Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar has expressed shock that the Buhari administration in the first quarter of 2020, spent 99 percent of revenue to service debt.
“No one should be deceived. This is a crisis!”, Atiku said in a statement today.
“Debt servicing does not equate to debt repayment.
“The reality is that Nigeria is paying only the minimum payment to cover our interest charges.
“The principal remains untouched and is possibly growing”.
The statement entitled “Nigeria In Financial Crisis: Robbing Our Children to Pay for Our Greed”, was signed by Atiku himself to underscore its significance.
The former vice-president was alarmed by what he called a shocking revelation in Nigeria’s first quarter 2020 financial report.
“Nothing has shocked me in my entire life in public service as the revelation from Nigeria’s First Quarter 2020 financial reports in the Medium Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy from the Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget, and National Planning, which shows, alarmingly, that whereas Nigeria spent a total sum of ₦943.12 billion in debt servicing, the Federal Government’s retained revenue for the same period were only ₦950.56 billion.
This means that Nigeria’s debt to revenue ratio is now 99%.”
“We are at a precipice. If our revenue figures do not go up, and go up quickly, Nigeria risks a situation where our revenue cannot even sustain our debt servicing obligations. Meaning that we may become insolvent, and our creditors may foreclose on us, as has occurred in Sri Lanka and the Maldives.
`’In my opinion editorial of December 17 2019, titled ‘Endless Borrowing Will Lead Nigeria to Endless Sorrowing’, I had cause to counsel the Federal Government to desist from indiscriminate lending, and offered suggestions on ways to both increase revenue, and reduce expenditure, however, my counsel fell on deaf ears. And now we have come to this.
“Again, on May 15, 2020, I counselled that the Federal Government ought to reduce Nigeria’s budget by at least 25%, to reflect the economic realities of the times that we live in. Again, my entreaties were brushed aside.
“As part of an administration that paid off Nigeria’s entire foreign debt, I am concerned by the alarming and avoidable unprecedented increase in our debt to GDP ratio and debt to revenue ratio. The alarm I sounded last year is now sounding louder.
“Not only have we squandered our opportunities, we have also squandered the opportunities of our future generations by bequeathing them debt that they neither incurred or enjoyed”, he wrote.
Atiku then went on to suggest some urgent measures to push Nigeria from the financial precipice. One of them is that Nigeria sell off the planes in the presidential fleet and also cut off wasteful spendings.
“As a matter of utmost urgency and importance, I call on the Federal Government to take immediate steps to drastically reduce its expenditure, especially on wasteful projects, such as maintenance of the Presidential Air Fleet, and unnecessary renovations of buildings that could serve as is, limousine fleet for top government officials, overseas travels and treatments, and the ₦4.6 billion Presidential villa maintenance budget, etc.
“We cannot be on the verge of economic ruin, while still maintaining a Presidential Air Fleet that has more planes than the Presidential fleets of those from whom we take these loans.
“In fact, Nigeria must sell those planes and channel the revenue to other vital areas of need, while taking additional steps to reduce the cost of running our government.
“The Federal Government cannot continue to justify these unsustainable numbers by pointing at Nigeria’s debt to GDP ratio. That is only half the picture.
“Our debt to revenue ratio paints a much more realistic portrait of our financial situation, especially as our revenues are majorly tied to a mono product, oil and gas, which are very vulnerable to global shocks.
“Again, I warn that Nigeria is facing a crisis, and we cannot continue to keep up appearances by taking out more loans to prop up our economy.
“That will amount not just to robbing Peter to pay Paul, but to robbing our children to pay for our own greed!”, the former vice president concluded.
Pastor Enoch Adeboye announced on Sunday that he and his wife will not attend church services as the Redeemed Christian Church of God, RCCG re-opens in Nigeria.
He spoke today during the online Sunday service of the Church broadcast on Dove Television.
The 78 year-old General Overseer said he and his wife will not be part of such gatherings in Lagos in observance of the protocol of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control.
The NCDC advises people above 65 years to keep off large gatherings, such as religious services.
Adeboye also said his grandchildren will not be part of the services because they are under 15.
He said he will continue to conduct online services for some weeks.
He said Pastors under the Church are free to resume services with their congregation or continue with the virtual worship.
“We want to thank the Almighty God that some of us will begin to gather again as from next Sunday.
“I believe that some of you are already gathering in some parts of the world and we believe that you will now begin to enjoy power of corporate prayers once again.
“But as you gather together in all those places where you are free to gather, please remember those of us who cannot gather with you yet.
“People like me and my wife cannot gather with you in Lagos because we are over 65 years of age and my grandchildren cannot gather with you yet because they are under 15 years of age.
“So, remember us in prayers, so that very soon, we will be able to join you. And now that you are able to pray together corporately.
“I am sure that your prayers will be far, far more effective against this plague so that very soon, all will be well.
“For those of you who are still at home, I think I will be reaching out to you again for a couple of weeks more.
” And for those of you who can gather, your Pastors can go back to their assignments.
“If they still want to join those of us who are still on lockdown, they are welcome of course.”
About 1,089 Nigerian asylum seekers who arrived in the Netherlands last year and January this year, have disappeared.
According to a group of investigative journalists, many of the Nigerians fell victim to human traffickers who forced them into prostitution or drug trafficking across the European Union.
The European journalism collective said of the 2,461 Nigerians seeking asylum in the Netherlands in 2019, 961 cannot be located.
Another 128 Nigerians who arrived in January of this year also disappeared, according to an investigation by the journalist group Lost in Europe.
Reacting to the investigative group’s findings, Shamir Ceuleers of the Dutch Centre Against Human and Child Trafficking says the results are not surprising because they follow a pattern that has been going on for years.
