BOMBSHELL!!! ABIOLA INVITED ABACHA TO OVERTHROW SHONEKAN AND HAND OVER TO HIM AFTER – SDP PARTY CHAIRMAN.

“I was returning from one of such trips to a prominent Emir one afternoon when I heard from my car radio Chief Abiola calling on General Abacha to come and ease Chief Shonekan as he eased out Babangida, I was shocked.

I called Chief Abiola and asked for an explanation of what I had just heard.

His reply was, “Mr. Chairman, I am very happy to have worked with you. You are a strong-willed man, but you see, if you want to go to Kano by road and you later decide to go to Kano by air, as long as you get to Kano, there is nothing wrong with that”.

At this time, the party did not know and I did not know Chief Abiola was having discussions with General Abacha who had promised him that if Chief Abiola supported, and if he, General Abacha, took over from Chief Shonekan today, he would hand-over the reins of Government to Chief Abiola the next day, and Chief Abiola bought the idea.

We later got to know that there were series of meetings in Ikeja where names of those who would serve in Abacha government were discussed and forwarded. When we found out that things were not moving well and that the interim government was a lame duck, I went to have a meeting with the then Secretary for agriculture, Alhaji Isa Muhammed, and I expressed my disgust at the way the government was being run.

On two occasions, I addressed the Federal Executive Council under Chief Shonekan when the two Chairmen were invited.

On the first occasion, I told Chief Ernest Shonekan that the relationship between the governors and the interim government left much to be desired as there was no discipline. Chief Shonekan picked up a copy of the constitution and said, “Chairman of SDP, I will go by this document. I have to obey this constitution. If any governor has misbehaved report him to the police”.

The second time we were called on an issue in the chambers when the Federal Executive Council was meeting, again I raised the alarm and I again told Chief Shonekan that one day, the military boys will come and drive him out of his seat.

Chief Adelusi Adeluyi (Juli Pharmacy) who was the Secretary for Health got up and told his colleagues that the Chairman of SDP had twice given warning signals and no one seemed to be taking the warnings seriously.

We again left and allowed the Federal Executive Council to continue its meeting. On this very day, I went to the Secretary for Agriculture, Isa Mohammed, and had discussions on the unsatisfactory state of affairs. He was a personal friend and he promised to see Chief Shonekan that evening with a promise to get back to me, no matter how late.

I waited until about 1 a.m. and slept off without hearing from him. In the afternoon the following day, I called him to remind him of our discussion and he said it was not possible to see Chief Shonekan the previous evening as there were too many visitors and friends. He added that they had just been called to the villa for an emergency meeting and that he would stay behind after that meeting to discuss with Chief Shonekan.

Isa Mohammed admitted that he too was also disturbed by the situation.

Immediately we stopped talking on the telephone, the British High Commissioner called me on my mobile and said, “Tony, something is happening”. And I just asked, “What is it?” He replied, “change of government” and just switched off.

I was with the Deputy Senate President, Senator Albert Legogie, when I got the message.

I went back to the house not knowing that General Abacha was taking over from Chief Shonekan which explains why the secretaries (Ministers) were called to the Villa for the emergency meeting. This was the end of the Interim Government.

It must be stated categorically here that when Chief M.K.O Abiola decided to wage war against the Interim National Government so he could take-over against the Government almost immediately Chief Shonekan was removed, he thus broke faith, not only with his party and its leadership, but also with the two political parties (SDP and NRC) which had laboured to set up the ING through effective resistance to the Federal Military Government of General Babangida.

Instead, Chief Abiola recruited “friends and supporters” who were not from the social democratic Party although some of them belonged to that party. This was to further his personal design for realizing that famous metaphor of going to Kano by air instead of road.

Immediately Abacha took over, Chief Abiola led his “friends” to pay a courtesy call on General Abacha to congratulate him. General Abacha took advantage of this and made sure that for the next two week, this courtesy call was aired on NTA Network News, to prove that Abiola had accepted his take-over of government. As stated already, the two parties had agreed in sharing ministerial offices with the reinstatement of Chief Abiola after the interim period. That arrangement, as far as Chief Abiola was concerned, was going to be too slow for his purpose.

His friends and supporters, not the party, were fully aware of the plan to topple Shonekan. They worked for it and canvassed for it. They were apparently not aware that in doing so, they were going to enthrone or ride on the back of a tiger. The long history of military rule in Nigeria and Abacha’s role in announcing most of the military coups would have been sufficient warning that they were parleying witha dangerous customer.

The tragedy of the Interim National Government was that Chief Shonekan never enjoyed the support of Chief M.K.O Abiola, the people of his home state and the people from his geo-political area, or the South-Western part of Nigeria. They did everything to bring Shonekan and his interim administration down from press attacks, to legal judgments, to hijacking of the A310 Air Bus, all in an attempt to create the atmosphere of lawlessness or the breakdown of law and order.

The Interim National Government fell due to the adroit manoeuvres of Chief Abiola, orchestrated attacks from Abiola’s supporters, as well as the lack of political base and support for Chief Ernest Shonekan who had good intentions for the country. In governance and politics, good intentions are not sufficient to sustain any leader in office. These have to be matched by effective control of the situation, ability to monitor the political pendulum to know which wat it swings at any time, as well as intelligent anticipation to develop strategies to confront emerging challenges.

Above all, political base and support are indispensable. Ernest Shonekan did not appear to have mastered the Nigerian situation, and when he was faced with scheming and planned hostility, he could not survive. In fact, his rule can be described as a tragedy of good intentions. Chief Shonekan is a good man but not a politician.

