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Buhari outlines administration’s 100 achievements in 2021

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President Buhari

The federal government, yesterday, presented the scorecard of President Muhammadu Buhari, citing 100 core achievements of his administration in 2021.

Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who listed the achievements, said they were despite dwindling revenues, COVID-19 pandemic, and insecurity in several parts of the country induced by insurgency and banditry.

Mohammed, who addressed the media in Lagos, said government’s economic recovery plan remained on a steady path throughout 2021. He said the country’s domestic growth in the first three quarters of 2021 was positive, recording real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of 0.51 percent in the first quarter (Q1), 5.01 percent in Q2, and 4.03 percent in Q3.

The minister said the record was a departure from the declining performance in the first three quarters of 2020, which led to economic recession, put at 1.87 percent in Q1, -6.10 percent in Q2, and -3.62 percent in Q3.

He said the economic performance in 2021 was a reflection of steady improvement in growth over the last three quarters of 2020, arising from government’s policies and strategies, such as the Economic Sustainability Plan and the N500 billion COVID-19 crisis intervention fund, among others.

Mohammed stressed that under the Buhari administration, the rate of inflation had continued to decline on a year-on-year basis since April 2021. He said from the trend, a decline was recorded, from 17.93 percent in May to 17.01 percent in August, 15.99 percent in October and 15.40 per cent in November 2021.

He disclosed that the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning generated N1.53 trillion from Value Added Tax (VAT), while N496.4 billion was generated from VAT in the first three months of 2021, the highest in nine years.

The minister also said crude oil export improved considerably at N10.03 trillion, compared to N6.92 trillion. This represented a growth rate of 44.93 percent, despite the fact that real growth showed poorer performance in 2021, recording 2.21 percent (year-on-year) in Q1 2021, -12.65 percent in Q2 2021 and –10.73 percent in Q3 2021, from stronger growth of 5.06 percent in Q1 2020, -6.63 percent in Q2 2020, and -13.89 percent in Q3 2020.

According to Mohammed, “The recovery of the economy remained on a steady path throughout the year 2021. As you are aware, gentlemen, many countries around the world face unprecedented challenges, starting from 2020, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and Nigeria is no exception.
“The Nigerian economy was hit by the pandemic in mid- 2020, and the economic disruptions led to a recession. The poor performance of the economy during the COVID-19 era affected output growth, trade, household welfare and livelihood.”

He said the federal government recovered from the dire conditions by rolling out effective fiscal and monetary policies as well as health plan designed to control the spread of the pandemic and mitigate its negative effects on the economy.

The minister disclosed that non- oil export grew by 21.17 percent, from N1.19 trillion to N1.44 trillion over the same period. He said the Armed Forces of Nigeria (AFN) carried out various operations across the country to enhance security.

He said the Joint Task Force, Operation Hadin Kai, covering the restive North-east, neutralised over 1,000 terrorists, rescued 2,000 civilians, and superintended the surrender of over 22,000 terrorists, including their families.

Mohammed said during the period under review, the Nigerian Army procured 160 MRAPS, 150 trucks, and 60 APCs to improve its equipment holding. Various kits were equally provided for troops.
He said over 1,500 persons were recruited into the Nigerian Navy during the year while the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) took delivery of 12 Super Tucanos and 3 JF-17 Thunder Fighter Aircraft and other platforms with which it conducted several air interdictions, provided close air support to ground troops, and destroyed several illegal structures and equipment belonging to terrorists, bandits, and other criminal elements.

Other achievements of the Buhari administration, according to the minister, included passage of the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA); incorporation of NNPC Limited under CAMA; entrenchment of Transparency, Accountability and Performance Excellence (TAPE) in NNPC; posting of N287 billion profit by NNPC, the first time it will record such profit in 44 years; and the Final Investment Decision on $3.6 billion integrated methanol and gas project in Odioma, Brass Island, Bayelsa State, which was scheduled to come into operation in 2024 and was expected to produce 10,000 tons of methanol daily.

