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By Femi Adesina

What’s the deal for youths in the country, particularly from the Muhammadu Buhari administration? That is a question that often comes from different quarters.

Well, the deal for the largest demographic composition, representing about 65% of our population, has been encapsulated under the acronym DEEL. And it’s a big deal, standing for Digital Skill Acquisition, Employability, Entrepreneurship, and Leadership.

Unfolding the deal behind DEEL last week at the State House Press Briefing was Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Sunday Dare, who disclosed that his Ministry has the mandate to promote the physical, mental and socio-economic development of the youth through the advancement and protection of their rights within Nigeria.

But is the job being done? How, and to what end? The Ministry has the duty of developing the youth, and also sports. But let’s focus on the youth component in this piece, as it is quite a germane issue, which often sends those involved into dangerous and illegal migration, in which they dare both the Sahara Desert, and the Mediterranean Sea, all in the bid to get to ‘greener’ pastures in Europe, and other parts of the world.

A few survive the misadventure, while the larger number perish in the famished bowels of the Desert, or the watery enclave of the Sea. But why should our youths stay at home? Minister Dare unfurled the reasons.

DEEL. Digital Skill Acquisition. Entrepreneurship. Employability. Leadership.

Under D, the Minister says a minimum number of 6523 of our youths have been trained in robotics and artificial intelligence. Others have been tutored in mobile device repairs, 30,000 have benefited from what is called Digital Youth Nigeria through the IBM Digital Nation Africa, and 10,000 Youth Corps members benefited in Digital skills training.

There are also trainings in youth entrepreneurship for vulnerable youths, and applicant recruitment across the six geopolitical zones in the country, with a budget of N5.2 billion.

Under E, Entrepreneurship, the sum of N75 billion is to be spent over three years, 2020-2023. Called the Nigeria Youth Investment Fund (NYIF), it is an initiative of the Ministry of Youth and Sports Development, and is funded by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

The aim is to invest in the innovative ideas, skills and talent of our youths, thereby turning them into entrepreneurs, wealth creators and employers of labour, contributing to national development. The intention is to generate 500,000 jobs between 2020-2023.

According to Minister Dare, the sum of N2.9 billion has been disbursed so far under the CBN/NIRSAL arrangement, while 25,000 applicants have been evaluated and are undergoing final stage of training before funds disbursement.

Hear testimonials of some beneficiaries of NYIF: “I will like to send my appreciation to Mr President and the Ministry for the good job done to make sure the fund got to the right people.” Suleiman Abdulkadir.

Yemi Kemi Borisade: “Thank you Mr President for approving this fund through the Ministry of Youth and Sports. God bless Nigeria, God bless Mr President.”

And another beneficiary: “I thank the Federal Government through the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports for the opportunity to benefit and scale up my business.”

About 5,258 youths have already benefited from the MSME loan.

In a digital age, the onus is on literate youths to apply online, to become beneficiaries. They need not look for godfathers to help, as it is available for all and sundry. Our youths need to eschew cynicism and skepticism, and step into what has been provided for them. The saying that “nothing ventured, nothing gained,” still rings true. The testimonies are from different parts of the country under the scheme.

There’s the Nigeria Online Youth Assembly (NOYA), which is a purpose-built portal by the Ministry to enable youths get job opportunities, scholarships for personal development, and it presently has over 98, 300 youths signed up.

Instead of joining NOYA, we have millions of youths who are online, spewing hatred against their country, its leadership, and being purveyors of fake news, and hatred. It’s surely not the way to go.

There are series of opportunities for our youths to improve their employability, and acquire leadership skills. There’s the Work Experience Programme (WEP), designed to provide opportunities for them to obtain technical and work readiness skills that will increase their potential for employment, through placement in various organizations for a period of three months.

Under President Buhari, stipend payable to NYSC members has been increased from N18,000 monthly to N33,000. Over 300,000 youth benefit from this.

Opportunities abound for our youths to benefit from different provisions under DEEL. But they have to go for what has been provided, and not just bemoan their fate, lamenting that nothing is being done for them. Leadership is taken, not given on a platter. They asked for the Not Too Young to Run law, they got it. Let them use what they now have.

The truth is that the focal points of the Buhari administration have been designed to give our youths a future and a hope. When insurgency and banditry are being robustly fought, it is so that the youths can have a country. When efforts are made to retune, diversify and make the economy robust, it is for the youth. And when corrupt people are jailed and their loots recovered, it is for the youths to have a future.

Let there be no disruptive tendencies from our youths again. Let them know that they are stakeholders in the country, their country, and they have roles to play in salvaging Nigeria. It’s a big deal, and DEEL is a good way to get there.

*Adesina is Special Adviser to President Buhari on Media and Publicity

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By Garba Shehu 

The removal of Nigeria from the religious violators watchlist by the Biden-led US administration in the run-up to the visit of Anthony Blinken, the Secretary of State is a triumph of diplomacy and sagacity over hate-driven foreign policy, itself founded on false propaganda.

President Muhammadu Buhari is truly satisfied with the decision by the United States to remove Nigeria from that unwanted list of countries. Blinken said the decision of the Joe Biden Government on this was “based on facts.” 

In expressing the country’s appreciation for this, the President noted that there is freedom of worship in Nigeria, and no one is discriminated against on the basis of his or her faith.

 Since Nigeria was included in December 2020, in the aftermath of the Donald Trump’s election loss, it has taken only 11 months for this decision to be reversed under the Biden administration. 

This sad and uncalled for ban came on the heels of 12 months of lies by some extremist groups and the banned terrorist group the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB’s well-funded international media campaign. 

Nigeria should never have been on the list. It was included after paid right-wing American lobbyists were funded millions of dollars by IPOB to spread falsehoods and misinformation about Nigeria. Those who willingly took money from terrorists spread falsehoods against a democratically elected government. They took advantage of well-meaning, God-fearing Americans to whom they spread their lies.

 Their aim was to drive a wedge, for political advantage, between the two great religions and by doing so, make true their fake claims that Muslims and Christians cannot live side-by-side in love and peace. They did not care if their maliciousness was the cause of religious tension. In fact, it is possible they sought to encourage it to prove their point.  Yet, despite all the funds at their disposal, they only convinced for a brief time those who had been voted out of office by US citizens to add Nigeria to the list. 

It is a fallacy to suggest Nigeria lacks religious freedom. A visit to any city will see a surfeit of posters for religious groups, for Muslims and Christians alike. Nigerians wear our faith on our sleeves.  

Nigeria is one of the most religious nations in the world – near equally balanced between Muslims and Christians. It is well-known the President counts amongst his personal friends many global Christian leaders, though he himself is Muslim; our Vice President is an Evangelical pastor; our cabinet is equally balanced between Christians and Muslims. 

This is not to say there are no tensions. The President and all who serve in his administration know there are. And they are being addressed: for instance, the present administration is the only government since independence to introduce a plan to address farmer-herder clashes. Today that plan is working. Many states are taking the lead in its implementation because they, not the Federal Government control land.

What we said at the time of the listing remains true that the government under President Muhammadu Buhari is run in accordance with our constitution.  The losses of life and threats to the lives of our civilian populations from communal and inter-communal violence, banditry and terrorism are of great concern to the administration.  It is, therefore, incorrect for anyone to assume the position that the government is doing nothing to address these intertwined threats.

This administration has successfully dispossessed terrorists in the Northeast of all land and territory that they held; forcing them into hiding out amongst remote forests and across boarders and they are being fought in those locations. 

To address the cases of violence against the civilian population in the face of the harsh odds imposed by the COVID economy, this administration just recently recruited 10,000 new constables. All arms of the Military and paramilitary agencies have been authorised to recruit additional men.  The procurement of military hardware has been intensified. 

With this egregious listing removed, US-Nigeria relations are now reset, and we can jointly seek resolution to other critical matters - including the fight against terrorists across the Sahel region. This task was complicated by the now reversed decision. To that end, the present administration looks forward to working with the Biden administration on matters, bilateral and multilateral that are important to our friendly states. 

President Buhari is satisfied with the decision by the United States to remove Nigeria from a list of countries deemed to lack religious freedom, placed there by a previous US administration no longer in office.

Garba Shehu is Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity.

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By Femi Adesina

There’s no institution that cannot atrophy or degenerate, if like a fish, it begins to rot from the head. And that was the story of the Nigerian Army at a point in time, when there was a deliberate policy to emasculate and debilitate it, incidentally by leadership that emerged from its very bowels.

Our army had done exploits in Burma, in Congo, at different peace keeping operations in many parts of the world, but by 1993, it had deteriorated to become “an army of anything goes.” Like disorganized Boy Scouts. Pity!

Why should we believe that unflattering appellation? Because it came from one of its very own, a well respected Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Salihu Ibrahim.

Ibrahim had commanded the army from August 1990 to September 1993, and when he was retiring, he lamented that the once revered institution had become “an army of anything goes.”