When the Abacha take-over was announced, there was jubilation by all those who knew of the “Agreement” between Chief M.K.O Abiola and General Abacha.

The Nicon Noga Hilton Hotel was in celebration mood as all those senators who had pre-knowledge of this so-called agreement, and who anticipated that Abacha would handover to Chief Abiola the next day or immediately, were shouting “M.K.O.! M.K.O.! Presido! Presido!”. It was for this same reason that, unknown to the party leadership; Chief Abiola led a team of supporters and relations as well as friends on a visit to congratulate General Abacha for a job well done.

It can now be recalled that during the ensuing struggle with Abacha to validate the June 12 election, and in order to prove that Chief Abiola was in full support of what he had done, General Abacha would play the tape of this visit repeatedly on Network News.

Four days before the June 12 election, (i.e. Wednesday), I flew in from Abuja to meet Chief M.K.O. Abiola to tell him that we had no money to pay polling agents as the promise made by government to grant the sum of ₦40 million (forty million naira) to each of the parties had deliberately not been fulfilled.

The government refused to release the money. Chief Abiola said he did not have money. I went to Universal Trust Bank to see Godson Esejele, later Executive Director (Finance), Federal Housing Authority, who was the Assistant General Manager of that bank. He told me that by 10:00 am the next day (Thursday) he would arrange ₦15 million (fifteen million naira) for us. The only condition attached was that if the promised ₦40 million (forty million naira) from the government got to the party, we should open an account with the bank with that amount.

I drove to Ikeja to see Chief Abiola and gave a rundown of the arrangement I was making. He thanked me heartily but added that if he had known, he would have told me to request for ₦20 million (twenty million naira) because of some of his commitments he was unable to meet at the time. The Federal Government was owing him heavily.

I must admit that Chief Abiola spent a great deal of his money. He was all out to win the election little realising that his best friend was going to be his worst enemy. He was a good candidate. There was no where we went to that he did not have something to show that he helped the people of that area. Although he was a Moslem, while building mosques for Moslem communities, he was also building churches for Christians.

He gave out scholarships to both Christians and Moslems; to Yoruba people, Igbos, and Hausa, without discrimination. He was a very good candidate.

I went back to the hotel and met Godson who said that if we wanted ₦20 million (twenty million naira), the money would not be ready by 10:00 am. We would have to wait till about 12:00 noon. By 11:30 am the next morning, Godson called me to say the money was ready. I went to the bank in Victoria Island and two bullion vans were ready with escort.

When I asked for a bond for the amount, the Managing Director dais, “we know you. When you get your cheque, you should open an account here”. I did not sign any document or undertaking that I was taking that money from the bank which illustrates what trust and credibility, or integrity can mean at critical moments.

I telephoned Chief M.K.O. Abiola that I was coming to the private wing of the local airport at Ikeja and that he should meet me there. I met him waiting with Kola and Habib bank manager from Apapa, and we realized that as it was already Thursday and election was just two days away, the “Hope 93” aircraft was insufficient for distributing money country-wide. We decided, therefore to charter an Okada aircraft for distributing money in the Northern states while “Hope 93” was to distribute the money in the Southern states for the payment of polling agents.

That evening, I went by road to Edo state and delivered the money for that State to Chief Odigie-Oyegun because I had to stay in Edo state for the election. I got to Benin City by 10 pm that day. When we eventually got the ₦40 million (forty million naira), we kept our promise and made sure that the ₦40 million (forty million naira) was used to open an account with UTB (Universal Trust Bank).

Air Borne But No Landing:

Chief M.K.O Abiola, as indicated earlier, had said that if you want to go to Kano, going by air or by road does not make any difference as long as you get there.

His interpretation of this was that going by air meant Abacha taking over from Shonekan and he Abiola, being sworn in the next day. Going by road was waiting till March, 1994, when Shonekan would use the National Assembly to hand over to him because he actually had won the presidential election. Unfortunately for Chief Abiola, he was air borne on his way to Kano but could not land.

There was, in fact, no landing, and Kano as the desired destination proved to be a fantasy.

It is a pity indeed, that Chief Abiola kept the leadership of the party away from his arrangement with General Abacha to takeover form Shonekan. If he had brought it to the notice of the leadership of the part, he would have been well advised.

The “Agreement” was phoney and hollow. It was an agreement which was inexplicable and in excusable in its folly and terrible in its consequences. In a similar but not identical set of circumstances, I had advised Chief Abiola against declaring himself the president of this country when arising from Abacha’s refusal to handover to him drove him to that extreme line of thought.

I spoke to him on the telephone pointing out that the army was not there to back him up. He had no police support, and not even the immigration or customs would back him.

My Advice to M.K.O. Abiola:

I advised against his intended line of action. In reply he merely said, “Mr. Chairman, you are a very good man. Anyway, we shall discuss that one later”, and he replaced the telephone.

As I did not want to be blamed later for not advising Chief Abiola correctly, I advertised my advice the following day in some of the daily newspapers.

It was clear to me that the course of action to which Chief M.K.O. Abiola was heading was not only going to be self-destructive but also ruinous. He would play into the hands of the military and offer himself as a sacrificial lamb by delivering himself to those who, for various obvious reasons, very much wanted him out of the scene.

In addition to giving M.K.O. Abiola specific advice against his intended line of action, I also commented on those calling for a boycott of the election to select candidates to the constitutional conference which the Abacha regime was putting in place to address the various problems confronting the nation and putting out a new Constitution for Nigeria. I was convinced that the conference would achieve a lotfor this country, including setting the timeframe for the military’s exit from Nigerian politics.