The non-governmental organization said more has to be done to protect the Nigerian men and women who fall victim to human traffickers in the Netherlands.
“The Dutch police should create a specific West African human trafficking unit, which invests in knowledge and expertise and is well connected to the West African community that we have here in the Netherlands.
“And by using this and creating this expertise, the Dutch police would be well equipped to prosecute these trafficking rings,” it said.
Young people from Nigeria are lured with promises of a better life in Europe.
After arriving in the European Union, often by crossing the Mediterranean Sea by boat, they are forced to work in prostitution or other forms of forced labor.
It is a profitable business for the traffickers, as each person has to pay off a debt up to $50,000.
It is believed that such trafficking is not just a Dutch problem, but that the criminal organizations behind such illegal practices are active across Western Europe.
The Dutch national prosecutor for human trafficking and people smuggling, Warner ten Kate, said more international cooperation is needed to prevent human trafficking.
“Within Europe, it’s essential to work together and to exchange experiences but also exchange data of the missing children and women and men.
“So if they disappear and pop up somewhere in conditions considered human trafficking, they can easily be identified.
“I think that’s really essential, and to give them the protection they need,” he said.
A Europe-wide police investigation on missing Nigerian women in 2006 led to arrests across Europe and Nigeria.
Despite that, the trafficking has not stopped or discouraged Nigerians from migrating.
The International Organization for Migration says the increase has been significant, from 1,500 arrivals of Nigerian women in 2014 to 11,000 in 2016.
The IOM worries that up to 80 percent are potential victims of trafficking.
Flavio Di Giacomo of the IOM warns that data shows it’s not only Nigerians who are being trafficked into Europe from West Africa.
“We have also seen, even last year, an increase of women victims of trafficking, coming from Ivory Coast, which is quite new, and many coming from Tunisia. This is a different kind of exploitation because it’s not only sexual exploitation but also work exploitation and domestic exploitation.
Ivorian girls were exploited to Tunisia, and then re-trafficked in Italy,” he said.
Members of the Dutch parliament questioned the government’s approach to missing people this week.
Earlier this year it was reported by Lost in Europe that at least 25 pregnant West African women had disappeared from asylum centers in the Netherlands.
Their disappearance raised serious concerns about potential baby trafficking and illegal adoption.
Originally reported by Voice of America
By Abankula/ PM News
President Muhammadu Buhari addressed Nigerians on 12 June the Democracy Day. It was his third national broadcast since his administration designated the day as a public day. He spoke on various achievements of his administration. P.M.News hereby gives nine key highlights of the achievements and plans:
Grow what you eat, eat what you grow
President Buhari believes agriculture remains the key to Nigeria’s economic diversification strategy.
And he is focused on making the sector the pillar of Nigeria’s economy.
In his broadcast, he says that the Presidential Fertilizer Initiative programme will continue to deliver significant quantities of affordable and high-quality fertilizers to Nigerian farmers.
Government is also revamping the cotton, textile and garment sector via a CBN Textile Revival Intervention Fund that would considerably reduce foreign exchange spent on cotton and other textile imports.
Through the food security initiative, the Buhari administration is promoting “Grow What We Eat” and “Eat What We Grow”.
Ajaokuta steel plant
Buhari delivered one sentence on this embarrassing project waiting for completion since 1976.
He said his government has directed the resuscitation of the Ajaokuta Steel Plant based on Government-to-Government financing and a Public-Private Sector financing.
What he did not repeat was that the Russian government is working with the Africa Import and Export Bank, to pool funds in excess of $1.4bn to revive the steel plant designed and built by the Russian Steel Company, TyazhpromExport.
Buhari brokered the new deal with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, during his visit to Russia in October 2019.
Again just like steel, the Power Sector remains a mirage for Nigerians.
Buhari says in the broadcast that his government is executing some critical projects through the Transmission Rehabilitation and Expansion Programme. Some of the projects under execution are the Alaoji to Onitsha, Delta Power Station to Benin and Kaduna to Kano; the 330kv DC 62km line between Birnin Kebbi and Kamba; the Lagos/Ogun Transmission Infrastructure Project; the Abuja Transmission Ring Scheme; and Northern Corridor Transmission Project.
Then Buhari speaks on the Siemens angle: the agreement with the German conglomerate is that it will transmit and distribute a total of 11,000 Megawatts by 2023, to serve Nigeria’s electricity needs.
Roads, Rail, water transport
Buhari certainly wants to be remembered that his administration revamped and developed Nigeria’s infrastructure.
He says his government is growing the stock and quality of Nigeria’s roads, rail, air and water transport infrastructure.
“Through the SUKUK-Funded Road Projects, a total of 412km of the targeted 643km road projects have been completed, representing 64%.
The Presidential Infrastructure Development Fund projects are also progressing very well.
On the 2nd Niger Bridge, piling work has been completed and the approach roads are being constructed. 48% of work on this bridge has been achieved.
“We have constructed 102km of the 376km Abuja – Kaduna – Kano Road, representing 38%, and the 42.9km Obajana – Kabba Road is 87.03% complete.
“We are extending and upgrading our railway network too. We are introducing more locomotives, coaches and wagons for the Abuja-Kaduna Rail Line.
“The Central Ajaokuta – Itakpe – Warri Line has been completed and is being extended from Itakpe to Abuja on one end and from Warri Town to Warri Port on the other.
“The Lagos-Ibadan Rail Line is 90% completed and would be extended to the Lagos Port which would help address the long-standing grid-lock at the Apapa port.
“The Kano – Maradi Single Track Standard Gauge Railway, Coastal Railway Project and Port Harcourt – Maiduguri Standard Gauge Railway, with its associated branch lines running through the South Eastern and Gombe States, industrial park and Bonny Deep Sea Port are all ready for concessioning.
