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Breaking: Senate Confirms Tinubu’s Three Ministerial Nominees

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By Eric Elezuo

The Senator Godswill Akpabio-led Senate has approved the nomination of the three ministerial nominees of President Bola Tinubu.

The nominees are are Abbas Balarabe representing Kaduna State, Jamila Bio representing Kwara State and Ibrahim and Ayodele Olawande representing Ondo State.

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Who’s Blaming Who? The Sad Tales of APC

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By Eric Elezuo

The Nigerian nation is today polarized across three divides; those that believe that the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led Federal Government, under the leadership of President Bola Tinubu, has failed woefully, just nine months after assuming power; those that believe that he can still turn the table around and spring a positive surprise, and those who are standing aloof, unconcerned of whether the administration succeed or not.

One thing is however, certain, and that is the fact that all believe that the country has dived into an abyss of exigency of which recovery may have become a mirage.

Across the country, and in hidden corners, cries of agony, sorrow, hunger and death continue to reverberate. The masses, going by utterances, actions and protests, seem to have had it where it hurts most. But even as the hunger bites harder in the land, with the prices of food items hitting the roof, the naira crashing miserably against other currencies of the world and people dropping dead from insecurity, the government of Bola Tinubu, has yet to cease blaming the government of the immediate past administration, his predecessor and fellow party man, Muhammadu Buhari.

Just like Buhari spent eight years to blame the 16 years of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) rule, with special emphasis to the former President Goodluck Jonathan era, the Tinubu administration has not ceased to blame the immediate past Buhari administration for its inability to hit the ground running, leading to the hardship that has engulfed the length and breadth of the country since May 29, 2023 when he was inaugurated as president.

It would be recalled that stakeholders, analysts and followers of the eight years of Buhari administration, an era referred to as ‘regime’ by The Punch Newspaper, have unanimously agreed that the period qualifies as the darkest age of Nigeria’s administration. Many has said that the ‘regime’ borrowed much more than all the administrations that have ever existed in Nigeria combined.

“Buhari, in a nutshell plunged the country into a quagmire of incomparable mess,” various political analysts have said at various fora.

As the blame continues, Nigerians have recalled that the present administration of Bola Tinubu had vowed to continue where the Buhari era ended, given the impression that the APC as a party has an agenda that is not pro-welfare, especially with the flippant way with the petroleum subsidy was removed, and naira floated.

Tinubu, while addressing participants at the third Ministerial Performance Review Retreat currently at the State House, as the presidential candidate of the APC, said that if elected, he will show due honour to the efforts and legacies of Buhari, and work in the spirit of unity, national purpose that informed the creation of the party.

Tinubu had said his government will be devoted to continuity, particularly of projects that will bring prosperity to the citizens, while his guiding principle will be hinged on providing the best of progressive governance and reform the nation. But all that seems to be promises made under duress.

“Tinubu completely exhibited the prowess of a warlord, who is unaware of the challenges ahead of his troop, inexperienced and lacking in ability to launch or organise. Otherwise, he would have been more mature when he made his inauguration speech; a speech that destabilized the whole country from his day one in office,” a source told The Boss.

Wver since the advent of the administration of Tinubu therefore, the blames have continued to be traded between the immediate past and the present with each throwing tantrums at the other in as a much as both sides of the divide are members of the APC party. While the Tinubu camp has alleged that Buhari and his men wrecked Nigeria to near irredeemable, the Buhari camp has maintained innocence, accusing the present of inability to perform.

“We are talking about the same party. The same people that inordinately supervised and is supervising both the past and present administrations,” a legal officer, who wished anonymity mocked.

Recall that earlier in the life of the administration, a former Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, who is now the National Security Adviser (NSA) admitted that Tinubu inherited a bad economy from President Buhari administration that he is working hard to fix, underscoring Buhari’s boast in his final broadcast to the nation, that “I am confident that I am leaving office with Nigeria better in 2023 than in 2015.”

But Ribadu, while addressing a meeting of the Presidential Steering Committee on Palliatives at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, in August 2022, admitted that “We inherited a very bad situation,” and pleaded with organised labour to give the administration little chance to fix the battered economy.

It is known that during the 2023 election, Tinubu had hailed economic progress of the Buhari administration and attacked the opposition parties for underscoring the failures of eight years of APC rules and proposals on the economy and the social welfare of the citizens.

“We inherited a very bad situation. Most of the problems people are talking about are not a creation of this government. This government is barely two months old and since we have been facing these difficulties and challenges, we have a listening and engaging President, a president who will want to have a conversation and react.

