Reps Not Aware Of Fuel Subsidy Removal – Gbajabiamila

Ossai Ovie Success Blog

Reps Not Aware Of Fuel Subsidy Removal – Gbajabiamila

 

MAJORITY Leader, House of Representatives, Honourable Femi Gbajabiamila, said on Wednesday that the 360-member parliament is not aware of government plans to remove fuel subsidy, but declared that the issue would be tabled before the House for debate once it resumed in January.

 

Gbajabiamila said this at a press conference in Lagos while giving reports of activities of the eighth House, disclosing that the parliament was able to perform better than the one it took over from, having sponsored 327 bills as against 132 presented within the first six months of the seventh Assembly

 

The House Leader, while insisting that the House was not aware of any plan to remove fuel subsidy as government had not communicated its decision to the National Assembly, said that what had been heard so far were pronouncements from some quarters that should not be taken as government position.

 

Honourable Gbajabiamila, however, said his view on subsidy removal was different, expressing the belief that if government will remove it at all, “certain things need to be done before that.”

 

“So, that’s the debate for another day. I think that is the debate we would have on the floor of the House if and when the issue of subsidy comes up. Now, everything is just speculation. I have read in the papers statements from certain quarters, including minister, seeming to suggest that subsidy would be removed.

 

“For me, I think it is one thing for the government to remove subsidy and I don’t think government is doing that and I would not encourage that.

 

“Again, it’s a debate for another time. We will engage in that debate when we get back to the House in January,” he said.

 

Gbajabiamila disclosed that the House has resolved to debate, in the New Year, whether or not the electricity tariff should be increased as well as conclude work on the controversial Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), which he said could be broken into three segments to make for easier passage.

 

Speaking on the activities of the House in the last six months, the lawmaker said the highest number of bills treated within six-month period since the eighth Assembly was inaugurated was a clear demonstration of its resolve to make laws and embark on legislative activities for the good governance of Nigeria.

 

Giving breakdown of the bills, he said, “In the first six months of the eighth Assembly, a total of 327 bills were sponsored as against 132 presented within the first six months of the seventh Assembly. 264 bills have passed through first reading and awaiting second reading while a total of 40 bills have been referred to committees.”

 

Speaking on the rationale that led to the presentation of 130 bills for first reading in just one day, Gbajabiamila said, “Let me quickly pre-empt those who have questioned the rationale behind the presentation of 130 bills for first reading in one day.

 

“Our legislature is presently confronted with so many defective and obsolete provisions in our laws. What the current House has done is to put its members and the National Institute for Legislative Studies to work and in the course of reviewing existing laws, discovered provisions in our laws that had become obsolete both in language, spirit and effect.

 

“The Institute, therefore, recommended these bills for amendments and repeals. It was an all-encompassing exercise targeted at flushing out irrelevant and obsolete provisions from our laws. This step has been applauded by experts and it is the resolve of the House to continue to process these bills until they become law.”

 

According to him, in spite of a bumpy start in June when the House was inaugurated, the House has been able to step up to the plate and has busied itself in working for the progress of Nigeria.

 

“In keeping with the resolve of the president to address the issues of insecurity, unemployment and corruption amongst others, we developed a legislative agenda that will guide the House in achieving its set objectives.

 

“The bills and motions sponsored and passed so far are clear demonstrations of the house’s resolve to make laws and embark on legislative activities for the good governance of Nigeria.

 

“Bills have been presented and resolutions passed to address the issues of insecurity, unemployment, economic reform, reform in the oil and gas sector of the economy etc.

 

“We are not there yet but we intend as a House to vigorously align with the hopes and aspirations of the Nigerian masses,” he said.

 

Gbajabiamila said that the eighth Assembly, in its six months of existence, investigated many issues that affected the development of the health, education, power and energy sectors.

 

He said they also investigated and deliberated on welfare of IDPs and victims of terrorism, good governance and anti-corruption, transportation, security and came up with resolutions.

