications for our economy.

2. The Nigerian economy is currently facing serious challenges, with the macroeconomic environment being significantly disrupted by the Coronavirus Pandemic. Real Gross Domestic Product (‘GDP’) growth declined by 6.1 percent in the second quarter of 2020. This ended the 3-year trend of positive, but modest, real GDP growth recorded since the second quarter of 2017. I am glad to note that, through our collective efforts, our economy performed relatively better than that of many other developed and emerging economies.

3. GDP growth is projected to be negative in the third quarter of this year. As such, our economy may lapse into the second recession in four years, with significant adverse consequences. However, we are working assiduously to ensure a rapid recovery in 2021. We remain committed to implementing programmes to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty over the next 10 years.

4. As skills’ deficits limit employment opportunities in the formal economy, various skills’ development programmes are being implemented simultaneously to address this problem frontally. For instance, the Government is implementing the Special Public Works programme to provide employment opportunities to 774,000 youths across the 774 local government areas of Nigeria. We have also recently introduced the N75 billion Nigeria Youth Investment Fund, of which N25 billion have been provided in 2021 Budget.

5. We thank all Nigerians, for your perseverance and continued support during these difficult times. We remain unwavering in our commitment to actualize our vision of a bright future for everyone.

Performance of the 2020 Budget

6. Distinguished and Honourable Members of the National Assembly, you will recall that the 2020 ‘Budget of Sustaining Growth and Job Creation’ was amended in response to recent fiscal pressures. I am glad to report that these efforts enabled us to effectively respond to the public health challenge of Coronavirus outbreak and moderate economic impact.

7. Pursuant to our revised assumptions, the amended 2020 Budget was based on a benchmark oil price of 28 US Dollars per barrel; oil production of 1.80 million barrels per day; and exchange rate of N360 to the US Dollar.

8. Based on these budget parameters, aggregate revenue of N5.84 trillion was projected to fund N10.81 trillion in expenditure. The projected deficit of N4.98 trillion, or 3.57 percent of GDP, is expected to be financed mainly by borrowing.

9. In 2020, average daily oil production was 1.88 mbpd up to June, as against the revised estimate of 1.80 mbpd for the entire year. However, the market price of Bonny Light crude averaged 40.79 US Dollars per barrel, significantly higher than the revised benchmark price of 28 US Dollars.

10. As at July 2020, the Federal Government’s actual revenue available for the budget was N2.10 trillion. This revenue performance was only 68 percent of our pro-rated target in the revised 2020 budget. At N992.45 billion, oil revenue performed well above our budget target, by 168 percent. Non-oil tax revenues totalled N692.83 billion, which was 73 percent of the revised target.

11. To improve independent revenue performance, I have directed that the cost profiles of Government Owned Enterprises (‘GOEs’) should be scrutinized and limits imposed on their cost-to-revenue ratios. Supervising Ministers have also been directed to ensure closer monitoring of the revenue generating activities and expenditures of the Government Owned Enterprises.

12. On the expenditure side, as at end of July 2020, a total of N5.37 trillion had been spent as against the pro-rated expenditure of N5.82 trillion. Accordingly, the deficit was N3.27 trillion. This represents 66 percent of the revised budgeted deficit for the full year.

13. Despite these challenges, we met our debt service obligations. We are also up to date on the payment of statutory transfers and staff salaries, while overhead costs have been significantly covered.

14. For the first time in recent years, we commenced the implementation of this year’s capital budget in the first quarter. As at 15th September 2020 a total of about N1.2 trillion had been released for capital projects. Every Federal MDA has received at least 50 percent of its 2020 capital expenditure budget, in line with my earlier directives.

15. Let me emphasise that revenue generation remains our major challenge. Nevertheless, Government is determined to tackle the persisting problems with domestic resource mobilization, as there is a limit to deficit financing through borrowing. The time has come for us to maintain a healthy balance between meeting our growing expenditure commitments and our long-term public financial health.

Key Achievements in the 2020 Fiscal Year

34. Over the last year, this Administration has implemented several priority projects. I am happy to report that much progress has been made on several fronts and our Government has delivered on key policies, programmes and projects in these priority areas.

16. In agriculture, we have recorded appreciable success in rice and other crops mainly through the Anchor Borrowers Programme and the Presidential Fertilizer Initiative, anchored by the Central Bank of Nigeria and the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority, respectively. We are also accelerating the construction of 337 rural roads around key agricultural corridors to enhance access to market and reduce post-harvest losses. These efforts have reduced the adverse impact of Coronavirus on our food availability, prices and security.

17. We have made progress on the railway projects connecting different parts of the country. The Lagos-Ibadan Line will soon be operational. The Abuja-Kaduna Line is running efficiently. The Itakpe-Ajaokuta Line was finally completed after over 30 years since it was initiated and commissioned in September 2020.

18. Arrangements are underway to complete the Ibadan-Kano Line. Also, work will soon commence on the Port Harcourt-Maiduguri Line and Calabar-Lagos Coastal Line, which will connect the Southern and Eastern States to the North, and the South-South as well as South-East to the North, and South-West, respectively.