“He is truly, genuinely, honestly doing it. Our appeal is please Nigerians give us the support that is needed and required, we are working, we are trying to change things. We inherited a very bad situation, we are trying to stop all those things we witnessed in the past, we are trying to stop the killings, stop the attacks on trains, stop attacks on prisons, stop IPOB what they are doing, stop bandits, stop Boko Haram,” he said.

However, seven months after Ribadu showered attacks of blame on Buhari, the country continue to sink deep into the quagmire of want, lack and hardship.

The body language of the Tinubu administration has directed every attack of ineptitude and incompetence at the Buhari regime. But what has remained a poser is the fact that majority of the officers, who supposedly ‘wrecked’ the economy of the country during the Buhari years, are also officers in the Tinubu administration. Some of them are the former leaders of the 9th National Assembly; the duo of the former Senate President, who is still a serving Senator, Ahmed Lawan, and the former Speaker of the House of Representatives, who is now the Chief of Staff to President Tinubu, Hon Femi Gbajabiamila.

“There has been a recycle of incompetence, and this is a situation where new incompetence is blaming its old self of incompetence. It’s like someone looking himself in the mirror, and telling the one in the mirror that he is a failure. It’s a case of APC talking to itself. Telling itself how it has wrecked the life of Nigerians in as many years,” a political analysts said.

Recently at a Senate seating, the members resolved to probe the N30trn Ways and Means spent by Buhari-led Federal Government which according to it, was recklessly spent.

It further stated that reckless spending of the overdraft collected from the Central Bank of Nigeria under Godwin Emefiele largely accounted for food and security crises currently facing the country.

The Red Chamber then resolved to set up an ad-hoc committee, to carry out an investigation on what the N30trn Ways and Means were spent on by the immediate past government since details of such spending were not made available to the National Assembly.

The ad-hoc committee will also probe the N10tn expended on the Anchor Borrowers Scheme, the $2.4bn forex transaction out of $7bn obligation made for that purpose as well as other intervention programmes.

Senate’s resolutions on planned investigations followed consideration of report of its joint Committee on Banking, Insurance and other Financial Institutions, Finance, National Planning, Agriculture and Appropriation on State of the Economy after interactive sessions with the Federal Government’s economic management team .

The plenary later became stormy with accusations, counter accusations and barefaced blames by senators on why and how the N22.7tn Ways and Means was passed by the 9th Senate in May 2023 and additional N7.2tn passed on December 30, 2023 by the 10th Senate.

The 9th and 10th Senate were proved to be wasteful and therefore, contributed in the wrecking of the nation’s economy, which culminated in the present economic umpasse, trickling down to the regular man in the street.

In his blame argument, the Senate Whip, Senator Ali Ndume (APC Borno South), attacked the Senate for approving the request without details from Buhari. He was however, reminded that he was part of the system then and now.

Note that Ndume was vocal in defending the allocation of N160 million to senators for a car in the midst of economic hardship. The money was even spent on camry cats, not Nigerian made cars.

Ndume said, “When the N22.7trillion Ways and Means approval request was brought before the 9th Senate, I insisted that details of spendings made with it , should be provided before approval but the Senate then went ahead and approve it.”

It was every man for himself while the APC members traded blames.

In his defence, the former Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, who supervised the process, claimed that the Ways and Means was in the past and urged the Senate to focus on the present.

“All of those is in the past, we must focus on the present which is the fact that people are hungry and they are crying. That’s what we should focus on.”

The Senate President, Godswill Akpabio, in his remarks said, as recommended by the committee , and supported by most of the Senators,  thorough probe must be carried out on the N22.7tn Ways and Means approved in May 2023 by the 9th Senate which later increased to N30tn , with passage of the N7.2trillion accrued interest forwarded for passage in the December last year .

Akpabio said, “The food and security crises confronting the nation now are traceable to the way and manner the said Ways and Means was given, collected and spent .

“Details of such spendings must be submitted for required scrutiny and possible remedies because what Nigerians want now is food on their table which must be given.”

Lawan was noted to approve every proposal brought before it by the executive, often boasting that he was not sorry to approve every of Buhari’s request.

Most of the APC stalwarts, who served in the Buhari administration are facing one form of persecution or another. Some of them are a former Accountant General, Ahmed Idris; a former Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, former Central Bank of Nigeria governor, Godwin Emefiele, and a former Minister of Aviation, Hadid Sirika. These men are said to have been involved in huge financial crises.

The former Accountant General is said to have stolen a whopping N109 billion, and was arraigned on a 13-count charge bordering on alleged misappropriation.

