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Why I haven’t criticised Buhari despite Borno’s worsening insecurity – Governor Shettima

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The Governor of Borno State, Kashim Shettima, on Monday night held what the government called an extraordinary security meeting to discuss the worsening security situation in the state.

At the meeting, the governor admitted that the security situation in the troubled state was getting worse of recent. He, however, said he could not blame President Muhammadu Buhari for the situation unlike how he blamed ex-President Goodluck Jonathan.

The meeting was convened by the state government on the heels of recent coordinated attacks and capture of territories, including military formations, by Boko Haram insurgents.

Though the military has repeatedly denied claims that communities and soldiers have been dislodged by the rampaging Boko Haram insurgents, people in their hundreds have, since last week, been fleeing their homes into Maiduguri, the state capital.

The influx of men, women and children into Maiduguri, as well as reports of many dying on the way, have triggered tension in the state with concerns among citizens calling for drastic action to be taken by the government.

It was based on this that Mr Shettima convened the Monday night security meeting that involved almost all sectors, including security agencies, the media and legal practitioners.

Mr Shettima delivered a lengthy remark at the opening of the meeting that held at the multipurpose hall of Government House, Maiduguri, detailing why the security meeting was expedient.

He specifically admonished the attendees not to engage in blame games over the perceived failure of the soldiers which he said would be unfair giving the enormous sacrifices they have made in the last seven years.

He also explained why he refused to condemn President Muhammadu Buhari’s handling of the Boko Haram crisis.

“…unlike in previous years when I was treated as an enemy of the Presidency, I have from 2015 to date, gained unfettered access to the President,” Mr Shettima said.

The late night security meeting was the first of its kind that had representatives of many groups and associations including traditional rulers.

After the initial remarks by the governor, journalists were told to leave the meeting and not to expect a communique. The other attendees went into a closed-door session to deliberate and fashion out counter strategies of tackling the Boko Haram resurgence.

Read Mr Shettima’s full speech below:

“Your royal highnesses and our elders, I will like to start by saying that the aim of convening this important meeting is not to pass blames or to pass any kind of verdict on our security agencies.

“I think the most inhuman way to go is to gather and condemn those who are putting their lives on the line and giving their lives in efforts to find peace. ?

“We are principally here as a family, as a people all affected by the situation in Borno State, to discuss suggestions that will hopefully contribute to combined ongoing efforts towards addressing the problem.

“For seven years, we held our regular security council meetings. I from to time consult with some of the participants here. However, I never for once convene an extraordinary meeting of this nature because, frankly speaking, I was avoiding a sort of dramatisation or being sensational about our challenges in Borno State.

“Without being insensitive to the realities of our situation, I feel deeply pained whenever Borno is being discussed on the basis of helpless weakness. I prefer to assume a position of strength; a position of normalcy and a character of being incurably optimistic. It was in these regards that we created a full-fledged Ministry of Reconstruction, Rehabilitation and Resettlement and deployed enormous public resources to rebuild more than 30,000 homes of citizens, hospitals, water installations, local government secretariats, schools and palaces of traditional rulers.

“It was with the same mind that we kept on pushing for voluntary and dignified return of displaced citizens to safe and rebuilt communities.

“My greatest wish was and still is, not to bequeath Boko Haram challenges and IDP Camps to my successor. We wanted to, and still want to get Borno fully back to normal days. Sometimes, I unconsciously find myself boasting that Borno is safer than Lagos. I simply feel very bad to sound pessimistic about Borno. I so much believe in optimism.

“Of course, I know that in governance, responding to some situations demand a combination of being both optimistic and realistic.

“The realities, Your Royal Highnesses, invited participants, is that while so much was achieved by our gallant military men and women, we are today faced with serious challenges in Borno State. But then, these challenges should strengthen our abiding faith and resolve to continually do whatever we can, in support of our military, the police, the DSS, our Civilian JTF, all para-military agencies and political authorities at the federal level, to end the Boko Haram insurgency.

“I have met the President a number of times, including few weeks ago. I have led our national assembly members to the president and in all our discussions, we all saw on the face, in words and actions of the President, absolute sincerity in terms of his deep concern, his empathy and his compassion towards our plight in the northeast, particularly in Borno.

“President Muhammadu Buhari is without the slightest doubt, devoted to the fight against Boko Haram. I believe that service chiefs, the IGP, the DG of DSS and heads of all para-military agencies share the commitment of Mr President.