19. The Second Niger Bridge is at about 46 percent completion. We hope to commission the project before the end of our tenure in 2023. We have awarded several contracts to rehabilitate, reconstruct and construct major arterial roads, in order to reduce the hardship to commuters and increase economic activity.

20. To bridge the infrastructure deficit, we are also implementing innovative financing strategies to pull-in private sector investment. The Infrastructure Company, which I recently approved, will become a world-class infrastructure development vehicle, wholly focused on making critical infrastructural investments in Nigeria. This Infrastructure Company will raise funding from the Central Bank of Nigeria, the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority, the Africa Finance Corporation, pension funds as well as local and foreign private sector development financiers.

21. Under the Road Infrastructure Tax Credit Scheme, we are undertaking the construction and rehabilitation of over 780km of roads and bridges, nationwide, to be financed by the grant of tax credits to investing business. Ongoing projects under this scheme include:

a. Construction and Rehabilitation of Lokoja-Obajana-Kabba-Ilorin Road Section II (Obajana-Kabba) in Kogi and Kwara States;

b. Construction of Apapa-Oworonshoki-Ojota Expressway in Lagos State; and

c. Construction of Bodo-Bonny road with a Bridge across the Opobo Channel in Rivers State.

22. To enhance good governance, we strengthened our anti-corruption agencies to ensure they work independently and jointly, while respecting the rule of law. We have also worked to address emergent cases of insecurity and insurgency, nationwide, with innovative approaches. Our security operations in the Niger Delta, North Central and North West are yielding desired results. We are determined to get rid of bandits, kidnappers and criminal behaviour from our midst.

Theme & Priorities of the 2021 Budget

23. Distinguished Senators; Honourable Members; let me now turn to the 2021 Appropriation Bill, which is designed to further deliver on the goals of our Economic Sustainability Plan. This Plan provides a clear road map for our post- Coronavirus economic recovery as a transitional plan to take us from the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (2017 – 2020) to the successor Medium-Term National Development Plan (2021 – 2025).

24. In view of the many challenges confronting us, we must accelerate our economic recovery process, promote social inclusion and strengthen the resilience of the economy. The 2021 Appropriation has, therefore, been themed the ‘Budget of Economic Recovery and Resilience’. It is expected to accelerate the pace of our economic recovery, promote economic diversification, enhance competitiveness and ensure social inclusion.

Parameters & Fiscal Assumptions Underpinning the 2021 Appropriation

25. Distinguished Members of the National Assembly, the 2021 – 2023 Medium Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy Paper set out the parameters for the 2021 Budget, which include:

a. Benchmark oil price of 40 US Dollars per barrel;

b. Daily oil production estimate of 1.86 million barrels (inclusive of Condensates of 300,000 to 400,000 barrels per day);

c. Exchange rate of N379 per US Dollar; and

d. GDP growth projected at 3.0 percent and inflation closing at 11.95 percent.

Finance Bill 2020

26. Distinguished and Honourable Members; I have directed the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning to finalise the Finance Bill 2020, which will be forwarded for your kind consideration and passage into law, shortly after today’s 2021 Budget presentation. The Finance Bill is to support the realization of our 2021 revenue projections, adopt appropriate counter-cyclical fiscal policies and enhance the efficiency of fiscal incentives.

Tax Expenditure Statement

27. In compliance with the Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2007, we will prepare and publish, a Tax Expenditures Statement for 2019. The 2019 Statement will be the first of these annual Statements, setting out the estimated cost of tax exemptions, incentives and rebates provided under Nigeria’s revenue and other laws. The 2019 Statement is expected to contribute to public discussion on the use of our tax policies and system to achieve socio-economic development.

Federal Government Revenue Estimates

28. Based on the foregoing fiscal assumptions and parameters, total federally distributable revenue is estimated at N8.433 trillion in 2021. Total revenue available to fund the 2021 Federal Budget is estimated at N7.886 trillion. This includes Grants and Aid of N354.85 billion as well as the revenues of 60 Government-Owned Enterprises.

29. Oil revenue is projected at N2.01 trillion. Non-oil revenue is estimated at N1.49 trillion. As you will observe, the format of the 2021 Appropriation Bill has been modified to include budgeted revenues, no matter how small, for each MDA, to focus on internal revenue generation. Accordingly, I implore you to pay as much attention to the revenue side as you do to the expenditure side.

Planned 2021 Expenditure

30. An aggregate expenditure of N13.08 trillion is proposed for the Federal Government in 2021. This includes N1.35 trillion spending by Government-Owned Enterprises and Grants and Aid funded expenditures of N354.85 billion. For 2021, the proposed N13.08 trillion expenditure comprises:

a. Non-debt Recurrent Costs of N5.65 trillion;

b. Personnel Costs of N3.76 trillion;

c. Pensions, Gratuities and Retirees’ Benefits of N501.19 billion;

d. Overheads of N625.50 billion;

e. Debt Service of N3.124 trillion;

f. Statutory Transfers of N484.49 billion; and

g. Sinking Fund of N220 billion (to retire certain maturing bonds).

