National leader of the All Progressives Party, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, state governors, Senate President Ahmad Lawan, House of Representatives Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila and other prominent Nigerians have felicitated with President Muhammadu Buhari on his 78th birthday.
Tinubu, in his birthday message to Buhari, called him a “true patriot who wants the best for the nation.”
He said in the congratulatory statement, “I join with all patriotic and peace-loving Nigerians in supporting your efforts to move Nigeria forward and to find lasting solutions to the longstanding issues that have faced our nation for so long.
“You are a true patriot who wants the best for the nation and I join you in this desire. May Almighty Allah bless these efforts and support us so that at the end of the day we shall overcome and that Nigeria must stand as a prosperous and peaceful nation.”
Delta State Governor Ifeanyi Okowa said the Buhari administration had continued to make progress in some key infrastructure areas, especially the railways and the second Niger Bridge.
In a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Olisa Ifeajika, the governor said, “On the occasion of your 78th birth anniversary on December 17, 2020, I heartily rejoice with you and your family on behalf of the Government and people of Delta State.”
Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, in a congratulatory message by his Chief Press Secretary, Gboyega Akosile, said, “You have sacrificed the greater part of your adult life in service of our dear country. Therefore, you deserve to be celebrated.
“Your passion for Nigeria and quest for good leadership in our country made you to contest for presidential election four consecutive times before you were elected on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in 2015. Your integrity and forthright attitude to governance got you another mandate in 2019.”
Osun State Governor Adegboyega Oyetola noted that despite several challenges bedeviling the country, President Buhari had made remarkable and impactful contributions to the growth and development of Nigeria.
In a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Ismail Omipidan, the governor said: “It is noteworthy to mention that, despite the noticeable challenges confronting our nation, you have made remarkable and impactful contributions to the growth and development of the country. You have been an incorruptible, honest and people-oriented leader.”
Ogun State Governor Dapo Abiodun, in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Kunle Somorin, said, “As you continue to serve our nation with an uncommon sense of patriotism and unwavering dedication, I thank Almighty God for granting you a life of great accomplishments and abiding fulfilment.
“I have no doubt that as you celebrate your birthday, you will be more concerned about the myriad of challenges facing the nation and how to resolve them to the advantage of our people.”
Senate President Ahmad Lawan noted that President Buhari, in all his years of leadership, had been showing “undeniable commitment to the unity, peace and even development of Nigeria.”
In a statement in Abuja, he added, “From the ongoing massive infrastructure projects across the country, series of programmes targeted at lifting the most vulnerable, like the social investment scheme, to the numerous bold initiatives of his government aimed at diversifying the economy, President Buhari is leveraging his integrity and good standing with the masses to courageously guide Nigeria through a difficult phase into future prosperity.”
Deputy Senate President Ovie Omo-Agege emphasised that President Buhari’s purposeful leadership, commitment to the cause of the masses, as exemplified in the people-oriented policies and programmes of his administration, have endeared him to many.
Gbajabiamila said President Buhari deserved to be celebrated at 78, given his commitment to a better Nigeria for the good of the citizens, adding, “Nigeria and Nigerians have gained a lot from your wealth of experience and selfless service to the country and humanity in your 78-year sojourn on mother earth.”
Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Minister of State, Dr Ramatu Aliyu, said, “You are a visionary leader and a celebrated anti-corruption crusader in and outside the shores of Nigeria. You are a gift to this nation, and you deserve the best.”
Wike, Obi keep people guessing, meet again in P/Harcourt
Presidential candidate of the Labour Party, Peter Obi, on Friday visited Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike.
Obi’s visit was coming barely 48 hours after the official commencement of the 2023 election campaigns.
It is the third time Obi would be visiting Wike amid the internal crisis rocking the Peoples Democratic Party which Wike belongs to.
The Friday closed-door meeting in Port Harcourt lasted for a few hours at the governor’s private residence.
The Punch reports the two politicians were having a handshake in front of Governor Wike’s residence in pictures that surfaced online.
Wike was spotted in white, while his guest, Obi, wore a blue senator material.
Sharing the pictures of the meeting on his Twitter handle on Friday, Wike wrote, “It was nice hosting my brother @PeterObi once again.”
Although details and outcome of the meeting were not disclosed, it came amid allegations and counter allegations of bribery within the PDP fold.
Apart from photos shared by Wike, Obi, who is a former Anambra State governor, on his Twitter handle, shared pictures of his meeting with Oyo State Governor, Seyi Makinde.
“I was at Ibadan, and I visited my brother and friend, HE @seyiamakinde, the Governor of Oyo State as part of my consultations ahead of the 2023 general elections. We had very frank and constructive discussions. -PO,” he wrote.
The PUNCH reports that Makinde, Governors Samuel Ortom of Benue State; Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State; Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State, all believed to be loyal to Wike, including the governot, on Wednesday, boycotted the inauguration of the PDP Presidential Campaign Council and book launch in honour of the PDP presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar.
Nigeria beaten 1-2 by Algeria, third loss under Peseiro
The Super Eagles on Tuesday lost 1-2 to the Desert Foxes of Algeria in an international friendly played n Oran.
The Super Eagles opened scoring with Terem Moffi connecting from a deflected Kelechi Ihenacho’s shot in the box to give Nigeria the lead.
