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Saraki’s ally, Kawu Baraje, Condemn APC’s performance as poor..

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A chieftain of the All Progressives Congress, Alhaji Kawu Baraje, on Sunday described the party’s performance since taking office close to one year ago as unimpressive.

He also warned the party against repeating the mistakes made by the Peoples Democratic Party which led to its electoral defeat in 2015.

Baraje, an ally of Senate President, Bukola Saraki, said this during a media briefing in Ilorin, the Kwara State capital.

He said Nigerians were not happy with the socio-economic and political development in the country, adding that it was imperative for the government to address the sufferings and

expectations of the people in order to make them happy.

He cited the current petrol scarcity, poor electricity supply and hunger as some of the hardships being experienced by Nigerians.

Baraje said, “I belong to the group that is not very satisfied with the performance of the party; not only because the Senate President is having a very serious political issue, but because there are other cases and instances where we are not happy with the performance of our party.

“I am not a prophet of doom, neither am I a political prostitute. Are you happy going to queue up for up to two to three hours? Are you happy that electricity is not functioning well and people sleep in darkness?

“What we are saying is that majority of Nigerians are not happy and we need to make them happy.

“Majority of Nigerians are suffering and we need to make our impact felt by addressing the suffering of the masses.”

In response, the National Chairman of the APC, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, described Baraje’s comments as unfortunate.

He said, “We are working on a solution in the medium term; short term, yes we can make the fuel queues disappear but we don’t want the problem to re-occur and to do that, you have to work out a solution that will be long-lasting.

“If people want to play to the gallery they are at liberty to do so, they know why they are doing what they are doing.”

Odigie-Oyegun, however, said the Baraje should have asked for clarifications about what the party was doing instead of denigrating the APC.

He said, “At the moment, we know these problems (power outages and fuel queues) are there because it is a case of corruption fighting back.

“We are not resting on our oars; we are working hard and very soon all these problems will be over. Nigerians will certainly win this battle.”

Baraje also warned that if politicians did not achieve their aspirations in their party, “they may consider other options.”

The party chieftain, however, added that it was too early for him to contemplate leaving the APC.

Baraje said, “The PDP made me. I was the National Secretary and later become the National Chairman of the PDP. I made my mark. If I have to be grateful to any political party, I think, it is the PDP.

“So, if I can leave that party, then you will know that the party had gone contrary seriously against my principles of life.

“If I can leave the PDP because of impunity, lack of respect for the rule of law; then do I want to continue in another party that way? But it has not got to that level. That is why we are sounding a note of warning that gradually some of these problems are creeping into the APC. And we must warn ourselves.”

The party chieftain recalled that there had been 155 rerun elections at the state and federal levels so far, noting that the APC lost majority of the elections.

He cited the Rivers State rerun election as an example.

Baraje said, “If you look at the volatile nature of that rerun, some of us with our humble experience expected the national presence of our party much more during that rerun. We did not see that happen. It is regrettable.

“Today, we have gone in rerun elections both at the state and national levels. We ran over 115 rerun elections, and the APC has lost majority of those elections, not because of lack of popularity of the APC. No! But because of lack of enough presence as at now.”

According to him, the APC should not expect magic from its candidates if it decides to abandon them at the middle of an election.

He identified lack of focus and distractions as barriers to the performance of the party. He said the Buhari led-APC administration had good intentions and ideas.

He also said the alleged past misdeeds of the PDP was another inhibiting factor, saying such was another challenge of the APC to render good governance and dividends of democracy to the people.

The APC chieftain urged President Muhammadu Buhari to avoid confrontation with the National Assembly. He advised him to have a dialogue with the National Assembly to resolve crisis if there was any.

He also warned against any attempt to heat up the polity or stage demonstrations on the ongoing trial of the Senate President, saying there will be a ‘mother of all demonstrations’ should anyone try to disrupt the peace in the nation, especially in Kwara State.

Baraje urged the Federal Government to boost agriculture to ensure national food security, address power challenges and other poor infrastructure.

He however commended the Federal Government’s war against Boko Haram insurgents, urging it to do everything within its power to end the menace.

Also, the Labour Party has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to settle down to governance and address the economic woes facing the country.

In a release signed by the National Chairman of the party, Alhaji Abdulkadir Abdulsalam, the party said Buhari’s style of administration should be blamed for the challenges currently facing the country. He called on him to concentrate on fixing the problems by involving real professionals rather than fighting from all sides.

The party added that with the current economic crisis, kidnapping, terrorism and other social vices would be on the rise.

The LP chairman said, “The President should know by now that with Nigeria in economic crisis and the lacklustre attitude of his government to setting up a powerful economic machine, there are only two courses open to the government. They are monetarist deflationary measure and the protectionist method.

“Unfortunately, an economy under heavy government regulation cannot function properly but rather be exposed to a lot of unpleasant things like killing, kidnapping, warfare, padding, delay, economic downturn and impunity will become the linen and ephod for the mainstream expression of governance.”

