The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has described the announcement by the Muhammadu Buhari-led Presidency that the family of human rights activist, Dr Martin Luther King Jr conferred an award on President Muhammadu Buhari as a national disgrace and embarrassment.
The PDP, in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, yesterday, said the lie by Buhari’s handlers smacks of desperation by the Presidency and the All Progressives Congress (APC), to procure international endorsement, ahead of the 2019 general elections.
The leading opposition party said this embarrassing act has again made Nigeria a laughing stock before the international community.
The party said the nation was jolted when The King Centre distanced itself from the award and noted that, “the award given to President Buhari of Nigeria was not given by The King Centre, at the request of The King Centre or by the children of Martin Luther King Jr”.
According to PDP, “It is now clear that this sinking, incompetent and deceptive APC administration, in their desperation, can fabricate and stage-manage anything, including name-dropping of international figures and agencies, in their desperate attempt to delude Nigerians, once again, now that the 2019 general election is fast approaching.
“Nigerians have discovered that having failed to gain any endorsement from reputable international figures such as Bill Gates, the APC and the Presidency have now cheapened the nation by resorting to this despicable act of name-dropping of world-renowned human rights activist, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, further dragging down our once sterling image before the comity of Nations.
“The fact remains that not many Nigerians believed in the authenticity of the award in the first place, as the Buhari-led administration, by its undemocratic and anti-people proclivities, including records of violations of rights of citizens, is not deserving of any form of recognition by any human rights group, let alone the family of the world-acclaimed Martin Luther King Jr.
“Today, the PDP has been vindicated in its stand that the APC government is not only hypocritical but overtly deceptive and must not be trusted,” the PDP added.
“It would be recalled that we had issued a statement, earlier this year, cautioning Nigerians and the international community to be wary of information and claims coming from the APC and the Presidency, particularly on endorsements and performance indices.
“While we urge the Presidency to shed its proclivity for lies, we demand the immediate arrest, investigation and prosecution of all the Presidency officials involved in this messy scandal and crime against our nation.
“Moreover, the Presidency and the APC should save the nation further embarrassment by jettisoning other planned endorsement stunts and fabricated performance indices, as Nigerians are already rallying with the repositioned and rebranded PDP in their collective quest to end the misrule of the APC and restore a sincere, purposeful and people-oriented government come 2019,” the party concluded.
Similarly, former Minister of Education, Dr Oby Ezekwesili and the co-convener of the BringBackOurGirls, BBOG movement, Aisha Yusufu, have taken to social media, to slam President Muhammadu Buhari over a ‘fake’ Martin Luther King award he received some days back.
The Presidency had at the time told Nigerians that, “President @MBuhari today at the State House received Martin Luther King Jnr’s family. He was also conferred with the 1st Black History Month National Black Excellence and Exceptional African Leadership Award 2018. #AsoVillaToday”.
The children of Martin Luther King and the King Centre have, however, come out to deny issuing the accolade to Buhari.
Reacting to the development, Ezekwesili described the whole thing as “award comedy”, saying, “Can my Yoruba friends remind me what the meaning of “Ayekooto” is again?
“This one resurrected Correta Scott King from the dead to present the award.”
Aisha, on her part, responded, “If only these folks will calm down, and learn from these Perennial Errors.
“@DeeOneAyekooto is one of those supporters of President Buhari @MBuhari whose incompetence has made life so difficult so that they resort to resurrecting a woman who died over 12 years ago to present award to a failed President. 2019 defeat of PMB will fix him Insha Allah.”
Meanwhile, the family of late Martin Luther King (Jnr) has dissociated itself from giving President Muhammadu Buhari an award on Tuesday, March 27, 2018.
According to Coretta Scott King, an American author, activist, civil rights leader, and the wife of Martin Luther King, Jr. the award given to President Buhari was not given by ‘The King Centre, at the request of The King Centre or by the children of Martin Luther King Jr’.
Recall that the Presidency, last Tuesday disclosed that President Buhari received the family of the late African American civil rights activist, Martin Luther King (Jr), at the State House, Abuja and was also conferred with the 1st Black History Month National Black Excellence and Exceptional African Leadership Award 2018.
Eventually, all Nigerian local media carried the story, gripping on the presidency’s report.
But on its official tweeter handle, @TheKingCenter, the official living memorial to #MLK, founded by #CorettaScottKing to educate on non-violence and build the #BelovedCommunity. #Nonviolence365™.
#Atlanta, it said “The award given to President Buhari of Nigeria was not given by The King Center, at the request of The King Center or by the children of #MLK and #CorettaScottKing. @MrFixNigeria”, it twittered.
