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President Buhari’s 61st Independence Day Address

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INDEPENDENCE DAY ADDRESS BY HIS EXCELLENCY, MUHAMMADU BUHARI, PRESIDENT OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA ON THE OCCASION OF NIGERIA’S SIXTY FIRST INDEPENDENCE ANNIVERSARY, FRIDAY 1ST OCTOBER, 2021.

Citizens of Nigeria.

It is with full gratitude to God that today, we celebrate Nigeria’s sixty first Independence Anniversary.

2.

     For 1st of October 1960 to happen, all hands were on deck. East, West, North all came together to celebrate freedom. Today should not only serve as a reminder of the day the British handed over the reins of power to Nigerians, but also unified Nigerians from all ethnic groups, religions and regions.

3.     Today, despite the challenges we face, most Nigerians still maintain the spirit of 1st October. That positive outlook and determination to make Nigeria a peaceful and prosperous nation. It is due to this collective attitude that Nigeria doggedly continues to remain a united and indivisible nation.

4.     Fellow Nigerians, the past eighteen months have been some of the most difficult periods in the history of Nigeria. Since the civil war, I doubt whether we have seen a period of more heightened challenges than what we have witnessed in this period.

5.     Our original priorities for 2020 were to continue stabilising our economy following the deep recession while restoring peace in areas confronted with security challenges. But the COVID-19 pandemic and its devastating impact on all nations meant we needed to shift gears and re-strategise.

6.     Nigerians came together as one to fight against COVID-19. It is this attitude and by the special grace of God, we continue to survive the pandemic as a nation and indeed, provide leadership and example at regional and international levels.

7.     The doomsday scenario predicted for our country never came. Even as the Delta variant continues to spread, we have built the capacity we need to respond now and into the future.

8.     I will therefore appeal to Nigerians not to take COVID lightly, adhere to public health and social measures, put your mask on and get vaccinated. We can control this pandemic, but it requires effort on everybody’s part. The investments we made in response to COVID-19 will also serve our country to tackle any future disease outbreaks or pandemics.

9.     Despite the global inequity in access to vaccines, the Government of Nigeria has continued to explore all available options to ensure Nigerians have free access to safe and effective vaccines.

10.    Some five million vaccine doses have been administered to Nigerians through efforts led by the National Primary Health Care Development Agency and we will continue to explore options for purchase or acquisition of vaccines such as through COVAX and the African Vaccine Acquisition Trust.

11.    I will take this opportunity to remind the global community that the current state of access to COVID-19 vaccines is unacceptable. We cannot afford a situation where a handful of countries keep the global vaccine supply to themselves at the expense of other nations.

12.    We must act now to accelerate equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines. This is the message I conveyed to the international community in New York last week.

13.    As we push to source vaccines for our immediate needs, we shall invest more to support our pharmaceutical and research agencies to come up with ideas for locally developed vaccines. Should another pandemic arise in the future, Our question is simple; will Nigeria be ready?

14.    Accordingly, I have directed the Ministries of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Health, Education and Science and Technology to work with Nigerian and International pharmaceutical companies and research organisations to enhance Nigeria’s domestic pharmaceutical capacity.

15.    Already, the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority is raising a $200 million fund for this initiative that will complement the Central Bank of Nigeria’s ongoing N85 billion Healthcare Sector Research and Development Intervention Scheme to support local researchers in the development of vaccines and drugs to combat communicable and non-communicable diseases, including COVID-19.

Fellow Nigerians, this is just the beginning.

16.    Similarly, on our approach to food security, I am proud to announce Nigeria has commenced its journey to pharmaceutical independence.

17.    This journey, which will take years to achieve but will ultimately result in Nigerian based companies developing the Active Pharmaceutical substances and competence needed for us to make our own drugs and vaccines.

Fellow Nigerians,

18.    As our economy continues to open after the COVID-19 related lockdowns, we have also seen the resurgence of insecurity in certain parts of the country.

19.    In the last four months, the gallant men and women of the Military and Security Agencies have made tremendous progress in addressing these new security challenges. We are taking the fight to our enemies from all angles and we are winning.

20.    Earlier this year, I launched the Integrated National Security and Waterways Protection Infrastructure, the Deep Blue Project, which is designed to secure Nigerian waters up to the Gulf of Guinea. I am happy to inform Nigerians that we have taken delivery of key assets for this project and very soon, its impact will be felt.

21.    In the North East region alone, over eight thousand Boko Haram terrorists have surrendered.

22.    To support our surge approach to fighting banditry, the Nigerian Armed Forces have recruited over 17,000 personnel across all ranks. Furthermore, I have also approved for the Nigerian Police Force to recruit 10,000 police officers annually over the next six years.

23.    I am also pleased to note that most of the Air Force platforms we acquired over the past three years have started to arrive in Nigeria. These will positively impact our security operations in all parts of the country.

24.    In line with section 14(2)(b) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), the security and welfare of Nigerians continue to be the prime focus on which programmes and projects of our government revolves.

25.    Therefore, as a Government, we are ready to arrest and prosecute all persons inciting violence through words or action. Our resolve for a peaceful, united and one Nigeria remains resolute and unwavering.

26.    That said, our hope is not to fight for peace. We can always settle our grievances peacefully without spilling any blood.

27.    I will therefore take this opportunity, on this special day that symbolises the unity and oneness of our great nation, to ask all Nigerians to embrace peace and dialogue, whatever your grievances.

28.    The seeds of violence are planted in people’s heads through words. Reckless utterances of a few have led to losses of many innocent lives and destruction of properties.

29.    Such unfiltered and unsubstantiated lies and hate speeches by a few evil persons must be stopped. Our media houses and commentators must move away from just reporting irresponsible remarks to investigating the truth behind all statements and presenting the facts to readers.

30.    We must all come out and speak against the lies being peddled. At this point, I would want to sincerely appreciate the large number of our Traditional, Religious and Community leaders as well as other well-meaning Nigerians who, in their various fora are openly spreading the message of peaceful co-existence and conflict settlement through dialogue in their respective communities.

