All publications of Priceless . Abuja , Nigeria
The time to act is now. The transformation in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs must go on
By Samuel Haruna
Recently, I had the pleasure of writing the memoirs detailing the decades spent in active service by a retired distinguished senior officer in the Nigerian Foreign Service. It was a most informative and educating exercise, to say the least. The discourse that ensued is best narrated in his own words.
The purported letter dated May 4, 2021 addressed to Mr. President by some unknown persons has created an opportunity for the need of some anomalies ongoing in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to be brought to the open. One of the most resisted things in organizations or most establishments, has always proven to be change.
Change from the way of doing things and change that tend to bring about transformation and betterment of the establishment; resulting in the curbing of waste and injecting of new ideas into the system. The classical example of this analysis is what is currently playing out at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs especially as it relates to foreign service officers, a firsthand information of a retired staff.
The slogan “Soldier come, Soldier go, barrack remain” has shown to be apt and accurate, even so beyond the military circles. For many of us who know the inner workings of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and by extension, the Foreign Service operations, the expectations that things will improve in areas of service delivery to Nigerian citizens in the diaspora, continue to get dashed as things continue to be recycled in a business as usual manner.
Having served in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as Ambassador, now retired and in the position of a highly informed observer, he gets numerous calls from friends and former colleagues who are still in active service, every time on issues both those that affect Nigerians and the staff of the Ministry generally.
The insanely high levels of corruption in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) over the years begs for urgent attention ranging from over inflated ticket costs and passages of officers, using official resources to ferry family and friends not covered by official travel, is a well-worn tale that needs not be rehashed.
The resultant effect is that the crop of young officers who do get recruited periodically are speedily initiated into the cesspool, leaving not much hope for any systemic change, irrespective of the lofty ideas these younger ones may have held upon entering the service. It has become imperative that the time is now for that drastic change and holistic overhaul of the Ministry, in order to rid it of this deep-rooted systemic corruption.
The high level of indiscipline inevitably characterizes any such work environment, and directly for the work culture as well. Numerous cases readily come to mind over the course of years spent on active duty, where undisciplined officers at Nigerian foreign missions were never sanctioned, but instead they got cross-posted to other stations, in order to calm frayed nerves and cover up their criminal acts and misdemeanors.
Most times one would be forgiven if you find yourself wondering whether there is a Code of Conduct to guide actions by the officers. This is due to the way Public Service Rules and Extant Circulars get flouted at will. In the end, operations become subject to the fancies, whims and caprices of the most senior officer on ground, and his inner circle.
Quite unforgettable is one such case where principal officers of the ministry were known to be collecting 5 Million Naira (5,000,000.00) per month for sundry issues without recourse to any financial guidelines bordering on such spending.
Most of these misgivings are done within the staff with no knowledge of the Hon. Minister whom one would imagine turns a blind eye to all these happenings. Equally deserving of note is the firebrand approach of the new Permanent Secretary, who is currently unearthing and suspending unjustifiable spending, thereby curbing wastages of the Ministry’s limited resources.
However, I will quickly add that with the caliber of Foreign Service Officers we have, who are desperate and bent on using Aso Villa connections or “my Oga at the top” to clip his wings, and thwart the efforts of the permanent secretary as a result of all his well-intentioned reforms, so that they can continue in their nefarious ways unchecked.
Over the years, things have truly fallen apart, as can be seen in the breaking down of facilities in the MFA Headquarters such as elevators, generators, working materials, even when money was duly voted, disbursed and expended as clearly shown in the financial records and books of the Ministry.
One inevitable effect of these decades of decay is that Foreign Service officers lack capacity for effective representation abroad. Nigerian owned mission houses are known to be abandoned in order to justify rent of alternative houses at very ridiculous and exorbitant costs. Your guess is as good as mine as to where the padded monies from such real estate deals are headed.
Presently, we see situations where the current minister cannot stamp his authority to whip this hydra-headed monster into manageable shape. Staff of the MFA lament openly that he is being too much of a gentleman while dealing with hardened law-breakers who only see personal profits, not minding the far-reaching damage being done by the day. They feel he is too laid back for the good of the ministry; the time to act is NOW.
There have been some tough stances as it is echoed in the Ministry from the desk of the Permanent Secretary in dealing with matters under his purview, and the heat is building up thereby making these elements uncomfortable. The firebrand approach he brings to work is starting to give some hope for sanity.
Most insiders who try to be neutral are quick to tell you that the caliber of Foreign Service Officers who populate the rank and file of diplomatic missions abroad will not hesitate to deploy ‘Federal might’ underhandedly through known Aso Villa ties, if push comes to shove.
Recently, the usual grumblings are starting to well up from various camps of entrenched interests, that he is threatening their illegal sources of slush funds by his insistence on carrying out operations in the most professional way possible, devoid of sentiments as he is widely known to be a stickler to extant rules and regulations.