In one of the charges, the EFCC said between February and December 2021, Mr Idris accepted from Mr Akindele, a gratification of N15.1 billion, which sum was as a motive for accelerating the payment of 13 per cent derivation to the nine oil-producing states in the Federation, through the office of the Accountant General of the Federation.

Also, it alleged that N84.3 billion from the Federal Government’s account was cornered by Mr Idris and the second defendant (Mr Akindele) between February and November 2021.

According to the charges, the alleged offences violate sections 155 and 315 of the Penal Code Act Cap 532 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 1990.

Idris, according to the EFCC admitted to all the charges, and agreed to a plea bargain. He however, claimed he was deceived to admittance by the EFCC.

On his part, the former Aviation Minister, sold the nation a bogus national carrier, and ‘pocketed’ N85.42 billion for eight years while working on Nigeria Air that never was.

Data by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) and Compilation of Budgetary Allocations show that the Federal Government spent N85.42billion on transaction advisers, working capital and consultancy bills for Nigeria Air between 2016 and 2023.

Despite the huge amount spent on the national carrier, the airline has not only failed to secure Air Operating Certificate, an approval granted by a Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) to an aircraft operator to allow it use aircraft for commercial flight operations, but has also not secured a single aircraft for its operations.

As Buhari’s administration was close to winding up, stakeholders reminded Sirika of the monies spent on the national carrier and his promise to deliver the project before the administration was over.

Findings show that the former minister of Aviation had contacted Ethiopian Airlines few days before the handover, to provide an aircraft that would be presented to Nigerians as an aircraft belonging to Nigeria Air.

Ethiopian Airline had obliged by repainting and rebranding one of its Boeing 737-860 Max aircraft.

Investigations show that the Boeing 737-800 aircraft has registration Number ET-APL, Mode S Q4005C and serial number: 40965/4075.

The entire process was orchestrated by Sirika to hoodwink Nigerians.

The list of blame games is endless, making Nigerians to wonder if the same men that wrecked the country can repair it, and how long before the regular citizens have a lease a fresh air one more time.

But as it is today, the future awaits a miracle to normalize as it appears bleak.

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Peter Obi Faults INEC’s Report on 2023 Election, Says It’s ‘Medicine After Death’

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Presidential Candidate of Labour Party in the 2023 elections, Peter Obi, has accused the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) of deceiving Nigerians with report of the poll released earlier on Friday.

In the 526-page report of the 2023 elections, formally released ahead of the first anniversary of the election, INEC explained why the IREV failed to upload the presidential results despite the seamless working of the bimodal voter accreditation system (BVAS).

The commission attributed the challenge to technical glitches, which was, however resolved and that this did not in any way affect the credibility of the elections.

Obi, who spoke to Daily Trust through Dr Yunusa Tanko, the Chief Spokesperson, Obi-Datti Campaign Committee, described the report as medicine after death.

“I think the INEC report is medicine after death. The truth about it is that if I didn’t mean that INEC actually deal with this issue as it happened during the election, possibly Nigerians will have believed and trusted this particular report.”

“But here we are, the report of the INEC which signifies that the IREV refused to function or been uploaded during the election is false. Considering the fact that there were three elections that happened on that day, the Federal House of Representatives, the Senate, and the result was uploaded and there was no issue.

“Why must there be issue as regard to the presidential election? So totally for us is deceit, disdain for the people and is trying to promote an indecency,” he said.

He lamented that unfortunately everyone knew when INEC gave a written document, citing that they would not agree with any result that is not posted on the IREV.

“It is documented and everybody saw it. But then this is the same INEC who went again to the Supreme Court citing that they had an authority to collate the result manually and it was stamped on authority on illegality by our judiciary.

“And you want to convince me that that particular issue of glitch was not done deliberately? The truth is that nobody was arrested. Somebody ought to have been arrested who has been saddled with that responsibility.

“And if he is saddled with the responsibility, he must be held responsible and account for why the glitches occur.

“And even if there was a glitch, it’s just like your network taking off. It shouldn’t take up to a whole day. A few seconds it is off, three seconds it is back. Why was the server not back or why is the glitch not resolved?

“So for me and many of us, this is totally unacceptable. The report is deceitful to the Nigerian people. Our electoral Act and electoral law must be revisited to give clarity as regard to the process of our election.

“We don’t want to give any lacuna to any of our election process and give room for the judiciary only to decide who wins election. Election should be done and dusted at the polling units,” he said.

