The visit was at the instance of French President, Mr. Francois Hollande.
President Buhari will be accompanied on the visit by the National Security Adviser, Major-Gen. Babagana Monguno (retd.); Permanent Secretaries in the Ministries of Defence, Finance, Agriculture, Foreign Affairs, Industry, Trade and Investment as well as the Chief Executives of the Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission and the Nigerian Export Promotion Council.
Upon his arrival in Paris, President Buhari will hold talks with President Hollande and other senior French Government officials on bilateral cooperation between Nigeria and France in the areas of defence, security, trade and investments.
The meeting with President Hollande would hold at the Elysee Palace this evening.
Afterwards, President Buhari and his team will also confer with the French Minister of Defence, Mr. Jean-Yves Le Drian; the French Minister of Finance and Public Accounts, Mr. Michel Sapin; the French Minister of Economy and Industry, Mr. Emmanuel Macron and the French Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development, Mr. Laurent Fabius.
The President will also visit the headquarters of MEDEF, France’s largest federation of investors and employers, where he will participate in a France/Nigeria Investment Forum with leading Nigerian and French entrepreneurs.
President Buhari will also confer with the Chief Executive Officers of leading French multinational companies such as Total and Lafarge on their current and future investments in Nigeria.
A statement from the presidential spokesperson, Mr. Femi Adesina further stated that President Buhari’s other engagements in Paris included a meeting with African Ambassadors to France and an interactive session with members of the Nigerian community.
It is expected that the president will round off his visit on Wednesday and return to Abuja.
Among the list of those who were said to have been screened by the DSS are, former presidential candidate, Prof. Pat Utomi, Femi Falana (SAN), a former Governor of Osun State, Olagunsoye Oyinlola, a former finance commissioner in Lagos State, Mr. Wale Edun and Former Managing Director of Nigerian Breweries Limited, Mr. Festus Odimegwu.
Others in the list are, Abubakar Malami (SAN), former Chief of Army, Lt.-Gen. Abdulrahman Dambazu (retd.); an former chief executive of the Federal Inland Revenue, Mrs. Ifueko Omoigui-Okaru;.
Vanguard gathered from a source very close to the presidency who pleaded anonymity that the aforementioned nominees had appeared before the DSS for their screening at the weekend.
However, the nominees are yet to give any confirmation on the supposed screening which may not be far-fetched from the fact that appointments of this nature are treated cautiously in the official circle.
It was gathered that no fewer than 20 nominees had been so far screened by the DSS operatives since the exercise started.
Recall that the President had indicated in a chat with journalists in Accra, Ghana, on Monday that he would keep his promise of announcing names of his ministers this month.
Our source revealed that the screening process by the DSS involved conducting background checks on the careers of the nominees and operatives were also checking for records of the nominees with anti-graft and security agencies.
But he said in spite of the difficulties being faced in fighting these scourge, his administration would not relent in eliminating the vices from the nation’s body polity.
Buhari said this when the President of Togo, Faure Gnassingbe, visited him in Abuja on Thursday.
The President, who expressed appreciation for Gnassingbe’s visit and for his concern about regional security, said his regime was being challenged with the Boko Haram insurgency, oil theft, illegal fishing, oil pollution and illegal dumping of toxins in the country.
Buhari said it was not easy for his administration, which he said, was fighting on many fronts.
According to him, the government is contending with insurgency in the North-East and oil theft in the South-South while trying to provide infrastructure in the country at the same time.
He said, “His (Gnassingbe’s) concern about regional security made it imperative for him to organise a summit on maritime security and development in November to examine a lot of issues.
“As for Nigeria, we are grateful for the sympathy and the goodwill expressed, touching on the performance of our armed forces and law enforcement agencies, since this administration came into being. It is not easy trying to fight on so many fronts, the North-East, the South-South and then try to provide infrastructure in our country.”
The President observed that the cooperation of the regional countries comprising Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Benin Republic had resulted in the isolation of Boko Haram and peace in the region.
He also advised African countries to pay attention to agriculture and manufacturing to provide jobs for the jobless.
Earlier, the Togolese President had invited Buhari to a security and piracy summit scheduled for Lome in November.
