Breaking: I Was Compelled To Sign 2018 Budget, Says Buhari

…Berates NASS For Budget Cuts in Key Sectors of Economy …Set to Submit Supplementary Budget Soon

 

ABUJA – FINALLY, President Muhammadu Buhari has signed the 2018 N9.12 trillion Appropriation Bill into law in the absence of the Senate President Bukola Saraki and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara.

 

The budget was assented to by the President at exactly 12;05 noon at the mini conference room of the Presidential villa,Abuja Buhari while signing the budget said he was compelled to sign the budget not to keep the economy continuously on standstill. He berated the National Assembly for cutting the budget estimates, especially in key sectors which he said would have impacted more on the economy. He also indicated the interest to forward supplementary budget to the National Assembly to make up the figures that were cut by the lawkers. Details later…

<<vanguard>>

Saraki, Dogara Absent As Buhari Signs 2018 Budget

SENATE President, Bukola Saraki and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara were absent as President Muhammadu Buhari signs the N9.12 trillion 2018 Appropriation Bill into law.

The signing of the budget took place in one of the President’s office, Presidential Villa Abuja. The Senate President was however represented by the Deputy Senate Leader, Bala Ibn N’Alla, while the Speaker of the House of Representatives was represented by the Chief Whip, Ado Dogowa.

<<vanguard>>

FG Tightens Security At Airports, Borders Over ISIS Threat

Following reports that the Islamic State (ISIS) is sneaking extremists from Syria into Nigeria, the federal government has directed the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS), Nigerian Customs Service (NCS), Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) and the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) to intensify security at the nation’s borders and the airports.

In a letter emanating from the office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) dated May 25, 2018, with reference number: H. 150/5.9/56 and directed to Director General of NCAA, the Managing Director of FAAN and the Comptroller General of the NCS, the SGF said available reports revealed that Al-Abd al-Faqir Media, a pro-Islamic State of Iraq and Syria media outlet, on April 26, 2018, warned that ISIS plans to attack commercial flights and bring “bloodshed to the skies”.

With that notification from the SGF, the NCS on June 13, 2018 issued circular to all its commands with reference number: NCS/T&T/I&E/021/S.112 and directed that its officials should intensify the screening process of all passengers and luggage, including “other measures you may deem fit to forestall any potential breach as directed”.

The federal government therefore ordered for “rigorous vetting of airline personnel and screening of passengers as well as increased vigilance on restricted areas at the airports”.

THISDAY spoke with the General Manager, Corporate Affairs of FAAN, Mrs. Henrietta Yakubu, who said that in response to the new directive from the government, the agency had started taking proactive measures and had activated close-circuit television (CCTV) at the airside and terminals of major airports in the country.

Yakubu said: “We now ensure that those who are travelling must have their travelling documents and are allowed to be at the airports, and airport personnel are expected to have their on duty card (ODC) on them. Anyone that does not have such documents is thrown out of the airports.

“We have reinforced our security at the international airports both on passengers and on luggage. We have CCTV at the airside that is working 24 hours and we also have at the terminals. They are all working 24 hours. We also have joint military patrol team, the joint military task force that accompanies aircraft while taxiing to take off and on arrival. We ensure that we monitor every movement.”

However, a source from the agency expressed doubt that FAAN carries out regular profiling of its security personnel in order to avert insider threat.

“In the past, during orientation and retraining, FAAN profiles all the aviation security (AVSEC) personnel but these days you will just be in the office and someone will just bring a letter of employment as security staff. So I am not sure it still carries out profiling, which is very important,” the FAAN source said.

To avert breach of security, an aviation security expert and member of Aviation Round Table (ART), Group Captain John Ojikutu (rtd), Tuesday canvassed for integrated security system at the airport to reinforce security.

Ojikutu told THISDAY that apart from CCTV and physical surveillance, there should be continuous passenger education to ensure a tight airport environment, adding that many of the airports have porous access, which makes it difficult to ensure water tight security.

