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Buhari Blames Flood, Insecurity, Middlemen For Rising Food Prices

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Buhari Blames Flood, Insecurity, Middlemen For Rising Food Prices
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Buhari Blames Flood, Insecurity, Middlemen For Rising Food Prices

President Muhammadu Buhari has cited prevalence of excessive flooding, insecurity and unscrupulous practices of food products’ middlemen as some of the reasons for current high cost of food commodities in the market.

Buhari offered the explanation on Monday in his Sallah message to Nigerians, especially Muslims, to mark this year’s Eid El-Kabir celebration.

The President also restated the determination of his administration to create a just, harmonious and prosperous country in which the safety of life and property is assured.

According to his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, the President, observed his administration, more than any other before, had put huge investment into the agricultural sector.

He appealed to Nigerians to be patient with the administration over the situation, assuring government was already working on easing the tension caused by some of the mentioned factors.

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Buhari Blames Flood, Insecurity, Middlemen For Rising Food Prices

Reflecting on current challenges facing the country, the President stated: “COVID-19 pandemic has taken a heavy toll on the economies of all countries, including Nigeria, in addition to the fact that floods have caused large scale destruction to agricultural farmlands, thereby impacting negatively on our efforts to boost local production in line with our policy to drastically reduce food importation.This, he explains, has led to food inflation which the government is working hard to address.

According to Buhari: “No government in our recent history has invested as heavily as we are doing to promote local production of about 20 other commodities, through the provision of loans and several other forms of support to our farmers.

He said: “Apart from the destruction caused to rice farms by floods, middlemen have also taken advantage of the local rice production to exploit fellow Nigerians, thereby undermining our goal of supporting local food production at affordable prices.”

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“As an elected President who enjoys the goodwill of the ordinary people that gave us their mandate, let me assure you that we are continuing with measures to bring relief to Nigerians, including making fertilizer available at affordable prices to our farmers.”

The President also notes that the current insecurity in the country “has produced severe and adverse effects on agriculture because farmers are prevented from accessing their farms by bandits and terrorists.”

“Let me also use this opportunity to reassure Nigerians that we are taking measures to address our security challenges.We have started taking delivery of fighter aircraft and other necessary military equipment and hardware to improve the capacity of our security forces to confront terrorism and banditry,” he adds.

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Speaking on the significance of the Eid El-Kabir celebration, the President appealed to Muslims “to demonstrate the good virtues of Islam through personal examples and practices: Taking advantage of the celebration to exploit fellow citizens through outrageous prices of food and rams is inconsistent with fine virtues of Islam.

“As practising believers, we shouldn’t seek obscene profits by making life difficult and miserable for others.We should not seek happiness at the expense of others. Remember that Islam is a religion of charity that urges us to love our neighbour as we love ourselves.

“I urge all Muslims to continue to live in peace and harmony with their fellow Nigerians of other faiths in the spirit of peaceful coexistence.Let us pray for the progress of Nigeria at all times. Let us expose undesirable elements among us who are creating security problems for the country.”

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₦17 Billion Paris Club Refund Landed Obiano On EFCC’s Watch List

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₦17 Billion Paris Club Refund Landed Obiano On EFCC’s Watch List
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₦17 Billion Paris Club Refund Landed Obiano On EFCC’s Watch List

Governor of Anambra State, Willie Obiano, was placed on a watchlist by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission for allegedly mismanaging over N17 billion Paris Club refund and security vote, investigations by Saturday PUNCH have revealed.

Our correspondent gathered that the governor who is presently out of the country had been under investigation for carrying out various white elephant, including the Umueri International Airport project which cost was believed to be inflated.

It was learnt that the EFCC had earlier invited some commissioners and principal officers over the alleged mismanagement of the state funds.

The Federal Government had shared N388.3bn among the 36 states and the Federal Capital as part of the reimbursement for the over-deduction on the Paris Club loan in December 2016.

Seven states reportedly got above N14bn, four states got over N13bn, two states received above N11bn and five other states were given amounts above N10bn while the remaining 11 states got less than N10bn each.

Anambra State was said to have received N11.3bn.

The state governments had submitted their claims of over-deductions for external debt service arising between 1995 and 2002 to the Federal Government due to the First Line Charge deductions from Federation Account Allocation Committee allocations.

The debt service deductions concern the Paris Club, London Club and multilateral debts of the Federal Government and the states.

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Many of the states reportedly shared their portions with their local governments mostly to settle the backlog of salaries and some of the state debts.

The FG subsequently released the second tranche of the Paris Club refund totalling N243.7bn which was shared to the states and the Federal Capital Territory following the approval of the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.) on May 4, 2017.