The sovereignty of every land upon which the foreign missions are located is called into question when one realizes that the citizenship services which Nigerians are routinely denied in these foreign mission offices, can be easily gotten from offices located near the same missions and are often run by Nigeria’s retired foreign service officers.
These services have become so openly brazen that they now advertise online in US cities, obviously orchestrated in connivance with mission staff who get their regular cuts, or even own these business centers out rightly. This is the so-called ‘express service’.
The presence of operations such as these, effectively usurps the sole responsibilities of Nigeria’s missions abroad. Suffice to say that they are now running parallel government services without due authorization from the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
The ministry which has a penchant for fighting dirty especially against non-career Permanent Secretaries, in order to sustain their looting game, are already at it again. This was done to their last Permanent Secretary who lasted only 31 days in office at the ministry. Her only wrong doing was wanting to do things right.
If Nigeria must see effective and competent foreign service representation and a return to the good old days of global significance, when Nigerian missions abroad were well respected, had the requisite clout and caliber of persons, then we must deliberately embrace a new paradigm shift towards respect for extant rules and regulations, training and re-training, entrenchment of discipline, amongst others within the Ministry and its foreign service operations.
As a keen follower of the happenings in the Ministry, I am very confident of some achievements of the current Permanent Secretary, Mr. Gabriel Aduda who is barely 4 months in the Ministry, and should be encouraged to sustain the reformation ongoing at the Ministry. When my attention was drawn to the publication of May 4, 2021, it was not the least bit surprising for me to understand that corruption is fighting back with the sponsored “non-note” written by unknown concerned Foreign Service Officers and purportedly forwarded to Mr. President.
The Federal Civil Service under the leadership of Dr. Yemi Esan, must by all means rise to the occasion and identify this faceless group, towards applying the appropriate sanctions in line with Extant rules. The impunity in the Ministry must be addressed headlong in the interest of the country. The orchestrated blackmail against non-career Foreign Service Officers posted to serve as Permanent Secretary, must be effectively addressed. The Service is beyond an individual or group of people who are benefiting from the deeply entrenched corrupt system.
The era of sacrificing competence on the altar of selfish interests and resistance must come to an end. Waste in the Ministry must be investigated, the unfathomable spending must be investigated and culprits brought to book.
The publication has indirectly unearthed their sordid gimmicks, however unknown to them, and the time to act is now. The anti-corruption agencies as a matter of urgency, should beam their searchlight into the affairs of the Ministry and the assertions contained in that publication should be completely ignored as the attempt is to distract the attention of the new management, who have made bold moves to change the state of affairs at the Ministry by challenging the usual norm for the sake of what is right and proper.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs must not die, and the much needed transformation has just begun. The Ministers and the Permanent Secretary should be allowed to do their work.
Long live Nigeria’s Foreign Missions!
Long live the Ministry of Foreign Affairs!
Long live the Federal Republic of Nigeria!
(Samuel Haruna has served as a Senior Media Aide in the Nigerian Consulate)
Military Air Crash: Tears, emotions as Osinbajo's wife visits Attahiru's family, homes and relatives of other departed military officers
There was shedloads of emotions and tears as the wife of the Vice President of Nigeria, Mrs Dolapo Osinbajo visited the wife and family of late Chief of Army Staff, Ibrahim Attahiru.
Mrs Osinbajo who paid to a visit to seven of the families, all of whom reside in Abuja, conveyed the message of the President and First Lady. NAN had actually reported earlier that she was among early callers at the residence of the COAS on Friday soon after the news got out. Since then reports say she has been visiting the relatives of the departed every day.
In what was a very emotive scene, Mrs Osinbajo could been seen embracing the wives of the departed officers.
When she arrived at the residence of Mrs Attahiru, she was received by Mrs Victoria Irabor, the wife of the Chief of Defence Staff, Lucky Irabor.
She assured Mrs Attahiru and family that both the President and his VP would ensure that the memories of the COAS and all the military officers involved would not be forgotten.
She was then accompanied by leaders of the Defence and Police Officers Wives Association (DEPOWA) to pay condolence visits to the families of six other families over the weekend.
She assured them that the Presidency would stand with the families and that the men did not die in vain. Later on Sunday the First Lady also visited the COAS family.
Rudolf Okonkwo and the Plot to Weaponize Osinbajo
By FEJIRO JOHNSON
When a majority of Nigerians re-elected President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, for a second term in 2019, it was more because they believed in the integrity and fidelity of the Buhari administration to deliver on its promise of reforms and change.
Although many factors have hampered the speed of that change, but only a few would argue that there have been major developments across different sectors since President Buhari was elected in 2015, especially in the areas of infrastructure, social investment programmes and economic recovery polices.
Six years have gone by. Has it been worth it? Definitely. The Buhari government was dealt a hard hand in 2015 when it was first elected into office due to some circumspect global events.
Rudolf Okonkwo, in his article, the moral burden of Yemi Osinbajo, forgot to mention that President Buhari administration inherited a country that was virtually on its knees in terms of attacks by Boko Haram terrorists in the North East and other parts of the country; the slump in oil prices to as low as $35 per barrel, in contrasts to the former administration when oil at a time sold for up to $100 per barrel.