 

<<thisday>>

Buhari Not Bluffing nPDP, Awaits Final Briefing, says Presidency

The All Progressives Congress (APC) and the presidency moved swiftly Tuesday to deny media reports that President Muhammadu Buhari had called the bluff of the new Peoples Democratic Party (nPDP) bloc of the ruling party that had declared a dispute, claiming it had been marginalised in the prevailing power sharing arrangement.

Media reports Tuesday, not in THISDAY, had said the president had told off the nPDP, telling them to make do with the intervention of Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo or do their worst.

But the APC National Chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, told THISDAY Tuesday in a telephone interview that nothing of the sort happened and dismissed the reports as speculative and untrue.

“I read the story and it was clear to me that it was pure speculation. Absolutely no substance,” he said.

Oyegun’s assertion was backed by a top presidency official, who said emphatically that Buhari did not shun the aggrieved nPDP and was ready to personally listen to them and appease them.

“President Muhammadu Buhari did not call the bluff of the nPDP and is not contemplating doing so. Rather he has asked Vice President Osinbajo to continue the negotiation with the group and to forward any agreement and understanding reached for his final action,” the source said.

The presidential source told THISDAY Tuesday night that the president only preferred that the resolution of the grievances in the party be kick-started at state and party levels and from there, progress gradually to his level, when he would take final briefings on findings.

According to the source, what the president said was that while the meeting is still ongoing between the nPDP, party leaders and governors, he would not like to interfere until the necessary avenues are exhausted.

The source further stated that indeed talks with the group were progressing and had consequently moved from party and state levels to the presidency, being currently superintended over by the vice-president.

He added that the president was waiting to be briefed on findings at the end of the discussions, explaining that Buhari’s current decision was aimed at avoiding jumping into the ongoing process before it gets to his level.

He insisted that the president had no intention to snub anyone but only wanted to observe due process.

The source said: “Decision not to meet nPDP is to show respect for the party, and the governors who the president believe are party leaders in their various states. A process has begun, with the party talking to those feeling estranged. The meeting has risen to the level of the vice-president.

“This is expected to continue. At the culmination of these meetings, the president will obviously be briefed. Before that point is reached, the president will not meddle or interfere. The president expects that the due process should be observed in all situations and that is what he is doing.”

nPDP Unaware of Stonewalling

Also reacting Tuesday, a member of the nPDP, who is also the Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the APC, Mr. Timi Frank, said the group was unaware of the purported decision of the president to snub the group.

“There is nothing official, nobody has reached out to us,” he said, adding: “We don’t know the presidency position and there was no briefing on it.”

He added: “For our group, we are very firm, united and confident that anywhere we go that is where the presidency will go because we know we have the right leadership and numbers to swing victory to whichever place we go.”

According to Frank, “Nobody can call our bluff but if the presidency decides to do that so be it. For us, our resolve is unshakeable and we still stand by whatever position we have taken.”

 <<punch>>

FG Plans Western Rail Line To Cover 9 States, FCT— Amaechi

Minister of Transportation, Mr. Chibuike Amaechi, yesterday, said  Nigeria’s rail line would  cover Western corridor of the country traversing nine states and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja spanning a total of 1,402 kilometres.

Amaechi at the Forum of China-Africa Transportation Convention in Beijing, China entitled, ‘Better Transportation, Better World,’ yesterday, said the project would  be completed in 36 months as soon as the loan agreement was reached between Nigeria and China