 

Gbajabiamila said the house intended to pursue the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill in the coming year and present further amendment to the constitution.

 

He said the amendment was to provide a more perfect document that would guide the nation.

 

“As a House, we have, through the instrumentality of the law, extended the 2015 capital budget to March 2016 in conformity with our constitution which prescribes a 12-month budget span, thereby ensuring the continuation of the infrastructural development envisaged in the 2015 budget.

 

“On the 2016 budget, we will look at the proposals and the document with a fine tooth comb, dot the ‘Is’ and cross the ‘Ts’ where and if necessary,” he said.

 

Gbajabiamila said the eighth Assembly would appreciate continued support and understanding of Nigerians. 

 

 Tribune.

US Embargo Forced Jonathan To Buy Arms With Raw Cash –Fani-Kayode

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US Embargo Forced Jonathan To Buy Arms With Raw Cash –Fani-Kayode

 

FORMER Aviation Minis­ter, Femi Fani-Kayode has said former president Good­luck Jonathan was forced to buy arms with cash because of the embargo placed on arms purchase.

 

Speaking as a guest on Channels Television’s breakfast programme, Sun­rise Daily, Fani-kayode dis­missed a statement credited to President Muhammadu Buhari, who said Jonathan bought arms with raw cash. The former minister said contrary to the impression the present administration wants to create in the minds of Nigerians; there was nothing wrong with buying arms with cash under the previous administration. He explained that the embargo placed on arms purchase by western countries like the United States of America forced Jonathan to purchase arms with cash.

 

He said: “There was an embargo on arms purchase in Nigeria and the military needed the arms to fight against terrorists and the only way arms could be bought was through the black market. Before the 2015 general election, the military had made sufficient gains in the war against ter­ror because they were able to recover 22 local govern­ments from the terrorists, but all that appears to have been reversed after the elec­tions.

 

“Contrary to the assurance given by the present admin­istration, the war against terror has not been won by the military and people are being killed every day. The government had claimed on December 23 that the war against insurgency had been won by the military, but on December 25, some people were killed in Maiduguri, with more casualties in Borno on December 27 and in Adamawa on December 28. It is simply not true that the war against Boko Haram has been won.”

 

He further stated that it is not helpful to continuously blame the present admin­istration for the challenges being faced at the war front but called on Nigerians to come together and support the government in the fight against insurgency. He also advised the government to come clean about the chal­lenges being faced and stop dwelling on actions of the previous administration.

 

The Sun.

DELTA SPEAKER LISTS ACHIEVEMENTS

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Delta Speaker lists achievements

 

The Speaker of the Delta State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon Monday Igbuya on Thursday reminisced on the first seven months of the Sixth Assembly, describing it as “wonderful”

 

Igbuya in a New Year message to Deltans at home and abroad said that the period would remain evergreen in his memory.

 

He listed the Delta State Capital Territory Development Agency Law, 2015, Delta State Technical and Vocational Education Board Law, 2015, Delta State Oil Producing Areas Development Law, 2015, Delta State Appropriation (Amendment) Law, 2015 and the Delta State Contributory Health Commission Law, 2015 as major achievements of the Sixth Legislative Assembly.

 

Igbuya, who described the performance of his colleagues for the first seven months as impressive, vowed to introduce more growth and reforms in the state.

 

He urged his colleagues to set new goals to quicken the pace of development in the state.

 

 

“I am committed to deepening legislative measures that will support government’s effort at guaranteeing peace, welfare and security of Deltans.

 

Igbuya did not fail in telling the executive branch of the government on how to make progress.

 

Indeed, he said Nigeria could no longer depend on oil and gas based economy.

 

“To grow our way to a higher standard of living in 2016, we must diversify the country’s economy. We must think of new revenue sources”.

 

He pledged to work with Governor Ifeanyi Okowa to improve the lots of the people of the state.

