STATEMENT BY THE PRESIDENCY ON RECENT CAMPAIGN AGAINST THE MINISTER OF COMMUNICATIONS AND DIGITAL ECONOMY
Today, there is an unfortunate fashion in public discourse that makes leaders in politics, religion, and civil society liable in the present for every statement they have ever made in the past – no matter how long ago, and even after they have later rejected them.
This insidious phenomenon seeks to cancel the careers of others on the basis of a thing they have said, regardless of when they said it.
The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami is, currently, subject to a “cancel campaign” instigated by those who seek his removal. They do not really care what he may or may not have said some 20 years ago: that is merely the instrument they are using to attempt to “cancel” him. But they will profit should he be stopped from making decisions that improve the lives of everyday Nigerians.
The Minister has, rightly, apologized for what he said in the early 2000s. The views were absolutely unacceptable then, and would be equally unacceptable today, were he to repeat them. But he will not repeat them – for he has publicly and permanently condemned his earlier utterances as wrong.
In the 2000s, the Minister was a man in his twenties; next year he will be 50. Time has passed, and people and their opinions – often rightly – change.
But all discerning Nigerians know this manufactured dispute is nothing to do with the Minister’s prior words, but solely concern his actions in the present.
This Administration is committed to improving the lives of all Nigerians – and that includes ensuring they are not over-charged or under-protected for those services on which modern life depends.
The Minister has been leading the charge against illegal data deductions and pricing; he has revolutionized the government’s virtual public engagement to respond to COVID-19 and save taxpayers’ money; he has established ICT start-up centres to boost youth entrepreneurship and create jobs; he has changed policy to ensure locally produced ICT content is used by ministries, starting with his own; and he has deregistered some 9.2 million SIMs – ending the ability for criminals and terrorists to flagrantly use mobile networks undetected. In two short years, Minister Pantami has driven the contribution of the ICT sector to the GDP to more than 18 percent, making it one of the top two playing a critical role in the emergence of the economy from the COVID 19-induced recession.
In putting people first, the Minister and this administration have made enemies. There are those in the opposition who see success and want it halted by any means. And there is now well-reported information that alleges newspaper editors rebuffed an attempt to financially induce them to run a smear campaign against the minister by some ICT companies, many of which do indeed stand to lose financially through lower prices and greater consumer protections. The government is now investigating the veracity behind these claims of attempted inducement, and – should they be found to hold credence – police and judicial action must be expected.
The Administration stands behind Minister Pantami and all Nigerian citizens to ensure they receive fair treatment, fair prices, and fair protection in ICT services.
Senior Special Assistant to the President
(Media & Publicity)
April 22, 2021
LAGOS STATE GOVERNMENT
OFFICE OF THE CHIEF PRESS SECRETARY TO THE GOVERNOR
UPHOLD YINKA ODUMAKIN’S LEGACY, SANWO-OLU CHARGES NIGERIANS
- 93-Year-Old Adebanjo Weeps, As Gbajabiamila, Ex-Governors, Others Pay Tributes To Late Afenifere Spokesman
Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu has charged politicians and members of the Civil Society Organisations, to uphold the legacy and struggle of the late Yinka Odumakin, former National Publicity Secretary of pan-Yoruba socio-cultural organisation, Afenifere.
Speaking at the lying-in-state, day of tributes and service of songs held on Thursday at Police College, Ikeja as parts of the funeral rites for the late human rights activist, Governor Sanwo-Olu urged ‘comrades of like minds’ not to abruptly end what Yinka Odumakin believed, stood and worked for during his life time.
The Governor also charged them to keep working hard for a Nigeria that will be land of justice, fairness and where equity would become the watchword and reflect true federalism.
He said: “Yinka was one-half of the most formidable couple that we have seen in our history and the other half is his beloved wife, Dr. Joe Okei-Odumakin, who now sadly has to continue this struggle without her husband, fellow comrade and big friend that I know he is to her. My sister, you will continue to push on strongly in the trenches.
