By Suleiman Umaru
President Muhammadu Buhari, a retired army general, appears to have sent a message to the serving ministers and other political appointees’’ to sit up or be sacked’’.
The Katsina state born Nigerian President who is in a hurry to deliver on his 2019, electioneering Campaign promises in the next 20 months , described as the last lap of the Administration, may have taken advantage of the Federal Executive Council , FEC, meeting on Wednesday, September1, 2021, shocked Mohammed Nanono, minister of Agriculture and Rural Development and Saleh Mamman, an Engineer and minister of power. It was bombshell that may have taken the ministers unaware as they tried to figure what may have gone wrong to have warranted their sack.
The retired army General may have dropped hints why he dropped the duo from his Cabinet ‘’to reinvigorate for the last run and consolidate on the Administration’s legacy of performance on Projects’’. There is no gain saying the fact that Buhari had expected much from the sacked ministers as he had saddled them with the responsibility of overseeing the Anchor Borrowers Programme, ABP and Mass Metering Programme, MMP, policies of the government, respectively.
, Many believe that the sacked ministers could not have played into the hands of Buhari, if they have been alive to their duties, and ensure proper supervision of the two key projects of the Administration, which Political analysts had said , could have put the country on the path of food security and Industrialisation.
Recall that Buhari had pumped billions naira into the ABP AND MMP, projects to guarantee the country’s self –sufficiency in Local rice production, the government had improved power supply and metering of electricity consumers in the country.
In Launching the ABP, in November 2015, the Nigerian President was said to have approved a N220 billion take-off grant for it which was said to have been released to the SHFs, by the CBN under the close monitoring of Audu Ogbe, a –one time Chairman of the People’s Democatic Party, PDP, who had decamped to the All Progressive Congress, APC, and Compensated , with a ministerial appointment. Buhari had appointed him the minister of Agriculture and Rural Development in his first term in office but could not be retained in his second term in office to continue from where he had stopped on the implementation of the ABP.
His exit from the Buhari first term Cabinet,after his first term in office was said to have paved the way for Nanono, the north central state of Nasarawa born Politician to replace him. Given that he may not have been properly brief about the ABP, may have informed why he could not properly manage it, let alone ensure that the Nigerian rice are in the market at affordable price.
Only recently, the apex Bank had said it had disbursed about N791 billion to over, three million, SHFs, across the 36 states of the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory, FCT. The amount was said to have been released to the farmers through approve 11 participating Banks across the country.
Yusuf Yila, the apex Bank Director , Development Finance Department, had said that the government financial support to the SHFs, was basically‘’to improve their yields, particular, rice, from the initial two metric tons to four metric tons per hectare. This is yet to be achieved.
In spite of the fact that the Nigerian government, had supported to the Local rice farmers through the ABP, and the ban on the importation of Foreign par boiled rice in to the country through the Land borders and the country seaports, which should have given Nanono, the former minister of Agriculture and Rural Development ,an opportunity to effectively monitor the SHFs, he had watched as the SHFs and their dealers who ought to leverage on the government to dominate the local market compete with foreign importers and their smugglers.
The former minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, could not convince the 79 year-old, Nigerian President, why Nigerian rice are not in the market as expected. Unknown to the minister gets monthly Bureau of Statistics report on the price of Commodities in the Nigerian market including CBN, reports, that he may have come to the conclusion that Nanono may have go as he has not exhibited any competence to manage the ABP.
Investigations by The Value news shows that the Local rice farmers may have taken advantage of the government policy banning the importation of Foreign into the country to sell at cut-throat price to dealers, as a 50Kg, bag of the Locally produced rice with stone goes for N24, 000 and an additional N500.00, used for destining it, meaning that with the cost of Transportation , the landing cost to a dealer’s shop, could be close it about N27,00 while a ‘’50Kg bag of Foreign rice , found in any Nigerian market goes for N27, 000.00 including the cost of Transportation. This may have informed why Nigerians may have lost interest in the locally produced rice.
The inability of the SHFs, to meet the Agricultural Commodities demand, particular, rice, may have forced the transit foreign rice importers to go back to the drawing board to restrategise on how their rice imports through the Autonomous port of Benin, Cotonou and Bollore port, also, in Benin Republic including other ports in the eneighbouring West African sub-region would enter into the Nigerian market. They had their way. From Ogun, Oyo, Lagos, Kwara, Katsina, Sokoto, Kebbi to Cross-river, state the story is the same: Foreign rice gradually returning back into the Nigerian market.
The ministerial lapses noticed in the ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development was also said to be applicable in the ministry of Power which had Mamman, from Taraba, Theophilous Danjuma, a retired army General and former minister of Defence during Olusegun Obasanjo Presidency home state.