Due to the slump in global price of crude oil, Nigeria officially entered into a recession in 2016 for the first time in 20 years. The price of oil has fallen from a record high of about $112 a barrel in 2014 (before President Buhari was elected) to below $50 in that period. Between 2014 and 2016, it was reported that there was about 60 per cent drop in the global oil prices, which further exposed the country’s economy. As at June 2014. the price of Nigeria’s crude - Bonny light, was about $115 per barrel, but by January 2016, it had plunged to as low as $31 per barrel by January 2016.
Also, during that time, the country’s economic situation was worsened by the frequent attacks on oil installations and the renewed militancy in the oil-rich Niger Delta region which grossly affected production of crude oil, which accounts for about 70 per cent of government’s revenue. By May 2016, Nigeria’s crude oil exports had slumped from about 2.2 million barrels per day to less than 1 million barrels per day.
And there was Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN. When President Buhari chose Osinbajo as his deputy before the 2015 elections, he already saw what many Nigerians now know: that Osinbajo is a thoroughbred intellectual and public servant who throughout his stellar career in public service, academia and clergy, has proven (and continues to prove) himself as a man of integrity, honour, strong character and values and has continued to make significant impact in every area of governance and public service.
Through Osinbajo, the Buhari government’s Niger Delta New Vision, was set in motion to develop the Niger Delta. On behalf of President Muhammadu Buhari, the Vice president undertook a tour of the region to meet with leaders and stakeholders in the region in 2017 so as to find lasting solutions to the issues in the region. Osinbajo’s leadership and foresight was instrumental to ensuring the peace and stability in the region. This helped to improve oil revenue and the country’s economy.
It was Osinbajo that President Buhari named as chair of the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC), which was inaugurated in July 2016. PEBEC was the administration's initiative to reform the business environment, attract investment and diversify the economy to reduce the nation's reliance on oil. Since its setup, PEBEC has spearheaded reforms that have improved the nation’s economic environment through its Ease of Doing Business reforms. This ensured Nigeria moved up 24 places on the World bank’s Ease of Doing business index and earned the country commendation as one of the top 10 reforming economies in the world.
Also, the Vice President has helped launch the administration’s Energizing Economies project which provides solar power to markets and economic clusters for small businesses and petty traders and has helped to boost economic growth. One should also add that the VP was mandated by the President to head the country Economic Management Team (EMT).
Recall that the Buhari government had developed an Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) in 2016. The ERGP is a medium-term economic framework meant to stimulate the Nigerian economy back to sustainable, accelerated development and restore economic growth in the medium term (2017-2020). In a nutshell, the ERGP was designed to address long-standing economic vulnerabilities.
Despite the arguments of armchair critics like Rudolf Okonkwo and his ilk, economic analysts can attest to that coupled with Nigeria’s resilience, the proactive economic policies of the Buhari government, also ensured that the country was able to exit is faster than would have happened. It should also be stated that through Osinbajo’s vision and forthright leadership, the Buhari administration’s economic policies and initiatives helped to steer Nigeria clear of recession and drive growth across different sectors.
What about the impactful National Social Investment Programmes (SIPs), which was driven by the Vice President from its inception in 2016 and 2019? It was Osinbajo that spearheaded what has been described as the most successful social investment programmes ever implemented in Nigeria, and the largest social investments scheme in sub-Saharan Africa. The Buhari administration’s SIPs have since lifted millions of Nigerians out of poverty and provided support to many small businesses through its various components. The SIPs comprise of the N-Power Programme, employed 500,000 graduates; the GEEP loans (Market Moni, FarmerMoni andTrader Moni), provided credit to over 3 million Nigerian traders, artisans and businessmen; the Home-Grown School Feeding Programme, feeds over 10 million children in public schools in 31 states nationwide; and the Conditional Cash Transfer programme, helped to empower over 300,000 of the poorest families in Nigeria with monthly stipends. Again, it is important to state that the SIPs were designed, promoted and managed by Vice President Osinbajo, until 2019.
Osinbajo’s interventions has also helped to strengthen Nigeria’s unity and economy. Recall that following the #EndSARS protests nationwide in October 2020, the National Economic Council (NEC) chaired by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo directed the immediate establishment of State-based Judicial Panels of Inquiry nationwide to receive and investigate complaints of Police brutality or related extra-judicial killings with a view to delivering justice for all victims of the dissolved SARS and other police units.
The Council also resolved that the Judicial Panels would include representatives of Youths, Students, Civil Society Organizations and would be chaired by a respected retired State High Court Judge. Since then, the judicial panels have made far reaching resolutions and recommendations.
Also, in 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic, which affected the economies of countries globally, did not spare Nigeria. Again, Africa’s largest economy entered a second recession in five years due to the fallout of the global pandemic. In June 2020, the World Bank Nigeria Development Update (NDU), had stated that, “the collapse in oil prices coupled with the COVID-19 pandemic is expected to plunge the Nigerian economy into a severe economic recession, the worst since the 1980s.”