Fiscal Balance

1. The 2021 Budget deficit (inclusive of Government Owned Enterprises and project-tied loans), is projected at N5.20 trillion. This represents 3.64 percent of estimated GDP, slightly above the 3 percent threshold set by the Fiscal Responsibility Act, 2007. It is, however, to be noted that we still face the existential challenge of Coronavirus Pandemic and its aftermath; I believe that this provides a justification to exceed the threshold as provided for by this law.

31. The deficit will be financed mainly by new borrowings totalling N4.28 trillion, N205.15 billion from Privatization Proceeds and N709.69 billion in drawdowns on multilateral and bilateral loans secured for specific projects and programmes.

Statutory Transfers

32. The sum of N484.49 billion provided for Statutory Transfers in the 2021 Budget represents an increase of N56.46 billion (or 13 percent) over the revised 2020 provision. The Statutory Transfer provisions are:

a. Niger Delta Development Commission - N63.51 billion;

b. North East Development Commission - N29.70 billion;

c. National Judicial Council - N110.00 billion;

d. Universal Basic Education Commission - N70.05 billion;

e. Independent National Electoral Commission - N40.00 billion;

f. National Assembly - N128.00 billion;

g. Public Complaints Commission - N5.20 billion;

h. Human Rights Commission - N3.00 billion; and

i. Basic Health Care Provision Fund - N35.03 billion.

33. In compliance with the Fiscal Responsibility Act 2007, all beneficiaries of Statutory Transfers will be required to provide the Budget Office of the Federation with periodic reports on the allocation and expenditure of funds for inclusion in the quarterly Budget Implementation Report.

Recurrent Expenditure

34. In our efforts to enhance national security and human capital development, a major part of the 2021 recurrent cost estimate is allocated to paying salaries and overheads in MDAs providing these critical public services. These include:

a. N227.02 billion for the Ministry of Interior;

b. N441.39 billion for the Ministry of Police Affairs;

c. N545.10 billion for Ministry of Education;

d. N840.56 billion for Ministry of Defence; and

e. N380.21 billion for Ministry of Health.

Personnel Costs

35. Personnel cost is still our largest single item of expenditure. In the 7 months to 31st July 2020, it accounted for 34 percent of total Federal Government spending and is projected at 33 percent of 2021 expenditure.

36. To check the incidence of payments to non-existent personnel and unauthorised allowances, only Federal staff that have been captured on the Integrated Personnel Payroll Information System (‘IPPIS’) platform will receive salaries.

37. All agencies have been directed to ensure that they obtain all necessary approvals before embarking on any fresh recruitment. Any breach of these directives will be severely sanctioned.

Debt Service

38. We remain committed to meeting our debt service obligations. Hence, we have provisioned N3.12 trillion for this in 2021, representing an increase of N445.57 billion from N2.68 trillion in 2020. A total of N2.183 trillion has been set aside to service domestic debts while N940.89 billion has been provided for foreign debt service. N220 billion is provided for transfers to the Sinking Fund to pay off maturing bonds issued to local contractors and creditors.

Overhead Costs

39. Total overhead costs of MDAs and Government Owned Enterprises are projected to rise to N625.50 billion in 2021, mainly due to the inclusion of the overheads of an additional 50 Government Owned Enterprises. Overhead provisions have also been made for newly created agencies. To keep a tab on running costs, MDAs must adhere to extant expenditure controls.

Capital Expenditure

40. An aggregate sum of N3.85 trillion is expected to be available for capital projects in 2021, as summarised below:

a. N1.80 trillion for MDAs’ capital expenditure;

b. N745 billion for Capital Supplementation;

c. N355 billion for Grants and Aid-funded projects;

d. N20 billion for the Family Homes Fund;

e. N25 billion for the Nigeria Youth Investment fund;

f. N336 billion for 60 Government Owned Enterprises;

g. N247 billion for capital component of Statutory Transfers; and

h. N710 billion for projects funded by Multi-lateral and Bi-lateral loans.

41. The 2021 capital budget is N1.15 trillion higher than the 2020 provision of N2.69 trillion. At 29 percent of aggregate expenditure, the provision moves closer to this Administration’s policy target of 30 percent.

42. Capital expenditure in 2021 remains focused on the completion of as many ongoing projects as possible, rather than the commencement of new ones. We have also made efforts to ensure equity in the distribution of projects and programmes in the proposed budget. I will be providing the National Assembly a list of some of the most critical projects which we must work collectively to ensure they receive adequate funding. Until projects reach completion, they do not deliver the dividends of democracy that Nigerians rightly deserve.

Highlights of the 2021 Capital Projects

43. Key capital spending allocations in the 2021 Budget include:

a. Power: N198 billion (inclusive of N150 billion for the Power Sector Recovery Plan);

b. Works and Housing: N404 billion;

c. Transportation: N256 billion;

d. Defence: N121 billion;

e. Agriculture and Rural Development: N110 billion;

f. Water Resources: N153 billion;

g. Industry, Trade and Investment: N51 billion;

h. Education: N127 billion;

i. Universal Basic Education Commission: N70 billion;

j. Health: N132 billion;

k. Zonal Intervention Projects: N100 billion; and

l. Niger Delta Development Commission: N64 billion.