First Bidding for marginal oil fields
Buhari, as Nigeria’s oil minister was thrilled to announce that for the first time in over ten years, Nigeria is conducting bidding process for 57 Marginal Oil Fields to increase revenue and increase the participation of Nigerian companies in oil and exploration and production business.
“We continue to grow local content in other areas of the oil and gas sector with the disbursement of funds from the $200 million Nigerian Content Intervention Fund to indigenous manufacturers and service providers.
Insurgency and Banditry
President Buhari promised to enthrone security in Nigeria five years ago. But insurgency has not ended, what with the killing of 81 villagers in Gubio LG of Borno this week. Banditry, kidnapping, other forms of criminality are rising across the nation.
Buhari says the security issues are being accorded appropriate priorities and the men and women of the Armed Forces of Nigeria have considerably downgraded such threats across all geo-political zones.
He reiterated again that all the Local Governments that were taken over by the Boko Haram insurgents in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa have long been recovered and are now occupied by indigenes of these areas who were hitherto forced to seek a living in areas far from their ancestral homes.
“The total collapse of the economies of these areas, which constituted a threat to our food security, has also been reversed with the gradual recovery of farming and other economic activities”, he says.
He then apologised for the recent sporadic incidents with tragic loss of lives in Katsina and Borno States as a result of criminals taking advantage of COVID-19 restrictions.
“Security Agencies will pursue the perpetrators and bring them to swift justice”, he promised..
COVID-19 and national response
Expectedly Buhari devoted a considerable part of his address on the raging COVID-19 pandemic, a phenomenon that has disrupted the entire world this year.
“Fellow Nigerians, the year 2020 has been like none other”, Buhari says.
“In January 2020, the COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organization. The number of global infections has risen from less than 80,000 shared between China and eighteen other countries to over 7 million spread over 216 countries and on all continents.
“Nigeria recorded its first case of COVID-19 on February 27th 2020 and within the first 100 days, I have had cause to address the nation on three occasions within one month, which underscores the gravity of this pandemic.
“There is no doubt that this pandemic has affected the global economy and all known socio-economic systems. It has also brought grief and pain to families that have lost their loved ones. Like many Nigerians, I feel the grief and pain not only as your President but also as someone who has lost a close member of my staff and some relatives and friends.
“The impact of the pandemic has disrupted our economic system and to ensure its functioning while still addressing the spread, the Federal Government put in place a number of various non-pharmaceutical measures to slow down the spread of the virus, in addition to a progressive re-opening of the economy.
“As part of the strategy to create jobs in reducing the effect of COVID-19 on our youths, I directed the employment of 774, 000 Nigerians. These youths will be engaged in Special Public Works Programme aimed at cushioning the effects of economic downturn. Each of the 774 local government areas in the country will be allotted 1,000 slots. I am pleased to report that this programme has commenced.
“I am confident that the steps being taken by the PTF would result in flattening the COVID-19 curve. I, therefore, implore all Nigerians to abide by the approved guidelines and protocols. There is hope for us all if we take individual and collective responsibility.
“Government is determined to turn this COVID-19 challenge into a motivation to action by building a nation-wide public health care system that will help us overcome the COVID-19 pandemic and prepare for any future outbreak.
“Already, we have begun to look inward and I charge our inventors, researchers and scientists to come up with solutions to cure COVID-19”, he says.
Government has continued to implement accountability and transparent policies through the Open Government Partnership and the transparency portal on financial transactions.
“Similarly, we have strengthened auditing and accountability mechanisms so as to ensure that rules and regulations are followed strictly.
“Anti-Corruption Agencies have secured more than 1,400 convictions and also recovered funds in excess of N800 billion. These monies are being ploughed into development and infrastructure projects”.
Cost of governance
The Public Service of Nigeria remains the bedrock for the formulation and implementation of policies, programmes and projects in the country. This accounts for why it continues to evolve especially as new socio-economic challenges emerge for Government to address.
In the face of dwindling resources and rising cost of governance, I have authorised that the White Paper on the Rationalisation of Government Parastatals and Agencies be reviewed for implementation.
By Hamza Suleiman/Maiduguri/ PM News
A survivor of the massacre by Boko Haram terrorists of 81 villagers of Faduma Kolomdi, Gubio in Borno State, has narrated how it happened.
Modu Gana said that the attackers stormed the village on Tuesday in three Hilux vans and motorcycles, telling them that they came to preach the word of God to the people.
“They asked us to remove all our charms, cutlasses, bows and arrows, as well as other spiritual protection for special prayers.
“Immediately we did that, they began shooting at us from different directions.
“Many people escaped with bullet wounds, while seven others, including our village head, were abducted by the terrorists,” he said.
Gana said that more than 2,400 livestock had been rustled by the terrorists.
He also told Governor Babagana Zulum that the community was attacked three times by the terrorists within the last one month.
Zulum visited the village on Wednesday and confirmed the killing of 81 people.
He said that 13 persons were injured while fleeing the attack, while seven others sustained various degrees of injury.
The governor further explained that 49 of the deceased had already been buried before his arrival, while 32 bodies of the victims had been taken away by their families.
Zulum recalled that the terrorists, who attacked Gajiram LGA some months ago, were the same ones who carried out the attack; describing it as “very unfortunate”.
The Governor said that the only positive option to end the massacre on the vulnerable communities was to dislodge the terrorists in their strong hold, in the shores of Lake Chad.
“We have been advocating for this for a very long time. The Tumbus and other shores of Lake Chad must be cleared completely, then people will get rest of mind. Anything less than this is a temporary measure.
“That requires a lot of support from the Federal Government such as blocking of the leakage from our neighbouring countries by the Multi National Joint Task Force (MNJTF),” he said.