There was hardly a whimper in protest, because the army itself knew that its Chief spoke the truth. Many years before then, a police spokesman, Alozie Ogbugbuaja, had said all that officers of the army knew how to do was to plan coups, drink beer, “and eat pepper soup.” Great was the umbrage, and that impudent policeman was run out of town.

But by the time Salihu Ibrahim spoke in 1993, the pepper soup was almost no longer there. Gen Ibrahim Babangida, incidentally a former Chief of Army Staff himself, had rendered the institution prostrate and comatose, so much so that it was almost not able to shoot firecrackers again, not to talk of guns, light or heavy.

What Babangida started was consummated by Sani Abacha, and Olusegun Obasanjo, two other Generals of the Nigerian Army. It became truly “anything goes,” to the disquietude and sorrow of some officers trained in the finest traditions of the military.

The situation was not radically better under subsequent Presidents, until that thoroughbred soldier, an officer and gentleman from Daura came. It is said that you can not likely effect change in a system, unless you were sufficiently vexed with the inadequacies of that system. Muhammadu Buhari did not do any other thing after school, other than soldiering. So he knew the Nigerian Army in its days of glory, and he also saw when it had degenerated into “an army of anything goes.”

It is on record today that no Nigerian leader has trained, equipped and motivated the army as much as Muhammadu Buhari has done. The Nigerian Navy and Air Force would have their days, but let us focus on the Nigerian Army today.

When the Boko Haram insurgency started in 2009, it was envisaged that the army would make short work of it. Didn’t it do same to the Maitatsine sect, and other disruptive forces before it? But to our consternation, the insurgency survived Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, Goodluck Jonathan, and has stretched a battle-tested Buhari, almost to the limits of his strength.

Right on Inauguration Day, the new President in 2015 directed that the command centre of the war be moved to the Northeast, which was the epicenter. And he took personal interest in the equipping, training and motivation of the military. The result today is that the Nigerian Army has never been better positioned to discharge its duties. One is not saying everything is perfect, but it is a far cry from the days of “anything goes.” Discipline is restored, esprit de corps is revived, and honor reigns again.

An administration that is out to feather its own nest won’t spend billions of naira to equip its military. But the United States of America bears testimony that it has sold $593 million worth of military equipment to Nigeria under Buhari. The same administration has committed a total $100 million to the Multinational Joint Task Force fighting Boko Haram between 2015 and now. A contract of $152 million was signed with China, and tanks and artillery guns/trucks were recently taken delivery of. I repeat: when a government is out to steal, it does not equip, train or motivate the military. They become “an army of anything goes.”

Did you hear Chief of Defence Staff, Gen LEO Irabor, talk of the army a couple of days ago, in response to some reports making the rounds about the EndSARS probe panel report in Lagos? He said: “The armed forces of Nigeria is a professional armed forces, we are peopled by Nigerians, and remain committed to constitutional mandates. So, we do not at this point think that Nigerians should make disparaging remarks regarding the armed forces of Nigeria, in the sense that we are a professional armed forces, if there are issues, we address them within the ambit of the provisions. It would not be right to disparage men and women who have worked so hard to ensure that the territorial integrity of this nation is kept intact...The armed forces are there to provide the ambience that will enable every Nigerian to live in peace and harmony. Let us not make inciting comments that will put the entire space on fire. That’s not right.”

Now, compare the two. It’s “an army of anything goes.” True. Very true, as of that time. Now, today, “The armed forces of Nigeria is a professional armed forces...and remain committed to constitutional mandates.” True, very true. What makes the difference? Leadership. Under Muhammadu Buhari, the Nigerian Army has got its groove back. It is discharging its duties to the country and the citizens, making the ultimate sacrifice when necessary, so that you and I may live in peace and be safe.

Should anybody then deride such an institution? Not if we value or hold anything dear. To ridicule, disdain or malign our army is to cast our pearls before swine. The pigs would trample them in the mud.

But for those who know the value of gold, they pray daily, asking God to protect our troops, as they strive to keep the nation intact, so we can go about our lawful duties. Only evildoers need fear the army. Other lawful citizens should appreciate them, and extol their commitment and sacrifices. May God keep and protect our troops. Amen. It is surely no longer “an army of anything goes.”

*Adesina is Special Adviser to President Buhari on Media and Publicity

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President Buhari attends a Working Lunch with French President Emmanuel Macron at the Elysee Palace Paris, France on 10th Nov 2021

By Muhammadu Buhari

It is possible that the first contact was made in 1601 between the French and the peoples of “Guinee” – the name for the lands we know today as Nigeria. Only a few years before, the then Protestant King of France Henry had devised a plan for adventurer Francois Pyrard de Laval to navigate the “Ethiopian Sea”, then onwards around the Cape of Good Hope in search of new markets and trade.

Four hundred years later, much has changed. (Today there are more Protestants amongst Nigeria’s 200 million population than there are people in France. Maps, and geography, have improved: east Africa’s landlocked Ethiopia no longer has named for it a west African sea). Yet in other ways, much remains the same. What is clear however, is that the exploration of possibilities between our two nations of Nigeria and France has only just begun.

Notwithstanding France’s historic ties with West Africa, the long-held belief has been that some parts of it were off-limits. Hence and until even the most recent decades, there were French spheres of West Africa, and their Anglophone equivalents – jealously guarded from each other and effectively closed to each other for investment, trade, education and influence.

These barriers both real and imagined is being brought down in part, by the passage of time: today’s generation of Africans have no personal experience of anything but independence – including most in government - so there is less automatic favouritism towards one European partner or another.

However, it has also required a change in France and President Macron has been a prime mover in that task. He is right not to allow respect for the France’s African past to confine relations of the future.  This position developed, in part from the fact he chose, in his 20s, to define his African experience through working in Nigeria, rather than in a traditional Francophone nation. His experiences and determination have been vital in moving France and Nigeria closer together to where they are today.

The benefits for both our countries are now emerging as we gather this week in Paris for what is only the second France-Nigeria investment Summit. Only three years ago President Macron was the first President of the French Republic to visit Nigeria. Since then, French businesses have signed multi-billion euros contracts in construction, chemicals, and mobile technology; In France, long-established Nigerian financial institutions and disruptive fintechs seek transition from Parisian representative offices to French licences to operate and compete across Europe. The President’s high-level France-Nigeria Business Council, first convened at the Elysee, has helped trade double in between our nations in the last three years.

This expansion only augurs more, given Nigeria’s population is projected to grow by 2050 to the same size as the European Union, and further to become the second largest in the world by the close of the century.

This great market is France’s opportunity. But, of course, some in Europe and in France see it purely as a threat. They fear a coming tide of immigrants from Africa. They view engagement as a partially open door that will only become wider – unless borders become walls, and Europe a fortress.

That is not the case and those who rail against “economic migrants” must realise few people anywhere wish to leave their communities to live in foreign lands. Most would rather stay at home, with the familiar. But the way to help them stay there is not force, or walls, or racism: it is investment and jobs where they live.

Those who come from France seeking opportunities in Nigeria are today welcomed with open arms. A growing and worldly-wise middle class wish to experience the best of European culture and products, with so much of that the produce of France; a young, dynamic, and educated population wish to work, but often what they do not have, through lack of investment, is the opportunity.

And just as we partner in prosperity, so our nations also have a duty to work together to make West Africa more secure. For decades France – the European power in the Sahel, and Nigeria – the African power to its south have not been coordinated. Opportunity to defeat the terrorists have between us too often have been missed. As France draws down its troops, Nigeria’s can – in partnership with our FExploration of possibilities between Nigeria and France has only just begun

By Muhammadu Buhari

In 1601 it is possible first contact was made between the French and the peoples of “Guinee” – the name for the lands we know today as Nigeria. Only a few years before, the then Protestant King of France Henry had devised a plan for adventurer Francois Pyrard de Laval to navigate the “Ethiopian Sea”, then onwards around the Cape of Good Hope in search of new markets and trade.

Four hundred years later, much has changed. Today there are more Protestants amongst Nigeria’s 200 million population than there are people in France. Maps, and geography, have improved: east Africa’s landlocked Ethiopia no longer has named for it a west African sea. Yet in other ways, much remains the same. Certainly, the exploration of possibilities between our two nations of Nigeria and France has only just begun.

As well-known as France’s historic ties with west Africa is the long-held belief some parts of it were off-limits. Until even the most recent decades, there were French spheres of west Africa, and their Anglophone equivalents – jealously guarded from each other and effectively closed to each other for investment, trade, and influence.

What it has taken to bring down these barriers both real and imagined is, in part, the passage of time: today’s generation of Africans have no personal experience of anything but independence – including most in government - so there is less automatic favouritism towards one European partner or another.

But it has also required a change in France. President Macron has been a prime mover in that task. As a far younger man than I, he is right not to allow respect for the France’s African past to confine relations of the future. We can see how this position developed from the fact he chose, in his 20s, to define his African experience through working in Nigeria, rather than in a traditional francophone nation. His experiences and determination have been vital in moving France and Nigeria closer together to where they are today.

