Hysteria is in the DNA of many Nigerians, especially those who are, for parochial or partisan reasons, decidedly and desperately against the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.
Since the president announced the dissolution of the Economic Management Team headed by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, and replaced it with an Economic Advisory Council, there has been mass hysteria in the traditional and new media.
This is apparent in the deluge of dilettante opinion articles, editorials, blog posts, blurbs, and tweets all alluding to the fact that the VP has been politically emasculated by a phantom ‘cabal’ in the presidency because of his growing popularity and influence and the need to whittle them down before 2023.
Some even said he has been marked for impeachment on trumped-up charges that could only have been products of a puerile imagination.
What the President simply did was to change the economic direction of his Next Level agenda; not ‘reduce’, as some also implied, the statutory functions of his beloved VP.
As the chairman of the constitutionally created the National Economic Council, the VP will continue to play a pivotal role in all economic matters in singular support and assistance of his Principal, Mr. President.
For emphasis, the NEC meeting, held monthly, deliberates on the coordination of the economic planning efforts and economic programmes of the various levels of government.
The council comprises the 36 state governors, Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Minister of Finance, Secretary to the Government of the Federation and other government officials and agencies whose duties hinge on the economy.
Last Thursday, the VP still chaired the NEC at the Presidential Villa.
Osinbajo told attendees at the NEC meeting that both councils (NEC and EAC) are for the benefit of the president; and, “If NEC wants to be briefed regularly by the Economic Advisory Council, EAC, we will request the president to do that.” So, nothing has changed, except for the new song by dissidents.
What further sent the rumour mill into overdrive was an alleged directive that the Vice-President should, henceforth, seek presidential approvals for agencies under his supervision.
VP Osinbajo is the chairman of the governing boards of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), the National Boundary Commission (NBC) and the Border Communities Development Agency (BCDA).
He is also the chairman of the board of directors of the Niger Delta Power Holding Company (NDPHC), a limited liability company owned by the three tiers of government; and the National Economic Council (NEC), a constitutional body made up of state governors and key federal government officials, as well as the National Council on Privatisation (NCP).
Under the laws setting up the agencies, the president is empowered to give final approvals but those who chose to ignore this constitutional provision went to town, gloating and ululating, that the VP has eventually been cut to size.
A careful introspection is critical here. Apart from the fact that he is a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, the Vice President, as the whole world knows, is a Professor of Law. So, if anybody should know what the constitution stipulates as the roles and powers of a VP, it is Osinbajo.
So, why would he want to overreach himself knowing what the constitution states? At what point does doing the right thing require a directive? Some things just don’t add up in the name of playing politics.
Late 2018, the House of Representatives Committee on Emergency and Disaster Preparedness invited the VP to explain his role in the N5.8 billion North East Intervention Fund which the lawmakers said was mismanaged by the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA).
The NEMA is one of the agencies under the VP. The committee said the authorisation for the release of the fund for emergency food intervention in the North East contravened Section 80(4) of the 1999 Constitution as amended. And that the funds were credited directly to the individual banks of the companies and NEMA’s bank account, in violation of the approval limit allowed by law.
Nowhere in the report was the VP alleged to have benefitted from the fund. Good enough, the Presidency issued a public statement to say that the money Osinbajo, in his capacity as the Acting President, approved for release in the dire emergency was sourced from the Rice Levy which had already been appropriated in that year’s budget. And that explanation settled the matter.
However, in the desperation of the strident opposition, the allegation, which had since been dispelled by the House Committee, is now being unearthed as if it were new, in a mere political contrivance intended to distract the President Buhari-led administration.
Every discerning mind should be above this outright fake news and sheer inanity. Just as they should about rumours that some unspecified amount of money was found in some private accounts related to the VP’s family or that some Federal Inland Revenue Services, FIRS, funds were traced to his office. The purveyors of this particular rumour even said that the National Leader of the All Progressives’ Congress, APC, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and a former National Chairman of the party, Chief BisiAkande, had been duly informed. Another such report maintained that Asiwaju himself is behind the attempt to smear the VP.
