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INTERVIEW: Atiku No Threat To Tinubu In North East -Bayero

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Lawal Bayero is the APC youths coordinator for Gombe State and member of the APC youths Presidential Campaign Council for North East. In this interview, he said the former Vice President Atiku Abubakar who is the Presidential flag bearer of Peoples Democratic Party PDP cannot be a threat to Tinubu in the North East Region.

Recently the 88 members of APC Youths Presidential Campaign Council was inaugurated, as the state Coordinator how would you describe it?

I will describe it as a huge success and an indication that we are on the right path to success in 2023. You are there and can see the huge turnout of youths at the ceremony. I am more than before convinced that APC is certain of victory for our candidate in the coming general election. There is no doubt that APC is the party to beat in this election. I cannot see any strong contender against Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, that I can tell you.

How sure are you of the victory of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu in this coming election?

Elections are won by people who have their feet on the ground. We have the largest numbers of Governors, Senators, House Representatives members and state Assembly members across the country. All these have sworn to ensure the victory of Tinubu in the coming election. Tinubu’s victory in the coming election means a lot to Nigerians. It means cohesion, unity and keeping to promise. This is a man that has spent almost all his life working for the emergence of a Presidential Candidate from the North.

What is is your plan as youths leader for the general election ?

Our party relies on the strength youths in this country, according to reports Nigeria’s population is about 75 percent youths and we have a huge chunk of that number in our party. If you can recollect in 2015 general election, it was the youths that successfully uproot the PDP Government of Goodluck Jonathan out of office and brought in President Muhammadu Buhari. It was the same youths that also gave him the second term and we are going to be the one to retain the party in power in 2023. The truth is without the youths their is no APC, talk of the change mantra in 2015 we are the one that champion the whole thing and we are ready to do the same thing for Tinubu and Governor Muhammadu Inuwa Yahaya in Gombe State in this general election.

With Atiku coming from this same region, how are you sure that Tinubu will hand in the North East in the election?

Atiku is not a threat to Tinubu in the North East and you can quote me on that. What has Atiku done for the region in his eight years reign as Vice President for the region. Look at Gombe-Yola road, it has been like that since Atiku’s time as Vice President. It is a shame to Atiku that the only major road that links his home state to other parts of the country is bad, unmotorable and still remains like that. The NorthEast Region used to be Atiku’s stronghold because there was no Northeasterner on the ballot but now with the emergence of Senator Kassim Shettima on the ballot, it will no longer be so. And again, even though Atiku is coming from the region but it is the turn of the south to occupy the Aso Rock villa since the North West is about rounding up the slot of the North and it is only just and fair for power to return to the south and who is that person, a lover of the North East; someone that we have been very comfortable with and someone that we are sure we will be comfortable with when he gets to power; Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.

What gives you the confidence that the North East Region will leave their own son and vote for somebody outside the region?

Thank you for that question, I am so confident because I have never seen a lover of the North East Region like Bola Ahmed Tinubu. In 2007, we saw how he supported the current presidential candidate of the People’s Democratic Party PDP, Atiku Abubakar to emerge as the presidential candidate of the Action Congress and gave him the platform. Unfortunately he didn’t succeed. In 2011, he did the same thing with our brother from the same Adamawa state as Atiku, Malam Nuhu Ribadu as the presidential candidate of the ACN in 2011.

In 2015, we all knew that without the support of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, as the biggest coalition member of the APC, a Buhari Presidency may not be possible and he repeated it again in 2019 so today for us in the North it’s only fair for us to payback this man that has been a lover of the north. This is our payback time because he is a supporter of the North East. He has supported Atiku Abubakar from Adamawa state, supported Nuhu Ribadu from the same Adamawa state and picked Kassim Shettima from Borno state. I have never seen a bigger lover of the North East in the country than Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. The North East used to be the stronghold of Atiku because there was no North East person on the ballot but now with the emergence of Senator Kassim Shettima on the ballot I don’t think the North East will continue to be his stronghold. Already, Borno and Yobe are in the kitty for us. Gombe, which used to be his stronghold, is now in the hands of Governor Muhammadu Inuwa Yahaya . He is not just the Governor of the state but also the North East Regional Director of the Presidential Campaign Council for Tinubu and Senator Kassim Shettima. So already we have three states in the region, because of the woeful performance of PDP in Taraba state everybody is praying for redemption. Already we have a very strong person in Taraba as the Governorship candidate and we are sure that he will deliver not just Taraba to himself but also to Asiwaju. Next is Adamawa and Bauchi that have been in the grasp of the PDP for four years. We all knew that we lost Adamawa and Bauchi due to the internal wranglings in APC and we are ready to put our house in order, we have met with critical stakeholders and they have vowed to work together for the victory of Asiwaju.

