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The Economy: Disturbing Signals From Presidency

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Signals emanating from and around the Presidency in recent times have not been complementary to the institution, especially as pertains to the management of the Nigerian economy. With the most acute implications is the issue of the creation of a new Presidential Economic Advisory Council (PEAC), in the face of the National Economic Council (NEC) which is provided for in Section 153 of the Constitution. President Muhammadu Buhari had recently established the PEAC under circumstances that attracted more suspicion than merit for it, in spite of the impeccable credentials of the designated members. The major plank on which public misgiving had rested was the equally trending story that the personal aides of the Vice President who is also the Chairman of the NEC, have been redeployed to operate from offices outside the immediate precincts of the State House. The two stories largely reinforce the public take that there is a rift between the offices of the President and the Vice President – a development which if true, projects the Presidency as a house divided against itself.
While as expected, the State House media team had been striving to neutralise whatever insinuations that have been generated by these strands of information, the need exists for caution to guide the Presidency as the various operatives launch one initiative after the other, many of which only heighten public sense of unease in these times. Public concern over the stance of the Presidency on the economy is justified by the harsh experiences of the first term, during which the country went into avoidable economic recession. Nigerians and foreigners alike who have stakes in the Nigerian economy easily blame the government for allowing the recession through inchoate economic policy measures made worse with wrong timing.
With the advent of PEAC, the Presidency has set for itself another challenge of convincing Nigerians that it has no agenda of vitiating the integrity of the NEC and thereby launch Nigerian economy into another season of arrested development as occurred during the first term. Given that the management of a country’s economy thrives better with transparency and orderliness in the regime of policy administration, the simultaneous operation of two economic advisory bodies hardly bodes for efficiency. Against the backdrop of the foregoing therefore, many Nigerians wondering over the legitimacy as well as utility of the new body, especially from the context of two fears. Firstly, is why create a parallel body to the constitutionally established NEC in respect of providing economic advisory inputs to the Presidency? With the Vice Presidency as its Chairman, does NEC report to any other authority beyond the President? Secondly, was the advent of PEAC playing out the script which is trending virally, on the ground that it was intended by the hawks in the Presidency to blight the political relevance of the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, and predispose him to irrelevance in Nigeria’s presidential political calculus for 2023. This second fear has trended to the extent of assuming the semblance of realty in many quarters, leading some governors to actually demand formal clarification from the Vice President. He in his response to them, explained that the PEAC was just a personal think tank for the President himself and has no negative effect on the NEC. Whether the inquiring governors and the Nigerian public were convinced by the Vice President, is a matter for another day.
Meanwhile, the country is yet to come to terms with an earlier Presidential directive for all Ministers to communicate with the President officially only through the Chief of Staff, Mr Abba Kyari. Needless to recall the wave of resentment it generated when that order saw the light of day, as many suspected a hidden agenda of tacit marginalisation of whoever does not fit into the good books of Kyari, as the ‘clearing house’ for the President’s attention and favours. Many had argued then whether the Vice President should also pass through Abba Kyari to communicate with the President. However, the advent of PEAC has left many permutations trending in the public domain.
Coming back to the spectacle of the PEAC against the backdrop of happenings in the Presidency leads more than a few Nigerians to nurse the fear that the economy may still be a weak link in Buhari’s second term – this time due to infighting among the key factors in the government’s engine room. While the major weak point throughout the first term of Muhamadu Buhari as the President of the country was the nation’s economy, largely due to the misreading of its features at the inception of his tenure, the prospects of having a continuation of the same malady in the second term may be a pill too bitter for Nigerians to swallow without a whimper.
Yet, the manifest concerns of the APC government at the centre, seem to focus less on the burning issue of an improved economy and more on permutations for the post-Buhari era come 2023. Many think that the circumstances that ushered in the APC into political power at the centre in 2015 and 2019 seem to have overwhelmed the party and the Presidency that they literally forget that the country’s perennial development challenge is on the economic front.
The question now is, having bulldozed themselves into power in 2015 and 2019, is the APC keen on winning the peoples’ hearts for the future? The disturbing signals from the Presidency point to a different direction.

 

Monima Daminabo

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COVID-19: Interministarial Committee Takes Enlightenment Campaign To Religious Leaders

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The Rivers State Inter-Ministarial Committee on COVID-19 Enlightenment on Sunday, commenced another phase of its campaign with a focus on religious organisations, beginning with Churches.
Addressing volunteers to the campaign at the State Secretariate Complex, Chairman of the Committee, Pastor Paulinus Nsirim, charged the volunteers to take this phase of the campaign as serious as they had taken the previous one.
Nsirim, who is also the State Commissioner for Information and Communications, stated that the need to embark on this phase of the campaign is necessitated by the revelation that many people are not adhering to the COVID-19 prevention advisories of wearing face mask and social distancing.
Recalling that the State Governor noted this in his last State broadcast, the Chairman said the Governor “lamented that people in the State are not observing the protocols of social distancing and wearing of face mask.

“The danger”, he continued, “is that if we don’t adhere to these protocols, we may likely enter community transmission of coronavirus in the state”.