“Most importantly, troops in the front lines, have with their own lives, proved their commitment in the service of our country and in obedience to the President, Commander In Chief. The President has mobilised world leaders in support of Nigeria’s fight against Boko Haram. He has fostered regional cooperation and he supports troops.

“Some persons have asked why I have not criticised the Buhari government or the Nigerian military over situations in Borno. My response to them is that unlike in previous years when I was treated as an enemy of the Presidency, I have from 2015 to date, gained unfettered access to the President. I see the Commander-In-Chief at the shortest request and I tell him my concerns, he listens to me with keen interest and in most cases, he takes measures. I have not had reason to be frustrated with the Presidency, unlike previous years.

“Let me say that even under the previous administration, I regularly supported and defended the military. When I said in February 2014, that the military was not being well equipped, it was not a comment by design, it was a spontaneous reaction which came out of frustration and it was in defence of the soldiers being killed in front lines. I knew the problems.
Some people have said I was later vindicated. Nigerians can bear witness that from 2011 to date, I prefer to speak from a position of strength rather than a position of hopelessness.

“I prefer to inspire our military and citizens. I prefer to make security matters as discrete as possible. There were times I managed to see the former President but our meetings were always under rush. There were times I resorted to writing him for the record. I remember one specific instance I wrote a strong letter in 2013, over serious concerns raised by the Nigerian Air Force command in Borno State, and I have to admit that President Jonathan took immediate measures on that.

“As a state government, we have done and will continue to do everything humanly possible in support of the fight against Boko Haram. We have given very serious financial, moral and political support to the counter-insurgency. All security agencies and the federal government (including the previous Jonathan administration) have strongly acknowledged the role of the Civilian JTF in the successes recorded by the military.

“From 2013 to date, Borno State Government has been solely responsible for funding the Civilian JTF in terms of their training, their allowances, deployment, operational vehicles and their kits. We will continue to support the Civilian JTF, our military, the police and all other security agencies. We have secretly been engaging hunters in some areas without making noise. We believe security of lives is what makes government legitimate.

“Your royal highnesses, invited participants, everyone here has been playing one or more roles in the fight against Boko Haram. This fight is a collective one that affects all of us. We all have stakes in the peace and stability of Borno and this is why we chose to hold an extraordinary security meeting with carefully chosen participants. There are many important stakeholders that were not invited and it is not because they do not matter but because we wanted to minimize our number. We deliberately did not invite persons on individual basis in order to prevent perceptions or feelings of alienation. Even as this gathering is constituted, it is too large from a security point of view. Nevertheless, we are at a point in which we needed to convene a meeting of this nature so as to form a broader and more inclusive platform to listen to each other, to hopefully generate some new ideas.

“To chart a new course and to also rebuild public confidence. Leadership requires building and nurturing the hopes of citizens. Times like ours require all of us raising the hopes of citizens, but these hopes should not be blind ones. They should be based on the measures we take.

“Their Royal Highnesses are permanent leaders and custodians of our communities. We politicians come and go, royal fathers do not have tenure of office. Our elders here are the conscience of our communities. They stood for Borno when it was impossible to move freely in our state capital.

“Our national and state assembly members are representatives of our people. I do not think it is wise to see security as purely an executive thing. I believe in productive and strategic cooperation. We all need ourselves to move faster. The legislature is sometimes the most authoritative in relating with organs of the Federal Government.

“All the groups we invited have roles to play. We need the buy-in and ideas of the NLC, whose members have been victims in different places attacked. We need the NBA whose lawyers deal with issues of public rights including being defendants of suspects under prosecution and who should guide us. We need our retired military elders in the Nigerian Legion whose experiences of yesterday can be a benefit to this gathering. We invited journalists. We need the NUJ leadership to as stakeholders, help us manage information in ways that will help the state and not destabilize it.

“I have in the course of work realized that the best way to relate with journalists is to sometimes take them into confidence. We invited unions of transport and road workers whose hundreds of members move around the state and have come across different security situations. They see so much on the roads. We invited representatives of our tertiary institutions, religious leaders and management of markets for us to think ahead of insurgents. Knowing the Boko Haram, they may send our minds to the north while planning to head the south.

“We need to strengthen security measures in schools, mosques and churches, markets and all public places across Borno State. We should not be taken unawares. We invited the council on women societies because women and our children constitute the largest number of traumatized and displaced victims of the Boko Haram insurgency. They bear the brunt.

