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.
University Education: About 500 prisoners enrol with NOUN
No fewer than 500 prisoners are currently enrolled with National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) to study various courses free-of-charge, Prof. Abdalla Adamu, the Vice-Chancellor of the institution has said.
Adamu made this known when he paid a courtesy visit to the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Education, Mr Sonny Echono, in the company of the President of Commonwealth of Learning, Prof. Aisha Kanwar.
According to the Vice-Chancellor, all Nigerian prisoners are entitled to free education under the NOUN up to whatever level they choose to pursue their education.
Earlier, the President of Commonwealth of Learning, Kanwar, appealed to the permanent secretary to look into the problem of Nigeria’s non-payment of annual dues to Commonwealth of Learning.
Kanwar also requested that Nigeria should appoint a representative to the Commonwealth of Learning to replace Hajiya Ladi Katagum who had successfully served out her tenure.
Responding, the Permanent Secretary said provision had been made under the 2019 budget to enable the ministry to meet its obligations to the organisation.
Echono also told the visiting President of the Commonwealth of Learning that the process was ongoing to ensure the replacement of Hajiya Katagum at the Commonwealth.
Northerners tolerates bad governance because of Buhari – Sen. Shehu
Senator representing Kaduna Central in the 8th Senate, Comrade Shehu Sani, has said that the North is tolerating bad governance, because one of their own, President Muhammadu Buhari is in power.
Sani who was the guest speaker at a conference held to prepare emerging leaders in Kaduna on Monday said, the North had failed to hold President Buhari accountable, despite the unabated killings and destruction of property in the region.
The senator who expressed worry over the high rate of poverty and educational backwardness in the North, asked President Buhari to do something urgent to tackle the socio-economic issues, as the region is under time bomb.
He also tasked President Buhari to come out with sound policies to address high-level poverty and educational challenges in the region and the country at large.
Sani said: “The North is tolerant of bad government because Buhari is in government and he is from the North.
When powers move to the South, the North is good at holding leaders to account but when it moves to the North, we keep silent. We are shy; we are cautious; we are afraid of telling our own that the road in the North is bad. We are more courageous, to tell the truth to power when the president doesn’t come from our region.
“Questioning President Buhari is more sympathetic when people are killed in the South West than in the North and this is because the(South) are holding him to account. Here in the North, you don’t because they are shy. They believe he is infallible and that he cannot be called to question.
“If 50 people were killed in Katsina and representative of the state is not ready to stand up in the Senate to talk about his people being killed, then it will go on and nobody will know. But if Fasoranti’s daughter is killed and a representative from Fasoranti stands up and says I senator blaa… blaa… stand up to outrightly condemn the murder, the nations, and the world will know.
“But if your people are dying here and the people you elected are afraid of being embarrassed and they don’t want to be categorised as being disloyal and be seen in the bad book, they will kill as many as possible and the perception of people outside is that all is well. So, the North must not be docile because one of their own is in office.
He further noted, “Northern leaders have failed to use the opportunity of office to upgrade the North and the country, to industrialise the region and to build a foundation for the generation of people like you. How do you solve the problem of poverty when the three most industrialised state in the North, Kaduna, Plateau and Kano – 80 per cent of their industries are closed down?
“For this country to survive, President Buhari must listen to the voices of reason. You may not like the face of Wole Soyinka, Balarabe Musa, and Obasanjo but read through the content of what they have written and see where adjustment can be made.
“He (Buhari) must be interested in his legacy and he has only four years. In any government after two years there will be heat and once the heat starts , you will not be able to concentrate and do your work.”
While urging youths across the country to always tell truth to power, the senator urged them to revolt against divisive elements trying to sow discord by using religion or ethnicity.
“You must revolt against leaders and elders who are fanning the embers of discord and against people who will generalise one ethnic group or the other and say they are criminals.”
$1bn ECA Fund: We Paid $490m For Tukano Jets – Presidency
The Presidency on Sunday said that the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, was under socio-emotional distress by alleging that the $1 billion approved from the Excess Crude Account for security was used by the All Progressives Congress, APC, for the 2019 elections.
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu in a statement in Abuja on Sunday said that the government under the leadership of President Buharj made an advanced payment of $490million for a dozen Super Tukano fighter aircraft in a direct transaction with the American government.
The clarification was in reaction to a call on President Buhari to account for the $1billion drawn from the ECA.
Shehu who accused the PDP of profligacy while incharge of government at the centre, said the transaction was also on a no contractor and no commission basis.
According to the presidential spokesman, the balance of expenditure from the transaction currently stands at $880million.
He explained that ”It’s on record that the Buhari administration paid about USD 490 million for a dozen Super Tucano fighter aircraft in a direct, government-to-government (no Contractors or Commission Agents) transaction with government of the United State.
“Various other military procurements have been made. Balance of expenditure stands at about USD 880 million or so.”
Garba however accused the PDP of spending Defence procurement funds on their failed 2015 political campaigns as proven in court.
He said ”The PDP spent Defence procurement funds on their failed 2015 political campaigns as proven in court. That is not to say every succeeding government, more so one led by a Buhari will do the same.”
“The PDP is under a socioemotional distress. They think that all governments in the world run on the basis of freewheeling looting as they did their own, ” the presidential aide noted.
Buhari receives briefing over Shiites bloody protest
President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday received briefing from the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mohammed Adamu, over Shiites bloody protests in Abuja.
Buhari, at the closed doors meeting, directed the IGP to take steps to protect all Nigerians wherever they may be.
Speaking with journalists at the end of the meeting, the IGP said: “We came this morning to brief Mr. President on the security situation in the country, especially the activities of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN). Just to give him an update of what is happening in the country vis a vis their activities.
“Specifically we briefed him of the incessant act coming out of this group of people, protesting here and there. We briefed him on the fact that we have been able to curtail their excesses and to let him understand that everything is under control.”
On the President’s reaction, the IGP said: “The president asked us to make sure we provide security for every citizen of this country and not to leave any space that some group of people will create breakdown of law and order.
“So, the charge by Mr. President is that we must provide security for every Nigerian.” he stated