 

Consequently, he explained, “We are going to be doing targeted sensitization. The three Sundays that we have in this month we will use to sensitize churches, and on Fridays, we will also do targeted sensitization to Muslim community”.
He further explained the importance of reaching religious leaders in the fight against the coronavirus, saying they are strategically placed to reach a considerable population.
According to him, the churches and mosques are very important because “the religious leaders wield a lot of influence. Members of their congregation listen to the things that they say. If we are able to get the churches to begin to observe the protocols, we are going to get to a greater number, a greater population in the society”.
He, therefore, charged the volunteers to go beyond the jingles currently being aired by the Committee in delivering COVID-19 enlightenment messages to interfacing with the people, noting that they shouldn’t add the role of enforcement to their assignment.
“As you interface with people, you must be wearing your face mask very well. Don’t put it under your chin.
“You are not an enforcement team. Don’t go and give yourself the power of enforcing the wearing of face mask. Don’t go and harass people that are not wearing face mask. Don’t go and assault people that are not wearing face mask. Your duty is purely enlightenment and sensitization.
“When you see people who are not wearing face mask, you enlighten them on the importance of wearing face mask. We don’t want to hear that any member of this team went and entered into any form of altercation”, he charged.
While assuring them of immeasurable rewards accruable from selfless service to humanity, the Chairman also reminded them of the innate desire of the the State Governor, which is ultimately to make Rivers State safe, as far as COVID-19 is concerned.
“Anyone that is called to do patriotic duty needs to understand that the crux of the matter is that you are here to save lives, and for you to save lives, you must have the passion to render selfless service. It’s important that I underscore that fact”, he said.

Responding on behalf of the volunteers, one of the Team Leaders, Adata Brown, assured that they will do their best to ensure that Rivers

people get the required message to enhance their safety from the virus.
“We want to say we are going to put in our best, we are going to work and make the governor of the state proud, and to make the whole Rivers State proud”, she said.
Other members of the Inter-Ministarial Committee present were the Commissioner’s of Environment, Chieftaincy Affairs and Community Development, and Youth: Dr Igbiks’ Tamuno, Barr Olisaeloka Tasie-Amadi, and Prince Ohia respectively.
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Be Role Models In COVID-19 Campaign, Nsirim Charges Religious Leaders …RSG To Arrest People Who Refuse To Wear Face Mask

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In furtherance of the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, the Rivers State Commissioner for Information and Communications, Pastor Paulinus Nsirim, has called on religious leaders in the State to path the way for their congregation.
The Commissioner, who made the call on Saturday, during a live radio programme in Port Harcourt, hinted that by their status they represent a section of the society with notable group of followers, hence the need for them to be role models.
One way to show this, he said is for them to strictly obey the State Government’s advisories on measures to prevent COVID-19 infection, including ensuring that not more than 70 persons are allowed per session of service.
Citing churches, he noted that they have so far flouted this directive. “and that is something that is worrisome”, he said.
He continued that “Christians need to be role models. If there’s a group of people who should show good example, it should be Chriatians. When Christians begin to flout

government directives, I don’t think there’s any hope for society.
“This is a Clarion call to religious leaders. We shouldn’t sacrifice the lives of our members on the alter of church worship. Jesus Christ is our role model. Jesus Christ was a man who obeyed authority, who did not come in confrontation with the law, and the Bible teaches us to obey those in authority”, he emphasized.
Also, against the backdrop of high non-compliance to the COVID-19 advisory of wearing face mask in public places, the Rivers State Government (RSG) says it will soon begin to arrest defaulters.
This is sequel to the declaration of the State Governor, Nyesom Wike, in his last State broadcast on Wednesday, in which he stated that those who refuse to wear face mask risk arrest.
Confirming the Governor’s statement, the State’s spokesman unequivocally said defaulters will be arrested and prosecuted accordingly.
“If you go around the State since the Executive Order on face mask was introduced, you’ll notice that less than 30 per cent of the populace are really obeying the Executive Order. What we see in the State is that people just put the mask under their chin, including in the churches.
“The Governor is saying that to grant the wearing of face mask the kind of weight it deserves, to save our people, a special Task Force to monitor it will be put in place. That is the only sure way”, he said.
He recalled that the Governor in his broadcast expressed concern that a lot of people in the State are not obeying the protocols of social distancing and wearing of face mask.
“Government will introduce policies. The onus is on the populace to obey those policies … The COVID-19 pandemic has defied medical solutions for now. So, to flatten the curve, everyone living and doing business in Rivers State need to take responsibility.
“It’s important that everyone living and doing business in Rivers State should have the kind of passion that His Excellency has to flatten

the curve. He’s desirous that Rivers State remains safe.
“That’s why every day he’s enunciating policies to ensure that strategically, the State is isolated from the national spread.
“He’s one man who would require the cooperation and understanding of citizens here to ensure that what he has in mind for the State is actualized”, the Commissioner concluded.
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Governor Wike’s Reply To Governor Uzodinma Was Concocted – RSG

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The attention of the Rivers State Government has been drawn to the news circulating in the Social Media that Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State denigrated his Imo State counterpart, Governor Hope Uzodinma.
The purveyors of the deliberate falsehood alleged that Governor  Wike  replied Governor Uzodinma over a recent statement where he allegedly boasted that “the All Progressives Congress (APC)  will teach the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Governor  Wike how to conduct a  transparent election in the forthcoming Edo State gubernatorial election.”
The concocted story only existed in the imagination of the authors and so there was also no disparaging comment by Governor Wike.
Members of the public are hereby advised to discountenance all the information contained in the said publication as they did not emanate from Governor Wike.
Paulinus Nsirim
Commissioner for Information and Communications
July 10, 2020.
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