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[ Masterweb Reports: Isiaka Wakili reports ] - President Muhammadu Buhari has expressed belief that Nigeria’s existence as one united country is a divine arrangement and "nothing should be done to put it asunder."
President Buhari, according to a statement by his spokesman Mr Femi Adesina, said this on Wednesday while felicitating with Christians in the country on the solemn occasion of the commencement of this year’s Lenten season.
Buhari urged Christian brothers and sisters, as they joined their counterparts worldwide in emulating the worthy example of Jesus Christ who fasted at the beginning of his earthly ministry, to pray fervently for Nigerian unity and progress.
President Buhari also enjoined all Nigerians to intensify love, brotherliness and concern for the less privileged members of their communities in order to strengthen the bond of togetherness.
As Christians began the period of increased prayers, piety, sacrifice and selfless services, the president wished them and all Nigerians well.
*Photo Caption - President Muhammadu Buhari & his spokesman Mr Femi Adesina

[ Masterweb Reports: Hope Abah reports ] - The police in Benue State yesterday said three people were killed by unidentified gunmen in Anyin community of Logo LGA of the state. The Commissioner of Police, Fatai Owoseni, said at a news conference in Makurdi that the seven people were attacked in two different incidents by the same gunmen.
Owoseni said of the seven victims, three went to fetch water from the Tsokwa stream on Thursday at about 7:30pm when they suddenly heard gunshots as the criminal elements pounced on them, adding that the sound alerted the police special squad in the area to the direction where they found all the three on the ground, wounded.
Owoseni noted that the gunmen further attacked four men riding on motorcycles, shot at them, snatched their bikes and killed two on the spot while another later died in hospital, bringing the number of those killed to three.
The commissioner said the police pursued the attackers, recovered one of the motorcycles and an empty shell of ammunition even as they immediately launched search for the assailants.
According to him, one of the victims, Abraham Tere, was brought to the Benue State University Teaching Hospital (BSUTH) where he is currently recuperating.
"We have strengthened our presence in the area to give confidence to the people there and as we speak our DIG Operations has also gone on air surveillance in the areas to detect the routes through which the attackers came," Owoseni said.
The commissioner assured people of Gwer West LGA and Makurdi metropolis around Adeke, Adaka and Naka roads among others not to panic, saying the police had established strong presence in the areas following rumours of attacks which led many residents to flee since Thursday night.
He added that aside the 105 suspects arraigned over recent disturbances in Makurdi, there were 11 cases in court as a result of what took place in Guma LGA while 32 other suspects were undergoing trial for violating the state’s anti-grazing law.
*Photo Caption - As seen.

[ Masterweb Reports: Igbeaku Orji Reports ] - The United Progressive Party (UPP), Abia State charpter has taken the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Abia State and Governor Okezie Ikpeazu to the cleaners, describing his administration in the state as a disaster. Abia chairman of UPP, Mr Menelik Ukpai, who addressed journalists at the end of a stakeholders and State Working Committee’s meeting at the Nsukka Street secretariat of the party said the present administration of Ikpeazu had not only toed the line of its predecessors but become the worse government in all indices of government.
He said: "Abians have no reason to vote PDP again after years of failure, it makes no sense, there is no logic in that, the people are fed up, Abians are exhausted, any source of relief from what they have now we are very confident that they will grab it. The party (UPP) has positioned herself to offer Abians a better alternative.
"The time to correct such anomaly is now by voting them out and the realistic thing here is that by virtue of his failure, he has already made it clear that 2019 is open for every other candidate to come and win except the PDP." If we look at the national posture of the All Progressives Congress (APC), it’s obvious that the party has nothing to offer to the South East, if you look at All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) the level of division particularly in Abia State, they have about four factions, each claiming to be the authentic one, when you look at these parties it becomes obvious that they have nothing to offer to the State."
*Photo Caption - Governor Okezie Ikpeazu

