Presidency has replied former President Olusegun Obasanjo, over his recent comment against President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.
Obasanjo had at an interactive session with some socio-cultural groups in Abuja on Friday, said that Nigeria is fast drifting to a failed and badly divided state, noting that the country is economically becoming a basket case and poverty capital of the world.
According to him: “Today, Nigeria is fast drifting to a failed and badly divided state, economically our country is becoming a basket case and poverty capital of the world, and socially, we are firming up as an unwholesome and insecure country.
“And these manifestations are the products of recent mismanagement of diversity and socio-economic development of our country.
“Old fault lines that were disappearing have opened up in greater fissures and with drums of hatred, disintegration and separation and accompanying choruses being heard loud and clear almost everywhere”
Reacting on Sunday, Presidency through the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu, said: “In his most recent statement former President Olusegun Obasanjo attempts to divide the nation while President Muhammadu Buhari continues to promote nation building and the unity of Nigeria.
“The difference is clear. From the lofty heights of Commander-in-Chief, General Obasanjo has descended to the lowly level of Divider-in-Chief (to adapt the coinage of Time).
“Before responding further to the unfair attacks on President Buhari and his administration by the former President, it is important that we categorically state that contrary to the assertions by a few analysts, the recent speech in which President Buhari advised West African Presidents against tenure elongation beyond constitutional limits has been consistent with his long held views on the need to adhere to the rule of law.
“Even though he tried it and failed, the recent uptick in the number of such leaders proposing to do, or actually carrying on in office beyond term limits is sufficient to cause concern among democrats in the sub-region given its prospects of destabilizing the states and the region.
“President Buhari’s advocacy is consistent with his principles and in line with the current policies of his administration and indeed that of the ECOWAS Charter which is that term limits must be respected and that the change of government is only permissible through the ballot box.
“Having cleared this misperception, we hope that Chief Obasanjo would once again sheath the sword and rest the pretentiousness about the Messiah that has (mis)led him to pronounce often wrongly, as he disastrously did in the 2019 elections, about the life and death of Nigerian governments.
“As some commentators are already suggesting, Chief Obasanjo should, in accordance with his mantra as a statesman, get involved with problems solving, when and where they exist instead of helping the mushrooming of a poisonous atmosphere of ethnic and religious nationalism.
“Surely, he must have disappointed many of his local and foreign admirers by showering commendations on a few extremist groups who have vowed to shun the invitation to the National Assembly to participate in the process of constitutional amendment.
“No doubt, he must have left those admirers confused in announcing the support for the boycott of a democratic process of changing the constitution, at the same time calling for dialogue and engagement.
“The fact that the process he ushered in under his administration with the dubious intention of amendments that sought tenure elongation failed-as did two other attempts by the successor administrations of the same political party- does not in any way justify his dismissal of the exercise by the 9th Assembly as a another waste of time and resources.
“To the credit of the All Progressives Congress-led 8th Assembly, the process of constitutional amendment was kickstarted and carried through, paving the way for, among other benefits, the financial independence of local government councils, States Houses of Assembly and the country’s Judiciary. These changes have already been signed into laws by the President as mandated by the constitution.
“The recent decisions by the administration as they relate to subsidy withdrawal, helping to plug some of the most horrendous notorious holes and release of scarce resources for the more pressing needs of the people has also not escaped the ire of the former president.
“It’s a known fact that the withdrawal of subsidies had been on the wish list of the Obasanjo-led Peoples Democratic Party, PDP. They failed in achieving these measures because, one there was a shared greed. They plundered the treasury as much as anyone could in the name of either subsidy or waiver with reckless impunity.
“Two, is to say it takes courage and rare statesmanship on the part of a leader to do as President Buhari to shun populism and seek the best interest of the people and the state, providing the kind of reform and development that Nigeria urgently needs.
“This President has run an administration focused on infrastructure and development. He has repaired our damaged relations with neighbours and our traditional allies such as the UK, US, China, Russia, France, Germany, Saudi Arabia and the others with lots of benefits to the country.
