President Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday, reiterated his commitment to lift 100 Nigerians out of poverty, explaining that his administration’s ambitious policy of achieving the task did not come by accident.
The president particularly explained that his administration’s policy of lifting 100 million Nigerians out of poverty did not come by accident or “something we just bumped into,” but a deliberate one that will be pursued with remarkable grit and determination.
A statement, yesterday evening by the Senior Special Assistant to the President, Garba Shehu, said Buhari spoke at a meeting with the Presidential Economic Advisory Council (PEAC), which was also attended by Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo at the State House in Abuja, earlier in the day.
The statement said Buhari agreed with the council that the country required a poverty reduction strategy that will usher in a “rapid, sustained, sustainable and inclusive economic growth.
“In a short speech after the presentation of the report on national poverty reduction strategy, developed by the PEAC, President Buhari requested the PEAC to present the document to the Federal Executive Council (FEC) tomorrow as part of the consultation process.
“He also agreed with the council that this ambitious program of lifting 100 million Nigerians out of poverty is a challenging one, but one that can be achieved,” the statement added.
The President wondered what became of the nation in the past, “with all the resources available to it” that no such coordinated, holistic agenda on poverty reduction was ever contemplated.
“I was shocked, hearing from you that, of the vast agricultural land resources available to the nation, only two percent of it is under irrigation”, promising that “we will make the best use of the land. Thank you for shaking us up. We are now awake; we will not doze off again. We didn’t just bump into this; we believe it is something we can deliver on.”
After listening to the PEAC Chairman, Prof Doyin Salami, who led the presentation, President Buhari cleared the way for ministers to be briefed on the implementation plan at the FEC meeting on Wednesday, February 24, 2021.
The plan, which Salami said had so far gained an overwhelming approval of stakeholders across the country, had earlier been presented to the vice president; secretaries to government of all the 36 states, and the governors at the National Economic Council; development partners, including the World Bank, IMF and AfDB; civil society organisations and the organised private sector actors in the country.
The PEAC chairman welcomed the country’s exit from recession but cautioned that the strength of the economic growth must be driven in a way that it will overtake population growth.
The poverty reduction strategy, as presented, requires the nation to aim to raise agricultural productivity; to address the wide disparity among states and the regions in the distribution of poverty; to ensure macro-economic stability; and to take advantage of the different economic endowments of the country in the promotion of industrialisation.
The strategy benefited from extensive consultations among all stakeholders in both the public and private sectors to achieve “ownership and sustainability”.
In defining principles of the new strategy, the PEAC said the approach will be multi-dimensional.
“Poverty is not only the lack of cash. It is defined by lack of access to shelter, health, education and jobs which must all be addressed.”
While nothing that there had in the past been varied attempts to eradicate poverty in the country, the council submitted that this was the first time that “we are consolidating on the achievements of the past and avoiding past mistakes; it is the first time that everyone is coming on board – Federal Government, states, the private sector, development partners and the civil society. Poverty reduction must not be left to the Federal Government alone, it is everybody’s responsibility.”
To this effect, the council suggested the setting up of a “National Council on Poverty Reduction,” made up of all these stakeholders, which was accepted by the President.
Group Urges Police To Apologise To Protesters
The Alliance on Surviving Covid-19 and Beyond (ASCAB), has asked the Nigeria Police to apologise for violating the fundamental right of the protesters to freedom of expression.
A statement by the human rights group yesterday, by its Interim Chair, Femi Falana (SAN), also accused the police of deliberately contravening Section 83 (4) of the Police Establishment Act 2020.
The section provides that “Where a person or organization notifies the police of his or its intention to hold a public meeting, rally or procession on a public highway or such meetings in a place where the public has access to, the police officer responsible for the area where the meeting rally or procession will take place shall mobilize personnel to provide security cover for the meeting, rally or the procession.”
The group noted that Section 36 of the Constitution guarantees the fundamental right of the Nigerian people to freedom of expression including the right to protest against policies of the government.
Many Nigerians in many states across the country trooped out on Saturday, June 12 to mark the day– Democracy Day – with protests against bad governance.
The protesters chanted ‘Buhari must go’ in apparent dissatisfaction with the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government that has seen security, economy, youth employment rate and some other sectors and indices worsen.
However, there were arrests and harassment of peaceful protesters by the policex particularly in Abuja, Lagos and Cross River.
The group in the statement said, “For having the audacity to insist on their fundamental right to protest against unpopular policies of governments, teams of armed police personnel fired teargas to disperse the peaceful rallies. As if the unprovoked attack was not enough, the Police brutalised and arrested scores of protesters in Lagos, Abuja and Calabar (Cross River State capital).