Chief Abiola did not listen. The result of his action landed him in jail.

The Escape:

While negotiations for the Interim Government were on, I was briefing Chief Abiola from time to time. One day, as we were going in for one of those meetingsat the villa, Chief Abiola told me that he had a message he wanted me to pass on to President Babangida and that he would send it by fax. I never received any fax message for onward transmission to the president because that was the day M.K.O. Abiola left Nigeria for the United Kingdom.

He did not want me to know that he was leaving the country. The following morning, I waited and waited all in vain for that fax message. I never received it till I was almost running late to attend a meeting at the villa. My other party men were waiting and we had to go. The next morning a BBC correspondent from London called me and asked if I was the chairman of SDP. On answering yes, he said, “your candidate is here”. I asked, “Which candidate?” and he answered. “Chief M.K.O. Abiola”. I was forced to ask him, “Where are you speaking from?” He replied, “This is BBC London. Do you want to hear his voice?”.

It was then I knew Chief Abiola had left the country.

Chief Abiola’s absence from the country at this critical time was disastrous to the party and to the party and to his cause. He was the symbol of theJune 12 election and most Nigerians were struggling for him. Escaping from the scene created a vacuum which made the struggle meaningless. It was the climax of the fear he had exhibited right from the time President Babangida nullified the June 12 election.

When Chief Abiola eventually returned, he visited me in Benin in my residence. One of the questions I asked him was, “Presido, I was the last person you spoke to on the day you left and you did not tell me that you were travelling?” Before the full glare of camera lights and press, he replied that “when two birds are on a tree, one does not tell the other that a stone is coming”. So he knew a stone was coming and we were two birds on a tree and he fled without telling me a stone was coming”. It seemed to me and to many Nigerians too, that the parable of birds on a tree was a very loaded and pregnant one. It shows the character of Chief M.K.O. Abiola whose cause many Nigerians were prepared to fight and die for. Today, the result of his action has been extremely unfortunate.”

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RETHINKING STRATEGY TO STOP THE SPREAD OF TERRORISM.

Africa’s large-scale security operations have neglected rural areas where violent extremism thrives.

The terror threat across Africa is as strong as ever. Attacks are occurring not just in the older centres of activity such as Somalia, northern Nigeria and northern Mali, but in emerging hotspots like northern Mozambique and Burkina Faso as well.

Violent extremism across the continent has many roots, making it difficult to simplify a complex phenomenon. But given the failure to stem its advance over the past decade or so, what can be done differently going forward?

One of the most popular responses to terrorism in Africa has been to establish large-scale security operations in areas with a heavy extremist presence. What has been lacking is accompanying police and civilian initiatives to solidify and deepen control.

Operations have taken different forms, such as the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), which draws together regional militaries working in a third country under the African Union (AU) banner. Another has been the G5 Sahel and Multinational Joint Task Force model, which enables collaboration between affected countries, particularly around cross-border areas. The AU and regional missions have yet to successfully delink extremist groups from rural areas.

Yet the result has been much the same – the predominant anchoring of such forces in more populated areas, which apart from some clearance operations, largely abandons the rural countryside.

This process of protecting the urban at the expense of the rural is likely dictated by resource limitations, and makes sense as a way to recover population-heavy areas from the control of extremists. Yet any strategy that permits such large vacuums is doomed to fail.

Groups like Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) and al-Shabaab use the threat of force to ensure civilian compliance. At the same time though, they rely on these civilians especially when it comes to manpower and sustaining a financial base through taxation. Without steady access to civilian communities, recruitment and financial generation would suffer.

The AU and regional missions have yet to successfully delink extremist groups from less populated, more rural locations, and deliver effective longer-term state stabilisation programmes to solidify control. This shows the limitations of the current path, and sets in motion an urban-rural split, in which the state continues to be largely absent in the latter.

This strategy needs to be rethought. Rural areas should get better priority, and be coupled with more effective clearance and hold mechanisms. If proper coordination between security and civilian elements is difficult, it may make sense to move more slowly into areas with a violent extremist presence, so that both urban and rural locations can be sufficiently cleared and held in concert, before proceeding to others.

Without steady access to civilians, terror groups’ recruitment and financial generation suffers.

Or if it is not feasible to expect such missions to maintain a presence across wide swaths of territory while ancillary non-security mechanisms lag behind, perhaps the hundreds of millions of dollars spent each year might be better used elsewhere.

A reframing of violent extremist organisations may allow for more creative interventions. Thinking about certain actors simply as terrorists limits manoeuvrability. Considering them as say political players could permit different outcomes. For example, given al-Shabaab’s record of service delivery on governance and justice, should we continue to view them only as extremists, or rather a political organisation that uses terrorism as a tactic? ISWAP may be attempting a similar reformation in the Lake Chad Basin.

Reframing actors allows for engagement in a different context. If the struggle is ultimately about power or political competition, that can be a subject for discussion, as the ongoing negotiations between the United States and the Taliban in Afghanistan demonstrate. This may not be the case in every (or even any) situation, especially considering ideological factors, but it is worth exploring given the limitations of other avenues.

In the long run, the seeds of demise lie with extremist groups themselves. Over time such groups have tended to deviate from their initial message and to overreach, especially when it comes to relations with civilians.

The challenge is to take advantage of such opportunities. For example, the Abubakar Shekau faction of Boko Haram lost legitimacy when it targeted Muslim civilians, causing a split in the movement and the marginalisation of this group through an ascendant ISWAP.