31.    Nigeria is for all of us. Its unity is not negotiable. And its ultimate success can only be achieved if we all come together with a common goal of having peace and prosperity for our nation.

32.    We shall continue to work on dialogue based solutions to address legitimate grievances. But we remain ready to take decisive actions against secessionist agitators and their sponsors who threaten our national security.

33.    The recent arrests of Nnamdi Kanu and Sunday Adeyemo, and the ongoing investigations being conducted have revealed certain high-profile financiers behind these individuals.  We are vigorously pursuing these financiers including one identified as a serving member of the national assembly.

Fellow Nigerians,

34.    This is a clear example of how people abandon their national leadership positions for their selfish gains. Instead of preaching unity, they are funding and misleading our youth to conduct criminal acts that sometimes lead to unfortunate and unnecessary loss of lives and property.

35.    As the so-called leaders run abroad to hide, our innocent youths are misled and left in the streets to fight for their senseless and destructive causes.

36.    Government will continue, with greater level of peoples’ participation and in collaboration with our international partners, to improve the security architecture, reduce enabling environment for criminality to thrive and eliminate opportunities for terrorism financing.

37.    Fellow Nigerians, our unrelenting effort at resolving an almost two-decade stalling on the management of our Petroleum resources and ensuring equitable consideration to our host communities has resulted in the enactment of the Petroleum Industry Act, 2021.

38.    This Act not only overhauls the Institutional, regulatory and fiscal framework of the Petroleum Industry but also reduces the previous opacity associated with this sector.

39.    This is the first step to the reforms as the process is a continuous one. Already, to further improve the governance framework, I have sought for an amendment of sections 11(2)(b) and 34(2)(b). We will also continue to review and amend as appropriate.

40.    At this juncture, it is very appropriate that I salute the leadership and members of the Ninth Assembly for their patriotism, dedication to duty, candour and most importantly the dispatch with which they have enacted legacy legislations for this nation. I do not take such level of cooperation for granted and hope it continues for the overall efficiency of the Federal machinery.

41.    Nigeria’s Roadmap on Local Refining is on track with the Commissioning of a Modular refinery in Imo State.

42.    A second is scheduled for commissioning by the end of this year in Edo State and the third one in Bayelsa State by 2022.

43.    In addition to the modular projects, we also have the two mega refinery projects coming up in Lagos and Akwa Ibom States.

44.    As these refineries are commissioned, more employment opportunities are created and there would be increased petroleum products available for local consumption which will significantly reduce our reliance on importation.

45.    In further demonstrating our plan to reduce our dependence on oil and tapping from our enormous gas resources, this administration remains committed to the “Decade of Gas” Initiative, which is aimed at bringing to focus the utilization of our huge gas resources.

46.    Already, we are supporting and promoting various gas-based projects including NLNG Train 7 and the mega urea and ammonia projects in the South-South region.

47.    As we continue to optimise and enhance our oil and gas sector, I am also proud and delighted to state that our economic diversification strategy remains on course with the persistent increase in Non-Oil Sector contribution to GDP.

48.    We recovered from economic recession in quarter four of 2020 with a GDP growth rate of 0.11%, and grew by 0.51% and 5.01% in real terms in the first and second quarters of 2021.

49.    The Agricultural sector remains key to our economic diversification efforts as the sector has been a consistent driver of the non-oil sector contributing 22.35% and 23.78% to the overall GDP in the first and second quarter of 2021.

50.    We have seen significant private sector investments in almost all areas of the agricultural value chain. And these have continued even during the COVID-19 pandemic.

51.    Unfortunately, as our food production capacity has increased, food prices have been going up due to artificial shortages created by middlemen who have been buying and hoarding these essential commodities for profiteering.

52.    To address this, I am hereby directing the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to rehabilitate the National Food Reserve Agency and also work with security agencies, the Nigerian Commodity Exchange, and the National Assembly to find a lasting solution to these disruptive and unpatriotic hoarding activities.

53.    To further enhance food production, we have completed several new dams and are in the process of rehabilitating several River Basin Development Authorities to enhance ground water supply for rainfed agriculture as well as surface water for irrigation agriculture.

54.    The water projects we completed between 2015 to 2020 have improved Nigerian’s access to potable water to 71% between 2015 and 2020. This means 12.5 million additional Nigerians now have direct access to potable water.

Fellow Nigerians,

55.    This Government remains concerned by the significant transportation infrastructure deficit we have. Addressing the challenges our commuters and lorry drivers face on the motorways is still a high priority to us.

56.    To complement our budgetary allocations, the Presidential Infrastructure Development Fund and the Road Infrastructure Development and Refurbishment Investment Tax Credit Scheme, we recently established a N15trillion Infrastructural Corporation of Nigeria Limited (INFRACO), which is expected to begin operation by the fourth quarter of this year.

57.    INFRACO will also focus on leveraging resources on a public-private sector basis for infrastructural development in Nigeria.

58.    We hope through these innovative programs, the additional cost burden on individuals and businesses because of inefficient logistics operations will be reduced and ultimately, eliminated.

59.    We currently have over 13,000 kilometres of roads and bridges under construction all over the country of which a fair percentage have been completed.

60.    As we fix our roads, we also continue to extend and upgrade Nigeria’s railway network with the notable opening of the Warri- Itakpe standard gauge rail line.

61.    To increase capacity, we have introduced more locomotives, coaches and wagons including the establishment of a Wagon Assembly in Kajola, Ogun State.

62.    The sea ports however still remain problematic. The effect of our various interventions to reduce the gridlocks and inefficiencies have been slower than expected.

63.    However, the implementation of the Electronic Call-Up System as well as the conversion of the Lillypond Container Terminal to a Vehicle Transit Area will further enhance the ease of cargo evacuation.

64.    Our prioritisation of developing Nigeria’s Digital Economy has positively impacted the contribution of the ICT sector to our GDP.

65.    We hope our present efforts to ensure all Nigerians use a National Identification Number as well as our planned roll-out of the fifth generation (5G) network technology will ensure we stay in line with the global innovation curve as a Nation.