But again, Nigeria’s economy rallied round and successfully exited recession in the fourth quarter of 2020, faster than other countries that experienced the economic fallouts from the pandemic, and triumphed over doom predictions.
A major factor that was credited for Nigeria’s successful exit from recession was the Buhari administration’s Economic Sustainability Plan (ESP). The ESP was approved by President Muhammadu Buhari on June 24, 2020, as a N2.3 trillion stimulus plan to mitigate the effects of a deep recession from the fallout of the pandemic. Interestingly, the Plan was developed by the Economic Sustainability Committee established by President Buhari in March 2020, which he asked Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, to chair. The presidency rightfully noted that that “Nigerians can expect more because the administration is unrelenting in its determination to pursue the steady recovery and growth of our economy.”
Again, Osinbajo’s Midas touch is evident in not only helping Nigeria exit recession, but improving the economy and other aspects of national life. The ESP, through the Survival Fund and other components, has continued to impact the lives of Nigerians and support small businesses nationwide.
It is noteworthy to state that Vice President Osinbajo has played and continue to play pivotal role in every major achievement of the Buhari administration. So, has it been worth it for Vice President Osinbajo. Certainly. These are just some of the reasons why.
Nigerian voters voted with knowledge. They went with trusting two leaders to manage their resources better than any other candidate in 2015 and 2019. Osinbajo remains a favourite leader among millions of Nigerians because he has continued to prove his worth, not only to the Buhari administration, but also to Nigerians who know they have a dependable Vice President and one many have described as the best Vice President that Nigeria has ever had.
Haters like Rudolf and his gang have 2023 in mind, and they know that even with the permutations of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu in the picture, VP Osinbajo remains a formidable candidate for the presidency and would be a natural successor to President Buhari. These detractors are on a smear campaign against the VP because they know that the Osinbajo would provide the most formidable opposition to whoever their interests favours come 2023.
But thing is, no matter what the detractors try, they would always find it difficult to tarnish the shining image of a man who has already written his name in gold and continues to prove his critics wrong in delivering high quality performance in government through dedicated focus and commitment towards improving the welfare of the people and nation at large?
So, has Osinbajo’s six years as Vice President and deputy to President Buhari been all worth it? A resounding yes. Despite the challenges, Nigeria will surely prevail and become great.
The Political Hack Called Tunde Odesola & Osinbajo.
By Mustapha Olatunji
In today's world, fake news, misinformation and disinformation appear to be the order of the day and platforms, especially the media, that are supposed to protect and share the truth, have become the purveyors of fake news. The Punch media outfit is a classic example.
The latest offering on the platform of Punch Newspaper comes from a certain Tunde Odesola whose attempt to put his murky thoughts into words makes for a torturous read. But this is what is expected of bloggers, most of whom lack the basic ethics of journalism. Even Odesola, who used to be a reporter has certainly forgotten that facts are sacred. Or did he just chose to lie?
Not only did this Odesola fellow fail to convey his thoughts but he also used the opportunity to beat around the bush including apologising profusely to Pastor E.A. Adeboye and his family on behalf of Sunday Ighobo. But again, show me your friends and I will tell you who you are.
But more importantly was that Odesola showed how callow and sparse his knowledge of government, even worse was his lacklustre position on foreign policy and relations.
A student or Elementary Government in the Junior Secondary School level will exude more understanding of this subject matter.
For the sake of continental and global readers, it is expedient that I spell out the difference between Vice President Yemi Osinbajo's profession as a lawyer, and his role as the Vice President.
For starters, the Vice President never applauded President Museveni, this was made up due to Odesola's desperation to tell lies. If this is not true, Odesola should provide proof of where the VP said anything like that.
This lie defines him as a political hack pretending to be an independent, even, constructive critic, an impression he labored rather desperately to create but failed sumptuously at it.
The Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has often represented Nigeria at the inauguration of continental leaders. He represented Nigeria in Liberia for the inauguration ceremony of George Weah; In South Africa for the inauguration of Cyril Ramaphosa; in Gambia for the inauguration of Adama Barrow and very recently he represented Nigeria at Sierra Leone's 60th anniversary, to mention but a few, all in his capacity as Vice President and not as a law lecturer or Senior Advocate of Nigeria.
Secondly, Uganda is a sovereign state and the elections that gave President Yoweri Museveni his fifth-term as President was not conducted by Nigeria or the Independent National Electoral Commission, so in what capacity should the Vice President have acted differently?
Attending an inauguration of a friendly country is not necessarily a sign of validation of any perceived inconsistent or undemocratic conduct, there is a good age-long relationship between Nigeria and Uganda that overrides current political leaders and their perceived impishness.