These are mere fabrications intended to drive a wedge between the VP and those he holds in very high esteem. Thankfully, the president and the party leaders are above such frivolous distractions.
Indeed, at no time since Nigeria’s democratic experience began that the President and his VP have enjoyed the kind of cordial relationship and mutual respect that exists between President Buhari and VP Osinbajo.
The president believes so much in the competence, character, and capacity of his VP that he allows him to handle some of the populist programmes of the administration. And, this has not been without politically-motivated hiccups.
The VP is the ‘face’ of TraderMoni, the empowerment scheme of the Federal Government created specifically for petty traders and artisans across Nigeria. The launch of the scheme saw the VP crisscrossing the country, enlightening the people about it and generally pressing the flesh to the delight of Nigerians. Yet, those who do not know the workings of the scheme have gone to town, falsely accusing the VP of mismanaging the Tradermoni Funds.
Instructively, the Bank of Industry is in charge of the Tradermoni; the funds never get into the hands of the VP or his aides; the money is sent to the people via their phones. The VP has just been monitoring to make sure people received what they were promised and the program was working. So any imputation of embezzlement is nothing but a frantic attempt to soil a hard-earned reputation of loyalty, integrity, and capability which the VP has built in the last four years, and which has helped to steady the incumbent administration in no small measure.
Conclusively, the news and noise of a rift or whittling down of the VP’s powers is akin to a storm in a teacup; both the president and the Vice President are still working in tandem to ensure that Nigerians are genuinely taken to the Next Level in their own time.
Abdullai Rimi, is an Abuja-based media practitioner and businessman
Mouka Provides Comfort To Nigerians During Crisis, Donates 700 Mattresses [PHOTOS]
Mouka, Nigeria’s leading manufacturer of mattresses and bedding products, has brought relief to victims of the Abule Ado gas pipeline fire explosion in Lagos with the donation of 200 mattresses.
In the same vein, 500 mattresses were donated to Lagos State towards equipping its isolation centres used for the treatment of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The socially responsible organisation has risen to the occasion by providing comfort to victims as the well-being of Nigerians is at the core of its mission.
Commenting on the donation of 700 mattresses, the Chief Executive Officer of Mouka, Raymond Murphy, said “The well-being of the Nigerian people is the reason why we are in business. Mouka exists to provide comfort to Nigerians and we stay true to our mission even at this period of national crisis”.
The donation to Abule Ado victims was made through the Lagos State Government to affected families who are in dire need of assistance due to havoc wrecked by the pipeline explosion.
The 500 mattresses for the isolation centres were presented to the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Local Government and Community Affairs, Dr. Taiwo Olufemi Salaam, who represented the Commissioner of the Ministry, Dr. Wale Ahmed, at the State Secretariat Complex, Alausa.
Present to receive the 200 mattresses for Abule Ado victims, was the Director-General, Lagos State Emergency Management Authority (LASEMA), Dr. Damilola Oke-Osanyitolu; at LASEMA office. Both donations were made on Monday, March 30, 2020.
Murphy affirmed that as a responsible organisation, the management of Mouka deemed it necessary to assist the government in bringing succour to victims of the Abule Ado pipeline explosion that led to the loss of lives and property, as well as Nigerians infected with the COVID-19 virus, who are currently being treated at the various isolation centres in Lagos.
“Mouka sees itself as a partner of the government during this crisis. We need to play our part in providing the necessary support required by victims of the gas pipeline explosion. We commend the effort of the Lagos State Government in rehabilitating the victims of the fire. We pray for the departed souls, may they rest in peace. We also pray for those who were injured, may God perfect their healing, and for those who have lost their property, may God replace in many folds”.
The company’s CEO mentioned that the donation of mattresses to isolation centres for COVID-19 was aimed at enhancing government’s effort in providing appropriate treatment for infected persons and also at curtailing the pandemic which has been at the front burner of world leaders.
While receiving the products, Salaam, who was elated at the enormous support, said the intervention was timely, as assistance from private organisations is needed at this crucial time to boost the state’s healthcare facilities.
