THE Presidency has dismissed the allegation that President Muhammadu Buhari spent £6 million for his ear treatment of an infection in Britain some months back. Garba Shehu, senior special assistant to the president on Media and Publicity, said actually President Buhari spent less than £50,000 or N20.5million on the treatment.
Shehu said this in a Facebook post on Sunday, September 18, while responding to an allegation by Farooq Kperogi, a university don, that Buhari spent £6m during his treatment in June.
According to the president’s spokesman, the Presidency had approved more than £50,000 for the treatment but Buhari rejected it. Shehu wrote: “The disclosure on Prof. Farooq Kperogi’s wall that President Muhammadu Buhari’s ear treatment in the United Kingdom cost a whopping £6m must have shocked many of the respected scholar’s followers.
“I’m prepared to share documents with Farooq, one of the brightest ever produced from the Bayero University Kano that the whole treatment, including a follow-up visit by a specialist to Nigeria didn’t cost £50,000.
“For the records, the administration advanced a higher sum, but the president’s doctor returned the balance to the treasury.
“Indeed, it’s a New Day, and President Buhari’s change mantra is real. Let no one confuse my fellow countrymen and women.”
He claimed that President Buhari would have rejected the bill if the doctor had charged him £6m, adding: “The story reads like an incredible tale by moonlight that belongs to a different era, which fortunately is now history. That’s when a fortunate lady saved $15m for medical treatment!
“But was it possible that the account of this balanced journalism teacher was hacked? I will give him the benefit of the doubt.
“Given the austere President we have, Muhammadu Buhari would not have approved this amount if he was shown a £6m bill. I won’t be surprised if the President may have asked if the fat bill was for the purchase of a brand new pair of ears!”
Why we are still detaining Shiite leader, El-Zakzaky – Nigerian Government
The Nigerian Government on Friday gave a reason for the continued detention of Ibrahim El-Zakzaky, the leader of the Shiite Islamic Movement of Nigeria, IMN.
Speaking during a press briefing at the UN secretariat in New York, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, said the Muhammadu Buhari administration is not willing to disrupt the process of inquiry initiated by the Kaduna State government and has decided to allow the full process of the law prevail in the case.
The Kaduna State government recently released the report of a panel its set up to investigate the clash which led to the massacre of over 300 members of the Shiite group by soldiers.
Mr. Onyeama, responding to a question by a PREMIUM TIMES reporter, said the federal government would study the report.
“Government will study it, the Attorney General will look at the report and whatever measure needs to be taken will be taken,” he said in New York.
Over 300 members of the IMN were killed between December 12 and 14 after the army accused them of blocking a major highway and plotting to kill the Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai.
Hundreds of members of the sect including its leader, Mr. El-Zakzaky, and his wife, were subsequently arrested.
For several weeks, Mr. El-Zakzaky was prevented from seeing anyone include his doctors, lawyers or family members.
On April 5, the Islamic cleric’s lawyer who was finally allowed to see him, confirmed public rumours that the army had damaged Mr. Zakzaky’s eye.
“As a result of the brutal attack, Sheikh Zakzaky lost his left eye while doctors are currently battling to save the right one,” the lawyer, Femi Falana, said.
On Friday, Mr. Onyeama stated that the IMN leader was getting the required medical attention.
“He (Mr. El-Zakzaky) is getting all the medical attention he requires. This I can say with certainty,” the minister said.
A Federal High Court in Abuja in July denied an application for bail by Mr. El-Zakzaky.
According to the court, Mr. El-Zakzaky and his lawyers failed to seek the leave of the court to hear the application during the vacation period.
The Shiite massacre has been condemned by local and international groups including Amnesty International.
FROM Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor Godwin Emefiele has come a piece of good news on the recession-hit economy.
“We have turned the bend,” he said at the weekend in Lagos.
Nigerians have been grumbling over the tough economic climate – high food prices, poor infrastructure, job cuts and low productivity, among others.
To Emefiele, who spoke with media executives, the worst is over. His optimism is hinged on the following facts:
foreign portfolio investors have injected $1 billion into the economy in the last two and half months;
an Emergency Spending Bill, which will enable the government shorten the process of spending money (through award of contracts) is ready for the National Assembly;
close to N374 billion will be injected into the economy this week to stimulate it. So far, N420 billion has been spent;
social spending will soon begin and there will be capital expenditure payments; and
one million traders will get subsidised loans.