Al-Shabaab has also overstepped its bounds with attacks that cause heavy civilian casualties, to the point where it has avoided claiming responsibility for them. The botched 2017 Zoobe junction bombing is a stark example. Over 500 people died in central Mogadishu, spurring anti-al-Shabaab protests in Somalia.

Such incidents decrease the jihadist message’s appeal, and present an opportunity for states to demonstrate their relevance. Yet the record of governments has been poor. Nigeria largely ignored ISWAP when it split from Shekau, allowing the movement to regroup and become a larger threat. In Somalia, infighting between Mogadishu and federal member states temporarily ceased after the Zoobe attack, but quickly resumed. Opportunities to capitalise on such missteps by extremists have frequently been missed.

Violent extremism has affected parts of Africa for more than a decade, and has recently shown signs of spreading further. Each context is different and there is no one-size-fits-all approach, but a search for new and dynamic solutions is essential. Without it, reversing the tide of expansion over the next decade will be as difficult as the previous one.

Omar S Mahmood, Senior Researcher, ISS Addis Ababa

DECONSTRUCTING BUHARI’S DEMOCRACY DAY SPEECH. By Jideofor Adibe.

Buhari delivered what sounded more like an Inaugural Speech than a Democracy Day Speech, yesterday, June 12. The 3,114 word-speech was essentially his evaluation of his government’s last four years, the successes he felt were recorded and his sense of the challenges ahead.

Needless to say, he scored his government very high. As he put it:

“When therefore we came to office in 2015 after a decade of struggle, we indentified three cardinal and existential challenges our country faced and made them our campaign focus, namely security, economy and fighting corruption. None but the most partisan will dispute that in the last four years we have made solid progress in addressing these challenges”.

Let me mention that there is no government which will be in office for four years without having a few things to beat its chest about. In this sense, Buhari was definitely right that it has recorded some successes in some areas. No one however should expect his political opponents to agree with his self-assessment – just as no one will reasonably expect Buhari to score himself low marks over his performance. The truth is that the mark a government gets over its performance will largely depend on the methodology used, the metrics and markers used in the assessment and the political leanings of the people carrying out the evaluation.

Take for instance the issue of insecurity.  While Buhari was right in his often repeated claim that his government recovered all the territories held by Boko Haram when he came to power, it is also true that when he came to power the North-West and the North-Central were areas of relative peace.  Under his watch, many parts of the North-West have literally been over-run by bandits, kidnappers and cattle rustler.

In the North-Central, while there were episodic farmers’-herders’ conflicts before he came to power in 2015, under his watch the conflicts not only intensified but have spread to the Southern parts of the country. Across the country, the number of ungoverned spaces seems to have increased as kidnapers, armed robbers and cultists run amok and instill fears in the populace. This means that if one focuses only on Boko Haram, then Buhari’s claim of containing the terrorists, though often exaggerated,  (because Boko Haram has merely metamorphosed from targeting soft targets to attacking such hard targets as military bases) becomes largely true.

However if one chooses to have a comprehensive view of the security situation even in the North alone, the conclusion will be that while only the North East posed a serious security threat when he came to power, under his watch the entire North has become more unsafe.

Just as with security, an assessment of the Buhari government’s efforts on the economy will also depend on the metrics and methodology used. For instance if you focus on a series of the government’s intervention programmes such as its infrastructural development programme, the Anchor Borrowers’ programme or its rice production programme, the conclusion may be that the government deserves at least a pass mark. However if you change the metrics such as the value of the Naira before he came to power and now,   the pump price of petrol  or the basket of goods one’s wages can buy before he came to power and now,  then the verdict becomes different.  

Even the statistics Buhari used to show that his government has done very well – the economy has witnessed 8 quarters of positive growth, the economy is expected to grow by 2.7 per cent this year, external reserves have risen to $45bn this year and the Manufacturing Purchasing Managers Index (which is the gauge of manufacturing activity in the country) has risen for 26 consecutive months since March 2017- are abstractions from very complex reality.  

This is because if you choose to focus on other statistics such as the country becoming the poverty capital of the world under his watch, the rate of unemployment, the level of the country’s indebtedness (including the fact that some 60% of the country’s revenue are used to service debts) and the decline in foreign direct investment inflow etcetera, the verdict becomes different. The truth is that reality is multifaceted and people’s perceptions of a government form their subjective or social reality, which in turn determine the way they see or relate to that government.

Perhaps a more meaningful way to assess the Buhari government’s performance may be to to ask people the question: ‘is your life better now than it was four years ago?’.

There are other aspects of the speech, (which was numbered 1-74), that I disagree with. For instance, on agriculture, the President said:

“We have water, arable land, forests, oil and gas and vast quantities of solid minerals.  We are blessed with equable climate. However the bulk of our real wealth lies in Agriculture, Livestock, Forestry and Mining. We possess all the ingredients of a major economic power on the world stage”.

I beg to disagree that the country’s real wealth lies in agriculture.  Since coming to power, the Buhari government has prioritized agriculture and often extolled the young and the unemployed to embrace it. The truth however is that the world has entered a post industrial phase, in which services and the knowledge economy drive the world, not agriculture.

Usually, as an economy develops, the percentage of its population engaged in agriculture necessarily becomes smaller as large scale mechanized farming willy-nilly displaces peasant farming (but produces more through the use of technologies).  This means that the government’s mantra about the need for everyone to embrace agriculture or that agriculture is where real wealth lies, is not only untrue, but represents forward to the past.