Both our countries now start to taste the fruit from this tree as we gather this week in Paris for what is only the second France-Nigeria investment Summit. Only three years ago President Macron was the first president of the French republic to visit Nigeria. Since then, French businesses have signed multi-billion euros contracts in construction, chemicals, and mobile technology; In France, long-established Nigerian financial institutions and disruptive fintechs seek transition from Parisian representative offices to French licences to operate and compete across Europe. The President’s high-level France-Nigeria Business Council, first convened at the Elysee, has helped trade double in between our nations in the last three years.

This expansion only augurs more, given Nigeria’s population is projected to grow by 2050 to the same size as the European Union, and further to become the second largest in the world by the close of the century.

This great market is France’s opportunity. But, of course, some in Europe and in France see it purely as a threat. They fear a coming tide of immigrants from Africa. They view engagement as a partially open door that will only become wider – unless borders become walls, and Europe a fortress.

That is a mistake. Those who rail against “economic migrants” must realise few people anywhere wish to leave their communities to live in foreign lands. Most would rather stay at home, with the familiar. But the way to help them stay there is not force, or walls, or racism: it is investment and jobs where they live.

Those who come from France seeking opportunities in Nigeria are today welcomed with open arms. A growing and worldly-wise middle class wish to experience the best of European culture and products, with so much of that the produce of France; a young, restless, and educated population wish to work, but often what they do not have, through lack of investment, is the opportunity.

And just as we partner in prosperity, so our nations also have a duty to work together to make west Africa more secure. For decades France – the European power in the Sahel, and Nigeria – the African power to its south have not been coordinated. Opportunity to crush the terrorists have between us too often have been missed. As France draws down its troops, Nigeria’s can – in partnership with our Francophone African allies - step into the breach. From our increasing trade together comes another beneficial and deepening partnership and cooperation including : especially a more advanced sharing of ordnance, equipment and intelligence.

It is fair to say that French-Nigerian relations have advanced farther and faster in the last few years than, they have in hundreds. Much of that energy, and speed, comes from my determination and that of President Macron in the knowledge that – to borrow a phrase of King Henry’s: “Le Nigeria vaut bien essayé”.

Muhammadu Buhari is President of Nigeria.

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By Femi Adesina

As you read this piece, President Muhammadu Buhari and his team are in the French capital, attending the Paris Peace Forum, a gathering of about 30 Presidents and head of governments from around the world. The Nigerian leader is among the few that were asked to deliver a speech.

On Wednesday afternoon, we had been at the Palais Elysee, the seat of the French government, where President Buhari paid an official visit to President Emmanuel Macron, who himself had been in Abuja in 2018. Impressive is a mild word to use for the spectacle.

Earlier that Wednesday, President Buhari had been at the Shangri-La Hotel, to give a keynote address at the Nigeria International Partnership Forum, put together for Nigerian and French investing community. It was a roll call of the brightest and best in the Nigerian business firmament, including Alhaji Abdulsamad Rabiu, Chairman BUA Group and head, France-Nigeria Business Council, Mr Tony Elumelu, Chairman Heirs Holdings and UBA, Alhaji Mohammed Indimi, Chairman, Oriental Energy Resources, Prince Nduka Obaigbena, Chairman/Editor-in-Chief, ThisDay Group and Arise News Channels, among many others.

Now, the narrative that some people have labored to paint over the years, either out of hatred, or cheap political reasons, is that nothing was happening in the country, other than wanton killings and massive insecurity. They trumpet and magnify insecurity to the exclusion of any other thing. Yes, Nigeria battles grave security challenges like many other countries, particularly in the Sahel region, but then, many other good things are happening, while evildoers are also being given a pounding by agencies of state.

Mr President spoke to the galaxy of Nigerian and French business people and investors, to a massive applause. And what did he say?

The government in Nigeria was on the right path to achieving multi-sectoral progress. It has re-assessed and updated the national security strategy, which has contributed to success in fighting insurgents and terrorists, and also countering violent extremism.

Still firing from the hips, Mr President told his audience that there was a link between modern infrastructure and the overall economic development of a nation, “hence the massive infrastructural expansion programme we have been executing in various sectors.”

He gave examples such as railways, seaports, roads, renewable energy, housing, and many others.

Petroleum is the cash cow of the Nigerian economy, which is now being heavily diversified. But for more than two decades, the enabling law for the industry crawled through the legislature. Till the Buhari administration gave it a fillip, and out came the Petroleum Industry Act, the liberalizing force of the oil industry, with incentives as tax holidays, zero interest loans, development plan for host communities, and easy repatriation of profits, among others.

On agriculture, President Buhari spoke about the Anchor Borrowers Programme, which gives loans and technical support to small holder farmers, leading to expansion of rice mills from 10 in 2014, to 40 today. The result is that we no longer import rice enormously, and now save billions of dollars, which can be utilized for other things.

Fertilizer blending plants were about only five in 2014, today we have 46, with the result that the commodity is widely available and accessible to farmers, at modest costs.

Many other facts and figures did the President adduce to justify the fact that good things were happening in Nigeria, and investments were not only safe, but also generating handsome returns. And that makes one to challenge those engaged in the paroxysm of ‘nothing is happening in the country’ to countermand or controvert any of the stated developments.

Has security not been jigged up in a way that bandits, terrorists, insurgents have been put on the back foot? Are evildoers not being daily sent to God to answer for their crimes? Is the country not being cleaned up, and it is just a matter of time before the sanitation is completed?

Don’t they see the infrastructure? Roads, bridges, airports, pipelines, awesome projects like the Second Niger Bridge, Bodo-Bonny road, Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, Abuja-Kaduna-Kano Expressway, Loko-Oweto Bridge, AKK gas pipelines, Lagos-Ibadan rail project that is up and running, other rail projects under construction round the country, brand new airports in Abuja, Kano, Port Harcourt, new runway and terminal building in Enugu, and many others. Which will the wailers, caterwauling all their lives point to, and deny its existence? Yet they keep repeating like broken gramophone records that nothing was happening in the country.

The truth is that no single government will solve all the challenges of a country in its life span. It will do its level best, and yield space for others to continue. Muhammadu Buhari has touched Nigeria in diverse ways. Our armed forces have been equipped, trained and motivated like never before. The economy has successfully been diversified, after more than five decades of lip service. Corruption is being robustly fought, stealing is something to be abhorred. And Nigeria is being rebuilt. Projects, projects everywhere, with a good number of them slated for commissioning next year.

The apostles of ‘nothing is happening, except insecurity’ should look for other music to sing, and for other dance steps. Honest Nigerians can see and feel the good things happening. It was unfolded to Nigerian and international investors in Paris on Wednesday. Those who have consigned themselves perpetually to the complaint counters should wake up. The market is over. It is time to go home, and do something better.

*Adesina is Special Adviser to President Buhari on Media and Publicity

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By Femi Adesina

He rarely speaks on things that do not have to do with the work of the Kingdom, which he is completely sold out to, and has been engrossed in for over 50 years. In fact, he exemplifies the words of the prophet that “he shall not strive, nor cry; neither shall any man hear his voice in the streets.”

But someone stuck his fingers in the mouth of Pastor William Folorunsho Kumuyi, General Superintendent of the Deeper Christian Life Ministry, recently, and the man had to speak. He didn’t cry or strive, and “a bruised reed he did not break,” smoking flax he did not quench. But the cleric gave some home truths on what the attitude of a true Christian should be to secular government, particularly of his own country.

This was how it all happened. Professor Dapo Asaju, a cleric and academic, former Vice Chancellor of Ajayi Crowther University, had called out Pastor Kumuyi, and Pastor Enoch Adejare Adeboye, General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), telling them that it was not enough to just concentrate on their massive congregations, but that they must seek to meet President Muhammadu Buhari on the state of the nation, and tell him “enough is enough.”

Prof Asaju added: “All ministers of God must speak out...I (am) looking forward to Baba (Kumuyi) addressing a World Conference, with Baba Adeboye seated beside him. Let them call people and say enough is enough. They need to lead other people to convene a high-powered meeting with the President.” As if the two men of God had not met with the President at different times, where they counseled him, and prayed for the nation. They equally lead their congregations to do so, almost weekly.

If you read between the lines, the respected academic was vexed and exasperated with the security situation in the country, and its concomitant spin-offs. Who is not? Who will not be? Are things normal? Far from it. But is the government up and doing to turn things around for the people? Very much so. Then, is a subtle sponsoring of insurrection by ministers of God the next thing to do? Far from it. At least, for those who know the purpose of their call, and how they should comport themselves in a troubled polity. Like our Master, “a bruised reed shall he not break, and smoking flax shall he not quench, till he send forth judgment unto victory.” (Matthew 12:20).

