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Buhari confers 2017 National Merit awards on Adesina, Onobrakpeya

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President Muhammadu Buhari has conferred the 2017 prestigious Nigerian National Order of Merit Award (NNOM) on two Nigerians and celebrated artist,  Bruce  Obomoyema Onobrakpeya, and Professor Adesoji Adesina.


Vice President Yemi Osinbajo decorated the two outstanding Nigerians on behalf of President Muhammadu Buhari at the council chambers of the presidential villa, Abuja.
 
Speaking at the brief ceremony, President Buhari lauded the recipients and assured that the federal government will continue to support research and innovation in the country.


He said posterity would not forgive government functionaries if they fail to provide support for research activities, adding that every winner of the NNOM award was unique, describing the recipients as “milestones of Nigeria’s checkered history.”


The President also commended the award recipients for the intellectual feat they have attained and challenged them to further deploy their huge experiences to advance the course of the society, just as he tasked the duo to borrow from the words of Bernard Baruch that “man can’t retire his experience but must use it.”


While welcoming them into the  “prestigious league” of Nigerian National Order of Merit, President Buhari who praised the Governing Board of NMA, said the board had, so far, identified 75 recipients of the award and added that the award “epitomises the finest of Nigerian innovation.” 


While extolling the qualities of the recipients, Osinbajo observed that the works of Adesina in engineering and technology span over three decades in various fields including mining, defence, manufacturing, among others, with over 400 publications and competitive research grants.


Buhari also said Adesina had trained a number of students including 42 PhD holders who are now professors, executives in petrochemical industry and captains of engineering designs in various parts of the world.


“To date, Prof. Adesina is credited with nearly 450 refereed publications, patents and books. He has supervised more than 100 graduate students to completion, including 42 PhD alumni with a truly global hue. Among these former students are university professors in highly-ranked institutions, executives of the petrol-chemical processing industries, government dignitaries and captains of engineering design and consulting firms located throughout China, South-east Asia, Middle East, Europe, USA, Canada and Australia. He has won over $15 million in competitive research grants from government and industry sponsors,” the President noted.


In the same vein, President Buhari who said the works of Onobrakpeya in arts and humanities have spanned six decades described the celebrated artist as a painter, initiator of art, author and philanthropist.


According to him, Onobrakpeya had received over 30 awards and appointments in recognition of his excellent and intellectual contributions to humanity as well as lifetime awards.


He further described Onobrakpeya as a social commentator, whose works of art date back to 1957, the period he described as the early development of arts in the country. 


Describing him as an advocate of social causes who focuses on social developments, the President further said Onobrakoeya’s artworks including paintings on divine prayer for help have also addressed political instability, sociological problems while his contemporary works border on the murder of Ken Saro-Wiwa and broken pipes.


Responding on behalf of the recipients, Adesina who expressed gratitude for the honour by the government, described the event as memorable. 
 
He also expressed appreciation for all the efforts made by the Governing Board of the Nigerian National Merit Award towards the success of the award.

Born in April 1952, Adesina who obtained first class honours in Chemical Engineering in June, 1980 at the University of Lagos, later obtained PhD in the University of Waterloo in Canada in 1986. 
 
He left the University of Port Harcourt as a lecturer in 1989 for the University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia and became a professor in 2004. He initiated and developed an internationally renowned group of reactor engineering and technology.
 
Onobrakpeya, on his part, was born in August 1932 and obtained Diploma in F.A. of London University and postgraduate Art Teachers’ Certificate in Zaria. 


He has participated in over 68 exhibitions in Africa, Asia, Europe, North America and South America with his works found in the most prestigious museums and galleries such as the Vatican Museum in Rome, Smithsonian Institute in Washington DC., the Suomi in Finland and Victory Museum in Baghdad. 


His works are used to decorate notable places in Nigeria such as the office of Nigeria’s president in the Presidential Villa, Abuja and Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Ikeja, Lagos.



‎Speaking to State House Correspondents one of the recipients, Onobrakpeya described the award as “a very high point” of his artistic career. 
 
He said the federal government’s recognition and gesture “is something which I treasure very much and hope that it would inspire the younger people. 
 
“Our art is going through a period of a renaissance, and we are asking that the president should facilitate this upward swing by doing a lot of things for the artists in Nigeria. 
 
According to him, one of them, is the creation of an enabling environment for them to work in, provision of studios and befitting art villages, museums and galleries among others in every city.
 
“Also to ask that if there are ‎abandoned properties by the federal government, they should give them to the artists to use to create things. And the other thing I want to say is to ask the government to help to fund informal educational set up like the one I set up in Agbara-Otor which today is going to about 20 years old. 
 