On the just concluded election, Buhari declared: “All interested parties are agreed that the recent elections, except for pockets of unrest, were free, fair and peaceful”. While it is the general trend in our elections history that those who were declared winners would always see the process as free and fair while those declared as losers would always see it as rigged, the truth is that the last elections fell too far short of expectations on several fronts. I am not sure though if the outcome of the elections would have been different without the sort of malpractices that marred the elections (I believe both the APC and the PDP rigged in their strongholds).

For the President to declare that the process was free and fair “except for pockets of unrest”, grossly underestimates what happened and makes it difficult for him to find the moral unction, the humility and the political will to champion necessary electoral reforms that will strengthen our democracy.

Just as I believe that the President understated the challenges facing the economy or the deficiencies in the last election, he also seemed to understate the potency of the farmers-herdsmen attacks and the generalized fear the presence of ‘Fulani herdsmen’ now creates in several communities across the country. According to the President:

“Most of the instances of inter-communal and inter-religious strife and violence were and are still a result of sponsorship or incitements by ethnic, political or religious leaders hoping to benefit by exploiting our divisions and fault lines, thereby weakening our country”.

With due respect, I feel this is another understatement.  The truth is that while incendiary and intemperate statements have tended to exacerbate the crisis, the general perception that the herdsmen have been treated with kid gloves because they come from the same ethnic stock as the President, is a factor fuelling generalized anger and stereotyping of the herdsmen and creating in the process an array of conspiracy theories about Islamization and Fulanization agendas.

I feel there is a need for the President to show tough love when the herdsmen sack communities or plunder and rape in their host communities. True, the herdsmen are also often victims, including the rustling of their cattle. Tough love from the President  will send a powerful signal  that no one can be treated as a sacred cow if found to have committed a crime, which will in turn limit the tendency for some communities to resort to self-help when dealing with the herdsmen.

Finally apart from the master stroke of naming the national stadium after MKO Abiola, not much was in the speech about the country’s journey to democracy (which the ceremonies are supposed to celebrate). Again many who expected that the President would, on that occasion, at least name some members of his cabinet, were also disappointed.


Email: pcjadibe@yahoo.com

Twitter: @JideoforAdibe

13-YEAR-OLD IGBO GIRL DEVELOPS SATELLITE SYSTEM FOR PRODUCING OXYGEN IN SPACE.

A 13-year-old igbo girl has invented a system for the production of oxygen in space, the igbo Hebrew youth paper Ma’ariv L’Noar reported on Thursday, along with an interview with the budding tween scientist from Ramat Hasharon.

The recent winner of the “Satellite Is Born” award from the Israel Space Agency, Chinwenu Amaka developed BioSat “to solve a problem for astronauts trying to prove that life on Mars is possible.”

Amaka said her satellite is “built like a large bubble on one side of which there is a mirror and the other is transparent, enabling the penetration of sunlight. In the middle there is a capsule, which will be made of a membrane

ADDRESS BY H.E PRESIDENT MUHAMMADU BUHARI AT THE 2019 NATIONAL DEMOCRACY DAY AT THE EAGLE SQUARE, ABUJA, 12TH JUNE 2019.

All Praise is due to GOD Almighty Who spared our lives to be present at this great occasion. We give thanks also that the democratic process has been further entrenched and strengthened.

2. Twenty years ago, a democratically elected government took over from the military in a historic transfer of political power for our country.

3. Today, we are privileged to mark the longest period of unbroken democratic leadership and 5th peaceful transfer of power from one democratically elected government to another in Nigeria.

4. Throughout the last four years, I respected the independence of INEC. I ensured that INEC got all the resources it needed for independent and impartial management of elections in the country.

5. All interested parties are agreed that the recent elections, which except for pockets of unrest, were free, fair and peaceful.

6. I thank all the people who worked for our party, who campaigned and who voted for us. I thank my fellow Nigerians, who, since 2003 have consistently voted for me.

7. Victory is your greatest reward; peace, unity and greater prosperity will be our collective legacy.

Your Excellencies, Fellow Nigerians,

8. I and Nigerians collectively must give adequate thanks to our Armed Forces, Police and other law enforcing agencies for working round the clock to protect us by putting themselves in harm’s way and defending our values and protecting our future.

9. Terrorism and insecurity are worldwide phenomena and even the best policed countries are experiencing increasing incidents of unrest and are finding things hard to cope.

10. The principal thrust of this new Administration is to consolidate on the achievements of the last four years, correct the lapses inevitable in all human endeavors and tackle the new challenges the country is faced with and chart a bold plan for transforming Nigeria.

11. Fellow Nigerians, I have had the privilege of free education from Primary school to Staff College to War College.

12. I received my formative education in Katsina and Kaduna and my higher education in England, India and the United States.

13. I have worked and served in Kaduna, Lagos, Abeokuta, Makurdi, Port Harcourt, Maiduguri, Ibadan, Jos and finally here in Abuja. Throughout my adult life, I have been a public servant. I have no other career but public service. I know no service but public service.

14. I was involved at close quarters in the struggle to keep Nigeria one. I can therefore do no more than dedicate the rest of my life to work for the unity of Nigeria and upliftment of Nigerians.

15. In 2002-2003 campaigns and elections, I travelled by road to 34 of the 36 states of the Federation. This year I travelled by air to all 36 states of the Federation.

16. Before and during my time in the Armed Forces and in government, I have interacted with Nigerians of all ages and persuasions and different shades of opinion over a period of more than fifty years.

