The Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity to President Muhammadu Buhari, Mallam Garba Shehu, yesterday, came under attack from elders across the country over his claim that the tenure of service chiefs was at the ‘pleasure’ of the Commander-in-Chief.
They described the presidential spokesman’s defense of Buhari’s refusal to sack the security chiefs as shameful, insensitive and unprofessional in the face of rising insecurity in the country.
The elders under the aegis of Conference of Concerned Nigerian Elders (COCNE), maintained that as a seasoned journalist, Garba Shehu ought to, at all material times, weigh his utterances against the general mood of the nation, particularly when discussions centre on the vexed issue of security and public safety.
The elders, in a statement by Prof. Tunde Banjo for South-West; Dr Achike Nwachukwu for South-East; Barrister Jackson Spiff for South-South; Alhaji Baba Usman Funtua for North-West; Prof. Shehu Bulama for North-East; and Dr. Isaiah Terhila for North-Central zones; respectively, warned the presidential aide against incurring the wrath of citizens who, they said, hardly sleep with both eyes closed, owing to the disturbing state of insecurity in the country.
The statement said: “We are alarmed by a rather reckless, insensitive, shameful and unprofessional statement credited to Garba Shehu, President Muhammadu Buhari’s media adviser, to the effect that the service chiefs, who have remained in office despite glaring lacklustre record of performance, serve at the ‘pleasure’ of the Commander-in-Chief.
“We are, indeed, shocked that a senior journalist of Shehu’s standing, who ought to be circumspect in his outings, especially when issues of security and public safety are concerned, would choose to speak in the manner he did.
“We daresay that only those that derive personal benefits from the status quo, will support its retention, as Shehu has continued to shamefully do.
“Shehu and his ilk must be educated on the fact that, though appointed by the President, the Service Chiefs owe their respective positions to the Federal Republic of Nigeria, which is embodied by the citizens – the task payers’ – from whom they draw their humongous salaries, allowance and other perquisites.”
Shehu, in an interview on a private radio station, Unity FM, in Jos, the Plateau State capital, had said that no part of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) stipulated tenure of members of military high command.
This was as he further explained that the President, who is the appointing authority, has not acted otherwise, because he had classified and privileged information that critics and those calling for their sack were not privy to.
In the interview, Shehu had said that, “President Muhammadu Buhari is still keeping the service chiefs because he is seeing things Nigerians don’t see.
“He’s seeing things that critics are not seeing. It’s not a tenured appointment.
“There is no part of the law that says Chief of Army Staff and others must serve for two years. Then after two years, he must go. He served at the pleasure of the President.”
Nigeria’s Active Telephone Subscribers Hit 208m
The Executive Vice Chairman (EVC) of Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof Umar Danbatta, has disclosed that as at November, 2020, active telephony subscribers stood at 208million, with teledensity standing at 108.92 per cent while active Internet subscriptions were 154.9million, and a broadband penetration of 45.07 per cent.
He explained that the third generation (3G) and fourth generation (4G) base transceiver stations (BTS) deployment in Nigeria has increased from 30,000 to 53,460 while Fibre Optic Transmission cables expanded from 47,000km to 54,725km in the last five years, resulting in improved broadband/ telecoms service delivery to Nigerians.
The EVC noted that the number of subscriptions to Do-Not-Disturb (DND) service has hit over 30million as the service empowers Nigerians to be able to protect themselves from the menace of unsolicited text messages.
In recognition of the tremendous economic growth opportunities afforded by the deployment of broadband and its associated technologies, Danbatta said the commission has positioned itself in government’s drive for a digital Nigeria, as contained in the Nigerian National Broadband Plan (2020 – 2025), the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (2020 –2030) and the Strategic Management Plan (2020 – 2024) of the commission.
These were parts of industry growth data reeled out at a briefing for the new Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, Engr. Festus Yusuf Daudu, by Umar on the functions and regulatory activities of the commission in Abuja, and made available to newsmen in a press statement, yesterday.
“The BTS, fibre optic cables and other related infrastructure are central to the provision of improved service experience for Nigerians by their respective telecoms service providers, adding that the licensed Infrastructure Companies (InfraCos) are also expected to add 38,296km to optic fibre cables when they commence fully operations”, he said.
According to Danbatta, the effective regulatory regime emplaced by the leadership of the commission has resulted in increased deployment of infrastructure by telecoms operators, which in turn, helped to improve broadband penetration and other related service delivery in the telecoms industry.
He assured the commission’s will to continue to put its best in the discharge of its mandates, especially in facilitating the deployment of broadband, which is central to diversifying the Nigerian economy and national development.
Umar said it was the commission’s belief that the communications industry, under the leadership of the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, would experience more quantum leaps and retain its current leadership role in the telecommunications space.
He also talked on various initiatives undertaken by the commission to ensure consumer protection and empowerment.
This according to him, include the Declaration of 2017 as Year of the Telecom Consumer, introduction of the 622 Toll Free Line for lodging and resolving consumer complaints and the provision of the 112 Emergency number and activation of 19 Emergency Communications Centre (ECCs).
“Other such consumer-centric regulatory measures intervention, include, issuance of various directions to mobile network operators (MNOs) to protect the consumers from being short-changed, ensuring smooth transition of Etisalat to 9Mobile, consumer outreach programmes, introduction and enforcement of mobile number portability (MNP) as well as introduction of the Do-Not-Disturb (DND) 2442 to check cases of unsolicited text messages.
