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Nigerians react to Atiku’s plan to privatise NNPC

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Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar has said that the National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) will be privatised if elected as president.

Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar

According to Atiku, this is expected to stimulate economic growth. He added that since his vision is to make Nigeria a $1 trillion economy by 2023, he would equally privatise power and other critical national assets.

Addressing the business community with his running mate, Peter Obi, during a conference on “Getting Nigeria’s Economy Working: A Pragmatic Approach,” in Lagos, he argued that NNPC and the power sector must be disbanded through privatisation if they must be efficient.

He assured of his commitment to privatising the two national assets and others “even if they will kill me.”

The former Vice President spoke against the argument that the oil and gas sector might turn out to be the economy’s Achilles’ heel, in view of entrenched corruption and drain on national resources.

“Privatising NNPC would be to our advantage. We are not going to lose anything, but we will rather gain a lot,” he said.

Besides, he added, if former President Olusegun Obasanjo had accepted his suggestion in 1999 and 2007, challenges in the power sector would have been fixed since 2005.

“Nigeria would have been self-dependent on power since then because it does not need a centralised transmission plan, which is very costly, but a decentralised electricity system where each state or region is powered from the source of energy prevalent in the region.

“But the former President preferred the gas turbines, which I noted, was a long-term system, as it is now obvious.”

He lamented the high rate of unemployment in the country, especially among the youth, saying: “Youth unemployment is a time bomb, and very scary,” a situation he said, was responsible for increasing crime and criminal activities in the country.

“The rate of unemployment at 23.1 per cent is the highest ever recorded in the history of Nigeria. The situation is worse for women and young people – with unemployment in the youth population at 33 per cent by 2050, 40 per cent of the world’s poorest people will be in just two countries: Democratic Republic of Congo and Nigeria. We must take action to avert that.”

He insisted that creating jobs would not be a challenge, as he had already employed between 45 to 50,000 people in his private companies.

He said he would invest heavily in information and communication technology to fight corruption, and automate government processes to reduce human interface with money, while also instituting greater transparency and efficiency in governance.

Corroborating his views, Obi noted that there is nowhere else in the world where fighting corruption is an economic policy.

“The country is more corrupt today than it was yesterday. Once the principal is not corrupt, you would have reduced corruption by at least 70 per cent. If governance becomes automated, all leakages in ministries, departments, agencies (MDAs) will be eliminated,” he stated.

On restructuring, Atiku said he was supporting the move to ensure a reduction in the size of government, insisting, “I will ensure that I hand over some responsibilities to other components of government. That is why I am impatient to see that the country is restructured.”

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Politics

1999 Constitution is a fair constitution – President Buhari

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President Muhammadu Buhari has described the 1999 Constitution as fair to all segments of the country.

To justify his position, Buhari cited the fact that each of the 36 states must have a minister representing it in the cabinet.

He also noted that it was for the same reason that Bayelsa, a small state with only eight local governments, would have three senators in the National Assembly, compared to a big state like Kano with 44 local governments, also having three senators.

Buhari spoke in Abuja when members of the Muhammadu Buhari/Osinbajo Dynamic Support Group visited him at the Presidential Villa.

The group, which was led by the National Coordinator, Usman Ibrahim, was one of the many groups that worked for the re-election of Buhari and Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo during the February 23 presidential poll.

The President said, “The Constitution facilitates one thing; that there must be a member of the (Federal) Executive Council from each state of the federation.

“Why I praise the authors of our constitution is that Bayelsa with eight local governments has three senators and Kano with 44 (local governments) has three senators. So, you can’t be fairer than that in the context of one Nigeria.

“Please, try and understand that I appreciate you, you are doing a thankless job; nobody is paying you. You use your resources and time to come together and discuss national issues. I pray God will help us to keep this country strong economically and morally.”

He informed the group that his administration was determined to provide safety to all Nigerians, wherever they reside.

“As leaders in your various communities, I urge you all to take the message back to your communities. It is not about politics, religion or tribe, it is about having a Nigeria where our families will be safe and our children will have plenty opportunities to earn a living and have a comfortable life.”

Earlier, Ibrahim recounted the sacrifices the group made to ensure Buhari won the election, saying there were instances where the members were attacked, while its coordinator in Kwara State paid the supreme price.