“Your royal highnesses, elders, national and state assembly members, heads of security establishments, members of the state executive council, chairmen, representatives of various groups, I will like to appeal to all of us that our meeting should not be driven by emotions. We should speak with logic. We should see all of here as stakeholders with genuine interest in the peace and security of Borno. We should speak with mutual respect and with trust in the sincerity of each other. Our focus should largely be about finding solutions. We all know the situation of things. Let us as a family with equal stakes, suggest solutions that will insha’Allah, contribute to addressing our problems.

“I wish us a meaningful meeting and not a tea party. I will at this point thank and request our friends in the media to allow us hold a closed-door meeting. I will like to say also that we are not issuing a communique. Whatever we resolve will be transmitted to the President, Commander In Chief in writing and not for public consumption.”

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Umar Mohammed Bago, Man With Passion For Service

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-Why He Wants To Be Reps Speaker 

Umar Mohammed Bago is not just another member of the Federal House of Representatives, he is a man that has the wherewithal and the qualities of a leader of the 21st Century, whose antecedents show that he could turn a stone to bread and bring water out of the rock. 

The people of Chanchanga  Federal Constituency in Niger State knew better,  when they voted for Bago to be their representative in the House of Reps in 2011  and repeated the same in 2015 and 2019. 

Bago has since proven the be the best man for the job with the way he has influenced development to the area and touched the lives of the people in the constituency. 

The 45-year-old politician is an alumnus of the Federal Government College, Jos and he graduated with a degree in Political Science from Uthman Dan Fodio University,  Sokoto and holds a Post Graduate Diploma. 

His educational career continued as he went ahead to obtain Masters Degrees in Management, Business Administration and Finance and he is an alumnus of the prestigious Cambridge University in the United Kingdom. 

Bago cut his teeth in banking at the Central Bank of Nigeria, United Bank of Africa, Standard Trust Bank (STB), FCMB,  and Afribank. 

As a member of the Federal House of Representatives, his experiences are for the records. 

He was a member of the House Committee on Banking and Currency,  Appropriation and Communication Technology,  Defense, as well as Loans and Debts. 

He has also served in other committees such as National Planning and Economic Development,  Media and Publicity,  and he is a member of several civil societies and donor agencies. 

In 2015, Bago was made the Chairman of the House Committee on Maritime,  Safety,  Education and Administration. 

While some of his colleagues could not boast of making differences in the green chamber,  Bago has so far moved 20 motions on the floor of the House, sponsored 15 bills and co-sponsored several others. 

The people of Bago’s constituency are living testimonies of his people-oriented empowerment programmes and constituency projects. 

The cerebral nationalist is well travelled, exposed,  urbane and speaks Nupe,  Hausa and Yoruba fluently.

Bago is one of the politicians that have no baggage and people believe that the House of Representatives deserves such a politician to be it’s leader. 

Some of his thoughts have become reference points for those, who believe in quality leadership and progressive minded politicians. 

Bago once stated that “I observed with continued amazement and curiousity that the issue of equity in geopolitical balancing  as enshrined in the constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria, has not been seen and taken seriously rather the issue of capacity and competence is being touted.

“The question is capacity and competence in what? To move motions and bills? Chair committee sessions? Educational background? Party loyalty? humbly speaking; if these are the indices to define capacity and competence, I am very qualified.”

Bago  believes that if its the job of Speaker that “we are talking about, the Speaker will not be moving motions or Bills. Only Speaker Yakubu Dogara had moved a bill on the floor of the house of representatives in recent history of the house over the last twenty years.”

He stressed that a great speaker could  not emerge from disdain for the constitution with which he will be sworn in, adding that the capacity and competence must be situated within constitutional prescriptions. 

“Lastly the Speaker must enjoy earned confidence of members out of his relatability capacity and quotient 

“An effective Speaker must be able to ride on provable ability that every member  and stakeholders will find comfort  and accommodation in him, by reputation. 

“I am called Mr.Relatable because this is what my life embodies and it did not start with the aspiration to be Speaker,” he said. 

Bago was quoted to have said that the demand for equity is at the “nucleus of my aspiration before my nature as a very relatable personality or my capacity and competence,  and so demanding  for equitable treatment is not about indulging or being gratuitous to the North Central, rather its fact based and well earned, not frivolous; from the facts that the North Central zone gave our party the third highest votes at the 2019 Presidential election, to the zone never had a speaker of house of Representatives in 20years since 1999! 

