The Aare Ona Kakanfo of Yoruba land, Chief Gani Adams, on Thursday took on the Special Adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, on the claim that life had improved under Buhari’s watch.
This was as Prof Akin Onigbinde described the statistics on Buhari’s achievements as “the reality that we cannot see.”
The three men were among speakers at the 2nd annual lecture of Freedom Online, which held in Ikeja, Lagos on Thursday.
At the event, which had the Ekiti State Governor, Dr Kayode Fayemi, as guest speaker, both Adesina and Adams were guests of honour while Onigbinde was the keynote speaker.
Among other dignitaries on the occasion were former governors of Ogun and Abia states, Otunba Gbenga Daniel and Dr Orji Uzor Kalu, respectively.
Adesina had reeled out statistics on the achievements of the Buhari’s administration since 2015, saying only those who chose to be wilfully blind would not acknowledge government’s achievements.
Adesina said under Buhari’s watch in 2017, Nigeria’s agricultural export grew by 180.7 per cent; while raw materials export in the same year rose by 150.2 per cent.
“Before we export, it means that, to a large extent, we have satisfied domestic demand,” he said.
He added that rice importation had reduced by 90 per cent, saving the country billions of dollars on a daily basis.
“How about the stock market in 2017? The Nigerian stock market ended as one of the best performing in the world.
“Five million new taxpayers were added since 2016,” Adesina said, adding that between 2016 and 2017 government spent N2.7tn on infrastructure, “unprecedented in Nigeria’s history.”
Adesina said it was only those playing politics that would claim not to have seen or felt the impact of government’s achievements.
“If you choose to be wilfully blind, even if they put something in your face you won’t be able to see it,” the presidential spokesman said.
But in his remarks, Adams said though Adesina’s analysis was beautiful, it meant little to the man on the street.
He said, “You made a very good analysis, but by the time we check it, I know you are a very honest person and you are telling us the truth, but with this analysis, I think the grass-roots people should feel the government; they should feel the impact of government by all means.
“I am a regular traveller; I’ve travelled to about 46 countries and I know what is happening in the developed world and when you see most of their economic analysts, they won’t tell you what they are doing theoretically but you will see what is happening.”
He, therefore, called on Adesina to go back to Abuja and tell the President that the people were hungry.
He said, “When my brother, Mr Femi Adesina was making the analysis, it got to a point, I was so shocked because I know the background of my brother, Femi Adesina, as a brilliant journalist. When he was at The Sun Newspaper, you’d love to read his articles and for trying to package their government, I was not surprised.”
Turning to Adesina, the Aare Ona Kakanfo said, “But I want you to pass this message to the President because I remember when President Goodluck Jonathan was in power, he said when they are in that Villa, it’s just like being in a prison or a cage; they don’t know what is happening at the grass roots. But coming to this event, we need to pass this information that you can tell Mr President that Nigerians are suffering. Ebi n pa awon ara ilu (the people are hungry).”
Earlier, Onigbinde had described Adesina’s analysis as “the reality that we cannot see.”
Onigbinde said, “I welcome my friend, Adesina, telling us the reality we cannot see; we are not wearing glasses, these are things I encounter on a daily basis. I have heard about the Metro Rice in Ogun State, I saw it only on television; it is not in Daleko Market and the rice is also not in Kuto.
“I live in Bodija, I can’t see this rice. But Femi is my brother, he has a duty to direct our gaze to what we cannot see and we begin to see things in our imagination.”
In his lecture, Fayemi, who was represented by his Special Adviser on Investment and Trade, Mr Akin Oyebode, said Nigeria must commit huge investment to health care and education.
He said, “No economy can develop without a healthy and competent workforce. Therefore, education and health care are critical social investments required to develop our nation. This is why we must continue to expand the health insurance and ensure that the poorest people get coverage.”
Buhari Reads New Riot Act to Ministers, Heads of Agencies, Others on Foreign Travel
In a bid to curb leakages and ensure efficiency in the management of resources of government, President Muhammadu Buhari has approved for immediate implementation, additional cost saving measures aimed at instilling financial discipline and prudence, particularly, in the area of official travels.
According to a statement issued by the Office of Secretary to the Government of the Federation Wednesday, all Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) are now required to submit their Yearly Travel Plans for statutory meetings and engagements to the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation and/or the Office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation for express clearance within the first quarter of the fiscal year, before implementation.
They are further required to make their presentation using the existing template and also secure approvals on specific travels as contained in the plan, from the appropriate quarters.
On the nature and frequency of travels, the statement said, all public funded travels (local and foreign) must be strictly for official purposes backed with documentary evidence.
”In this regard, all foreign travels must be for highly essential statutory engagements that are beneficial to the interest of the country. Except with the express approval of Mr. President, Ministers, Permanent Secretaries, Chairmen of Extra-Ministerial Departments, Chief Executive Officers and Directors are restricted to not more than two (2) foreign travels in a quarter.”
When a Minister is at the head of an official delegation, according to the statement, the size of such delegation shall not exceed four including the relevant Director, Schedule Officer and one Aide of the Minister.
”Every other delegation below ministerial level shall be restricted to a maximum of three.”
For Class of Air Travels, President Buhari approved that Ministers, Permanent Secretaries, Special Advisers, Senior Special Assistants to the President, Chairmen of Extra-Ministerial Departments and Chief Executive Officers of Parastatals who are entitled would continue to fly Business Class while other categories of Public Officers are to travel on Economy Class.