“We are passionate about what he believed in and what he stood for. He wanted the best for Nigeria. He wanted the best for his Yoruba nation but he was completely detribalised and he used his voice to advance the cause and the needs of the voiceless. Until the very end, he kept going.
“He kept speaking up, he kept working hard for a Nigeria that we all can be truly proud of. A
Nigeria that will be land of justice, a Nigeria that will be fair, a Nigeria where equity would become the watchword and a Nigeria that will truly reflect true modern federalism.
But the Almighty God who we cannot query did not allow Yinka to finish. As some people have said, he was a fighter who fell in his prime.
“At a time like this, we are all short of words but we will continue to hold on to the legacy and what he believed and lived for. All comrades of like minds should ensure that they don’t abruptly end what Yinka Odumakin stood for, what he believed in and what he had worked for. That is a charge for each and every one of us.”
Speaking at the event, Afenifere Leader, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, who shed tears uncontrollably while paying tributes to his organisation’s spokesman said ĺOdumakin is an irreplaceable material.
Adebanjo, who broke the barrier of culture to attend the funeral rites, urged human rights activists to continue in the spirit Yinka Odumakin, by being courageous and fearless if they truly love the deceased.
“I am not God, I am a human being. There is nothing impossible for God to do but as a human being, I will say it will be difficult to replace Yinka. Where can we find a young man of his age, not materialistic pursuing a cause he believes in selflessly, courageously, relentlessly and consistently? Yinka, God knows you are a blessing to Nigeria,” he said.
Speaking in tears, Adebanjo said: “It is not easy to talk about Yinka. Yinka is an irreplaceable material. Why should I be here? You can’t question him, leaving a man of 93 to take a man of 55-years. God, you are omnipotent, please replace him quickly for us.”
Also speaking, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila said he left the Green chamber where he was presiding to pay last respect to the late Odumakin, who he described as “a man of courage, integrity, true democrat and a man who stood for truth and nothing else”
The Speaker therefore charged Nigerians to make positive impact during their lifetime by rendering service to humanity so that they can be remembered after their demise.
The widow of the late Afenifere spokesman, Dr. Joe Okei-Odumakin, who described her husband as “encyclopedia of positive activism” said the tributes by Nigerians will continue to embolden her to do more by continuing what her husband fought and stood for.
“One thing that will never make me break down are that his ideals will live forever; his legacy will remain. All that he has lived for remain. Yinka, you are not dead; you are alive, you will continue to live in our unconsciousness. And to live in the unconsciousness of the people, is to live forever. Yinka Odumakin, my comrade lives on,” she said.
The lying-in-state, day of tributes and service of songs was attended by Mr. Tayo Ayinde, the Chief of Staff to Governor Sanwo-Olu; former governors –Mr. Peter Obi (Anambra), Olusegun Mimiko (Ondo) and Senator Ibikunle Amosun (Ogun), ex-Deputy Governor of Lagos State, Senator Kofoworola Bucknor-Akerele; Pastor Ituah Ighadalo of Trinity House Church, Afenifere chieftains, politicians and human rights activists among others.
CHIEF PRESS SECRETARY
APRIL 22, 2021
PRESIDENT BUHARI SALUTES EMIR OF GWANDU AT 80
President Muhammadu Buhari rejoices with the Emir of Gwandu, His Highness Muhammadu Ilyasu Bashir, as he turns 80.
The President pays tribute to the retired Major General of the Nigerian Army, in a personal letter to mark the milestone. Details below:
“It is my great pleasure to greet my friend and colleague, General of the Nigerian Army, Emir of Gwandu, His Highness Muhamamdu Ilyasu Bashar on reaching the grand age of 80 years.
“Emir Bashar grew up in a privileged but disciplined environment. He was well grounded in basic Islamic education prior to primary and secondary schooling, thence recruited into the Nigerian Army. Behind his quiet and unassuming outward appearance was a fierce determination to succeed.
“Jega, as we knew him, had a distinguished military career, was one of the leaders of the famous Bonny Landings on which he wrote a pamphlet which has become a reference manual in the country’s military schools.
