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Presidency attacks Financial Times editor over article on Nigeria

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The Muhammadu Buhari Presidency has attacked a Financial Times editor in its response to a story done by the British newspaper, which highlights the failures of the Nigerian government.

A report titled “What is Nigeria’s Government For,” by David Piling, the Africa Editor of the newspaper, said Buhari has “overseen two terms of economic slump, rising debt and a calamitous increase in kidnapping and banditry — the one thing you might have thought a former general could control.”

The report also used a British Airways flight between London, UK and Nigeria’s capital, Abuja to describe how the political elite in Nigeria massively fly business class even though the country’s economy is “flat on its back”.

But the Senior Special Assistant, Media and Publicity to Buhari, Mallam Garba Shehu, on Sunday, in a series of posts on Twitter titled ‘Letter to the Editor, Financial Times’, said such was expected from the writer of the anti-Buhari report.

Shehu said, “We wish to correct the wrong perceptions contained in the article “What is Nigeria’s Government For,” by David Piling, Financial Times (UK), January 31, 2022.

“The caricature of a government sleepwalking into disaster (What is Nigeria’s government for? January 31, 2022 ) is predictable from a correspondent who jets briefly in and out of Nigeria on the same British Airways flight he so criticises.

“He highlights rising banditry in my country as proof of such slumber.

“What he leaves out are the security gains made over two Presidential terms.

“The terror organisation Boko Haram used to administer an area the size of Belgium at inauguration; now, they control no territory.

“The first comprehensive plan to deal with decades-old clashes between nomadic herders and sedentary farmers – experienced across the width of the Sahel – has been introduced: pilot ranches are reducing the competition for water and land that drove past tensions.

Banditry grew out of such clashes. Criminal gangs took advantage of the instability, flush with guns that flooded the region following the Western-triggered implosion of Libya.

“The situation is grave. Yet as with other challenges, it is one that the government will face down.”

The Financial Times reported of January 31 had highlighted Buhari’s failures as President.

It said in part, “On the British Airways flight between London and Nigeria’s administrative capital of Abuja, one of the airline’s most profitable routes, nearly all the space is taken up with flatbeds. The unfortunate few making their way to a crunched economy section at the back must trudge through row after row of business class.

“Evidently, there is plenty of money to be made in Abuja’s corridors of power. Nigeria’s economy may be flat on its back, but the political elite flying to and from London will spend the flight flat on theirs, too.

“Next year, many of the members of government will change, though not necessarily the bureaucracy behind it. Campaigning has already begun for presidential elections that in February 2023 will draw the curtain on eight years of the administration of Muhammadu Buhari, on whose somnolent watch Nigeria has sleepwalked closer to disaster.

“Buhari has overseen two terms of economic slump, rising debt and a calamitous increase in kidnapping and banditry — the one thing you might have thought a former general could control. Familiar candidates to replace him, mostly recycled old men, are already counting their money ahead of a costly electoral marathon. It takes an estimated $2bn to get a president elected. Those who pay will expect to be paid back.

“There are some promising candidates. If Yemi Osinbajo, the technocratic vice-president, were miraculously to make it through the campaign thicket and emerge as president, the hearts of Nigerian optimists would beat a little faster.

“But that may be to underestimate the depth of Nigeria’s quagmire. The problem is not so much who leads the government as the nature of government itself.

“Nigeria’s administration is fuelled by oil — though not its economy; more than 90 per cent of output is generated from non-oil activities. But for decades, the business of government — whether military or, since 1999, democratic — has been to control access to oil revenues and earn patronage by spreading petrol-dollars to federal and state supplicants.

“Outside oil, government raises a petty amount of revenue, proportionally much less than other African states. Since the provision of services is so dire, no one who can afford to pay taxes is willing to do so. Nigerians with money opt out of the system. They send their kids to private school, attend private hospitals, employ their own private security and generate their own power. The state borrows ever more heavily to fund what little capital expenditure there is and service mounting debts. Like a giant leech at the top of the body politic, government is essentially there to fund itself.”

“Nigeria desperately needs an administration whose energies go not into preserving its own privilege but into providing public goods — basic education and health, rule of law, security, power, roads and digital infrastructure. It must remove distortions and subsidies that direct entrepreneurial activity from production to arbitrage.

“The chances of a corrupt system reforming itself are slim. But if Nigeria’s ruling class cannot manage it, any remaining faith Nigerians have in their system of government will evaporate. That way lies disaster,” it added.

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Nigerian students’ association threatens to shut down all international airports over prolonged ASUU’s strike

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ASUU to begin fresh strike

The National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) Southwest Zone D has threatened to shut down all international airports over the failure of the Nigerian government to address the lingering strike action of the Academic Staff Union of Universities and other staff unions.

Coordinator of the NANS Zone D, Adegboye Olatunji in a statement said the students had waited long enough for the government to resolve the crisis.

He added that students would take the bull by the horns and no longer keep quiet, pointing out that President Muhammadu Buhari’s position on the crisis could ruin their future.

The statement read, “It is timely and urgent to address this press conference today with a view to putting an end to the long lingering strike action of ASUU and ASUP (Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics), a total reformation of the educational sector.