“Those are the things that government is doing and I must confess to you that I’m optimistic that we have turned the bend and going forward we will still spend more that will stimulate the economy,” the CBN chief said.
He said the $1 billion inflow came in response to the flexible foreign exchange regime introduced within the period.
Speaking on the success of the forex policy and the government’s policies geared towards reviving the economy, Emefiele said: “The only way we can improve supply at this time is to say, ‘fine, those foreign investors, those foreign portfolio investors, what do we do to make them come again?’ And so we went into a flexible exchange rate regime. We opened the market, we organised the market. We’ve seen some depreciation in the currency, but I must say that at this time, we are somewhat happy that the result is paying off, because in two and a half months, we’ve seen close to about $1billion coming in as inflow into the market, and the reason this has happened is because other than just liberalising the market, we bought into the market the OTC (Over-The –Counter) features market.
“The Market that provides the opportunity to reduce the volatility in the foreign exchange market so that people do not bunch up their supply on the spot, so they can now go i and do their business without disturbing themselves about the exchange rate. Those were the actions that we’ve taken and today I must say that it’s been successful.”
The government is determined to pump money into the economy and pull it out of recession, but this, according to the CBN boss, is being hampered by the slow procurement process, which, in most cases, takes about six months to actualise.
He said: “Naturally, let me say this, if you are in a recession, basically what you do is to spend your way out of recession. I will tell us what has happened between January and now. I will tell you what actions have been taken to send us out of this situation. Budget, like you know was approved in May 2016 and, of course, by that time, we had started to see signs that this was going to happen. Unfortunately, the procurement process is such a long one in the Public Service and, of course you dare not breach, or break the rules of procurement and I give you an example.
“When you start the procurement for an item, what happens is that you have to advertise for bids in the newspapers. That process of advertisement and calling for bids require that it has to be for 12 weeks. Twelve weeks is three months. Now when you open the bid, you’ll now see the numbers, you’ll now negotiate for the prices. After that you’ll go to the Bureau for Public Procurement, get the approval. After that, maybe you’ll go to the Federal Executive Council to get approval. You’ll find out that almost six months would have elapsed and that is why government is saying we must shunt this process.
“Shunting this process means that we need to have an Emergency Spending Bill, which has now been prepared. I am aware it’s ready for the National Assembly to take on for approval.
“What that does is, it removes all the bottlenecks involved in the process of procurement so that government can go directly and procure items and spend money to stimulate the economy.”
Emefiele said the Federal Government’s revenue caused by falling oil prices and the restiveness in the oil producing areas that reduced crude output, will not daunt government’s efforts o revamp the economy.
The apex bank, said Emefiele, is working to provide Bridge Funds to keep the government’s activities going, pending when budgetary funding and due process requirements are met.
”Government remains undaunted, the Monetary and Fiscal policies remain undaunted and we also had in the budget a deficit of N1.8trillion; N900 billion was to be sourced locally, another N900 billion was to be sourced in foreign currency, and because the foreign currency is yet to come in, what the Monetary and Fiscal authorities are saying is, ‘if the need arises, it would provide what is called ‘Bridge Funding’ for the fiscal authorities so they can go ahead and spend. When the proceeds of the foreign loans come, then, we can use that to clear the bridge fund that has been done.
“That is allowed because this time we do not need to wait and that’s why you may have read that the Minister of Finance just came up and said so far we have spent about N420 billion and, in fact, by this coming week (this week) alone another close to N374 billion would be injected into the economy to stimulate it.
“The social spending will kick in; other payments for capital expenditure will also kick in. Those are the things that government is doing and I must confess to you that I’m optimistic that we have turned the bend and going forward we will still spend more that will stimulate the economy,” he said.
Emefiele added that part of the plan that has been projected for 2016 is that one million market women will benefit from subsidised loans at subsidised rates that will come from “our micro, small and medium enterprise loan.”
The CBN is discussing with the fiscal authorities and the Office of the Vice President that handles social spending is also in discussion with the apex bank to see to it that “we put it in place as quickly as possible so that market women across the country can enjoy the micro, small and medium enterprise loan at subsidised prices, the CBN chief added.
“Those are some of the actions we are taking and I’m optimistic that going forward you are going to see more action that will help to stimulate the economy and turn the country around again,” Emefiele said.
— Sep 19, 2016 @ 14:20 GMT