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Resign, Atiku Tells Buhari Over Comment On Economy

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The presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to resign over his comment last Friday that Nigeria’s economy was in a bad shape.
President Buhari reportedly stated this at a meeting with state governors at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
The president told us that “the economy is in bad shape and that we have to come together, think and rethink on the way forward,” Governor Abdulaziz Yari of Zamfara who briefed journalists after the meeting said.
No presidency official has refuted the statement by Governor Yari who is of the same party as the president, APC, and is the chairman of the Nigeria Govenrors Forum.
In a statement issued in Abuja yesterday by his Special Assistant on Public Communication, Phrank Shaibu, Alhaji Abubakar described President Buhari’s statement as a ploy to attract the sympathy of Nigerians and a disguise to get a soft landing from aggrieved Nigerians unhappy with his performance.
“The result of course is this late hour confession of failure on the eve of our general elections, in the hope that millions of Nigerians, whom he has condemned to poverty and hardship will give him a clap for failing abysmally. I dare say that President Buhari has miscalculated badly on this matter because Nigerians are simply fed up with him.”
“The economy has collapsed under his watch and he has by this frank remarks admitted that he has no idea on how to fix it and that is why he summoned the governors to help him. This is really very sad because President Buhari has run out of time and what Nigerians need now is a leadership which has the political will, administrative experience and sound economic acumen to get Nigeria working again,” Mr Shuaibu said.
“But then, President Buhari has only confirmed what we have known all along; that he has wrecked our once robust economy, that he has no solutions to the challenges facing our country and that the situation can only get worse under his administration.
“The Buhari Presidency has continued to increase its expensive running costs and has failed to offer any explanation or recover the over N11 trillion (allegedly wasted) from our oil sector by APC interests, yet Mr. President is asking Nigerians to make more sacrifices,” the statement read in part.”
Atiku said the honourable step to take is for the president to step down from his position.
“Unless those in charge of the APC and the party’s supporters are, as usual, suffering from some form of self-delusion, it just does not make any sense for them to say that the APC-led federal government had brought succour to the ordinary Nigerian when President Muhammadu Buhari himself has admitted to Governors of the 36 States of the federation that the economy has gone beyond his control,” the spokesperson said.
“Or do we need a prophet to tell us that the president’s admission of the state of the nation’s economy is a vindication of our long-held position and indeed the forecast by HSBC recently cited by the Nigerian media where the bank had said a second term for Buhari would greatly stunt the economy of the country?” he asked.
He called on the APC to apologise to Nigerians for the party’s performance since 2015.
According to him, the hopes for better governance and improved standard of living that many had nursed with the assumption of office by President Muhammadu Buhari in May 2015 has since given way to despair and hopelessness.
“The exchange rate of the Naira to the US dollar when the APC assumed office in 2015 was about 170 (official rate) to the dollar. Today it is 360 to the dollar. Today, millions of Nigerians, most of them youths, are unemployed, forcing them to become professional beggars who wait with bated breath for FG’s monthly N5,000 handout and N10,000 Tradermoni aimed at bribing them to re-elect the party in the forthcoming elections,” the statement said.
“Power generation has actually dipped from 4,949 megawatts PDP left in 2015 to less than 3,500 megawatts even though Buhari’s handlers consistently claim that 7,000 megawatts is what is currently being generated. What more evidence do we need to know that the APC has been a curse rather than a blessing to our country,” he queried
“It is amazing that, in this day and age when leaders of nations are expected to be creative and think outside the box, by applying new digital tools and embracing new thinking in addressing the emerging challenges to modern governance, our own President is still living in the Paleolithic age of blame game and buck passing as responsible for his failures. What this simply means is that President Buhari was not really prepared for governance and did not even understand the simplest intricacies of running a national economy as big as Nigeria.
“This is really tragic and it is obvious that President Buhari has come to the end of the road and has completely given up on the next steps to advance Nigeria, while those whom his dear wife openly declared misled his administration into this economic quagmire are still drumming up support for his next level of more hardship, suffering, unprovoked deaths as a result of misgovernance,” the statement said.
He said the only way out of the nation’s problems is for Nigerians to vote en-mass for Atiku Abubakar whose policy document focuses on job creation, ensuring security, growing businesses, developing power, and water infrastructure, agriculture and education and how ‘Nigeria’s next president will empower women.’
“The next generation of Nigerians are looking up to a visionary and cosmopolitan leadership, headed by a solid and steady leader, that will free up the space, remove unnecessary ancient cum bureaucratic obstacles and launch Nigeria into the competitive global space instead of de-marketing the country in the eyes of the global community. President Buhari should wake up and smell the aroma of the coffee Alhaji Atiku Abubakar is brewing. He is tired and at his wits end and it is time for him to vacate active task of presidency and return to his much cherished sedentary, pastoral and rustic lifestyle in his country home in Daura then leave the rigours and highly strategic art of governance to those who know how to govern and get the economy working again,” he concluded.

