Busy Buhari receives politicians seeking refuge
In a remarkably busy week, President Muhammadu Buhari opened his heart and arms to receive former political heavy weights running to the APC for refuge after a long sojourn in the cold.
The passing week also brought smiles to political juggernaut, Sen. Ahmed Bola Tinubu, when the presidency affirmed that there was no crack in the relationship between him and Buhari.
Tinubu, fondly called “Jagaban’’ by his admirers, is viewed by political analysts as having fallen out of favour with the presidency at a season the top politician is seen to be gearing up to run for Nigeria’s presidency in 2023.
Tinubu, who was also a former governor of Lagos State turned 69 this week.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Buhari on March 22, hosted former Gov. Gbenga Daniel of Ogun and a former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr Dimeji Bankole ,who recently defected to the ruling APC.
The Chairman of the Caretaker Extra-ordinary Convention Planning Committee of the APC, who is also Governor of Yobe, Mai Mala Buni, accompanied by the Governors of Jigawa, Badaru Abubakar and that of Kebbi, Atiku Bagudu, presented Daniel and Bankole to the president.
Daniel was governor from 2003 to 2011, while Bankole was speaker from 2007 to 2011. The two men served on the platform of the PDP, the current main opposition party.
Bankole, who appears to have been in political Siberia after his years as speaker, defected from the PDP to the African Democratic Party before now moving to the APC.
Speaking to State House correspondents after introducing the defectors, Buni said his team came to present the new APC members to the president, whom he said, had expressed his delight with the calibre of the defectors.
The president also hosted Gov. Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano State on March 22.
Ganduje told correspondents after his meeting with the president that the State Government had earmarked N9 billion for the construction of three-level interchange road projects to be named after Buhari.
The governor expressed his optimism that the road project, which he described as the first of its kind in Africa, would ease traffic congestion in the Kano metropolis.
Also on March 22, the Vice-President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, presided over two feedback-focused virtual interactive sessions on the Economic Sustainability Plan scheme of the Buhari administration.
Beneficiaries of the Survival Fund from the Transportation and Education sectors, during the session praised the president and the vice-president for the success of what they described as an unprecedented, transparent, fair and impactful scheme.
The same day, the Presidential Communication Team, organised the quarterly media briefing of foreign correspondents.
The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Dr Zainab Ahmed, Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Lucky Irabor and the Chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission, Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye were in attendance as resource persons.
On March 23, the president met behind closed doors with Gov. Samuel Ortom of Benue, who escaped attack by gunmen while on his farm.
Earlier on March 21, Buhari reacted to the incident, dispatching a team of investigators to Benue from the Police Headquarters in Abuja, directing the officers to uncover who or what was behind the attack on the governor.
The president also expressed his sympathy to Ortom and the people of Benue.
The Nigerian leader similarly, called on his Nigerien counterpart, President Mahamadou Issoufou on phone, to sympathise with him over a recent terrorist attack that resulted to the killing of 137 Nigeriens by Boko Haram and Islam in West Africa jihadists.
The president affirmed that Nigeria would continue to stand with its neighbours in the fight against terror.
Also on March 23, Buhari, represented by Osinbajo, opened the 2021 National Labour Advisory Council meeting.
He lauded workers and other social partners for their cooperation and understanding in the resolution of issues in the industry, saying that “workers also showed understanding in their demands.”
Osinbajo expressed the commitment of the Federal Government to the welfare of Nigerian workers.
The vice-president also participated at a virtual Chatham House interactive session with theme: “Priorities for Nigeria’s Post-COVID Recovery”.
Buhari on March 24, presided over the 39th virtual meeting of the Federal Executive Council at the Council Chambers of the Presidential Villa.
The Federal Capital Territory (FCT), ministries of aviation, agriculture, power and finance made presentations at the meeting.
Those physically in attendance at the meeting include Osinbajo, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr Boss Mustapha, Chief of Staff to the President, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari and eight ministers.
At the end of the meeting, the council approved N82 billion for the execution of various projects within the FCT, including the rehabilitation of the Abuja Federal Secretariat.
The council also approved N922.8 million for the purchase of fertilizer to assist states affected by insurgency and the 2018 flood disaster as well as N3.2 billion for the procurement of four transformers to improve the quality of electricity supply nationwide.
It also approved N155.2 million for the production and delivery of one million serialized electricity meters at Oshodi in Lagos, Port Harcourt and Kaduna.
On March 24, the presidency dismissed as false and untrue media report indicating that there was a rift between Buhari and his political Tinubu.
The President’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu, made the clarification in a statement issued in Abuja.
“The president and the Asiwaju have a strong commitment to APC towards bringing CHANGE and this is a commitment they have made to the Nigerian people.
“Recent reports of a rift between the two leaders of our party are false and the handiwork of some mischief makers,’’ the presidential aide said.
On March 18, Buhari received letters of credence from the High Commissioner of The Gambia, Mr Mohamadou Musa Njie, Ambassador of South Korea, Mr Kim Young-Chae and Ambassador of the Slovak Republic, Mr Tomas Felix.
Other envoys who submitted their letters of credence include the High Commissioner of Australia, Mr John Gerard Donnelly, High Commissioner of Bangladesh, Mr Md. Masudur Rahman and Ambassador of Guinea Bissau, Dr Jaao Ribeiro Butiam Co.
At the event, the Nigerian leader urged diplomats to work towards building stronger relations with focus on providing joint solutions to rising human and natural challenges.
Buhari also granted audience to members of the Fertiliser Producers and Suppliers Association of Nigeria at State House, Abuja.
The president announced that a new basic chemicals platform worth $1.3 billion that would produce ammonia and fertilisers in Nigeria would be ready for inauguration in the coming months.
According to him, the new plant will be built in partnership with the Kingdom of Morocco.
On March 26, Buhari hosted the global leader of the Tijjaniyya Islamic Religious Movement, Sheikh Muhammadul Mahy Niass, in Abuja, where he paid tribute to the martyrs of the civil war whose sacrifices ensured the unity of Nigeria.
Buhari thanked members of the movement for their fervent prayers for an end of the war and the reunification of Nigeria.
He recalled that in the 30 months of the civil war, Nigerians on both sides lost numerous lives. He prayed that never again shall Nigeria experience war.
Also on March 26, Osinbajo participated at the Nigeria Sustainable Development Goals Fintech Hackathon, organized by the Financial Centre for Sustainability Lagos, Nigeria Climate Innovation Centre, Access Bank and AfricaHacks.
Buhari ended the week March 27, with bilateral talks with the Chadian President, Field Marshal Idriss Deby Itno, at the Presidential Villa.
The Chadian leader, who arrived at the Presidential Villa at about 12.15 p.m., was welcomed by Buhari at the forecourt of the villa.
At the bilateral engagement, Buhari expressed worry on the steady shrinking of Lake Chad, saying that the development had adversely affected over 30 million people.
He said that the lake had become just about 10 per cent of its original size.
Deby, who spoke to State House correspondents at the end of his official engagement in Nigeria, expressed hope that the task of defeating Boko Haram insurgency would now be less cumbersome as Nigeria introduced new security measures and changes in the armed forces leadership? (NAN)