44. The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development will facilitate the integrated development of its sector by promoting crops’ value chains; as well as providing rural roads, water and sanitation, veterinary and pest controls, grazing, food and strategic reserves, and access to inputs and extension services.

45. The 157 percent increase in the capital allocation to the health sector is to enhance the capacity to deliver healthcare services through the procurement of equipment, vaccines and other facilities. Two centres of excellence, as well as one Accident and Emergency Centre, will be equipped in Federal Teaching Hospitals in each geopolitical zone.

46. In addition, numerous Primary Health Care Centres will be equipped and upgraded across the six geopolitical zones. Furthermore, funds have been allocated for the expansion of Midwives Service Scheme in the six geopolitical zones. To enhance occupational safety, funds have been provided for the provision of Personal Protective Equipment for health workers.

47. The Ministry of Education’s capital allocation has been increased by 65 percent to improve the education of our children. Funds have been provided for the provision of scholarship awards to Nigerian students at home and abroad.

48. We have provided funds for the upgrade of security and other infrastructural facilities in our Unity Colleges nationwide. To improve access to education, we have made provision for the establishment of five new Federal Science and Technical Colleges. We have also provided for the payment of allowances to 5,000 teachers under the Federal Teachers Scheme.

49. In line with our commitment to invest in Transportation Infrastructure, capital allocation to the Works and Housing sector is to facilitate the completion of several critical projects in 2021. I have directed the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning to provide a detailed breakdown of key infrastructural projects in her subsequent Press Briefing.

50. Key projects for implementation in the Power sector include several Rural Electrification Projects in the 36 States and Abuja, Rural Electrification Access Programme in Federal Universities, the Kaduna LPFO Gas Fired power Plant, the Mambilla Hydro Power Project and the Zungeru Hydropower Project.

51. Provisions have been made for legacy debts owed to local contractors compensation and resettlement of project-affected communities, the Renewable Energy Micro Utility (Solar) project, and the construction of transmission lines and substations nationwide. These project’s implementation is expected to have positive impact on electricity supply nationwide, as well as boost productivity and employment.

52. Projects to be implemented by the Ministry of Water Resources in 2021 include provision of potable water in the North East, construction of irrigation and dams across the country, and the provision of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene facilities.

53. The Ministry of Transportation has earmarked funds for projects such as the Lagos-Ibadan-Kano Line, Abuja-Kaduna Line, Port-Harcourt-Maiduguri Line and Itakpe-Ajaokuta-Warri Line. These projects, when completed, will minimize the cost of transporting people and goods around the country.

54. To maintain the peace in the Niger Delta region for economic and social activities to thrive, the provision of N65 billion for the Presidential Amnesty Programme has been retained in the 2021 Budget. In addition, the sum of N63.51 billion has been appropriated for the Niger Delta Development Commission and N24.27 billion has been provided for the capital projects of the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs. These allocations should further support the development of the region by facilitating the completion of important ongoing projects, such as the East-West Road.

Government Fiscal Strategy in 2021

55. The government is already implementing several measures to overcome our fiscal constraints. In addition to the Strategic Revenue Growth Initiatives, we are leveraging technology and automation, as well as more effective monitoring of Independently Generated Revenues. Our efforts are aimed at addressing revenue leakages and redirecting scarce resources to the poor and vulnerable. These efforts include:

a. Deregulation of the price of petroleum products;

b. Ongoing verification exercise with IPPIS; and

c. Implementation of service-based electricity tariffs.

56. The new petrol pricing regime has freed up resources that was allocated to subsidise petroleum products. Similarly, the ongoing IPPIS verification exercise has closed gaps that encourage ghost workers or pensioners. The service reflective electricity tariffs will help resolve liquidity crisis in the power sector and make the sector attractive to foreign investment. These reforms have released trillions of Naira for allocation to other priority areas.

57. Distinguished Senators, Honourable Members, permit me to reiterate that the main thrust of our capital spending programme in 2021 is the completion of as many ongoing projects as possible across the country. Accordingly, we have prioritized projects that can be rapidly completed to benefit our people.

58. Distinguished Senators and Honourable Members, I note, with satisfaction, your determination to promptly consider and pass the Petroleum Industry Bill into law. The enactment of this Bill will boost confidence and attract further investments into our oil and gas sector, as well as increase revenues.

59. I fully understand the difficulties many of our people are going through with the implementation of our reform agenda. However, the measures we are implementing are necessary for sustainable public finance, better allocation of our scarce resources and improved public service delivery. As we implement these reforms, social safety nets will be implemented to cushion the effect of the most vulnerable of our citizens as well as business owners.

60. In furtherance of our inclusiveness agenda, the sum of N420 billion has been provided to sustain the Social Investment Programme. N20 billion has also been set aside for the Family Homes Fund, our Social Housing Programme. We have expanded our National Social Register, to include an additional one million Nigerians following the onset of Coronavirus. We recently introduced the N75 billion Survival Fund Programme to support and protect businesses from potential vulnerabilities. Furthermore, the Central Bank of Nigeria is reducing the interest rate on its intervention facilities from 9% to 5% with a 1-year moratorium till 31st March 2021, to provide concessional lending of:

. N100 billion to households and small businesses;

a. N100 billion to the healthcare and pharmaceutical industry; and

b. N1 trillion to large agricultural and manufacturing businesses.