“The Leadership of the National Association of Nigerian Students Southwest (Zone D) in conjunction with the National Association of University Students Southwest (NAUS) has taken it upon herself to categorically stand against the dilapidated state of the educational sector in Nigeria.

“We are at a time when Nigerian Students have lost hope and do not know what’s next on the radar. ASUU strike has been on for over 3 months without forgetting the ASUP warning strike of 2 weeks.

“We have also waited for long to see if the Federal Government will dance to the music of Nigerian students who have been clamouring for an end to the ASUU strike but the reverse is the case. We’ve had several press conferences, granted several interviews, and held several meetings to plead with both ASUU and Federal Government. Our future is been jeopardised. We’re in a country where age is a key factor in labour market.

“Aviation unions gave a 2-day warning strike on shut down of flight operations. A meeting was scheduled by the Federal Government and strike action was called off in less than 24hours because the first-class citizens would be affected. But it is so obvious that none of them is affected by ASUU/ASUP Strike. They have their children all over the world enjoying a smooth educational system.

“On Monday, May 16th, 2022, the Accountant General of the Federation, Ahmed Idris was arrested over alleged money laundering and diversion of public funds of at least N80 Billion by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). Where is the integrity of the government preaching against corruption? How much of the public funds would have settled the educational sector and put an end to the yearly ASUU/ASUP Strike action.

“For so long, ASUU/ASUP strike has been ongoing and the Federal Government has not been showing concern through the Minister of Education.

“We are ready to take the bull by the horns as Nigerian students will not keep silent and watch our future being ruined by the prolonged ASUU/ASUP Strike.

“According to the Commandment of Solidarity, we’re on the last C of ALUTA which is Confrontation. This is the time to call on all Nigerian students across all zones to come out in mass to take over all international airports in the country. Nigerian students are tired of the long-overdue strike action.

“The leadership of the National Association of Nigerian Students Southwest (Zone D) in conjunction with the National Association of University Students (NAUS) hereby declares a massive protest to shut down all international airports in Nigeria. We must state categorically to the Federal Government that all activities shall be shut down by over twenty-two million five hundred and twenty-seven (22,575,000) Nigerian students across Southwest Nigeria until ASUU / ASUP Strike is called off totally.”

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VIDEO: Tension as Okada riders, policemen clash in Lagos

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There is tension in the Ojo Local Government Area of Lagos over an attempt by policemen to enforce the state government ban on the operation of commercial motorcycle operators also known as Okada riders.

The state government had on Wednesday issued a total ban on the activities of the Okada riders in six local government areas of the state over the killing of a sound engineer, David Imoh, at Lekki.

Policemen from Onireke Police Station, Ojo, had impounded some commercial motorcycles for operating along the Mile 2 – Badagry expressway, an action which the riders resisted.

The riders attempted to overrun the station and possibly set free some of their members who were arrested by the policemen.

The riders set fire in the middle of the road, while the owners of vehicles abandoned them by the side of the road due to the chaos.

The crisis led to a stampede as pedestrians fled for fear of being caught up in the crossfire.

Moreso, the incident created heavy vehicular movement on both sides of the road.

While the policemen fired several shots into the air to disperse the commercial motorcycle operators, the riders themselves pelted the officers with stones, daring the policemen to come after them.

A yet to be ascertained number of persons sustained different wounds as they tried to run away from the trouble zone.

Presently, a combined team of anti-riot policemen and some soldiers have been deployed to return normalcy to the area.

WATCH THE VIDEO OF THE CLASH BELOW:

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Army Major commits suicide 3 days to court-martial verdict

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A former Battalion Commanding Officer who led the fight against Boko Haram in the North East, Major UJ Undianyede, is said to have committed suicide.

According to sources, he killed himself less than 72 hours to the verdict of a court-martial trying him for alleged military infractions during the war.

The sources, who confirmed the incident last night, said the Major killed himself on Monday on the premises of the Nigeria Defence Academy (NDA) in Kaduna, with his service pistol.

“I think he killed himself because of the judgment of the court-martial which has been fixed for tomorrow (today, May 19). We only learnt about his death today (Wednesday).

“In prosecuting the war, the Major with some of his colleagues allegedly committed some infractions for which he was being tried at the 1 Division in Kaduna,” one of the sources said.

The offences listed against the deceased officer by the court martial in the 1 Division included misappropriation of funds, abandonment of military post, insubordination, and desertion, among others.

Another source attributed the Major’s death to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), noting that he had been in the North East for some time battling Boko Haram terrorists.

The Major, a Course 55 Regular Officer and other members of his class, were said to be due for promotion to the rank Lieutenant Colonel this September.

When contacted, the spokesman of the Nigerian Army, Brig.-Gen. Onyema Nwachukwu, said he had not been briefed.

However, the Public Relations Officer of the NDA, Major Bashir Jajira, dismissed the report, saying no officer of the academy was involved in suicide.

“No personnel of the academy was involved in suicide as reported, and in fact, our cadets are presently in Kachia for combat shooting training, they are not in the academy. So, no such training took place.”

In the same vein, the Assistant Director, Army Public Relations, 1 Division Headquarters, Kaduna, Major Musa Yahaya stated that he was not aware of any court-martial taking place in the division as earlier reported.

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