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Buhari/Saraki Relationship: A Partnership That Works…

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Just last week, I reviewed most of the pictures from the Muhammadu Buhari campaign before the March 2015 presidential election that I culled from the newspapers. From my observation, the sitting arrangement was a big surprise. It is as if as at then, those who arranged how the key individuals in the campaign sat had envisaged the eventual ranking. In most of the pictures, Buhari was ensconced between his deputy, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo and then Senator Bukola Saraki.

As fate will have it, the three men are now occupying the top three positions in the land. Those pictures made me to do a flashback into how Saraki emerged as Senate President. It has always been clear to President Buhari that what Saraki wanted in the emerging new government was to be Senate President and the then Presidential Candidate, seeing the commitment of the man morally, intellectually, physically and financially, was not opposed to it. In fact, both men worked together closely.

This was the situation until some forces who had an agenda to control the National Assembly as a devise to constitute a constant check to the Buhari Government identified Saraki as a threat to their design. They then covertly went to the President and poisoned his mind against Saraki. That was when the claim of being “too ambitious”, “will use the legislature against you” and “he cannot be trusted with such a powerful position” came.

They then encouraged the President to support a candidate who they presented as the party’s candidate. What those power mongers hid from Buhari was their own plan to hold the National Assembly as a means to always checkmate the President. However, even though they succeeded in making the President withdraw his plan to openly endorse Saraki for the Senate Presidency, Buhari chose not to join the fray in a bid to stop him. Rather, he announced his preparation to work with whoever emerged.

However, Saraki created his own coalition to emerge as Senate President. When Saraki upon becoming Senate President refused to accept the list sent to him by the APC National Working Committee, he incurred Buhari’s wrath. The President felt it was an overkill and that the Senate President wanted to do a winner takes all.

The same anti-Buhari group masquerading as his acolytes told Buhari to allow them teach the recalcitrant Senate President a lesson he would not forget. And that was how the Code of Conduct (CCT) and the forgery of Senate rule book trials commenced in September 2015.

The forgery case has since collapsed as the initiator saw that it lacked substance. The CCT case is still wobbling there with its prosecutor fumbling along. The asset declaration case appeared not well investigated and inelegantly drafted. Even the evidence produced by the prosecution has been debunked and made empty by their own witnesses under cross-examination.

Buhari realized the antics of his ‘new friends’, when they moved against the President on the Kogi and Ondo governorship polls. At that time, the friends refused to toe the party position. Rather, they were ready to destroy the party structure to ensure they get their own candidates in. Their anti-party activities in aid of the candidates of the opposition made Buhari to have a re-think on these type of ‘friends’.

Actually, these ‘friends’ had planned to move alongside their loyalist incumbent Governors with their supporters into another party and fight the President. Their plan was foiled when Saraki aligned with the President and mobilized men and materials to ensure their defeat and the victory of APC candidates in the two elections.

After their failure in both Kogi and Ondo States, the group shifted attention to the party and plotted to get Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, the party’s national chairman, out of the national secretariat. However, the President stood by the party chairman. In defending Oyegun, Buhari enjoyed the support of Saraki. All these defeats and the cold shoulder the ‘friends’ now get from Buhari made them uncomfortable. They quickly beat a retreat and started plotting on how to win the President’s confidence all over again.

In what appeared to be a show of support for Saraki, he and the President began to see very regularly. They share same thoughts on key national issues and presented a common front. This renewed partnership between the President and the Senate President led to the appointment of Saraki’s protege, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi, a former Minister of Youth and Sports as the National Publicity Secretary of the party. Today, Abdullahi is one of the young Turks providing cover for Oyegun who continues to enjoy the President’s support.

Another indication of the closeness between Buhari and Saraki is evidenced in the turn of events in the relationship between the President and Governor of Kaduna State, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai. During the period the President was in London attending to his health, a memo El-Rufai wrote to him several months before became public. The private memo was a damning report on the general situation of things in the government and as it concerns key members of the administration.

Close watchers of government believed the private memo became public because somebody miscalculated that the President might not survive the illness and was therefore eager to remove himself from what the blame that may result from the perceived failure of the government. An African proverb says ‘let us feign death so that we can know those who will genuinely mourn us when we eventually depart’.

However, in the case of Saraki, he led the National Assembly’s three man delegation to London to see the President. At another occasion, he privately saw the President and informed the nation that there was no cause for panic. His statement after the visit contributed in calming down the tension and apprehension over Buhari’s ill-health. Saraki further briefed his colleagues that the President was okay and would soon return home. His message averted the plan by some hawks in the Senate who wanted the President’s health and prolonged absence from the country debated on the floor.

Since Buhari’s return to the country, Saraki has been a frequent visitor to the Presidential Villa without making any noise. On such occasion, he and the President exchanged ideas and Buhari gets briefed on issues in and around the work of the legislature. On many occasions, Saraki served as sounding board to the President on some executive policies and initiatives which if implemented the way it was initially conceived would have led to public outcry or have a backlash.

As Senate President, Saraki has led his colleagues to confirm the nominees of the President, even when some of the lawmakers have objections. These nominees include ministers, ambassadors, heads of parastatals and many others.

However, it is obvious that those who feel they have something to lose when it becomes obvious that Saraki and Buhari are getting on fine have continued to invest so much resources and efforts in propaganda stuff to create tension between some members of the executive and the legislature while presenting it as if there is a rift between the President and the Senate President.

It should be restated that it is in the interest of Nigeria if these two leaders, against all odds, maintain their good relationship and co-operate to deliver the good times that their party, APC, promised Nigerians, irrespective of the intrigues spawn by the power mongers around them.