“He was severely injured. Only about 3 years ago was the last shrapnel in his body removed.
“In peace time whether as Army Commander, Military Governor of old Gongola State, or coordinator of Nigeria’s peace-keeping efforts in Lebanon and Chad he performed his duties without blemish.
“After retiring as a result of the change of Government in 1985, Jega proved his versatility by leading or joining several successful commercial ventures and at the same time helping to guide the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs.
“None of his friends was surprised he kept appointment with destiny when in July, 2005 he was named the Emir of Gwandu and assumed the Royal office with the name of Muhammadu Ilyasu Bashar, a position first held by Abdullahi Gwandu, brother of the Great Reformer Shehu Usman Dan Fodio.
“I am happy to count Emir Bashar as my friend. We went through good times and difficult times but he has always retained his composure, his sense of humour and belief in God and the Last Day.”
Special Adviser to the President
(Media and Publicity)
April 22, 2021
PRESIDENT BUHARI GREETS EMIR OF ILORIN, ALHAJI IBRAHIM SULU-GAMBARI AT 81
President Muhammadu Buhari warmly felicitates with Emir of Ilorin and Chairman of Kwara State Traditional Council, Alhaji Ibrahim Sulu-Gambari, on his 81st birthday, joining family and friends to celebrate with the retired eminent justice, whose leadership antecedents continue to inspire.
President Buhari congratulates the royal father on the auspicious occasion of another anniversary, appreciating the noble and highly commendable roles he plays as a former Justice of the Appeal Court, Judge of the High Court, administrator, community developer and foremost nationalist.
The President extols the humility and modernising vision of Emir of Ilorin for his domain, and the country, consistently urging both the young and old to pursue dreams of acquiring good education, and working for the betterment of society.
President Buhari prays for longer life and good health for the royal father, who has contributed greatly to the development of sports in Nigeria.
Special Adviser to the President
(Media & Publicity)
April 22, 2021
LAGOS STATE GOVERNMENT
OFFICE OF THE CHIEF PRESS SECRETARY TO THE GOVERNOR
SANWO-OLU UNVEILS FIVE-YEAR FOOD SUFFICIENCY ROAD MAP FOR LAGOS
…State Set To Double Food Security, Reduce Inequality Gap Via Market-Centric Plan
…Governor Urges S’West States To Collaborate With Lagos
An audacious agricultural growth plan that will enhance food sufficiency in Lagos State has been unveiled by Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu.
The five-year food security road map will see a sustained public and private sectors’ investment in agricultural value chains to give Lagos comparative advantages in the sector and enhance the State’s self-sufficiency in food production from the current 18 per cent up to 40 per cent over the next 60 months.
Sanwo-Olu on Thursday at a ceremony organised by the Ministry of Agriculture at the Intercontinental Hotels, Victoria Island, rolled out the agric road map which will be achieved through a three-pronged approach.
The adverse impact of Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on food security in Lagos, the Governor said, necessitated an immediate action towards ensuring food security for residents of the State.
Lagos, the smallest State in Nigeria in terms of land size, relies on massive food importation and mutual collaboration on production with other States to ensure food sustenance for its 22 million population.
Sanwo-Olu said the State could no longer rely exclusively on production alliances with other States, stressing that it was time for Lagos to unlock its agricultural potential by implementing the five-year road map.
The plan, he said, will set players in agricultural sector on the path of wealth generation and value creation, thereby improving food security and industrialisation of agricultural sector, while also entrenching inclusive socio-economic growth.
He said: “At the inception of this administration, we identified food security as a major policy thrust and a key component of our T.H.E.M.E.S Agenda. The five-year Agricultural and Food Systems Road Map has been designed in line with our agenda to reform, transform and maximise the potential of Lagos’ agricultural sector.
“The focus of the road map is the development of agricultural value chains where Lagos has competitive and comparative advantages to enhance self-sufficiency in food production from 18 per cent to 40 per cent over the next five years, and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
“To successfully implement the road map, we will take a cue from other economies that have achieved self-sufficiency in food production. We will also aim to put the private sector at the heart of our vision for food security in Lagos State, with government as enabler and catalyst.”