“That workshop empowers young people. They come there and selected professionals are there to guide them. They receive scholarships and when they come out whatever they do now gives them job to do. And so, that takes them out of parading the streets to ask for jobs. So, if it is funded very well, it also helps to repay the environment where such workshops are situated. 
 
“It brings peace, it brings people from all over the federation, even from West Africa, and when they interact it brings in peace and understanding and well-being to the nation,” he said.
 
Prof Godwin Dara who accompanied the awardee ‎to the investiture said, “we are all co-winners in this matter because we are inspired by one of the greatest persons in the world to be honoured. 
 
Dara who is Professor of Oral Literature and Folklore at Delta State University, Abraka, said “We have benefited so much from his own works, philosophies and ideas and his elevation of Urhobo folklore and traditions we feel so renewed now with this prize.
 
Also speaking, one of the 2016 recipients of the award, Tanure Ojaide who was also on hand to celebrate with the 2017 awardees, yesterday expressed pleasure that his kinsman was found worthy for recognition by the board of the NNMA.
 
“you know I was the winner last year. So, it is a great pleasure that somebody from close by, from the same Urhobo culture, could inspire such great works of arts that are recognized all over the world.
 

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Buhari: We’ll sell all recovered stolen assets

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President Muhammadu Buhari has assured that the Federal Government under his leadership will sell all recovered looted national assets. Buhari said proceeds of the recovered assets will be paid to the nation’s treasury and utilized for developmental purposes.

Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, in a statement yesterday, said Buhari disclosed this when he received representatives of social groups in Daura Emirate.

The President assured that his administration will continue to pursue a robust, effective and legitimate anti-corruption campaign that safeguards the treasury and commonwealth of all Nigerians.

Buhari noted that many suspected looters of government’s resources had been denying ownership of their ill-gotten properties and assets across the country. He explained that he was not surprised by the increasing number of those denying ownership or disclaiming the properties traced to them by the various anti-corruption agencies.

The President also said that his government would not allow a repeat of what happened in the 1980s when buildings and other ill-gotten property seized by his military administration were returned to corrupt officials following his ouster as Head of State.

“Some years back, one of my schoolmates in the primary school who worked at a cottage company before his demise predicted that we will come to a situation when looters will deny their loots in Nigeria.

“So, as a civil servant, you have 10 houses in Abuja and even in Kaduna and abroad, the more you show them the properties, the more they will swear that it does not belong to them. “And we are still following the process, you know in a democracy, you have to follow due process and respect the rule of law.

“If you are following, you will hear that some of these looters were arrested, and for those who deny their loots, then instead of what happened before, this time around, we will sell those stolen properties and the proceeds will be deposited in government treasury. “If the money is in the government treasury, I will see who will come back after we left and reclaim them,” he said.

The president pledged that government would ensure availability of fertilizer and other farm inputs to farmers to sustain the successes recorded by the farmers in the previous farming seasons.

He said: “Please tell Nigerians that we are trying our best, and I thank God, the rainy season will blossom, we will try to add more money to farmers, and ensure the availability of fertilizer and other farm inputs.

“We will also continue to reconstruct roads and railways and provide electricity and we promise we will continue to do so.” Buhari told the groups that the APC-led government will consolidate on the gains and monumental achievements in the development of infrastructure across the country. “For most ordinary Nigerians, if you give them good roads, railway and stable electric power, they will be happy to carry on with their lives.

“We are doing so much for our country and we will continue to do more out of the fear of God,” the President said. The groups represented at the meeting were the Daura Emirate Coalition of Associations; the Amalgamation of Daura Emirate Political Associations; the Buhari Group; the Daura Emirate Development Forum; Women in Politics in Daura Emirate and the Daura Emirate Consultative Forum.

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Herdsmen plotting to kill me – Ortom

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                 …reconciles with Suswam

  • Ajimobi orders arrest of killer herders

 

 

Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, yesterday raised the alarm over an alleged fresh plot by a group of herdsmen under the auspices of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) to attack and kill him.

The governor, who disclosed this while speaking with journalists in his office at the Government House, identified former MACBAN Coordinator in the state, Alhaji Garus Gololo, as the alleged leader of the killer herdsmen, which he said have been threatening his life.

Ortom said he had reported the planned attack on him to security operatives. He expressed optimism that the killer herdsmen will not succeed as God who gives and takes life is with him and cannot die in the hands of Fulani herders who are against him for promulgating the anti-open grazing law.

“There are threats to my life and I have reported that to the security agencies that one Gaurus Gololo and his team, who are members of MACBAN, are planning to attack me. But I always said life belongs to God.

It is God that gives and takes life. So, my life is not in the hands of any Fulani man who is not happy with the promulgation of the anti-open grazing law in the state.” Herdsmen recently attacked and destroyed Ortom’s farm house in Gbajimba, Guma Local Government Area of Benue State.