[ Masterweb Reports: ABN Reporting ] - Chief Okereke who is one of the pioneers of Internet/Information Technology not only in Nigeria but in Africa as a whole with publications such as Nigeria Masterweb and Africa Masterweb, in a press statement made available to Newsmen in Umuahia, decried that Abia, God’s own State, has become a major scapegoat to bad governance, bad choice of leaders and, above all, an atmosphere of nonchalance and passive carelessness from us towards our political future.
"Take for instance, the Golden Guinea Breweries, Ulonna Farm Settlement and several other industries which Abia State was formally famed for: they have all gone moribund through several regimes of government. Different governments have ruled the State but the seeming inherent unwillingness in the hearts of hitherto elected leaders has maintained a policy of absolute neglect. Worst, few places of note, like the Ariaria market and the expressway, are gradually becoming dump sites for refuse. The led (people), as earlier said, are equally culpable due to the ‘I don’t care’ posture we adopted towards politics and governance" He enthused.
Chief Okereke insisted that there is hope for Abia state despite the many years of darkness if the people will embrace the reality, "At this critical stage in our nation’s polity, especially as it affects our dear own state, Abia, and the several unrests and demonstrations of dissatisfaction by our teeming unemployed youths mostly occasioned by vehement, willful and perpetual bad governance and politics of self, there calls for a deeper reflection on the way we, as a people, perceive and react to politics.
Today, thanks to men of good will, democracy which is the government of the people, by the people and for the people has granted us closer access into how we are represented by our elected sons and daughters.
It has also empowered us with our basic human rights and the rights to demand their implementation whenever and wherever we feel neglected, marginalized or threatened either by regional/political rivalry or by our very own elected representatives, he declared.
He speaks further on the motivation to accept the challenge to serve his people, "As a "son of the soil" and true Abian in every sense and having taken time to study both the political terrain of our dear state and the deficiencies occasioned, not by our inabilities and unworthiness but by sheer neglect and nonchalance, I have, this time and finally, bowed to pressure of cries for help from my Abia brothers and sisters to step out and show true, refined, functional, absolutely productive, enduring and efficient leadership.
Chief Okereke declared that his government will be open, transparent with probity and accountability as its watchword. "Reforming Abia and bringing her into the full statue of the State for God takes more than sheer desire to lead, it takes absolute and unflinching resolve to do the needful.
All moribund industries to be resuscitated and every meaningful and meaningless excuse against it removed; Agriculture will have its full place and will run in full capacity to enable us produce enough for ourselves and for exportation.
Abians have full constitutional right to use the basic resources given them by God – resources like land and waterways. We will process the modalities for and begin the dredging of the Azumini axis to enable it grant, not only Abians but Ndigbo access to the sea. To pilot our dear state to full productive capacity, people will be recognized and employed by merit. We will reconstruct Aba to reflect its true nature: The Enyimba City."
He speaks about the all Hail Biafra Anthem, "By His Grace, I am a gifted poet and composer of Hymns/anthems; my composition ‘God Bless Africa’ won the African Union Anthem Competition and one of my other compositions "All Hail Biafra (Cry of A Biafran Child)" is a household song amongst us. Different oppressed or marginalized groups find solace in All Hail Biafra as anthem. I cried for Ndigbo at the end of the Biafran war and I shed tears as I prepare to lead the redemption of Abia State. I have heeded calls to aspire for the number one seat in our dear state.
I extend my heartfelt gratitude to the leader of our great party UPP, Chief Chekwas Okorie for giving the people the party platform to choose the best to represent them for posterity. Vote for me as your next governor and you will no longer cry nor suffer in Abia.
SOURCE: Abia Breaking News (ABN) -
*Photo Caption - Chief Charles O. Okereke