61. We urge Nigerian businesses and individuals to make the most of these concessional credit facilities and other such opportunities.

Conclusion

62. Mr. Senate President, Mr. Speaker, Distinguished and Honourable Members of the 9th National Assembly; let me use this opportunity to, again, commend your firm commitment towards ensuring a very harmonious and productive relationship with the Executive. It is important to further deepen this relationship in the interest of our people.

63. As you review the 2021 Budget estimates, we believe the legislative process will be expedited to ensure its prompt passage to sustain the restoration of a predictable January – December fiscal year. In this regard, I have directed all Ministers and Heads of Agencies to be personally available for budget defence.

64. Let me re-emphasize that Nigerians expect that the 2021 Budget will contain only implementable and critical projects, which when completed, will significantly address current structural challenges of the economy, improve the business environment and accelerate economic recovery.

65. May I conclude my remarks by commending the National Assembly for its support in steering our economy during these very challenging times. We remain committed to sustaining this partnership. We believe that as we work together, we will jointly deliver on our joint mandate to our people.

66. It is with great pleasure, therefore, that I lay, before this Distinguished Joint Session of the National Assembly, the 2021 Budget Proposals of the Federal Government of Nigeria, for your consideration.

67. I thank you for your attention.

68. May God continue to bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

President Buhari presents 2021 Draft Appropriation Bill to National Assembly

Covid-19! Ghana's former President Jerry Rawlings dies at 73

Ghana's former leader Jerry Rawlings, who seized power twice in military coups but went on to bring democratic rule to the West African country, died on Thursday at the age of 73, a source at the presidency said.

Rawlings overthrew then-ruler General Frederick Akuffo in 1979 when he was an army lieutenant. He handed over power to civilian rule soon after but then led another coup two years later, decrying the overnment's corruption and weak leadership.

From 1981 to 1993, Rawlings ruled as chairman of a joint military-civilian government. In 1992 he was elected president under a new constitution, taking up that office the following year and serving two terms before handing over power to John Kufour who succeeded him in 2001.

The source at the presidency said Rawlings had died on Thursday morning, providing no further details.However,reports has it that he died from Covid-19 complications.

Covid-19! Ghana's former President Jerry Rawlings dies at 73

EndSARS Protest! President Addresses the Nation at last

Following detailed briefing by security chiefs on the current situation in the country, President Muhammadu Buhari will make a national broadcast Thursday, October 22, 2020 at 7pm.
Television, radio and other electronic media outlets are enjoined to hook up to the network services of the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) and Radio Nigeria respectively for the broadcast.
Femi Adesina
Special Adviser to the President
(Media & Publicity)
October 22, 2020
EndSARS Protest! President Addresses the Nation at last

There will be no more coups in Nigeria....Former President Babangida

Nigeria's former despotic military ruler,Ibrahim Badamasi Babaginda, says it is silly to blame the military for Nigeria’s problems.

In an interview with Channels TV, Babangida faulted the argument that the military’s intervention in Nigeria’s governance did more harm than good to the country.

Six years after independence, some Nigerian soldiers led by Chukwuma Nzeogwu carried out a coup which failed. Johnson Aguiyi-Ironsi emerge as the first military head of state afterwards.

Subsequent coups resulted in a prolonged military rule. Babangida, who was one of the longest-serving military rulers, led Nigeria from 1985 to 1993.

In the interview broadcast on Friday night, Babangida said the military cannot be blamed for Nigeria’s problems because it was the civilian governments that instituted a system upon which they operated.

“We didn’t create problems. We tried to provide the framework upon which subsequent governments could build upon. Most of the infrastructural developments, even the democracy, we midwifed it. We were able to capture what the world is doing now and bring them into our own country,” he said.

“I find it silly to say that we created the problems. It is a joint venture between the military and the civilians. You were there to show us how the system works; the institutions of governance and government, all these were civilians prerogative.”

Babangida said the military intervened in governance because of the political instability occasioned by a lack of a nationalistic approach by the leaders of the time.

“You have political parties that wanted to carve a region and call it their own. We didn’t develop this concept of a federal government with the states or the regions,” he said.

“Every region wanted to be on its own. So, that brought about the lack of stability and in the process, we (the military) got involved in a lot of internal security operations, up to the time it culminated in a military coup.

“Fortunately, the military who intervened at that time were all nationalistic. They did not believe in separation. All they had to do was to make sure the various regions remain one, not divided.”“We talk little about our beliefs, what we stand for and what we want the country to be. We always dwell on the problem. We have a country and we must make it work.”

There will be no more coups in Nigeria....Former President Babangida

Gboyega Isiaka,Others join Governor Dapo Abiodun’s Govt in Ogun

Gboyega Nasir Isiaka, the governorship candidate of the African Democratic Congress (ADC),in the last election, has joined the government of Governor Dapo Abiodun in Ogun State. This was revealed in the recent appointments into various boards, agencies and commission in the state

GNI,as the politician is fondly reffered to,was named as the Chairman of Ogun Free Trade Zone (OGUN GUADONG).