The youths of this country are grossly underutilized by our leaders. If you look around us, most of our industries are not working, those ones we know through the 70s, 80s and 90s are no longer there. When I was growing up Afcot was a major company in Gombe here. Most of our youths were engaged by the company in the production of cottons and others. In my village, the Afcot officials will come to give us high yielding seeds, chemicals etc. There were a lot of opportunities for the youths then. Similarly, we also have a tomato processing company at Kumo doing the same thing for the youths but now, the two companies are no longer there. I can tell you all these because I am a direct beneficiary of this, we cultivate the cotton farm to get money and pay for our school fees and support our parents but today Afcot is no more. If these two companies are still working today, do you know how many youths will be engaged and making money from their sweat. If you go to Adamawa and Taraba, the same thing also happens there. Taraba is perhaps the worst among them because I used to see the youths roaming about the streets begging for money. So our leaders need to rise up and do something about the situation because of our fragile security situation. There is an adage that an idle hand is the devil ‘s workshop. The state of our youths currently is not helping our security situation.

Are you saying the collapse of these industries fuel the security situation of the country?

Yes, of course. What do you expect from an idle grown up man, he will find somewhere to direct his energy and he may not care whether wherever he directs his energy is having positive or negative impact on the country. This is similar to what we are going through with regard to insurgency in the North East and banditry in the North West. It is when there is security that farmers can go to their farms, market women can go to market and the youths will also be gainfully employed. If we have security, we can invite our friends in Europe to come and invest in our country because of the massive land in the country and cheap labour. So this time around, I don’t want the youths of this country to get it wrong, the youths must stand up and vote for Tinubu because he is a rewarder of youths. Take for example how he brought up Fashola, the Minister of works, Rauf Aregebsola, the Minister of internal Affairs, Muiz Banire, the former National Legal Adviser of our party, former Governor Ambode of Lagos State and the present Governor of the state Sanwolu who is also a youth. I can tell you that he has been very consistent in rewarding youths for hard work. We have no doubt in Asiwaju’s capabilities to reward the youths. We have no doubt in his love for the youths, he has done it before and he is going to do it again. He is a rewarder of youths, he is a rewarder of loyalty. He is a builder of youths and we are certain that if the youths really give him their support he will surely reward them.

Why are you giving support to Governor Inuwa Yahaya for a second term why?

Because he has done well. Go round the state you will see how he touched the lives of the people through infrastructural development programs. Look at the Industrial Estate at Dadinkowa, his reforms in education sector which now allows more children to go to school, the Gombe goes green project now planting more trees all over the state and the project eleven hundreds that is constructing 100 kilometers of road in all the eleven local government areas of the state. I give him kudos for that because the new road network is linking up our rural areas to the city. However like Oliver Twist, I still want him to do more in his second term especially for my people at Gombe South. We want to feel his impact more in the area of developmental projects for Gombe South and I am speaking the minds of my people on this. The condition they gave me is that the Governor has done well and we are still going to vote for him and his party for a second term but he has to remember us in Gombe South. The youths especially want him to engage them in a youth empowerment program that will directly touch the lives of Gombe South youths.

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NSCDC Under Audi: CWAI Highlights Achievements and Paradigm Shift

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A civil society and pressure group, non-profit and anti-corruption organization has stated that the crackdown on illegal miners has saved the economy huge financial revenue loss as a result of securing the mining sector which is a vital component of Nigeria’s economy. The CSO further observed that this destruction of over 350 illegal refineries has also assisted to reduce the menace of oil theft in the Niger Delta region as well as the arrest and recovery of critical assets and railway materials worth over 5 billion Naira.

It is instructive that the creation of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, NSCDC’s Special Mines Marshals to combat the menace of illegal mining has also enabled the reduction of mining theft, oil and gas sector of the country as the present management of the NSCDC under the leadership of Dr Abubakar Audi is determined to nip in the bud these challenges once and for all.

Howbeit, the creation of the Civil Defence Academy in Jos, Plateau State, for career development and progression; the creation of NSCDC Arms Squad Training School at Ugede Development Area in Nasarawa LGA of Nasarawa State is very instructive; the massive acquisition of mini fire fighter tankers for disaster management in case of emergencies are worthy of note and big morale booster for the corps and the procurement of Armoured Personnel Carrier (APC) vehicles for the NSCDC to use in fighting criminalities across the country is a welcome development under the present administration.