[ Masterweb Reports: Isiaka Wakili reports ] - Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has said that for now, the 2019 presidential election is not his concern. He emphasized that he was, at the moment, focused on doing the job he and President Muhammadu Buhari were elected to do in 2015.
The vice president said this during a media chat he had on the last day of his participation at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
Asked if he intended to run with President Buhari in 2019, Osinbajo responded thus: "I am absolutely focused at this time on doing the job that we have been elected to do. That is my concern for now."
The vice president said the nation's economy was much better now than it was two years ago, noting that the present administration had emphasised good governance, especially financial prudence.
"That is something in the past few years we haven’t seen. That is why we able to work with 60% less revenue, that has improved. We are doing better in terms of managing our finances, and in terms of doing much more with far less.
"Our reserves are at $40 billion, the highest it has been in 4 years. Our capital market is set to be the best performing in the world. We have moved up 24 places in the ease of doing business, agriculture is up by over 3%. We are becoming a net producer of rice, 7 million to 11 million tonnes of paddy which has never happened before. We will be self-sufficient in rice production. Investments are also coming in, so economically; I would say that we are doing very well. The critical thing is that the man on the streets must feel the impact, which sometimes takes a while, because when you are talking about growth, there must be jobs, but growth doesn’t immediately translate to jobs.
"What we are trying to do is to establish a system of governance that first of all, emphasises prudence in financial spending, which is what we had in mind to do with the TSA and with the general controls in spending. So we are earning 60% less than what was earned in 2014, but we are spending N1.3 trillion on capital expenditure, the highest in the history of the country, with 60% less revenue," he said.
Osinbajo said the government was in constant consultations with many groups in the Niger Delta, including the avengers who threatened last week to resume attacks on oil installations.
Asked what would be Nigeria's response to the US call for a weaker dollar, Osinbajo said though "we are naturally concerned about currency issues everywhere, a weaker dollar does not necessarily hurt us (Nigeria). We're concerned most about ensuring our exports are cheaper. Our concern is how to make ourselves competitive with our foreign exchange. So we've to deal with our own currency issues, ensure our currency is stable and adequate to meet with the challenges posed to us at this time. We're more concerned about sorting ourselves out and remaining competitive."
On what the government's position on allowing the Naira to flow freely, he said: "The issue for us is in ensuring that the currency is stable. What the NAFEX (Nigerian Autonomous Foreign Exchange) window does is, more or less, to provide an opportunity for the Naira to have its real value against the dollar. In some senses, we are there. What works today is some sort of intervention; you can’t just open up and say, let things go the way they want. You just mentioned that the US would like to see a weaker dollar, so obviously there is intervention somewhere. We want the market to dictate as much as possible, but where we find that there may be complications, we are ready to intervene."
*Photo Caption - Nigeria Vice President Yemi Osinbajo

[ Masterweb Reports: Isiaka Wakili reports ] - President Muhammadu Buhari will Friday depart for Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to participate in the 30th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union (AU).
The highlight of the President’s engagements during the visit will be his Statement under the historic theme for the AU Summit, namely: "Winning the Fight against Corruption: A Sustainable Path to Africa’s Transformation."

According to a statement Thursday by the presidential spokesman Mr Femi Adesina, this is the first time in the 54-year history of the AU that anti-corruption will be made a theme of the gathering of the regional leaders.
Adesina recalled that on July 4, 2017 during the 29th Session of the AU, African leaders unanimously endorsed Buhari to champion the fight against corruption on the continent in recognition of his personal commitment and widely acclaimed anti-graft drive at the domestic level.
"On July 25, 2017, the President in a letter to President Alpha Conde of Guinea, who is also the out-going AU Chairperson, formally accepted his nomination to lead members of the AU on this crucial crusade against a veritable socio-economic vice that is anti-development.
"While thanking his colleagues for the honour, he reiterated his 'commitment to contribute towards our collective efforts to strengthen good governance and development on the continent," Adesina said.
He said apart from anti-corruption, other issues lined for consideration by African leaders and their delegations include peace and security (transnational terrorism); institutional reforms of the continental body; free movement of persons; climate change; trade; aviation; education; gender and development.
He said President Buhari would also hold bilateral meetings with some of his colleagues on issues of common interests.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama; the Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami; the Minister of Interior, Abdulrahman Danbazau; the Minister of State (Aviation), Hadi Sirika; the National Security Adviser, Babagana Monguno; and the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu are in the President’s delegation to the summit.
*Photo Caption - President Muhammadu Buhari