66.    As we embrace the digital economy in Nigeria, we are fully aware of the prospects and the perils.  Our policies have been developed to enable Nigerians to take advantage of the prospects and avoid the perils of digital technologies.

67.    Social media is a very useful platform that has enabled millions of Nigerians to connect with loved ones, promote their businesses, socialise, and access news and other information.

68.    However, recent events have shown that the platform is not just an innocuous platform for information dissemination.

69.    Rather some users have misused the platform to organise, coordinate, and execute criminal activities, propagate fake news, and promote ethnic and religious sentiments.

70.    To address these negative trends, the Federal Government of Nigeria suspended the operations of Twitter in Nigeria on June 5, 2021 to allow the Government put measures in place to address these challenges.

71.    Following the suspension of Twitter operations, Twitter Inc. reached out to the Federal Government of Nigeria to resolve the impasse. Subsequently, I constituted a Presidential Committee to engage Twitter to explore the possibility of resolving the issue.

72.    The Committee, along with its Technical Team, has engaged with Twitter and have addressed a number of key issues. These are:

a.   National Security and Cohesion;

b.   Registration, Physical presence and Representation;

c.   Fair Taxation;

d.   Dispute Resolution; and

e.   Local Content.

73.    Following the extensive engagements, the issues are being addressed and I have directed that the suspension be lifted but only if the conditions are met to allow our citizens continue the use of the platform for business and positive engagements.

74.    As a country, we are committed to ensuring that digital companies use their platform to enhance the lives of our citizens, respect Nigeria’s sovereignty, cultural values and promote online safety.

75.    Nigeria’s progressive diplomacy continues to manifest through growing numbers of highly placed Nigerians in positions of regional and global influences. Very recently, Nigeria won election for the position of Commissioner for the expanded Political, Peace and Security Affairs of the African Union.

76.    Our persistent calls for a reorganized and reformed ECOWAS, to make the organization citizens-sensitive, paid off with the acceptance by the Authority of Heads of State and Governments of ECOWAS to commence the agreed reforms in the organization ahead of the next elections of the organization’s principal officers in December this year.

77.    At the African Development Bank, World Trade Organization and indeed, the United Nations, footprints of Nigeria’s Diplomacy are clearly evident.

78.    We remain confident that our goal of lifting 100million Nigerians out of poverty in 10 years is achievable.

79.    Considering the positive impact of our Social Investment Programs, I recently approved an increase in the number of N-Power program beneficiaries from 500,000 to 1,000,000.

80.    Out of this, 510,000 have started the programme while the competitive selection process for onboarding the outstanding 490,000 beneficiaries is in progress.

81.    The National Home-Grown School Feeding Programme is currently being implemented in 35 States of the Federation and the FCT. Over 103,000 women have been engaged and empowered as cooks under the programme, while about 10 million pupils are being fed across public primary schools in the country.

82.    To grant increased access to credit to the most poor and vulnerable, I have directed an increase in the disbursement of Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme loans to an additional one million beneficiaries laying more emphasis on the smallholding farmers through the farmers Moni program.

Fellow Nigerians,

83.    For far too long we have neglected the centrality of the civil service as the engine of governance and this has manifested in ineffective service delivery.

84.    There is widespread discontent and disillusion about the efficiency and probity of our civil service.

85.    It is for this reason that we are refocusing the Nigerian Civil Service to provide World class service to run our country.

86.    The youths of this great country remain propellants for our today and provide guarantees that we would have a secure tomorrow.

87.    It is for this reason that I remain focused on expanding opportunities for their participation in politics and governance.

88.    Recent appointments of young people into positions of authority and their track record so far, gives me confidence that we need to bring more of them into governance and this I promise to do.

89.    More specifically, to encourage Girl-Child Education, female scholarship schemes, life skills and digital literacy skills to boost girl’s enrolment, retention and completion of schooling, are all initiatives put in place to ensure gender balance in appropriately positioning our youths for positions of leadership.

90.    The commitment of this Administration to the well-being of people living with disabilities remains unwavering.

91.    Government recognises their contributions to development and I have, in this regard, directed that all relevant Government Agencies pay special attention to the peculiarities of different abilities in the implementation of policies and programmes.

92.    Rape and Gender Based Violence remains a sore point in our Nation as in many countries worldwide and this was worsened during and after the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

93.    We are currently engaging Heads of Courts to establish Specialised Courts for the speedy and seamless trial of Rape/Gender-Based offences especially to ensure that justice is done for child victims of sexual violence.

94.    On the other hand, work has advanced in the reformation, reintegration and reunification of Minors involved in one crime or the other.

95.    The reformation in our Correctional Services has manifested in an increase in modernised custodial centres and a transformation from strictly punitive to attitudinal changes so that criminals do not relapse into their previous lifestyle.

96.    As we begin to celebrate our sixty one years as a Nation, we need to be conscious that Nigeria does not start and end with the Federal Government. This country is a great collective where Government at all arms and levels as well as the private sector, and more importantly individuals, have a role to play.

97.    In particular, security is a bottom to top undertaking. Joining hands and hearts together would enable us to secure ourselves and our country.

98.    I fully understand the anxiety of many Nigerians on the inability of this country to go beyond a never-ending potential for becoming a great nation to an actually great one.

99.    A lot has been achieved in the last six years on many fronts: in infrastructure, social care, governance, Nigeria’s image and influence in Africa and the international community.

100.  But critics misdiagnose incremental progress as stagnation. Since coming to power, this Administration has tackled our problems head-on in spite of the meagre resources. No government since 1999 has done what we have done in six years to put Nigeria back on track.

101.  We shall continue to serve the country: listen to all and protect our democracy and country.

Thank you all and God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

OPINION

Triumphalism And Denialism As Fallout Of The 2023 Elections

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 By Magnus Onyibe

Justice Monica Dongben-Mensem, the esteemed president of the court of appeals, has expressed concern about the strain placed on the judiciary as a result of an excessive caseload, mostly attributed to the inundation of political issues into the court system.

