© 2018 - International Centre for Investigative Reporting
‘Technical stopover’, unauthourised withdrawal from ECA… The many lies of Buhari’s administration
In a few hours from now, President Muhammadu Buhari will be jetting out to the United Kingdom where he is expected to spend four days for medical purpose. This is coming barely one week after the President ‘secretly’ visited the UK on his way from the United States of America.
After meeting with President Donald Trump, Buhari’s plane left America last Tuesday, and was due to arrive Nigeria on Wednesday. But as at Thursday, the President’s jet was yet to land at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja.
It was after a media outcry that Garba Shehu, Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, issued a statement explaining that Buhari’s jet made a “technical stopover” in the UK.
Explaining what ‘technical stopover meant, Shehu said: “The big jet is under repairs. It has been taken for major repairs. So the president is using a small plane and there is a limit to the distance the small plane can cover.
“So the technical stopover I talked about is that the journey from the U.S. to Abuja is broken into two. The technical stopover is that the plane stops at a point, refuels, undergoes some checks and then proceeds on the journey.
“This is very normal. There is nothing unusual about it. In any case, they are already on their way back home.”
However, while Shehu was right that Buhari would arrive that evening, he was not fortright about the reason for the UK stopover. Buhari’s decision to go back to London on four-day medical vacation revealed his inexactitude.
Shehu tried to mask the truth by saying that Buhari met with his doctor during the ‘technical stopover’ in the UK and that the doctor requested that he comes back at a later date.
“The doctor requested the President to return for a meeting which he agreed to do. President Buhari will return (to Nigeria) on Saturday, May 12th”.
The Doctor requested the President to return for a meeting which he agreed to do. President Buhari will return on Saturday, May 12th.
— Garba Shehu (@GarShehu) May 7, 2018
Meanwhile, Nigerians are still in the dark with regards to what exactly President Buhari is suffering from, even though all his medical expenses are paid from the public purse.
THE UNAUTHORISED ECA WITHDRAWAL
The presidency also sold dummies to Nigerians when Ita Enang, Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters (Senate), said that President Buhari did not and could not have withdrawn any money from the Excess Crude Account (ECA), without first getting legislative approval.
Enang was reacting to allegations at the time that Buhari had unilaterally approved the withdrawal of almost $500 million fro the ECA for the procurement of 12 super Tucano Jets for the armed forces.
“Mr. President has not approved the sum for any release of this procurement or application howsoever, the executive is conscious of the provisions of Section 80 (3) and (4) of the 1999 Constitution. We … would not take any action in breach thereof,” Enang said. But it was a lie. Buhari did approve the withdrawal of $496 million without legislative approval.
Buhari himself had written the National Assembly, informing them that he had already withdrawn $496 million from the ECA and only wants to inform the lawmakers so they can approve and include it in the 2018 Appropriation Bill.
AUDU OGBEH AND THAILAND RICE MILLS
Recall how Audu Ogbeh, Minister of Agriculture, told journalists that Nigeria’s rice policy under the present administration has become so successful that major rice mills in Thailand were folding up.
According to Ogbeh, Wattana Kunwongse, Thailand’s Ambassador to Nigeria, told him that unemployment in his country has risen dramatically and that seven giant rice mills in the country had shut down because Nigeria’s import had fallen by 95 percent on rice alone.
However, Kunwongse issued a statement, a day after Ogbeh’s remarks were published, denying the comments and describing the minister’s narration as a distortion of facts which was intended to mislead the public.
“The report is not only misleading but a distortion of the actual conversation between myself and the honourable Minister of Agriculture at the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development on 30th January 2018,” Kunwogse wrote.
“Thailand’s rice export to the world in 2017 (January-December 2017) reached 11.48 million tons equalising to $5.1 billion (USD), a 15.54 percent increase compared to previous years, which is one of the highest figures on the history Thailand’s rice exportation. There is no proof of any shutdown of Thailand’s major rice mills.”
BOKO HARAM HOLED UP IN SAMBISA
The President on May 1 told Voice of America in Washington, DC he read in newspapers that Book Haram are still holding territory.
“Well, they may still be somewhere in Sambisa Forest but the Nigerian Army has prevented them from coming out,” he said.
Four days before the interview, four people were killed when Boko Haram suicide bombers attacked Maiduguri the capital city of Borno. The attack was repeated on May 4 and 12 respectively.
In its quest to play to the gallery, the Buhari administration is fast gaining notoriety for its numerous falsehoods and near-truths.