As the spate of attacks and violent killings rises nationwide, the Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, yesterday, said that the Federal Government was trailing those behind the mayhem with a view to unmasking and prosecuting the masterminds of the dastardly acts.
The minister assured that both the federal and Kaduna State governments were working together to ensure the release of the remaining students of the Greenfield University, who had been in the captivity of their abductors since last month.
The minister made the declarations while addressing a press conference at the National Press Centre in Abuja, yesterday, in response to the media briefing by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), last Monday, during which the main opposition party chided the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration for not doing enough to curb insecurity and for running a government of exclusion.
But at the press conference, Mohammed trolled the PDP for its comments, accusing the opposition of the party of leaving the main issue to play to the gallery in order to score cheap political mileage.
Mohammed also trolled the PDP for saying that the Federal Government had not done enough to bring bandits, kidnappers and other criminals to justice, pointing out that banditry and kidnapping are state and not federal offences, for which the Federal Government should prosecute.
The minister said that what the opposition party did in the name of offering suggestions on how to stem rising insecurity in the country was nothing more than engaging in gimmickry and playing to the gallery in order to score cheap political mileage, given that it had really nothing new to offer to Nigerians.
Mohammed pointed out that contrary to the PDP’s allegation, the APC government had been routinely engaging with relevant stakeholders through the institutionalisation of its now-famous “Town Hall Meeting Project” with Nigerians, a project the Buhari administration initiated in 2016.
The minister said, “As you are definitely aware, the PDP addressed a press conference, yesterday, ostensibly to offer suggestions to the Federal Government on some topical issues, especially national security. The main opposition party said it was dropping the toga of politics in the national interest.
“Unfortunately, the PDP did not respect its own words, as it played cheap politics while playing the ostrich. The party went ahead to make wild accusations against the President and his government. For example, the PDP said the government has refused to engage, and that we were running a ‘government of exclusion’.
“The opposition party then went ahead to reel out a number of suggestions as a way out of the current challenges facing the nation. Unfortunately, the recommendations by the PDP have exposed the opposition party’s gimmickry and the fact that it was merely playing politics with serious national issues, especially security.
“Had it not been so, and had it done its homework properly, the PDP would have known that most of those same recommendations were already contained in the outcome of the Federal Government’s Town Hall Meeting on National Security, which was held in Kaduna on April 8, 2021.
“The PDP accused this Federal Government of not engaging and of running a government of exclusion, forgetting, conveniently, that this Federal Government has consistently engaged Nigerians on topical national issues, including security, the fight against corruption, terrorism, infrastructure and farmer-herder conflict.
“The Town Hall Meeting series, which we launched in 2016, has so far been held 18 times across Nigeria. It’s always a no-holds-barred opportunity for the government to engage with critical stakeholders, briefing them on government policies and programmes and getting their feedback, thus ensuring inclusion and deepening of democracy.
“The latest of such Town Hall Meetings was the one in Kaduna which I referred to earlier. I will go ahead and read the 10-point recommendations from that Town Hall Meeting, and you can then judge for yourself who is ahead of the other.
“Now, we have gone a step further. We have taken those resolutions to the National Economic Council, chaired by the Vice President, and which also includes all the state governors.
“As a prelude to adopting the recommendations, the NEC has directed all state governors to organize state-wide consultation on them, and then revert to the council in its next meeting.
“You can now see that the PDP was more interested in playing politics with national challenges than helping to find solutions to them. They presented as original thinking some of the same resolutions that we are already working to implement, without a single reference to those same recommendations that emanated from our Town Hall Meeting of April 8, 2021.
“They disparaged Mr President and the Federal Government, engaged in name-calling and finger-pointing, gloated about the security challenges facing the nation, lied about how they resolved security challenges under their watch and then went ahead to say, at their hysterical press conference, that they have not come to play politics. Who is fooling who here?
“The PDP alleged that kidnappers and bandits are not being brought to justice. This is apparently aimed at the Federal Government. It is shocking that the party that ruled this nation for all of 16 years does not know that kidnapping and banditry are not federal offences. The PDP should therefore call out the states, including those being controlled by it to ensure a rigorous prosecution of arrested kidnappers and bandits.
“Meanwhile, PDP conveniently forgot that as far as terrorism, a federal offence, is concerned, this Federal Government has successfully prosecuted thousands of Boko Haram members in Kainji, as part of a continuing exercise. We are now seeking the cooperation of the judiciary to continue with the trial of arrested terrorists,” the minister said.
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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