The minister said: “This railline, a total of 1,402Km, which covers the Western corridor of Nigeria traverses nine states of our federation and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja and is expected to be completed within three years if the expected loan agreement with China EXIM Bank for co-financing is reached as expected.” On the Lagos-Kano railway project awarded to China Civil Engineering and Construction Company, CCECC, and co-financed by China EXIM Bank, Amaechi said the project will serve as an important distribution corridor between the major sea port of Lagos and the hinterlands. He noted that the investment and partnering were imperative in our cooperation with the Peoples Republic of China to strengthen Nigeria’s transport infrastructure and contribute towards building a competitive economy. “Nigeria is also partnering  other private sector investors, foreign and domestic, including the consortium led by the United States General Electric. “The successful realization of these projects and their operations will result in attainment of high level of intermodal transport system,” he said. The Ministry of Transportation recently signed the commercial contract for the remaining 901 Km Ibadan – Kano stretch and the associated branch lines from Oshogbo to Ado Ekiti, South West Nigeria following the completion of the first segment of the line, Abuja – Kaduna railway project of 186.5Km. Amaechi said that the completion of the Abuja-Kaduna project had tremendously improved citizen’s mobility between the important Northern commercial city of Kaduna and the Federal Capital, Abuja, adding that the project had been completed and commercial train operation has commenced since July, 2016 conveying close to a million passengers. While the construction of the second segment which is 162Km Lagos – Ibadan double track rail line is ongoing, Amaechi said that Nigerian Government and other African Governments had put effort at sourcing financiers for development of critical infrastructure especially its transport infrastructure – railways and ports.

 
<<vanguard>>

Buhari rules out meeting with nPDP members

President Muhammadu Buhari has declared that he will never sit down for discussion with the aggrieved members of the defunct new Peoples Democratic Party that joined forces to form the ruling All Progressives Congress.

A top government official disclosed this to journalists on the condition of anonymity on Monday.

The source said Buhari had conveyed his position on the matter to state governors elected on the platform of the APC during a meeting he had with them recently.

 

The President was said to have insisted that state governors and the national leaders of the party should be able to resolve such issues.

He said the issue was a party matter and he was not ready to sit with any faction.

“It is a party matter. I am not ready to sit down with any faction. If they have problems, they should go to the party. I will not interfere.

“Governors as party leaders in the states should deal with all issues. Where there is a need, the party leadership can come in. I will not get involved,” Buhari was quoted to have told the APC governors.

He was, however, said to have agreed that the contact started by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo should continue.

The source also added that opinions were divided on the issue among the governors that attended the meeting.

“Some hard-line governors asked the President to ignore the nPDP members while the majority felt the party and the VP should continue to talk to them,” the source added.

The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, could not be reached on the telephone for comment as of the time of filing this report.

But the President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki; a former governor of Kano State, Senator Rabi’u Kwankwaso (Kano-Central); and Senator Shehu Sani (Kaduna-Central), who are part of the aggrieved APC members, could not be reached for comments on Monday night.

 

Several calls made to Sani and Saraki’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr. Yusuph Olaniyonu, were not answered and they had yet to reply to messages sent to them as of the time of filing this report.

Saraki and Olaniyonu had gone to Saudi Arabia to observe the lesser Hajj.

When contacted, an aide to Kwankwaso, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said his principal was out of the country and was not aware of the position taken by the President on the crisis.

He said, “I think what you should do is to get the response from the Chairman of the nPDP,  Alhaji Kawu Baraje. My boss has travelled out of the country and I can’t say anything about it. He has not heard anything like that.”

The nPDP had earlier in May issued a seven-day ultimatum to President Buhari to address grievances of alleged marginalisation and persecution of its members.

The ultimatum was contained in a letter sent to the President by the chairman of the defunct nPDP,  Baraje and the secretary, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola.

It was sent to the President through the office of the National Chairman of the APC, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun.

The nPDP bloc expressed dismay that despite significant contributions they made in the emergence of Buhari as the winner of the 2015 Presidential election, they had been sidelined by the government.

Specifically, they claimed that members of their group were denied juicy appointments while those who got top positions in the National Assembly were being allegedly persecuted by the Federal Government.

Saraki and the Speaker, House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, are prominent members of the nPDP bloc of the APC.