The strategies to achieve the plan, Sanwo-Olu said, will focus on leveraging technology to grow agric’s upstream sector through interventions capable of lowering the cost of production in identified value chains, including fisheries, poultry, piggery, rice, vegetables and coconut.
The Governor said there would be deliberate actions to grow the mid-stream and downstream sectors to enhance value chain in processing, handling, storage, cold chain, packaging, utilisation and commercialisation.
He said the State Government would link willing private sector players to business-friendly credit facilities and give incentives to improve private participation, while also formulating enabling policies to encourage return on investment.
Sanwo-Olu said: “The projection is that the total investment in the agricultural sector from the Government, private sector, donor agencies and development partners will run into over $10 billion in the next five years. While we expect most of the investment to be private sector-driven, government will continue to provide the needed infrastructure while the private sector will be encouraged to lead the key projects.
“We are revamping the Agricultural Land Holding Authority (ALHA) to drive investment into agriculture. We will strengthen the coconut belt with increased private sector involvement. The next five years will be productive, competitive and transformational as Lagos implements this road map, which will make the State to become the nation’s agricultural powerhouse. I invite you to join us to make history.”
Sanwo-Olu disclosed that Lagos had entered into a partnership agreement with two key States in the North Central for land availability, urging States in the Southwest to key into the objectives due to their proximity.
Commissioner for Agriculture, Ms. Abisola Olusanya, said the development of the road map started with stakeholder’s engagements and workshops around addressing the needs of the agric ecosystem in the State, pointing out that the blueprint provided a market-centric context pertaining to each value chain in Lagos food ecosystem.
She said: “There is a great wealth to be mined from the oldest profession on earth (agriculture) if data-driven principles are applied and the right information is made available to the investors.
“I dream of a Lagos where wholesome food is available, where healthy people thrive, where re-organised food system reduces freight congestion, post-harvest losses and increases profits for value chain actors. A Lagos where agriculture will empower millions of people and drive up productivity.”
Chairman of Chapel Hill Denham Group, Mr. Wale Edun, who analysed the agricultural road map, described the initiative as “laudable”, saying the State Government deserved to be supported on the vision.
He said the rollout of the initiative was timely, given the festering insecurity in the some part of the country, which, he said, posed great risk to Lagos food market because of the attendant disruption in the supply chain.
Edun, a former Commissioner for Finance in Lagos, however, urged the Government to limit the scope of its investment to infrastructure and environment. Private sector, he said, must be allowed to play a frontline role in implementation of the road map.
Commissioner for Finance, Dr. Rabiu Olowo, said the programme would increase the contribution of agriculture to Lagos GDP from two to five per cent, adding the roadmap would close the gap of wealth inequality.
CHIEF PRESS SECRETARY
APRIL 22, 2021
RIWAMA Cancels Sanitation Exercise Billed For Saturday, April 24, 2021
…As Sole Administrator, Bro. Felix Obuah Urges Residents To Keep Their Environs Clean
The monthly sanitation exercise earlier billed to hold across the state on Saturday, April 24, 2021 has been cancelled.
The Sole Administrator, Rivers State Waste Management Agency (RIWAMA), Bro. Felix Obuah in a statement said in spite of the cancellation of the statewide sanitation exercise for this month, residents and those doing business in the state should sustain the healthy habit of keeping their surroundings clean.
Bro. Obuah further urged them to observe the dumping hours of 6pm to 12 mid night daily, and also ensure all wastes are dumped at RIWAMA approved receptacles only.
He said it would be wrong for residents and people doing business in Port Harcourt, the state capital and its environs to dump their wastes indiscriminately and flout sanitation laws, warning that Sanitation Marshals are still on duty and would arrest anyone seen to be flouting the sanitation rules.
While giving kudos to Governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike for his continued support and encouragement to RIWAMA, Bro. Obuah also urged residents and those doing business in the state to reciprocate the good gestures of the governor by ensuring that sanitation laws are obeyed and their homes and business places kept clean at all times.