In a press release signed in Warri, Delta State by the Executive Secretary of Citizens Watch Advocacy Initiative (CWAI), Omoba Kenneth Aigbegbele on Tuesday, the CSO identified bad governance, abject poverty and unemployment as some of the root causes of attacks on our critical oil and gas assets including the mining sector in the country. He stated that poverty and hunger have contributed to the damages being recorded in the oil and gas facilities and that the degradation of the environment due to exploration and oil spills has not helped matters as it has deprived communities’ access to their traditional methods of livelihoods.

The organization observed that: “There is therefore the need to confront and tackle poverty and other issues, so as to reduce the menace.” That government should deploy special equipment, create forums to engage the various communities, collaborate and partner with private security guards, armed forces and intelligence services to stem the tide of oil theft and mining plundering.

In an effort to curb Illegal mining and create safe mining environment recently, the Federal Government commissioned 350 additional operatives of the NSCDC as mining marshals. This is happening barely few months after the first batch of 2,220 mining marshals were inaugurated. This is as the marshals underscore the Federal Government’s commitment to reforming the unlicensed operators across the country. According to reports, since the inauguration, over 200 illegal mining suspects have been arrested, 133 prosecutions underway and confiscated illegally mined minerals forfeited to the Federal Government. CWAI gathered that as part of its efforts to strengthen, protect and safeguard schools across the country, the Save School Initiative was launched for the protection of vulnerable schools and to reduce the menace of kidnapping in schools and the creation of the NSCDC Female Squad to aid in tackling kidnappings and other restiveness in schools which has yielded enormous dividends by the reduction of this heinous crime.

CWAI noted the various institutional nationwide reformations presently taking place across the corps as well as the new sense of belonging, increase in welfare packages for the corps, prompt payment of emoluments, allowances including the zero tolerance for corruption initiated by the new management. This, without doubt, has given the corps a pride of place in the paramilitary organizations in the country and has raised the ‘esprit-de-corps’ of the men and officers like never before seen. The robust welfare, motivated packages through massive promotions, conversion, upgrading and other benefits-in-kind are really commendable and not to mention the construction of official and residential buildings within and outside the NSCDC headquarters, including the procurement of operational and office equipment and the purchase of over 200 operation vehicles are also worthy of note.

The arrest of students for acts unbecoming of them across institutions of learning in the country; arrest of practitioners of same sex marriages is a major milestone; the commendations given by governors of Zamfara, Gombe, Ogun, Jigawa and Katsina states recently are also worth mentioning; the reduction of the incessant herders’ and farmers’ clashes and cattle rustling; the deployment of undercover corps officers to schools;  the collaboration with the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) to reduce criminal activities across the country with the toga ‘See Something, Say Something;” the robust relationships of inter-agency corporations and partnerships with sister agencies such as the Navy, Army, Customs, Immigration, NNPC, and civil society organizations, is a major achievement that must be applauded; the consistent advocacies carried out by the CG to intimate and assure Nigerians to believe in the corps’ operations to engender faith in security agencies, are all worthy of note.

The continued fight against cyber-crimes, child abuse and the flushing out of illegal guard private operators; the arrest of smugglers, vandals and pipeline/oil thieves in the Niger Delta region have become an Herculean task that must be achieved, according to the CG, saying that the Service “is presently doing all it can to curb the proliferation of small arms across the length and breadth of the country.” He also read the Riot Act to the Corps’ commandants in the Niger Delta states, assuring them that President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has a zero-tolerance to civil theft. He asked them to do all they can to nib crimes in the bud in line with a presidential order to rid the nation’s oil sector of economic saboteurs, vandals, criminals, oil thieves and other nefarious activities inimical to the growth of the sector.

CWAI can attest to the fact that the giant strides achieved so far by the current leadership are as a result of the strategic directions taken on the commissioning of the Standard Curriculum for NSCDC for entrenching career progression, effective supervision and transparent regulation of the Private Guard Companies in Nigeria which has reduced insecurity across the country. CWAI asserts that this is connected to a new reinvigorated legal department, successes in anti-vandalism, protection of farmers’ physical security at mining sites and the establishment of Special Female Squad (SFS) targeted at boosting the fight against insecurity and the location of the squad in all Commands across the country. This has also enhanced the safe school response coordination and the protection of schools in remote areas and border communities, which is done in collaboration with other security agencies of the Army and the Department of State Services (DSS) to foil attempts to attack schools. This is endorsed by all stakeholders.