 

 ‘Happiness of the people is the foremost objective of the current administration. The state is taking giant steps forward. Governor Ifeanyi Okowa is leading by building consensus on all issues” he said.

 

He said the state would be stronger, united and prosperous in 2016.

 

“2016 is our year of hope and great expectations”

 

He commended the people for their commitment to democracy and their desire for positive change in the state. 

 

 “Whatever political or personal differences we may have, the love for the state should be a shared focus, enough for us to work hand-in-hand for its continued development" he said.               

 

 He also urged Nigerians to remain peaceful and united.

 

Ending the message, he said “I thank God for His bountiful blessings for Delta State. I wish all Deltans a happy, peaceful and prosperous New Year”

FG declares tomorrow as public holiday

Ossai Ovie Success Blog

FG declares tomorrow as public holiday

ABUJA—The Federal Government has declared Friday, January 1, 2016 as public holiday to mark the New Year celebration.

 

The declaration was made on behalf of the Federal Government by the Minister of Interior, Gen. Abdulrahman Dambazau (retd).

 

He called on Nigerians, irrespective of their religious inclinations, to inculcate the spirit of the season as exemplified by love, joy and peaceful co-existence.

 

Dambazau also urged all Nigerians to continue to promote the unity of the country in its progress towards building a nation devoid of rancour and bitterness.

IGBOS SHOULD EXPLAIN HOW THEY ARE BEING MARGINALISED – BUHARI 

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IGBOS SHOULD EXPLAIN HOW THEY ARE BEING MARGINALISED – BUHARI 

 

President Muhammadu Buhari, Wednesday said the Igbo should explain what they mean by being marginalized in the country.

 

President Muhammadu Buhari was reacting to the protest by some persons from the southeastern part of the calling, calling for the independent state of Biafra.

 

The president, while speaking at the just concluded maiden edition of his presidential media chat, said the frontliner of the pro-Biafra protest, Nnamdi Kanu has committed atrocities against the nation.

 

“The Igbo should explain what they mean by marginalization. Who is marginalizing them? I contested and won my election and I appointed the right people into my government.

 

“If they feel marginalized, who is the Minister of Petroleum, who is the Minister for Labour, what about Science and Technology.

 

“Do you know the level of atrocities the Kanu of Biafra has committed? This man came into the country with sophisticated weapons. This is a man who has two passports. One Nigerian passport and British.

 

“He came into Nigeria without any passport and was broadcasting his pirate Radio Biafra against the people of Nigeria. There’s a case of treason felony against him already,” he added.

Daily Post 

WHY WE CAN’T RELEASE DASUKI, KANU — BUHARI

Ossai Ovie Success Blog

WHY WE CAN'T RELEASE DASUKI, KANU — BUHARI

 

President Muhammadu Buhari has given reasons why his government has refused to release a former National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki, and the coordinator of the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu, despite several court directives.

 

Mr. Dasuki, who is facing trial for allegedly diverting and sharing over $2.2 billion dollars meant for arms procurement for the anti-Boko Haram war, to politicians and cronies, was on Wednesday re-arrested by the State Security Service after he had been granted bail by three different courts.

 

Mr. Kanu, who is spearheading the quest for an independent nation of Biafra, was earlier granted bail by a Federal high Court sitting in Abuja, but he was also re-arrested by the SSS, which slammed a fresh charge of treasonable felony against him.

 

Speaking during his first presidential media chat at the presidential Villa in Abuja on Wednesday, Mr. Buhari said the two accused persons cannot be allowed to enjoy any form of freedom due to the enormity of their offenses.

 

“”If you see the atrocities these people committed against this country, we can’t allow them to jump bail,” he said.

 

Mr. Buhari said Mr. Dasuki was simply sharing government’s money the way he liked.

 

“They would just say to Central Bank give so and so, 40 billion naira just like that; 40 billion,” he said.

 

He also said it would be bad to allow Mr. Dasuki “travel to London to see his doctor” arguing, “What of the over two million people displaced, most of them orphans whose fathers have been killed, what type of government do you want to run? We cannot allow that”.

