The Federal government has reiterated its position that the clashes between herdsmen and farmers are not instigated by religious sentiments, noting that the international community has a very wrong idea about the true position of things in Nigeria.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who made the clarification yesterday when defending the sum of money dedicated to projecting government policies and programmes in 2018, said his ministry has had the responsibility of correcting the erroneous impression that had denied the government loans from the international community.
Mohammed who was before the Hon. Olusegun Odebunmi-led Committee on Information and National Orientation, Ethics and Values, while justifying the ministry’s huge expenditure on foreign media PR lobby consultancy, said: “Until we went there, generalization was that what was happening in Nigeria was religious.
‘’I always give them two examples to show that what happens in Nigeria has nothing to do with religion. I give them an example of Kebbi State. One-third of all the inmates in Kebbi prisons today are there as a result of farmer/herdsmen clashes, yet the farmers in Kebbi are Muslims and the herdsmen are Muslims.
“In the case of Zamfara State, where we have lost more lives than Taraba, Plateau and Benue States put together, to rustling and kidnapping, the rustlers are Muslims, the victims are Muslims. So, we needed to put this in perspective.
“What we are dealing is largely environmental. A country of 50 million people 50 years ago, today has a population of 200 million. In 1960 what was our population in Nigeria? 52 million. How many are we today? 180 million; yet, the country has not expanded, on the contrary, it has contracted because we have lost land to desertification.
“We have lost land to flooding and yet 200 million people are supposed to use the same resources of land and water as 50 million people did. We all go there, not just to correct the misinterpretation, but also to tell them the concrete steps the government is taking in this respect.”
He said in 2018 the ministry officials made two trips to the UK and two trips to the US, saying these two trips helped tremendously in actually helping the people in diaspora and foreign governments to understand the real dynamics of the herdsmen and farmers clashes.
He added that until they got there, the impression held by many of them was that thing was Christians/Muslims, North/South, adding that they had to book for interviews with CNN, BBC, Aljezeera, Reuters and AFP.
“I think it is an important part of governance so that; if you cannot mold their opinions, at least it can give them the opportunity of hearing our own side of the story.
“I am sure you have all noticed a lot of very erroneous editorials that have been carried by some highly respected pens like the New York Times, Boston Globe, which do not actually represent the true situation in Nigeria, so we go there, not just for government but to give the correct impression about what goes on in this government,” he explained.
Aisha Buhari set to establish a private university named “Muhammadu Buhari University
Mrs Aisha Buhari, wife of the President, has expressed her plan to establish a private university to be known as “Muhammadu Buhari University”.
She disclosed this on Saturday during a townhall meeting in Yola organized by her in collaboration with concern indigenes of Adamawa.
Aisha, who did not however reveal when or where the university would be sited, explained that the university would be established in collaboration with partners from Sudan and Qatar.
Aisha who lamented the challenges facing education and various sectors in the state, called for active support of the state indigenes in complementing government efforts.
“I cannot conclude without suggesting how we can complement the efforts of government in achieving some of its developmental goals.
“On this note, I would like to advocate for the establishment of Adamawa Development Trust Fund through which prioritized developmental projects can be financed and implemented,” she said.
Amb. Fati Ballah also called for reconciliation and forgiveness among the people of the state and the setting up of a committee to come up with a blueprint for the development of the state.
Alhaji Sadiq Daware, who spoke on agriculture at the meeting, noted that 80 per cent of the state land was arable and suitable for farming.
Daware added that with River Benue which passes through the state, the state has the potential for massive irrigation and all year round farming programmes.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that other speakers at the meeting include Prof. Shehu Iya of Modibbo Adama University, Yola, who spoke on education; Prof. Auwal Abubakar of Federal Medical Centre, Yola, who spoke on health; and Mrs Helen Mathias who spoke on women and youths.
Othersvare Mallam Umar Abubakar who spoke on security; Gen. Buba Marwa on drugs; Sen. Silas Zwingina on Good Governance, and Dr Umar Bindir who spoke on Poverty.
The meeting was also attended by politicians, particularly APC, PDP and ADC members in the state.
Signing N30,000 minimum wage will lead to choas
A former Minister of Information, Prince Tony Momoh, has expressed fears that the new N30, 000 minimum wage, signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari on April 18 would lead to chaos.
Momoh, who is also a chieftain of the APC party made the statement this while addressing newsmen on Friday in Abuja as part of activities to mark his 80th birthday.
According to him, while he is happy over the new wage, he holds the view that it will lead to a situation where many states will not be able to pay and this will lead to industrial unrest and strikes.
“Minimum wage is not a living wage. My prediction is that the N30, 000 minimum wage will cause chaos because many state governments that were paying N7, 500 before N18, 000 was introduced could not pay then.
“A lot of them are currently finding it difficult to pay N18, 000 now. They are already saying they can’t pay and this will lead to strikes. When that happens, the nation is in trouble.
“The N30, 000 minimum wage is not a living wage. What is the percentage of the workers in Nigeria that are entitled to the N30, 000 minimum wage? What is the percentage of the public servants compared to the percentage of the entire working population in Nigeria?”
Momoh, who is also a lawyer, also spoke on the pronouncement the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) on the former Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) Justice Walter Onnoghen.
He said that the argument of some lawyers that Onnoghen shouldn’t have been taken to CCT was not tenable, arguing that such lawyers didn’t know what they were talking about.