Gnassingbe said his country was organising the summit because $7bn had been lost to piracy in the Gulf of Guinea.
The Togolese leader told Buhari that the security summit would deal with issues of piracy, oil theft, environmental pollution, immigration as well as human and drug trafficking.
He therefore called on African nations to collaborate to combat the scourge and security challenges in the sub-region.
Gnassingbe commended Buhari and the Nigerian security forces for the work they were doing to combat terrorism in West Africa.
When asked by journalists if African countries were not hosting too many summits, Gnassingbe disagreed, saying the summits were not enough.
He said, “Piracy alone costs the Gulf of Guinea $7bn a year, that is what we lose for not combating it and we also know that without cooperation you cannot combat piracy, but the first stage is to come together and talk.
“If all the African countries are on the same page, it would be easy to tackle the security
challenges, so we have to keep holding summits, because individual countries cannot combat piracy effectively without cooperation.
“If you try to fight them in Togo, they go to the next country, then you don’t have the mechanism to go into the other countries. So, summits are necessary, they are not even sufficient.”
Urging Nigerians to ignore rumour mongering, Tinubu stated that both of them and indeed, the party’s utmost priority was to galvanize support for President Mohammadu Buhari to succeed.
Tinubu, also a former governor of Lagos state who was accompanied to the presidential villa on Wednesday with the former interim national chairman of APC, Chief Bisi Akande to meet with president Buhari spoke to State House Correspondents.
The APC leader also submitted that president Buhari was not going to rush in the appointment of ministers to avoid regrets later.
He said: “Don’t listen to rumous, there is no struggle. Our party is not even looking at the direction of power struggle or anything of such. The support structure is to encourage and support the President as you have heard from Chief Bisi Akande, to help him institutionalize his goal, principle and vision for a new Nigeria
“There is pitfall in rushing, quick fix, depending upon the depth of the rot. And that rush can cascade into mistakes of unimaginable magnitude. There is equally glory and recovery in slowness, when you have a slow fix of a bad foundation. So to me, I would rather take the one that will last the country and endure for a longer period of time than the rush hour shopping.”
On the speculation that he has brought list of names for ministerial appointment, he said “What can I do about that, they have the right to speculate, they have the right to their lies and I have the right to debunk”.
Tinubu who was reminded that the opposition party, the People’s Democratic Party, PDP had picked holes in the delays for ministerial appointments, calling him a dictator, Tinubu asked the party to “keep quiet”, saying that the party plunged the country into the present economic crisis.
“I disagree with that. He was elected on a platform of democracy, he has adhered to rule of law so far. What is dictatorship about what he has done? He has helped to stimulate the economy in the various states and that is where the people are. So what is dictatorship? And the institutional paralysis had occurred in the country.
“It is very important for a steady man like the President to really help the nation recover from the paralysis and that is what he is doing so I don’t see what is dictatorial about that. If they don’t have anything to say, they rather be quiet. They created what is wrong here today and we can’t sweep that under then carpet. There must be rule of law.”
Also speaking, chief Akande said they were in the villa to discuss the rot perpetrated by previous governments.
“Since Obasanjo’s first term and I understand that President Buhari inherited piles of rot in the Villa and I say let me see him, talk to him and report to my party with a view to knowing how to encourage him to change the rot to good. It is the rot, piles of rots upon rots”, he said.
In a statement, Governor Fayose commended the president for his efforts at ending the Boko Haram insurgency saying “I wish to call on all Nigerians to support the President in restoring peace to the Boko Haram ravaged North Eastern part of Nigeria.”
He, however, berated the Buhari administration for the alleged lopsided appointments, selective anti-corruption crusade and the recent invasion of the Akwa Ibom State Government House by officials of the Department of State Security, DSS.
Besides, he said “As at today, the only achievement recorded by the President Buhari’s government is the harassment of leaders of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and those perceived as not on the same political page with the president in his party.”
In addition, he said: “President Mohammadu Buhari’s government is now 100 days and even though I align with most Nigerians, who opined that 100 days is too short in the life of a government, it is important to make some clarifications as regards the administration. This is more so that the All Progressives Congress (APC) and some political jobbers that are looking for appointments are praising the President, citing imaginary achievements.”
