Last week, amid the new year celebration, some events happened that generated controversies.
Amongst the controversial events are the appointment of a former mid-level civil servant to head an electrification agency and the demolition of Olusola Saraki’s home in Ilorin, Kwara State.
PREMIUM TIME reviews some of the top stories last week.
New year message from Buhari
In his letter titled, ‘A Letter from the President at New Year’, President Buhari stated that his primary concern is the security of the nation and the safety of its citizens.
“When I assumed office in May 2015, my first task was to rally our neighbours so that we could confront Boko Haram on a coordinated regional basis. Chaos is not a neighbour any of us hope for.
“We have been fighting on several fronts: violent extremists, cultists and organised criminal networks. It has not been easy. But as we are winning the war, we also look to the challenge of winning the peace, the reconstruction of lives, communities and markets. The North East Development Commission will work with local and international stakeholders to help create a new beginning for the North East,” he said.
Nigerian Arts and Culture agency’s DG indicted
PREMIUM TIMES reported how the Director-General of the National Council for Arts and Culture, failed to explain why he spent N5.6 million to buy a car without certification from the agency’s transport officer and auditor.
This is one of several cases of irregularities contained in the 2017 report of the office of the Auditor-General of the Federation.
The current director-general, Olusegun Runsewe, in his response, said the report indicted his predecessor and not him.
In a letter dated January 2 to the Auditor-General, Anthony Anyine, Mr Runsewe expressed deep concern at what he regarded as image tarnishing reports making rounds that he was indicted and undergoing an investigation for a multi-million naira scam.
Buhari’s controversial appointment
President Muhammadu Buhari approved a former mid-level civil servant to head a crucial electrification agency, PREMIUM TIMES exclusively reported.
Perhaps to conceal the fact that the appointment would be questioned by Nigerians, the appointee was described in a public press statement as an expert with “vast knowledge and experience in power sector development.”
A spokesperson announced Tuesday that the president approved the appointment of Ahmad Salihijo Ahmad as the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Rural Electrification Agency.
PREMIUM TIMES’ check revealed, however, that Mr Ahmad was a level 12 public official and son of Salihijo Mohammed Ahmed, a former managing director of Afri-Project Consortium. Mr Salihijo was a major project consultant to the Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF). He died on July 7, 1999.
While alive, he was a strong ally of Mr Buhari, who was then the Chairman of PTF.
Meanwhile, the Minister of Power, Saleh Mamman, while reacting to the report, said President Buhari has the prerogative to appoint anyone he believes can deliver on his official mandate,
Demolition of Saraki’s political home
PREMIUM TIMES reported the controversial demolition of Olusola Saraki’s property by the Kwara State Government on Thursday.
The building, also known as Ile Arugbo, served as the political home of the late Kwara politician.
Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq, the state governor, last month, announced the decision to revoke the late Olusola Saraki’s property owing to alleged illegality in its acquisition.
Nevertheless, the former Senate President and son of the late Saraki, Bukola Saraki, had earlier countered the statement, saying his late father lawfully acquired the land from the state government.
Gbemisola Saraki, the transportation minister and daughter of the late Saraki, also condemned the action of Mr AbdulRazaq despite being members of the same All Progressives Congress.
Arrest of Shehu Sani
Shehu Sani, a former senator who represented Kaduna Central in the eight Senate, was arrested by operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Tuesday.
Mr Sani was arrested for allegedly collecting money in the name of the EFCC acting chairman, Ibrahim Magu, sources told this newspaper.
Meanwhile, EFCC spokesperson said its operatives arrested the ex-senator over his alleged involvement in extortion, name dropping, and financial crimes.
The commission confirmed that Mr Sani was arrested because of complaints by the owner of a car company, ASD Motors, Sani Dauda, over his activities.
The former lawmaker allegedly collected $10,000 from ASD Motors chief on the grounds that he is very close to the EFCC chairman, Ibrahim Magu, and promised to help him and any other person having issues with the EFCC.
Based on the complaint, Mr Sani was subsequently arrested but granted administrative bail while the said money was recovered from him.
Lawmakers oppose 37bn budget for National Assembly complex
After a member of the House Representatives, Bamidele Salam, openly opposed the plan to spend N37 billion for the renovation of the National Assembly complex, more lawmakers have also publicly condemned the plan.
PREMIUM TIMES reported how Mr Salam, a member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) representing Ede North/Ede South/Egbedore/Ejigbo Federal Constituency of Osun State said the complex renovation is a misplacement of priority.
On Sunday night, Akin Alabi, a member of the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC) representing Egbeda/Ara Federal Constituency of Oyo State shared a similar view on Twitter.
“I see no reason why we should spend N37b renovating the National Assembly. Yes, we need an upgrade on some aspects like the electronic systems (sound system, voting system etc) as they are outdated but N37b? No. Let’s spend that on our schools and hospitals.”
Another lawmaker, Ochilegor Idagbo, representing Bekwarra/Obanliku/Obudu Federal Constituency of Cross River, said the complex needs no renovation that would cost the country N37 billion.
Also, another member of the House of Representatives, Armaya’u Abdulkadir, kicked against the N37 billion National Assembly Complex renovation project.
The legislator, a member of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, represents Dutsin-ma/Kurfi federal constituency of Kastina State.