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DRAMA! Securitymen slam gate on Atiku, PDP protesters at INEC Hqts *We won’t relent – ex-VP

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It was a bit of drama at the Zambezi Crescent, Abuja, headquarters of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), as security operatives guarding the facility, quickly slammed the gate against Atiku Abubakar, former Vice President, as he advanced with a throng of members and supporters of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in protest over the outcome of the February 25 presidential election, conducted by the commission.

Hurt by the result of the election, which he claimed to have won, but in which he was put in a second position by the commission, while announcing Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as the winner on Wednesday last week, Atiku, has since gone to court to get the result reversed.

The protest, which he is leading alongside other chieftains of the former ruling party, now the main opposition against APC, which has been in power since 2015, is also one of the ways the former VP is pushing his case, a move he vowed not to relent on until the justice of the matter is attained.

The protest will continue. In fact, this protest will continue for a very long time, either every day or any other day,” Atiku told Arise Television on Monday, as he matched with the leaders of the party, including National Chairman, Iyorchia Ayu.

The protesters, which also included the Ifeanyi Okowa, who was the running mate to the former VP on the PDP platform, later blocked the INEC headquarters’ entrance, after the security personnel at the commission have locked the gate.

Others at the protest include the Chairman of Presidential Campaign Council (PCC) and Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Udom Emmanuel; the Director General of PCC and Sokoto State Governor, Aminu Tambuwal.

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BREAKING: Tinubu gets GCFR, Shettima, GCON, at Buhari’s final lap in office

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For Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu, and Kashim Shettima, the climax inched further on Thursday with the conferment of the the prestigious honours of Grand Commander of the Federal Republic (GCFR) and Grand Commander of the Order of Niger (GCON) on them, the highest of such in the Nigeria, by President Muhammadu Buhari.

At the investiture, which took place at the State House Conference Center in Abuja, the event, which is part of a series of events lined up for the May 29 inauguration ceremony, was also witnessed by Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, Chief Justice of the Nigeria and Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC),  as well as top Nigerians, Buhari, reiterated his confidence that Tinubu would finish what he started eight years ago, when he came into office.

The event, took place on the heels of the official handover of Transition Documents to the incoming administration of Tinubu, who was declared winner of the February 25 presidential election by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

Channels Television, quotes Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha who doubles as Chairman of the Presidential Transition Council, as disclosing at a briefing last Thursday, that an Inauguration Lecture on the topic: Deepening Democracy for Integration and Development by His Excellency, Uhuru M. Kenyatta, former President of Kenya will take place on Saturday 27th May.

This will be followed closely by a Children’s Day Program which would involve a parade and a party for the kids.

As part of the schedule of activities marking the 2023 Presidential Inauguration, an Inter-denominational Church Service will hold Sunday the 28th at the National Christian Centre by 10:00am and an Inauguration Dinner/Gala Night will take place later on at the State House Conference Centre.

The SGF further stated that on Monday, 29th May, the Inauguration Parade and Swearing-In exercise will take place at the Eagle Square by 10:00am, this is to be followed afterwards by a Post Inauguration Luncheon.

Boss Mustapha assured that adequate arrangements have been made for the safety and security of all people throughout the inauguration period.

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I know Abacha was a good man – Buhari *Exclaims closure of borders

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President Muhammadu, on Tuesday, showered praises on Sani Abacha, former Head of State, whom many Nigerians remember as one of the most despotic leaders in the country, saying regardless his reputation, he was a good man.

Buhari, spoke on the same day he explained the reason he once closed all borders leading into Nigeria, which he said was to encourage Nigerians to produce food for their consumption.

Acknowledging the backlash in public opinion, following said although the heavy criticisms that came with the decision, Buhari, said at the inauguration of the new Nigerian Customs headquarters that the aim of the decision, was well achieved.

Built at the cost of N19.6billion the edifice located in the Maitama district of the Federal Capital territory (FCT), was among the seven legacy projects commissioned on Tuesday by the President, including the Second Niger Bridge.

He said: “Please note that from Lake Chad to Benin Republic is more than 1,600 kilometres, only God can effectively guard the borders. So you need a person who has the energy and the competence to supervise. I deliberately closed the borders because knowing Nigerians, they order rice, give some to Niger and the rest, and then they bring the rice here.

“With our potential, we have people, we have land, and weather – how many nations are as lucky as Nigeria in the world, very few nations. So closing that border, 1,600 kilometres, Nigerians insist they eat boiled rice – you eat what you grow or you die. I tried to make my point and later Nigerians appreciated it.”

Buhari, who was full of praises for Hameed Ali, Comptroller General of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), said it was the same quality Abacha saw in him that earned him the job, adding that he was full of experience and competence.

Buhari, who served under the government of Abacha as the Chairman of the defunct Petroleum Trust Fund, said the military Head of State, gave Ali “problematic” tasks to accomplish.

“As for Hameed Ali, I asked him to be in charge of customs. No matter what people say about the late Sani Abacha, may his soul rest in peace, I knew him very well, when somehow he became President of this country, Head of State, the biggest problematic area was around Kaduna. He picked Colonel Hameed Ali and dumped the problems on him. My decision for Hameed Ali to come to customs was a deliberate one. I brought Colonel Hameed Ali to ensure that I have peace of mind.”