Ohers were the $260 million Funding Agreement for ANOH Gas Processing Company Limited (AGPC), a project that would deliver 300 million standard cubic feet of gas per day and 1,200 megawatts of electricity to the domestic market, and the launch of Nigerian Upstream Cost Optimisation Programme (NUCOP) to drive down the cost of crude oil production in the country and make Nigeria competitive in the global market.

Mohammed also listed the award of $1.5 billion contract for the rehabilitation of Port Harcourt Refinery to Tecnimont SPA of Italy; construction and rehabilitation of 21 roads under the federal government’s Road Infrastructure Development and Refurbishment Investment Tax Credit Scheme; construction of Kano-Maiduguri Road Section II (100.08 kilometres, (Shuwarin-Azare) in Jigawa and Bauchi States, Kano-Maiduguri Road Section III (Azare-Potiskum) 106.34 kilometres in Bauchi and Yobe states, Vandeikya-Obudu Cattle Ranch Road Phase I and II (24 kilometres) in Benue and Cross River states, Sokoto-Tambuwal-Jega-Kontagora-Makera Road (304 kilometres), 360-metre bridge at Ikom in Cross River State, which had been completed and now awaiting commissioning, 400-metre border bridge between Nigeria and Cameroon, which was also completed and awaiting commissioning, and Second Niger Bridge, now 78 per cent complete and expected to be ready in November 2022.

Mohammed also cited the designation of four international airports in Abuja, Kano, Lagos, and Port Harcourt as Special Economic Zones, aimed at encouraging business/investment, the procurement of two mobile control towers in Lagos and Abuja airports, and the provisional approval, which the Ministry of Aviation received for the establishment of Aerospace University in Abuja.

He also listed the flag-off of the commercial operation of Lagos-Ibadan rail line in June 2021 and the signing of the MoU with Portuguese company, Mota-Engil Group, for the construction of $1.959 billion Kano-Maradi standard gauge railway lines, as well as the ground-breaking ceremony for the rehabilitation and reconstruction of the 2,044-kilometre Port-Harcourt-Maiduguri Eastern Narrow Gauge Railway project and Bonny Deep Sea and Railway Industrial Park, in addition to the ground-breaking ceremony of the Kano-Kaduna Standard Gauge Rail-line Modernisation project.

The minister said 12 dams were completed in a bid to maximise dam infrastructure, while 96,000 hectares of irrigation land were developed in 2021. He noted there was a review of the Expatriate Quota fees, which ensured generation of additional revenue for the federal government.

He praised the Buhari administration for approving Legal Notices, which allowed local governments to conduct Statutory Marriages sequel to compliance with regulations by the Ministry, in line with the Marriage Act of 1958 as amended. He also commended the president for approving the National Action Plan to end statelessness in Nigeria, as required by the UN, the launch of the new visa policy reclassifying the visa categories from six to 79, and processing of visa on arrival to holders of passports of African countries.

The minister also credited the administration for the Passport Issuance Reform, which ensured the clearing of a backlog of 96,083 passport applications between January and September this year.

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How secret police, DSS blocked British envoy from meeting Nnamdi Kanu during court sitting

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Operatives of the Department of State Services on Wednesday blocked a British diplomat from speaking with the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu.

Eno Agodo, British Vice Consul, Lagos State, had attended Kanu’s trial before Justice Binta Nyako at the Federal High Court, Abuja on Wednesday where the pro-Biafran agitator appeared on a 15-count amended charge bordering on treasonable felony and terrorism.

At the close of proceedings in the suit at the Federal High Court in Abuja, on Wednesday, Agodo first sought the permission of Ifeanyi Ejiofor, Kanu’s lead counsel to speak with his client, which was granted.

But as the British envoy gained access to the dock where Kanu, who holds dual citizenship in Nigeria and the United Kingdom, was speaking with family members, she was intercepted by the Director of Legal Services of the secret police and operatives who had formed a wall around the IPOB leader.

Thereafter, journalists tried to speak with Agodo on what transpired, but she declined.

A political counsellor at the British High Commission, Jonathan, Bacon had written a letter dated January 11, 2022 and addressed to the trial judge, Nyako, where he sought permission for Agodo to attend Kanu’s trial from January 18 to 20, 2022.