The party said that the President should note that in today’s Nigeria, there were no electricity, fuel, gas, food and peace, saying that while the ruling class lived in affluence, the masses lived in poverty.

“The President needs to understand that leadership is a creative enterprise and as such allows same to speak and seen without unnecessarily playing the ‘I am in charge’ mentality. He must accept his weaknesses and allow participatory democracy by enlisting spiritual wisdom, greater understanding and absolute knowledge while seriously looking beyond immediate political horizon to involve men of honour with practice to contribute to the rebuilding of the nation and its economy.”

While calling on Buhari to forsake what the party described as his delight in fundamentalism, the LP also urged the President to embrace political and economic liberalism with the countless opportunities it offered.

“We at the party therefore restate our stand on the present state of the nation that all is not well. The President must urgently organise a socio-economic summit that allows the participation of all,” the statement added.

 

 

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NASRE Advises FG On Food Crisis, Forex Shortage Amid Calls To Suspend Import Ban

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As Nigeria finds itself at a critical crossroads, grappling with simultaneous challenges of a food crisis and a foreign exchange (forex) shortage.

 

This is even as the nation seeks solutions to mitigate these pressing issues, the debate over whether to open its borders for importation has intensified.

 

The food crisis gripping Nigeria has raised concerns about food security and access to essential nutrition for millions of citizens.

 

Adverse weather conditions, supply chain disruptions, and other factors have contributed to dwindling food supplies and soaring prices, placing a significant strain on households and exacerbating the vulnerability of already marginalized communities.

 

Meanwhile, the forex shortage has hampered Nigeria’s ability to import essential goods and raw materials, further exacerbating supply chain disruptions and exacerbating inflationary pressures.

 

Industries reliant on imported inputs, including agriculture, manufacturing, and healthcare, have been particularly hard hit, impeding economic growth and development.

 

In response to these challenges, some stakeholders advocate for opening Nigeria’s borders to facilitate the importation of food and other essential commodities.

 

Proponents argue that increased importation could help alleviate immediate food shortages, stabilize prices, and provide relief to vulnerable populations facing hunger and malnutrition.

 

However, others caution against the potential risks of opening borders amid a forex shortage. Critics raise concerns about the impact on domestic production and self-sufficiency, as well as the long-term consequences of relying heavily on imported goods. They emphasize the need to prioritize investments in domestic agriculture and infrastructure to build resilience against future crises.

 

As Nigeria navigates these complex issues, the government faces the daunting task of balancing short-term relief efforts with long-term strategies for sustainable development and economic resilience.

 

Proffering suggestion on how the government can address the unending inflationary pressures, Forex shortages, food prices hike and revitalise the nation’s economy, the Nigerian Association of Social and Resourceful Editors (NASRE), has advised the Nigerian government to adopt collaborative efforts involving policymakers, industry stakeholders, civil society organizations, and international partners to identify holistic solutions that address both immediate needs and underlying structural challenges.

 

On the debate over whether Nigeria should open its borders for importation amid the food crisis and forex shortage, the President of the advocacy group, Mr Femi Oyewale, underscores the urgency of coordinated action and innovative thinking.

 

According to him, now more than ever, solidarity, cooperation, and forward-thinking policies are needed to ensure the well-being and prosperity of all Nigerians.

 

“The question of whether Nigerian borders should be opened for food importation in the face of a food crisis is complex and multifaceted. However, there are factors to consider, which basically, Domestic Agricultural Capacity. Because opening borders for food importation could undermine domestic agricultural production by flooding the market with cheaper imported goods.

 

“However, if domestic production is insufficient to meet demand, importing food may be necessary to avoid shortages,” he said.

 

On the economic implications of borders opening, the President of NASRE, Oyewale, said: “Importing food can have economic ramifications, both positive and negative. On one hand, it can provide access to a wider variety of foods and potentially lower prices for consumers. On the other hand, it may negatively impact local farmers and exacerbate trade imbalances.”

 

The resourceful editors, while commenting on Food Security, pointed out that relying heavily on imported food leaves a country vulnerable to supply chain disruptions and price fluctuations in the global market. Therefore, it urged the federal government to develop a robust domestic agricultural sector, which is crucial for long-term food security.

 

According to Oyewale, the Nigerian government must consider its broader economic and agricultural policies when making decisions about food importation. This includes evaluating subsidies, tariffs, and investment in agricultural infrastructure.

 

“Importing food often involves long-distance transportation, which contributes to greenhouse gas emissions and environmental degradation. Promoting local production can help reduce the carbon footprint associated with food consumption.

 

“Food is not just a commodity; it is essential for human well-being. Government policies should prioritize ensuring access to nutritious and culturally appropriate food for all citizens, particularly those most vulnerable to food insecurity,” he added.

 

The Nigerian Association of Social and Resourceful Editors, NASRE, therefore, noted that the decision to open Nigerian borders for food importation during a food crisis should be approached cautiously, taking into account the country’s domestic agricultural capacity, economic implications, food security goals, environmental concerns, and social welfare considerations.