Zulum said that the state government on its part, would adopt measures to protect the people from further attacks, including merging smaller communities with larger ones, where they could be provided with effective security.
“This village from Gubio town is over 35 kilometers. Due to the nature of the vast land, the insurgents can easily sneak into the community to cause havoc. The military can come here and relocate them, but at the end, they may come back,” he said.
A mass burial was conducted for the deceased.
Five of the victims, who were severely injured, were taken to the Maiduguri Specialist Hospital for treatment by the state government.
By Ismaila Chafe/ PM News
Three PDP states of Bayelsa, Rivers and Cross River were the greatest beneficiaries of the refund of N148billion approved by President Muhammamdu Buhari on Wednesday.
The money was previously spent by the states and two APC states to repair Federal roads in their domains.
The Federal Executive Council (FEC) presided over by Buhari approved the refund.
Rivers state got the lion share of N78.9 billion. Bayelsa got N38 billion, while Cross River got N18billion.
Ondo received N7.8 billion and Osun N2.5 billion.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, revealed the refunds in a briefing on the outcome of the third virtual meeting of the FEC, held at the Council Chamber of the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
Mohammed said the approval of the refund followed a memo presented by the Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola.
“You will recall that in 2016, 36 states of the federation sent a very huge bill to the federal government, asking for compensation for money that they have expended on federal roads.
“This prompted Mr President to set up a committee to go and verify the claims of these 36 states, whether indeed these projects were actually constructed, were they completed, in line with the federal government standards.
“At the end of that exercise by an inter-ministerial committee, chaired by the minister of works and housing, but also had Ministers of Education, Transportation, Finance, Minister of State for Works, DG BPP and Permanent Secretary Cabinet Office as members.
“At the end of that exercise, the committee recommended that the federal government should refund N550,364,297.31 billion to 31 of the 36 states, after they were convinced that, yes indeed, the projects were completed and they were federal government roads.
“But the claims of five other states Cross River, Rivers, Ondo, Bayelsa and Osun failed on the grounds that they did not do proper documentation and the committee felt they needed proper documentation.
“So, the committee went back with new terms of reference to ensure that the claims of the five states were in order, that is why the BPP is on the committee.
“So, at the end of the exercise, the committee now reported that the five states – Cross River with 20 roads and one bridge will get a refund of N18,394,737,608.85, Ondo with six roads to get a refund of N7,822,147,577.08, and Osun with two roads and one bridge to get a refund of N2,468,938,876.78.
“Others are Bayelsa with five roads and one bridge is to get a refund of N38,040,564,783.40 and Rivers with three roads and three flyovers bridges is to get a refund of N78,953,067,518.29.”
Mohammed said the committees confirmed the roads and the bridges, that not only were they completed, they were in substantial good form, adding that some of the bridges and roads were built about 10 years ago.
He, however, disclosed that “there is a caveat, as the federal government will pay the states but however, henceforth, if any state takes on federal government road, it will not be paid, they will not get any refund.
“Even if you want to pay from your own pocket, you will still need the permission of the federal government and it will be supervised by the federal ministry of works and housing.”
According to him, the modalities of refund are being worked out and payment will be made over a period of time.
Mohammed said 31 states were earlier paid the sum of over N550 billion as refund for the reconstruction of federal roads in their respective states.
By Abankula/ PM News
Nigeria recorded just one death in 24 hours out of its coronavirus caseload as 348 new cases were announced by NCDC Wednesday night.
The lone death was a departure from the trend in the last few days where at least 2 digit deaths were recorded.
Fourteen people for instance died overnight between Saturday and Sunday. Twelve were reported dead on Monday and 15 on Tuesday.
The death toll is now 315, out of the national confirmed cases of 11, 166.
Those discharged were 90, taking the national figure to 3329.
Lagos and the Federal capital of Abuja shared the greater portion of the new 348 cases.
Lagos has a disproportionate 163 cases, while the FCT got 76.
The FCT has consistently the past five days registered two digits of infections.
It was 52 on Saturday, 48 on Sunday, 14 on Monday and 13 on Tuesday.
Rivers State and Ebonyi showed up strong in the grim chart on Tuesday, with 23 and 21 cases.
Below is the breakdown of the cases:
11166 cases of #COVID19Nigeria
Legendary Nigerian reggae singer-songwriter Majek Fashek has died. The news was announced on his Instagram official handle by his manager Omenka Uzoma.
His statement reads:
Today been having pressure calls,well it is true that the African No 1 Legendary ICON has gone to be with the LORD his Maker,
Let celebrate him ,his achievements and his family,what ever decisions made by his immediate family will be notify.
From his Manager:OMENKA Uzoma Day.
The cause of death is yet to be disclosed as at the time of this report.
Majekodunmi Fasheke, pronounced Ma-je-ko-dun-mi Ifa-kii-she-eke and known on stage as Majek Fashek was a Nigerian musician and guitarist best known for the 1988 album Prisoner of Conscience, which housed his multi award-winning record “Send Down the Rain”.
Majek in the early eighties went by the stage name Rajesh Kanal, and was part of a group Jastix with McRoy Gregg, and Drummer Black ‘Rice. The group was known as the in-house band on the show Music Panorama on NTA Benin, and toured with fellow reggae group The Mandators.
1988–1990: Prisoner of Conscience and I&I Experience
Fashek started to use the name Majek Fashek in 1988 after Jastix disbanded. He signed with Tabansi Records and began a solo career by releasing the album Prisoner of Conscience and became Nigeria’s top reggae artist after the song “Send Down The Rain” became the most popular song of the year, making him win six PMAN awards for “Song of the Year”, “Album of the Year”, and “Reggae Artist of the Year” among others in 1989. Majek’s next album was I&I Experience, released in the same year under the Tabansi imprint.
