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President-elect

 MUSA BABA AHMED, Abuja

 

About 75 to 80 federal lawmakers out of the 90 coming from the Northwest geopolitical zone is said to be behind the candidature of the Minority Leader of the House, Hon Femi Gbajabiamila (Lagos, Southwest) in the race for Speakership of the incoming 8th House of Representatives.

President-elect, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday, expressed disappointment with the way the military handled the war against insurgency in the North East. He wondered why the military could not secure 14 out of the 774 local government councils in the country without the assistance of “South African mercenaries.”

 

 We can’t afford flamboyant transition programme – Sylva

 

MALACHY UZENDU, Deputy Editor, Abuja

 

FORMER British Prime Minister, Tony Blair Wednesday declared that the international community is standing solidly behind the President-elect, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari and his deputy, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo.

This was as a former governor of Bayela state and chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) inauguration Committee, Chief Timipre Sylva also stated that Nigeria cannot afford a flamboyant transition programme.

Blair who spoke shortly after a close-door meeting with Buhari, explained that “Nigeria has earned respect throughout the whole world” by the peaceful manner they conducted their general election.

“There is enormous support for Nigeria now in the international community. The support takes into consideration the challenges that lie ahead and there is great confidence in the country.

“This is an election which took place in a way which the country showed the majority of democracies the spirit and character of its people and in the President elect and Vice President elect, it is a leadership that I know is determined to do its best for the country.

“Obviously, the future and destiny of Nigeria lies in the hand of its people. I just want to say to the President elect that there is tremendous support for you and the country at this moment and all of us, in whatever way we can stand ready to support you and help you.

“It is a moment of great challenges which bothers on the life of the people as well as their security and so on. If the same spirit and character that define the election can be taken through these coming years to address the challenges, I think we can all have great confidence in the times ahead”.

Responding, Buhari noted that at a meeting, “the issue of how Britain and the United States were helping us in making sure that we conducted ourselves according to our constitution” were discussed and thanked them for their efforts at ensuring that the will of the people triumphed.

“The fact that it has been so successful is a major relief for us and to all people of conscience throughout the world.  I thank the former British Prime Minister for his concern for Nigeria and Nigerians, in what he is prepared to do by continuing to help us as a country and as a people”.

In another development, Chairman of Inauguration committee of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Timipre Sylva, revealed that the country is not presently buoyant to have a flamboyant ceremony due to economic crunch the country is presently going through.

Sylva also confirmed Ahmed Joda’s statements in an interview at the APC Secretariat in Abuja yesterday that there was no crisis between the two transition committees.

He said: “There are no challenges, we are planning very well and I think we are going to give Nigerians a compact inauguration, we are not going to be flamboyant, we think that this country cannot afford a flamboyant ceremony this time because the economy is not in good shape right now. So we are actually planning to give Nigerians a sanitise and compact event which will be a source of pride to Nigerians.

On the number of Heads of states of government expected for the ceremony he said, the committee was yet to get all the confirmation but “we have already getting some from countries.”

While dismissing the insinuation that there may be rift between the incoming and the outgoing government, the former governor of Bayelsa state said: “There is no problem, it is just politics, what happen is that they were on the wrong side and they lost, we are on the right side and we won. And so the government will have to continue and just like we were there when they were governing, they also have to be there when we are governing the country”.

On the allegations that he is still carrying a corruption baggage and as such, not qualified to be in Buhari’s cabinet,  he responded that, “I will be shocked to hear that, maybe those peddling the allegation are the court and they have already convicted me, we have courts in the land and you know that PDP is the party of impunity.

“Today if I pick you up and I charge you to court on charges of corruption , does that convict you? It is only the court that can convict you and that is why we have rule of law. A situation where people just pick you up and say you’re corrupt just to persecute you, does not augur well for our democracy, I have been vindicated politically and I will be vindicated by the court also because I ran the best government in Bayelsa state, a better government than what the outgoing President ran in Bayelsa state. I can assure you that I am going to come clean at the end of the day from the charges against me”.

Continuing he said, ” you can ask them why they are charging for an offence, while they have discharge my accountant general and my commissioner of finance, what does that tell you? It means that, this is just mere persecution because no governor can access fund unless through his accountant general or commissioner of finance. Both of them have been exonerated that means there is actually no crime at all”.

*Meets president-elect again

 

SUNDAY ODE, Abuja,

 

President Goodluck Jonathan Wednesday evening met with the President-elect, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (retd.) at the Aso Rock Presidential Villa, Abuja.

The meeting said to be private lasted for about 30 minutes and was held behind closed-doors.

Accordingly, there was no media presence.

Meanwhile, President Jonathan on Thursday expressed optimism that the General Muhammadu Buhari-led incoming government will sustain the various ongoing rail way projects in the country.

Jonathan stated this position when he personally inspected the Abuja Mass Transit Light Rail project to assess the extent of its implementation, as his government begins its count down to the May 29 handover date.

The President on the inspection took a train ride.

Guided by the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Senator Bala Mohammed and the FCT Minister of State, Oloye Olajumoke Akinjide, the President boarded the Light train from Ring Road 2 Light Rail Station around Jabi for a 10-minute ride to Idu Transfer Station in the FCT.

Jonathan also inspected the new rehabilitated and expanded 10-lane Airport Road named after late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua which is still under construction.

The road project is part of the Outer Southern Expressway and Outer Northern Expressway awarded by the administration of Yar’Adua at the cost of N257billion in separate lots to Julius Berger, Messrs. Dantata and Sawoe and CGC Nigeria Limited.

On arrival at the Idu Transfer Station which is still under construction, President Jonathan received technical briefing from officials of the FCT and the contracting firm, CCECC before inspecting facilities at the station.

He noted in a brief remarks after the inspection of the facility that the Light Rail project was important for Nigerians particularly Abuja residents and therefore dismissed fears that it could be abandoned by the incoming administration of Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd).

He said he had personally inspected  progress in the project in order to know what exactly to tell Buhari when both of them would discuss.

Stressing the importance of rail development in effective mass transit in the country, Jonathan observed that it was the cheapest and most inefficient modern mass transit system.

The President who expressed satisfaction with the level of work on the rail project specially commended the Ministers of the FCT and the contractors handling the job for a job well done.

He said: “I emphasised the need for train system in terms of developing an effective mass transit in any nation.

“We will be talking about mass transit and you cannot talk about mass transit using taxis, small cars, even the luxurious buses. It will be too expensive.

“Until our rail system works, that’s why we are emphasising intercity and intra city, normal rail intra city light rail systems.

“Of course, this government is leaving on the 29th. The incoming government will definitely continue because this is a noble project to Nigerians especially residents of the FCT.

“We are quite appreciative of the level of cooperation. The CCECC has been doing very well. Of course, the Ministry of the Federal Capital Territory. They are doing wonderfully well.

“I’m quite impressed. I have be wanting to come and inspect the project for a very long time but for challenges in terms of my commitments.

“I think, this period, I really need to so that when I am having conversation with the incoming president, I will know exactly what to tell him because I have seen it myself, I have seen the level of completion.

“Of course, you know the usefulness of this project in terms of easing the movement of the people in the Federal Capital Territory.

“I have to congratulate Nigerians for this project.”

Also speaking, the FCT Minister assured that the rail project would be completed by August this year as all equipment needed for the completion have been delivered.

He said the Jonathan administration was able to secure a financial plan of $500millon loan for the project while Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme (SURE-P) provided N20billion counterpart funding.

“Right now we have taken up to 61 percent of the sum. We do not have so much of financing challenges except for the next fiscal year which has been accommodated in the budget,” according to Senator Mohammed.

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