Meanwhile, the governor yesterday reconciled with his predecessor, Dr. Gabriel Suswam, whom he has not seen eye-to-eye with since assumption of office about three years ago.

The gesture, according to the governor, is for the common good and development of the state. This followed a reconciliatory meeting convened at the instance of paramount ruler of the Tiv nation, the Tor Tiv, Prof. James Ayatse, to mediate in the protracted face-off between the two politicians of Tiv extraction.

The peace meeting, which took place at the palace of the Tor Tiv, started about 5p.m. last Sunday and spilled over to the early hours of yesterday. In attendance were traditional rulers from both Sankera and Minda geopolitical axis from where the ex-governor and his successor hail from.

Although, journalists were barred from the meeting, sources privy to the discussions disclosed to New Telegraph that the Tiv monarch expressed deep sadness over the continued disagreement between the two illustrious Tiv sons, whom he said are supposed to be attracting development to their people instead of being at loggerheads, hence the need to hear from both sides and reconcile them.

Suswam, it was learnt, had told the Tor Tiv that when he handed over to Ortom in 2015, he told him to feel free to approach him on any issue concerning his government, but what followed was the setting up of a panel to probe him and noted that the panel came out with frivolous allegations against him and that the governor went ahead and reported him to the EFCC and ICPC while all his appointees were sacked.

But Ortom, the source said, denied ever petitioning the two anti-graft agencies on Suswam. The governor also said he did not detail the EFCC and ICPC to seize Suswam’s property, stressing that “they are doing that as part of their duty.”

Speaking with journalists on the outcome of the meeting in his office yesterday, Ortom said he personally agreed to put behind his animosity against his predecessor and work together for peace and development of the state.

He quoted the Tor Tiv as attributing some of the challenges confronting his administration to their inability to synergise and work together as a team. According to him, the monarch stressed the need for them to bury their hatchets and contribute their quota to the development of the state and Tiv nation in particular.

“The meeting was convened at the instance of the Tor Tiv and I was there, former governor Gabriel Suswam was also there and, principally, it was a peace meeting. The Tor Tiv told us he noticed that for a while, the relationship between me and that of the former governor is not good and he needed us as his Tiv prominent sons to work together, that whatever is our differences, we should sheathe our swords and work together for the common good of the people of Benue State.

“He also attributed some of the challenges we are having today in Benue as a result of our inability to synergise and work together as a team and we agreed to work together to see how we can make Benue better than where we are,” the governor said. Ortom debunked claims that the reconciliation was because of 2019 political calculations, saying for now he has suspended all political activities pending when the killings by Fulani herdsmen is put to rest and thousands of internally displaced persons return to their ancestral homes.

In another development, Oyo State Governor, Senator Abiola Ajimobi, has directed security agencies to begin the immediate arrest and prosecution of Fulani herdsmen caught carrying guns and other dangerous weapons across the state.

The governor gave the directive at a stakeholders’ meeting aimed at dousing the tension triggered by the incessant herdsmenfarmers clash, which was attended by the representatives of farmers, Fulani herdsmen, security agen-cies and other stakeholders, at the House of Chiefs, Secretariat, Ibadan. Ajimobi also directed the immediate registration of herdsmen and possibly their cattle to separate genuine pastoralists from criminal-minded herders, as well as the convocation of a monthly stakeholders’ meeting at the state and local government levels.

Besides, the governor said that a surveillance unit would be created under the Oyo State Joint Security Outfit, Operation Burst, to curtail the menace of cattle rustlers, murderous herdsmen and farmers who may take the laws into their own hands by poisoning cattle grazing on farmlands. He said: “Fulani people are good people; if not I will not allow my only son to marry a Fulani lady. We must separate criminals from the good people.

“Why will a herdsman be carrying gun? Henceforth, any herdsman found with guns should be arrested and prosecuted. Owners of cattle found grazing on farmlands and destroying crops should also be arrested and prosecuted. Any farmer that poison cattle should also be arrested and prosecuted.” Also, the Tor Tiv has pledged the support of the traditional rulers and the entire people of Benue to the Nigerian Army as its conducts Exercise Ayem Akpatuma – Cat Race in the state.

“We welcome the exercise. We believe it will help peace to return to Benue which has suffered series of attacks from herdsmen,” the traditional ruler said as he received the Chief of Army Staff, Lt-Gen. Tukur Buratai yesterday.

He, however, said the people were apprehensive of the exercise, recalling the clashes between the army and Tiv people at Zakibiam in the past and called for adequate enlightenment on the exercise. Ayatse said that the herdsmen attacks which affected Guma, Logo, Gwer West, Makurdi, Kwande, Katsina-Ala and Agatu Local Government Areas of the state had resulted in loss of lives, property and farmlands.