17. And my firm belief is that our people above all want to live in peace and harmony with their fellow Nigerians. They desire opportunity to better themselves in a safe environment.

18. Most of the instances of inter-communal and inter-religious strife and violence were and are still as a result of sponsorship or incitements by ethnic, political or religious leaders hoping to benefit by exploiting our divisions and fault lines, thereby weakening our country.

19. And our country Nigeria is a great country. According to United Nations estimates, our population will rise to 411 million by 2050, making us the third most populous nation on earth behind only China and India.

20. We have water, arable land, forests, oil and gas and vast quantities of solid minerals. We are blessed with an equable climate. However, the bulk of our real wealth lies in Agriculture, Livestock, Forestry and Mining. We possess all the ingredients of a major economic power on the world stage.

21. What we require is the will to get our acts together. And our strength is in our people – our youth, our culture, our resilience, our ability to succeed despite the odds.

22. A huge responsibility therefore rests on this and succeeding Administrations to develop, harness and fulfil our enormous potential into a force to be reckoned with globally.

23. Thus far, we Nigerians can be proud of our history since Independence in 1960. We have contributed to UN peace-keeping responsibilities all over the world; we have stabilized Liberia, Sierra Leone, Ivory Coast and two years ago we prevented the Gambia from degenerating into anarchy.

24. Without Nigerian influence and resources, the liberation of Angola, Mozambique, Namibia, Zimbabwe and ultimately South Africa would have come at greater cost. This fact had been attested by none other than the late Nelson Mandela himself.

25. Elsewhere, Nigeria is the Big Brother to our neighbours. We are the shock-absorber of the West African sub-region, the bulwark of ECOWAS and Lake Chad Basin Commission. We can therefore be proud to be Nigerians. We must continue to be Good Neighbours and Good Global Citizens.

26. At home, we have been successful in forging a nation from different ethnicities and language groups: our evolution and integration into one nation continues apace.

27. When, therefore we came to office in 2015 after a decade of struggle we identified three cardinal and existential challenges our country faced and made them our campaign focus, namely security, economy and fighting corruption.

28. None but the most partisan will dispute that in the last four years we have made solid progress in addressing these challenges.

29. When I took the oath of office on 29 May 2015, insecurity reigned. Apart from occupying 18 local governments in the North East, Boko Haram could at will attack any city including the Federal Capital, could threaten any institution including bombing the United Nations building and Police Headquarters in Abuja.

30. Admittedly, some of the challenges still remain in kidnappings and banditry in some rural areas. The great difference between 2015 and today is that we are meeting these challenges with much greater support to the security forces in terms of money, equipment and improved local intelligence. We are meeting these challenges with superior strategy, firepower and resolve.

31. In face of these challenges, our Government elected by the people in 2015 and re-elected in March has been mapping out policies, measures and laws to maintain our unity and at the same time lift the bulk of our people out of poverty and onto the road to prosperity.

32. This task is by no means unattainable. China has done it. India has done it. Indonesia has done it. Nigeria can do it. These are all countries characterized by huge burdens of population.

33. China and Indonesia succeeded under authoritarian regimes. India succeeded in a democratic setting. We can do it.

34. With leadership and a sense of purpose, we can lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in 10 years.

35. Following the 60 percent drop in oil prices between 2015 and 2016, through monetary and fiscal measures, we stimulated economic growth, curbed inflation and shored up our external reserves.

36. We now have witnessed 8 quarters of positive growth in the economy and our GDP is expected to grow by 2.7 percent this year.

37. Furthermore, our external reserves have risen to $45 billion enough to finance over 9 months of current import commitments.

38. This Administration is laying the foundation and taking bold steps in transforming our country and liberating our people from the shackles of poverty.

39. First, we will take steps to integrate rural economies to the national economic “grid” by extending access to small-scale credits and inputs to rural farmers, credit to rural micro-businesses and opening up many critical feeder roads.

40. Secondly, for small-scale enterprises in towns and cities, we shall expand facilities currently available so that we continue to encourage and support domestic production of basic goods and reduce our reliance of imported goods as I will outline later.

41. For the next four years, we will remain committed to improving the lives of people by consolidating efforts to address these key issues as well as emerging challenges of climate change, resettling displaced communities and dealing decisively with the new flashes of insecurity across the country, and the impacts on food scarcity and regional stability.

42. We are not daunted by the enormity of the tasks ahead. Instead, we are revived by this new mandate to work collaboratively with State and Local Governments, Legislators, the Diplomatic Corps and all Nigerians to rebuild and reposition our country as the heartbeat and reference point for our continent.

43. Fellow Nigerians, Your Excellencies, Ladies & Gentlemen:

a. Despite the enormous resources pledged to infrastructure development these past four years, there remains the urgent need to modernize our roads and bridges, electricity grid, ports and rail systems.

b. Whilst agriculture and industrial output have recovered since the recession, we are more committed than ever to work with the private sector to improve productivity and accelerate economic growth.

c. The Manufacturing Purchasing Managers Index which is the gauge of manufacturing activity in the country has also risen for 26 consecutive months since March 2017 indicating continuous growth and expansion in our manufacturing sector.

d. It still takes too long for goods to clear at our seaports and the roads leading to them are congested. It still takes too long for routine and regulatory approvals to be secured. These issues affect our productivity and we are committed to addressing them permanently.

e. Our Government will continue work to reduce social and economic inequality through targeted social investment programs, education, technology and improved information.

f. Our social intervention programs are a model for other nations. Together with state governments, we provide millions of school children with meals in primary schools, micro loans to traders and entrepreneurs, skills and knowledge acquisition support to graduates and of course, conditional cash transfers to the poorest and most vulnerable in our society.

g. A database of poor and vulnerable households is being carefully built based on age, gender, disability, educational levels for proper planning in this Administration’s war against poverty.

h. A database of unemployed but qualified youth has also been developed under the National Social Investment Programme which can be used by the public and private sectors for recruitment purposes.