Pastor Kumuyi last weekend responded to Prof Asaju through a statement titled ‘The Church and the Challenges of a Nation,’ which I recommend that all Christians should read, and which is also very instructive to non-Christians.

What is the purport and summary of what the Deeper Life G.S said? He noted that the concerns of Prof Asaju could not be dismissed, and the man must be seen as a patriot, but “at Deeper Christian Life Ministry, we are far more aware of the existential crossroads than many perceive.

“We present the Word of God as delivered in the Holy Bible, alright, but we warn that in the long run, the Lord is interested in a fusion of obedience to His Word and relating amicably with fellow human beings, regardless of class, color, caste (religion) or culture. We teach that if you genuinely believe in Christ, you wouldn’t hate your neighbor. Nor would you disdain those in power because they appear not to be delivering on electoral pledges such that you would go on the rampage, destroying government property or pilfering the public till. We teach a linear life of Christian walk: you can’t be a saint on Sunday and a monster on Monday.”

Profound. Earnest. Well said. Deep as in Deeper Life. Pastor Kumuyi, where have you been all our lives? Thank you, thank you for speaking out now. “If you genuinely believe in Christ, you wouldn’t hate your neighbor. Nor would you disdain those in power because they appear not to be delivering on electoral pledges such that you would go on the rampage, destroying government property...”

Profound, again I say, profound. But this is not what we hear from most preachers today. What we rather see is the pulpit being turned to a soapbox, where hatred is preached, where fake news is spread week after week, and where congregants are instigated against the leadership of the country. And I know what I am saying. I used to attend a church in Abuja from 2015 to 2018, till the pastor began to see himself as someone who must bring the Buhari government down. Sunday after Sunday, it was all sorts of criticism from the pulpit. But I endured, since it was branch of a church I had attended for over 30 years. Till one day, he overdid it. The Dapchi girls were abducted, and there was no name the pastor did not call President Buhari that Sunday. It was horrendous that such things could come from the pulpit. But I suffered long, and sat through the sermon, or rather, what was supposed to be a sermon. I then went home, wondering what the church of God was turning to.

If you recall, the Dapchi girls were recovered within a week, except for Leah Sharibu, and a few others. Awful, quite sad, but still there was cause for one to be thankful to God. So, the following Sunday, I went to that church, waiting to hear what the pastor would say, having excoriated and flagellated the government so badly the week before. I was dazed, nay, stunned. Throughout the sermon, not a word, not even a whisper about the recovered Dapchi girls. Bad faith. “If you are a genuine believer in Christ, you wouldn’t hate your neighbor. Nor would you disdain those in power...”

Pastor Kumuyi also says if you are a true believer in Christ, you wouldn’t go on the rampage, destroying government property.... But that was not what we saw in the country in October last year. The country was almost burned down under the subterfuge of EndSARS. And sadly, they were encouraged by pastors and preachers, who simply hate the fact that a Fulani man is their President. Many of them are on record as having encouraged the protesters, till things went ugly, turned awry. And the pastors vanished into the thin air. Not a word of caution or restraint as the cities were burning, and policemen were being killed, and even eaten up. “If you are a genuine believer in Christ, you wouldn’t...go on the rampage, destroying government property.”

Irrespective of the titles they bear, I hear Bishops, Apostles, Prophets, Pastors, Evangelists, cursing the government, and issuing doomsday notices. One even said publicly that the Buhari administration was over, before the 2019 elections. But the man won handsomely, and that preacher still struts and frets on the pulpit every week, not repenting in sackcloth and ashes. “If you are a genuine believer in Christ, you wouldn’t hate your neighbor. Nor would you disdain those in power...” Thank you, Pastor Kumuyi.

Without sitting in judgment over anybody, I just believe that majority of our preachers need to be born again again. If what we hear them preach and teach is anything to go by, they need to be born again again. Otherwise, Heaven seems to be very far away. May God help us all. Amen.

In his reply to Professor Asaju (please get the full text, and read) Pastor Kumuyi gave many instances on how God has intervened in the situations and circumstances of humanity through the works of the Deeper Christian Life Ministry, both within and outside the country. He then concluded: “I see more of the Lord’s focus on attending to the challenges of our nation and the countries of the world. I see Him containing the conflicts confronting His people as we pray in the name of Jesus.”

And I say amen. A resounding amen. That is the balanced perspective, the approach of a true man of God. That is the ancient landmark, which we must not shift or remove. We must “earnestly contend for the faith, which was once delivered unto the saints” (Jude, verse 3). But some would say Kumuyi is of the old school. And I say yes, the old school is the real school, and remains ever faithful, ever sure.

*Adesina is Special Adviser to President Buhari on Media and Publicity

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By Ike Anaedo

A video trended on Thursday 28 Oct 21 of an armed gang strutting into a gas station somewhere in the South East. They came in a convoy of six cars to fill their tanks and to help themselves with some refreshments in a supermarket within the station – never mind that the gas attendants were too terrified to ask for payments for their services and the toughies didn’t offer to pay, anyways.

The narrator in that video was kind enough to identify the fellows. He enthused that they are Biafran National Guards and that they were on ground to liberate the prisoners of conscience. “You can see them in their various cars ready for war, war for the liberation of Biafra has just began”. He went on to introduce one of them he identified as General Innocent Orji, the gang’s Commander and asked him what was their mission. The ‘General’ said they just came back from Israel and that “We want to tell them that Anambra election will not hold. We are going to restore the Biafran sovereignty… “. Shortly after, they drove off to God knows where for their operation. Well, they did not fulfil their mission nor got to their destination as they would soon run into troops of the Nigerian Army who are currently conducting exercise Golden Dawn in the general area.

Later in the day on Thursday 28 Oct 21, another video surfaced in which the now deflated and thoroughly battered gang were seen retreating after losing 3 of their cars and one of the gang members in Abia State while others escaped with gunshot wounds. Troops of Nigerian Army also pursued the retreating gang to Ebonyi State, where they abandoned two more of the vehicles they earlier fueled. Nevertheless, one of the gang members was arrested. So in one day, they lost 5 of the 6 vehicles they fueled at the gas station on Thursday 28 Oct 21.

Thinking they could perhaps surprise troops in other parts of the South East, the retreating gang members regrouped and launched multiple attacks in Anambra State on Friday 29 Oct 21. Again, just like what befell them in Abia State, troops in Anambra State also killed four of the gang members, recovered two additional vehicles and four motorcycles among others items. In just two days, in offensives initiated by the gang, the Nigerian Army effectively took out the so called Biafran National Guard.

All the braggadocio and tough-talking that we saw of them in the first video waltzed into desperate voice of anguish and confusion. To save face, they have now resorted to peddling unfounded conspiracy theories of how Nigerian Security Forces are the founders and sponsors of the same group that vowed to kill Nigerian Security Forces. Such cacophony of illogic and confusion can only be the result of a huge and debilitating defeat in just a matter of two days. Indeed, the gang’s casualty figure is most likely higher than the total of five and one captured that soldiers recovered as the fleeing terrorists may have made away with some of their dead colleagues.

What is even more irksome is how a band of untrained, drug-induced, car-snatching hoodlums will set out to cause mayhem in the society in the name of Biafra restoration and expect to have a free reign. What were they thinking? That the state will simply look the other way while a bunch of criminal minds continue to run riot, kill, maim and rape innocent law abiding Nigerians?

Explaining how it went down on Friday 29 Oct 21 when the troops confronted the bandits, the Director Army Public Relations, Brig Gen Onyema Nwachukwu, said “Troops of 82 Division Nigerian Army conducting Exercise GOLDEN DAWN have neutralised four gunmen of the proscribed Indigenous Peoples of Biafra/ Eastern Security Network (IPOB/ESN) in a fierce encounter at Nnobi Junction, Idemili South Local Government Area on Friday 29 October 2021. This followed the assailants’ armed attack on personnel of security agencies deployed at Ekwulobia Round About in Aguata Local Government Area of Anambra State, during which troops swiftly mobilised to the scene and subsequently embarked on pursuit of the criminals along Nnewi – Nnobi road”.

According to the Army Spokesman, troops made contact with the fleeing gunmen and engaged them in a fire fight, neutralizing four of the criminals. “The gallant troops also recovered two AK-47 Rifles, one GALIL Ace 5.56 x 45 IWI Gun and one Avofeng Hand held radio among others”.

Kudos to the gallant troops of the Nigerian Army for stopping this particular group in its track. Who knows, they would have struck one innocent soft target or the other all in the name of ‘liberation’. The fact that one of the vehicles recovered from the criminals belong to a traditional ruler in Abia State. Imagine such imprudence as to forcefully dispossess a revered traditional ruler of his official vehicle and in the same breadth claim they are fighting for the good of the Igbos. Had the troops not obliterated them, they would have been prancing around in stolen cars and rifles to terrorize and brutalize innocent Nigerians who are minding their own businesses.