Two former Ogun House Assembly Speakers, Hon. Suraj Adekunbi and Hon. Titi Oseni Gomez were also considered in the new appointment.

While Adekunbi was appointed as a Senior Consultant, Titi Oseni Gomez was appointed into the board of Nigerite.

A statement by the Chief Press Secretary to Gov Abiodun, Kunle Somorin, listed the appointees as follows:

SIGNAGE & ADVERT AGENCY

1. Tope Kuyebi – Chairman

Members

2. Chairman ABK South

3. Chairman Ado-Odo/Ota

4. Chairman Ijebu Ode

5. Commr / Rep of Env

6. Commr Physical / Rep

7. Commr Transport / Rep

8. Min of Justice

9. Min of Works

10. Min of Information

11. Lateef Ashiru

12. Outdoor

13. Babatunde Adekunle Oyekan

14. Soyemi Abudu Bashiru

15. Aderenle Akinde

16. Dep Gen Mgr – JK Odetoogun

17. Adeniyi Adetokunbo – Secretary

OGUN STATE INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE (IRS)

1. Bode Fakunle

2. Biodun Adeleye

3. Otunba Femi Allens

OGUN STATE PARKS AND GARAGES DEVELOPMENT BOARD

1. Abeeb Ajayi – Chairman

Members

2. Transportation

3. Special Duties

4. Works

5. Environment

6. Alh. Isiaka Adesanya

7. Bayo Yemi-Sanusi

8. Adekunle Adegboyega

9. Wahab Ashade

10. Ismail Adewale (Small)

11. Taiwo Oduola

12. Idowu Ogunnubi

13. Sina Ogunkoya

14. Alh Abiola Logere

PLANTGATE LIMITED

1. Isreal Jolaoso – Chairman

2. Owolabi Taiwo Olawale (Apata)

3. Adeola Babatunde

4. Mudasiru Odukale

5. Tunji Adewuyi

AGRIC DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION

Chief Biyi Otegbeye – Chairman

BOARD OF TECHNICAL AND VOCATIONAL EDUCATION

Barrister Siwoniku – Chairman

OGUN FREE TRADE ZONE (OGUN GUNADONG)

1. Gboyega Nasir Isiaka – Chairman

2. Hajia Hafsa Tafawa-Balewa – Member

RUBBER ESTATE LTD (WATERSIDE)

Princess Abisoye Philips

OGUN STATE AGRIC MULTIPURPOSE CREDIT AGENCY (OSAMCA)

Muftau Oshinowo, Ikenne

SENIOR CONSULTANTS

1. Rt. Hon. Suraj Adekunbi

2. Prince Kayode Tejuoso

3. Hon. Olayinka Odufuwa

SENIOR SPECIAL ASSISTANTS

1. Deji Kalejaye – Odogbolu

2. Bayo Orebiyi – Yewa South

3. Ayodeji (Bush) – Ijebu North

4. Lekan Oyesanya – Sagamu

5. Hon. S. O. Solarin – Sagamu

6. Femi Akinwunmi – Sagamu

SPECIAL ASSISTANT

Kolawole Olu-Agemo

Nominee Board

1. Rt. Hon Titi Oseni Gomez – Nigerite

2. Arc. Dunmi Opayemi – Chairman, WEMABOD.

Gboyega Isiaka,Others join Governor Dapo Abiodun’s Govt in Ogun

#EndSARS! Osinbajo apologises for Buhari administration’s ‘slow’ implementation of protesters’ demands

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, in a statement on Friday night, apologised for the delay in the implementation of the demands of #EndSARS protesters.

The protest against police brutality and the notorious Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) of the Nigeria Police Force has gained global traction after a rigorous campaign on social media.

Peaceful demonstration is also going on in major cities in the country.

While the disbandment of the police unit has been achieved, some other demands of the protesters have not been fully met.

These include the prosecution of killer cops, the release of all protesters in detention and the total overhaul of the police.

In his statement, the vice president admitted that the process of implementation could have moved faster than the way it is.

“I fully understand how many young people feel. Many feel that we have been too silent and have simply not done enough.These feelings of frustration are justified. There are far too many people who have been brutalised at the hands of the police and this is unacceptable. We must take responsibility for protecting young people, even sometimes from those who are paid to protect them.”

He said several meetings have been held between President Muhammadu Buhari, top officials of the National Assembly, police authorities and the human rights commission in order to salvage the situation.

“Over the past week, we have been following the protests, and I have had a number of discussions with key people in the administration that you deserve to be informed about. Transparency, after all, is a key tenet of government.”

“We understand that you want to see action from us and I’m here to tell you that work is ongoing. I chaired a meeting of 36 state governors and the Minister of the FCT (NEC), where we resolved to set up judicial panels of inquiry so we can see justice served, and fast.”

He noted that the reason for the meeting with the governors is because they are the only ones who can set up judicial inquiries in their states according to the law.

VP Osinbajo also reiterated the disbandment of SARS, assuring that none of its former members will feature in any police tactical units.