“These are facts! Of course in the mix is the need for a youth inclusion at that level of our political administration; these are claims that are real making my aspiration legitimate, fair and just…”

He said further that “I just watched the Seun Okinbaloye’s Politics Today and saw how the North Central geopolitical zone asking for equity was dismissively and condescendingly referred to by my colleague Hon. Abdulmumini, when he said there are other positions “within” the house leadership that the North Central can be “given”, affirming that south west zone(lagos) that gave our party 2million votes and has Vice President of Nigeria by entitlement should also get the Speaker House of Representatives while Northcentral geopolitical zone that gave APC/President Buhari 2.4million votes should settle for Chief whip?Or Deputy Whip..etc! My heart bleeds…”

He maintained that a zone that in 20 years had never produced Speaker or Deputy inspite of huge support for APC…where is equity, justice, fairness that the Nigerian constitution  and that of APC prescribed. 

“A case of a father of six openly showing favouritism to a child out of  the six, in a six bedroom  house is giving two rooms to the favourite child and asking four others to take the remaining four rooms and sending one child to go and stay in the boy’s quarters, even when he has been a good child… hmmm…May God bless Nigeria…” he said. 

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FG: We’ve not found a formula to end fuel subsidy

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The federal government says it is yet to devise a workable formula for the removal of fuel subsidy.

Speaking at the federal executive council meeting, Zainab Ahmed, minister of finance, said removal of subsidy would have negative effect on vulnerable Nigerians.

Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), had advised Nigeria and other countries to remove fuel subsidy, saying the money spent on subsidy can be redirected to health and education.

Four days after making the suggestion, Ibe Kachikwu, minister of state for petroleum resources, said the landing cost of petrol is now N180 per litre, with the federal government spending N1.86bn on subsidy daily.

Ahmed explained that while the country appreciates the advice of the IMF, what works for others may not be operable within Nigeria’s context, describing the country as unique.

She said the government is still considering various options and until a decision is reached, no action will be taken.

“In some countries, they provided buses to transport people, in some countries they provide subsidies in a manner that the people that are directly requiring the subsidies,” Ahmed said.

“We have not found a way to do it. What we are doing now, the subsidy, it is everybody that it benefiting, whereas it is the people who are really vulnerable that need subsidy.

“So, in the executive with the support of the legislature, we have to find a formula that will work for Nigeria. And until we do that, we should not be contemplating removing the subsidy because, indeed when we do, there will be people that will suffer. So, we are not yet there.

“We discussed this periodically under the Economic Management Team but we still haven’t found a formula that works for Nigeria. And you know that Nigeria is unique. What works for Ghana might not work here.

“So, it’s still work in progress for and there is no intention to remove fuel subsidy at this time.”

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Gov. Yahya Bello Declares For Second Term, Gives Reasons

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Gov. Yahaya Bello of Kogi, on Wednesday, officially declared his intention to seek reelection for a second term on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

Bello made the declaration while inaugurating the board of the State House of Assembly Service Commission at Banquet hall Government House, Lokoja.

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has slated the governorship election in the state for Nov. 2.

The governor said his declaration came after consultations with the leadership of his party both at the national and state levels and pressure from the people of the state on him to seek re-election.

He added that his decision is premised on the official release of the State’s Election time table by INEC.

“I would like to inform the good people of the state, the APC family and supporters from the state, the Local Government Areas (LGAs) down to the wards and polling units, as well as various stakeholders, opinion molders, families and friends of my interest to run for a second term in office as the Executive Governor of the state.

”I have sought the blessing of the Almighty God and our good people; I will have to contest for the second term so that we can build on our modest achievements so far in the state by taking it to the next level,” Bello said.

He urged members of the board to always let the interest of the state be paramount in their mind, and shun any form of tribal or religious sentiment.

He further enjoined them to serve well with all their capacity and ensure they cooperate with the members of the state House of Assembly.

Mr Matthew Kolawole, the Speaker, commended the governor for his magnanimity to have signed the bill and for inaugurating the board.

”All of us in the House of Assembly are happy with the inauguration of the board of the commission, because it marks the beginning of our financial autonomy,” Matthew said.

He expressed happiness over the governor’s declaration for second term bid, saying they had been expecting it.

“Our prime objective right now is to see him returning on Nov. 2, as the 5th executive governor of the state, and it shall come to past,” he said.

Mr Andas Momoh-Jimoh, the Chairman of the Commission, commended the governor for the opportunity given to them to serve.

”I believed in oneness and unity of the state and I am going to carry out this assignment without any bias, fear, favor or any religious or tribal sentiment,” he said.

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