Their tragic end is the fate that awaits those who have chosen the path of violence and terrorism; it is the consequence of criminality and delinquency. It is what you get when you set out to confront the state and seek to derail its organized democratic structures and institutions.

Like Gen Nwachukwu rightly noted in his press statement, the recent attacks are part of the proscribed IPOB/ESN’s plan to instill fear in the public and sabotage forthcoming Anambra State Governorship Election. It is reassuring that Nigerian Army has taken the lead, along with sister services and other security agencies, to ensure that law abiding citizens are protected as they go about exercising their civic responsibilities and democratic rights.

• Ike Anaedo wrote in from Nnewi, Anambra State

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PRESIDENT MUHAMMADU BUHARI AND SOME MEMBERS OF THE NIGERIAN DELEGATION TO THE FUTURE INVESTMENT INITIATIVE SUMMIT ARRIVE MAKKAH FOR UMRAH (LESSER HAJJ), OCTOBER 28, 2021 JEDDA, SAUDI ARABIA

By Garba Shehu

President Muhammadu Buhari had a very successful visit to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the high which is the symbolization of our mutual trust and resolve to combat climate change, improve trade and promote investment in humanity, not profit as a motive.

It was also an opportunity used by the President to reassure the global investment community on the question of security which is of utmost significance to anyone wishing to bring their money here.

Addressing the 5,200 participants at the 5th Future Investment Summit, FII called by the Saudi Arabian Monarch and Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman Bin Abdulaziz, the President gave the most important assurance his large audience-physical and virtual in attendance- wanted to hear: “security is our most important priority. It’s the bottom line and common sense. It is up to us to secure our country and we will do it.”

To President Buhari, growing social unrest and insecurity are products of inequalities and unfair policies that exclude the majority from opportunities for participation, admonishing world leaders and global investors to prioritize inclusive and humane policies.

He then went on to list a litany of things going for the country: we are the largest on the continent in the economy and population-a people driven by aggressive competitiveness.

He had on the entourage retinue a of Nigeria’s successful business leaders including Aliko Dangote and Abdulsamad Rabi’u, included in the top ten ranking of Africa’s richest.

The official delegates included Mr. Tope Sonubi, Wale Tinubu, Omoboyede Olusanya, Abubakar Sulaiman, Herbert Wigwe, Muhammadu Ndimi, Alan Sinfield, Leo Stan Ekeh, Hassan Usman, Alhaji Dahiru Mangal. It was their opportunity to seek deals and partnerships with their foreign counterparts.

As an aside, it interested many seeing Abdulsamad and Dangote arriving together and leaving on the same aircraft. They shared the same hotel and same car throughout.

This was contrary to the public perception of the relationship between the two business moguls.

On the Government side, the President was supported by the Ministers of Trade and Investment, Communications and Digital Economy-the nation’s fastest-growing sector with a record contribution of two trillion Naira in a year from almost nothing in the past-and the Ministers of State for Foreign Affairs and Petroleum.

The Saudi’s made it clear from their invitation that they were impressed by President Buhari’s last outing at the summit and had hoped that this same spirit will reflect in this year’s event.

The President, indeed Nigeria was honoured by the organizers in making our country’s leader to be the first Keynote Speaker at the prestigious event anchored by two of CNN’s leading finance, business and investment analysts’ cum-reporters, Richard Quest and John Defterios.

Taking a cue from the theme of this year’s summit, President Buhari presented an address titled: “Investing in Humanity: The Nigerian Perspective.” Of course, he had a strong statement to make here. Not only is this in line with his personal philosophy, fact is that investing in humanity is all that his government has been doing.

It’s the angle from which all decisions of government are taken. For him, therefore, this was a most befitting platform to tell the world what his country has been doing.

In that speech, he mentioned that:

"Investing in humanity is investing in our collective survival. This is why in Nigeria we believe that public and private partnerships should focus on increasing investments in health, education, capacity building, youth empowerment, gender equality, poverty eradication, climate change, and food security. By so doing, it will go a long way in reenergizing the global economy in a postCOVID-19 era.

"Nigeria’s population today exceeds 200 million people. Some 70 percent are under 35 years old. When we came into government in 2015, we were quick to realise that long-term peace and stability of our country is dependent on having inclusive and humane policies.

"In the past six years, our government took very painful but necessary decisions to invest for a long-term prosperous future knowing very well that this will come with short term pains," he added.

The President took a look at global challenges, past and present and warned thus:

"We cannot invest in humanity without relieving our countries from the crushing effects of the debt burden especially when the COVID-19 pandemic has increased the risk of deepening the debt portfolio of poor countries.

"These nations increasingly allocate more and more resources towards external debt servicing and repayment at the expense of the health, education and other services that contribute to the overall wellbeing of their population," he said.

Describing the summit as a credible forum for interaction between the public and private sectors, to explore ways of advancing economic growth, development and global prosperity, the President said Nigeria's diversification efforts continue to yield results, particularly in agriculture.

On the important government policy of Climate and the place of Public-Private Partnership, the President noted that climate change has triggered conflicts, food insecurity, irregular youth migration, rising level of sea waters, drought and desertification, as well as the drying-up of the Lake Chad.

"In the Lake Chad Basin region, where Boko Haram insurgency continues to undermine the peace, security and development of the region, climate change is largely responsible for the drying up of the Lake Chad which has shrunk by more than 85 percent its original size.

"The diminishing size of the Lake is at the root of the loss of millions of livelihoods, displacement of inhabitants and radicalization of teeming youths in the region who are recruited to serve as foot soldiers in the insurgency.

"In order to redress this situation and restore the lost fortunes of the Lake Chad Basin region, strong public-private partnership through massive investments will be needed to recharge the waters of Lake Chad. I am confident that this forum will rise to the challenge in the interest of durable peace and sustainable development of our region."

The President’s meeting with Nigerians in the Diaspora gave him an opportunity to send an important message to Nigerians on his unbending determination to respect the Constitution at all times and on all issues.

Not only did he restate his determination to leave office at the end of his tenure in 2023, he followed up with a warning to would-be campaigners, in case there are some who are contemplating this, that he will not undermine the law of the land by extending the tenure of office and that nobody should start doing this nonsense.

Apart from the usual homily to Nigerians to respect the laws of the counties in which they reside, the President threw his weight behind the clamour for the incorporation of new technologies in the election process.

He was blunt with the fact that without technology in the 2015 election, the Electronic Voters Register and the Card Reader, he may not have won; that he could have been schemed out or ought rightly cheated of his victory by the governing authorities as did happen on three previous elections 2003, 2007and 201.

“With this innovation, they could not defeat me on the altar of money and fraud.”

The President also narrated a story familiar to many Nigerian families, in which members dared the desert and walked their way to the Holy Land for the pilgrimage.

They traded on the route, served as farmhands and the skilled among them earned upkeep as they trudged on for years before getting to their destination.

Millions of these made these journeys as millions of others failed to make it, by either losing their lives or choosing to settle down as migrants in countries on the way.

“My uncle” whom he named as Hussaini “undertook this arduous journey but died in Sudan in the homeward stretch,” said the President.

An important point he made of this, was that these earlier generations built the strong bond of relationships between our peoples and nations and the present generation must do nothing to derogate from the existing cordiality and friendship of our two states.

President Buhari’s trip to Saudi Arabia focused mainly on marketing Nigeria and developing a positive image for the nation. From all intents and purposes, the objective has been achieved.

GARBA SHEHU IS SENIOR SPECIAL ASSISTANT TO THE PRESIDENT, MEDIA AND PUBLICITY

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By Muhammadu Buhari

Dire warnings of the end of the world are as old as civilization itself. But each year as the countdown to United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP) begins, they grow in volume and intensity. Recently, senior United Nations officials raised the alarm of "world conflict and chaos" and mass migrations and institutional collapse should greenhouse gas emissions remain unchecked for much longer.

Mankind has a duty to act on these dangers. But because of their seriousness we must not do so rashly. It is an inconvenient truth, but energy solutions proposed by those most eager to address the climate crisis are fuel for the instability of which they warn. No more clearly can this be seen than in Africa.

For today's 1.3 billion Africans, access to low-cost and reliable energy is the highest of all possible concerns. Estimated to rise to 2.5 billion by 2050—by 2100 Nigeria alone is projected to have the second largest population on the planet—this "great doubling" (for Nigeria, quadrupling) has the right to more dependable electricity than their forebears.

Without extra and stable power, we cannot build the factories that will transform Africa from a low-job, extractives-led economy to a high employment middle-income continent. Children cannot learn for longer and better by battery light any more than by candlelight. No more than the Africa of today, the Africa of tomorrow cannot advance using energy production that intermittently delivers.

Yet in our rush to address climate concerns, and for western aid agencies and investors to burnish their green credentials, we rush to install the most alternative of energy sources which are often the most unreliable. Wind and solar, the most fashionable of modern energy technologies, are flawed by their reliance on back-up diesel generators or batteries for when there is no wind for the turbines or sun for the panels.