“The commission will continue to put in its best in the discharge of its mandates, especially in facilitating the deployment of broadband, which is central to diversifying the Nigerian economy and national development.
“Also, it is our belief that the communications industry, under the leadership of the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, will experience more quantum leaps and retain its current leadership role in the telecommunications space,” he said.
In his reaction, the Permanent Secretary, Engr. Festus Yusuf Daudu, commended the leadership of the commission, acknowledging the upward growth attributed to the effective regulatory regime, the central role NCC is playing in the digital transformation of the Nigerian economy as well as the impressive contribution of the sector to the country’s Gross Domestic (GDP).
“I want to thank NCC for its contribution to the Nigerian economy so far. I am not exaggerating about the achievements of NCC, in terms of contribution to GDP and how NCC’s effective regulatory role has been helping the economy in so many ways. NCC leadership also contributed to his success as the chairman of the World Radio Conference in 2015″, he said.
Daudu urged the commission on the need for increased collaboration and teamwork with the ministry, other agencies and industry stakeholders towards achieving the Federal Government’s objective of a digital economy.
He also promised to support the commission in whatever ways possible towards achieving its regulatory mandates.
Why I Deserve Re-Election -ABOLGA Chairman
The Executive Chairman of Abua/Odual Local Government Council, Hon. Daniel Daniel says he deserves to be re-elected because of his sterling performances within the last three years in office.
Daniel, who said this while addressing some editors and reporters in his office at Abua, said despite the dwindling finances of the council, his administration has embarked on some projects to improve the conditions of the people.
The chairman listed some on-going and completed projects in the area to include an ultra-moodern market awarded at the cost of over N125million, the Abua Central motor park constructed at over N88 million, and a town hall at Anyu community in the Odual District of the local government Area, which gulped N21million.
The chairman also listed an on-going town hall project at Omelema at the cost of N8million, while 358 Abua/Odual students in tertiary institutions got the sum of N20,000 each to go back to school after the lockdown occasioned by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Daniel also said that for the first time since the creation of the local government council, 13 law students were given the sum of N200,000 each.
He said he also renovated the council headquarters at Abua Central, while outboard engine boats were purchased to ease transportation at Odual axis, just as he said his administration also inherited on over bloated workforce.
According to him, the council had 400 workers when he assumed duty as the council chairman.
Thereafter, another 100 workers were employed by the Rivers State Local Government Service Commission and posted to Abua/Odual.
Daniel also put the wage bill of the council at N89million, adding that his administration has not employed any worker, as there was no money to pay them.
“I have not employed any staff because there is no money to pay them,” he said.
He said the council needs more financial support from both the state and federal governments to embark on more projects for the people.
On the issue of peace in ABOLGA, he said, based on the advice of security agencies, some youths in the area were put on council payroll.
By: John Bibor & Bethel Toby
Out-Of-School Children Drops From 10m To 6m, FG Admits
The number of out-of-school children in the country which stood at 10.1million in 2019, reduced drastically to 6.946million in 2020, the Federal Government has said.
The Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu, who disclosed this, yesterday, in Abuja, at the annual ministerial press briefing on the ministry’s activities in 2020, attributed the development to the number of measures undertaken by government to ensure enrollment of children.
According to him, the sum of $611million secured through the World Bank credit facility to support Universal Basic Education (UBE), recorded a massive enrollment of out-of-school children in 17 states.
Adamu, who also disclosed that efforts of the National Association of Proprietors and School Owners of Nigeria (NAPSON), alone saw to the enrollment of one million children, also noted that 900,000 Nigerians were “taken off the shelve” of adult illiterates in 2020.
The minister said more out-of-school children would be enrolled in school in 2021, adding that $500million loan was secured from World Bank credit facility to drive the Adolescent Girls Initiative for Learning and Empowerment (AGILE) programme, to ensure girls were taken off the streets, trained and empowered to live normal and quality lives.
“So far, we have launched the BESDA in 10 states of Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Ebonyi, Kano, Kebbi, Oyo, Yobe, Niger and Zamfara”, he added.
“As today, we have recorded impressive school enrolment figures in 17 states of the federation where BESDA is being implemented. I can, however, tell you that through the BESDA initiative, we have reduced the figure of Out-of-School Children from 10.1million since May last year down to 6.946, 328million.”
Speaking on government’s efforts at ensuring academic stability in the nation’s universities, Adamu, who said the federal government through the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund), committed about N400billion to the development of Infrastructure in tertiary institutions across the country, berated Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), and other associations within the university system of not reciprocating her investment in education.
According to him, the said amount was different from the N1.3trillion the present administration spent on capital expenditure in the nation tertiary institutions.
According to him, “During my briefing in May, last year, I told you that the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari has committed a total of N1.3trillion of capital expenditure in our tertiary institutions.
“In the last one year, TETfund has committed a total of over N396billion to the development of infrastructure in tertiary institutions. This is aside from some budgetary allocations and revitalization funds to universities.”
The minister stated that in the last five years, Buhari’s administration has invested approximately N1.7trillion in tertiary institutions with the universities taking two third of the total sum.
He lamented that despite of the huge commitment by the administration, ASUU has been on strike for almost a year over the Integrated Personnel Payroll Information System (IPPIS) but, however, excited that the strike has ended.
Speaking on the revitalization of the teaching profession policies as approved and its take – date, the minister said, “Let me say that there will be no uniform take-off date for all the policies”.
According to him, the effective dates of other policies will be announced subsequently after the submission of the report of the National Coordinating Committees.
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