Presidential Villa roundup for May 21 to May 26, 2018

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Vice President Yemi Osinbajo at the Commonwealth of Zion Assembly (COZA), Abuja, with renowned U.S. preacher, Bishop T.D. Jakes as guest minister
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo at the Commonwealth of Zion Assembly (COZA), Abuja, with renowned U.S. preacher, Bishop T.D. Jakes as guest minister

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo started his activities for the week earlier than the President when he attended the Sunday service on May 20, at the Commonwealth of Zion Assembly (COZA), Abuja, with renowned U.S. preacher, Bishop T.D. Jakes as guest minister.

In his address to the congregation, Prof. Osinbajo said for Nigeria to succeed and move forward, Nigerians must learn to imbibe the principles of creativity, innovation and hard work.

According to him, “The reality is that true success is line by line, precept by precept, building block upon building block, hard work, innovation, character; that is the measure of true success.”

Later on Sunday, the Vice President attended a special prayer session organised by the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN), at the Family Worship Centre, Abuja.

On Monday, May 21, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo declared open the National Boundary Commission (NBC) retreat on border management, at the NAF Conference Centre, Abuja.

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo declared open the National Boundary Commission (NBC) retreat on border management, at the NAF Conference Centre, Abuja
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo declared open the National Boundary Commission (NBC) retreat on border management, at the NAF Conference Centre, Abuja

In his remarks, the Vice President said it was time to rethink, re-engineer our border policies and urged the boundary commission to be more creative, innovative in addressing emerging border challenges.

He said: “Permit me to mention that the role of the Commission given the numerous border challenges has to be more creative and innovative.

“Every nation attends to the peculiarities of its border issues with solutions that are nuanced, smart, affordable and result-oriented. We simply cannot do things in the same way we did them for years and expect different results.

“It is time to rethink and re-engineer our border policies. This is the paramount responsibility of the commission and we trust that you will deliver.”

Later on Monday, the Vice President chaired the meeting of the Economic Management Team where issues of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan, the ease of doing business and others were discussed.

Unlike his Vice Osinbajo who started his activities for the week early, President Muhammadu Buhari started his own activities late when he attended the 17th National Productivity Day, at the NAF Conference Centre, Jabi, Abuja, on Tuesday, May 22.

President Muhammadu Buhari chats with the Minister of Labour and Employmnet during the 17th National Productivity award ceremony held at NAF Conference Center in Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari chats with the Minister of Labour and Employmnet during the 17th National Productivity award ceremony held at NAF Conference Center in Abuja

Speaking at the event, the President said his economic policies have moved Nigeria forward, with foreign reserves rising from $30 billion in 2015 to $47.5 billion in the first three years of his administration.

According to the president, the nation’s economy has remained in a growth trajectory despite experiencing the worst recession in a quarter of a century.

Also on Tuesday, the President received members of Buhari Support Organisation led by the Comptroller-General of Customs, Hameed Ali, at the Presidential Villa.

In his remarks, the President told the group to remain vigilant and ensure that only “people of conscience are in-charge of governance at all levels”, as the nation prepares for general elections in 2019.

The President also took a swipe at a former president, whom he said had bragged that he spent more than 15 billion USD on power in Nigeria. Rhetorically, the President asked: “where is the power? Where is the power?”

Later, the President received the Senate leadership at the Presidential Villa in a closed-door meeting.

The leadership of the National Assembly met with President Muhammadu Buhari in a closed-door at the Presidential Villa, Abuja
The leadership of the National Assembly met with President Muhammadu Buhari in a closed-door at the Presidential Villa, Abuja

At the end of the meeting, Senator Abdullahi Adamu told State House correspondents that the meeting was necessitated by the recent allegation made by Senate President Bukola Saraki against the IGP on the floor of the Senate.

The Senate President had alleged that there was a plot by the IGP to implicate him on criminal and cult-related cases in Kwara State.

Later on Tuesday, the President hosted service chiefs and ministers to Iftar, in the spirit of the Ramadan season.

The Vice President Yemi Osinbajo left his comfort zone in the presidential villa on Tuesday, May 22, to attend the funeral service for the 17 people including two priests killed by herdsmen in a church in Mbalom community, Benue State on April 24, 2018.