It also seems unnoticed that in our global rush for electric cars we risk replacing the last century's scramble for fossil fuels with a new global race in lithium for batteries. Where significant deposits are to be found, such as in Africa, this could endanger geopolitical stability. This makes the economic migrations the U.N. warned of more likely. We must think carefully whether our dash to terminate the use of fossil fuels so swiftly is as wise as it sounds. 

There is no single "green bullet" that can be deployed either in Africa or the world that solves concerns of environmentalists while simultaneously offering the power to fuel hope of greater wealth and progress for the extra 1 billion citizens of our African future.

But there are certain things we can and must do—starting with transitioning to cleaner, but consistent, energy production. Fossil fuel power generation that can provide electricity 24 hours a day in all conditions can be re-tooled greener through carbon capture and the conversion of coal and heavy fuel oil power stations to biomass. We can bring forward new technologies such as mini-hydro power plants which can operate and produce power day and night along shallow waterways without damaging the aquatic life on which local communities are sustained.

We can also invest in nuclear. Though not renewable it is carbon neutral and capable of producing baseload, constant electricity production on which sustained economic progress can be built. Nigeria is among a handful of African countries exploring nuclear power, with a research reactor already operational.

And we can also learn from our friends in Europe and America who do not always practice what they preach. We call on them to lift the moratorium they have placed on fossil fuel investments in Africa. Nigeria has pledged to eliminate illegal gas flaring by 2030—a by-product of our oil industry—and harness it for electricity production. Our intention to end Nigeria's single greatest contribution to greenhouse emissions may stall without it. Yet there are no such limitations on investment in natural gas power in the West where it is considered a transitional energy source.

There is a deal to be done at COP26, but none without the agreement of the nations of Africa. The climate warnings we hear them. We live them. But no one has the right to deny the advancement of our continent. Yet unless the developed world wakes up, we run the risk of trying to fix the climate crisis with an energy crisis.

Muhammadu Buhari is the President of Nigeria.

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By Femi Adesina

My first intervention some months back on the war against hard drugs use in the country was under the headline ‘Buba Marwa and the Bad Guys.’ And here I come again today, armed with facts on how the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) has suddenly come alive under its Chairman/Chief Executive, Brig. Gen. Mohammed Buba Marwa, and is giving a bloody nose to traffickers, peddlers and users of narcotic substances in the country.

On Thursday last week, Gen. Marwa was our guest at the weekly State House Press Briefing. And what an illuminating session it was. He unfolded in graphic details, with video evidences, what has been going on in the drug war.

He described 2021 as a year, “which in the annals of NDLEA is epochal, defined by the renewed war against abuse and trafficking of illicit substances.”

Everything boils down to leadership. If the NDLEA is suddenly energized and is now making conquests, it is all about leadership. And Buba Marwa acknowledges the support of leadership at a higher level. Hear him: “It is prudent for me to state upfront that a progress report of the NDLEA should not be taken as an isolated appraisal; rather, it should be taken as an integral part of the anti-drug trafficking thrust of the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari. Not only did Mr President set the tone for the fight against illicit drugs by handing the Agency the mandate, the direction and the set objectives, he also provided the catalysts-willpower, financial intervention and moral support that boosted NDLEA’s capability to deliver.”

Give it to President Buhari. He has identified some round pegs for round holes in the country, given them the necessary support, and they are doing exploits. Buba Marwa is one of them.

I recall a meeting at the Presidency some months ago, where the issue was whether to bring in foreign hands into the battle against insecurity in the country, or not. President Buhari was all for the efficiency and efficacy of local capacities, citing what Buba Marwa was doing at NDLEA as an example. He used that to illustrate the fact that Nigeria has all it takes to prosecute its wars at different fronts and levels.

What has the NDLEA done under Marwa, with the support of President Buhari, and the technical support of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, UNODC?

First, internal reforms and cleansing. Hear Marwa: “It is pertinent to note that the anti-drug trafficking agenda can hardly be prosecuted without the Agency itself first going through a reform process to transform it into an efficient drug control apparatus.”

He described the situation he met when he was appointed at the beginning of the year as “a far cry from the ideal. The NDLEA at the time was decrepit, grossly incapacitated, hampered by institutional encumbrances, poorly funded and understaffed” with the officers and men working under disenchanting circumstances.

Hence, the starting point was a reinvigoration of the workforce. About 3,506 officers whose careers had stagnated for as long as 20 years were promoted, unpaid entitlements were cleared, including burial expenses to the families of 188 officers who died in the line of duty, and owed since 2014.

Hear this. Despite the dangerous nature of the work, NDLEA never paid burial expenses. It was officers and men who would contribute from their pockets to bury the dead, and give tokens to their families. How dispiriting, disillusioning, depressing. President Buhari and Buba Marwa have reversed the trend.

Still on internal reforms, the agency has created directorates on Planning, Research and Statistics, Special Duty and Strike Force, being trained at the Nigerian Army School of Infantry, Directorate of Media and Advocacy, as well as of Airport Operations. The overall result is that we now have a properly structured intelligence-driven anti-narcotics organization.

The National Drug Use Survey of 2019 by UNODC gave a shocking portrait of drug abuse in Nigeria. The country has a drug use prevalence of 14.4, which is almost three times the global average. Holy Moses! Jumping Jehoshaphat!

The NDLEA under Marwa, therefore, embarked on drug supply reduction activities to mop up existing illicit drugs in the country, stem the influx of narcotic drugs, disrupt, disconnect and dismantle the trafficking pipeline.

Here are some of the achievements as at October 15, this year, according to Marwa, a former military Governor in Borno State, and administrator of iconic influence in Lagos State.

-9,355 arrested traffickers, including six drug barons

-Over 5,00 drug offenses cases filed in court

-Over N100 billion worth of drugs and cash recovered

-More than 2.7 million kilograms of assorted illicit drugs seized in 10 months

-5,579 drug users counseled and rehabilitated

Mind boggling seizures and interceptions made include 230 tons of cannabis in Edo State, 451,807 Captagon tablets at Apapa seaport, in Lagos, 1,994,400 capsules of Tramadol, 144,400 bottles of codeine syrup, 32.9 kg of cocaine worth over N9 billion in October alone, and the biggest single seizure from an individual in 15 years, 26.840 kg of cocaine smuggled from Brazil.

It was quite pleasing and encouraging to hear this from the NDLEA boss: “By the end of this year, we would have dealt sufficient decisive blows to the cannabis cartels in the country, going by the rate we’re going into the forests to destroy hundreds of hectares of their plantations in our ongoing operations.”

Pause and think of the havoc that would have been wreaked on the fabric of our society, if all the intercepted narcotics had been successfully spirited into the country. The pervasive insecurity issue cannot be divorced from the use of hard drugs, and can only be exacerbated by an unbridled flow.

President Buhari is giving the support necessary, and Marwa and NDLEA are giving the bloody nose to the bad people, unscrupulous men and women who will make money at the detriment of humanity and the society. No wonder Buhari shot them in his first coming.

Who says this country is irredeemable? Not with men of sterling character like Buhari and Marwa.

*Adesina is Special Adviser to President Buhari on Media and Publicity

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President Muhammadu Buhari

BY HIS EXCELLENCY MUHAMMADU BUHARI PRESIDENT OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA AT THE 5TH EDITION OF THE FUTURE INVESTMENT INITIATIVE SUMMIT, RIYADH, KINGDOM OF SAUDI ARABIA

26TH OCTOBER, 2021

Let me begin by conveying my heartfelt gratitude and appreciation to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud for inviting me to the 5th edition of the Future Investment Initiative Summit in Riyadh.

In the short period of its existence, this summit has emerged as a credible forum for interaction between the public and private sectors, to explore ways of advancing economic growth, development and global prosperity.

I wish to commend the organizers of this year’s summit for the foresight to look at “investment”, not only from a profitability and wealth accumulation point of view, but also bringing prosperity to humanity in general. The humane approach to investment is the only way to address the global challenges we face, especially in the Covid-19 era.

We should continue to sustain our efforts to combat the COVID- 19 pandemic and mitigate its negative socio-economic impact on our societies, build resilience and achieve recovery. It is therefore my hope, that this session will leverage on the enormous economic opportunities that lie ahead in order to satisfy the prevailing needs of our people and planet.

Investing in humanity is investing in our collective survival. This is why we in Nigeria we believe that public and private partnership should focus on increasing investments in health, education, capacity building, youth empowerment, gender equality, poverty eradication, climate change and food security. By so doing, it will go a long way in re- energizing the global economy in a post COVID-19 era.

Nigeria’s population today exceeds 200 million people. Some 70 percent are under 35 years old. When we came into government in 2015, we were quick to realise that long-term peace and stability of our country is dependent on having inclusive and humane policies.