Also, Oke-Osanyitolu commended Mouka’s effort towards reducing the anguish of victims of Abule Ado fire disaster which has rendered many homeless and in severe health conditions, stating that the donation would be distributed effectively.
Mouka has also joined the Federal and State Governments in appealing to citizens in the country to adhere to measures at combating the spread of COVID-19.
As far back as early February 2020, Mouka had begun raising awareness for Corona Virus prevention on its social media platforms. The company advises citizens to wash their hands regularly, stay at home, and keep to social distancing guidelines when in public, among others.
Mouka manufactures quality brands such as Wellbeing orthopaedic mattresses, Dreamtime water-resistant mattress and Mondeo Spring mattress.
Other products on its stables include Mouka Mozzi, an innovative brand of insect repellent products and wide range of pillows for a comfortable sleep.
Tony Elumelu Foundation Disburses First Tranche of $5m Partnership Commitment from African Development Bank
Tony O. Elumelu, CON, has congratulated the African Development Bank (AfDB), and AfDB President Akinwumi Adesina, on their commitment to African entrepreneurship, with the disbursement of $2.5million seed capital to the AfDB-sponsored beneficiaries of the 2019 TEF Entrepreneurship Programme. $2.5m was released today, with the remainder expected to be disbursed to the entrepreneurs in Q12020.
The AfDB commitment follows the recent $8.5 million disbursements from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to 2,648 entrepreneurs in the Sahel region and Africa more broadly and further accelerates the economic empowerment generated by the Tony Elumelu Foundation. In 2019, the Foundation significantly increased the scale and reach of it impact, with the number of beneficiaries of its flagship Entrepreneurship Programme rising from its annual commitment of 1,000 to 5,150, in collaboration with global and African partners.
With its commitment to strengthen small and medium-sized enterprises and develop young entrepreneurs, AfDB joined the growing list of global development institutions benefiting from the Tony Elumelu Foundation’s unique model of identifying, training, mentoring and funding entrepreneurs and start-ups across Africa. The partnership demonstrates the implementation of the AfDB’s ten-year “Jobs for Youth in Africa” strategy, launched in 2016, to support the creation of 25 million meaningful jobs across the continent.
The partnership illustrates TEF’s willingness to share its infrastructure and know-how, with others who share the mission to empower young African entrepreneurs and TEF’s goal of creating millions of jobs, as well as generating
billions in revenue, to catalyse economic growth across the continent.
The Foundation is currently accepting applications to the 2020 cohort of its flagship Entrepreneurship Programme on TEFConnect.com, Africa’s digital hub for entrepreneurs.
Dangote Farms Commissions Tomatoes Nursery To Provide Seedlings For Farmers
In a bid to make Nigeria self-sufficient in tomato production, Dangote Tomatoes Processing Limited, owned by the younger brother of Africa’s richest man, Sani Dangote, has unveiled a N2.8 billion greenhouse nursery in Kano to supply the best quality tomato seedlings to Nigerian farmers.
Speaking on the project, Sani Dangote said the nursery is designed to use the automated Pat Moose planting technology, the first of its kind in Nigeria and has the capacity to process 350 million tonnes of hybrid tomato seedlings per season enabling the planting of 12,000 hectares of tomato farm. The pat moose process takes three weeks before proceeding to the next stage reducing the whole process of growing tomatoes to just 3 months.
He stated that Nigeria consumes about 2.3 million tonnes of tomatoes annually and with the establishment of the nursery, “we have created a capacity to triple tomato production, attaining self-sufficiency in tomato production as well as a potentially exporting surplus to neighboring countries.
“Furthermore, this nursery will produce the highest quality tomato seedling available meaning that the farmers can grow the highest yield tomatoes. Currently, the yields produced by Nigerian farmers are less than the global standard. As a result, farmers will be able to earn more income from selling higher volumes of harvests each season.
“Nigeria is on a trajectory to becoming self-sufficient in rice, tomatoes and poultry production. This means that millions of jobs will be created for her citizens.”, Sani Dangote explained.
The African continent imports $40 billion of food annually despite having 65% of the world’s arable land. The public-private model on-going in Nigeria could be adopted by other African countries to also attain self-sufficiency in food production.
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