“ I don’t believe that it is a case of a witch-hunt. I advised him (Onnoghen) to resign when the case started. That would have saved him from the embarrassment,”
Momoh said that the CCT and the Code of Conduct Tribunal, established by part one of the fifth schedule of the constitution had powers to deal with sitting presidents and governors.
“Part two deals with those who are subjected to its jurisdiction, which is the President, Vice-President, CJN, down to councilors. The CCT is a disciplinary body.
“Onnoghen is a public servant before he became the CJN. His case was directed to the Code of Conduct Bureau, which transferred it to CCT,” he said.
Also speaking on the permutation about the composition of the leadership position for the 9th National Assembly, Momoh said that the reliance of the APC on party supremacy to impose its candidates would not work.
He said that claims of party supremacy could only be effective in a parliamentary, not presidential system of government because the political party with the majority would always form the government in the former.
Momoh recalled that since 1999, efforts by political parties to impose their candidates on the nation’s parliament had always been resisted by federal lawmakers.
He added that the National Assembly had its own personality that it always protected, in spite of political party differences, adding that the party’s choice could only succeed if there was cooperation and not by imposition.
“In 1999, Evans Enwerem was not the choice of the senators. They wanted Chuba Okadigbo. So, Enwerem did not last when he emerged. Also in 2015, the party wanted Femi Gbajabiamila but Yakubu Dogara got it.
“Since 1999, there have always been problems between the legislators and the party’s candidates. The legislators come together to pursue common interests and party supremacy is obviously not one of them.
“In the parliamentary system, the party with the majority will dominate leadership positions in the parliament. The prime minister is also a member of the parliament.”
The former minister also stressed the need for restructuring of Nigeria as a way of ensuring good governance in the country, arguing that Nigeria was too top heavy in administering governance.
Momoh said that the country needed to decongest the political space, saying that the National Assembly made law in 93 areas comprising the exclusive and concurrence lists.
“In federations worldwide, we don’t need more than 18. The rest should go to regions. They know what to do with it.
“The Senate will become the only law-making arm of the federation while the House of Representatives should go to the regions and be making laws for their people.
“When this happens, economic deregulation is automatic because everybody will contribute to run the center,’’
Momoh advised media practitioners to acquire necessary knowledge from the constitution of the country for them to effectively perform their roles as watchdogs to government and to enlighten the citizens.
FG agrees with IMF on fuel subsidy
Finance Minister, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, on Thursday, described the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF’s) advice to the Federal Government on the need to remove fuel subsidy as a good advice.
Speaking at the sidelines of the ongoing IMF/World Bank Spring Meetings in Washington D.C, she said: ” The advice from the IMF on fuel subsidy removal was good one but also we have to implement it in a manner that is both successful and sustainable.
“We are not in a situation to wake up one day and just remove subsidy. We have to educate the people, we have to show Nigerians what the replacement for those subsidies will be. So, we have a lot of work to do. We also need to understand that you don’t remove large amounts of subsidy in one go, it has to be graduated and the public has to be well-informed on what you are trying to do”.
The minister said the minister met with the IMF and have reviewed the IMF Article IV Consultation with Nigeria report, which was positive. “The review was a positive one and had good advice from the IMF to Nigeria and they have indicated that they are available to provide technical support to improve our liquidity management, our debt management and other fiscal measures,” she said.
Data from the Debt Management Office (DMO) showed that Nigeria’s total public debt rose to N24.39 trillion or $79.44 billion as at December 31, 2018 representing a year-on-year growth of 12.25 per cent. The 2018 debt stock is higher than that of 2017 by N2.662 billion.
Mrs. Ahmed said President Muhammadu Buhari has directed that the minister looks at every area that requires reforms.
“I may be ‘Baba go slow’ but I didn’t loot” – Buhari
President Buhari accepts being tagged ”Baba Go Slow” since he assumed office in 2015 but affirms he is not a looter
Speaking during a townhall meeting he had with Nigerians residing in Dubai yesterday April 9th, President Buhari said he does not care if he is called “Baba go slow” as long as he did not loot the country’s treasury.
“I may be ‘Baba go slow’ but I didn’t loot,” President Buhari said when he was asked questions about his fight against corruption and on treasury looters.
The president also stated that he is going slowly because he does not want to make the mistake he made when he was as a military head of state when he sent many to prison withiout been tried in court.
“So, whoever calls me ‘Baba go slow’, I’m very cautious of historical antecedent. Since I was in a hurry, I was locked up, I’m going slow so that I can survive,” Buhari said.
“I ‘bark but I cannot bite, Baba go slow,’ I have once ruled this country, some of you know that once upon a time I came in uniform and what I did was to arrest from the president downward. The president, Vice President, the governor’s and ministers, other than the president and the Vice President, the others, I put them in Kiri-Kiri, and I told them they are guilty until they can prove themselves innocent.
“And you know subsequently what happened- we put about six tribunals base on the geopolitical zones, and those who were ministers and governors were asked to justify what they have in the banks and physical on the ground relative to their legitimate earnings.
“There were only two Nigerians then to my knowledge who were found to be very Honourable, both of them are dead now: Biliaminu Usman, a junior minister, from Jigawa State, and Adamu Chiroma, a minister of finance and governor of central bank.
“They were incredible Nigerians. But you know what happened, eventually, I myself was arrested, I was put in detention for three and a quarter years, luckily for me, I was not stupid, I didn’t take anybody’s money, so there was no bad publicity for me because they couldn’t find anything against me.
“Eventually I was released, and that was why I made up my mine since the bulk is partisan politics, I joined the partisan politics. You also know what happened, I tried three times, and I managed to succeed the fourth time.” he said.