He condoled with the families of Jimoh Isiaq and all those who have lost their lives at the hands of the “wayward” police officers.

“We have proposed that each state government set up a Victims’ Support Fund, which the federal government will support. This is the least that we can do to compensate for the injustice suffered at the hands of errant officers,” he announced.

The vice president acknowledged that the issues being raised are bigger than SARS.“They’re deep and systemic and we’re undertaking comprehensive measures that will revamp the police by addressing issues of welfare, service conditions and training,” he promised.

#EndSARS! Osinbajo apologises for Buhari administration’s ‘slow’ implementation of protesters’ demands

President Buhari's 60th Independence Day Speech

INDEPENDENCE DAY ADDRESS BY HIS EXCELLENCY, MUHAMMADU BUHARI, PRESIDENT OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA ON THE OCCASION OF
NIGERIA’S 60TH INDEPENDENCE
ANNIVERSARY, THURSDAY
1ST OCTOBER 2020

Fellow Nigerians

 
 

I speak to you today as your President and fellow citizen on this epoch occasion of our country’s 60th independence Anniversary. As President, I wish to renew my appreciation to Nigerians for entrusting me with your hopes and aspirations for a better and greater Nigeria.

2. Today, it is my unique privilege to re-commit myself to the service of this great country of great people with profound diversities and opportunities. We are bound by destiny to be the largest and greatest black nation on earth.

3. At this stage in our nationhood it is important that we reflect how we got here to enable us work TOGETHER to get to where we aspire to be as a strong indivisible nation, united in hope and equal in opportunity.

4. On October 1st 1960 when Prime Minister Alhaji Abubakar Tafawa Balewa received the constitutional instruments symbolizing Nigeria’s independence, he expressed his wish that having acquired our rightful status as an independent sovereign nation, history would record that the building of our nation proceeded at the wisest pace.

5. This optimism was anchored on the peaceful planning, full and open consultation and harmonious cooperation with the different groups which culminated in Nigeria emerging as a country without bitterness and bloodshed.

6. Our founding fathers understood the imperative of structuring a National identity using the power of the state and worked towards unification of Nigerians in a politically stable and viable entity.

7. That philosophy guided the foundation that was laid for our young nation of 45 million people with an urban population of approximately 7million occupying an area of 910,768 square kilometers. These demographics led to development challenges for which major efforts were made to overcome.

8. Today, we grapple with multiple challenges with a population exceeding 200million occupying the same land mass but 52% residing in urban areas.

9. Sixty years of nationhood provides an opportunity to ask ourselves questions on the extent to which we have sustained the aspirations of our founding fathers. Where did we do the right things? Are we on course? If not where did we stray and how can we remedy and retrace our steps?

10. Upon attaining independence, Nigeria’s growth trajectory was anchored on policies and programmes that positively impacted on all sectors of the economy. However, this journey was cut short by the 30-months of civil war.

11. We came out of the civil war with a focus on reconstruction, rehabilitation and reconciliation that enabled the country to put in place world class development structures and a strengthened public service that well served the government. This positive trajectory continued with a return to democratic government which was truncated by another round of military rule.

12. For a cumulative 29 of our 60 years existence as a nation, we have been under military rule.

13. My summary of our journey so far as a nation is necessary to appropriately chart where we need to go and how to get there TOGETHER.

14. Today, I am aware that our economy along with every single economy in the world is in crisis. We still face security challenges in parts of the country, while our society suffers from a high loss of moral rectitude which is driven by unbridled craving for political control.

15. An underlying cause of most of the problems we have faced as a nation is our consistent harping on artificially contrived fault-lines that we have harboured and allowed unnecessarily to fester.

16. In addition, institutions such as civil service, police, the judiciary, the military all suffered from a general decline.

17. We need to begin a sincere process of national healing and this anniversary presents a genuine opportunity to eliminate old and outworn perceptions that are always put to test in the lie they always are.

18. The stereotype of thinking of ourselves as coming from one part of the country before seeing ourselves as Nigerians is a key starting point to project us on the road to our deserved nation’s evolution and integration.

19. To start this healing process, we are already blessed with the most important asset any nation requires for such – OUR PEOPLE – and this has manifested globally in the exploits of Nigerians in many fields.

20. It has been demonstrated time and time again that Nigerians in the diaspora frequently excel in science, technology, medicine, sports, arts and many other fields.

21. Similarly, the creativity, ingenuity and resourcefulness of the Nigerian at home have resulted in globally recognized endeavours.

22. I am convinced that if we pursue our aspirations TOGETHER we would be able to achieve whatever we desire. That informed our adopting the theme TOGETHER to mark this epochal event.

23. Together we can change our condition for the better and more importantly, together we can do much more for ourselves and for our country.

24. I chose the path of self-reflection because this is what I do on a daily basis and I must confess that at most times, I always felt the need for a collective reflection as I know that the foundation for a solid future which this administration is laying can only be sustainable if there is a collective commitment by Nigerians.

25. Nigeria is not a country for Mr. President, any ruling or opposition party but a country for all of us and we must play our part, irrespective of challenges we face, to make this country what we desire.