 

Mr. Buhari also said despite having two international passports, one for Britain and the other for Nigeria, Mr. Kanu “did not use any of them to come into the country”.

 

He also said the IPOB leader smuggled in equipment with which he came in to preach hate messages.

Premiumtime 

PRESIDENTIAL MEDIA CHAT: BUHARI’S MAIDEN CHAT — LIVE UPDATES

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PRESIDENTIAL MEDIA CHAT: BUHARI’S MAIDEN CHAT — LIVE UPDATES

 

President Muhammadu Buhari is tonight hosting his maiden Presidential Media Chat since assuming office on May 29 this year.

 

The challenges confronting Nigeria – insecurity, the economy, corruption, dearth of infrastructure – are still largely the same issues the last administration grappled with.

 

The presidency promised in the past to entertain questions from Nigerians via telephone, although the phone failed to work during those episodes of the programme.

 

Critics believe the phones were programmed not to work as a way of blocking citizens from asking the president embarrassing questions.

 

So, in case you are able to reach the president on the programme today, we suggest you put these questions we have raised to him, in addition to others you might have.

 

We also urge the editors, who will interview the president, to consider asking him some of the suggested questions.

 

Our reporters are providing live updates of the session.

President Muhammadu Buhari is tonight hosting his maiden Presidential Media Chat since assuming office on May 29 this year.

 

The challenges confronting Nigeria – insecurity, the economy, corruption, dearth of infrastructure – are still largely the same issues the last administration grappled with.

 

The presidency promised in the past to entertain questions from Nigerians via telephone, although the phone failed to work during those episodes of the programme.

 

Critics believe the phones were programmed not to work as a way of blocking citizens from asking the president embarrassing questions.

 

So, in case you are able to reach the president on the programme today, we suggest you put these questions we have raised to him, in addition to others you might have.

 

We also urge the editors, who will interview the president, to consider asking him some of the suggested questions.

 

Our reporters are providing live updates of the session.

 

==================

 

Live Blog

21.01

 

President Buhari appeals to Nigerian journalists to do more investigative journalism about important national issues.

 

21.00

 

Regarding the continuous detention of Sambo Dasuki and Nnamdi Kanu: Buhari said, "If you see the atrocities those committed against this country, we can't allow them to jump bail."

 

20.49

 

Buhari: "The Minister of Finance and the Central Bank have to sit down immediately to look at ways to help students who are already outside the country to overcome the challenges posed by the foreign exchange limitation policy."

 

20.48

 

President Buhari says foreign exchange will be made available to the productive sector of the economy and not for luxury items.

 

20.43

20.41

 

20.34

 

Buhari: "Our parastatals would be realigned in view of the lesser number of Ministries we have now.

 

"We are being economically stretched."

20.33

 

The process of government agencies earning monies and spending them and giving government change will have to stop. All government monies have to be paid to the Federation Account and a budget submitted for their operations.

 

20.29

 

Buhari: "China agreed to pay 70% of cost of railway projects between Lagos and Kaduna and Lagos and Calabar, but previous government failed to pay counterpart funding of 30%.

 

"You cannot get a better deal anywhere in the world.

 

"I can't see the National assembly paying 4.5 Billion Naira to buy cars after collecting transport allowance. I will revisit that story.

 

"We have to live within our means."

20.25

 

Buhari: "Most government officials are new in office. We said Agriculture and Solid minerals are the easiest way to get people employed and our budget would show that.

 

"We have virtually all forms of solid minerals across Nigeria.

 

"We would employ youth, give them crash programme on Education and send them to teach at Primary schools.

 

"Fashola was not made a super Minister for nothing."

 

20.23

 

NOTENigerians are expected to send in their questions via twitter, using the hashtag #askbuhi

 

Buhari: I turned down a N400million car proposal for the presidency. I said the cars I have are good enough for 10 years. We are having problem with the National Assembly regarding TSA. I have to holding a closed-door meeting with the National Assembly regarding the cars they are trying to buy. I hope they haven't bought them yet. They can't buy cars for themselves and also take money in car loans.

