President Muhammdu Buhari and Information Minister, Lai Mohammed’s denial that they were not behind draconian bills to gag the press made our picks as part of major political events last week.
We also look at the return of the Niger Delta Avengers and the group vow to cripple the nation’s economy over the perceived failures of the Buhari-led administration.
Read through to find other major political events in this week Politics Roundup, their implications on the nation’s growth and why they should not be ignored.
1. Buhari, Lai Mohammed’s denial
On Friday, June 25 Nigeria’s Information Minister, Lai Mohammed denied that the Federal Government was behind the bill to stifle press freedom.
The bill seeks the amendment of the Nigerian Press Council (NPC) Act and the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) Act by the National Assembly.
Speaking with NAN, Mohammed denied the allegation against him saying, “This is a classic case of misinformation because the Federal Government did not sponsor any bill to gag the press.”
President Buhari, through his media aide, Femi Adesina, had a day earlier also distanced himself from the bill and said: “President has nothing to do with that. It’s a government thing and it’s the minister that can talk about it.”
Denial by Mohammed and his principal, Buhari, of not being behind the bill is not enough.
The fact remains that this is Buhari’s administration and whatever happened under it, history will record it for him and those who ruled with him.
Buhari and his co-travellers can lobby and ensure that the lawmakers never make laws that will bring the government to local and international disrepute.
Except the current government wants to appear on the ugly side of history, it has to do everything to ensure the terrible draconian law is thrashed as quickly as possible.
2. Return of Niger Delta Avengers
The dreaded Niger Delta Avengers, a militant group from Nigeria’s oil-rich region on Saturday, June 26 resurfaced and vowed to cripple Nigeria’s already beleaguered economy.
In a statement on Saturday, NDA said its new “operation shall be coded ‘Operation Humble’‚” saying that it is aimed at “bringing down targeted oil installations in the Niger Delta Region, capable of humbling the economy into permanent recession.”
It added, “This mission is also targeted at political actors who are collaborating with the Nigerian Government to undermine the interest of the Niger Delta people.
“There is no doubt that the Nigerian Government has continued to pay deaf ears to our demands and the rising challenges in the country, because the pipelines that crisscross our lands are left untouched, allowing dollars to flow into the federal treasury on a daily basis for mismanagement.”
The resurfacing of the dreaded NDA and their threats should be a concern to the ruling government at the centre.
The fact that the group virtually crippled Nigeria’s economy during Buhari’s first term, requires that honest and sincere steps are urgently taken to address their grievances.
Whether agitations for restructuring, calls for secession or threats by NDA, what is clear is that there is a limit to managing a bad situation.
Nigeria appears to need an urgent national dialogue now more than ever to chat a new way to maintain its unity as one nation. Denying this fact and paying lips service to it may be catastrophic.
3. Lawani’s bombshell
Senate President Ahmed Lawan on Thursday, June 24, threw a bombshell when he said that Nigeria is poor and must borrow to survive.
During an interview with State House correspondents after meeting with President Buhari, Lawan said:
“Our options are really very limited as a country. First, we don’t have the necessary revenues. Nigeria is poor; we shouldn’t deceive ourselves…
“So, the only option left is for us to borrow …”
Lawan only stated a sad but obvious fact. Why it may not be bad to borrow, the problem is borrowing without a timeline and workable plan of repayment. It is also detrimental when borrowed funds are not utilised effectively for what they are meant for.
With the perceived ineptitude and corruption allegedly among those at corridors of power, the borrowings may only worsen the poor status of the country.
However, it is very unfortunate that a nation like Nigeria, blessed with abundant human and natural resources, is too poor to rely on borrowing to survive.
The whole thing as argued by many can be clear evidence of failures of leadership.
4. N’Delta region’s ultimatum
Leader of Nigeria’s oil region on Friday, June 25 issued a three-month ultimatum to the Federal Government to restructure the country and convene a national dialogue comprising representatives of ethnic groups in order to chart a new course for the country.
