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PDP, Ohaneze, others express disappointment over President Buhari’s Independence day speech

Benjamin Ukpabi

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Prominent Nigerians and groups, including the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Afenifere, Ohanaeze, Middle Belt Forum and Northern Elders Forum, have expressed disappointment at the Independence Day speech by President Muhammadu Buhari.

They criticised him for justifying the increase in fuel price, not accepting responsibility for challenges facing the country, and always passing the buck. They regretted that the president failed to proffer solutions to the challenges confronting the country.

PDP described the economic assertions, in the broadcast as a huge slap on the sensibilities of Nigerians.

The PDP, in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, charged President Buhari to wake up to reality and take urgent steps to address alleged divisive tendencies and poor economic policies of his administration.

The party said it was worrisome that the broadcast did not address demands by Nigerians that the president should rejig his security architecture to inject new blood that will effectively confront security challenges.

The opposition said Buhari ‘s attempt to justify recent hike in the pump price of fuel by comparing the equivalent of N168 per liter cost in Saudi Arabia was a morbid joke.

It stated the 3,000 Saudi Riyals, an equivalent of N305,113 minimum wage in Saudi Arabia is ten times higher than the ‘paltry’ N30,000 in Nigeria.

“Is Mr. President not aware that on the average, a person working in Saudi Arabia earns around 4,230SAR (N430, 267) to 16,700 SAR (N1,698,693) per month? Our party charges Mr. President to always check his books before making such offensive comparisons including the price in Egypt where monthly average earning is around N222, 841 (9,200 EGP) against our N30,000.

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“In comparing our costs with other countries such as Ghana, Chad and Niger where purchasing powers of citizens are much more higher, did Mr. President reflect on the cost of house rent, education, healthcare and average dependence on fuel for daily survival by ordinary citizens as obtainable in Nigeria?

“If the flawed assertions as evident in Mr. President’s speech are a direct reflection of how policies are formulated in his administration, then one needs not wonder why our economy is in doldrums.”

In its reaction, the pan-Yoruba group, Afenifere wondered why the president rather than address the challenges facing the citizens and the country chose to justify the recent increase in the pump price of petrol.

Its spokesman, Yinka Odumakin, said: “In the midst of what Nigeria is going through at 60, the president is justifying the increase in pump price, comparing fuel pump price in Nigeria with Ghana and the rest of them. Has he forgotten the promises he made to Nigerians in 2014 on how he will fix the country’s refineries? How prices of petroleum products will become cheaper? Only for him to be telling us these kinds of things after five years in office? I don’t believe he has done anything.“

He dismissed the accusations against past administrations between 1999 and 2015, saying the accusations were baseless as the incumbent administration has not done anything to improve the situation.

National Publicity Secretary of Ohanaeze, Ndigbo, Uche Achi-Okpaga described the president’s speech as mere window dressing, saying he (Buhari) just wished Nigerians a happy 60th independence anniversary because he did not address any issue.

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He also disagreed with the president’s position that after the war, the country forged ahead with focus on the 3R of reconstruction, rehabilitation and reconciliation.

Chairman, Northern Elders Forum (NEF) and former vice chancellor, Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria, Prof. Ango Abdullahi, said Buhari’s administration has failed.

The visibly angry professor of agronomy said he had little or nothing to say about the government because he had made his position known over the years.

“Well, as I speak to you, I am in Bauchi, I am not in Zaria. But I don’t have much to say because I have made my position known long ago about this government. It is a failed government,” he said.

President of the Middle Belt Forum, Dr. Bitrus Porgu, described as unfortunate the statement that past leaders between 1999 and 2015, who almost destroyed Nigeria were criticising his administration. He lamented that in spite of the colossal failure of Buhari’s administration, he still chose to criticise his predecessors.

He noted that when former president Obasanjo took over from Abdusalami Abubakar in 1999, crude was selling at $9 per barrel, the lowest ever but that did not deter Obasanjo, rather he pulled the economy up by bringing in competent hands to work with him.

“That was how he grew the economy and handed it over to Yar’Adua. Yar’Adua did his best but he didn’t last long. He resolved the Niger Delta crisis and Nigeria was moving forward until Jonathan came.”

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He also stated that Jonathan handed over a robust economy to Buhari, who regrettably has brought hardship upon Nigerians.

“Today, we don’t even trust one another. There has never been this level of nepotism in any government in Nigeria since independence. Everybody has to be Fulani. Even for those of us in the Middle Belt, it is either you are a Fulani or a Muslim but Nigeria cannot work that way.”

Leader of the Arewa Youths Consultative Forum, Yerima Shettima described the speech as a yearly recycled address that raised issues without proffering solutions.

“He has not said anything different from what we are used to. He keeps saying the same thing over and over. I don’t think Nigerians are impressed with the broadcast, it is so unfortunate. Insecurity and the unity of Nigeria which has been threatened is no story to Nigerians today. The fact that we are more divided which he alluded to was not different from what we have heard. I’m afraid for the country. However, Nigerians should remain optimistic that God will provide a way but we must also take our destiny into our hands because these our leaders have nothing to offer.”

Meanwhile, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has said improving governance and social cohesion will require strengthening of institutions established to fight corruption.

Mr Adetokunbo Mumuni, executive director said the country’s anti-corruption war had yet to be impressive.