“It is a pro-business administration that has used diplomacy to unlock bilateral trade and investment.
“He leads a government that has liberalized the investment climate and market access by achieving reforms that have placed the country in the list of the world’s top reforming economies.
“Nigeria, which other nations had mocked and ridiculed for so many things that were wrong is today progressing at a pace reflecting its size and potential.
“With so much to show and many more coming, it is little surprise that President Buhari would be the object of envy and harsh unfair challenges by politicians who failed to deliver, but continue to nurse ambitions of delighting the audience l
How FG Delegation To Silicon Valley Benefited Nigerian Startups – Osinbajo
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has outlined how is trip to the Silicon Valley in the United States has benefitted Nigerian start-ups, some of whom have gotten funds to grow their business.
Osinbajo disclosed this milestone when he spoke on the Fire Side Chat with Nick Clegg, Facebook VP of Policy and Communication, a former Deputy Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.
He explained that there have been active partnerships between Nigerian start-ups and some US tech firms, assuring Nigerians that more investment is expected to pour in.
“Both tours were extremely successful. At the Silicon Valley, Nigerian start-ups got a chance to pitch their products to tech sector investors, that was very good, in fact before we left Silicon Valley, one of our venture platforms was able to sign a deal of about $10m with the Nigerian US Council, even before we left,” he said
“Since then we have seen tremendous activities post-trip. We were also at the Facebook campus, which was an absolute delight, we enjoyed being around there, seeing the excitement and a great deal of energy that was encouraging for many start ups seeing at close quarters what a comparable giant was doing, and I think this was very helpful.”
He explained that the entertainment sector has also benefitted from his trip to Hollywood. “Asides from that, we think that the visit helped in showing our seriousness of the tech sector and through the entertainment industry also, we did quite a few meetings also with the entertainment industry.”
“In fact, as of 2018/2019, we had gotten about $377million in investments in the tech sector. This is excellent even though it is still scratching the surface if one considers the size of our economy and the size of the country, but there were very significant gains and I am very happy to have been able to do it.”
“Of course, two visits or one visit doesn’t ever answer the various challenges, but I think we started the interactions that have been very useful and we will continue to engage.”
Speaking on how government will fix the challenges and manage the peculiarities of Nigeria’s tech and creative industry, he said, “With regulation, we are dealing with uncharted territory, because quite a few of what we are seeing are entirely new, and I must say that the regulatory authorities have done quite a decent work, trying to grapple with some of the newness of the things that they are seeing.
“For example, we worked on the payment services licenses, these are licenses for fintech companies that are doing some kind of banking type jobs but are not deposit banks, we had to create some room for them, and what has happened is that a collaborative effort of government, and the tech and entertainment sector worked on this and set up a technology and creativity advisory group, and these are young innovators, entrepreneurs etc. who worked with us on the industrial and competitiveness council to craft some of these regulations and to think through some of these problems.”
“Those licenses were particularly important because it carved out space that was previously dominated entirely by deposit money banks. Of course you know that they are the least willing to have their lunch taken away from them.”
“There have been other ways that the government is trying to fix the issues such as access to credit, which we have worked very hard to ensure that there is some access to credit for innovators, we’ve spoken a bit about foreign investments in Nigeria, but more importantly, what the Bank of Industry is doing is creating a tech fund, the CBN has also established a technology fund and we are working with the AfDB which has a $500m fund which we are at the final stage of trying to bring that into existence.”
“So there is quite a bit going on in order to ensure that there is access to funding while we are improving the environment for business as well as the environment for tech companies to operate. I think that one thing that is certain is the change in the technology space which is so rapid that you know, regulators are practically chasing after the innovation, to see how best to regulate without stifling these companies.”
Speaking on the amended National Broadcasting Commission code, he said, “The NBC code you mentioned is one where there is activity around and we are trying to take a second look at it, there are those who say it is anti-competitive and there are those who claim that it is pro competition.”
“It is one which I think we should take a second look at. Basically what it says is that if you have a licensed product, for TV or film, you are expected to share it with other platforms.”