As a student of history, may I point out to Odesola that it was Ugandan legislators who voted to amend the country’s constitution to allow 73-year-old leader Yoweri Museveni to extend his rule, potentially guaranteeing him a life-time presidency the same way Russia passed a referendum allowing Vladimir Putin to remain in office until 2036 after serving for more than two decades, we also have some African leaders who served for more than three decades, the likes of Teodoro Obiang Nguema of Equatorial Guinea who is referred to as the longest serving president having served for 41 years, President Sassou Nguesso of Congo who spent 36 years in office.
I don't understand why Odesola is fuming about why Osinbajo attended Uganda inauguration which he attended on the directive of his boss and as a result of the diplomatic relationship that exists between both countries and not their leaders.
At this point, I find it humanitarian to educate the writer; Prof. Osinbajo is currently the Vice President of Nigeria. He is not a law or election analyst and it is not in his functions that he should comment on the election of other countries.
We have had Vice Presidents in the past and they all had careers before they became Vice President but no one ever asked why they did not speak or act based on their profession.
The main contender of the 2019 presidential election, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar was a former senior Customs Officer but hacks like Odesola never thought it opinion-worthy to ask him why he never condemned the Customs when he was Vice President for eight years.
What about Goodluck Jonathan who is an academic or Namadi Sambo who is an architect? The question is simple, where is the ignorance coming from and why is Punch newspaper the vehicle? Or is this a deliberate attempt by half-baked bloggers to tarnish the reputation of a good man?
Any in any case if Odesola feels Osinbajo has let him down, let him look beyond his nose and discover that over 500,000 Npower beneficiaries in this country, millions more who were blessed by the Social Investment programmes of this government and the hundreds of thousands of MSMES thank God for the VP’S role in the government. Let us also remind Odesola, the once upon a time reporter that Osinbajo stood firmly on the Rule of Law when he condemned police brutality even as number 2 way ahead of EndSars. Pray we ask him what was Osinbajo doing when he ensured that judicial panels are sitting all over this country on the matter of EndSars and redressing other forms of human rights violations against Nigerians.
Nigerians must be wary of wolves in sheep clothing who will not only sell their souls but are willing to drag others on their way down.
Mr Olatunji, a political commentator writes from Abuja
STATE HOUSE PRESS RELEASE
2023 PERMUTATIONS A DISTRACTION, OSINBAJO HAS NOT DECLARED INTEREST IN PRESIDENTIAL RACE
The attention of the Office of the Vice President has been drawn to a website:supportosinbajo.ng that is calling on Nigerians to join a volunteer group mobilizing support for Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, ahead of the 2023 presidential election.
Details of this website and the solicitation of the group are currently trending on WhatsApp with a suggestion that Prof. Osinbajo has "quietly" declared interest in the 2023 election.
The Office of the Vice President is not in any way connected to this website or the group behind it and considers such an enterprise an unnecessary distraction. Prof. Osinbajo has not declared any interest whatsoever in the 2023 election, but he is rather focused on working in his capacity as Vice President in the current administration to address all the compelling issues in the country and concerns of Nigerians, including finding effective and lasting solutions to the security challenges.
Therefore, we ask that people desist from such unhelpful permutations while we all deal together with the challenges confronting us as Nigerians, and resolve them for the benefit of our people, peace and prosperity in the land.
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media & Publicity
Office of the Vice President
17th May 2021
Faculty nominates Lagos Council boss for award
The Faculty of Education of the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, has nominated Hon. Tajudeen Ajide, the Chairman of Surulere Local Government Area of Lagos, for a ‘Developmental Leadership Award’.
Representatives of the faculty, led by Mr. Tayo Subair, met with the council chairman, on Wednesday, in Lagos. Others in the entourage are Dr. Adetunji Akeem; Dr. Adebakin Azeez; Dr. Ayo Adeleke; and Dr. Iyabode Akande.
Subair, while at the site of the 100-bed hospital the council has just built, praised the chairman for the various infrastructure projects undertaken so far by him.
“This is what leadership should entail”, Subair said.
“It is not about siphoning money; it is not about embezzlement. It is about what you can do as a leader to better the lot of the people around you. I am actually impressed.”
Moreover, the faculty in a letter signed by its dean Professor Bonke Omoteso, stated Ajide’s competence included criteria for his nomination for the award.
“Having realized your (Ajide) undaunted disposition to quality, competence, and dynamism in your chosen and divine administrative career, which is steadily translating into growth and development of humanity around you and far beyond, the faculty has decided to confer on you the ‘Developmental Leadership Award’.”
The local government has led an ambitious regeneration in infrastructure, sanitation, and equally improved security.
The God factor in his political governance
Show me a man, who is successful in political governance, I will tell you the God he serves. A godly man serves God above all else, observes the spiritual and physical laws of life.
As a result of his communication with God, he was able to fashion the perfect solution to nationwide states ethnic crisis as follows;
-The protection of all residents of all states.
-The arrest and prosecution of all perpetrators of crime.
-The reconstruction of destroyed homes.
-Payment of compensation where appropriate for damage to property and livelihoods sustained during targeted attacks on communities.
-Ensure deceased victims of violence are duly accorded dignified burial rites.