 

20.16

 

Buhari: "Our priority now is to get our refineries working. By the time we finish what we are doing., 60 per cent of the allocation of crude oil for local refining and 40 per cent would be used for crude oil swap."

 

20.14

 

Buhari: Previous government failed to maintain four refineries, pump stations and pipelines, at a time Oil was sold at over a 0.

 

20.10

 

"By the end of next quarter, you will not be talking of subsidy. The price is so low that there is no need to subsidise anything."

 

20.09

 

"I will not support devaluation of the Naira. I need to be convinced that there is need for the country to devalue the Naira. Is it against the dollar or pound?

 

"We have our priorities. To provided money to fund the projects we have already outlined, and not for those who want hard currency to import textile and toothpick."

 

20.06

 

NAIRA DEVALUATION

 

"Personally, I don't support the devaluation of the Naira. We handed over a secured country in 1979, but by 1984, nobody knew how much Nigeria was owing.

 

"The situation now is aggravated by the downturn in the petroleum industry. It is now per barrel and we have debt service of about N1.5 trillion and we have commitment on the ground.

 

"We have to reorganize the NNPC. We have to introduce the TSA. There were 45 accounts in the NNPC alone. Ministry of Defence had about 70 accounts.

 

"We have got about N1.5 trillion through the TSA.

 

"The oil downturn is very unfortunate for this government.

 

"Check previous records. Over 90% were recurrent. No country can develop without capital projects. We were in very very bad shape."

20.02

 

"When I said that the war has been technical won, I said the capacity of Boko Haram to unleash attacks from camps and barracks have been stopped.

 

"If Hijap is found to be a problem, the government will have no option than to take a decision on it. The people will have to consider between it and their security."

 

19.57

 

"If this thing (suicide bombing) continues, Hijab would have to be banned."

 

19.56

 

"I said the capacity of Boko Haram to attack institutions or communities have been stopped. But the use of IEDs has assumed a different proportion."

 

19.55

 

On Shiites/Military clash; why the silence?

 

"I was in touch with the governor of Kaduna state and the president of Iran talked to me about it.

 

"We have a system of investigation as a government and as the head of the federal government, I have to wait for official report before I comment.

 

"The Police and the SSS are doing their own role of finding out what happened.

 

"In any incident where lives and property were lost there is a standard way of doing things and people would be asked to come and give evidence.

 

"How can any group create a state within a state?

 

"I saw a clip in which some dissidents were virtually hitting the chest of Generals."

 

19.54

 

"I expect the Kaduna State government will bring the report on the inquiry because the crisis happened in its domain. There are all sorts of allegations. So, we just have to wait for the report."

 

19.53

 

"The President of Iran spoke to me about the situation. But, I told him that as a government we have a system we must follow. "As the head of the Federal Government, I told him I will have to wait for the official report from the Kaduna State government from their investigations.

 

 "To be fair to the both sides, we have to wait for the report of the inquiry."

 

19.48

 

President Buhari says he will only comment on the Shi'ite crisis after receiving reports of investigations by the police and Kaduna State Government.

 

19.46

 

"The Benin IDP camp is a good intention that went sour. "Despite the problem, the Edo State Governor, Adams Oshiomhole, was kind enough to have found school for the children. "The Federal Government is aware of the situation and ready to take them to where they came from."

 

19.42

 

Internally Displaced Persons

 

"We have about two million IDPs, over 70% are women and children. Over 65% of the children are orphans.

 

"Some Nigerians contributed money, about 25 Billion Naira, a committee was set up to utilise the funds.

 

"Within the week I was sworn in, I went to Chad and Niger.

 

"I was impressed with the goodwill they gave Nigeria on this issue.

 

"The G7 has sent training teams, and have given us some military hardware.