“I understand the argument of those who say it is a violation of copyrights and intellectual properties in other ways which is a very strong point and which is why I think it deserves to be given a second look and see where there are ways of moderating that to be more acceptable, so as not to stifle the works of very hardworking creative people who are creating content in film, music etc.”
Osinbajo , Facebook ‘ s Vice President To Hold Informal Chat Today
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and Facebook’s Vice President, Policy and Communication, Nick Clegg, are set to hold a virtual informal chat on Facebook on Friday.
Facebook, in a statement issued on Thursday, said the chat would be held as part of its activities during the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA).
The 75th session of the U.N. General Assembly commenced on Tuesday with a moment of silence against the unprecedented backdrop of the Coronavirus pandemic.
It will close on Sept. 22.
Facebook said that the event, which would be moderated by Omowale David-Ashiru, Vice President, Global Operations at Andela, would explore the growth of digital economy in Nigeria.
According to the statement, the session will also highlight Facebook’s role in economic development across Sub-Saharan Africa.
“As the Chair of Person of Nigeria’s Economic Sustainability Committee, Vice President Osinbajo will highlight the importance of digital technologies, innovation hubs and private equity funding in ensuring economic growth and development in the country,” it said.
The session would also provide Osinbajo a platform to share further insight into Nigeria’s Post-COVID Economic Recovery Plan (ERP), Facebook said.
The company stated that the 45-minute virtual event will be streamed on Facebook Live.
Fuel Crisis Looms In FCT , North As PTD Orders Tanker Drivers To Stop Lifting
The Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja and other parts of Northern Nigeria will experience huge fuel scarcity as the Petroleum Tanker Drivers (PTD), on Wednesday, ordered immediate stoppage of distribution of petroleum products from Lagos to the Northern part of the country till further notice.
A statement signed by Otunba Salimon Oladiti, the PTD National Chairman, said the action became imperative, following the shut out of heavy trucks including tankers from using all the link roads in Minna, Niger State.
The Niger State Government had in a letter signed by Abdullahi Imam, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Transport and addressed to the state chairman of PTD, informed them of the government decision to shut down major roads leading to Minna, effective from midnight of September 15, 2020.
The letter, dated September 9 read: “You are aware of efforts of the Niger State Government to rehabilitate Minna Bida road and the major roads leading to Minna. These efforts have largely been frustrated because of the heavy presence of heavy trucks plying these roads.
“In view of the foregoing, we hereby notify you of the government’s decision for a total shutdown of all major roads linking to Minna to heavy trucks from 12 midnight of September 15, 2020.
“You will please bring this information to all your members in order to guide them to find alternative routes for their movements.”
In a swift response to this, the National Chairman of PTD said their members will stop lifting products from Lagos to the Northern part of the country from Thursday.
Otunba Oladiti said: “We want to use this medium to inform the general public that from Thursday, September 17, our members will not be lifting products from Lagos to the Northern part of the country because the Niger State Government has shut out heavy-duty trucks including tankers from passing through the state.
“The only alternative road is not motorable. This is Bida- Agai- Lapai- Lambata road. In fact, this road is a death trap. When we got wind of the plan of the Niger State Government to shut the roads about weeks back, I spoke to the Minister of Works through one of his aides and he assured that the ministry would do palliative and remedial works on the road. Unfortunately, over two weeks after our discussion, nothing has been down on the roads.
“As leaders, we have to do the needful and protect the lives of our members from the avoidable accident and attacks from hoodlums. So, starting from tomorrow September 17, 2020, our members will not be lifting products from Lagos to the Northern part of the country. Until the federal government makes the alternative road motorable, our members will not resume lifting of products to the northern part of the country.
“In the letter to our State Chairman, the Niger State Government through its Ministry of Transport dated September 9, 2020, by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Abdullahi U. Imam informed us about its decision to shut out all heavy trucks vehicles from passing through the link and major roads in the state from Tuesday.”
He added: “Consequently, we have directed our members to stop lifting products from Lagos to the northern part of the country until further notice.
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