Also, he said: “Former President Goodluck Jonathan and those who worked with him as well as PDP governors and leaders are now targets of harassment, and by this, the president is telling Nigerians that it does not pay to be honourable. Dr Goodluck Jonathan was honourable enough to allow a peaceful transition and conceded to the president even though it was obvious that his victory was questionable. Visiting such a person and those who worked with him with persecution as being done now, is no doubt a sad reminder of the reason we have many sit-tight leaders in Africa.
Interestingly, some of those who worked with Dr Goodluck Jonathan that the APC called thieves are now being appointed to manage the affairs of international organisations like the World Bank and African Development Bank.”
MORE than 513 days after the abduction of the Chibok Secondary School girls in Borno State, hopes of rescuing the girls en bloc vaporized as President Muhammadu Buhari, Tuesday, disclosed that they have been dispersed and some of them, especially Christians, married off against their faith.
President Buhari made the comments in an interview on BBC Hausa service on Tuesday.
Asked if he received any information about the whereabouts of the kidnapped Chibok girls, he said: “They (Boko Haram insurgents) have scattered them, and (they) are being guarded at dispersed locations. Most of the girls are Christians and were forced to embrace Islam. The sect’s cruel leaders have married some of the girls, obviously against their wish. Others have been left to practice their religion but their condition could hardly be ascertained.
“Both ground and air security personnel in the Sambisa forest could spot where the girls are, but since the insurgents have also kidnapped housewives and other women, no one could say whether they mixed them or how they dispersed them. But efforts are being intensified and as people know, the three neighbouring governments of Cameroon, Chad, and Niger are helping us since these suicide bombers are now going to their areas and detonating the bombs in mosques and other places.”
On his efforts to check the Boko Haram insurgency, Buhari said: “One of the decisions we took soon after we came into office was to change the service chiefs and we overhauled the infantry. We mandated the military chiefs to change the infantry, re-train them, equip them with adequate weapons and put trained and qualified commanders for the soldiers. The three states of Yobe, Borno and Adamawa know the successes being recorded now.
The former president Olusegun Obasanjo was in a secret meeting with President Buhari at the state house earlier today.
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Such meeting was first held at official residence of the president earlier last month.
The Tuesday meeting which lasted for over an hour was also held behind closed doors in the President’s office for over an hour.
Obasanjo who wore a flowing white gown ( Agbada ) refused to speak with State House Correspondents on his mission to the presidential villa despite all entreaties.
It is however believed that the ex-president’s visit may not be unconnected to his mission to Guinea Bissau where president he served as a special envoy to President Buhari in the country’s political crisis.
It will be recalled that Obasanjo at the instance of the president Buhari had gone to restore constitutional order following the dismissal of the Prime Minister, Mr. Domingos Simoes Pereira and his cabinet by President Jose Mario Vaz recently.
Buhari asked journalists to use the required law to dig up the records of his four separate asset declarations.
He said, “I recall that in 1975 when late Murtala Mohammed became the Head of State, we were lined up in the corridor – governors, ministers, members of the Supreme Military Council – and officials of the Ministry of Justice were brought and every individual was made to declare his assets.
“So right now, all heads of state and government, governors, ministers, permanent secretaries will have to declare their assets because it is a constitutional requirement.”
The President said it was a constitutional requirement that public officers declare their assets.
He said, “In Nigeria, it is a constitutional issue and that is why I am blaming you gentlemen of the press. If you really want to do investigative journalism, you don’t have to worry me at this stage; I have declared my assets four times.
“When I was governor in 1975, I declared. After being Minister of Petroleum and as a member of Supreme Military Council, I declared. When I was Head of State and now as a President, I also declared.
“I have declared my assets and all that I have four times, and you (the media) have the right to go and demand for my declaration. Instead, I am being harassed.”
Also at a joint press conference with the Ghanian President John Mahama in Accra, Buhari said that he would name his cabinet before the end of this month.
The Senior Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, in a statement, quoted his principal as saying, “After I was sworn-in, I said I will have my cabinet in September. I expect that Nigerians should ask me questions after the 30th of September if I do not do so,”
The President was responding to a question on the appointment of ministers.
He spoke amid concern that he might not name his cabinet this month because the National Assembly would resume from its recess at the end of the month.