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Akpabio Lied, No State Received N30bn from FIRS – Makinde

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Oyo State Governor and Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum, Seyi Makinde, on Thursday, declared that there was no truth in the claim by the Senate President, Godswill Akpabio, that states of the federation got an additional N30 billion each outside of their statutory revenue allocations, to address food insecurity in their states.

A statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Suleiman Olarenwaju in Ibadan, the state capital, said the state has not received any N30 billion from the Federal Inland Revenue Service or the Federal Government, and that his administration has been and will always be open and transparent to the people of the state.

The Governor, who added that he has been doing everything to cushion the effects of the economic hardship on the people, warned that leaders should instill confidence and hope in the citizenry in this trying time rather than playing the blame game.

Makinde stated this in Iseyin where he commissioned the newly-renovated multi-billion naira Iseyin Central Mosque facilitated by a legal icon, Ahmed Raji, SAN, hailing the religious harmony in the state as being exemplary.

The Governor decried Akpabio’s reliance on unverified reports, clarifying that states couldn’t get funds from the FIRS, since all revenues go into the Federation Account and belong to the FG, states and local governments.

“The only fund that Oyo State got from the Federal Government outside of statutory allocation was N2 billion out of the N5 billion promised to all states in the wake of the removal of fuel subsidy, adding that the Federal Government had even been asking for the refund of the N2 billion,” he stated.

Makinde added that his government has been doing its best to mitigate the hardship on residents of the state, having been the first to announce and implement measures to cushion the effect of the hardship through the Sustainable Action for Economic Recovery.

He said, “This is a very difficult period in our nation’s history because all of us are aware of what we are going through economically. But for us as an administration, I can say we are the first in Nigeria to announce and implement measures on the 9th of June 2023, to cushion the effect of this policy through SAFER.

“We have been doing our bit. And the reason I came here is for us to talk to ourselves and intensify prayers. So, this is one of the edifices through which we can reach God, though we have done our bit. We have health insurance for our own people, we give farm inputs to our farmers but, at this stage, we need to cry to God.

“For the workers, we have been paying a wage award; N25,000 for workers and N15,000 for pensioners, and we have paid for close to six months. Only last week, I announced an extension for another six months so that we can have the time to conclude the discussion on minimum wage. Well, we know there is much to be done and we will continue to do everything within our power to support our people through this hard time.”

Makinde cautioned that “this is not the time to play politics, as we have real issues that deserve real solutions. But yesterday, I saw the video and read in the news where the Senate President, Senator Godswill Akpabio, made a statement, though he said it was an unverified report, stating that the state governments received an additional N30 billion from the Federal Inland Revenue Service, FIRS, outside of our statutory allocation, in the last few months, to address food security.”

The Governor added, “Please, listen to me loud and clear. I can speak for Oyo State and can also speak for any of my colleagues. This is because, as the Vice Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, I know when things are happening.

“If I want to play politics, I will keep quiet and let this slide, but I am not going to let this slide. FIRS cannot give money to any state. It is not possible. All revenues accruing to the country go into the federation account and it is distributed to all tiers of government.  The FG does not give states money. The money in the federation belongs to all of us; it does not only belong to the Federal Government.

“So, if the Senate President, who is the number three citizen in this country, could be quoting an unverified report, people are looking at us as leaders. This is the period that we are supposed to give confidence to our people. It is not the period to start playing politics or to start looking for scapegoats.”

“We need to engage with our people. If our policies are not working, we need to listen to the people and amend them. So, if the number three citizen had nothing but an unverified report, why did he need to say it? Does his statement give confidence to the people or solve the problem of hunger and anger in the land?” he queried.

“Let me say it clearly, as for Oyo State and for most of my colleagues, there is nothing like N30 billion being given to states for food security and I stand to be challenged.

“Yes, the Federal Government promised the states N5 billion and out of that, it only gave N2 billion and they are even asking that the N2 billion should be refunded right now.

“It is the responsibility of the Federal Government to manage the fiscal situation in Nigeria and manage the inflationary trend we have in the country right now.

“We have been transparent about everything we are doing here and this is the time for us to stay together as a nation to solve the problems we are facing. It is not the time to engage in blame games and propaganda. Hunger and anger are real and, as leaders, we must address them.”

Also speaking, the Sultan of Sokoto, Sa’ad Abubakar, appreciated Makinde for attending the event and for speaking passionately as expected of leaders, saying the state governor is on the right track.

Earlier, the facilitator of the Iseyin Central Mosque renovation project, Raji, appreciated the governor for his presence, urging citizens of the country to continue to pray for its leaders and to pray to God to lessen the burden of the people.

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