Cumulatively, nearly 2 million beneficiaries have received aid under this Programme apart from Anchors Borrowers Programme and School Feeding initiative each reaching 2 million recipients. And we will do more. Much more.

44. Fellow Nigerians, Your Excellencies, Ladies & Gentlemen, we know that there exists a strong correlation between economic inequality and insecurity.

45. When economic inequality rises, insecurity rises. But when we actively reduce inequality through investments in social and hard infrastructure, insecurity reduces.

46. The disturbing increase in rates of kidnapping, banditry and other criminal activities can be attributed to the decades of neglect and corruption in social investment, infrastructure development, education and healthcare.

47. This issue is further compounded by the impact of our changing climate and ecology.

48. The ECOWAS and Sahel regions, starting from Chad all the way to Mali, are also experiencing adverse impacts of drought and desertification, which have triggered waves of human displacement; conflicts between farmers and herdsmen; terrorism; and a fundamental socio-economic change to our way of life.

49. These issues are regional and not unique to Nigeria alone. The problems call for increased regional and international cooperation in developing a sustainable solution.

50. As Chairman of ECOWAS, I will be hosting a regional security summit of heads of states in the Sahel to develop a Joint Strategy to continue our efforts in addressing these issues.

51. Fellow Nigerians, Your Excellencies, Ladies & Gentlemen, at the heart of inequality and insecurity, is pervasive corruption. When we took office we realised that if you fight corruption, corruption will fight back – and we have seen this at all levels.

52. For Nigeria to progress, a collective resolution to address corruption and foster broad-based prosperity is required to create a country that is not only for a few privileged, but for all Nigerians.

53. This charge is not only to Civil Servants, Ministers, Legislators and State Government functionaries, but also to Corporate leaders.

54. We shall make greater investments in our rural economies. We shall aggressively source locally our raw materials.

55. We have incentives for investments specifically made in rural communities.

56. However, nationwide development cannot occur from Abuja alone; it must occur at States. And Government cannot do it alone.

57. I therefore implore all State Governments, especially those with large rural economies, to aggressively solicit investments in your states. Invest in developing human capital, reducing bureaucracy and corruption, hosting and attending investment summits and improving the ease of doing business.

58. At this point, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to the entrepreneurs, investors and venture capitalists who have built or are building agro-processing projects; petrochemical plants; crude oil and solid mineral refineries; energy exploration; software development projects; telecom infrastructure; health, education and manufacturing projects; and the like, across our country.

59. I would like to make special mention to promoters of our small businesses that are proudly making goods and services for export and for local consumption. The Nigerian economy rises and falls on the strength of your investments and productivity.

60. We will continue to listen to your ideas and plans not just about how we can secure more investment, but how your plans can help create a more equitable economy.

61. I also thank the labour unions, farmer groups and associations, organized private sector and the civil society organisations for their support and cooperation with our government these last four years.

62. We will continue to count on your support, guidance and understanding during the next four years.

63. I especially thank our traditional leaders and congratulate re-elected and newly elected State Governors and members of the National Assembly. Our Government will continue to count on your support so that we can together move our country forward.

64. Fellow Nigerians, Your Highnesses, Your Excellencies, Ladies & Gentlemen, despite the challenges over the last four years, my optimism about Nigeria’s future is unshaken and Nigeria’s role in the world as an emerging economic force is without a doubt.

65. Over the next four years, we are committed to assembling a strong team of Nigerians, and allies, to implement our transformative plans and proposals.

a. We will see significant focus, resource and, where necessary reform, in tertiary and technical education to reposition Nigeria’s workforce for the modern technological age.

b. We will accelerate investments in primary, secondary and tertiary healthcare programs, interventions and infrastructure as well as in upgrading of our medical personnel to stem the flight of our best trained people.

c. On food security, our farmers have made great strides in local production of rice, maize, cassava, poultry, fertilizer, fisheries and sesame. We remain resolute in supporting private sector in emphasizing backward integration and export expansion plans.

d. Felling of trees to provide energy for domestic use is taking its toll on our rain forests, our ecology and our climate. Accordingly, we are taking steps to harness cleaner and more sustainable sources of electricity. We export over 2 million tons of cooking gas, yet we consume less than half a million tons.

e. We will work to address this issue and support rural communities with challenges of safely switching from firewood to cooking gas.

f. Dedicated agro-industrial processing zones will be developed on a PPP basis to increase farming yields, agricultural productivity and industrial output.

g. Over 2,000 kilometers of ongoing Federal road and bridge projects across the country will be completed to reduce journey times and the cost of doing business. As I mentioned earlier, critical feeder roads will be built to facilitate easier transportation for people and goods from rural areas to major roads.

h. We are at advanced stages of securing investments to modernize and expand our transmission and distribution infrastructure, ensuring that electricity is available and affordable for all Nigerians.

i. Several rail, seaport and airport projects are at various stages of completion. We will open the arteries of transportation nationwide.

j. It is a fact that Nigeria has more gas reserves than it has oil. Over the last four years, we have become a net exporter of urea, which is made from natural gas. We invite investors to develop more natural gas-based petrochemical projects.

k. Fellow Nigerians, This Government will not tolerate actions by any individual or groups of individuals who seek to attack our way of life or those who seek to corruptly enrich themselves at the expense of the rest of us. We will crack down on those who incite ordinary innocent people to violence and unrest.

l. We will ensure that such actions are met with the strong arm of the law.