The President also said that the Nigerian military, in collaboration with the Multi-National Joint Task Force, had recorded remarkable progress in the fight against Boko Haram since he assumed office.
He stated, “The first thing I did after I came into office was to reorganise the military and clear orders were given to them in terms of retraining, re-equipping and redeployment of troops.
“In the North-East, the military is gaining ground and Boko Haram has been limited to the Sambisa Forest.
“Internally Displaced Persons are gradually moving back home and they are being reintegrated into their respective communities.”
Mahama had said both leaders had fruitful discussions on how to enhance bilateral relations and improve regional security.
He said that Nigeria and Ghana would soon begin the process of reviving their joint commission for cooperation.
The Ghanaian President added that both leaders also agreed to encourage closer cooperation between the intelligence and anti-graft agencies of both countries.
He thanked President Buhari for his visit and assured him of Ghana’s support and cooperation with Nigeria in the fight against terrorism.
In a separate interview with the editor, BBC Hausa, Mansur Liman, Buhari said culprits in the theft of the country’s crude oil in the last few years would be named and prosecuted soon.
The President said top management personnel of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation could not feign ignorance of the goings-on in the corporation in the last 10 years.
Buhari, who spoke in an interview with the editor, BBC Hausa, Mansur Liman, said, “I am very pleased with the reorganisation, we are getting a lot of results, which we hope in a couple of months’ time we can make clear disclosures and start to prosecute those that had been stealing the crude.
“Those who have been in charge of NNPC at top level can’t claim ignorance of what has been happening in the last 10 years. And the companies include the shipping companies, which allowed themselves to be used to lift illegal crude from Nigeria or to change at high sea or head to a different destination.”
There had been allegations that the NNPC failed to remit N3.8tn to the Federation Account and allegedly stole 250,000 barrels of crude oil per day under the previous administration.
The NNPC, under the new Group Managing Director, Ibe Kachikwu, had last month announced the cancellation of the contract for the delivery of crude oil to the nation’s refineries in Warri, Port Harcourt and Kaduna.
The government’s oil corporation also announced the termination of the Offshore Processing Agreements entered into in January, 2015, with three companiesp: Duke Oil Company Inc., Aiteo Energy Resources Limited and Sahara Energy Resources Limited.
Under the terminated agreement, NNPC was allocating a total of 210,000 barrels of crude oil per day for refining at offshore locations in exchange for petroleum products at pre-agreed yield pattern.
According to the corporation, the decision to cancel the oil delivery contracts to refineries was taken after proper evaluation of the contract terms.
On the OPA arrangement, the firm said the current agreement was not in the interest of Nigeria and the national oil firm, a development that led to its cancellation.
The NNPC also observed that the structure of the agreement did not guarantee unimpeded supply of petroleum products as delivery terms were not optimal.
To address these lapses, the NNPC informed that it had commenced the process of establishing alternative OPA based on optimum yield pattern with tender processing fees.
The action, officials say, is based on the directive of President Muhammadu Buhari.
The categories of officials affected by the directive are former governors, former ministers, former senators, former members of the House of Representatives, and former members of state Houses of Assembly.
Others are former commissioners, for special advisers/special assistants, former chairmen/deputy chairmen of local government areas, all retired heads of parastatals and retired public servants.
“These categories of persons are hereby informed that these passports which were previously held by them have been revoked and should return them to the Nigeria Immigration Service Headquarters Sauka Abuja with immediate effect,” the Comptroller-General of the Immigration Service, Martin Abeshi, said in a statement Monday.
“Failure to comply with this directive will amount to an offence under the Immigration Act 2015. Such unauthorized possession will be impounded at our control posts on arrival or departure.”
The Federal Government had on August 24 directed the Immigration Service to retrieve all valid diplomatic and official passports from all persons not entitled to hold such documents.
“The attention of the Federal Government has been drawn to the fact that some Nigerians who are not entitled to hold diplomatic and official passports are in possession of these documents,” a statement by Yusuf Isiaka,the Director of Press, Federal Ministry of Interior, said at the time.
According to the statement, the measure was intended to protect and promote Nigeria’s integrity in the comity of nations in addition to ensuring law and order.