He said the members did their work without asking for any financial support from the President, adding that it was because they believed in Buhari to rescue Nigeria.

He added that the group was blessed with many professionals, who could render their services to the administration if given the mandate to do so.

“We, therefore, request that you give consideration to this noble men and women and we promise that we will never let you down,” Ibrahim told Buhari.

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Abia state governor debunks being sick

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The governor of Abia State, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu has debunked the news making rounds that he is sick and incapable of performing his official duties.

In a statement issued by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Onyebuchi Ememanka, Ikpeazu said that he is hale and hearty, and discharging the duties of the office of Governor of Abia State with zeal, zest, and passion, as he has done since 2015.

According to Ememanka, Ikpeazu had a busy schedule on Friday attending to a long line of official visitors who came to Government House Umuahia.

“Those carrying the rumor that the Governor is sick and bedridden are political fifth columnists and agents of destabilization whose stock in trade is to spin rumor mills and trade on falsehood.

“The unfortunate news they have been spreading exist only in their disjointed imaginations.

“The good people of Abia State are advised to completely disregard these agents of confusion and their evil machinations.

“Your Governor is in a perfect state of health and is prepared to challenge any of those spreading the rumor to a game of soccer,” the statement concluded

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Senate confirms Abubakar as commissioner of NCC

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The Senate has approved the nomination of Aliyu Saidu Abubakar as non-executive commissioner of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).

Abubakar who is to represent the Northeast geopolitical zone in the commission was rejected in 2016 when Senator Bukola Saraki was the Senate President.

Also confirmed are Eng Uba Maska, executive commissioner (North West) for reappointment, Professor Millionaire Abowei, non-Executive director (South South) and Abdulazeez Mohammed Salman (North Central).

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Southwest governors rebuke Northern elders

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Governors in southwest states, on Friday, reacted to a statement credited to the Northern Elders Forum (NEF), asking persons of Fulani extraction, resident in the southern part of the country, to return to the north. They described the claim as most unfortunate, divisive and retrogressive.

A statement personally signed by the forum’s chairman and the Ondo State governor, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, said, “With no intention to engage anyone, it is incumbent on us, as elected representatives of our people in the southwest region of the country, to denounce this divisive and retrogressive statement in the strongest terms possible.

Akeredolu said, “It is appalling, to assert the least, that the tragic incident, which claimed the life of Mrs. Funke Olakunrin, the daughter of Pa Fasoranti, the leader of Afenifere, would be used by certain persons to advance the cause of parochial and prebendal politics.
”We intend to get to the root of the sad occurrence as we await the findings of security agencies on the unfortunate incident,” he said.

Akeredolu said the governors and the people of the southwest are working assiduously, to find lasting solutions to the current security challenges and curtail the nefarious activities of undesirable elements bent on wrecking the country’s peace.

He said: “We are not unaware of the antics of certain elements, who hope to garner political mileage from the contrived crises in virtually all parts of the country. We are equally convinced that this confusion serves the narrow interests of some persons.
”The country has a rich history; she has had to encounter adversities in the course of her transition to nationhood. She has overcome them all. This distraction will also pass. We look up to the security agencies to take cohesive steps to curtail this major challenge of insecurity which engenders hopelessness.

”We can only enjoin all citizens, on our part, to be patient and continue to cooperate with them as they combat the festering crises. We on our part have taken great strides with the hope that great success will be achieved.

”We, however, note, with discomfiture, the unpatriotic acts of some Nigerians, who will stop at nothing in their bid to undermine the Federal Government.

The forum reiterated the commitment of the governors and the people of the southwest to the nationhood project, as they continue to address the challenges confronting the people, saying: ”We will promote, with renewed vigor, all activities which encourage amity among our people”.

The southwest governors called on all persons of Fulani extraction, and indeed all Nigerians from other parts of the country, resident in the southwest region, to discountenance NEF’s unpatriotic outburst and other self-serving organizations of opportunists.

The forum welcomed all Nigerians, who have legitimate reasons to be in the region, stressing that the governments and people of the southwest would protect all persons regardless of their ethnic and religious backgrounds.

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