-Immediate public and unequivocal condemnation of all manifestations of hatred, targeted violence, and other hate crimes against ethnic, religious, and minority groups.
-Ensure all State, local and communal security initiatives operate according to guidelines consistent with State legislation and the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and other relevant laws subjected to rigorous oversight.
-Ensure innocent citizens and entire communities are not slandered, harassed or victimized for the crimes perpetrated by criminal elements within those communities on the basis of ethnic or religious affiliation.
-Continued organization of and participation in town hall meetings in the localities where ethnic strife has taken place by Governors representing all geopolitical zones.
-State Governments have statutory jurisdiction over forest reserves and will seek Federal support for efforts to eradicate forest-based crime.
-The National Livestock Transformation Plan is a comprehensive strategy for addressing the farmer herder conflict developed by the States in collaboration with the Federal Government.
-States are encouraged to promote modernization of livestock, Council therefore, called for the strengthening of the National Livestock Transformation Plan.
-The strengthening of border controls to discourage cross-border crimes and the effective observation of ECOWAS Transhumance protocols.
Till date, Osinbajo’s rapt attention to the God of man is greatly contributing to the ease of his governance. I am glad he is fulfilling the message from the Holy Book, “You are the light of the world, and a town built on a hill cannot be hidden”.
Kperogi’s false claims on Osinbajo
By Fejiro Johnson
For one who prides himself as a “professor, journalist, newspaper columnist, author, that earned a Master of Science degree in communication and Ph.D. in communication,’ Farooq Kperogi should know better.
One can say Kperogi has rightly earned his stripes as an academic. But attempting to amplify fake news and falsehood on any platform is definitely another low for someone who has a PHD in communications!
Kperogi claimed in his article “Pantami is My Friend, But He Can’t Be Defended” he published on Saturday, April 17, that “Yemi Osinbajo, for instance, has been accused of being an intolerant, narrow-minded Christian extremist who wallows in his Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) bubble, who employs only Yoruba people who belong to the RCCG…”
Mr. Kperogi must have penned these in a blur of incomprehension as this is acutely inaccurate.
He did not hide his unfounded bias when he went further in his attempt to rehash false claims on Osinbajo in his follow-up article on Sunday, April 18, “When You Piss Off Two Extremist Groups on Opposite Ends”
Kperogi wrote, “The Pentecostal partisans, particularly of the RCCG crowd, are ticked off that I mentioned Yemi Osinbajo’s name in the column, even though I made it clear that while he (Osinbajo) has been accused of RCCG bigotry with solid evidence, to his credit, he hasn’t been associated with extremist and exclusivist religious rhetoric in his past homilies.”
This is another false representation of VP Osinbajo by Kperogi in his article, and that it was on a subject matter that has no remote bearing to the VP or his person reeks of some sinister motives. But expectedly, the author was called out on social media by many Nigerians who knew better than to gulp his cock and bull tales on the VP.
It is clear that Kperogi based his ridiculous comments on the VP on another ridiculous writeup by one Dr Musbau Akinbode titled “Osinbajo’s Stealth Christianization Agenda”, which was a regurgitation of spurious claims made in 2017 by one Dr. Ismaila Farouk. The claims made against Osinbajo in both articles are dead in the water.
Kperogi’s comments on the VP are not only riddled with inaccuracies and outright falsehood, his attempt to subtly give wings to discredited opinions by fake news merchants should be condemned for what is it, a communication gaffe.
VP Osinbajo respects and sees everyone first as Nigerian, regardless of tribe, ethnicity or faith and this shows in the composition of staff in the Office of the Vice President, which has already been described as a mini-Nigeria.
Like Dr. Balkisu Saidu, a Muslim Presidential aide in the VP’s office, rightly put it, “The level of diversity accomplished in the office (of the VP) reflects all segments of the society – geo-political, ethnic, religious, gender and youth representation. It is therefore inconceivable for anyone to suggest marginalisation or “Christianization” in appointments and religious bigotry.”
“Vice President Yemi Osinbajo is as authentic as he presents – he is a humane, compassionate, detribalised patriotic Nigerian, who is committed to the service of Nigeria and Nigerians in a fair, honest, transparent and accountable manner.”
This is not the first time Kperogi would pen article based on hearsays or outright falsehood. But this is one gone too far. As a supposed communications professor, Keprogi should be familiar the timeless quote by C. P. Scott in his 1921 essay: that “Comments are free but facts are sacred.”
It feels needless to point out the superiority of facts over fiction and baseless claims, especially to one who is expected to know about the validity of facts in communications. But, as it seems, Kperogi might need further schooling in this area.
Indeed, as Kperogi stated in his article, it is his “choice whom he choses to reference in his own column”, but responsibility and simple decency demands that you do not give voice to falsehood to drive home a disjointed point.
Kperogi should have realized that he was clutching on straws when he based his jaundiced comments on the VP on baseless claims by fake news merchants and promoters on social media. He would do well to jump off that fake news train as it would only leads to ignominy, especially for someone in the academia.