The group in a communique issued at the end of a South-South zonal conference held in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital vowed to:
“At the expiration of this three-month window, we the people of the Niger Delta will commence the process that will guarantee our freedom and progress.”
The threat by the leaders of the oil region emphasises the growing disenchantment among different ethnic groups about Nigeria as presently constituted.
Paying deaf ears to these concerns, as the government in power appears to have been doing, is certainly not the best way to address the situation.
5. Arewa’s position on secession
The Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) on Wednesday, June 23, said the region would not agitate for its republic to separate from Nigeria as being done by some groups in the South-East and South-West regions.
Speaking at the National Executive Council (NEC) meeting of the Forum, its Secretary-General, Murtala Aliyu said: “North will not ask for separation of the country. There are due processes of going about agitation. The North will not ask for a separate Republic as it is being done in the South-East and in the West by IPOB and Sunday Igboho. We are going to work for a united Nigeria and that is what we stand for.”
It is good the leadership of the Arewa said that the northern region will not agitate for the break up of the country.
However, with the claims by other regions that Nigeria as currently structured favours the North, it is not surprising to hear that, from the leadership of the Arewa.
6. Gumi vs Military
Popular Islamic Cleric, Sheikh Ahmed Gumi on Wednesday, June 23, claimed that some military personnel are colluding with bandits and aiding armed gangs terrorising the country.
He told ARISE TV during an interview, that gunmen would not have access to weapons without the support of some security personnel.
Not happy with that, the Nigerian Army in its reaction through its spokesman, Brig.-Gen. Onyema Nwachukwu described Gumi’s comment as a calculated attempt to denigrate the Nigerian military and undermine the sacrifices of the troops.
”The Nigerian Army (NA) wishes to state that contrary to Sheik Gumi’s claims, the NA remains a bonafide symbol of national unity that has conducted its constitutional responsibilities in the most professional manner in line with global best practices of adherence to the rules of engagement and protection of the fundamental human rights of the citizenry.
”The sweeping allegation peddled by the scholar is not only sad and unfortunate, but a calculated attempt to denigrate the Nigerian military and undermine the sacrifices of our patriotic troops, who are working tirelessly to restore peace and stability across the country,” the army said.
While it is true that the Military is trying its best, whether enough or not, to tackle the raging insecurity in the country, some bad eggs among the force, keep tarnishing its image.
Gumi only stated what Nigerians already know. One of the fresh cases is the media report where the Zamfara State government apprehended a soldier and his girlfriend caught supplying weapons to bandits in the state.
The case of some soldiers who, allegedly acting under the command of a senior officer, killed policemen who arrested a notorious kidnapper and freed the suspect in Taraba State, means that Gumi has a point in his claim.
7. NASS leaking roof N37bn
On Tuesday, June 22, Nigerians received with sadness the news that the roof of the National Assembly was leaking following a heavy downpour on that day.
They were worried that the roof could be leaking after the N37 billion supposedly budgeted for the renovation of the assembly complex.
However, the Lawmakers in a statement issued by the Senate Spokesperson, Senator Surajudeen Ajibola Basiru, said it never received any money for the renovation of the building.
“Contrary to the widespread falsehood being peddled both in the mainstream and online media as a fall out of the reported incident of the leaking roof of the National Assembly Complex after a heavy downpour on Tuesday, 21 June 2021, it is pertinent to inform the General Public that the National Assembly and its leadership is not responsible for the maintenance and renovation of the National Assembly Complex and they have not received a sum of N37 billion or any amount for the renovation of the Complex,” Basiru said in a statement on Wednesday, June 23.
The National Assembly said the truth that it did not receive N37 billion for the renovation of the complex. This is because what was reportedly approved by the Director-General of Budget Office, Ben Akabueze, for the renovation of the complex was N9.25bn.
While the federal lawmakers’ claim that no money was given to them may also be true, the question, however, is: are they saying that the N9.25bn was not released for the project? If it was not released after it had been approved by the president, what did the lawmakers do about it?
IAlso, if the money was not released to them but was released to another person or group, who was it released to and why has the renovation is yet to be carried out till this time.