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Senator Adamu hits ex-President: Obasanjo should be in jail

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  • Buhari: We’ll sell all recovered stolen assets

 

“President Buhari has not bothered to interrogate Obasanjo’s role in the Halliburton scandal for which some Americans are cooling their heels in jail. Perhaps Buhari might wish to look into the Siemens affairs in which the Obasanjo administration was indicted”

 

Senator Abdullahi Adamu (APC, Nasarawa West) has hit hard at former President Olusegun Obasanjo, saying that the former Nigerian leader is supposed to be in prison for allegedly perpetrating monumental corruption in office.

Adamu, a former governor of Nasarawa State (199-2007) on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), also faulted the anti-corruption war of President Muhammadu Buhari. He described the ongoing anti-graft war as selective, and such informed the reason Obasanjo was not committed to prison.

“Were the anti-corruption war of President Muhammadu Buhari total and blanket in nature, corrupt minded Nigerians like former President Olusegun Obasanjo is supposed to be cooling their feet in jail by now,” Adamu stated yesterday in Abuja at a press briefing.

The lawmaker, who was reacting to the recent letter issued by Obasanjo to Buhari on his performance in governance, said that he was in agreement with the former President’s submission that the anti-corruption war as presently being prosecuted, was selective, pointing out that Obasanjo was a beneficiary of the defective anti-corruption fight.

He said: “Chief Obasanjo said that President Buhari is selective in his anti- corruption war. I agree with him because if the President were not selective, Chief Obasanjo himself would be in the dock today on trial on charges of corruption arising from the corrupt practices in the pursuit of his third term gambit in the National Assembly in 2006.

“He (Obasanjo) knows as well as I and other leading members of the PDP he badly wanted it and initiated the process of constitutional amendment. He bribed each member of the National Assembly who signed to support the amendment, with the whopping sum of N50 million.

“The fresh mint money was taken in its original boxes presumably from the vaults of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and distributed among the legislators. “The money was not his, and it was not appropriated by the National Assembly as required by law. I, therefore, agree that in failing to make former President Obasanjo account for the money, President Buhari is waging his anti-corruption war selectively.

“Nor should we forget that President Buhari has also not bothered to interrogate Obasanjo’s role in the Halliburton scandal for which some Americans are cooling their heels in jail. Perhaps President Buhari might wish to look into the Siemens affairs in which the Obasanjo administration was indicted.”

Adamu, who was governor of Nasarawa State under Obasanjo, also discountenanced the former president’s low marks for Buhari’s government on economy and security, declaring that Buhari inherited most of the problems threatening the country, and not the making of his administration. “Every administration grapples with problems thrown at it by circumstances beyond its control. President Buhari inherited an economy that was unsteady on its feet.

“He also inherited the security problems such as Boko Haram, armed robberies and kidnappings. Yes, I agree that under his watch these problems should grow less, not more. But the solution to problems such as these is a slow and agonising process since he has no powers to simply make them disappear overnight,” he said.

The lawmaker, who was visibly infuriated, noted that Obasanjo nearly collapsed the system, claiming that his (Obasanjo’s) eight years in government almost ruined the hardearned democratic governance in Nigeria as a result of self-delusion and messianic mentality.

His words: “He waged his anti-corruption in a manner intended to rubbish all our reserved institutions such as the courts and the National Assembly in a way to be the only Nigerian without palm oil on his hands. “The courts quaked over his unconstitutional rampage. Chief Obasanjo left our democracy in a lurch.

He was like a wrecking ball. In 2007, he alone decided his successor in office contrary to the rules of the game, the repercussions and consequences of which are now history.” He further posited that the coalition Obasanjo started nurturing would not fly, saying that it would end as an exercise in political deception, stressing that if he didn’t desist from certain behavioural tendencies, he would end up being a national nuisance and irrelevant figure.

“His coalition for Nigeria is a red herring across supthe path of our constitutional government. He is free to form a political movement and pursue his ambition of being the power behind the throne, but such a national movement would achieve no discernible purpose in the economic management and the social administration of the country.

“I believe that Chief Obasanjo is too high and too big in the estimation of the people to permit himself the continued sickening indulgence in political skulduggery. I believe that the Nigerian people and the Nigerian state have been most kind to him.

“Chief Obasanjo has a moral obligation to make the country succeed in solving its myriads of problems. That, I believe, is one way he can give back to the country that has given him so much,” he stated.

He, however, said that similar reaction was not needed for the purported statement issued by former President Ibrahim Babangida since according to him, it was riddled in controversy of genuineness.

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