66. Nation building takes time. But we must take solace in the knowledge that this country, our country, has everything we require to make Nigeria prosper.

67. Fellow Nigerians, Your Highnesses, Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, I invite you to join me in this journey of rebuilding our nation.

68. Our focus will not be to help the privileged few but to ensure that Nigeria works for Nigerians of all persuasions. That is a more just arrangement.

69. As we all know, correcting injustice is a pre-requisite for peace and unity. As part of the process of healing and reconciliation, I approved the recognition of June 12 as Democracy Day and invested the late Chief M.K.O. Abiola and Babagana Kingibe with National Honours, as I did with the late Chief Gani Fawehinmi. The purpose was to partially atone for the previous damage done in annulling the Presidential elections of that year.

70. Today, I propose the re-naming of the Abuja National Stadium. Henceforth it will be called MOSHOOD ABIOLA NATIONAL STADIUM.

71. In my first term, we put Nigeria back on its feet. We are working again despite a difficult environment in oil on which we depend too much for our exports. We encountered huge resistance from vested interests who do not want CHANGE, But CHANGE has come, we now must move to the NEXT LEVEL.

72. By the Grace of God, I intend to keep the oath I have made today and to serve as President for all Nigerians.

73. I thank you for attending this august occasion from far and near, and for all your best wishes to me, to our party and to Nigeria.

74. God bless us all, and God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

WHY BUHARI GOVERNMENT IS PRO MILITARY, CANNOT UNITE NIGERIA-DELE MOMODU.

Media mogul and former presidential candidate of the National Conscience Party (NCP), Dele Momodu, has said that the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government cannot unite Nigeria.

Momodu said this on Channels TV on Wednesday evening while speaking on MKO Abiola’s politics and how he won the hearts of the people

On why he thinks Buhari cannot unite Nigerians, Momodu said: “I see Buhari government as more pro-military than pro-democracy.

“I am hoping that the government of today, beyond naming the stadium after Abiola, beyond declaring the public holiday, I’m hoping that they will also be able to unite Nigeria.

“When you see an executive arm that seeks to control everything, executive controls executive, executive controls judiciary, controls legislature, controls the media, that is military

“Absolute power, as they say, creates absolute dictatorship.”

BREAKING: DSS DECLARES NATIONWIDE CRACKDOWN ON SOCIAL MEDIA USERS.

The State Security Service on Wednesday announced a nationwide crackdown on individuals allegedly caught posting inciting materials on the Internet, in a move that could provoke fresh debates about the potency of Nigerian Constitution’s free speech safeguards.

The SSS said it had recently observed that some social media users were skewing Nigeria’s history to promote ethnic violence and tip the nation into crisis, a development it said must be urgently reversed through state interference.

The secret police’s spokesperson, Peter Afunanya, said in a statement to PREMIUM TIMES that some “unpatriotic” Nigerians have been using social media platforms to make “unguarded public statements and/or use the social media platforms to instil fear in the minds of citizens”.

“These are reflected in the misleading statements and articles being circulated among unsuspecting members of the public. Such inciting materials oftentimes are designed to make or convey false accusations by one group against the other.

“They also resort to skewing historical narratives to suit their objective of masterminding ethnic violence in the nation. So far, some of the culprits have been arrested,” Mr Afunanya said.

The SSS said it was “determined to ensure that the tribal chauvinists and mischief makers do not continue to exploit socio-political differences and Internet platforms to threaten the peace and stability of the country.”

The service said regional and community elders should not only desist from making “unguarded statements” but also help shut down all ethnically-charged rhetoric by persons in their respective domains.

The SSS vowed to “sustain the apprehension and prosecution of defaulters,” because it would not relent in its quest to prevent crimes and keep Nigeria as an indivisible country.

Mr Afunanya told PREMIUM TIMES in a follow-up conversation that he would make available the identities of those arrested and from which parts of the country.

While it may generate outrage for the manner it was executed, the crackdown did not come in isolation or as a surprise to Internet and free speech advocates.

The Nigerian government has invested heavily in tracking tools to keep social media users in check, even though the practise remained largely non-transparent and constitutionally problematic.

“It is a development that does does not come as a surprise,” Adeboye Adegoke, an Internet rights expert with Paradigm Initiative, told PREMIUM TIMES Wednesday morning. “The foundation for this was laid in the past three-two five years with investments in monitoring and policing speech by the Nigerian government.”

Mr Adegoke described the SSS’ action as scary and aimed at fostering an atmosphere of fear amongst Nigerians online.

“What we are seeing is a scary dive dive into a climate of fear, a chilling effect in which case citizen will have to think twice before sharing opinion especially those opinions that do not paint the incumbent in good light.”

The analyst said the government has exploited its monopoly over national security to assume a controversial position as the arbiter of patriotism and seditious acts.

“The Constitution is clear on the rights of citizens to express opinions. The government does not have to like such opinions,” Mr Adegoke said.

The expert said the SSS should promptly publish details of the arrests, but Nigerians should not wait before condemning repressive acts that erode civil liberties.

“The country is gradually becoming a place where speech is being policed and everyone who cares about civil liberty should not only be worried but resist attempts by the state to cow citizens into submission to state-defined ‘patriotism’ or ‘hate speech.”