Her Lordship disclosed that during and after the 2023 election period, politicians officially presented a noteworthy total of 1,209 appeals.

These appeals are presently receiving privileged attention, potentially eclipsing other matters of economic and social importance in the country, consequently relegating non-political legal concerns to a position of lesser priority.

In her analysis, Justice Dongben-Mensem verified that out of 1,209 petitions filed, five (5) were specifically addressing the Presidential Election Petition Court, while 147 pertained to the senatorial election. Additionally, 417 petitions were related to the House of Representatives, 557 were associated with the state Houses of Assembly, and 83 focused on gubernatorial elections.

Although the distinguished jurist identified the high number of election-related lawsuits during this period as being primarily attributed to a deficiency in internal democratic processes within the political parties, it is also important to acknowledge the existence of an additional contributing component, which is the necessity for more amendments to our country’s legislation, specifically the Electoral Act of 2022.

These revisions should aim to address the existing loopholes and ensure a more comprehensive framework, a responsibility that falls upon the legislators of the 10th National Assembly (NASS).

As the verdicts of the various election petition tribunals began to trickle in on September 6th, with the five (5) justices who sat over the Presidential Election Petition, PEPT, leading the charge, the political atmosphere in Nigeria has become fraught with multiple upheavals, with a good number of senators, members of the House of Representatives, governors, and members of state houses of assembly having their victories overturned.

As of the most recent count, the tribunals have invalidated the governorship elections in Kano and Kaduna states, as well as several senatorial and House of Representatives elections across the country, and the election of the current speaker of the Plateau state assembly has also been invalidated.

The current situation implies that there is likely to be a prolonged backlog of cases in the judicial system, as politicians whose election outcomes have been overturned will pursue further legal action in higher courts in a bid to revalidate their electoral success.

Initially, owing to number of elections over turned,supporters of the Labor Party (LP) believed that the tribunals were specifically targeting their candidates. However, they later realized that candidates from other political parties, including the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the ruling party All Progressives Congress (APC), and even the smaller New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP), were also experiencing setbacks in the electoral tribunals.

Given that the LP and PDP presidential candidates are currently pursuing legal action to challenge the victory and assumption of the APC candidate as president, it is important to note that their claims are based on allegations of a technical malfunction during the transmission of the presidential results.

This malfunction supposedly facilitated the manipulation of the outcome in favor of the declared winner by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). However, it is perplexing to observe that the results of other elections, which were not reported to have encountered any issues with the electronic transmission of results, are also being contested and invalidated.

The point being made here is that some of the results of both the Senatorial and House of Representatives elections that were passed electronically into the INEC database and displayed via IReV and which were adjudged to be unassailable by those denying President Tinubu’s victory at the February 25 polls have been decided by the various state tribunals as being tainted.

The events seen in tribunals around the country, which have led some politicians to express jubilation via triumphalism while others exhibit denialism, indicate that the principle of justice remains impartial. The emblematic representation of justice, often shown as a blindfolded woman wielding a sword in one hand and a scale in the other, serves as a powerful embodiment of the concept of justice. In the context of the 2023 elections, in my view,this symbol has been used to impartially administer justice to all candidates involved.

It is plausible to surmise that the electoral tribunals around the country are working autonomously rather than in concert, resulting in distinct rulings tailored to specific cases.

In this context, if the judiciary is really seen to be biased towards the All Progressives Congress (APC), as claimed by the opposition, it is noteworthy that the two governors who have been removed from office by the tribunals are from the APC (Kaduna state) and the NNPP (Kano state) stables.

It is noteworthy to observe that there has been no instance of a reversal of a governor’s election conducted under the platforms of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) or the Labour Party (LP).
Does that not suggest that the judiciary is working independent of the influence of the ruling party?

Following President Tinubu’s inauguration on May 29, the opposition parties have mostly been in control of the election narrative, focusing on President Bola Tinubu’s academic history at Chicago State University (CSU) in particular.
As a result of that, all eyes have been focused on the duel between the triumphant candidate of the APC, President Bola Tinubu, and the denier,who is the APC’s flag bearer and former vice president, Atiku Abubakar.

Given that this conflict has now shifted across the Atlantic Ocean and is being considered within the jurisdiction of the United States court system, where significant action from the opposing sides has already played out,as the presiding judge in the US case, Nancy Maldonaldo has determined the ultimate victor between the two parties with respect to Discovery order of court on Chicago State University,CSU, our focus will solely be directed towards the presidential elections within this discourse.

To establish context, American attorney Angela Liu, the legal representative of former vice president Atiku Abubakar, lodged a formal complaint with CSU which president Tinubu’s alma mater requesting the disclosure of his alleged counterfeit certificate.

In response, Christopher McCarthy, President Tinubu’s attorney, sought to postpone the release of his client’s personal information, citing potential harm if done hastily. This legal tactic was utilized to allow sufficient time for the preparation of a comprehensive response, a common strategy frequently employed by legal professionals.

Coincidentally, similar to President Tinubu’s legal team, Atiku Abubakar’s lawyers also requested an accelerated hearing of the case in the United States court, presided over by Judge Jeffrey Gilbert. This request was made due to the potential harm that any further delay in obtaining the academic records from CSU could cause to the petitioner’s case.

It is important to note that, according to the Electoral Act 2022, introducing new evidence in Nigeria’s Supreme Court is prohibited after a certain period of time, thus making it time-barred.

On Monday, September 25th, which is the date that Judge Macdonaldo granted permission for the response to be submitted, President Tinubu’s legal team argued that the petitioner’s request would be considered a fishing expedition.

For the sake of those unfamiliar with legalese, it is important to clarify that the term “fishing” in legal discourse refers to a situation where the motive behind seeking the authority to inquire is unclear.

On the contrary, it is anticipated that upon the conferral of authority, a favorable outcome will ensue. According to law dictionary, it is typically uncommon for courts to approve such claims due to their tendency to be speculative in nature.