After his exit from Tabansi Records, Fashek signed to CBS Nigeria in the early 1990s and released So Long Too Long. The record was included on Putumayo World Music’s first album.
Majek Fashek in 1990 signed to Inter scope Records and released his album Spirit Of Love, produced by “Little Steven” Van Zandt. In 1992, he appeared on Late Night with David Letterman in support of his new 1991 album, and performed the song “So Long Too Long” for the television audience.
The 71 year old was later dropped by Interscope before moving to Mango, a division of Island Records, as it was more accustomed to marketing reggae internationally, while Flame Tree released The Best of Majek Fashek in 1994.
Majek has recorded several albums for various labels including Rainmaker for Tuff Gong (1997) and Little Patience for Coral (2004). His first album for Flame Tree included a cover version of Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song”.
Also referred to as The Rainmaker, Fashek has worked with artists worldwide, including Tracy Chapman, Jimmy Cliff, Michael Jackson, Snoop Dogg, and Beyoncé, with musical influences from Bob Marley, Jimi Hendrix, and Fela Kuti.
Majek Fashek played a supporting role in the 2000 Nollywood movie Mark of the Beast, and starred in a commercial for non-alcoholic beverage Diamalt. In 2016, he performed in a comedy show to more than ten thousand audience in Lagos, Nigeria, with a power-filled and soul-lifting performance.
In December 2016 Fashek contributed the song “We Are Not Afraid” to a video featuring 200 celebrities to raise funds for the International Rescue Committee (IRC) and Human Rights Watch (HRW).
Fashek was married to Rita Fashek with four children but have since divorced. Fashek was revealed to be bankrupt and battling drug addiction in 2015. After admitting he needed help, he was admitted into a drug rehabilitation center in Abuja, where he recovered, and returned to music.
The singer struggled with drug addiction and other health conditions which required his hospitalization on several occasions. He was rumored dead in September 2019 but his manager quelled the rumors, confirming that Majek had been ill, hospitalized at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Woolwich, England, and in dire need of financial assistance.
Billionaire businessman Femi Otedola pledged to cover all the singer’s medical expenses. He died in the early hours of June 2nd, 2020 at 71. His death was confirmed by his manager Omenka Uzoma, on Majek’s official Instagram handle.
There is no agreement between the National Working Committee (NWC) of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Edo State Governor Godwin Obaseki on the mode of shadow poll for the choice of standard bearer for the September election.
Obaseki acknowledged that his relationship with Oshiomhole was still frosty.
He however said he was prepared to make sacrifice for peace and prevent what he described as bloodbath in the state.
National Chairman Adams Oshiomhole, who reiterated the NWC’s position in Abuja, maintained that there was no going back on the direct primary guidelines issued last week.
But, Obaseki, whose camp had suggested indirect primary, was at Aso Villa to brief President Muhammadu Buhari on his second term bid, after obtaining the nomination form from the APC national secretariat.
There was a fence-mending meeting between the APC governors rooting for Obaseki’s re-election bid and Oshiomhole but the national chairman maintained that he could not go against the NWC’s directive on the Edo primary.
APC governors’ fence mending meeting with Oshiomhole, followed a similar meeting held with the National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, in Lagos on Sunday night.
The governors at the meeting include Chairman of Progressive Governors Forum and Kebbi State Governor Atiku Bagudu, Rotimi Akeredolu (Ondo), Babajide Sanwo-Olu (Lagos), Mohammed Inuwa (Gombe), Abdullahi Ganduje (Kano) and AbdulRaham Abdulrasaki (Kwara).
After the three-hour meeting Oshiomole insisted that the Edo primary would be based on direct primary.
He told reporters: “The issues of primaries are well spelt out in our constitution and we are following it as strictly as possible. So nothing to worry about at all”.
He described as mere rumour the disagreement on the format of the primary, saying: “You are speculating, I don’t have any letter or document to that effect. These are very formal matters. So, stop spreading rumours.
“We have since published our time table because under the law we are required to give INEC at least 21 days notice to monitor our primaries and to state the mode of our primaries and of course the NWC had approved direct primaries for Edo.
“We have commenced the sale of forms. I think as of last Friday to my knowledge, three people had picked the forms. I think by today more people have picked the forms. So, we’re selling forms to all those who wish to buy based on the guidelines and, of course, as the Chairman of the Progressives Governors rightly said, we have ensured in our letter to INEC and even this morning, we had a virtual meeting with INEC leadership. We will conduct primaries taking into account the protocols on Covid-19 by the PTF and NCDC. I think everything has been going fine.
On the Ondo State governorship primary, the chairman said: “That of Ondo has not been discussed because that will come much later, because Edo will come about three weeks before Ondo.”
However, Oshiomhole said Governor Rotimi Akeredolu had done well.
Bagudu said the meeting with NWC was to discuss some sundry issues with the party leadership.
“This meeting was not a continuation of yesterday’s (Lagos) meeting. The meeting was with the national leadership of our party to discuss issues between the Governor’s Forum and party leadership that will lead to the progress of our party.”
With Oshiomhole at the meeting were the Acting National Secretary Waziri Bulama, National Vice Chairman, North East Mustapha Salihu, National Vice Chairman, South West, Pastor Bankole Oluwalana National Organising Secretary, Emma Ibediro and National Woman Leader Salamatu Baiwa.
Obaseki at Villa
President Buhari met behind closed door with Obaseki at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, where he sought for his blessing for his re-election bid.
Speaking with State House correspondents at the end of the meeting, Obaseki said he came to formally intimate the president of his intention to seek re-election on the platform of the APC.
