President Muhammadu Buhari Tuesday in the United States vowed that his administration would trace the accounts of individuals who stashed away ill-gotten oil money, freeze and recover the loot and prosecute the culprits.
Reacting to questions from members of Nigerians In Diaspora Organization (NIDO) in the United States and Canada at the Nigerian Embassy in Washington DC on the third day of his visit, the President lamented that “Corruption in Nigeria has virtually developed into a culture where honest people are abused.”
According to him, “250,000 barrels per day of Nigerian crude are being stolen and people sell and put the money into individual accounts,” adding that the United States and other developed countries “are helping us to trace such accounts now.
We will ask that such accounts be frozen and prosecute the persons. The amount involved is mind-boggling. Some former ministers were selling about one million barrels per day. I assure you that we will trace and repatriate such money and use the documents to prosecute them. A lot of damage has been done to the integrity of Nigeria with individuals and institutions already compromised.”
Citing the example of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), President Buhari said unlike what obtained during his tenure as Federal Commissioner for Petroleum under military regime when the NNPC had only two traceable accounts before paying oil proceeds into the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), “now everybody is doing anyhow.”
The President, who expressed skepticism on the existence of oil subsidy, said if subsidy was removed, transport, housing and food prices would go out of control and the average worker would suffer untold hardship.
While agreeing that the “economy is in an extremely bad shape,” following 16 years of bad government by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) which ran down the oil refineries and had the “treasury in their pockets,” he said the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led administration would fulfill its three-pronged campaign manifesto of providing security, turning around the economy with a major focus on youth employment and fighting corruption. According to him, agriculture and mining would receive priority attention as faster job-creation avenues for the teeming unemployed youth, adding that some foreign investors had agreed to take advantage of the immense business opportunities in Nigeria.
President Jonathan when asked if the Federal Government (FG) would agree to negotiate with the Boko Haram insurgent and terrorist organization to pave way for the release of the abducted Chibok schoolgirls, replied that the FG would only negotiate if genuine and confirmed leaders of the militant sect came forward and convinced the FG of the current conditions of the girls, their location and the sect’s willingness to negotiate. “Our objective is that we want the girls back, alive and returned to their families and rehabilitated. We are working with neighboring countries if they will help,” he said.
On when he would form his cabinet, the President, who observed jokingly that the question was chasing him around the world even to the point that at home he had been nicknamed, “Baba Go Slow!”, noted that not even the PDP during all the years it ruled the country ever never formed a cabinet within the first four months. “I am going to go slow and steady,” he assured, as he called for patience to allow the new administration “put some sense into governance and deal with corruption.”
President Buhari promised that his administration would at the right time tap into the enormous talents available amongst members of NIDO especially as consultants while their requests for voting right in 2019, a Diaspora Commission and opening of new consulates in parts of the United States and Canada would be looked into.
The President had earlier met at the same venue with a group of young professionals in the United States and assured them of his government’s resolve to fight corruption, remain steadfast and invest heavily in education which he said was the answer to taking the youth out of poverty and ignorance. The youth in their huge numbers took turns to express their best wishes for the President and the country.
Senior Special Assistant to the President
(Media & Publicity)
July 22, 2015
New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern cancels her wedding amid new Omicron restrictions
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Arden has cancelled her wedding as the nation imposes new restrictions to slow the community spread of the Covid-19 Omicron variant, she told reporters on Sunday.
New Zealand will impose mask rules and limit gathering from midnight on Sunday after a cluster of nine Covid-19 Omicron cases showed community spread from the North to South islands after a wedding.
A family returned to Nelson in the South Island by plane after attending a wedding and other events in Auckland in the North Island. The family and a flight attendant tested positive.
New Zealand will move to a red setting under its Covid-19 protection framework, with more mask wearing. Indoor hospitality settings such as bars and restaurants and events like weddings will be capped at 100 people. The limit is lowered to 25 people if venues are not using vaccine passes, Arden said.
“My wedding will not be going ahead,” she told reporters, adding she was sorry for anyone caught up in a similar scenario. Ardern had not disclosed her wedding date, but it was rumored to be imminent.
Asked by reporters how she felt about the cancellation of her wedding to longtime partner and fishing-show host Clarke Gayford, Ardern replied: “Such is life.”
She added, “I am no different to, dare I say it, thousands of other New Zealanders who have had much more devastating impacts felt by the pandemic, the most gutting of which is the inability to be with a loved one sometimes when they are gravely ill. That will far, far outstrip any sadness I experience.”