“The court system must be strengthened, laws must be strengthened; other institutions such as the police, established to enforce laws, must also be strengthened

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Insecurity: Reps Ask Buhari To Declare State Of Emergency

Wisdom Nwachukwu

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WORRIED by the worsening security situation in the country, the House of Representatives on Tuesday urged President Muhammadu Buhari to immediately declare a state of emergency on insecurity to effectively curb the ugly development.

The Speaker, Honourable Femi Gbajabiamila, disclosed this while reading the resolutions approved after a fourhour executive session held on the floor of the Green Chamber, during which lawmakers condemned attacks on security agents and formations across the country.

To this end, the House resolved to invite the National Security Adviser (NSA), Babagana Mongunu; the service chiefs and other heads of various paramilitary agencies to appear before it and brief the members on the security situation in the country.

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The House also mandated all its security committees to immediately commence comprehensive audit of all military and paramilitary assets and arms in the Armed Services and revert back to the House within four weeks.

Gbajabiamila, who read the resolution, said: “The House reiterates its commitment to the security and corporate existence of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and would, therefore, accelerate its engagement with stakeholders on a special security summit to be organised by the House of Representatives.

“The House should urgently invite the NSA, service chiefs, and paramilitary chiefs, Controller-General of the Nigeria Customs Service and the Managing Director of NIGCOMSAT to brief the House on the security situation in the country.

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“Considering the security situation, the President should immediately declare a state of emergency on insecurity so as to fast track all measures to ensure the restoration of peace in the country.

“Call on the judiciary to accelerate the prosecution of those awaiting trial due to banditry, terrorism and other criminal activities.

“Provide emergency relief to all communities that have been adversely affected by recent attacks across the country.

“The President should as a matter of urgency, ensure financial autonomy to Local Government Councils to guarantee their functionality to serve the local populace.

“The Federal Government should ensure the protection of National Infrastructure assets, particularly the  Shiroro and Kainji Dams in Niger State. 

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“The House mandated all its Security Committees to immediately commence comprehensive audit of all military and paramilitary assets and arms in our Armed Services and revert back to the House within four weeks.

“That the number of personnel in the Police and Military falls far short of the required number to effectively secure the country and calls for immediate recruitment to this effect,” the resolution read.

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Buhari Is Helping Fulanis Take Over, There Is No Govt in Nigeria – Governor Ortom

Wisdom Nwachukwu

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Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom has accused President Muhammadu Buhari of working for Fulanis. He said the country has no government following incessant killings by bandits and Fulani herdsmen in his state.

He lamented that over 70 people have been murdered in two weeks in Makurdi Local Government Area. Ortom spoke to protesters on Tuesday at the Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camp in Abagena village. Suspected herdsmen, Monday night, killed citizens and wounded many others. “What is happening now, to me, is very clear; Mr President is just working for these Fulanis to take over the whole country.”

He said Buhari’s body language is what is being played out and that the action and inaction of Mr President “shows that he is only the President of Fulani people”. Ortom decried that attackers regularly send indigenes away from their homes, yet go to kill them where they take refuge.

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Ortom called them “Fulani herdsmen”, stressing that They are not bandits. They are Fulanis. We saw and heard them speak the language.” The Benue helmsman stated that the federal authorities have been dragging foot on the matter.

“If the federal government had taken a proactive step, we will not be where we are. In the last two weeks, over 70 persons have been killed just in Makurdi Local Government Area alone.”

Noting that the situation is not acceptable, Ortom said similar killings were going on in Guma and Gwer-West. Ortom recalled he alerted Nigerians when Fulanis from 14 countries met in Yola, the Adamawa State capital.

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He said they declared that except the prohibition of open grazing law was reviewed, “Benue will not know peace.” The governor wondered why the federal government was yet to arrest the leaders of Miyetti Allah that hosted the meeting. “It means we don’t have a government”, he declared.

“Mr President must do the needful and I want to suggest that immediately, let there be a security summit. I am aware that the situation is prevalent in other parts of the country.”
On Monday, the police command in Benue State also confirmed the kidnap of three students of the Federal University of Agriculture in Makurdi.

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Freeze Pantami’s Accounts – Rinu Oduala Urges CBN

Wisdom Nwachukwu

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An #EndSARS campaigner, Rinu Oduala, has urged the Central Bank of Nigeria to freeze the bank accounts of the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami, over his past controversial comments supporting the activities of terrorist groups including Taliban and Al-Qaeda.

Pantami had since renounced his radical pro-terrorists comments, saying he now knows better but Nigerians have been unsparing and relentless in the call for the resignation or sacking of the minister.

Oduala, who tweeted via @SavvyRinu on Thursday, urged the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele to freeze Pantami’s accounts just as the apex bank swiftly froze the accounts of at least 20 #EndSARS promoters last year over terrorism-related allegations.

“Godwin Emefiele, when are you going to freeze the bank accounts of Isa Pantami?”

The PUNCH had reported that the apex bank through an ex parte order froze the accounts of Oduala and 19 other persons who played a role in the October 2020 #EndSARS protests against police brutality and extrajudicial killings.

The CBN had said the accounts were frozen because of the nature of the investigation which was terrorism-related but after about three months, a Federal High Court in Abuja ordered the apex bank to unfreeze the accounts of the 20 #EndSARS protesters.

Oduala, a leading voice during the #EndSARS protests last year, had pulled out of the Lagos State Judicial Panel of Inquiry probing alleged killing of protesters by soldiers at the Lekki toll gate. She had faulted the decision of the retired Justice Doris Okuwobi-led panel to reopen the toll gate when justice hasn’t been served to the victims of the October 20, 2020 Lekki shootings.

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