In the letter entitled, “Nnamdi Kanu Trial-Access for British Consular Official to Attend Federal High Court, 18th to 20th January, 2022”, the British High Commission, specifically requested that Agodo attended the IPOB leader’s trial as an “observer.”

Early this month how Kanu, through his lawyer, Ejiofor petitioned British government, the United States and the United Nations to grace his appearance in court.

Kanu after he fled Nigeria in 2017 lived in the United Kingdom, following invasion of his home in by Nigerian soldiers in 2017.

This stalled his trial in Nigeria for years until he was rearrested, reportedly in Kenya, and brought back to Nigeria, in June last year.

While abroad, Kanu continued reaching out to his Nigerian followers through social media channels as violence linked to the Eastern Security Network (ESN), the armed wing of IPOB, escalated in the South-east.

During the period, the UK government also resisted calls from the Nigerian government to declare IPOB a terrorist organisation as it was done in Nigeria in 2017.

Blocking the American lawyer from having access to Kanu on Wednesday highlights what appears to be government’s desperation to cut him off from having any contact with foreigners or their agents.

A similar scenario played out during Kanu’s trial on Tuesday, when Mike Ozekhome, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), who led the IPOB leader’s defence team, made frantic but unsuccessful efforts to get Bruce Fein, a United States lawyer, to attend the court session.

Fein, a counsel to the secessionist group in the U.S, has not been able to have an audience with Kanu, as he claimed several attempts to visit the IPOB leader at the SSS detention facility in Abuja had been resisted.

“I have not been able to meet with my client, Mr Kanu since I arrived Nigeria,” Fein said in an interview last December.

“Officials of the State Security Service wouldn’t let me meet Kanu,” Fein added, saying, the action of the spy agency is a “gross violation” of Kanu’s fundamental rights.

The American constitutional counsel had received similar treatment during previous proceedings in the case.

While it could not be ascertained if Agodo’s presence in court was in response to Kanu’s request, the American embassy had no representative at the proceedings last Tuesday and Wednesday

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Prepare for uprising worse than #EndSARS if you hike fuel price, Abdulsalami warns Buhari

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Nigeria’s former Head of State, Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar (rtd), has warned that the soaring hardship in the country might result into another nationwide conflagration, worse than the 2020 #EndSARS protests against police brutality.

He cautioned the Federal Government against increasing pump price of fuel, saying a rise in petrol price now will push more Nigerians deeper into poverty.

Abdusalami, who ruled Nigeria between 1998 and 1999, said this, yesterday, at the 19th Daily Trust Dialogue with the theme: ‘2023: The Politics, Economy and Security.’

While noting that the past three months had seen an improvement in economic growth rates and inflation, Abdulsalami, however, said the impact of these numbers on the lives and wellbeing of the ordinary Nigerian is suspect.

He said unemployment and underemployment remain at record levels, adding that over 80 million Nigerians are still caught up in needless poverty.

He said: “All of these tend to have negative effects on security. In fact, Nigeria now faces a food security crisis that is compounded by COVID-19 pandemic and banditry in many states in northern Nigeria.

“These have disrupted the fragile value chains across the country and negatively impacted the ability of Nigerians to produce, process and distribute food. The result is a continuing rise in prices of food items beyond the reach of many families.

“On top of all these, fuel prices are expected to rise significantly in the coming months as announced last November. When this happens, as the government has planned, it will push many millions deeper into poverty.

“Young people and women are the demographic groups most affected by the country’s dire economic outlook. For example, estimates by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) shows that while the national unemployment rate stood at 33 per cent by the end of 2020, unemployment for young people between ages 15 and 34 years was 10 per cent higher at 42.5 per cent.

“If not carefully managed, the frustrations of these groups could easily boil over into a national conflagration worse than what we saw months ago during the #EndSARS protests. However, these are not doomsday predictions, but a warning to which all stakeholders must pay heed.”

On insecurity, Abdulsalami, who is also the Chairman of the National Peace Committee (NPC), stated that the situation has overstretched the country’s security forces and has led to the death of thousands.

