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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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Poor tax collection: Fowler replies Buhari’s query

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The Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Babatunde Fowler, has responded to a memo from Abba Kyari, the chief of staff to the president, who said there were significant variances between the tax budgeted collections and actual collections for the period 2015 to 2018.

However, Fowler in his response explained that the recession experienced by the Nigerian economy in 2016 as well as lower oil prices affected the revenue collected by the FIRS.

See Fowler’s response: “I refer to your letter dated 8th August, 2019 on the above subject matter and hereby submit a comprehensive variance analysis between budgeted and actual collections for each main tax item for the period 2012-2018 as requested (see appendix 1).

“Your letter stated that actual collections for a 3-year period were significantly worse than what was collected between 2012 and 2014. Total actual collection for the said period wasN14,527.85 trillion, while total actual collection between 2016 to 2018 was N12,656.30 trillion.

The highlight of these collection figures was that during the period 2012 to 2014, out of the N14,527.85 trillion, oil revenue accounted for N8,321.64 trillion or 57.28% while non-oil accounted for N6,206.22 trillion or 42.72% and during the later period of 2016 to 2018, out of the N12,656.30 trillion, oil revenue accounted for N5,145.87 trillionor 40.65% and non-oil revenue accounted N7,510.42 trillion or 59.35%.

FIRS management has control of non-oil revenue collection figures while oil revenue collection figures are subject to more external forces.” He wrote: “The non-oil revenue collection grew by N1,304.20 trillion or 21% within the period 2016 to 2018.

“Kindly note that the total budget collection figure during 2012 to 2014 stood at N12,190.52 trillion compared to N16,771.78 trillion for the period 2016 to 2018, which represent an increase of 37.58%.

“Please note that the variance in the budgeted and actual revenue collection performance of the Service for the period 2016 to 2018 was main attributed to the following reasons:

“1. The low inflow of oil revenues for the period especially Petroleum Profit Tax (PPT) was due to fall in price of crude oil and reduction of crude oil production. Notwithstanding government efforts to diversify the economy, oil revenues remains (remain) an important component of total revenues accruable to the Federation. The price of crude oil fell from an average of $113.72, $110.98 and $100.40 per barrel in 2012, 2013 and 2014 to $ 52.65, $43.80 and $54.08 per barrel in 2015, 2016 and 2017. There was also a reduction in crude oil production from 2.31mbpd, 2.18mbpd and 2.20mbpd in 2012, 2013 and 2014 to 2.12mbpd, 1.81mbpd and 1.88mbpd in 2015, 2016 and 2017 respectively.

“2. The Nigerian economy also went into recession in the second quarter of 2016 which slowed down general economic activities. Tax revenue collection (CIT and VAT) being a function of economic activities were negatively affected but actual collection of the above two taxes were still higher in 2016 to 2018 than in 2012 to 2014. During the years 2012, 2013 and 2014, GDP grew by 4.3%, 5.4% and 6.3% while in 2015, 2016 and 2017 there was a decline in growth to 2.7%, -1.6% and 1.9% respectively. The tax revenue grew as the economy recovered in the second quarter of 2017.

“3. It is worthy of note that strategies and initiatives adopted in collection of VAT during the period 2015-2017 led to approximately 40% increase over 2012-2014 collections. In 2014 the VAT collected was N802billion, compared to N1.1 trillion in 2018. This increase is attributable to various initiatives such as ICT innovations, continuous taxpayer education, taxpayer enlightenment, etc embarked upon by the Service.

“4. Furthermore, it is pertinent to note that when this administration came on board in August 2015, the target the target for the two major non-oil taxes were increased by 52% for VAT and 45% for CIT. Notwithstanding the increase, FIRS has in line with the Federal government’s revenue base diversification strategy has grown the non-oil tax collection by over N1.304 trillion (21%) when the total non-oil tax collection for 2016-2018 is compared to that of 2012-2014.

“I am confident that our current strategies and initiatives will improve revenue collection and meet the expectations of government.

“Please accept the assurance of my highest regards.”

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We’re not aware of Oyo-Ita’s purported retirement – Presidency

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The Presidency on Monday declared that it was not aware of the purported move of the Head of Service of the Federation, Mrs. Winifred Oyo-Ita, to retire from service.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had last week Tuesday grilled Oyo-Ita over alleged N3bn scam. The Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, in a text message said that the Presidency was not in possession of any letter of intent from Oyo-Ita to retire from service. “Thanks.

We have no such letter here, in the event that such a letter exists. This is our position,” he stated

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Alleged N3bn Contract Scam: Winifred Oyo-Ita sends retirement letter to Buhari

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Winifred Oyo-Ita, the head of service of the federation, has offered to immediately proceed on retirement in a letter to President Muhammadu Buhari.

The widow had been under pressure from her immediate family to retire after news reports emerged that she was being probed over an alleged N3 billion contract scam.

Although she has vehemently denied involvement in any scam, she bowed to family pressures and sent in a letter on Sunday offering to proceed on retirement, we can report.

Buhari is yet to take a final decision on it but reports say he is favourably disposed to the option.

“Mrs Oyo-Ita has sent in her letter of retirement,” a family member, who asked not to be named, said on Monday morning.

She was absent at the presidential retreat for ministers-designate, federal permanent secretaries and top government functionaries held at the state house conference centre in Abuja.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) recently questioned Oyo-Ita over allegations that she used front companies to get contracts when she was a permanent secretary before her appointment as head of service by Buhari in 2015.

There were insinuations that she was being “punished” for “falling out” with Abba Kyari but it was learnt that the president’s chief of staff was unaware of the EFCC probe until it was leaked to the media.

Oyo-Ita has also told her associates not to drag Kyari into the matter because “it is not true”, according to a family member.

The EFCC said the petition against her was written in 2014 when President Goodluck Jonathan was still in office. It was however, learnt that Oyo-Ita was not the subject of the probe.

It was also reported that N600 million was traced to the account of one of her aides who has been quizzed by the anti-graft agency and released.

However, Oyo-Ita also denied the allegation, saying the money was meant for the death benefits of staff and was meant to be kept in a designated account for that purpose by the project accountant.

“She denied knowing anything about where the money was kept and said there was no fraud involved, at least not from her end,” the family member said.

The Cable

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