Heart of Ruth Foundation donates food items to the needy
The Heart of Ruth Foundation in partnership with Samsung recently donated food items to two organisations; the Danie Centre, Surulere and Orile Iganmu Development Association.
The co-founder of the foundation, Mrs Soromidayo George said, the donation is part of the efforts of the organisation in putting smiles on the faces of the needy at this trying time.
L-R : Program Officer, Heart Of Ruth Foundation, Obiageli Odeiga; Assistant General Secretary, Orile Iganmu Progressive Association, Imolede Josiah; President, Orile Iganmu Progressive Association, Olabode Medale; Co-Founder Heart of Ruth Foundation, Soromidayo George and Financial Secretary, Orile Iganmu Progressive Association, Faniyi Beyioku at The Charitable Donations To The Orile Iganmu Progressive Association By Samsung & Heart Of Ruth Foundation on Sunday, April 18, 2021 in Lagos
MUSLIM PRESIDENTIAL AIDE TAKES ON “CHRISTIANIZATION” AGENDA ATTACK ON OSINBAJO
Dr Balkisu Saidu: VP’s Office is a mini-Nigeria
Before the permeation of social media, I was one of those who believed in and re-echoed the popular saying that “the only way to win with a toxic person is not to play.” To this end, I found silence to be a very potent tool in dealing with some extremely wicked and deliberate acts of provocation exhibited through concoction and spread of falsehoods and apparently implausible stories.
I have since realised that, in this day and age of fake news and cyber propaganda, it is important that lies and misinformation, no matter the motive of the initiator, are countered and records set straight. Amongst the recipients of the falsehood could be some innocent consumers who will benefit from having true facts presented. Allowing fake news to linger may create the impression that there could be some element of truth in what was propagated.
It is for the foregoing reasons that when the write up credited to one Dr Musbau Akinbode titled “Osinbajo’s Stealth Christianization Agenda”, which has been circulating of recent in the social media, was brought to my attention, I opted to respond. Although no date was ascribed to the write up, it appears to be a rehash of several baseless allegations made in the past against the Vice President, many of whom have been debunked with apologies issued by unsuspecting media houses misled into publishing some of the concocted stories.
The new twist in Dr Akinbode’s write up is the allegation that the Vice President is implementing a “Christianization” agenda and in that wise none of the appointments made by the Vice President from persons of Yoruba extraction were given to Yoruba Muslims. This allegation reminded me of a similar baseless claim made in 2017 by one Dr. Ismaila Farouk, which Akinbode referred to, alleging that the selection of personal staff of the Vice President was skewed in favour of “his Yoruba ethnic group.” Those fuelling the orchestrated and surreptitious narrative immediately backtracked when confronted with facts and a long list of Northerners, from tribes other than Yoruba, working in the office at the time including, among others, Mrs. Maryam Uwais (Special Adviser on Social Investment, from Kano State); Ambassador Abdullahi Gwary (Senior Special Assistant on Foreign Affairs, from Yobe State); my humble self (Senior Special Assistant on Legal, Research and Compliance Matters, from Sokoto State); Mr. Ismaeel Ahmed (Senior Special Assistant on Social Investment, from Kano State); Mr. Bege Bala (Special Assistant, BPE, from Kaduna State); Abdurahman Baffa Yola (Special Assistant on Political Matters); Mrs. Susan Chagwa (Special Assistant on Household and Social Events, from Adamawa State), etc.
Certainly, some of the listed allegations made by Dr Akinbode are objectionably and glaringly malicious and even laughable, unlikely to be believed by any discerning follower of the rise and actions of the Vice President. For example, the Office of the Vice President is like a mini-Nigeria. The level of diversity accomplished in the office reflects all segments of the society – geo-political, ethnic, religious, gender and youth representation.
It is therefore inconceivable for anyone to suggest marginalisation or, as Dr Akinbode puts it, “Christianization” in appointments and religious bigotry. To the specific point of appointment of Yoruba Muslims, Dr Akinbode may wish to know that, even amongst his personal staff, no less than ten Yoruba Muslims were appointed to work for the Vice President including his next in command and the highest-ranking officer in the Vice President’s office, the Deputy Chief of Staff to the President, Mr. AbdurRahman Adeola Ipaye. Other Yoruba Muslims who work, at various times, in the office include Distinguished Senator Babafemi Ojudu (Special Adviser on Political Matters); Dr Mariam Masha (Senior Special Assistant on Internally Displaced Persons); Ms Lanre Shasore (Senior Special Assistant on Planning and Coordination); Mrs. Olabisi Ogungbemi (Special Assistant on Political Matters); Yusuf Ali (Special Assistant on Power); Mr Mohammed Brimah (Special Assistant on Job Creation); Mr Mukhtar Tijani (Special Assistant on Power); Ms. Lolade Abiola; and Mr. Akanni Rahman.