A palpably elated Customs boss, explained part that part of his strategies to succeed at the job was to take care of the welfare of the officers, saying the 100 per cent increase in their salaries made them less susceptible to corruption.

He, added: “We must mention the game-changing intervention of Mr President to rid the NCS of corruption and put it on a path of integrity. The 100 percent increase in the remuneration for officers and men of the service decisively made them less susceptible to corruption.”

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Buhari to Nigerians: You won’t miss me too much, Tinubu will maintain my momentum

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Pesident Muhammadu Buhari on Monday urged Nigerians to be hopeful of more developmental strides as the incoming adminstration of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, would continue to build on the momentum he left in the last eight years he ran a government on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC). The President, told participants at the Presidential Fleet Review, 2023, at the Naval Dockyard Limited, Victoria Island, Lagos, that he was pleased with the Nigerian military’s combat readiness.

Assuring that he had the confidence that the Tinubu, who was due to take over from him on Monday next week, three months after being declared winner of the February 25 presidential election would continue to provide crucial support to the Nigerian Navy, maintaining the positive trajectory achieved during his own tenure, he expressed immense satisfaction with the array of naval assets on display and combat readiness of the Nigerian military.

The last of such exercise in his tenure, the Presidential, said he ecognied the nation’s pride in the navy’s numerous achievements during his eight-year administration.

His words: “I have no doubt that the incoming administration of President-elect, His Excellency, Bola Ahmed Tinubu will sustain the current tempo of my administration in giving the Navy necessary support to effectively carry out its assigned tasks. My best wishes to our Navy for protecting our maritime domain and the economic prosperity of Nigeria. As I leave office on 29th May, I wish you all fair winds. ONWARD TOGETHER and God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.’’

Stressing that under Tinubu’s leadership, the Navy would continue to acquire new assets, expand shipbuilding for export purposes, promote indigenous production, intensify the fight against piracy, and address issues pertaining to crude oil theft in Nigeria’s maritime domain, he noted the significant reduction in piracy over the past seven years, leading to Nigeria’s removal from the list of piracy-prone countries by the International Maritime Bureau in March 2022.

Buhari, while applauding the application of technology in securing the maritime domain, which facilitated intelligence-driven deployment of naval ships and enhanced their effectiveness, specifically commended the diligent prosecution of MT HEROIC IDUN, which was detected and apprehended for attempting to load crude oil without authorization offshore Bonny in August 2022.

He noted that this successful interdiction further reaffirmed the navy’s commitment to protecting the country’s resources, acknowledging the significance of the diverse ships and helicopters on display, which he noted symbolised the nation’s maritime power and its preparedness to carry out the Navy’s constitutional roles.

Praising the impressive combat displays staged by elements of the Nigerian Navy Special Boat Service, alongside a combination of assets from the Nigerian Navy and the Nigerian Air Force, he said: ‘‘I expect this to translate into actual capability to dominate Nigeria’s maritime environment and secure the vast resources therein for the socio-economic development of our great country.’’

The President, while highlighting the strong link between maritime security and economic prosperity, said given that the maritime environment served both as a storehouse of resources as well as medium for maritime transport in the country, the importance of the safe and secure utilisation of these resources to drive national prosperity and support Nigeria’s aspirations for a thriving Blue Economy, must not be lost.

On the administration’s efforts in recapitalising the Navy Fleet in the last seven years, the President listed the acquisition of 20 capital ships for the Navy, comprising encompassing Offshore Patrol Vessels, Landing Ship Transports, Hydrographic Survey Vessels, Seaward Defence Boats, helicopters, as well as over 300 Inshore Patrol Vessels and Assault Craft.

The President, who also inaugurated several notable additions to the Navy’s fleet, including a new helicopter, NN410, manufactured in Italy, as well as the landing ship transport NNS KADA, constructed in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates, thanked the People’s Republic of China for the generous donation of NNS IBENO, highlighting the importance of mutual military cooperation with partner nations, which has also encouraged local shipbuilding efforts by the Nigerian Navy.

He declared that the Nigeria Navy’s endeavors in indigenous shipbuilding, in line with the nation’s local content development plan, have yielded positive outcomes, stating: “Our naval engineers were wholly responsible for building 3 Seaward Defence Boats namely, NNS ANDONI, NNS KARADUWA and NNS OJI. In December 2021, I performed keel laying foundation for the construction of 2 Seaward Defence Boats, which will be ready by 2024.

‘‘At this rate, I have no doubt that our Navy will soon commence construction of larger ships for itself and other navies in the region and beyond. This achievement is a great pride to Nigeria and an impressive contribution to national development.”

Dwelling on the theme for the 2023 Fleet Review, Fleet Readiness for National Prosperity, the President explained that it emphasised the Navy’s ability to respond to threats in maritime spaces and the Gulf of Guinea, highlighting its pivotal role in promoting national prosperity.

He commended the Navy for effectively deploying these vessels, resulting in successes in combating crude oil theft, conducting counter-drug operations, and addressing piracy, while also expressing  gratitude to the Government and people of Lagos State, as well as other maritime stakeholders, for their crucial support in facilitating the Fleet Review.

He added that more than half of Nigeria’s maritime trade passed through Lagos ports, which served as a lifeline for the nation’s industry and economy, which made fostering cordial working relations becomes even more imperative, while congratulating the Chief of the Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Awwal Gambo, and the entire naval personnel for their exceptional organisation of this historic event.

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