 

“A balanced approach that supports both domestic production and responsible trade practices may be necessary to address immediate food shortages while also promoting long-term food security and sustainability,” the Association stated.

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Lagos State Government to prosecute 11 suspects for extortion

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The Lagos State Government said 11 suspects arrested at the Ibeju-Lekki junction and Akodo area of the state will be prosecuted to serve as deterrents to others extorting residents and motorists in the state.

The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Transportation, Olawale Musa, disclosed this while addressing journalists on Wednesday.

He added that the suspects parade themselves as enforcement officers to extort unsuspecting motorists and residents in the state.

Musa said, “Lagos State Government has declared zero tolerance for extortion of unsuspecting residents, especially motorists, by miscreants parading themselves as enforcement officers at the Ibeju-Lekki junction and Akodo area of the state.

“We have announced severally that nobody is allowed to collect money for the local government on the street of Lagos, and the government has set up a team to ensure that anybody that does that is picked up and from that Lekki axis.

“They will be charged to court to explain themselves, and I want to sound a note of warning to others that do the same thing that we will not relent; the government is all out for them.”

He noted that it is unlawful for any local government area within the state to place personnel to conduct such operations on the highways.

“If you have any issues, you call us, and we will come and address them, but when you have people coming on the road on the guise that you want to have revenue at this hard time, collecting money from motorists on the road is not fair, and it is illegal in Lagos State to resist it.

“It is illegal for any local government area in the state to deploy people on the roads as it negates the Lagos State Road Traffic Law, Section 18, 2018, which empowers only the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority to carry out such operations on the roads,” he added.

In March 2023, The PUNCH reported that the Lagos State Government arrested four suspected hoodlums in some parts of the state over extortion.

The suspects were arrested in the Amuwo-Odofin area of the state while attempting to extort motorists.

 

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N10bn fraud: EFCC to arraign Abdulfattah Ahmed, ex-Kwara Governor Friday

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission will arraign the immediate-past governor of Kwara State, Abdulfattah Ahmed, for alleged N10bn fraud on Friday, The PUNCH has learnt.

Credible sources in the anti-graft agency said the ex-governor would be dragged before the Federal High Court in Ilorin, the Kwara State capital.

“He is going to be arraigned on Friday at the Federal High Court in Ilorin for diversion of funds, amounting to N10bn,” the source told our correspondent.

The ex-governor has been detained by the EFCC since Monday when he honoured an invitation for interrogation.

His Chief Press Secretary, Alhaji AbdulWahab Oba, confirmed his principal’s visit to the EFCC office on Monday, stating that it was only “procedural and routine”.

“Dr Ahmed’s visit to the EFCC is procedural and routine. He was invited and he honoured them as he’s always done. He’s always ready to respond to any query or question regarding his tenure as a governor of the state.”

On Tuesday night, Oba lamented that the EFCC was still holding on to Ahmed, saying he was given stringent bail conditions.

“Yes, he is still with the EFCC and we are now in a dilemma over the issue because they keep changing the goalpost during the match. The case is taking a new dimension, which we don’t really understand for now.

“Initially they said they wanted him to produce two sureties who are federal directors. The sureties came and were asked to provide landed properties in Abuja. We see this as a contradiction. The case was initially handled by the EFCC office in Abuja before it was transferred to Ilorin over the issue of jurisdiction. Additionally, he has been denied access to his doctors, medication and direct access to his cook,” Oba said.

Meanwhile, members of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party in Kwara State on Wednesday staged a peaceful protest to the EFCC zonal office in Ilorin, where Ahmed was being detained.

The protesters, who carried placards with various inscriptions, expressed displeasure over Ahmed’s detention.

Led by the state Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Olusegun Adewara, the party members alleged that the All Progressives Congress in the state was behind Ahmed’s troubles.

Some of the inscriptions on their placards read: “EFCC should stop being a tool in the hands of Abdulrazaq led-APC”, “Governor Ahmed was very transparent”, “EFCC is not a department in the APC, EFCC, stop the harassment”, “The opposition cannot be silenced”, “Maigida will not join the APC no matter the persecution”, “EFCC, don’t instigate political crisis in Kwara State”, “No to illegal detention. Respect the rule of law”, among others.

But addressing the protesters, the zonal commander of the EFCC, Michael Nzekwe, said Ahmed had been given an administration bail but he could not meet the conditions.

“We’re wrapping up. Once we wrap up, the law will take its course. The anti-graft agency, being a creation of law, would not go contrary to law.

“Everything we’ve done is within the ambit of the law. The former governor is cooperating with us and we’re making good progress following rules of law. As I speak, he’s with his lawyer, a SAN; he attends to everyone who comes to see him, and he has a doctor who has attended to him. He eats what he wants to eat. I urge us to allow the law take its course. We’re not partisan nor prompted by anybody. This body is solely sponsored by the Federal Government,” Nzekwe said.

 

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