The ongoing legal dispute between former Nigerian vice president Atiku Abubakar and President Bola Ahmed Tinubu in the courts of the United States of America bears resemblance to a previous incident involving former US President Donald Trump.

While preparing for his contest for the presidency of the US, Trump made claims asserting that former President Barack Obama was not born in the United States. Due to the absence of substantiating evidence, the individual in question was embarking on an exploratory endeavor, akin to a fishing expedition, with the intention of unearthing potentially compromising information by asserting that Mr. Obama is not of American origin.

Initially, President Obama refrained from providing his birth certificate as a means to refute Mr. Trump’s assertion. This situation subsequently led to Trump’s associates initiating efforts to obtain President Obama’s academic records through legal channels, albeit without success.

Eventually, President Obama chose to release his birth certificate voluntarily, thereby making it available for public scrutiny. Upon the release of this document, which served as confirmation of his birth within the United States, Donald Trump was ignominiously silenced.

Coincidentally, former President Trump had also taken measures to protect his personal and corporate financial records from authorities in the state of New York and the general public, both prior to and following his assumption of the presidency as the 44th president of the United States.

However, on Tuesday, September 26th, the city of New York successfully obtained official access to his financial records. Consequently, charges of fraud were brought against former President Trump and his two sons for allegedly inflating the value of their real estate asset in New York, namely the Trump Tower etc.

After employing legal measures to impede access to his financial records for nearly a decade,the regulator eventually obtained the aforementioned information. Upon review, did the regulator discover compelling evidence against President Trump that was anticipated to be very impactful or revelatory? Indeed, they did not. This assertion stems from longstanding claims that the real estate magnate, Mr. Trump, maintained connections with both organized crime and the Russian government.

During the prelude to the 2019 presidential campaign for re-election , opponents of Trump contended that he engaged in strategic politicking towards Russia due to a perceived influence the nation held over him, potentially stemming from his involvement in illicit activities on Russian soil.

The recent judgment by the New York Court reveals that Mr. Trump has been accused solely of engaging in the act of inflating the worth of his real estate holdings and nothing else. So, after all the hoopla regarding former President Trump’s finances, it turned out to be a little more than hot air as he was not found to be linked to any sinister activities as had been suspected.

This may be the case in the Atiku Abubakar/Bola Tinubu/CSU legal battle in the United States now that a superior court under judge Nancy Maldonado has ruled that president Tinubu’s CSU academic record (non-personal) must be released to the petitioner, as earlier ruled by judge Jeffery Gilbert.

In Nigeria, many have also referenced the instance involving former president Goodluck Jonathan, wherein he denied the request for the disclosure of his Doctor of Philosophy,PhD records from the educational institution from which he graduated . The university’s response to the Freedom of Information (FOI) request, in which they declined to give the information to a human rights and good governance advocacy group, has gained significant attention on various social media platforms.

While the veracity of the social media report remains unverified, the act of withholding or obstructing the disclosure of educational records to political adversaries is not an unprecedented occurrence in Nigeria.

At this juncture, it is apropos that we take a hard look at all the possible scenarios in the unfolding elections 2023 saga in order to have a good sense of the possible final outcome of the epic political battle between the ruling party and the main opposition party’s candidates for the presidency of our beloved country.

For the purposes of this discussion and conjecture, it should be noted that it is a well-established fact in Nigeria, as well as the rest of the world, that a male and a female can have the same name, particularly when the name is unisex, as in the cases of Chika, Uche in Igbo land, and Bola, Biodun in Yoruba land.

The prevalence of individuals sharing identical names is particularly widespread within the Hausa/Fulani region, where there is a significant number of perhaps up to one million Mohammed Abubakars who do not necessarily share the same lineage nor originate from the same locality or state.

The prevalence of shared names among individuals with origins from the northern region of our nation can be attributed to the historical practice of naming Hausa and Fulani individuals after their respective towns or villages of origin. Consider the late Mallam Isah Funtua, who was named after Funtua town, or Dr. Musa Kwakwanso, hailing from Kwakwanso village.

From a technical and political standpoint, it is plausible to consider the scenario where a female individual, other than President Tinubu who is male , is claimed to have gained admission into CSU. In this context, it is conceivable that both a female named Bola Tinubu and a guy named Bola Ahmed Tinubu, distinguishable by their middle names, may have been admitted into CSU around the same period.

And what if the clerk who documented Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s records at CSU made a typographical error and put female instead of male while carrying out the assignment? What if all the hullabaloo was caused by two (2) letters FE being unintentionally added to MALE to give the impression that there was a female Bola Tinubu?

The reason for raising the above posers is that these are political times wherein saying and doing things just to make political opponents furious or ticked off and fall into error are legitimate political weapons.

If the court has granted the petitioners’ full request, would this not amount to inadvertently giving aid to an opposition candidate, whom the intervenor has accused of conducting opposition research?

Is it not the reason why judges preside in the Temple of Justice with meticulous scrutiny, considering all aspects of a case, in order to ensure that justice is not only served but also perceived to be served?

William Blackstone, an English legal scholar, coined the proverb “It is better to err on the side of caution” in his influential 1760 book Commentaries on the Laws of England.

This statement provides a rationale for the legal principle in criminal law, commonly referred to as Blackstone’s ratio (or Blackstone’s formulation), which posits that “it is better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer”.

In trying to play the role of a devil’s advocate, one is of the opinion that proving a stolen identity case, which Turaki Atiku Abubakar’s lawyers are alleging and hoping would be the golden bullet to literally shoot down President Tinubu’s ambition and dispose him of his presidency following his election victory on February 25th, would not be a simple task, if not an impossible mission, and here are the reasons why.

So far, there may not be a female Bola Tinubu who has complained about being impersonated. If she is alive,she would have to be a witness or be joined in the case. If she has passed on, she must have family members that would stand in for her.

Otherwise, on what basis could it be asserted that Bola Ahmed Tinubu posed as a female Bola Tinubu in order to gain admission to CSU, given that no evidence of her existence is available?