The governor, who presented his Expression of Interest form to the president for blessing, said:
“I came to see Mr President to formally inform him of my desire and intention to seek re-election as governor of Edo State on the platform of the APC in the forthcoming gubernatorial election.
“As a father of the country, as our president I should not just assume or take things for granted – I have to come to inform him and solicit his support in my gubernatorial bid, and the president was quiet warm and quiet welcoming.
“When I showed him my Expression of Interest form, he looked through it and teased me that he would not have to go through this again and wished me good luck and assured me of his support.’’
On the political crisis in Edo, the governor said it was being instigated from outside the state.
Obaseki also described the political misunderstanding between him and Oshiohmole as very unfortunate, saying however, that he was ready to reach a truce with aggrieved members of the APC.
He said: “It is unfortunate that he (Oshiohmole) is taking the position he has taken. I believe that he was not properly guided.
“I am his governor and it is my responsibility to seek peace for my State and with all my citizens.
“I will continue to strive for peace, I will continue to pursue peace, seek the interest of our people and I am open, that we should talk about how to move things forward.
“The relationship is still frosty but I am doing all I can to try and make it warm just for the sake of Edo people. I am committed to whatever it will take to have peace and not to lose lives in Edo, within the law, whatever I can do that is constitutional, I will do.’’
According to the governor, he has the full support of his counterparts, all the governors elected
on the platform of the APC, in line with the principles of the party, which encourages continuity.
Obaseki said the party chairman had stuck to his guns because he had been wrongly guided.
He said: “The problem in Edo is not from within Edo, it is from outside. So, the person I am competing or contesting against is not in Edo, he is Abuja.
Asked how far he was willing to go to find peace with Oshiomhole, the governor said: “Whatever I can do that is within the law, whatever I can do that is constitutional, I will do”.
Obaseki said his achievements across sectors would speak for him at the poll, adding that the people wanted him to conclude the programmes and policies initiated for their benefit.
“Well, I believe having been governor of the state for three years, you can check with Edo people whether as Governor, I have served creditably, I have served the people of Edo.
“The general consensus is that we have done well as a government and that people would like us to continue with the laudable programs and policies which we have been taking over in the last three years.
“If you recall when I got into power as governor one thing Edo was noted for was human trafficking. We had over 30,000 of Edo citizens, who were at Libya waiting to cross into Europe. Today, in less than three years we have stopped it.
“We’re celebrated globally, across the continent in terms of the reforms we’ve undertaken in basic education in this country.
“Those children, I can’t abandon them. We can’t stop what we have achieved to date. So based on that, we believe that because of a connection which we have created with our people, we have no doubt in our minds that we’ll win any elections, direct/indirect, general elections in Edo state”, he said.
The US and the African Development Bank have fallen out over allegations of corruption against the bank's Nigerian head, writes former BBC Africa Business editor Larry Madowo.
Akinwumi Adesina is a sharp dresser known for his expensive tailored suits, immaculate white shirts and an endless supply of colourful bow ties.
But the clean public persona of the 60-year-old president of the African Development Bank (AfDB) is now being questioned after a string of corruption and abuse of office allegations from his own staff spilled into the open. Mr Adesina has denied all the allegations.
The board of governors of the 55-year-old institution met on Tuesday to discuss whether to bring in an outside investigator into the allegations concerning the Nigerian's conduct just days after the US rejected an initial inquiry that cleared him.
The prospects of an independent probe comes only three months before he was expected to be re-elected unopposed at its annual general meeting in August.
The 20-point allegations of "impunity and bad governance" from unnamed employees have exposed a rift between Mr Adesina and ordinary staff.
The "Group of Concerned Staff Members of the AfDB" claimed that Mr Adesina has used the bank's resources for self-promotion and personal gain while also paying out huge but undeserved severance packages to staff who resigned mysteriously, and favouring his fellow Nigerians.
US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin personally signed a letter to the board rejecting an internal investigation that cleared Mr Adesina.
"Mnuchin's move is significant because it has now cast a limelight on governance issues and on [the] importance of an independent investigation to uphold the integrity of the AfDB," said Barbara Barungi, the bank's former lead economist on Nigeria. "There are very few people that were willing to stick their necks out."
Besides the core 54 African countries, the US is one of the 27 non-regional members of the AfDB and its second largest shareholder.
"I think AfDB is Africa's most valuable institution," said one insider who spoke on condition of anonymity.
"But what you have now is the biggest paymaster, the US, in a stand-off against the Africans. If you read Mnuchin's letter carefully, it has put the bank on notice."
The BBC has obtained the original whistleblowers' email from January 2020, sent to two executive directors of the bank, Yano Takuji (Japanese) and Steven Dowd (American), and the British director for its Integrity and Anti-Corruption Department Alan Bacarese.
In an April update circulated to a wider pool of senior managers, the whistleblowers said the Ethics Committee headed by Mr Takuji failed to examine their concerns.
The committee later carried out an investigation and declared that Mr Adesina was "totally exonerated of all allegations made against him" and recommended that the board of governors adopt its conclusions.
In early May, the board's chair - Ivorian Planning Minister Nialé Kaba - wrote to shareholders that the African finance ministers who supervise the bank's management intended to clear Mr Adesina.
"We fear that the wholesale dismissal of all allegations without appropriate investigation will tarnish the reputation of this institution as one that does not uphold high standards of ethics and governance," Mr Mnuchin wrote back.
"Therefore, the United States cannot support dismissing the allegations at this stage," he added.
Mr Kaba said in a statement that a decision had not been made about Mr Adesina and he remained in office.
"The bureau, which I chair, wishes to reassure the public that it is seized with the matter and it is treating it with the utmost seriousness that it deserves," he said.
The whistleblowers have accused Mr Adesina of major conflicts of interest in his dealings with current and former employees, unethical conduct and preferential treatment.
