Timeline: Ministers’ sack, inauguration of NSIA Board highpoints of Presidential engagements

President Muhammadu Buhari has exercised a minor cabinet reshuffle during the week under review in a bid to reinvigorate and inject fresh ideas into his administration.

Similarly, Buhari inaugurated the new board of the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA) to make more investments that support economic diversification.

The cabinet change affected four ministers, with the relieve of two of their appointments and redeployment of two others.

The affected ministers were those of Agriculture, Alhaji Sabo Nanono, and his Power counterpart, Mr Saleh Mamman.

Special Adviser to the President (Media & Publicity), Femi Adesina, confirmed this development on Wednesday in Abuja.

He said the Minister of Environment, Mohammed Abubakar, has been redeployed to the Ministry of Agriculture while the Minister of State for Works, Abubakar Aliyu, is to take over as Minister of Power.

Adesina quoted the President as saying that the changes were sequel to the “tradition of subjecting our projects and programmes implementation to independent and critical self-review” through sector reporting during Cabinet meetings and at retreats.

”These significant review steps have helped to identify and strengthen weak areas, close gaps, build cohesion and synergy in governance, manage the economy and improve the delivery of public good to Nigerians.”

The president had on Aug. 30 assured Nigerians that his administration was on top of events and moving ahead with force to crush the perpetrators of the recent incidents of unrest in Plateau.

He gave the assurance in a statement issued by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu.

Buhari, however, maintained that to achieve success, communities must unite against these horrific attacks, saying retributive violence is not the answer.

He challenged religious, traditional and other community leaders on the need to preach peace and not to allow the use of their spaces for the propagation of violence and incitement to violence.

According to him, the troubled communities on the Plateau are being reinforced with security personnel to protect lives and property in the state.

On the activities of IPOB, the president said: ”Then, further afield in the South-East, IPOB are not struggling for freedom when they attack police stations and property, but rather committing acts of terrorism in order to steal money.

“IPOB is not defending Christians, as their highly paid foreign lobbyists claim, when almost every citizen of those states they terrorise is uniformly Christian.

“’Yet mistakenly and because the lobbyists for IPOB have duped them, some misguided foreign media and politicians believe so.

“As for Nigerians, what we need is to come together. And we must do this firstly and for the most part by our own hands, by casting asunder those who seek to divide us for their own nefarious financial and political gain.”

Also on Aug. 30, Buhari expressed sadness over the killing of Flight Capt. Abdulkareem, the first son of Sen. Bala Na’Allah, in Kaduna.

The president made his feelings known in a condolence message released by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu.

“The death of Abdulkareem is another tragic chapter in our current security challenges, but I reassure Nigerians that my commitment to protect the lives and property of all Nigerians remains unwavering.

“I’m saddened by the tragic loss of Abdulkareem and other victims of violence, and I wish to appeal to Nigerians to help our security agencies with intelligence in order to track down and bring these terrorist gangs to justice,” he said.

While inaugurating the Nigeria Jubilee Fellows Programme at the State House, Abuja, on Aug. 31, the president stated that focus on job creation, consistency in policy and innovation stimulated a 5 per cent growth of the economy in the second quarter (Q2), 2021, which is the highest in six years.

Buhari, who assured that the Jubilee Fellows Programme would further consolidate on the success recorded, listed some of the key drivers of economic growth and diversification in the Q2 to include telecommunications, transportation, electricity, agriculture and manufacturing.

He encouraged all eligible Nigerians to apply for the jubilee programme, while urging private sector organisations to join by providing work placement opportunities, mentors and funding.

The Nigerian leader also hosted the outgoing Ambassador of Tunisia to Nigeria, Jalel Trabelsi, on Aug. 31, and thanked him for the deep love he had shown for the country, leading him to serve for 10 years, at two different times.

Trabelsi first served in the past for five years as an officer, came back later to serve as Ambassador for another five years, and now describes himself as “a lover of Nigeria and her people”.

Also on Aug. 31, the president formally received Sen. Andy Uba, the Anambra gubernatorial candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the Nov. 6 election.

Speaking at the event, the president said: “I am happy to formally welcome you. I certainly wish you the best of luck.

“I’m anxious for your success, and will closely follow.”

The candidate was accompanied to the event by the Chairman, Caretaker and Convention Planning Committee of the party and Governor of Yobe State, Mai Mala Buni, Governors Gboyega Oyetola of Osun, Yahaya Bello of Kogi and Hope Uzodinma of Imo.

Uzodinma is also the Chairman, Campaign Council for the Anambra November gubernatorial election.

Others at the presidential villa with the candidate were Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos; Boss Mustapha, Secretary to the Government of the Federation; and George Akume, Minister for Special Duties and Intergovernmental Affairs.

Also on Aug. 31, Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo attended the National Dialogue Forum on the Girl-Child in Nigeria, themed “Towards A Girl-Friendly Nigeria”.

The event was organised by the Women Arise for Change Initiative, an NGO, in collaboration with the African Child Policy Forum, Ethiopia.