The Jose Peseiro side were the dominant side in the first half and had a few more chances but the efforts yielded no result.
The home side almost replied immediately after Zaidu Sanusi headed waywardly, setting Youcef Bilaili on goal.
Although Bilaili pushed the ball beyond a prone Uzoho, Riyad Mahrez could only hit the side of the post from the ensuing scrap-up.
It could have been two nil in the 28th minute after Mustapha Zengha spilled Iheanacho’s shot in the path of Moffi, who teed up Lookman — but the latter was ruled offside after putting the ball into the net.
Iheanacho called the goalkeeper into action, sending two successive shots into his palms.
The home team began exerting themselves in the game, with Uzoho forced to save two free kicks.
Mahrez and Islam Slimani bombarded Sanusi on the right side of the Eagles’ defence as cracks began to manifest.
The pressure paid off for Algeria in the 40th minute. Ramy Bensebaini reacted quickly to a rebound off a shot, and Onyeka dived into a tackle only to take the Algerian down.
Mahrez sent Uzoho the wrong way from the resultant penalty.
Desert Foxes completed the comeback in the 60th minute after Uzoho punched a corner kick and a couple of passes set it nicely for Youcef Attal, who sent 35-yard pile driver flying into the left bottom corner.
The result means Peseiro has lost three of his six games as Nigeria’s coach. The first two defeats were against Mexico and Ecuador.
Nigeria will play Portugal next in an international friendly billed for November 17.
Presidency divided over national honour for Bukola Saraki
There are indications that the immediate past Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, may miss a statutory national award on October 1 when deserving Nigerians are conferred with the awards.
The Presidency, according to a report by Sunday Punch, is divided over including Saraki on the list of the awardees.
As part of a series of activities lined up to mark Nigeria’s 62nd independence anniversary, President Muhammadu Buhari will on October 1, 2022 confer various categories of awards on deserving Nigerians, the Presidency has confirmed.
The investiture ceremony, billed to hold at the International Conference Centre, Abuja is eliciting diverse commentaries with the omission of Senator Bukola Saraki.
The convention and norm have always been for a Vice President, Senate President, and Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, to be given the title either on the assumption of office or when national awards are being generally bestowed on recipients.
The belief was that the former Kwara State governor Bukola Saraki had not been conferred with the Grand Commander of the Order of the Niger, GCON because Buhari did not confer the awards before now.
Sunday Punch however gathered that the committee set up to recommend deserving Nigerians to the Presidency, enlisted Saraki, but a power bloc in Aso Rock denied him a place on the list.
It was revealed that the group labelled Saraki an “enemy of the administration,” arguing that the All Progressives Congress-led government should rather beam its searchlight on other Nigerians.
This position, Sunday Punch gathered, did not sit well with another group in the Presidency, which was said to have argued that though Saraki’s opposition to some of the policy decisions taken by Buhari while serving as Senate President was well documented, he should not be denied a place in the 2022 honour list.
This is more so as Saraki’s successor, Senator Ahmad Lawan is set to bag the prestigious award next week.
The latter group also argued that Saraki is more popular with the people and is credited to have achieved more while in office, pointing out that he deserves the award based on his achievement in office and that the award should not be seen to be politicised by the incumbent administration.
It turned out however that the former group prevailed and Saraki is now set to miss out unless a dramatic twist in fate plays out.
In what appears a calculated effort to deny Saraki his place in history, Ahmad Lawan has refused to include his predecessor’s portrait among those of former presiding officers of the Senate in the main gallery of the New Senate Building more than three years after he (Saraki) left office.
It would be recalled that former Senate Presidents, Pius Anyim and David Mark, as well as ex- CJN, Walter Onnoghen, all had the GCON conferred on them in compliance with the convention.
Speaking exclusively to Sunday Punch, Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mike Ozekhome urged Buhari to right the error before the date of the event.
He said, “By protocols and convention, Vice President and Senate President are usually conferred with the national honour of GCON. I want to believe that the President’s attention was not drawn to it. He can still amend the situation by including his name before the date of the award because this is beyond politics.”
On his part, former Nigeria’s High Commissioner to Canada, Professor Iyorwuese Hagher, said Saraki deserves the award on merit.
He said, “I believe that in keeping with the hallowed tradition in the conferment of honorably awards, all former Senate Presidents deserve the title of GCON, Dr. Bukola Abubakar Saraki inclusive.
“Buhari should convoke a ceremony for such awards quickly to redeem his image as the father of the nation and not a mere patron of political bias.”
However, a chieftain of the Arewa Consultative Forum, Anthony Sani, told Sunday Punch that those conferring the title know the criteria for selecting deserving awardees.
He said, “I am not conversant with criteria being used for the award of national honours. If it is on merit, the President is the one to explain why the former Senate President does not merit it.
“But if it is statutory, he has to explain why he has denied him (Saraki).
Meanwhile, Saraki has stated that his silence on the recent happenings in the People’s Democratic Party does not translate to him opposing the party’s candidate, Atiku Abubakar.
Saraki, in a series of tweets on his official Twitter account on Saturday evening, noted that he had been on his annual vacation, and had returned on Friday. He said he headed straight to the celebration of the 35th year celebration of the creation of Akwa-Ibom State.
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