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Buhari to Nigerians: Bear with us if we haven’t done enough

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President Muhammadu Buhari has pleaded with Nigerians yet to feel the impact of his government to bear with the administration.

He spoke in Ilorin through the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, at a town hall meeting with traditional rulers, youths, students, organised labour, market women and other stakeholders on the #EndSARS protest and its aftermath.

The forum was attended by the Kwara State Governor, Abdulrazaq Abdulrahman, Speaker of Kwara State House of Assembly, Yakubu Danladi; the Emir of Ilorin, Alhaji  Sulu Gambari, and other traditional rulers, representatives of market women, traders and other stakeholders.

In the President’s message delivered by the minister, he said the administration had the interest of the youths and the people in general at heart and was doing a lot to touch their lives.

The President said the government was constrained by dwindling resources occasioned by the impact of COVID-19 which also affected the global economy.

He said, “If we have not done enough or we have not touched everybody, we appeal that you please bear with us.

“In the first instance, what we have is less than 60 per cent of the revenue that was available to other governments that came before us.

“We all know what we suffered during COVID-19, and as we are just trying to recover from this we also faced another crisis.

“We appeal that you should please assist the government and be patient. This government is dedicated to serving the people and we will continue to try our best to do so.

“I thank you all for your perseverance, understanding and patience.”

The President said the administration had many initiatives targeted at creating jobs for the youth and alleviating poverty among women and vulnerable groups.

He said the government initiated a N75bn National Youth Investment Fund to provide opportunities for the youth.

He said the fund was part of the N2.3tn economic sustainability plan aimed at cushioning the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on most vulnerable Micro Small Medium Enterprises across the country.

The President said other initiatives targeted at the youths included N-POWER which had engaged 500,000 beneficiaries with 400,000 more in December.

He said 10,000 youths had been trained and benefitted under N-TECH and N-AGRO respectively.

The President said the federal government FINTECH created enabling environment for growth of businesses that use technology to enhance or automate financial services and processes.

He said over two million farmers, traders, mostly youths, were empowered under FARMERMONI, TRADERMONI and MARKETMONI.

The President said over 500,000 youths had also benefited from the Graduate Internship Scheme which provides short-term employment graduates.

He said 1,000 farmers from each of the 774 LGAs in the country were empowered and guided under the Youth Entrepreneurship Support programme.

Also, Governor Abdulrazaq thanked the President for the initiative of directing ministers to interact with the people at the state level.

He prayed for peace, unity and stability of the country.

Emir of Ilorin said the town-hall meeting was a good forum for the people to express their minds and grievances to government.

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400 suspected Boko Haram, bandits’ sponsors arrested

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Security agents have arrested about 400 businessmen for allegedly funding operations of Boko Haram and bandits in the country.

Daily Trust reported that the businessmen were arrested in an operation coordinated by the Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA), and in collaboration with the Department of State Services (DSS), Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

President Muhammadu Buhari was said to have approved the operation in 2020.

The newspaper reported that an initial list of 957 suspects comprising bureau de change (BDC) operators, gold miners and sellers, and other businessmen is being acted upon.

A source told the newspaper that about 400 persons were arrested in Kano, Borno, Abuja, Lagos, Sokoto, Adamawa, Kaduna and Zamfara.

Names of the BDC operators arrested were given as Baba Usaini, Abubakar Yellow (Amfani), Yusuf Ali Yusuf (Babangida), Ibrahim Shani, Auwal Fagge, and Muhammad Lawan Sani, a gold dealer.

Those arrested are reportedly being kept in military and the DSS facilities in Abuja and other places.

“Because this is economic warfare against the insurgents and other militant groups, the president, when approving the operation directed that the NFIU take the lead as the country’s financial intelligence powerhouse,” Daily Trust quoted a source to have said.

The source added that “with the presidential approval, a task team was composed of personally selected senior officers who were deployed under the DIA to carry out the special assignment”.

“The main person coordinating the funding ring for Boko Haram is in our custody, he and his closest ally in the business,” he said.

Another source was quoted to have said about 19 BDCs owned by persons with “direct connection with Boko Haram” were uncovered, while over N300 billion was found to have been used in funding terrorism.

Apart from one person in Borno and another in Zaria, Kaduna state, the source said over N50 billion were traced in funding to the armed groups.

“A number of those arrested have divulged vital information including operational details of bandits and Boko Haram insurgents. But they are being kept to aid further arrests,” the source was quoted to have said.

Family members of those arrested, the newspaper reported, have been calling on the government for their release.

In 2020, six Nigerians were also jailed in the United Arab Emirates for allegedly funding Boko Haram.

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Former Ondo deputy governor agrees to return vehicles

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Former Ondo Deputy Governor Agboola Ajayi has finally agreed to return the two vehicles in his possession to the Ondo State Government.

The state government last week said it would embarrass Agboola if he failed to return the four vehicles.

But Agboola, who said he had only two vehicles, insisted they were part of his benefits.

The state government also petitioned the Ondo State Police Command to help recover the vehicles.

In a statement on Sunday, the former deputy governor said he was not the problem of Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu’s administration.

Agboola stated it was in the interest of everybody that Governor Akeredolu demonstrated good governance, transparent policy making and effective change.

He said it was unfortunate some members of the inner circle of Akeredolu have prioritised harassing him on a number of issues most especially the return of vehicles

Agboola said he hoped “these petty interactions would have ceased after the recent inauguration.

“To be clear – if the return of these two vehicles will make the administration focus more on the avalanche of pressing needs, challenges and predicaments facing the state most especially insecurity, the absence of governance and unpaid salaries across the entirety the Ondo public sector – then I’m ready to make the sacrifice and return the two vehicles which they so desperately need.

“I am not the problem of the present administration. I have moved on.”

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Pensioners demand payment of N35bn arrears

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Nigeria pensioners who retired from the electricity sector have urged President Muhammadu Buhari, to come to their aide in order to resolve the lingering issue of their owed N35billion pension arrears.

The pensioners under the aegis of Electricity Sector Retiree Welfare Association (ESREWA), led by its  President, Elder Benjamin Amako, asked President Buhari to save countless dying pensioners whose fate are tied to the delayed payment of their pension arrears.

Rising from its National Executive Council (NEC) meeting in Abuja, Amako said every Nigerian, including President Buhari, knows the pathetic situation of pensioners in the country.

Amako said: “First we thank God that Mr President returned from his medical trip healthier, stronger and successfully. The news of his return gave us pensioners so much joy because we know  he will not sit quiet and watch more pensioners lose their lives because of humanly inaction. So far, his administration has ensured that pensioners gets their rights and this arrears we are asking for is our right.

“Interestingly, President Buhari had already directed that this same arrears (N35billion) be paid to us, but for over five years ago he issued the directive, the relevant authorities who it is their responsibilities to ensure we get this arrears for our dying members seems to be working contrarily.

“So for the past five years, these arrears have always been part of the National Budget under Nigeria Electricity Liability Management Company (NELMCO) budget and accordingly transferred to Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate (PTAD). But sadly, we have not been paid a dime even as I speak, for reasons that are totally and obviously human making.

“So we are pleading with President Buhari, the SGF, Minister of Finance, Chairman Senate Committee on Power, Accountant General of the Federation, PTAD and other relevant authorities to save our lives by paying us this money without further delay.”

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