My intuition is that the narrative may not resonate with the judges of the Supreme Court in Nigeria (assuming new evidence is admitted) if the petitioner is unable to produce the female Bola Tinubu, a purported US citizen, whom they claim has been impersonated by the incumbent president of Nigeria, Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

Under normal circumstances (especially on moral grounds), I would agree wholeheartedly that the educational records of President Tinubu or anyone else occupying public office should be released to the public so that he can receive acclaim for academic excellence, especially since President Tinubu’s CSU transcript reveals that his performance is in the top 10 percentile.

However, I would want to protect my academic records if they were to be utilized for the purpose of doing opposition research on me. This is a commonly observed phenomenon in the realm of politics. President Tinubu and his legal team seem to consider the discovery litigation filed by the petitioner in this manner.

The reality is that it is in the character of politicians to behave in ways that confound the general public. This is because there are almost always underlying issues in political affairs, and only tackless actors in the political game fall into the pitfalls set by their opponents, who draw them into the public arena by means of blackmail and conspiracy theories.

The primary objective of shrewd politicians, however, is to convert the problems foisted upon them by their detractors (who are numerous) into promotion by doing things on their own terms.

Imagine if President Tinubu’s academic records are eventually disclosed as directed by Judge Maldonado later this week, and they turn out to contain nothing objectionable.

How would the legal and media teams of PDP candidate and former vice president Atiku Abubakar, who have been raising expectations and feeling triumphant, appear if it were determined that President Tinubu was admitted to CSU legally and did not engage in identity theft as has been alleged?

Although it would seem as if l an holding brief for President Tinubu, the purpose of this piece is to enlighten Nigerians on the subject by highlighting the fact that politicians have numerous reasons to be extremely complex and convoluted in their behavior.

The reality is that it is inherent in the essence of politics for players to engage in sophistry. Which is why I do not fault Nigerians who are perplexed by the ongoing political conflict between 2023 election winners and denialist politicians.

In reality, there are always grey areas in politics, as opposed to black and white divides. And what is taking place today between former Vice President Atiku Abubakar and President Bola Ahmed Tinubu is a classic illustration of things being in the grey zones of politics that can be perplexing to the uninitiated.

During the legal proceedings in 2019 involving Atiku Abubakar and Muhammadu Buhari, Mallam Abba Kyari, who served as the Chief of Staff to President Buhari at the time, made an allegation that Atiku was of Cameroonian nationality rather than Nigerian.

Supposedly, this can be attributed to his birthplace in Jadda, a region located within Adamawa State. Notably, Jadda was situated on the Cameroonian side, which had not yet been included in Nigeria prior to the vote that made Jadda a part of Nigeria . Despite the absurdity of the incident, it did occur.

During the presidency of Alh. Shehu Shagari from 1979 to 1983, under the National Party of Nigeria (NPN), there were allegations made against Shugaba Daman, a candidate representing the Great Nigerian People Party (GNPP), an opposition party to Shagari’s National Party of Nigeria, NPN in Borno State.

These allegations claimed that Daman was a foreigner from the Niger Republic. Consequently, it was determined that he did not meet the requirements to participate in the elections.

In the meantime, Alh. Daman was living a normal life in Nigeria until he confronted the NPN and was drawn into the arena of anomie, as he was deported to the Niger Republic after the NPN obtained a favorable judgment. Is that not ludicrous?

In 2003, I assumed a public office as a commissioner in Delta, my home state, through an appointment by Chief James Ibori, who served as governor from 1999 to 2007. Before the appointment was confirmed , I encountered vehement opposition from a local group that aimed to promote an alternative candidate for the commissioner position in my local government area.

However, their efforts were unsuccessful, as Governor Ibori selected me for the appointment instead of their preferred candidate.

In an attempt to obfuscate the situation, the local political interest group had disseminated a fabricated story, which can be characterized as a very deceptive falsehood, asserting that my origin was in Edo State rather than Agbor in Delta State.

The individuals provided a rationale for their assertion subsequent to discovering the existence of a family residing in the border town between Edo and Delta State (Igbanke) who possessed an identical surname to mine. The absence of any biological or social connection to the specified family in Igbanke, Edo State, was inconsequential to them. In reality, I hail from Ogbe-Umudein, the homestead of the kingmakers in Agbor Kingdom.

Following Governor Ibori’s dismissal of the false allegations and subsequent confirmation of my appointment, a period of calm ensued, and the individuals involved in the plot to undermine my political career revealed to me their collaborative efforts aimed at sabotaging my political trajectory. This exemplifies the nature of politics.

As a result of the foregoing, my advice to those splitting hairs over President Tinubu’s academic records or those ecstatic that the president’s political career is about to be derailed by former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, whose status has shifted from denial to triumphalism as a result of his victory in the US court, is to wait and see what happens in Nigeria’s Supreme Court, which is the final arbiter on the matter.

While the Discovery case in the United States has kept optimism alive in Turaki Atiku Abubakar’s camp, Mr. Peter Obi’s ‘neck of the wood’ looks to have turned inactive. Will the US court’s finding that the discovery requested by the petitioner on President Tinubu’s academic records at CSU rouse the LP camp?

The petitioner, former vice president Atiku Abubakar’s legal and media team, has been ecstatic about the explosive evidence that the president’s comprehensive academic records at CSU, once disclosed, may contain.
And is there any sure guarantee possibility that when the new evidence (assuming it contains anything incriminating) is presented by the petitioner in his appeal to the Supreme Court of Nigeria, it will be admitted or permitted to matter in the case?

And because the Supreme Court is structured to consider not only the fundamental principles of law but also the existential realities of society by balancing the positive against the negative effects of its decisions, the highest court will likely have a lot to ruminate on.

Over all, the greatest beneficiaries of the hard-fought legal battles in the US and Nigeria would be the Nigerian electorate. That would be regardless of the triumphalism and denial of the 2023 elections by the ruling and main opposition parties and their presidential candidates, President Bola Tinubu and former vice president Atiku Abubakar.

The assertion above is underscored by the fact that at the conclusion of the arduous litigation, our electoral law would be stronger.