“Since the protesters who were arrested during the peaceful rallies did not commit any offence, they have since regained their liberty. But the police authorities ought to apologise for violating the fundamental right of the protesters to freedom of expression.
“More so that the Police had deliberately contravened Section 83 (4) of the Police Establishment Act 2020 which provides that ‘Where a person or organization notifies the police of his or its intention to hold a public meeting, rally or procession on a public highway or such meetings in a place where the public has access to, the police officer responsible for the area where the meeting rally or procession will take place shall mobilise personnel to provide security cover for the meeting, rally or the procession.’
“While commending the protesters for conducting the themselves in a matured and peaceful manner, we condemn the official lie that the protesters were teargassed to prevent hoodlums and miscreants from hijacking the peaceful rallies. Since the Police admitted that protesters committed no offence whatsoever why were some of them arrested? Why were the so-called hoodlums and miscreants who wanted to cause mayhem and unleash violence on the protesters not arrested?
“Or were they treated like sacred cows because they had been hired to disrupt the peaceful rallies of the protesters? Why were the scanty pro-government protesters who were reported to have fought openly in Abuja over their booty not arrested for breach of the peace in the Federal Capital Territory?
‘MKO Most Acceptable Nigerian Democrat’
Bauchi State Governor, Bala Mohammed, has described the late Chief Moshood Abiola, widely believed to have won the June 12, 1993 presidential poll, as “the most acceptable democrat cherished by Nigerians”.
Mohammed said this in Gamawa Local Government Area (LGA) of the state during the distribution of empowerment items to youths and women under the Kaura Economic Empowerment Programme (KEEP).
He said the empowerment scheme historic as it coincided with Democracy Day which he described as an unforgettable day in the history of Nigeria.
The governor, who was full of praises for the late business mogul, said Abiola provided the country with a lot of empowerment programmes without considering the tribe, language and geographical location of the beneficiaries.
“Our launching of this empowerment programne today is historic and passionate; we remember today is democracy day and we decided to do it on this day.
“This is because Chief Moshood Abiola, who we are celebrating, empowered several people.
“He did that across board without considering the religion, language and origin of those that benefited from the gestures.
“Abiola will remain in our memory as the most acceptable democrat or politician in Nigeria.
“We all voted for him and that is why myself, my deputy and the government decided honour to him this day by coming to Gamawa and Zaki to empower the people,” he said.
Mohammed noted that democracy day meant remembering people who had empowered the masses, adding that the late Abiola was in that category.
The gesture, he said, was also to show appreciation to the people who brought his administration to power, adding that his government had a lot to offer to the people.
Buhari, Bello Greet Abubakar At 79
President Muhammadu Buhari has felicitated former Head of State, retired Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar, on his 79th birthday, joining family members and friends to celebrate with the iconic leader.
The president’s congratulatory message is contained in a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu, in Abuja yesterday.
Buhari noted that Abubakar’s legacy of setting the country on the path of democracy and good governance, and passionate pursuit of peace had continued to yield results.
He congratulated the General for another age, appreciating his patriotism and visionary leadership style of always advocating unity, projecting maturity and wisdom on national discourse, and providing a rallying point for the future of the country.
The president noted the goodwill that the former Head of State had continued to attract to the country, both at national and international levels.
He particularly lauded him for sacrificing his time and resources to reach out to individuals and institutions on the need to work for the growth of Nigeria.
Buhari prayed for increase in wisdom, strength and long life for the former military leader that midwifed return of democracy to the country in 1999.
Similarly, Governor Abubakar Sani-Bello of Niger has felicitated former Military Head of State, Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar (Rtd), on his 79th birthday.
Sani-Bello, in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Mrs Mary Noel-Berje, last Saturday in Minna eulogised Abubakar and described him as a “complete gentleman”.
According to him, the former head of state is a patriot who has remained “consistent and significant” in the progress and development of the country.
He said Niger and the country were indeed lucky to have an outstanding leader and statesman who had consistently remained on the path of promoting national unity and integration, as well as pursuit of global peace.
“Undoubtedly, your resolve to rededicate yourself to the service of our fatherland and humanity in general is a clear testimony of your statesmanship and influence which cuts across the length and breadth of the country,” Sani-Bello said.
He noted that at 79 years, Abdulsalami had remained a reference point for good governance, diplomacy and conflict resolution.
He prayed Allah to grant him sound health, many more years of wisdom, courage and determination to continue to offer selfless service to the nation and humanity.
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