He reemphasized that any landlord or shop owner who allows the frontage of his house or shop to be littered with wastes, would be arrested and prosecuted.
Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to
Bro. Felix Obuah, Sole Administrator,
Rivers State Waste Management Agency (RIWAMA).
Thursday, April 22, 2021.
HOUNDING THE PRESIDENT. WILL THEY EVER LEARN?
From Sunday afternoon till evening, I was harried and harassed with phone calls by some people in the media. Can you please confirm the health status of President Muhammadu Buhari? He came into the country on Thursday, and he hasn’t been seen since then. Information at our disposal says his health has taken a turn for the worse.
I wondered where the falsity was coming from. But patiently, I tried to respond to the enquiries, reasoning with the callers that the President came back to the country early Thursday evening, in the full glare of Nigerians. He even granted an interview at the airport, saying his routine medical checks went well. On Friday, he was in the office, and equally attended the Jumat service. Saturday was for rest and time with the family.
So from where did the pernicious rumour start on Sunday? From evil-hearted people, who never love to see or hear any form of good. They are people who spend their days expecting the storm, and so they never enjoy the rainfall. From day one in office, they have hounded and hectored the President, but God simply laughs them to scorn. Who is man that says anything and it comes to pass, when God has not said so?
When President Buhari took ill in 2017, they said all sorts of things. They hired prophets, who uttered lies from between their teeth. They said Buhari would not return as President, that his time was already up. But man will always be man. Finite. Limited. No matter the title he parades, man will never have the final say. That is the exclusive preserve of God. After many months, the President came back to assume duties, very well mended. It was a great medical comeback, wrought by God and God alone, in His mercy.
You would think they would learn their lessons, hide their faces in shame, and throw up their hands in surrender. But they love beatings, so they continue to speak and wish evil. But each time, it falls right in their faces. Will they never learn that God has the ultimate say?
All through last year, after a trip to a conference in London in January, and COVID-19 broke out in full force, the President never went out for any form of medical attention. Na God o.. But when he announced on March 29 this year that he would travel next day, and return within the second week of April, they began to beat the drums of malediction again. They had learnt nothing, and forgot nothing.
Why hasn’t he built world class hospitals in Nigeria?How much is the trip going to cost the tax payers? Are we sure he would come back as indicated within the second week?
That second week was not to lapse till Saturday last week. Right from Monday, they had begun to bully and badger us. When is he coming back? We are in the second week now. Are you sure he’s coming? For me, I simply told them: our press statement was written in English, go and check it again. Read it all over. He would return within the second week in April. Was the second week over?
Some Nigerians have made it a pastime to pester and attempt to browbeat the President. I laugh. They don’t know the person they are dealing with. A cool customer. Never flustered,harried or disconcerted. He simply focuses on what he is doing, ignoring the noise of the market. Kick like a dying horse, shout yourselves hoarse, curse, murmur like a ghost, hiss like a snake, President Buhari keeps his eyes on the ball. It’s a big lesson to learn from him. When you are in the market, ignore the din, and concentrate on the person you are transacting business with.
To some of those who bothered me endlessly about the health of the President on Sunday, I just responded: wait till tomorrow, you would see him receiving the new President of Republic of Niger, Mohamed Bazoum.
And on Monday, the President stood ramrod straight at the forecourt of the Presidential Villa, to welcome his guest. The naysayers ate the humble pie. Like a beaten dog, they slunk away with their tails between their legs.
Each time they come, they get beaten. Why don’t they learn their lessons, and admit that the life and times of this President, like that of every man, is in the hands of God? Why do the heathens rage, and the people imagine vain things?
For those who think they make life difficult for President Buhari when they hound him, let them know that no leaf falls from the tree without the permission of God. And even the very hairs on our heads are numbered, and no strand will drop without the knowledge of the Almighty. In vain do they chivvy, hound and harass. God has the final say, and is with this President. They should just calm down.
*Adesina is Special Adviser to President Buhari on Media and Publicity.