Yila, the CBN, Director, who has been in the news in the recent time ,had said that the Bank disbursed N312 billion on energy infrastructure support through the national Mass Metering Programme, MMP.
The MMP, was said to have been Launched by Buhari to accelerate mass metering of electricity Consumers by providing loan facility to the 11 Distribution Companies, DICOs for procurement of meters for its Customers and the local meter Manufacturers for Manufacturing and assembling of meters, which many believe was a failure. This may have put Mamman on the bad book of the Nigerian President which was said to have earned his sack. For now, Nasarawa and Taraba states have no representatives in the Buhari Cabinet until the Nanono and Mamman are placed.
In a related development, Ahmad Lawan, the Senate President had attributed ‘’ leadership deficit’’ as one of the factors ‘’ preventing Nigerian from achieving sustainable economic growth and development as well as addressing the problem of high level of insecurity in the country over the last six years’’.
Nasir El-Rufai,a former minister of the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, during Obasanjo Administration and now , governor of Kaduna, had said that Buhari, finds it difficult to sack his Political appointees, meaning that if he is in his position , many of the non-performing ministers could have been relieved of their appointments long ago.
Recall that it took him time to relieve Gabriel Olonisakin, an army General and Former Chief of Defence Staff, CDS, and other service Chiefs, one year after they had spent the mandatory 35 years in the service to retire them. Even when he finally made up his mind to retire them from the service, he had Compensated them with Ambassadorial designate positions. Take for instance, Tukur Yusuf Buratai, a retired Lt. General and former Chief of Army Staff, COAS, was appointed the country’s Ambassador
Lawan , who may have read the handwriting on the wall of the deficit Leadership in the country had told that cares to listen that ‘’the Leadership gap needed to be bridged at the Federal, state and Local government levels, for the country can make any headway in governance’’.
Describing the insecurity situation across the country as very worrisome, he has urged the military and other security agencies personnel’’ to put more efforts in routing the Bandits who have virtually taken over the forest in the north western states of Zamfara, Kaduna and Kastina.
Ibrahim Dosara, the state Commissioner for Information, had said that there are over 100 Camps of the Bandits in the state with over 32,000 armed followers scattered throughout the state. Many believe that it is from the Zamfara and Kaduna Camps, that these Bandits extend their attacks to Kebbi, Sokoto Niger, home state of Ibrahim Babangida, a retired army General and former military Prsident and late Solomon Lar, pioneer Chairman , of the Opposition People’s Democratic Party, PDP, home state of Plateau.
Bernard Onyeuko, a Brigadier General and Spokesperson of the Defence Headquarters on Thursday, September 1, 2021, had confirmed that no fewer than 5,890 Boko Haram ad ISWAP , Insurgents , comprising ofg their foot soldiers and Commanders have surrendered with their family members to the Operation Hadin Kai, troops, between August 12, 2021 and Friday, September 3, 2021.
Musa Adamu, popular, Mala Musa Abuja, the Insurgent Groups Chief Bomb Manufacturer and Usman Adamu, better known as Abu Darda, another Bomb expert and next to Adamu the, Chef Bomb Manufacturer, who had surrendered to the Operation Hadin Kai, troops, on Saturday, August 7, 2021, at Bama Local Government Area of Borno state, along with their 746 family members and 335 loyalties including one of the indoctrinated Chibk girls kidnapped in 2014, were said to have opened the flood gate for the Insurgents to surrender in their hundreds.
In spite of the mass surrender of the Insurgents in the north east states of Borno , particular, there had been pockets of resistance of the BokoHaram and ISWAP Fighters in some parts of the state and Yobe, forcing the Troops of the 25 Brigade operating under the aegies of the Multi-national Joint Task Force and Operation Hadin Kai, to embark on Counter-offensive , killing six members of the ISWAP, Group along Damboa-Bulabulin –Maiduguri road on Wednesday, September1,2021.
This is a clear warning to the Nigerian military to be on their guide on how they receive this repentant terrorists to avoid throwing the north east states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe, into another mess that may spread to other states in the region.
The fear being expressed in several quarters is that with the intensified Counter-offence atatcks by Operation Hadi Kai troops in Borno and Yobe states, may have encouraged most of the Boko Haram and ISWAP, fighters in the north east to relocate to Zamfara, Kaduna and Katsina states, to join the Bandits in order to sustain the tempo of attacks in the region. It is not surprising why the attacks in Zamfara, and Kaduna, in the recent weeks have become more deadly. The Bandits attack of the Nigerian Defence Academy NDA, in Kaduna, speaks volume.