New Zealand’s borders have been shut to foreigners since March 2020. The government pushed back plans for a phased reopening from mid-January to the end of February out of concern about a potential Omicron outbreak as in neighboring Australia.
People able to travel to New Zealand under narrow exceptions must apply to stay at state-managed quarantine facilities. The government last week stopped issuing any new slots amid a surge in the number of people arriving with Omicron.
About 94% of New Zealand’s population over the age of 12 is fully vaccinated and about 56% of those eligible have had booster shots.
SERAP drags Nigerian government to ECOWAS Court over undisclosed loans spending
The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project has filed a lawsuit against the government of President Muhammadu Buhari before an ECOWAS Court over “secrecy in the spending of loans so far obtained, the unsustainable level of borrowing by the government and the 36 states, and the crippling debt burden”.
Last week, SERAP lawyers, Kolawole Oluwadare and Opeyemi Owolabi filed a suit before ECOWAS Court of Justice in Abuja, in which the organisation sought, “An order directing and compelling the Federal Government to issue an immediate moratorium on borrowing by itself, and the 36 states, in conformity with the country’s international human rights obligations.”
SERAP is also seeking, “An order directing and compelling the Federal Government to publish details of spending of the loans obtained by governments since 1999 including the list of projects and locations of any such projects on which these loans have been spent.”
The organisation maintained that, “Persistent and unsustainable borrowing by the federal and state governments and the crippling debt burden undermine the rights of Nigerians to economic and social development, and are antithetical to the public interest.
“There is lack of transparency and accountability in the spending of the loans so far obtained, and opacity around the terms and conditions in loan agreements, including repayment details for these loans. The details of the projects on which the loans are spent are shrouded in secrecy.
“Without a moratorium on borrowing, the Federal Government and many of the 36 states may be caught in a process driven mostly by creditors’ needs.
“This will result in an exorbitant social cost for the marginalised and vulnerable sectors of the population.
“The Federal Government and many of the 36 states would seem to be in debt distress or at high risk of debt distress.
“The Senate and House of Representatives recently approved the loans of $5,803,364,553.50 and a grant component of $10million under the 2018-2020 External Borrowing (Rolling) Plan of the Federal Government.
“This followed previous approvals by the National Assembly of $16.2 (16,230,077,718) billion loan; €1 (1,020,000,000) million and a grant component of $125 million loan; $36.8 billion, €910 million loans, and a grant component of $10 million; $8.3 billion and €490 million loans; $6.1 billion, $1.5 billion and 995 million loans; and $4(4,054,476,863), €710 million and grant component of $125million.
“Several of the 36 states are also facing a debt crisis, and vicious debt cycles. According to the Debt Management Office, the foreign debt stock of the Federal Government, 36 state governments and the Federal Capital Territory presently stands at $37.9billion.
“The loans from China alone amount to $3.59billion. According to the UN Independent Expert on foreign debt and human rights, Nigeria faces debt service relative to tax revenues that exceed 20 per cent, with escalating social tensions linked to poverty and inequality.
“According to the World Bank’s IDA FY21 Report, with debt exposure of $11.7billion US Dollars, Nigeria ranked fifth among the top 10 countries with highest debt risk exposure. The top four countries are India with $22billion, Bangladesh ($18.1billion), Pakistan ($16.4billion), and Vietnam ($14.1billion).”
Meanwhile, no date has been fixed for the hearing of the suit.
COVID-19: Nigeria records 29 fresh infections, lowest in two months
The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control has said that 29 people tested positive for Coronavirus on Saturday.
The figure is the country’s lowest single-day count since November 19, 2021 when 23 cases were reported.
In its latest update, NCDC said the positive cases of Coronavirus came from three states.
A breakdown of new cases showed that Lagos — Nigeria’s pandemic epicentre — recorded the highest number of new infections with 27 new positive samples, followed by Kano and Rivers with one each.
According to the agency, 40 persons recovered from the infection while 225,946 people have now been discharged.
No death figure was recorded from COVID-19 complications, leaving the death toll at 3,124.
Since the index case in February 2020, a total of 251,959 Coronavirus infections have been confirmed across Nigeria — out of which 22,889 are active cases.
On Saturday, the Lagos government said the consistent decrease in COVID-19 cases indicates the end of the pandemic’s fourth wave in the state.
Giving a situation update via Twitter, Akin Abayomi, the state’s Commissioner for Health, said there was a reduction in positivity rates — from 29.3 percent recorded on December 21, 2021, to 1.9 percent as of January 20, 2022.
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- COVID-19: Nigeria records 29 fresh infections, lowest in two months
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