In his remarks, the Vice President assured the people of Benue State of the Federal Government’s determination to end the evil attacks in the state.

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo addressing the people during the funeral of the two Catholic Priests and 17 others killed by herdsmen in Benue State
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo addressing the people during the funeral of the two Catholic Priests and 17 others killed by herdsmen in Benue State

He said: “The killers won nothing, they gained nothing, they achieved nothing, yet they caused grieve and anguish to families, friends and to the nation.  But what pleasure is there in causing pain or anguish?

“What manner of man wakes up in the morning, determined to kill innocent men and women? Surely, such person has lost his peace; he is to be condemned and cursed, but perhaps, deserves our pity even more.”

Later on Tuesday, the Vice President returned to Abuja to attend the closing session of the Direct Investors’ Summit held at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel.

Vice President Osinbajo attends the closing session of the Direct Investors’ Summit held at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja
Vice President Osinbajo attends the closing session of the Direct Investors’ Summit held at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja

The Vice President said in his remarks that investments will succeed in Nigeria because government was committed to doing the right things.

According to him, “The inspiring news is that we have emerged from the recession determined more than ever to make up for lost time and missed opportunities. Our focus on agriculture has attracted billions of dollars in investments in the last three years; in rice mills, sugar plantations, in fertiliser blending plants, among others.

“We have grown our taxpayer base by 5 million new taxpayers; from 14 million in 2016 to 19 million today, as part of efforts to diversify Nigeria’s revenue base and to bring more people and businesses into the formal sector.”

On Wednesday, May 23, President Buhari presided over a meeting of the Federal Executive Council in Abuja.

President Muhammadu Buhari
President Muhammadu Buhari presides over Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting

At the end of the meeting, the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Udo Udoma, told State House Correspondents that President was yet to receive the 2018 budget said to have been transmitted to him for assent one week after it was passed by the two chambers of the National Assembly.

Udoma said the delay in transmitting the budget to the President would have a negative impact on the economy, even though the government was ready to cushion the shocks that might arise from the delay.

Also, the Council approved consultancy services for the construction of technology building, to shelter data communication, command and control centre, to be supervised by the Ministry of Interior.

The Vice President was not at the FEC meeting on Wednesday, May 23, as he was in Nasarawa State in continuation of efforts to address the farmers/herders conflict and to find solutions to the humanitarian crisis arising from the conflict.

In Nasarawa state, the Vice President visited camps for displaced persons in Awe, Agyaragu and Kyetor communities. He assured victims of the conflict of government’s commitment to find lasting solution to the crisis.

President Buhari got busy receiving international guests when he received Letters of Credence from the High Commissioner of the Republic of The Gambia to Nigeria, Mr Amadou Taal and Mr Jacques Obindza, the Ambassador of the Republic of Congo to Nigeria.

President Buhari receives Letter of Credence from the High Commissioner of the Republic of The Gambia to Nigeria, Mr Amadou Taal
President Buhari receives Letter of Credence from the High Commissioner of the Republic of The Gambia to Nigeria, Mr Amadou Taal

The events which took place on Thursday, May 24, saw President Buhari telling the Gambian High Commissioner that the successful transition and the ongoing peace process in his country gives greater hope of harmonious co-existence and development on the African continent.

The President said all the interventions by ECOWAS to ensure a stable and economically vibrant economy in the country was worth the effort, considering the country’s position and value.

Still on Thursday, the President broke the Ramadan fast with the leadership of the Senate at the Presidential Villa.

Senate President Bukola Saraki told State House correspondents after “Iftar” that the President will on Friday receive the 2018 budget a week after its passage by the National Assembly.

Saraki addresses State House press corps after the NASS meeting with President Buhari
Saraki addresses State House press corps after the NASS leadership meeting with President Buhari

Saraki explained that the delay in transmission of the budget to the president was informed by the fact that the two chambers of the National Assembly had passed different figures last week. He, however, confirmed that the two chambers had harmonised the figures.