[ Masterweb Reports ] - The Ekiti State Government has elevated 18 Vice Principals to the post of Principals. The News Agency if Nigeria (NAN) reports that also promoted are 7 Heads of Departments (HODs) to the post of Vice Principals.
The Chairman of the State Teaching Service Commission (TESCOM), Chief Abiodun Falayi on Sunday told NAN in Ado Ekiti that the exercise was based on merit.
According to him, it is to fill the consequential vacancies left as a result of retirement of some teachers of secondary schools in the state due to age limit or length of service.
Congratulating the affected officers, the TESCOM boss charged them to remain dedicated to their duties and alert to their responsibilities.
The Chairman said government would continue to reward hard work and dedication to duty, while also not losing sight on punishing indolence and laziness.
He noted that most of the elevated teachers would be transferred from their present schools to new ones.
He directed the beneficiaries to ensure smooth hand over that would not negatively affect academic activities in their respective schools.
Falayi also solicited the continued support of all stakeholders in government’s effort to develop the education sector, stressing the importance of cooperation between host communities and teachers of schools in the State.
*Photo Caption - As seen.

[ Masterweb Reports: Isiaka Wakili reports ] - President Muhammadu Buhari's health status will determine whether or not he will seek reelection in 2019, the Presidency has said. The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, said this in an interview.
"Yes, health is wealth. Health is wealth. The president is not a frivolous person. If he thinks that his health cannot carry anything, he will not do it. So, of course, his health will matter a lot. It will be very important, but we need to give the glory to God for the way he is now.
"Everyday you see the president, you see a glow about him, you see a freshness about him. I think he’s even in a better state than when he came in 2015. It’s all to the glory of God.
"So, once he assesses that his health can carry it, there’s nothing wrong if he steps into the fray. But he has the final decision," Adesina said.
Adesina, who said it is Buhari's right to seek reelection or leave office in 2019, noted that the president had not declared his intention.
"Then, talking of his (Buhari's) own personal ambition or lack of it, we have to wait until he blows the whistle. You can’t start a race until the whistle is blown. So, when he blows the whistle and say ‘yes, this is my ambition,’ then, the race start. So, for now, we just say that we keep waiting on him to tell us what direction to go," he said.
Responding to a question on the calls on Buhari to do the Mandela option of four years only, Adesina said: "Of course, this is a democracy. People will always have a right to their opinion. You know one thing about democracy is that there is multiplicity of opinion. So, those who believe in the Mandela option, it is their right. And it is also the right of the president to run or not to run. So, you don’t abridge the right of anybody under a democracy."
Adesina expressed belief that the president had achieved enough to get a second term.
"I believe that if the president wants to run, he can run. I will support him. I will always support him any day. Then, has he done enough? More than enough. In fact, a second term will give him chance to consolidate on what he has done.
"The things he has done are apparent: security, despite the challenges of the moment, you can’t rule out what he has done in security. Economy: economy went into recession, stayed there just for one year, it has come out and the indices are are good. Even the World Bank has projected 2.5% growth for Nigeria this year.
"So, in the economy, the government is doing well. The economy is like a plane with its nose up. As long as you have a plane with its nose up when it’s taking off, it’s good news. Anti-corruption, no friend, no foe. That goes on. So, those three things he appointed for himself, one, to secure the country, two, to fight corruption, three, to revive the economy, they are going well."
*Photo Caption - President Muhammadu Buhari

[ Masterweb Reports: Isiaka Wakili reports ] - The National Economic Council has constituted a 10-man working committee to address killings by herdsmen. The committee is headed by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Kano State Governor Abdullahi Ganduje told State House correspondents after the council meeting yesterday.
The committee also comprised the governors of Kaduna, Zamfara, Taraba, Benue, Adamawa, Edo, Plateau, Oyo and Ebonyi States as members.
Ganduje stated that the committee would collaborate with the Federal Government in addressing impunity regarding killings and violence.

According to him, the committee would work to ensure that all perpetrators of violence were brought to book.