In the past six years, our government took very painful but necessary decisions to invest for a long-term prosperous future knowing very well that this will come with short term pains.

We focused on the following areas:

a. diversification from oil to more inclusive sectors such as agriculture, ICT and mining;

b. tackling corruption, insecurity and climate change; and c. introducing a Social Investment Program.

We introduced policies that supported investments in agriculture and food processing. We provided loans and technical support to small holder farmers, through the Anchor Borrowers Program. As a result, Nigeria today has over 40 rice mills from less than 10 in 2014. Nigeria also has over 46 active fertiliser blending plants from less than 5 in 2014.

Furthermore, in agriculture, we have reformed the process of obtaining inputs such as fertilizer and seeds. We have several million hectares of available arable land and have embarked on the creation of Special Agriculture Processing Zones across the country. These initiatives we believe will make it easier for investors in agriculture.

Two months ago, I signed the Petroleum Industry Act. The Act will serve as a catalyst to liberalize our petroleum sector. It has introduced a number of incentives such as tax holidays, 100 percent ownership, zero interest loans and easy transfer of funds. In addition, we have highly skilled in-country workforce and a large domestic market.

In mining, we have also made several opportunities available for investors. Nigeria is a country rich in minerals from gold, iron ore, tin, zinc, cobalt, lithium, limestone, phosphate, bitumen and many others. We have made the licensing process easier and also made extensive investments in rail and transportation.

Infrastructure investments represent significant potential for investors in Nigeria. We have opportunities in seaports, rail, toll roads, real estate, renewable energy and many others. We have created several institutions that are available to co-invest with you in Nigeria.

We have the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority and more recently, I approved the creation of Infrastructure Corporation of Nigeria. These institutions are run as independent world class institutions to make investments in the country and are available to co- invest with you.

In addition, the development of social infrastructure such as healthcare and education present enormous opportunities for investors in a country our size.

Digital Economy in Nigeria has many potentials for investment, as it has remained the fastest growing sector in both 2020 and 2021. Nigeria has many opportunities for investment in broadband, ICT hardware, emerging technology and software engineering.

We have recently approved the national policy on Fifth Generation (5G) network. Our aim is to attract investors in healthcare, smart cities, smart agriculture among others. The benefit of real time communication will support all other sectors of the economy.

Yesterday, I launched the E-Naira, the electronic version of our national currency, which puts us on track to become the first African country to introduce a Central Bank Digital Currency. We believe this and many other reforms, will help us increase the number of people participating in the banking sector, make for a more efficient financial sector and help us tackle illicit flow of funds.

To further strengthen our anti-corruption drive, increase accountability and transparency, we have centralized government funds through a Treasury Single Account, and ensuring that all Nigerians with a bank account use a unique Bank Verification Number (BVN). These initiatives, coupled with our nationwide National Identification Number (NIN) exercise, reinforce our efforts to tackle corruption and fraud. We believe that this should give investors a lot of comfort.

As we strive to build resilience towards a sustainable economy in our various countries, let us not forget the negative impact of climate change on our efforts to achieve this goal. Nigeria and many countries in Africa, are already facing the challenges posed by climate change. Climate change has triggered conflicts, food insecurity, irregular youth migration, rising level of sea waters, drought and desertification, as well as the drying-up of the Lake Chad.

In the Lake Chad Basin region, where Boko Haram insurgency continues to undermine the peace, security and development of the region, climate change is largely responsible for the drying up of the Lake Chad which has shrunk by more than 85% of its original size.

The diminishing size of the Lake is at the root of the loss of millions of livelihoods, displacement of inhabitants and radicalization of teeming youths in the region who are recruited to serve as foot soldiers in the insurgency.

In order to redress this situation and restore the lost fortunes of the Lake Chad Basin region, strong public-private partnership through massive investments will be needed to recharge the waters of Lake Chad. I am confident that this forum will rise to the challenge in the interest of durable peace and sustainable development of our region.

We cannot invest in humanity without relieving our countries from the crushing effects of the debt burden especially when the COVID-19 pandemic has increased the risk of deepening the debt portfolio of poor countries. These nations increasingly allocate more and more resources towards external debt servicing and repayment at the expense of the health, education and other services that contribute to the overall well- being of their population.

Nigeria is Africa’s largest economy and most populous nation. Our economic reforms which focus on “humane” investments are ideal for investors looking to have profitable returns while positively impacting the citizenry.

Your Excellencies, Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, Investing in Humanity is the right thing to do. I strongly believe the historical under- investments in “humane projects” is the genesis of most of the insecurity and socio-economic challenges the world is experiencing today.

I will conclude once again by thanking the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, and also congratulate His Royal Highness, Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman for their leadership and their support through the Future Investment Initiative.

I remain confident that through such exchanges, the world indeed will be a better place. I hope and pray that this forum will rise to the challenge in the interest of durable peace and sustainable development.

I thank you.

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Garba Shehu

By Garba Shehu

*Resilience and fortitude of patriotic Nigerians will see the nation through the difficult times

The Economist is correct: Nigeria faces four key threats to the stability and prosperity of the nation – namely: ISWAP/Boko Haram terrorism in the North-East; kidnapping and crime in the North-West; herder-farmer disputes in the central belt; and the delusions of IPOB terrorists in the South-East.

The Economist is also accurate to state that they have come to a head under President Buhari and the All Progressives Congress, (APC) administration. Yet they do so, because for so long, under previous administrations, whether military or democratic, tough decisions have been ducked, and challenges never fully met – with the effect of abetting these dangers and allowing them all to fester and grow. Today, all four threats are being fought concurrently and it is only this President’s administration which has finally had the will and determination to confront them.

The Buhari administration has sought to push back terrorism which has been a threat for more than two decades since the first emergence of Boko Haram. It is only the Buhari administration that has now sought to intervene against the kidnapping and banditry that has been a simmering threat for far longer. It is only this President’s government which has taken on IPOB, the violent terrorist group which bombs police stations and offices of security agencies, while also threatening those who break their Monday-sit-ins whilst claiming the mantle of forebears who half a century ago fought a civil war. And it is only the Buhari leadership which has sought – ever, in over one hundred years – to identify the root causes of the herder-farmer clashes and find durable solutions.

The forms may have altered, and the threats posed by each may have waxed and waned, but what has been constant is that administration after administration since independence – whether military or democratic – none sought to fully address these threats to Nigeria as President Buhari’s government does now.

Today, the military is engaged in almost all the states of Nigeria because the President has insisted upon addressing these decade-after-decade-long issues during his time in office.

In the North, Boko Haram members – many of whom now fight under the breakaway banner of Islamic State's West Africa Province (ISWAP) - have been pushed back. At the start of the President’s tenure, Boko Haram was launching attacks across the majority of the country – including in southern states and Lagos. Today they are cornered and confined along with their ISWAP compatriots in our country’s outermost fringes of the border, unable to spread further.

In the South-East, IPOB – which the Economist rightly describes as “delusional” - the arrest and present trial of the terrorist leader of the group is the beginning of its demise. The President’s administration is redoubling efforts to have IPOB rightfully designated as a terrorist group by our allies outside of Nigeria – an act which will collapse their ability to transact gains from crime and extortion in foreign currencies. It is important to remind the Economist and the global media that this group’s aggression and widespread presence on social media does not reflect their public support, for which they have none: all elected governors, all elected politicians and all elected state assemblies in the South-East – which IPOB claim to be part of their fantasy kingdom - reject them completely.

The only government of Nigeria which has ever sought a solution to the centuries-old herder-farmer disputes of the central belt is President Buhari’s administration. The Federal ranches programme, launched shortly after the President’s re-election is the first of its kind – and it is working: during the last 12 months clashes have significantly reduced. The government now calls on State governors to have the imagination to join forces with the Federal administration and expand this programme by making available state lands for those interested, now that its effectiveness has been demonstrated.

The Economist opinionated and reported on banditry and kidnapping in the North-West. While this has been simmering for generations, it is the newest of the organized threats Nigeria faces to her stability. But this too the Economist inaccurately described: “bandits” who have the resources and technology to shoot down a military fighter jet are not bandits at all – but rather highly organised crime syndicates with huge resources and weaponry. Yet they are essentially no different to Boko Haram in this regard who are now cornered. It will take time, but the President is unwavering in his determination to collapse this challenge to public order.

The Economist is correct: Nigeria faces multiple threats. They confluence now not because of this government; but on the contrary, it is this government which is addressing them concurrently, and simultaneously – when no other prior administration sought to adequately address even a single one. That is the difference between what has gone before and what we have now. It is why the President and his party were re-elected with' an increased majority in national elections two years ago.

Garba Shehu

Senior Special Assistant to the President

(Media and Publicity)

October 24, 2021

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By Williams Oseghale

There is no greater evidence of the monstrous and audacious activities of internet fraudsters, aka yahoo boys, than a trending video where some internet fraudsters are seen, standing on the roof of exotic cars at a popular plaza in Benin City, Edo State and, throwing wads of naira notes into the air. The online comments on this show of shame provide a window into the minds of some young Nigerians who see nothing wrong with such reckless display of wealth, though a few were equally aghast at the obscene spectacle.