 

"We are more concerned with the orphans, a chance for them not to lose the opportunity for education. Some progress is being made on the ground."

 

19.36

 

"We are working with Niger, Chad and Cameroun on the girls. We have no credible intelligence of where they are."

 

19.35

 

CHIBOK GIRLS

 

"We want to be sure that the girls are complete, safe and sound before we attempt any form of negotiation on the girls.

 

"We are still keeping our option. If a credible leadership of Boko Haram is ready for negotiation without any condition we are ready to listen to them."

 

19.30

 

"I have declared four times. All of them were done in the Ministry of Justice. If those agencies have refused to release my asset declaration documents, they should be held responsible to answer questions why they are keeping those declaration.

 

"If there is any member of my cabinet that is found to be corrupt, I will not only sack the person, I will prosecute the person."

 

19.29

 

"By the end of the first quarter of next year, we will tell Nigerians how far we have gone on the fight against corruption. "I swore by the Holy Koran to defend the country's constitution and the law. So, we will not put any body above the law."

 

19.28

 

"I cannot make the mistake of appointing anyone with corruption.

 

"Whoever is found to be corrupt would not only be sacked but prosecuted."

 

19.28

 

People on your party are being shielded from investigation?

 

"I don't tolerate corruption and I did not pick anyone that will corrupt my government.

 

"It is the right of Nigerians to take them to court. I have not taken anybody who is facing corruption charges."

 

19.25

 

STILL ON CRUDE OIL THEFT

 

The problem of NNPC is the involvement of international institutions such as shipping lines and financial institutions.

 

We would ask for the cooperation of other countries to get monies lodged from sales of oil in different accounts and not that of the Federal Government.

 

ASSET DECLARATION NOT SO PUBLIC AFTER ALL, NOT FULLY MADE.

 

"I have declared my assets four times in the past. You have the constitutional right to go to the relevant government agency to go and seek for it.

 

"They were deposited at the Ministry of Justice. If Ministry of Justice cannot produce my asset declaration form, then they too should answer some questions.

 

"Why me alone, why not others who were governors and Ministers as well. I think I don't have to ask them to give, it is your constitutional role."

 

19.21

 

By the end of the first quarter of next year, we will tell Nigerians how far we have gone on the fight against corruption. I swore by the Holy Koran to defend the country's constitution and the law. So, we will not put any body above the law.

 

19.20

 

Is there need to rejig the EFCC, ICPC?

 

Buhari: We have to be very sure of the documents we get and we have to cross check records sometimes across countries and in the EFCC.

 

Those who were engaged in the theft of oil were people of substance and have the wealth to hire the best of lawyers to defend them.

 

We need to submit fool-proof documents to succeed in prosecution.

 

How many people have ICPC prosecuted in the past? That is why we are being thorough now.

 

By the end of first quarter of next year, we would be in a position to tell Nigerians how far we have gone.

 

19.18

 

"We have to be patient and await outcome of courts decision. Government will only react through the Ministry of Justice after the courts have finished with matters before them

 

"We have documents showing where monies have been lodged."

 

19.17

 

"Our constraint is that the accused persons have to defend themselves in court to defend themselves. So, we cannot release their names to the public until the issues are completed in court. Whatever we recover will be presented in court. "The documentation in court include bank statements and documents from Customs Service that are to be presented in court. Until then, we ask Nigerians to have patience."

 

19.16

 

Mr. Akintemi fired the first shot. He asked the President how long the honeymoon with Nigerians would last.

 

He asked: How are we doing with the fight against corruption?

 

The President responded, saying the country was doing very well considering the circumstances.

 

"Thirty years ago as Head of State, we collected those we perceived to be corrupt and put them in protective custody, until they prove they were not guilty

 

"At present, those suspected of being corrupt are innocent until they are proven guilty

 

"We have documents showing Nigerian crude oil was lifted illegally and proceeds are put into personal accounts instead of Government account.