Similarly, the Commandant-General has continuously urged security agencies/operatives to shun inter-agency rivalry to foster national security. The CG gave this charge at a recent security seminar tagged “Promoting Inter-Agency Collaboration Among Security Agencies.” He noted that “the rivalry was capable of eroding relationships building over time between security agencies and consequently rubbed off negatively on the provision of adequate security.”  

CWAI also endorsed the amicable settlement of conflicts and dispute resolutions between herdsmen, farmers, cattle rustlers and villagers, community leaders and bandits – all championed by the current management of the NSCDC. The pressure group also applauded the vision, mission and the ability to implement its mandate as regards the settlement of disputes through Alternative Dispute Resolute (ADR) between warring parties.

CWAI recognizes the importance of conflict and dispute resolution mechanism in today’s contemporary issues and conflict management, and commended the leadership for thinking out of the box and finding lasting solutions in today’s crises-prone society, where conflicts have become the order of the day with the support of the proactive Minister of Interior, Olubunmi Ojo.

CWAI emphasized a renewed vigour for the increment of national budget allocated to the NSCDC in view of the pivotal role it plays in the reduction of criminal elements in the protection of critical national assets and the reduction of kidnapping in our schools as a result of the school initiative, which if properly funded will give the NSCDC the impetus to do more for the nation and its workforce.

We are encouraged to commend the public procurement and contract approvals, accountability in procurement process and payments. We also applaud the transformation, vision and forthrightness of the leadership in changing the narrative to make the Corps the cynosure of all eyes through discipline, promotion of officers when due and capacity building of officers and men, including building strategic alliances with various ivory towers across the land, to upgrade the service institutions to meet with what is attainable globally and build robust sister inter-agency collaborations.

CWAI, therefore, has no hesitation in passing a vote of confidence on the Dr. Abubakar Audi-led management and calls on the international community and well-meaning Nigerians to support the NSCDC management and allow them to concentrate on their mandate and continuously support the proactive leadership to enable it further its commitment and efforts to the general wellbeing of the nation.

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Groups Back Federal Govt’s Initiatives, Laud Agric Minister For Generating Over 60,000 Jobs

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Over 1000 bloggers under the aegis of the Bloggers and Vloggers Content Creators Association in Nigeria (BAVCCA) and Tinubu -Shettima Support Group have lauded the creation of 60,000 jobs in various rural economies across the country under the leadership of the Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, Senator Abubakar Kyari.

The bloggers and Tinubu-Shettima Support Group in a joint statement on Sunday signed by the Vice President of BAVCCA, Dr. Adebayo Olugbenga, National Coordinator of Tinubu-Shettima Support Group Alhaji Shehu Mohammed and the Secretary, Hon Uche Okafor respectively expressed their unwavering support for Kyari’s transformative leadership and the significant progress made in the agricultural sector under his stewardship in the last one year.

The State reads in part, “It is with great pride and enthusiasm that we, the members of the Bloggers and Vloggers, Content Creators Association in Nigeria, and the Tinubu-Shettima Support Group gathered here today to pass a vote of confidence in the Honourable Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, Senator Abubakar Kyari.

“In the past one year, Senator Kyari has demonstrated an unparalleled commitment to revolutionizing agriculture in Nigeria, and we are here to applaud his remarkable achievements and unwavering dedication to this crucial sector of our economy.”

They pointed out that the agricultural sector under the watch of Kyari, has injected an estimated value of N309 billion into the Nigerian economy in the last one year, as the money was injected through the harvest of agricultural produce.

And commended the minister for the provision of rural infrastructure, such as the construction of 77.8km of asphalt roads; construction of 130.9 km of earthen roads; provision of 102 motorized and solar-powered boreholes and installation of 6,504 solar street lights, as well as generating over 60,000 jobs in various rural economies.

Enumerating some of the Minister’s achievements, they said the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security had launched dry season farming with cultivation of 118,657 hectares of wheat in 15 states in the acceleration of all-year-round farming in a bid to ensure food and nutrition security.

They noted that at the end of dry season farming, that one of the participating States, Jigawa, had produced 55,000 metric tonnes of wheat.

The Vice President of BAVCCA disclosed that the Federal Government has also supported 107,429 wheat farmers with inputs such as fertilizers, seeds, and pesticides, resulting in an output of 474,628 metric tonnes.