He noted that major cause of insecurity is the proliferation of all calibre of weapons in Nigeria in particular, and in the West Africa sub-region generally.

Quoting the Global Conflict Tracker report compiled by the U.S. Council on Foreign Relations, Abdulsalami said some 350,000 persons have been killed and three million displaced directly or indirectly in the conflict in the Northeast since 2009.

As the 2023 election draws closer, the former military leader urged all politicians to watch their words and deeds carefully, and avoid saying or doing things that will further heat up the polity.

He said: “I have not seen this country in serious challenges of its existence as seen at this time. I have witnessed the Nigerian Civil War and not even that was so much a threat to our existence like we are witnessing today.

“And of course all attention is focused on the political class. The solutions to all the problems that have been highlighted particularly security and economy are problems the politicians are expected to solve.”

FORMER Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, said the country needs a capable leader who will address the problems facing the nation.

Also speaking at the Daily Trust dialogue, he said: “What is important now is to identify a competent leader that can get us out of these crises.

“We have the capacity to pull this country out of her present predicament. We must do the needful and most importantly, I believe a leadership that will prioritise education is desirable.”

IN his remarks, Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar III, urged Nigerians to be part of politics and governance, as the institutions are too important to be left for politicians alone.

“We learnt in military training that war is too important to be left to the soldiers alone. Therefore, national development is too important to be left to the politicians alone,” he said.

Abubakar, who is also President of the Nigeria Supreme Council of Islamic Affairs (NSCIA), stressed that dialogue remains the best option to resolve issues.

He said: “What wars cannot resolve, dialogue can resolve it. I am an advocate of dialogue and I cannot be tired of dialogue. Without security, you can’t develop, you can’t even worship God. We cannot get tired and we must not get tired of talking peace.”

Speaking, spokesman of the Northern Elders’ Forum (NEF), Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, said the situation in the country has shown Nigerians that the country does not need an ethnic president in 2023.

While expressing concerns over the tension in the polity in the buildup to the general elections, Baba-Ahmed said 90 per cent of Nigerian governors have no business being anywhere near power.

According to him, most of the governors don’t have the preparation, background, and competencies to govern.

“One of the worst things you can do is to create huge additional anger around the cost of living, the cost of fuel, cost of prices, pushing the citizen into more depression and you want to have elections just a few months after”, he stated.

While calling for restructuring of the country, he added: “What we really need to do is put the federal system on the table and ask what is wrong?

“What is it that makes it impossible to reduce the powers or to regulate the powers of governance, restructure the country but this is a word that is anathema to a lot of people in power today.”

For Governor Babagana Zulum of Borno State, Nigerians must look into the possibility of selecting good leaders rather than the elections itself.

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17 killed, 59 injured by explosion in western Ghana

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At least 17 people were killed and 59 injured Thursday in a devastating explosion in a western Ghana town after a truck carrying explosives collided with a motorcycle, the government said.

The blast left a huge crater and reduced dozens of buildings to dust-covered piles of wood and metal in Apiate, near the city of Bogoso some 300 kilometres (180 miles) west of the mineral-rich West African country’s capital Accra.

Footage showed locals rushing towards a raging fire and rising plumes of black smoke to inspect the damage, while rescue workers waded through the rubble for survivors caught in the devastation.

“A total of 17 people have unfortunately been confirmed dead, and 59 injured people have been rescued,” Information Minister Kojo Oppong Nkrumah said in a statement released overnight.

The minister said initial signs point to “an accident involving a truck transporting explosive materials for a mining company, a motorcycle and a third vehicle” which took place near an electrical transformer.

Out of 59 people injured, 42 are receiving treatment in hospitals or health centres and “some are in critical condition”, Nkrumah added.

Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo called it a “truly sad, unfortunate and tragic incident”.

The government said those in critical condition would be moved to hospitals in Accra and police asked surrounding villages to open their schools and churches to accommodate any additional casualties.

A team of police and army explosion experts were deployed to “avoid a second explosion” and put in place security measures after the blast, the government said in a press release.

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