Anambra State reportedly got over N6bn from the fund which was said to have been misappropriated.

The state’s loan burden under Obiano was also said to have ballooned to $111.48million. The facility was taken from China, India and other international organisations.

Many citizens of Anambra State were said to have petitioned the EFCC, accusing the governor of allegedly frittering away the huge sums of money left behind by his predecessor, Mr Peter Obi.

They also accused the governor of burdening the state with debts without much to show for it.

The anti-graft agency had in a letter dated November 15, 2021 placed the outgoing governor on its watchlist and directed the Nigeria Immigration Service to stop him from leaving the nation through any of the international airports in the country.

The commission was said to have commenced a discreet investigation of the governor and possibly have intelligence that he plans to escape after he hands over power to his successor, Prof Charles Soludo, in March.

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Obi reportedly left billions of naira in the state’s coffers for his predecessor while handing over in 2014.

During a face-off with Obiano, the former People’s Democratic Party Vice Presidential candidate in the 2019 elections claimed he left N2.1bn in First Bank account no. 2018779464 for Oko erosion; N4.9bn in Sure-P Diamond account 0026290200; N1.7bn in Universal Basic Education Commission 1 Diamond account 0023484282; N2.1bn in UBEC 2 Diamond account 0031151473; over N4bn in many MDG accounts one of which was the N3.048bn in Fidelity Bank 5030047097 and over N35bn cash (set aside funds added) in all the banks.

Obiano also reportedly inherited $156 million in Fidelity Bank, $50m in Diamond Bank and another $50m in Access Bank, which sources said was mismanaged.

The Governor was also accused of not developing the state as residents complained of bad roads and the absence of infrastructure.

A source said, “Take the Umueri international airport, which was being built at N16 billion. The state government initially budgeted N6billion for the project in its 2020 budget. In the 2022 budget, it allocated an additional N10bn for the same project which was located in his hometown.

“Investigators believe the project was being used to launder and siphon money from the state coffers. Apart from this, the governor is expected to explain how he utilised the Paris Club funds, the security vote and other allocations when he meets with our investigators because the money he spent doesn’t seem to be commensurate with the projects on the ground.”

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But the state Commissioner for Information and Public Enlightenment, Don Adinuba, claimed that the EFCC’s move against his boss was politically motivated by the All Progressives Congress.

Speaking on Politics Today, a current affairs programme on Channels Television on Thursday, he stated, “Nobody invited him (the governor) to interrogate him or hear his side of the story. No petition was presented to him. He did not make any comments. But all of a sudden, the EFCC announced rather secretly…using the media as a third party…to announce that he is being watched. That is very surprising.

“There is absolutely no reason for that. And worse, the EFCC gave the impression that the governor wants to bolt away when he has a whole four months to remain in office.

“It is unimaginable that a governor will abandon a state a whole four months to the end of his tenure. That is surprising. It just does not make sense to anyone simply because the whole exercise is politically motivated.”

The EFCC spokesman, Wilson Uwujaren, declined to comment on Adinuba’s allegations when contacted on Friday. “I don’t comment on such things,” he said on the phone.

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Garba Shehu: Buhari Deserves Credit For Tackling Insecurity

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Garba Shehu: Buhari Deserves Credit For Tackling Insecurity
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Garba Shehu: Buhari Deserves Credit For Tackling Insecurity

Malam Garba Shehu, the Senior Special Assistant to President Muhammad Buhari on Media and Publicity, said the president deserves credit for tackling insecurity, especially Boko Haram and farmer/herder crisis

Shehu made this claim on Friday while presenting a paper, tagged ‘Fake news: Challenges of information management’, at the 10th anniversary of the Federal University Dutsin-Ma (FUDMA), in Katsina State.

“It is a fact that the Buhari administration is the only government of Nigeria that has put forward a workable solution to the herder-farmer challenge in all the years since independence.

“The threat to civilians and peaceful co-existence between different ethnic and religious groups from farmer-herders clashes, banditry and land disputes are of serious concern to the Buhari government.

“It is incorrect, however, to assert that the government has or is doing nothing to address the threats.

“Firstly, there are ongoing efforts for the establishment of cattle ranches to prevent or curtail open grazing, the practice that brings herders and farmers into conflict.

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“This is an age-old problem facing Nigerian Governments since the colonial days. However, matters of land distribution are dealt with at the state level.

“This means willingness has to be shown by state governors to drive the process forward. The Federal government launched a plan last year to work with states to address these issues together.

“Unfortunately, this has been lacking in some states, and with regards to the long and determined battle waged against Boko Haram, Nigerians are aware of the efforts made by this Government.