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Senate Bars Media As MDAs Defend Budgets

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The Senate, yesterday, defended its committees’ decision to shut out the media from covering the budget defence session it is currently holding with the ministries, agencies and departments of the Federal Government.
The Chairman, Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Senator Adedayo Adeyeye, justified the action of his colleagues during an interactive session with journalists.
The Senate panels had last Wednesday, started the process of scrutinising details of the 2020 budgets of the MDAs, with most of the sessions held behind closed doors, contrary to the usual practice.
Adeyeye said the Senate would not deny journalists the necessary information the public needed to know about the budgets of the MDAs.
He said the committees’ decision to shut out the media was actually to avoid unnecessary distractions.
He explained that the various committees would still brief the journalists after the budget defence sessions.
He said, “On secret meetings with MDAs, I have said that we shall liaise with relevant committees of the Senate to make sure that they allow proper coverage of their activities.
“I just finished a meeting of another committee on budget defence and honestly we held that meeting but the venue couldn’t accommodate all of us, even a lot of the staff have nowhere to seat.
“It isn’t that they want to conduct budget defence in secrecy but serious issues of budget defence, looking at figures, ratify them, adjusting them don’t necessarily have to be open to the media.
“What I am saying is that there is no secrecy but they need to do serious work.
“If I want to write a paper now, I want to do serious intellectual work; will I be doing it in the full glare of camera? No!
“I want us to believe that it is a serious matter. We want to discuss the issues seriously, genuinely, factually.
“The press can be called in but sometimes the Committee needs their privacies to do their jobs.
“They can at the end of the day call the press to say, “This is what we have done.” If they can do their job without the searchlight of the cameras, they can get the job done.
“This is what they have done, it isn’t secrecy. Do you want the committees to do everything in your presence? I don’t think it is proper.
“Were you there when the Executive was preparing the budget, but the president came here to present it.
“The budget defence can be done behind closed door but then whatever has be done, the best thing is to release it to the public and I think that’s if fair enough.”
He assured the media that his committee would liaise with the other Senate committees to make their findings available to the public.
Adeyeye said, “There is nothing secret about this thing, they are looking at it item by item they couldn’t have released it to the press.
“I am going to pass information to chairmen of the various committees to do the same on their report.

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Wike Tasks Advisory Council On Safer Roads

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To reduce the menace of road crashes across Rivers State, Governor Nyesom Wike has inaugurated the Rivers State Road Safety Advisory Council (RSRSAC) to drive the implementation of the Nigerian Road Safety Strategy in the state.
Wike said the inauguration of the advisory council was apt, having recently sworn in the Rivers State Road Maintenance Agency to ensure safe and drive-able roads for the good people of the state.
The governor, who was represented by the Secretary to the State Government, Dr Tammy Danagogo, in Port Harcourt, last Wednesday, said, the council was to advise the state government and the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) on measures to improve road safety management, safer vehicles, safe road users, post-crash care, amongst others, according to the Nigeria Road Safety Strategy.
He advised members of the council, who are to serve as technical working group, to ensure best practices by swinging into massive awareness campaign on road safety to reduce carnage on roads, having been drawn from different ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs).
In his remarks, the Sector Commander of Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC), Mr David Mendie, said the advisory council was necessary to join synergy with the rest of the federation in ensuring safety of road users and proper emergency management.
The state advisory council is chaired by the Secretary to the State Government while the alternate chairman is the Sector Commander of FRSC.
Other members include representatives drawn from ministries of transport, health, justice, information and communications, education, finance, the Port Harcourt Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (PHCCIMA), Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE) and National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA).