Saraki is facing prosecution for alleged false asset declaration charges at the Code of Conduct Tribunal.

 

The President had earlier mandated a national leader of the APC, Bola Tinubu, to reconcile all aggrieved members while Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo had met with the leadership of the nPDP members to resolve the crisis. Both efforts have been futile with the nPDP leadership insisting on meeting with the President.

<<Punch>>

42 posts up for grabs at APC convention

No fewer than 20 candidates have been returned unopposed as members of the National Working Committee (NWC) of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

There will be election into 42 positions by delegates to the party’s National Convention in Abuja on Saturday.

A member of the Media Subcommittee of the National Convention Committee (NCC)  Mrs.  Abike Dabiri-Erewa, stated this last night.

She said: “The meeting today is about getting set for the convention which is going ahead as scheduled and taking place at the Eagle Square in Abuja on Saturday.

“Screening has been done ; there are 20  positions that are unopposed. So, there are 42 positions to be contested.

“Some people were disqualified, for example if you are 40 years and going for national youth leader, you know you will be disqualified or you don’t have the requisite educational qualification.

” The bottom line is that this convention is going ahead. And we are not aware of the existence of a unity list. This is not true, there is no unity list.

“But of course, consensus is allowed, affirmation is allowed. Some people are running unopposed. There’s no such list as Unity list, if you see any list it is a fake list

“The election will be held where and it will be free, fair and credible.”

She added that the Appeal Committee will sit today on some of the cases.

She said talks were ongoing among contestants, “there is still the possibility of some candidates stepping down for others in line with the constitution of the party.

“Like I said, there is room for consensus but we have to be careful with the issue of consensus. You may see persons coming with unity list, such list is fake and does not emanate from APC.”

<<The Nation>>

Oyegun Urged to Abide by Court Order in Abia APC Leadership Tussle

As delegates prepare for the national convention of the All Progressives Congress (APC), the outgoing National Chairman of the party, Chief John Odigie Oyegun, has been urged to obey a subsisting court order in the leadership tussle

Abia State APC is currently torn between two factional Chairmen, Hon Donatus Nwankpa and Chief Emmanuel Ndukwe, despite a court order which had restrained the former from participating in the state congress of May 19, 2018.

Speaking at a news conference in Umuahia, the Publicity Secretary of the Ndukwe-led state APC, Hon Mike Ozoemena, said: “Oyegun has done a lot of harm to the image of APC by defying a court which barred him from dealing with Nwankpa.”

He therefore urged Oyegun to recognise Ndukwe as state APC chairman in line with the court order or risk being committed to jail for contempt of court, adding that as the national chairman of the party, Oyegun should be a shining example in upholding the rule of law.
An Abia State high court had on March 8, 2018, “restrained Oyegun, Nwankpa, his executives and their agents from organising any ward, local government or state congresses or primaries of the APC in the state.”

The order issued by Justice Collinson Okoroafor also specifically “restrained (Oyegun) from planning, implementing, executing or even holding to discuss or strategise on such issues and other issues concerning nomination or sponsorship of candidates for any elective position in Abia state or Nigeria except with the Ndukwe-led state executive committee pending the hearing and determination of the substantive suit.”

Without vacating the court order, the APC national leadership still went ahead to send state congress committee to Abia State headed by Senator Jonathan Zwingina as chairman and Hajia Rabi Sulu Gamabari as secretary.

But on reaching Umuahia, the state capital, the committee split with Zwingina conducting the state congress for the Nwankpa-led faction while Hajia Gambari went and supervised the state congress for Ndukwe-led faction.

Gambari said her group was in the state “to ensure that the rule of law is upheld in the country” adding that the Ndukwe-led state APC “is the authentic one.”

While Nwankpa and Ndukwe emerged chairmen from the parallel congresses, Oyegun later included the former along when he inaugurated state chairmen of APC at a ceremony in the party’s national secretariat in Abuja.