That is not discountenancing the fact that some attorneys in Nigeria and the United States have reaped and will continue to reap handsome financial rewards as a result of the rush to the courts by politicians who believe that the laws of our land, particularly with regard to the Electoral Act 2023, are too vague and therefore require the intervention of the judiciary, the third branch of government, and the interpreters of laws.

Put succinctly, as someone who considers himself an optimist that constantly looks for the positive side of bad circumstances (turning lemons into lemonade) and who finds oasis in deserts, even though some critics think that the 2023 elections have brought democracy to its nadir in our nation,I am of the opinion that anything that emerges from the intensely contested legal battles in Nigeria and the US courts between Mr. Peter Obi of the LP and Turaki Atiku Abubakar of the PDP over President Bola Tinubu’s victory in the election 2023 would undoubtedly deepen the practice of democracy in Nigeria by turning it from what appears to be a narrative of doom, gloom, and a fledgling state into lofty heights.

That is because our lawmakers in the 10th National Assembly will now see the obvious need to fine-tune the laws and rules governing elections, which need to be clarified and made watertight in order to avoid clogging the law courts with pre- and post-election litigation, which the Appeal Court President Justice Monica Dongben-Mensem has lamented as putting too much undue strain on the judges.

According to the jurist, the prominence of electoral issues is overshadowing and displacing other facets of life, such as commercial disputes and familial problems, which also need legal resolution. Moreover, the prioritization of political cases seems to be superseding other matters during the present election period.

Having been apprised of the above information, it is my fervent hope and l guess the expectation of all well-meaning Nigerians that the 10th National Assembly will tie up all the loose ends in the Electoral Act 2022 that have caused politicians to rush to the courts over election matters so that apolitical Nigerians can breathe.

Magnus Onyibe,an entrepreneur,public policy analyst, author,democracy advocate,development strategist,alumnus of Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, Massachusetts, USA, and a former commissioner in the Delta State government, sent this piece from Lagos, Nigeria.
To continue with this conversation and more, please visit www.magnum.ng.

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Perspective

FULL TEXT of President Bola Tinubu’s 63rd Independence Day Anniversary Speech

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Dear Compatriots,

1. It is my unique honour to address you on this day, the 63rd anniversary of our nation’s independence, both as the President of our dear country and, simply, as a fellow Nigerian.

2. On this solemn yet hopeful day, let us commend our founding fathers and mothers.

Without them, there would be no modern Nigeria.
From the fading embers of colonialism, their activism, dedication and leadership gave life to the belief in Nigeria as a sovereign and independent nation.

3. Let us, at this very moment, affirm that as Nigerians, we are all endowed with the sacred rights and individual gifts that God has bestowed on us as a nation and as human beings.

No one is greater or lesser than the other. The triumphs that Nigeria has achieved shall define us. The travails we have endured shall strengthen us. And no other nation or power on this earth shall keep us from our rightful place and destiny. This nation belongs to you, dear people. Love and cherish it as your very own.

4. Nigeria is remarkable in its formation and essential character. We are a broad and dynamic blend of ethnic groups, religions, traditions and cultures. Yet, our bonds are intangible yet strong, invisible yet universal. We are joined by a common thirst for peace and progress, by the common dream of prosperity and harmony and by the unifying ideals of tolerance and justice.

5. Forging a nation based on the fair application of these noble principles to a diverse population has been a task of significant blessing but also a serial challenge. Some people have said an independent Nigeria should never have come into existence. Some have said that our country would be torn apart. They are forever mistaken. Here, our nation stands and here we shall remain.

6. This year, we passed a significant milestone in our journey to a better Nigeria. By democratically electing a 7th consecutive civilian government, Nigeria has proven that commitment to democracy and the rule of law remains our guiding light.

7. At my inauguration, I made important promises about how I would govern this great nation. Among those promises, were pledges to reshape and modernize our economy and to secure the lives, liberty and property of the people.

8. I said that bold reforms were necessary to place our nation on the path of prosperity and growth. On that occasion, I announced the end of the fuel subsidy.

9. I am attuned to the hardships that have come. I have a heart that feels and eyes that see. I wish to explain to you why we must endure this trying moment. Those who sought to perpetuate the fuel subsidy and broken foreign exchange policies are people who would build their family mansion in the middle of a swamp. I am different. I am not a man to erect our national home on a foundation of mud. To endure, our home must be constructed on safe and pleasant ground.

10. Reform may be painful, but it is what greatness and the future require. We now carry the costs of reaching a future Nigeria where the abundance and fruits of the nation are fairly shared among all, not hoarded by a select and greedy few. A Nigeria where hunger, poverty and hardship are pushed into the shadows of an ever fading past.

11. There is no joy in seeing the people of this nation shoulder burdens that should have been shed years ago. I wish today’s difficulties did not exist. But we must endure if we are to reach the good side of our future.

12. My government is doing all that it can to ease the load. I will now outline the path we are taking to relieve the stress on our families and households.

13. We have embarked on several public sector reforms to stabilize the economy, direct fiscal and monetary policy to fight inflation, encourage production, ensure the security of lives and property and lend more support to the poor and the vulnerable.

14. Based on our talks with labour, business and other stakeholders, we are introducing a provisional wage increment to enhance the federal minimum wage without causing undue inflation. For the next six months, the average low-grade worker shall receive an additional Twenty-Five Thousand naira per month.

15. To ensure better grassroots development, we set up an Infrastructure Support Fund for states to invest in critical areas. States have already received funds to provide relief packages against the impact of rising food and other prices.

16. Making the economy more robust by lowering transport costs will be key. In this regard, we have opened a new chapter in public transportation through the deployment of cheaper, safer Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) buses across the nation. These buses will operate at a fraction of current fuel prices, positively affecting transport fares.

17. New CNG conversions kits will start coming in very soon as all hands are on deck to fast track the usually lengthy procurement process. We are also setting up training facilities and workshops across the nation to train and provide new opportunities for transport operators and entrepreneurs. This is a groundbreaking moment where, as a nation, we embrace more efficient means to power our economy. In making this change, we also make history.