26. To achieve this, we must focus our minds, TOGETHER as a people, on ways of resolving the identified critical challenges that underlie our present state. These include:
a. Evolving and sustaining a democratic culture that leaves power in the hands of the people;
b. Supporting the enthronement of the rule of law, demanding accountability of elected representatives and contributing to good governance;
c. Increasing our commitment to peaceful co-existence in a peaceful, secure and united Nigeria;
d. Harnessing and Optimizing our tremendous human and natural resources to attain our goal of being in the top twenty economies of the world and in the process;
e. Lifting 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in 10 years;
f. Strengthening institutions to make them stronger in protecting National Interests; and
g. Imbibing tolerance in diversity.

27. I am a firm believer in transparent, free, fair and credible elections as has been demonstrated during my period as a democratically elected President.

28. The recent build-up and eventual outcome of the Edo State elections should encourage Nigerians that it is my commitment to bequeath to this country processes and procedures that would guarantee that the people’s votes count.

29. The problems with our electoral process are mainly human induced as desperate desire for power leads to desperate attempts to gain power and office.

30. Democracy, the world over and as I am pursuing in Nigeria, recognizes the power of the people. However, if some constituencies choose to bargain off their power, they should be prepared for denial of their rights.

31. This call is made more urgent if we realise that even after a transparent, free, fair and credible election, desperation leads to compromising the judiciary to upturn legitimate decisions of the people.

32. It is necessary to, therefore support the enthronement of the rule of law by avoiding actions which compromise the judiciary.

33. Fellow Nigerians, our history has shown that we are a people that have the capacity to live peacefully with one another.

34. As a government, we remain committed to our constitutional oath of securing the lives and properties of the citizenry. I, however, call on the citizenry to also support government by providing the necessary community level intelligence in addressing these challenges.

35. In moving forward together, it is important to strengthen our economy to provide sustainable means of livelihood for as many Nigerians as possible so as to eradicate absolute poverty from our midst.

36. I want to re-emphasize my dedication and commitment, a dedication and commitment that propelled my public service career and informed my quest to continually seek for an opportunity to improve the lives of Nigerians, set the country on the path of prosperity and lead the country to a better future.

37. This administration has been focused on rebuilding and laying the foundations for a sustainable Nigeria. Of course, we have met and are still meeting the challenges inherent in any rebuilding initiative – more so that of a nation like Nigeria that has undergone avoidable levels of deprivation – but can be surmounted if we all work together.

38. I wish to re-iterate that our people and our spirit of excellence remains our most important asset.

39. In this wise, the need to return to our age-old ethical and high moral values would be necessary and this informed my launching of the National Ethics and Integrity Policy on Monday 28th September, 2020.

40. The policy would not implement itself and the first contact of the visibility of its implementation is the Public Service whose on-going reforms would be expected to be sustainable and give a radical re-direction in providing services to all Nigerians.

41. Fellow Nigerians, in addition to public health challenges of working to contain the spread of the Coronavirus, we have suffered a significant drop in our foreign exchange earnings and internal revenues due to 40 per cent drop in oil prices and steep drop in economic activities, leading to a 60 per cent drop in government revenue.

42. Our government is grappling with the dual challenge of saving lives and livelihoods in face of drastically reduced resources.

43. In this regard, sustaining the level of petroleum prices is no longer possible. The government, since coming into office has recognized the economic argument for adjusting the price of petroleum. But the social argument about the knock-on effect of any adjustment weighed heavily with the government.

44. Accordingly, in the last three years, we have introduced unprecedented measures in support of the economy and to the weakest members of our society in the shape of:
a. Tradermoni
b. Farmermoni
c. School Feeding Programme
d. Job creation efforts
e. Agricultural intervention programmes

45. No government in the past did what we are doing with such scarce resources. We have managed to keep things going in spite of the disproportionate spending on security. Those in the previous Governments from 1999 – 2015 who presided over the near destruction of the country have now the impudence to attempt to criticize our efforts.

46. In the circumstances, a responsible government must face realities and take tough decisions.

47. Petroleum prices in Nigeria are to be adjusted. We sell now at N161 per litre. A comparison with our neighbours will illustrate the point;

a. Chad which is an oil producing country charges N362 per litre
b. Niger, also an oil producing country sells 1 litre at N346.
c. In Ghana, another oil producing country, petroleum pump price is N326 per litre.

48. Further afield, Egypt charges N211 per litre. Saudi Arabia charges N168 per litre. It makes no sense for oil to be cheaper in Nigeria than in Saudi Arabia.

49. Fellow Nigerians, to achieve the great country we desire, we need to solidify our strength, increase our commitment and encourage ourselves to do that which is right and proper even when no one is watching.

50. Fellow Nigerians, let us collectively resolve to continue our journey beyond the sixty years on the clear understanding that as a nation we are greater together than being smaller units of nationalities. By the special grace of God we shall come through any transient challenges.

51. It is my sincere hope that by the end of this anniversary on September 30th 2021, we will all be proud of taking this individual and collective self-assessment for the progress of our great Nation.

Long Live the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

God Bless us all. Thank you.

President Buhari's 60th Independence Day Speech
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