Sources: AfDB; Forbes magazine
Mr Adesina, who holds a PhD in agricultural economics from Purdue University in the US, did not respond to BBC requests for comment but released a statement.
"In spite of unprecedented attempts by some to tarnish my reputation and prejudice the bank's governance procedures, I maintain my innocence with regard to trumped up allegations that unjustly seek to impugn my honour and integrity," he wrote.
"I am confident that fair, transparent and just processes that respect the rules, procedures and governance systems of the Bank, and rule of law, will ultimately prove that I have not violated the Code of Ethics of this extraordinary institution."
The AfDB board meeting is said to have agreed to an independent investigation into the allegations concerning Mr Adesina's conduct after Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Finland supported the US position, Bloomberg news agency first reported.
"Should it surprise the world that we're getting a second investigation backed by no African country? What does that say about the other countries that have lined up behind the US?" wonders Debisi Araba, a friend of Mr Adesina's.
"He's due to run unopposed but you want to muddy the waters with this stain of corruption. I believe he will be vindicated."
Mr Araba worked for Mr Adesina in the Nigerian government and was also an intern at the bank while doing his PhD in 2009.
He says the bank has always had a culture of salacious rumour and gossip but faults the US for formalizing the "crass, bargain basement reasoning" into a complaint.
This was denied by a US Treasury spokesperson, who told the BBC: "The United States continues to value the AfDB and its efforts to promote development, reduce poverty, and address the current health and economic impacts of the coronavirus pandemic on the African continent."
Some policy analysts at think-tanks in Washington, DC, worry about the timing of the American pushback and its longer-term consequences in Africa.
"A prolonged battle will be a distraction for the AfDB when its resources are more desperately needed than ever for its borrowers," Nancy Birdsall, a Senior Fellow at the Center for Global Development told the BBC.
She said it was not good for the AfDB if Mr Mnuchin was unhappy and suggested that "the US Treasury should look for some form of quiet compromise in which no-one loses face".
Ms Birdsall also reiterated a recommendation she made in a 2018 paper for the leadership of the AfDB to open up its shareholding, including to China and oil-rich economies.
But Daniel F Runde, senior vice-president at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, disagreed.
He said the Abidjan-based bank that lends exclusively to African governments represented one of the few non-China-led and western-funded approaches to development on the continent.
"If Adesina is cleared, the US may need to mend fences with the management because China will probably go on a shopping spree in Africa after Covid-19, and we will need every non-Chinese tool to respond," he said.
Mr Runde saw Mr Mnuchin's letter as "disruption" and called it a good tactic but a poor strategy.
"Now that the Trump administration has caused disruption and perhaps made a point, they have to decide when this plays out," he said.
Last October, the 81 shareholders of the bank pledged extra funds to more than double its capital to $208bn (£170bn).
Missouri Congressman Emmanuel Cleaver, who sponsored a bill backing the capital increase in the US House of Representatives, came out in support of the new inquiry.
"Independent accountability measures strengthen institutions and reinforce their legitimacy - both domestically and internationally. I am pleased the African Development Bank's Board agreed to take this important step," the Democrat told the BBC in a statement.
Mr Adesina is an eloquent advocate for Africa and the bank and a good fundraiser, but his detractors say he promises more than he delivers.
"His administration hasn't always been fantastic and perhaps he has run roughshod over some people. Maybe the practices haven't always been what they should be, and the feeling is that the board just whitewashed the investigation," the insider said.
The whistleblowers also accused Mr Adesina of preferential treatment for Nigeria and Nigerians.
"I don't think we should trivialise the issues and reduce them to anti-Nigerian sentiment," said Ms Barungi, the Ugandan-born, Lagos-based former bank employee.
"It's really more about governance concerns that require attention and the investigation to help clear the air," she added.
Mr Araba, a Nigerian, said talk of the "Nigerianisation of the bank" was false as the country was under-represented in employee numbers despite being the largest shareholder.
As the crisis at the bank escalates, employees, consultants and government officials in African capitals, as well as American foreign policy nerds, wonder how this impasse will end.
But at the Treasury building right next to the White House, Mr Mnuchin and his advisors are doubling down.
"Undertaking an independent evaluation of facts is not at odds with a presumption of innocence, and by promoting transparency and good governance, it can only strengthen the AfDB's capacity to deliver results to people across Africa," the spokesman told the BBC.
Mr Adesina's carefully curated career could crumble if a new investigation criticises his reign at the AfDB. His style is solid, but the substance is now under scrutiny.
By Nimot Sulaimon/ PM News
Canadian gospel singer, Jonathan Steingard has said that he no longer believed in God.
Steingard, in a lengthy Instagram post, admitted that after a lifetime as a Christian, he no longer believed in God and would be leaving the band.
He goes further to explain the reasons why he came to such a conclusion.
‘‘I still find myself wanting to soften that statement by wording it differently or less specifically – but it wouldn’t be as true”, he said.
Read his post below:
The 36-year-old Canadian musician went on to write that losing his religion occurred over several years.
His former band ”Hawk Nelson” released a statement on Wednesday, supporting his choice to leave the band.
Governor Godwin Obaseki has a big obstacle to overcome to clinch a second term ticket of the All Progressives Congress as the party’s big guns backed another candidate.
He is Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, from Obaseki’s constituency.
In a major move on Tuesday night, the faction that has been fighting Obaseki picked Ize-Iyamu as its consensus governorship candidate.
The faction is loyal to National Chairman of the party, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, Obaseki’s former godfather now his biggest political foe.
Ize-Iyamu, was a former Secretary to Edo State Government (SSG) and rejoined the APC from PDP last year. He lost the governorship to Obaseki in the 2016 election.