 

"We are in court with suspected corrupt persons and we cannot comment until the court are through.

 

"We can only appeal to Nigerians to be patient."

 

19.12

 

The panel of interviewers are Kayode Akintemi (Channels TV), Ngozi Anyaegbulam (Media World International), Munir Dan Ali (Daily Trust) and Ibanga Isine (PREMIUM TIMES).

 

19.10

 

Welcome to our liveblog of President Buhari's maiden presidential media chat.

Premiumtime

BUHARI MADE 17 FOREIGN TRIPS IN SEVEN MONTHS –INVESTIGATION

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BUHARI MADE 17 FOREIGN TRIPS IN SEVEN MONTHS –INVESTIGATION

 

President Muhammadu Buhari has so far travelled out of the country 17 times since his inauguration as the President on May 29.

 

The PUNCH’s investigation revealed that since June, there was no month that Buhari did not travel out of the country on official engagements.

 

There were several times that the President was represented abroad by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.

 

Buhari’s trips caused a row on the social media recently with some commentators holding the view that the President “visits” Nigeria and spent more time abroad.

 

The criticism was premised on the argument that an economy that had been negatively affected by the sharp drop in oil prices could not continue to fund numerous foreign trips by the President and his aides.

 

An analysis carried out by our correspondent showed that Buhari travelled out of the country four times in June; three times each in September and November; twice each in July and December; once each in August and October.

 

Shortly after his inauguration, Buhari, on June 3 and 4, travelled to Niger Republic and Chad for consultations on how to tackle terrorism in the country and the region.

 

On June 7, he travelled to Germany to attend the G-7 Summit and proceeded to South Africa on June 13 for the African Union Summit in continuation of talks on the anti-terrorism fight.

 

In July, the President embarked on a four-day official visit to the United States of America on the 19th and proceeded to Cameroon for a two-day visit on July 29.

 

The only foreign trip he made in August was a one-day visit to Benin Republic on August 1.

 

That visit was also for the continuation of talks on the Boko Haram insurgency.

 

In September, Buhari embarked on a one-day visit to Ghana on the 7th; a three-day official visit to France on the 14th and travelled to New York for the 70th United Nations General Assembly on September 24.

 

The only trip he made in October was when he travelled to New Delhi in India on October 27 for the Indian-African Forum.

 

On November 22, the President travelled to Tehran, Iran, for the third Gas Exporting Countries’ Forum. On November 26, he proceeded to Malta to participate in the 2015 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting while he travelled to Paris, France, on November 29 for the United Nations’ Climate Change Conference.

 

On December 3, Buhari went to South Africa to participate in the Forum on China/Africa Cooperation in Johannesburg while he travelled to the Republic of Benin on December 10 for the funeral rites of the late President Mathieu Kerekou.

 

In the wake of the criticisms that trailed the trips, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, in an opinion article, explained that Buhari’s foreign trips were not for enjoyment or jamboree.

 

He explained that Buhari had slashed the number of members of his delegations on the trips “to a tolerable or the bearable minimum.”

 

He claimed that the President went to the United Nations General Assembly in September with 32 officials in his delegation, including his cook, doctor and luggage officer while, according to him, former President Goodluck Jonathan went to the same meeting with 150 officials and family members in 2014.

 

He explained that wherever they were given government accommodation and feeding, members of Buhari’s entourage received reduced allowances, thereby saving the government some money.

 

Justifying the trips further, Shehu added, “In public diplomacy, experts say that it is better conducted through face-to-face interaction than through third parties. This is even more so at the level of heads of state.

 

“To do it by proxy is to miss the effect of fostering strong interpersonal relations between leaders by which nations benefit.”

 

The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, also issued a statement justifying the foreign trips of the President.

 

Mohammed explained that such trips by Buhari, since assuming office, were critical to the implementation of his administration’s key policies of enhancing security, jump-starting the economy, creating jobs and fighting corruption.

 

Copyright PUNCH.