Ozoemena said Oyegun should prove himself as a democrat by obeying the court order, adding that the outgoing national chairman was expected to emulate President Muhammadu Buhari, who has demonstrated his love for democracy and rule of law by recognising the outcome of June 12, 1993, presidential poll.

According to him, by honouring late Chief Moshood Abiola, the acclaimed winner of the historic June 12, 1993, poll, President Buhari has left no one in doubt about his democratic credentials.

Meanwhile, the Secretary of the APC National Convention Committee, Senator Victor Ndume-Egba has reportedly assured members that the party would strive to resolve all disputes arising from the state congresses, including the cases in court before the convention.

“We are hoping to resolve those issues before the convention, especially in states where we have court processes,” he said, adding that the disputes would be resolve “one way or the other” (including) leaving a window open for harmonisation and reconciliation.”

<<Thisday>>

Saraki, Eight Other Senators Begin Three-day Visit to Russian Parliament Tuesday

Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, will   Tuesday lead a Senate delegation on a three-day parliamentary visit to Russia, which is aimed at deepening legislative best practices and further strengthening the relationship between both countries.

During the visit, Saraki is expected to address the Federation Council of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation (Senate of Russia) and hold meetings with its Chairperson of the Federation Council, Ms. Valentina Matviyenko; Chairman of the State Duma, Mr. Vyacheslav Volodin, and the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, Mr. Mikhail Bogdanov, to exchange views on issues of Nigerian-Russian cooperation.

The Senators will also hold side meetings with corresponding committees of the Federation Council of Russia.

The Nigerian legislators on the delegation include Senate Minority Leader, Godswill Akpabio; Chief Whip of the Senate, Olusola Adeyeye; Chairman, Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs, Monsurat Sunmonu; Chairman, Senate Committee on Air Force, Duro Faseyi, Chairman, Senate Committee on Sports and Youth, Obinna Ogba, and the Vice-Chairman, Senate Committee on Army, Ibrahim A. Danbaba.
The delegation is expected back in the country on June 22, 2018.

<<Thisday>>

$500m Abacha loot: Malami confirms receipt of $370m from Swiss govt

The Federal Government, yesterday, met with top officials of the United Kingdom, United States of America and Jersey to work out the final modalities for drawing down  $500 million Abacha loot frozen by the American government.

The meeting, which was held at Nigerian High Commission in London, was attended by Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami; Nigeria’s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, Justice George Oguntade; lawyers engaged by Nigeria to recover assets abroad and justice department officials from the US, UK, and Jersey.

It will be recalled that the US had obtained an international forfeiture order against the funds stashed away by the late head of state, Sani Abacha, in many countries following his death; but is now willing to lift the embargo following series of discussions to enable Nigeria to repatriate the cash for its use. Malami told Vanguard in an exclusive interview from London that Nigeria had agreed to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with the UK, US and Jersey on the return of the cash to the country. The Justice Minister said: “At our meeting in London today, we reviewed the MoU to be signed by Nigeria, US, UK and Jersey and made collective input into it so that at our next and final meeting in July we can sign the document and agree on the final draw down of the money.

“Indeed, Nigeria has made tremendous progress regarding the repatriation of the cash. Right now, the case filed by a Nigerian lawyer claiming to be entitled to a huge percentage of the amount from the Abacha loot has been dismissed by the Appeal Court but he can still appeal if he wants to. “But our strong conviction is that the money will be drawn down for the benefit of the country and we are working hard to ensure that it is done as soon as  possible by taking the necessary legal and diplomatic steps to deal with it,” Malami said.

After the London meeting, Malami proceeded to Switzerland to have another round of discussion with officials of the Swiss government in respect of another Abacha loot repatriation. He did not, however, say how much was involved in the new round of discussion but confirmed that the $370 Abacha loot, which the Federal Government earlier negotiated with the Swiss authorities had since been transferred to the Central Bank of Nigeria.

<<vanguard>>