“When the government came to power, the terrorist group held and administered an area the size of Belgium. Now they hold none. The terrorists are hiding out amongst remote forests and across borders.

“This makes it difficult to extinguish the final flames of the insurgency, and the government has no illusions of the potent threat still posed.

“Recent statistics have shown that over 14,500 Boko haram members have voluntarily surrendered.

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“However, the progress made cannot be denied. In the face of rising crime and insecurity, the government’s new community policing initiative was launched.

“Some 10,000 new constables were recruited and the process is on for another 10,000 to be recruited from the areas they will safeguard as opposed to past practice.

“The government hopes this will bring policing closer to local communities. N13 billion was earmarked for the initial initiative. Going by the plan, every year will see an additional 10,000 policemen.

“It is an opinion that the president’s comments on IPOB, which led the banning of Twitter in Nigeria was controversial. For many, it was not.

“President Buhari has therefore been warning against social media disruptive and divisive influences, and the government’s action is not a knee-jerk reaction to Twitter’s preposterous deletion of his tweet which should have been read in full.

“The tweet was not a threat, but a statement of fact. As a terrorist organisation, IPOB poses a significant threat to the safety and security of Nigerian citizens.

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“When the President said that they will be treated “in a language they understand,” he merely reiterated that their force shall be met with force. It is a basic principle of security services response world over.

“This is not a promotion of hate, but a pledge to uphold citizens’ right to freedom from harm. The government cannot be expected to capitulate to terrorists,” according to Shehu.

Earlier in his welcome address, the Vice-Chancellor (VC) of the University, Prof. Armaya’u Hamisu-Bichi, said it is a great pleasure to witness a decade of existence of the institution.

“It is not an easy task to develop an institution from the scratch to its present level, saying it is the best among other universities FUDMA was established together with.

He also narrated the challenges the university’s management has passed through in the past 10 years before it attained its present status.

The university, during the event, rewarded some of its staff for their commitments and dedication to duty.

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Sheikh Gumi: Declaration Of Bandits As Terrorists Won’t Change Anything

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Sheikh Gumi: Declaration Of Bandits As Terrorists Won’t Change Anything
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Sheikh Gumi: Declaration Of Bandits As Terrorists Won’t Change Anything

Declaring bandits as terrorists is just a decision taken for political expediency, renowned Islamic scholar, Sheikh Ahmad Gumi, has said.

According to him, “I think the Federal Government has succumbed to media blackmail by a section of the country.

“It will not have any practical value because even before the declaration they are being fought and treated as terrorists.”

The Abuja Division of the Federal High Court had declared proscribed bandit groups as terrorists.

Specifically, the court, in a ruling that was delivered by Justice Taiwo Taiwo, held that activities of Yan Bindiga and Yan Ta’adda bandit groups, constitute acts of terrorism.

In a statement issued by Malam Tukur Mamu ,the Dan-Iyan Fika and Media Consultant to Sheikh Gumi, the Muslim scholar said: “So it’s just a nomenclature which I believe will not change the dynamics on ground.

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“If you can remember, IPOB was also declared a terrorist organisation. The declaration was even backed by the order of the Court, but as you can see even the international community did not recognise FG’s declaration on IPOB.

“So it has failed to be effective or to achieve the desired results.

“They have not been banned from travelling to other countries, while their citizenship remains intact; it has not been denounced. “So what type of declaration is that?

“I sincerely hope that Nigerians will not take the herdsmen as terrorists, but should regard the criminality of the few among them against innocent people as acts of terrorism just as we see IPOB and their attacks on security agencies and other northern citizens as acts of terrorism.

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“Very few herdsmen are bandits if you go through their population.

“I hope this declaration will not give the licence to people to be profiling herdsmen in general as terrorists and taking laws into their hands against them.

“It will cause more mayhem. The declaration will not change anything, it will not change the dynamics. Already the military is engaging them.

“It didn’t stop them from kidnappings and killings. The declaration will not end their aggression against the society.

‘It is a socio-political problem’
“The Fulani banditry is a socio-economic problem. We have seen it, we interacted widely with them.

“We told the federal government the way out. It can only be won through engagement, dialogue and justice.

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“That is why today there is relative peace in the Niger Delta because government have accepted the painful reality of rehabilitating and empowering them.

“There has to be equitable distribution of wealth in Nigeria and justice for every one.

“People don’t want to accept it. Before the issue of banditry that now affects all of us, the Fulani have suffered so much.

“They have lost their legitimate means of livelihood; I mean their cows through cattle rustling and extortion by security agencies.

“That has to be addressed as a means of genuine reconciliation and integration. They should have sense of belonging,” Gumi said.

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