Indeed, activities of internet fraudsters have assumed a frightening dimension as they now more daring. Not too long ago, it was a shameful to be identified as a ‘yahoo boy’ and those involved carried out their nefarious activities surreptitiously. But all that has changed as internet fraudsters now operate with impunity and flaunt their ill-gotten wealth and outlandish lifestyles.

Even more worrisome is the support and collaboration some parents provide for their wards and children who are involved in this despicable trade by procuring for them instruments of fraud such as mobile phones, iPads, and laptops.

Some parents go as far as sending their teenage children for apprenticeship, to learn the art of trickery in cyberspace. Recently, a heartbreaking video of an association of yahoo boys’ mothers, wearing asoebi attending an event in a grandiose fashion emerged on the internet, an epitaph of how far we have sunk in values and morals.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, as an agency of government, saddled with the responsibility of curbing economic and financial crimes has been relentless in its drive to stamp out cybercrimes from Nigeria. Under the leadership of Abdulrasheed Bawa, it has upped the ante. This year alone, the Commission has arrested over 1500 internet fraudsters and have so far secured over 900 convictions. Victims of internet fraud have also been restituted through the efforts of the Commission.

Ordinarily, such success should draw commendation and accolades. However, that is not the case as social media influencers and celebrities would rather condemn and castigate the EFCC. They condemn the Commission’s style which they tagged Gestapo-like.

Sadly, most of the accusations hurled at the Commission are grossly exaggerated and sometimes, outright lies contrived to impugn its reputation for reasons that are unclear. Except in the observation of the Covid-19 protocols, officers of the Commission do not mask themselves during operations neither are they hooded in black attires as alleged by one of its accusers. EFCC operatives are noted for their red jackets with EFCC NIGERIA boldly emblazoned at the back.

Even more shocking is the allegation that the Commission break into homes, shot sporadically and manhandles suspects during operations. Though operatives of the agency are often accompanied by armed mobile police officers during operations as security back-up, there has never been a single shooting incident involving the Commission’s operatives.

Significantly, critics of the EFCC may need to be a little circumspect about atrocities ascribed to so-call EFCC operatives. Sadly not all those who parade themselves as operatives of the Commission are truly bonafide detectives of the EFCC. The Commission has severally arrested fraudsters who impersonated its officials in their attempt to give legitimacy to their illicit activities.

A few months ago, some daring fraudsters parading themselves as EFCC operatives, went on a raid in Lagos, brandishing a fake Court Order to confiscate the property of an innocent Nigerian whom they claimed was involved in fraudulent activities. The ‘operatives’ came with a truck meant to convey the properties of the supposed fraudster to ‘EFCC office’. What saved the day, was that the Commission received credible intelligence and swung into action, arresting the fraudsters in the process. If this fraudsters had succeeded, the victim would have been on the social media, condemning the EFCC.

Accusation that the EFCC regularly manhandles suspects is not supported by facts as those who have been arrested by the Commission, whether politically exposed persons or internet fraudsters, can attest to EFCC’s civility. This explains why suspects/defendants and their lawyers often plead with judges to remand them in the Commission’s custody.

From the recent attack on EFCC, it is clear that critics would rather EFCC handle yahoo boys with kid-gloves. It is now common to hear some people calling on the Commission to desist from arresting yahoo boys, claiming that they are not the problem of Nigeria but young men struggling to make a living in a difficult economy. How absurd! Acts of criminality cannot be legitimate or justifiable by whatever reason.

Whichever prism we look at it, EFCC determination to rid the nation of economic and financial crimes is a patriotic duty. And all well-meaning Nigerians must collaborate with the Commission by raising their voices against this malaise. Celebrities and social media influencers should take up the gauntlet to salvage our country from economic and financial crimes rather than deploy their popularity to support the activities of fraudsters. Castigating the EFCC is an unnecessary distraction.

Williams Oseghale is Head, Public Affairs, Benin Zonal Command of the EFCC
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By Femi Adesina

There are millions of us round the country who follow Muhammadu Buhari passionately. Some got enlisted in 1984 when the man was military head of state. Others joined along the line as the principal was Chairman of the Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF) in the Gen Sani Abacha years, or when he joined partisan politics in 2002, ran for President a year later, also in 2007, 2011, and 2015, when he eventually coasted to power.

Over the years, some of the Buharists (as we are called), have fallen off, and even joined the opposition. Yet some others have stood sturdy, steady, resolute, as constant as the Northern Star. Stand up and take a bow, Engineer Joe Igbokwe, the man from Nnewi, in Anambra State.

President Buhari is possibly the most credible politician we have seen in the country in contemporary times, with a magnetic pull that draws people to him in droves. That was the point I was making last week in this column, but which an illiterate journalist with an online medium twisted to say I claimed Buhari was better than Obafemi Awolowo, Nnamdi Azikiwe, Aminu Kano etal. He succeeded in his mission: generating hateful comments against me, but I leave him to God. For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of God to answer for what we have done, including all forms of lie against a fellow man. Our profession, or political and ethnic affiliations would no longer matter then.

We were talking of Joe Igbokwe before the brief diversion. Yes, this man loves Buhari to bits. He loves Nigeria, and he loves his native Igbo land. And you know what? That is now a crime in our country. Igbokwe’s life has been severely and severally threatened, his family hounded, and on October 3 this year, his county home in Nnewi was set on fire.

Igbokwe is a nationalist. His education, primary, secondary and even university he had in the Southeast. But since he got posted for national service in Ogun State in 1985, he had remained in the Southwest, identifying with the people, their politics, their ways of life, while not repudiating his love for his roots in Nnewi, and the Southeast generally. No wonder he is popularly called Agbalanze, after that Onitsha cultural association.

When it was not popular for people in the Southeast to follow the Progressives, Igbokwe threw his hat into the ring. From Alliance for Democracy (AD), to Action Congress of Nigerians (ACN), to All Progressives Congress (APC), he stood to be counted. And if you count committed followers of Buhari today, the Agbalanze is in the number.

If there is anything he needs to clarify about government, or our principal, Igbokwe never hesitates to get in touch with me. I give him background information, and he is satisfied.

When some people from his part of the country began to retreat into ethnic cleavages, and wanted the intelligentsia to identify with them, the Special Adviser to the Lagos State Governor on Drainage and Water Resources made it clear he was a nationalist. And he stood by his conviction, speaking out against separatism and an attempt to balkanize the country. At the risk of so much, he opted for one Nigeria.

Igbokwe loves Igbo land. Yes, don’t we all love where we come from? Shouldn’t we? We should, we must, before we can even be good Nigerians. When strange things began to happen in the Southeast, people being decapitated, public buildings being torched, and security agents being murdered in cold blood, Igbokwe stood against it. Mum was the word from majority of the leaders of the region, but for Igbokwe, the man dies in him who keeps quiet in the face of tyranny. He spoke out.

He kept saying building bridges across the length and breadth of the country was the way to go, particularly for Igbo renaissance. He refused to join those who were retreating into ethnic cocoon, and stood for nationalism. It is either Nigeria or nothing! The man earned earned my deep respect. He stood for what was right, fair and just, for centripetal, rather than centrifugal forces in the country.

On October 3, I was in Ethiopia with Mr President, attending the inauguration of that country’s Prime Minister for second term in office, when we saw the sad news online. The regal country home of Igbokwe in Nnewi, where the man often retires for solitude, and where he had a vast library, had been set ablaze. Whodunnit? You know the answer. Unbridled hatred was on display, and a patriot was paying a heavy price for his convictions. When that magnificent white house erupted in smoke and fire, it was innocence that was burning. Patriotism was aflame, and love for motherland was ablaze. Thy glory oh Israel is slain upon the high places.

Gladly, no life was lost, because the attackers couldn’t lay their hands on anyone. But great was the loss, and I sorrowed for my brother Joe, and his wife (he calls her his crush) Dr Grace. What happened is what evil speaking does to a country. The lies and hate peddled by evil hearts have germinated, grown, and brought forth evil fruits.

You would expect a man who had been hounded, reviled, and attacked by arsonists, to return bile for bile, hate for hate. Threaten fire and brimstone. But not our Joe. What did he say?

“We paid the price for the good of Igbo land and Nigeria...By the grace of God, we will rescue Igbo land. It is my turn today, tomorrow it may be the turn of anybody. We must take Igbo land back from the killers and arsonists.”

I say a resounding amen to those prayers. We must take every part of the country from those who mean no good, concocting sorrow, tears and blood. It is Nigeria or nothing! In brotherhood we stand. No other option is acceptable, not even conceivable, otherwise, we would all lose, cutting our noses to spite the face.

*Adesina is Special Adviser to President Buhari on Media and Publicity.