Conversely, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Foreign Affairs and Diaspora, Abike Dabiri-Erewa, yesterday, submitted that the award was given by Naomi in a personal capacity and not on behalf of The King Centre.
In a statement made available to newsmen, yesterday, Dabiri-Erewa’s spokesman, Abdulrahman Balogun, said that the award was a commemorative plaque to appreciate Buhari’s fight against corruption in Nigeria.
The statement read: “The members, led by the matriarch of MLK, Naomi Barbara King, were in Nigeria as part of the activities initiated to celebrate a low-key Black History Month in Nigeria as part of deepening partnership between Africa and its Diaspora.
“As part of the activities, they visited President Muhammadu Buhari and gave him a commemorative plaque for his fight against corruption and what they termed from the “Africania Diaspora” a term for Africans in Diaspora for which the oldest of them all Naomi.
“Barbara King was selected to present on behalf of the family (Not MLK Centre) as a sign of appreciation to the Nigerian President”, part of the statement read.
Minister Blames Judiciary For Prisons’ Congestion
The Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, has blamed the congestion in Nigeria’s correctional facilities on the country’s Judiciary, explaining that the Nigerian Correctional Service (NCOS) was not allowed by law to reject inmates sentenced to correctional centres or to release them.
Aregbesola, represented by Special Adviser on Nigerian Correctional Service, Suleiman Tala, stated this while delivering a paper at a policy advocacy conference entitled, “Decongestion of Correctional Centres: Status Quo”, organised as part of the 60th-anniversary celebration of the Order of The Knights of St Mulumba, Nigeria, Lagos Metropolitan Council, which was held in Lagos, adding that the primary responsibility of NCOS is to hold offenders pending the adjudication of their cases before a law court.
“It is important for the public to be aware that the NCOS and the Ministry of Interior are trying their best to tackle the issue from different angles as the length of time the inmates stay at the custodian centre is not determined by NCOS but by the justice system. I may not be able to reiterate exactly what the challenges are with the judiciary, however, as it affects the NCOS we are doing all we can not to compromise the traditional responsibility of the NCOS,” he stated.
Representing the Inspector General of Police, Baba Usman, Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Hakeem Odumosu, accepted that the police contribute to the congestion but gave his reasons.
“Inconsistence of the appearance of police officers to give evidence at trials has been identified as one of the alleged causes of prolonging trial but the IGP has mandated officers must attend court cases as at when due. The police are being hampered by a high level of distrust between the citizens and their police institution,” he stated.
Also at the conference, Lagos State Catholic Archbishop, Alfred Adewale Martins, who was represented by Rev. Paschal Uwaezeapu, stated that decongestion of the prisons would continue to be a matter as long as the government has refused to fix the country.
“The prison would continue to be congested if we don’t fix the society. As long as our society is a place where everybody takes for himself without considering the neighbour then our prison would continue to be congested. If we need to fix the prison we need to fix the family. These prisoners come from a family. We need to fix the education system also. We need to promote justice, without all these, the prison will soon overflow,” he stated.
Meanwhile, the Lagos Metropolitan Grand Knight, KSM William Adebisi, urged the government to declare a state of emergency on the congestion of prisons.
“The government needs to take the matter seriously as it affects the health of the inmates, economy of the company and behavioural change of the inmates,” he stated.
FG Seeks $3bn With Eurobond Offer
The Federal Government has announced plans for a Eurobond issuance in the International Capital Market (ICM) to raise $3billion.
The Debt Management Office (DMO) said, yesterday, that Virtual meetings with investors have been scheduled for today, and September 20, 2021.
It said, “In order to avail local investors the opportunity to invest in the Eurobonds, meetings will also be held with local investors.
“This is the first time local investors will be included in the Roadshows, and this is one of the reasons why a Nigerian Bookrunner (Chapel Hill Denham Advisory Services Ltd) was appointed as one of the Transaction Advisers.
“Through the Eurobond issuance, Nigeria is expected to raise up to $3billion but no more than $6.2billion.”
According to the DMO, the issuance for which all statutory approvals have been received, would be to implement the New External Borrowing in the 2021 Appropriation Act and that “Proceeds are for the financing of various projects in the Act.”
The agency gave further insight, saying, “In addition to providing funding to part-finance the deficit in the 2021 Appropriation Act, the issuance of Eurobonds by Nigeria benefits the country in many other strategic ways; amongst which are: 1. It is an inflow of foreign exchange, leading to an increase in External Reserves.
“External Reserves help support the Naira Exchange Rate, and Nigeria’s sovereign rating.
“When Nigeria raises funds externally, through Eurobonds, it frees up space in the domestic market for private sector and sub-national borrowers. In effect, it helps the sovereign not to crowd out other borrowers in the domestic market.