*Photo Caption - Nigeria Vice President Yemi Osinbajo

[ Masterweb Reports: SKC Ogbonnia reports ] - The Hand Shake Across the Niger summit has come and gone. Though the event was fraught with strategic shortfalls, the move ought to be encouraged by all, because disunity in Southern Nigeria has been a stumbling block to Nigeria’s democracy.
Here is why and how:
A definite problem that dogged the Nigerian democracy for ages was lack of dynamic opposition due to prefoliations of political parties. This phenomenon contributed to systemic dictatorship and, by consequence, a history of power abuse. The god of democracy came to the rescue by provoking the creation of the All Progressive Alliance (APC). Unfortunately, however, the desired outcome has been elusive because of another dimension of dictatorship in form of primordial ethnic tyranny.
The gist is that disunity in Southern Nigeria has emboldened a minority group in the North to assume absolute authority in the affairs of the nation. Instead of the government of the people by the people, Nigeria has become a government of a Northern oligarchy by the oligarchy and for the oligarchy. The result has been an absence of the checks and balances central to an effective democratic governance and, of course, continued abuse of power.
Think of any debate or policy on Nigeria, be it constitutional amendment, restructuring of the country or what have you. When all is said and done, the final decision is hardly based on the salient points raised through the debates but simply on what the North wants, whatever that north means. Worse still, instead of the "North" considering the opinions or the needs of the Northern masses, the final say in the region—or rather Nigeria as a whole—is typically the sole province of the Northern oligarchy, a clique of wealthy Northern traditional leaders and retired army generals.
The problem does not end there.
The Northern oligarchy exploits the disunity in the South to a satanic proportion. It does not care to turn a Southern Judas into a Muhammad insofar its agenda is accomplished. Notice how the "North" embraces notoriously corrupt Southern politicians once they claim solidarity with any vision of the oligarchy. Also consider that any consequence for corrupt elements in Nigeria depends on the degree of their relationship with the same shameless plutocrats.
The cumulative effective is a whistling impunity in the land, and no region has been insulated from the after-effects. The most unfortunate, however, is that the innocent Northern masses are the worst victims.
The solution is where projects like the "Handshake Across the Niger" come in. Similar to the path to effective leadership in a multiparty democracy, there is the need for regional equipoise between the North and South. Such approach has the potential to checkmate the perceived Northern hegemony over the South, reduce culture of impunity and, consequently, allow genuine development in the country.
In short, the Handshake Across the Niger is designed for the South to emulate its Northern counterpart to finally demonstrate common sense in terms of unity. For instance, though the North is made up of a multitude of ethnic groups, the region typically speaks with one voice through central organizations. In other words, instead of masquerading with beggarly ethnic antiquities, such as Ohaneze Ndigbo, Afenifere or the various Niger Delta outfits, the entire South should simply promote central bodies akin to the different umbrella Arewa groups.
The Southern leaders must be careful to avoid a fall before the rise.
The recent Hand Shake Across the Niger is a bold step forward, no doubt, but its strategy is tangentially myopic. Such strategy has already given rise to the emerging nickname, "The Igbo/Yoruba Summit", which is enough to create peppering mistrust among the minorities in the South. It can be misconstrued as sowing seeds of socio-cultural hegemony—so soon—by the Igbo and the Yoruba over not only the smaller ethnic groups in the South but also other like minds in the true North. That is why the Southern leaders must learn to embrace umbrella southern organizations over tribal charters. One hardly hears of Hausa Union or Fulani Assembly. Neither does one hear of separate fora for North-West, North-East or North-Central governors or their legislators. What we know is North or Arewa, an Hausa term for the north, not minding that the region is far from being monolithic, ethnically or religiously.
The South should also guard against unrepentant sycophants who, in attempt to curry favor from the Northern oligarchy, will stop at nothing until the vision for southern unity is frustrated. That is precisely how they frustrated the original Southern Governors Forum initiated in 2001 by the visionary Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.
Unity in the South must not be seen as a coup against any group. It is only a means to an end; the end being the overall unity of Nigeria and effective democratic leadership. It can also be convenient to continue to heap blames on the Northern oligarchy and its minions—most of whom are the beneficiaries of bad leadership in Nigeria—for thwarting unity in the South. But that is foolhardy. The blame lies squarely on the South, which has historically allowed itself to be used to frustrate the desired Southern unity.
SKC Ogbonnia, an APC presidential aspirant, can be reached via:
*Photo Caption - SKC Ogbonnia