Osinbajo, who was the Guest of Honour at the event, highlighted the efforts of the Buhari administration in the area of improving access to education for the girl child in Nigeria, saying the Federal Government had “committed in word and deed to education so as to ensure that no child is denied access to free basic education.

“We believe that free and compulsory education of girls is game-changing in many respects, as it has been empirically shown to positively impact age of marriage, and even maternal and infant mortality,” he said.

On Sept. 1, the president inaugurated the new board of the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA), urging them to make more investments that support economic diversification.

He said that the call had become imperative in view of the fact that global oil prices were projected to drop to around 40 dollars per barrel by 2030.

Buhari reaffirmed his administration’s commitment to implementing long term projects and programmes that would create more jobs for Nigerians.

He noted that the full impact of most of the strategic projects started under his watch would only be felt long after he had left office.

He described the appointment of the 9-man board as a call to duty, action and performance, adding that they are eminently qualified for the job.

Also shortly after the inauguration of the NSIA board, the president went ahead to preside over the meeting of the Federal Executive Council (FEC), where the Council approved over N5 billion for various contracts in Lagos, Abuja, Kano and Katsina airports, and N79.649 for the dualisation of the Odukpani-Itu-Ikot Ekpene road.

Gov. Inuwa Yahaya of Gombe State also met with Buhari on Sept. 1, where he solicited for urgent presidential intervention to develop the Wawa-Zange grazing reserve in the state so as to accommodate migrating herders.

He said the development of the Wawa-Zange grazing reserve had become necessary to accommodate the large number of herders heading northwards, following the implementation of the anti-open grazing law in the southern parts of the country.

The Presidency via Malam Garbe Shehu, the President’s spokesman, on Sept. 1also condemned Amnesty International’s latest salvo at Nigeria, regretting that “they have decided to side with terrorists, before the liberty of those they injure, displace and murder’’.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the presidency was reacting to Amnesty International’s recent claim that the Federal Government is harassing its critics and other militias.

The presidential aide, however, dismissed the allegation, saying the government will continue to fight terrorism with all the means at its disposal, no matter the criticism it faces for doing so.

He said: “Amnesty International’s latest salvo at Nigeria is but more of the same.

“Again, they have decided to side with terrorists, before the liberty of those they injure, displace and murder.

“Speaking the language of universal human rights, Amnesty International deploys it only in defence – even outright promotion – of those that violently oppose the Federal Government of Nigeria.

“Parroting the line of Nnamdi Kanu and IPOB, a proscribed terror organisation, they work to legitimise its cause to Western audiences.

“This puts them in bad company. Controversial American lobbyists are paid hundreds of thousands of dollars annually to do the same, laundering IPOB’s reputation in Washington DC.

“IPOB murder Nigerian citizens. They kill police officers and military personnel and set government property on fire.

“Now, they have amassed a substantial stockpile of weapons and bombs across the country. Were this group in a western country, you would not expect to hear Amnesty’s full-throated defence of their actions.’’

Buhari, who received briefing from the Executive Secretary of the National Land Development Authority (NALDA), Mr Paul Ikonne, on Aug. 2 at the State House, directed the agency to establish integrated farm estates in all the senatorial districts across the country.

Ikonne, who spoke to State House correspondents, said the president had inaugurated one of such integrated farms in Daura, Katsina State, and NALDA is poised to accomplish the remaining 108 farms, in line with the presidential directive.

According to him, the aim is to ensure that the giant strides already made in agriculture under the current administration are sustained.

The NALDA boss therefore called on States to donate land for that purpose, adding that the scheme can help Nigeria generate more employment as well as attain food security.

On Sept. 2,Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo departed Abuja for Arusha, Tanzania, on what was described as a “short visit’’.

Laolu Akande, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Office of the Vice President, disclosed this in a statement in Abuja.

According to Akande, while in Arusha, Osinbajo, who is expected back in Abuja on Sept. 6, will visit the African Court of Justice and Human Rights (ACJHR), an African Union agency in Arusha, among other engagements.

Nigeria and Tanzania, both former British colonies, have maintained cordial trade and diplomatic relations since the two countries gained independence in 1960 and 1961, respectively.

On Sept. 3, Buhari received briefing on the activities of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) from the Chairman of the agency, retired Brig.-Gen. Buba Marwa, where he endorsed the construction of barracks for workers of the NDLEA across the country.

The NDLEA boss, who confirmed the president’s endorsement of the project to State House correspondents, said the building of barracks for staff of the agency had become imperative to protect them and their families from criminals involved in drug trafficking.

Buhari also on Friday hosted the Chairman, Senate Committee on Army, Sen. Ali Ndume, at the State House, Abuja.

Ndume, who spoke to State House correspondents after the closed door meeting with the president, reiterated his position on surrendered Boko Haram insurgents, saying all the affected insurgents must be profiled and “those with blood on their hands’’ must face justice.

The president concluded the week with a congratulatory message, extolling the virtues of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr Boss Mustapha, who clocked 65 on Saturday.

He described the SGF as a dedicated public servant, saying that the nation’s COVID-19 management under him is worthy of praise.

He urged “other public servants to borrow a leaf from Boss Mustapha who does his job with passion and amazing talent for details”. (NAN)