“The issuance of Eurobonds by Nigeria has opened up opportunities for Nigeria’s corporate sector notably banks, to issue Eurobonds to raise capital in the ICM.
“By so doing, their capital base has been strengthened to provide banking services whilst also meeting regulatory requirements. Nigeria has a sovereign yield curve in the ICM, extending up to 30 years.
“The local listing of Nigeria’s Eurobonds on the Nigerian Exchange Ltd. and the FMDQ Securities Exchange Ltd., have increased the range of products on these two (2) exchanges and their respective market capitalization.
“Overall, Eurobond issuances by Nigeria and the investor meetings that precede the pricing have provided a strong global platform for Nigeria to tell its own story and opportunities available in Nigeria for investors.”
The Transaction Advisers appointed by Nigeria for the issuance were: International Bookrunners – JP Morgan, Citigroup Global Markets Limited; Joint Lead Managers -Standard Chartered Bank and Goldman Sachs; Nigerian Bookrunner – Chapel Hill Denham Advisory Services Ltd; Financial Adviser – FSDH Merchant Bank Ltd; while White & Case LLP, was appointed International Legal Adviser; and Banwo&Ighodalo would serve as Nigerian Legal Adviser.
The last time Nigeria accessed the ICM was November 2018.
Insecurity: Put Nigeria First, FG Tells Media
The Federal Government has tasked the media to put Nigeria first in the reportage of the country’s activities, particularly the fight against insecurity.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, made the call in Abuja during the ceremony of the renaming of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) Headquarters Building after the former Managing Director and Board Chairman of NAN, late Wada Maida.
Mohammed said it may seem obvious and trite, but for any professional, including a journalist in Nigeria to be able to carry out his or her responsibility at all, the nation must first exist, in peace.
“In other words, if the country goes down, all professionals and everybody go down. It is that stark, and this is why I want to use this platform to appeal to our media to put Nigeria first”, Mohammed said.
Speaking further, the minister said if one picked up most newspapers, watched most television stations or listened to most radio stations in the country, one will be right to think Nigeria is a country at war.
While acknowledging that there were challenges in the country, especially in the area of security, Mohammed, however, said the Buhari administration had not only acknowledged the challenges, it is earnestly tackling the challenges.
“A good example is the decisive manner in which our gallant troops are tackling the banditry in the North-West or the way they are combating the terrorists in the North-East. Our security agencies have also successfully tackled the separatists in the South-East and South-West and the militants in the South-South. Unfortunately, these efforts have only been perfunctorily reflected in the reportage of the security challenges that we face. This is not only unfair, especially to those who are sacrificing their lives to keep us safe, it is unpatriotic.
“To illustrate the damage this non-acknowledgement of the efforts of the security agencies pose to the country, let me tell you what transpired when I recently hosted some members of the Nigerians in Diaspora Organisation (NIDO) UK Chapter, who visited me in my office here in Abuja. They said some of their colleagues who would have come to Nigeria for their programme tagged,‘A Week in and For Nigeria’ during the month of July, did not come out of fear of the security situation in Nigeria. However, those who made the trip said they travelled to their hometowns across the country and returned to Abuja safely. If Nigerians in the diaspora can be afraid to come to their country, imagine how foreigners, including investors and tourists, will feel about coming to the country.
“Whatever image problem Nigeria is suffering from today is mostly due to the unflattering portrayal of the country by the country’s media.
“Even when some media organisations report fake news, they never have the decency to retract such stories and apologise. They simply move on as if nothing has happened.
“We are not saying the media should not report on the security challenges we face. All we are saying is: Be fair and report accurately the efforts being made by the state and federal governments to tackle the challenges. Even if you don’t want to encourage the men and women in uniform fighting to keep us safe, please don’t discourage them with negative reporting. The security challenges we face today will be successfully tackled and Nigeria will not cease to exist, despite the antics of naysayers”, Mohammed added.
Mohammed congratulated the family, friends and associates of the late Maida for the great and much-deserved honour done to him.
He commended the management and staff of the NAN for coming up with the idea to immortalise the late Maida.
“The Federal Government’s decision to approve the proposal was not difficult, upon realising the role played by Alhaji Wada in making NAN the respectable agency that it is today. A man who was everything from Zonal Editor to Foreign Correspondent to Editor-in-Chief to Managing Director to Board Chairman, a man who built this glistening NAN headquarters edifice deserves to be immortalised by the organisation he served so well in his lifetime”, Mohammed stated.
Mohammed prayed that God will continue to comfort and strengthen the family of Maida, even as he prayed that the soul of the departed continues to rest in peace.
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