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Why FG Is Borrowing Fresh $3bn From World Bank -Minister

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The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed has said the $3billion loan being sought by the Federal Government from the World Bank would be deployed for reforms in the power sector.
She said this during an interview with journalists on the sidelines of the World Bank/International Monetary Fund meetings holding in Washington DC, United States.
Ahmed, who is leading the Federal Government’s delegation to the meeting, said she would be holding further discussions with the management of the Bank to present how the fund would be disbursed for the project.
She said based on the plan of the Federal Government for the power sector, the loan would be used for the development of transmission and distribution networks to enhance the delivery of electricity.
Ahmed also said the loan would be used in addressing some of the challenges that the country is currently facing in the power sector.
She said, “There is a proposed $2.5billion to $3billion facility for the power sector development programme in Nigeria and this will include development of the transmission networks and the distribution networks as well as removing the challenges that we currently have now in the electricity sector.
“We are going to have a full meeting to discuss the power sector recovery programme and back home we have been working a great deal with the World Bank to design how this programme will be implemented.
“So, we have an opportunity now to have a direct meeting with the leadership of the bank and to tell them the plan we have and how much we need from one to five years.”
The finance minister explained that the government would be pushing for the disbursement of the $3billion facility in two tranches of $1.5billion each.
When asked to comment on concerns being raised by the IMF about Nigeria’s debt which stands at N25.7trillion the finance minister insists that Nigeria does not have a debt problem.
She said what the government needed to do is to increase its revenue-generating capacity in order to boost the revenue to about 50 per cent of Gross Domestic Product.
She said with Nigeria’s current revenue to GDP ratio standing at just 19 per cent, it’s underperformance is significantly straining the government’s ability to service its debt obligation.
The minister said, “Nigeria does not have a debt problem. What we have is a revenue problem.
“Our revenue to GDP is still one of the lowest among countries that are comparable to us. It’s about 19 per cent of GDP and what the World Bank and IMF recommended is about 50 per cent of GDP for countries that are our size. We are not there yet. What we have is a revenue problem.
“The underperformance of our revenue is causing a significant strain in our ability to service debt and to service government day-to-day recurrent expenditure and that is why all the work we are doing at the ministry of finance is concentrating on driving the increase in revenue.”
When asked why the Federal Government decided to increase the revenue projection in the 2020 budget to N8.9trillion at a time when government revenue performance is less than 60 per cent, she said a lot of measures are being put in place to correct the anomaly.
Meanwhile, the Federal Government is considering introducing excise duties on carbonated drinks, according to the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed.
Ahmed gave the indication in an interview with newsmen, yesterday, on the sidelines of the ongoing World Bank/IMF Annual Meetings in Washington DC, United States.
She said the idea was one of other areas, besides the proposed increase in VAT, that the government was looking at to broaden its revenue base.
The minister explained that the government was working hard to ensure efficiency in existing revenue streams while searching for new ones.
She said the government would consult with all stakeholders on the proposal in line with standard policy formulation process.
“Any tax that you are introducing will involve a lot of consultations and also amendments of some laws or introduction of new regulations,” she said.
Carbonated drinks include soft drink brands such as Coca Cola, Sprite and Fanta, while excise duty is a tax levied on locally produced goods.
Ahmed said her ministry was working with all the agencies to ensure that collaboration was strengthened in revenue generation.
“The government is trying to ensure that the work of the agencies is complementing each other as opposed to the past where everybody is working in silos.
“Efforts are ongoing to improve the monitoring performance of the revenue generating agencies, especially government-owned enterprises.
“We have now in place rigorous monthly reconciliation of revenues and that is ensuring that the leakages are minimised.
“There is several cost cutting measures in the SRGI and a number of cost cutting measures initiatives such as innovation and automation as well as capacity building of our people,” she said.
The minister reiterated government’s resolve to sanction revenue generating agencies that fail to meet their targets.

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