The leadership of BAVCCA and the Tinubu-Shettima supporters observed that in response to the Presidential directive, the Ministry of Agriculture had released 42,000metric tonnes of assorted food commodities made up of maize, millet, sorghum, and garri, from the National Strategic Food Reserve to National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) for onward distribution to vulnerable Nigerians.

As part of measures to reduce escalating prices of food items in the markets, they expressed joy that the Federal Government procured and distributed 58,500 metric tonnes of milled rice to all States of the Federation and Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.

According to the statement, “To reduce malnutrition and stunted growth among children, the Federal Government had embarked on fortification of crops with Vitamin A micro-nutrient to enrich nutrition content and health value of food commodities.

“In response to persistent food inflation, the Federal Government has distributed 60,432metric tons of improved seeds, 887,255mt seedlings, 138numbers of value kits, 501,726 litres of agrochemicals, 62,328.5 metric tonnes of inorganic fertilizers, 1,000kg fungicide, and 33,200 equipment to farmers across different value chains to enhance production.

“The Ministry also received 2.15 million bags of fertilizer from the Central Bank of Nigeria(CBN) for distribution to farmers free of charge, adding that the distribution of the farm input has begun across the States.

“As part of measures to guarantee the protection and safety of farmers in their farmlands, there has been an improvement of farmland security with the provision of additional resources to Agro Rangers and other security agencies.

“On livestock production and animal health, the Federal Government had in the last one year procured and distributed 14,056,467 doses of anthrax spore, foot, and mouth diseases vaccines for risk-based vaccination exercise in 22 high-risk states across Nigeria.”

The groups further noted with satisfaction the establishment of animal health centres and veterinary hospitals, six micro earth dams and eight boreholes, 164 milk collection centres, eight cottage feed mills, and seven livestock centres in the country.

On Mechanisation, BAVCCA explained that the Ministry had signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with John Deere and Tata Africa to assemble in-country and supply 10,000 tractors with implements and accessories at 2,000 units yearly, as well as 100 units of combine harvesters to support production.

The groups explained that the Federal Government had partnered with the Brazilian government for the sum 995,000 Euros to provide mechanisation hubs across the Federation.

They are confident that under the continued stewardship of Kyari, the agricultural sector will thrive, contributing to the country’s food security, economic prosperity, and sustainable development.

“Kyari’s dedication, innovation, and tireless efforts have truly set a new standard for agricultural leadership in Nigeria.

“We, the members of BAVCCA and Tinubu-Shettima Support Group, pledge our unwavering support and commitment to working alongside the Minister to further strengthen the agricultural sector and realise our collective vision of a prosperous, food-secure, and environmentally sustainable Nigeria,” the statement assured.

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Coalition lauds NCC’s commitment to telecoms’ sector increase in contributions to nation’s GDP

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The Coalition on Transparency and Rule of Law (CTRL) has commended theGo Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) for its commitment to the nation’s telecoms sector which has led to an increase in its contribution to Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

 

The coalition also praised the leadership of Dr. Aminu Maida, the Executive Vice Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of NCC, for his vision and strategic goal alignment.

 

In a statement signed by Sunday Thomas, the coalition said: “We are thrilled to acknowledge the recent remarks made by Dr. Aminu Maida, reaffirming the commission’s commitment to significantly enhancing the telecoms sector’s contribution to Nigeria’s GDP.

 

“Dr. Maida’s leadership and creative vision are commendable, demonstrating the NCC’s dedication to driving economic growth and development.”

 

The coalition further praised Dr. Maida’s ambitious target of achieving a 25% increase in the telecoms sector’s contribution to Nigeria’s GDP, noting that it showcases the commission’s proactive stance in harnessing the potential of the telecommunications industry.

 

The group also acknowledged Dr. Maida’s leadership style, which has fostered an open-door policy, encouraging industry stakeholders to engage in constructive dialogue with the commission.

 

“We extend our heartfelt commendation to Dr. Maida and the NCC for their dedication to driving sustainable economic growth and development in the telecoms sector,” Thomas added.

 

“Their commitment is aligned with our mission to champion policies and practices that uphold transparency, accountability, and sustainable economic growth.”

 

The coalition expressed its support for the NCC’s endeavours, acknowledging the imperative need for synergistic collaboration between the public and private sectors.

 

They believe that the NCC’s commitment will catalyze other sectors to strive for similar growth and contribution to Nigeria’s GDP.

 

“We believe that Dr. Maida’s 25% target is feasible, and we look forward to seeing the positive impact of this initiative on our economy and the lives of Nigerians,” Thomas concluded.

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