A leader known to suspend meetings to enable Muslim participants perform prayers; known to rescue Muslim orphans and provide them with shelter and educational opportunities that safeguard and promote their religious practices; known to host Breaking of Ramadan Fast (Iftar) with Religious Leaders and Muslim communities from across the country; known to timeously intervene in the resolution of thorny inter-religious issues with potential for escalation can certainly not be said to be promoting any particular religion.
Also, the allegation of “Christianization” in the appointment of some named individuals to various positions in Government is indicative of a complete lack of understanding of how Government appointments are made or a deliberate attempt to distort facts and mislead unsuspecting public. Save for Mr. Kayode Pitan, who was appointed by the Vice President as the Managing Director of the Bank of Industry to take over from Mr. Waheed Olagunju, who was serving in acting capacity, all the other persons named by Dr Akinbode were appointed by the President in the exercise of his constitutional powers.
The calibre of the persons is not in question. In terms of accomplishments, these are pacesetters in their respective industries. For example, Mr. Ben Akabueze, the Director-General of the Budget Office of the Federation served more than two terms as Commissioner for Economic Planning and Budget in Lagos State and was the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of NAL Bank Plc. (now Sterling Bank Plc.). He has also served as Special Adviser to the President on National Planning.
Mr Alex Okoh, the Director-General, Bureau of Public Enterprises, an Alumnus of Harvard Business School and former Managing Partner, Ashford & McGuire Consulting Ltd.; is a quintessential Banker and Financial Advisor who as the Managing Director/CEO of NNB International Bank led the transformation of the bank from a comatose state into a leading commercial bank in Nigeria. He has worked with various banks within and outside Nigeria including Nigeria International Bank Limited (Citibank); United Bank for Africa Plc.; Citibank New York; Fidelity Bank London; Swiss Banking Corporation, Zurich; and Grindlays Bank, Zimbabwe. His first tenure recorded tremendous transformation of the Bureau leading to his reappointment by the President.
Before the appointment by Mr. President of Mr Okey Enelamah as the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment in 2015, the Harvard University graduate, Baker Scholar and Loeb Fellow has had a tremendous successful career in investment banking and with Arthur Anderson (now KPMG Professional Services), New York and London offices of Goldman Sachs, Zephyr Management. He also founded and served as CEO of the African Capital Alliance (ACA).
Clearly, even on the appointment of Mr Pitan, the author is not questioning the qualification of Mr Pitan, imaginably considering his robust academic training (including at American Graduate School of International Management, Arizona, USA; London Business School; and Haggai Institute, Singapore) as well as his decades of corporate and banking experience.
These appointments were based purely on merit. The only problem with the appointments, according to the author, was their religion. Save Dr Akinbode is suggesting that persons being considered for appointments into Government positions must denounce their religions, it is unclear why the religious leanings of the appointees should be in issue. Recall that similar allegations were made against appointments of equally deserving and competent Muslims with claims of “Islamisation” being bandied around. Such divisive rhetoric and adverse language are dangerous to Nigeria’s unified harmonious existence and should be resisted and rejected by all.
The Osinbajo I know has been nothing but absolutely and uncompromisingly loyal to his principal, earning him several public and private commendations and additional responsibilities from the President, including the management of the Economic Sustainability Plan, credited with facilitating the “unexpected exit” of Nigeria from one of the worst recession cycles to hit several nations of the world. The man, Osinbajo, seeks no accolades. It is therefore not every action taken by him in support of persons facing challenges that will end up on the pages of newspapers. Just because Dr Akinbode is unaware of these interventions should not be a basis for dehumanising the Vice President.
Additionally, it is evil and reprehensible to drag the person of Mrs. Dolapo Osinbajo into whatever malicious campaign the author is mounting against the Vice President. This is a humble and compassionate woman, who has conducted her humanitarian and philanthropic activities in a well-guided and detached manner away from any Government activities. It is unacceptable to have persons of integrity be subjected to such ridiculous acts of scathing and baseless attacks. Clearly, the purpose of this is to cause annoyance, hatred, and ill will against the family of the Vice President. Luckily, Nigerians can see through these malicious, baseless, smear campaigns, mounted by dishonest and shady individuals.
While the main preoccupation of the Vice President is the discharge of the mandate resoundingly given to their ticket under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari, may I remind Dr Akinbode that power is not in the hands of any individual to give or take, but in the hands of Almighty Allah; and He bestows it upon whom He wills. Please refer to the Holy Qur’an, Chapter 3 (Surah Al-Imran), Verse 26.
I sure hope and pray that a time will come when Dr Akinbode and his likes will realise that Vice President Yemi Osinbajo is as authentic as he presents – he is a humane, compassionate, detribalised patriotic Nigerian, who is committed to the service of Nigeria and Nigerians in a fair, honest, transparent and accountable manner. And, while we spare time to respond to these and similar unfounded allegations, the Vice President never allows mischief-makers and peddlers of fake news to distract him from his main preoccupation: service to Nigeria.
Balkisu Saidu is the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Legal, Research and Compliance Matters, Office of the Vice President. She writes from Abuja.