18. I pledged a thorough housecleaning of the den of malfeasance the CBN had become. That housecleaning is well underway. A new leadership for the Central Bank has been constituted. Also, my special investigator will soon present his findings on past lapses and how to prevent similar reoccurrences. Henceforth, monetary policy shall be for the benefit of all and not the exclusive province of the powerful and wealthy.

19. Wise tax policy is essential to economic fairness and development. I have inaugurated a Committee on Tax Reforms to improve the efficiency of tax administration in the country and address fiscal policies that are unfair or hinder the business environment and slow our growth.

20. To boost employment and urban incomes, we are providing investment funding for enterprises with great potential. Similarly, we are increasing investment in micro, small and medium-sized enterprises.

21. Commencing this month, the social safety net is being extended through the expansion of cash transfer programs to an additional 15 million vulnerable households.

22. My administration shall always accord the highest priority to the safety of the people. Inter-Service collaboration and intelligence sharing have been enhanced. Our Service Chiefs have been tasked with the vital responsibility of rebuilding the capacities of our security services.

23. Here, I salute and commend our gallant security forces for keeping us safe and securing our territorial integrity. Many have paid the ultimate sacrifice. We remember them today and their families. We shall equip our forces with the ways and means needed to perform their urgent task on behalf of the people,

24. We shall continue to make key appointments in line with the provisions of the Constitution and with fairness toward all. Women, Youth and the physically challenged shall continue to be given due regard in these appointments.

25. May I take this opportunity to congratulate the National Assembly for its role in the quick take-off of this administration through the performance of its constitutional duties of confirmation and oversight.

26. I similarly congratulate the judiciary as a pillar of democracy and fairness.

27. I also thank members of our dynamic civil society organizations and labour unions for their dedication to Nigerian democracy. We may not always agree but I value your advice and recommendations. You are my brothers and sisters and you have my due respect.

28. Fellow compatriots, the journey ahead will not be navigated by fear or hatred. We can only achieve our better Nigeria through courage, compassion and commitment as one indivisible unit.

29. I promise that I shall remain committed and serve faithfully. I also invite all to join this enterprise to remake our beloved nation into its better self. We can do it. We must do it. We shall do it.!!!

30. I wish you all a happy 63rd Independence Anniversary.

31. Thank you for listening.32. May God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria

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Forging Ahead: NDDC’s Collaborative Push for a Sustainable Niger Delta

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By Pius  Ughakpoteni

 

In an era where transformative narratives are yearned for, the Niger Delta emerges as a beacon of hope, showcasing what can be achieved when vision aligns with action. The Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), under the forward-thinking leadership of Dr.

Samuel Ogbuku, is setting an exemplary trajectory for the Niger Delta.

The British High Commission’s commitment to partner with the NDDC on clean energy initiatives heralds a promising leap towards sustainability. Mr. Hamish Tye, Second Secretary (Political), British High Commission, elucidated his vision during his visit to the Commission’s Headquarters last week:

Mr Tye observed that the NDDC had shown commitment to realising sustainable development in the Niger Delta region through partnerships and collaborations with national and international development agencies.

He stated: “The attraction to the NDDC now is to explore the possibilities of collaboration. Given the work the NDDC is doing in the Niger Delta region, I believe a lot of partners would support its efforts more broadly. We would further explore partnerships with the NDDC, with a focus on renewable, clean energy and green infrastructure.”

However, the NDDC’s endeavors don’t halt at environmental initiatives. Their foresight encompasses an ecosystem of growth, enterprise, and innovation. Speaking about the collaboration with the Oil and Gas Free Trade Zone Authority (OGFTZA) to develop industrial parks, Dr. Ogbuku remarked, “The essence of these parks goes beyond industry. It’s about creating hubs of innovation, entrepreneurship, and opportunities. By amalgamating industries in a singular space, we’re fostering a unique synergy. The ripple effects will be manifold – job creation, skill development, and a boost in the regional economy.”

Senator Tijani Kaura, Managing Director of OGFTZA, concurred, in an address when he led a delegation to the NDDC last week: “Industrial Parks stand as pillars of development. This collaboration embodies our shared vision for the Delta. By working hand in hand, we’re not just building infrastructure; we’re crafting a legacy.”

At its core, the NDDC realizes that the heart of the Delta lies in its youth. Recognizing and harnessing this potential is paramount. On the importance of youth entrepreneurship, Dr. Ogbuku voiced his aspirations, “The youth are the Delta’s driving force. Their innovation, energy, and spirit are unparalleled. Our commitment is to provide them with the platforms, resources, and support they require to turn their dreams into reality.”

His sentiment found resonance with Dr. Okon Emah, President of Coalition of South South Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture, COSSCCIMA, when they paid a courtesy visit to the NDDC last week. He stated, “The vigor and dynamism of the youth in our region are palpable. With institutions like the NDDC offering unwavering support, the possibilities are limitless. Together, we aim to not just cultivate entrepreneurs but leaders who will shape the future of the Niger Delta.”

To ensure these initiatives are meticulously targeted, the NDDC’s approach is rooted in data. Dr. Ogbuku highlighted this, saying, “In this digital age, having a comprehensive understanding of our youth’s profile is pivotal. Our database initiative is geared towards this – a roadmap to formulate strategies tailored to our youth’s aspirations and needs.”

Piecing it all together, it becomes evident that the NDDC, flanked by its esteemed partners, is on a relentless mission. Its endeavors echo a clarion call for a brighter, prosperous, and sustainable future for the Niger Delta. Each collaboration, each initiative, is a thread in the tapestry of progress being woven.

Echoing the sentiments of many who have observed this transformative journey, Senator Kaura stated, “This is a golden age for the Niger Delta. With the NDDC’s proactive vision and the collaborative spirit of partners, we’re not just on the brink of change; we’re in the midst of a revolution.”

The world watches with bated breath as the NDDC, with its allies, crafts a luminous chapter of progress, promise, and prosperity for the Niger Delta. The road ahead is laden with opportunities, and the Delta is poised to seize them all.

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