 

Leadership NG

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Union Bank, WACOT Rice Kick Off Financial Inclusion Drive for Smallholder Farmers in Kebbi

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As part of Union Bank’s commitment to driving financial inclusion in Nigeria, the Bank has partnered with WACOT Rice Limited – a rice processing company, to financially include 6,000 local farmers including youth and women in Kebbi State.
The Kebbi Financial Inclusion Drive (KFID) which will cover four Local Government Areas – Argungu, Augie, Suru, and Dandi – is a critical part of WACOT’s Argungu Outgrower Expansion Project funded by United States Agency for International Development (USAID) West Africa Trade Hub. This program is set to resolve the overwhelming financial inclusion deficit within rural communities in Kebbi.
The financial inclusion initiative is being implemented with technical support from National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), to help the farmers acquire the relevant documentation and identification required to open bank accounts.
Union Bank will facilitate account opening and expand its agency banking network to cover the areas while supporting its agents on ground with digital banking solutions to enable seamless transacting and account management.
Farouk Gumel, Chairman WACOT and Board Chair, Union Bank was on ground in Kebbi State to kick-off the drive and paid a visit to the Kebbi state Governor, Senator Abubakar Atiku Bagudu to discuss expanding the programme state-wide.
In his recent keynote address at the recently concluded and  Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN) Conference, Mr. Gumel said:
 “As we work towards achieving financial inclusion to reach the unbanked, we must commit the same resources and investments to rural-local customers as we have done to urban-global clients to help create the growth that will lift us all to collective prosperity.”
WACOT Rice is a subsidiary of TGI Group. TGI Group, through another of its subsidiary Titan Trust Bank, recently acquired Union Bank in a landmark transaction which was announced in 2021.

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FIRSTBANK PARTNERS VERVE INTERNATIONAL, MAKES CUSTOMERS MILLIONAIRES IN THE FIRSTBANK VERVE CARD PROMO

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In partnership with FirstBank – Nigeria’s premier and leading financial inclusion services provider – Verve International, Africa’s leading payment technology and card business, has launched its third National Consumer promo designed to reward users of FirstBank verve card with exciting gifts and cash prizes to appreciate their patronage and use of the card to carry-out their electronic banking transactions.

The ongoing 2-month promo will end on 30 October 2022 as 20 customers (10 customers per month) with the highest transaction count during the promo will be made millionaires, winning the sum of N1 million each. Also, N20,000 will be won by 25 customers monthly.

On the other hand, 2620 FirstBank verve cardholders that double their transactions every week, stand a chance to enjoy 10% cashback capped at N2,000 per customer.

Speaking on the promo Chuma Ezirim, Group Executive, e-Business & Retail Products, FirstBank said “we appreciate our partnership with Verve Card through the years; a partnership of empowerment and opportunities which include growing the economy, supporting new businesses and preventing unemployment. FirstBank verve card holders are encouraged to keep using their cards as it is a card offering that promotes safe, convenient and rewarding digital banking experience with 20 customers standing a chance to be millionaires at the end of the promo.”

Verve card is a secure debit card that allows cardholders to conveniently meet their daily financial needs such as payment for goods and services, airtime recharge, bill payments, funds transfer, etc. Verve card is accepted across all ATMs, POS, Web and Mobile Platforms in Nigeria.

The promo is also opened to new verve cardholders as non-verve cardholders are encouraged to visit the nearest FirstBank branch today to pick up a Verve card and start getting rewarded!

Only recently, FirstBank – in partnership with Verve – rewarded over 2601 FirstBank verve cardholders with various prizes; including N20,000 cash prize, N10,000 cash prize, N10,000 worth of airtime; power generating sets, refrigerator, cooking gas, smart TV and the grand prize of a brand-new car to a lucky winner.

 

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Federal Government Orders University Vice-Chancellors To Reopen Schools, Begin Lectures Amid 7 Months Lecturers’ Strike

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The government issued the directive through the National Universities Commission (NUC), and a letter signed by its Director, Finance and Accounts, Sam Onazi, on behalf of the Executive Secretary of the commission, Professor Abubakar Rasheed.

The Nigerian government has directed vice-chancellors to re-open universities and allow students to resume lectures immediately.

The government issued the directive through the National Universities Commission (NUC), and a letter signed by its Director, Finance and Accounts, Sam Onazi, on behalf of the Executive Secretary of the commission, Professor Abubakar Rasheed.

 

The letter which The PUNCH obtained on Monday, was reportedly addressed to all vice-chancellors; Pro-Chancellors and chairmen of governing councils of federal universities.

 

“Ensure that ASUU members immediately resume/commence lectures; Restore the daily activities and routines of the various University campuses,” the letter partly reads.

We had reported that the National Industrial Court of Nigeria (NICN), on Wednesday, September 21, 2022, ordered the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) to call off its ongoing nationwide strike.

 

It reported that the umbrella body of the lecturers in public universities had declared a warning strike on February 14, to force the Nigerian Government to implement agreements it earlier signed with the union.

 

The agreement stipulated how university education would be funded for better improvement.

 

The strike has since rolled over and is now in its seventh month following the government’s failure to implement all the agreements.

 

Several meetings between ASUU and the Federal Government have ended in a deadlock.

 

Consequently, the Federal Government went to court to challenge the strike.

 

The government through its counsel, James Igwe, prayed the court for an interlocutory injunction restraining ASUU from taking further steps as regards the strike, pending the determination of the substantive suit.

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