Earlier on Thursday, the Special Adviser to the President, Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina issued a statement affirming that the Nigerian economy was on a strong trajectory, backing his claim with facts and figures.

“Some people have made it a pastime to talk as if there is no silver lining in the sky as far as the Nigerian economy is concerned. They carry on as if it is doom and gloom all the way, a thoroughfare of woes.

“This they do, to hoodwink the public, and peradventure gain political advantage for themselves or their principals”.

Quoting figures from NBS, Adesina said “the economy has recovered from the slow-down and eventual recession, which started in 2014. There has been improvement with stronger growth for three successive quarters.

“From contracting by 0.91% in Q1 2017, the economy has grown by 0.72% in Q2 2017, to 1.17% in Q3 2017, and 2.11% in Q4 2017”.

Femi Adesina
Special Adviser to the President, Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina speaks on Nigerian economy

In a separate statement, Adesina also denied media reports alleging that the Presidency substituted or smuggled in some names of members of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Convention Planning Sub-Committees.

“Nothing in the allegation can be further from the truth in every material particular. For the umpteenth time, we wish to reiterate President Muhammadu Buhari’s position that he will not interfere in party affairs or matters before the law courts,” he said.

The Presidency, also on Thursday, denied allegations by Amnesty International that Nigerian soldiers have raped women and girls who fled the insurgency by Boko Haram.

Malam Garba Shehu, the Senior Special Assistant to the President, Media and Publicity, said the report issued by Amnesty International lacked credibility.

“The recent report released by the Amnesty International alleging human rights violation by Nigerian security agencies is inherently battling with credibility, falling vehemently short of evidential narration.

“It is short on credibility because it does not contain factual leads that could have laid the foundation for investigative actions,” Shehu wrote in a statement.

Malam Garba Shehu
Malam Garba Shehu Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity to President Muhammadu Buhari

Elsewhere, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo attended the Leadership Newspaper Awards and Conference 2018, at the International Conference Centre, Abuja.

In his address, at the event which took place on Thursday, May 24, Prof. Osinbajo said states must think and plan as countries to be more financially viable and noted that the Buhari administration will continue to implement policies to create more jobs, grow the economy.

According to him, “creating an enabling environment for business is another must-do. We have pursued this goal aggressively since 2016, and I’m pleased to note that we’re already started seeing the results.

“We have reduced business registration times, we’ve implemented a functioning Visa on Arrival system, launched an online system for filing taxes, among other reforms.

“By dismantling the bureaucratic obstacles in the way of businesses and investors, we are hoping to unleash the full potential of private enterprise; the kind of enterprise that creates jobs, that grows the economy, and produces future tax revenues for the government.

“This conversation about creating financially viable states should therefore be viewed through the lens of the medium to the long term. There will always be the temptation to prioritize raising Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) at all costs.

“If this is done in a manner that stifles today’s entrepreneurs and investors, then clearly, there will be a great price to pay down the line.”

The Vice President then proceeded to Kano State for the launch of the National Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) Clinics and the inauguration of the energising markets project at the Sabon-Gari market in Kano.

Vice President Osinbajo launches the National Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) Clinics and the inauguration of the energising markets project at the Sabon-Gari market in Kano; left is Gov Abdullahi Ganduje
Vice President Osinbajo launches the National Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) Clinics and the inauguration of the energising markets project at the Sabon-Gari market in Kano; left is Gov Abdullahi Ganduje

Prof. Osinbajo also interacted with some beneficiaries of the Social Investment Programme (SIP) in the state.

On Friday, May 25, President Buhari received the Conference of Nigeria Female Parliamentarians (CONPEPA) led by Mrs Elizabeth Atave.

The President told the group that he had no powers to grant their request that a particular number of federal legislators produced by each state should be women.

While thanking the women for their support in his re-election, the President dismissed insinuations of any deliberate attempt by men to marginalise the women during the 2019 general elections.

Also on Friday at the Presidential Villa, the President received his nominee for the post of the Chairman of the Police Service Commission, former Inspector-General of Police, Musiliu Smith.

The President had already forwarded a letter to the National Assembly seeking Smith’s confirmation.

Read also: Presidential Villa roundup for May 13 to May 19, 2018


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