He is expected to slug it out with Governor Godwin Obaseki for the direct primary of the party slated for June 22.
He was presented by chairman of the screening committee, Senator Francis Alimikhena, the representative of Edo North Senatorial District.
The screening committee has as members a former Edo Deputy Governor Lucky Imasuen; Gen. Cecil Esekhaigbe; ex-Edo Speaker Thomas Okosun.
Others are former Minority Whip of the House of Representatives Samson Osagie; ex-member of the House of Representatives Patrick Obahiagbon and Deputy Leader of the House of Representatives, Peter Akpatason.
Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew by 1.87 per cent (year-on-year) in the first quarter of this year, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) has said.
In a posting on its website on Monday accessed by The Nation, NBS said the performance was recorded against the backdrop of significant global disruptions, resulting in sharp fall in prices and restricted international trade arising from the COVID-19 public health crisis.
It said the Q1 2020 performance represented a -0.23 per cent point drop when compared with Q1 2019, and 0.68 per cent point dip relative to Q4 2019, adding that this was a reflection of the earliest effects of disruption, particularly on the non-oil economy. In the review period, the NBS report indicated that quarter-on-quarter, real GDP growth was -14.42 per cent compared to 5.59 per cent recorded in the preceding quarter.
Also in Q1 2020, aggregate GDP stood at N35,647,406.08 million in nominal terms, NBS said, pointing out that this performance was higher when compared to first quarter of 2019, which recorded N31,824,349.67 million, with a nominal growth rate 12.01 per cent year-on-year.
The report indicated that relative to Q1 2019, the nominal growth rate was higher by 0.11 per cent points but lower than the preceding quarter by -0.32 per cent points.
NBS said in the review period, an average daily oil production of 2.07 million barrels per day was recorded, stating that the production level was higher than the 1.99 million barrel per day recorded in the same quarter of 2019 by 0.08mbpd and the fourth quarter of 2019 by 0.06 million barrels per day (mbpd).
The report indicated that non-oil sector grew by 1.55 per cent in real terms during Q1 2020, saying this was lower by -093 per cent points compared to the rate recorded during the same quarter of 2019, and -0.72 per cent point slower than the corresponding period of last year.
It said the non-oil sector was driven mainly by Information and Communication, Financial and Insurance, Agriculture and Mining.
It said in real term, the Non-Oil sector contributed 90.50 per cent to the nation’s GDP in the review period, which was less than its share in the first quarter of 2019 put at 90.78 per cent and the forth quarter of 2019 which contribution was put at 92.68 per cent.
The NBS report listed activities that witnessed weaker performance relative to Q1 2019, including quarrying, road transport, accommodation, food, services, as well as real estate.
Nigerians on social media have expressed their disappointment over what they described as a public show of shame between the Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM), Abike Dabiri-Erewa, and the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Pantami.
Dabiri-Erewa had gone on the social media to accused Pantami of using armed men to evict the NIDCOM staff.
She alleged that she and NIDCOM staff were locked and thrown out of their office.
She said: “In one year, we don’t have an office. The office we got, given to us by NCC (Nigeria Communications Commission)…but we were actually driven away by the Minister of communications and Digital Economy, Mr Isa Pantami.
“Within two days, they drove us out with guns and what happened? The place was given to us by NCC….
“You know we all help each other, NCC as an agency of government said there is a place you can use to settle in, and just as we settled in, I was in Ethiopia when I got a call. I thought that it was a joke.
“I came back from Ethiopia on Thursday, this happened on Tuesday. By Friday, when I went to the office, guns, armed men had taken over the place. I thought it was a joke. But here is the thing, I’m a government employee, so is he. It’s government business.”
However, Dr Pantami responded on twitter by calling Dabiri-Erewa as a liar.
He tweeted: “This is a fat lie from her. The owner of the building @NgComCommission has faulted her lies on their social media platforms. The minister has never given that directive to any gunman. We need to be very objective in reporting. I have never sent any gunmen there, and I have no one.”
Responding to Pantami’s tweet, Dabiri-Erewa wrote: “An Islamic scholar should not lie, Hon Minister ( Phd). You did that to me because I am a woman. Your disrespect for women is legendary. Left the ugly incident behind me since February. But please release all our office equipment. Public office is transient.”
The public exchange of words between the duo received backlashes from many on social media, who queried their maturity in handling intra-government affairs.
Awwal Nasir said: “I wonder when political office holders will learn to settle internal government politics away from media. These tantrums displays a lack of communication and trust between them, It is really sad and shameful.”
Mazi Olayinka Danladi wrote: “I am so sorry and so sad that this is happening. Public office is indeed a very bad adventure. I hope our dear brother and Shaykh and Mama Diaspora will do their best to see that this is resolved without further hullabaloo. This isn’t good for the image of the nation.”
@sadeniran urged both parties to sheath their sword, adding “@DrIsaPantami, Why not put a call through to @abikedabiri instead of this public show of shame! You are not helping the @NigeriaGov you are both serving with this open name callings… A tree can never make a forest! Hope good reasoning will prevail…”
Nsikanabasi Umoffong said: “Make una fight tear cloth Abeg, if that will send the #GovernmentOfCrooks parking…”
Emma Umeh wrote: “Government of confusion, just imagine the disorganisation going on in this administration. It’s just a shame.”
Yemisi Fakunle wrote: “My take is this, there is something grossly wrong with the seat of power in Nigeria! Where is the Fourth Estate of the Realm? Abike is like a Minister, if not pronounced as one! How on earth can agents of the same government have this kind of altercations in the public domain?
Abu Mu’meen pleaded with the duo to take their fight off the social media.
He said: “I’ll plead with you both, for Allah’s sake to take your fight off social media forum. The only things that are being damaged here are the excellent reputations that you both have.”