Also, travel days will no longer attract payment of Estacode Allowances as duration of official trips shall be limited to only the number of days of the event as contained in the supporting documents to qualify for public funding, the statement added.
”The Auditor-General of the Federation has been directed to treat all expenditures that contravene these guidelines as ineligible.”
Police Uncover Another Torture Centre with 300 Inmates in Buhari’s Hometown, Daura
The Police in Katsina State on Monday arrested the owner of a rehabilitation centre in Daura where over 300 inmates were being subjected to inhuman and degrading treatment. Some of the teachers were also said to have sexually molested the inmates at the centre owned by Mallam Bello Maialmajri.
The 78-year-old cleric was arrested alongside two other men, whose names were not disclosed.
Last month, the police in Kaduna State rescued over 300 boys from an Islamic school, where they were allegedly chained, sexually abused and tortured.
The Katsina State Commissioner of Police, Sanusi Buba, who led the operation at about 1pm, expressed shock at the new discovery.
The centre is located at Nasarawa Quarters, in the Sabongari area of Daura.
Daura is President Muhammadu Buhari’s hometown.
After inspecting the rehabilitation centre, Buba ordered the Daura Divisional Police Officer, ASP M.O.Wakili, cordon off the centre.
The CP said, “We learnt that the inmates here are over 300. The inmates revolted yesterday (Sunday) because of the inhuman treatment they were being subjected to.
“Some of the inmates escaped while the ones you are seeing, about 60, stayed back.
“The inmates are from various parts of Nigeria, including Katsina, as well as from Niger Republic. I will meet with the Emir of Daura and Governor Aminu Masari on the issue. We will do the profiling of the remaining inmates to determine where they are from and we will thereafter appeal to their parents and their guardians to come and collect them.”
He added, “As you heard from the inmates, apart from being subjected to inhuman treatment, some of their so-called teachers practised homosexual acts with them. Although the teachers escaped when my men came here after the inmates revolted, we shall get all of them and they would face the full wrath of the law.
“From what I have seen here, the old man, who is the owner of this place and who is over 78 years old, does not have the capacity and facilities to run this place again.”
One of the inmates, Abubakar Saminu,16, from Yobe State said his parents brought him to the centre because he was always stealing.
He said,”My parents brought me here because they believed I would be cured of my stealing problem. But they would beat us, starve us and subject us to inhuman treatment here.”
It was learnt that Maialmajri had already handed the running of the centre to his son, Umar, who reportedly escaped when police arrived.
The Emir of Daura, Dr . Umar Farouq, who spoke in Hausa, said, “We in Daura will not support any act of lawlessness. We want the law to take its course.”
Charges Against Sowore, Mockery of Justice System – SERAP
Anti-corruption advocacy group, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, has urged the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami (SAN), to enter a nolle prosequi to terminate the charges filed against the convener of #RevolutionNow protest, Omoyele Sowore, and Olawale Bakare, alias Mandate.
In an open letter on Sunday by its Deputy Director, Kolawole Oludare, SERAP said the charges which centre on insulting President Muhammadu Buhari would only make a mockery of the Nigerian criminal justice system.
SERAP advised Malami to activate his power of nolle prosequi under Section 174 of the constitution to terminate the charges against Sowore and Mandate “and several other similar trumped-up cases going on in several states.”
SERAP said, “Sowore’s case and several similar cases instigated/brought by state governors make a hideous mockery of Nigeria’s criminal justice system, rule of law, freedom of expression and media freedom.
“These cases are persecution and not prosecution. As a guardian of the public interest, you (Malami) have a role to end this travesty now, and to maintain the sanctity and integrity of Nigeria’s justice system.
“These cases set a dangerous precedent for the misuse and subversion of the justice system, which may lead to the politicisation of judiciary. This will be bad for everyone – ordinary citizens, journalists and even the politicians in power, as they may themselves become targets of these repressive and abusive tactics when they are out of power/in opposition.”
SERAP said while the Federal Government had the responsibility to prevent and prosecute criminal offences, it ought to do so lawfully, and in full compliance with human rights and the rule of law.
Also, a Lagos-based lawyer, Mr Solomon Okedara, described Section 24(1) of the Cybercrime Act under which Sowore was charged with insulting the President as “repressive, oppressive and largely unconstitutional.”
Okedara said, “In fact, I am of the opinion that proceeding with such a charge particularly when the person allegedly insulted is the President will rather paint the image of the President and the country in bad light before the comity of nations.
“This is aside the fact that Section 24 of the Cybercrime Act does not meet the requirement of permissible restriction to freedom of expression. Having worked on the Cybercrime Act and indeed Section 24 both as a practitioner and researcher, it is clear that Section 24 of the Cybercrime Act is indeed an insult to our hard-earned democracy and same does not deserve a place in our laws.”
Meanwhile, the Executive Chairman, Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, Mr Debo Adeniran, has advised President Muhammadu Buhari not to allow himself to be embarrassed Malami against Sowore.
Adeniran, who described the charges against Sowore as trumped-up and face-saving, argued that it was obvious that government had no grounds to continue to hold Sowore.
The CACOL chairman said this in a Facebook post on Sunday.
He said, “FG has no good reason to hold Sowore anymore; the trumped-up charges are (a) face-saving strategy with no substance!
“President Buhari, please don’t allow Malami to embarrass you any further. Order Sowore’s immediate release and damn it!”