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With Love from Yokohama – Femi Adesina

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Love in Tokyo is the title of a 1966 film that became a hit at the box office. Since then, when men and women, boys and girls show affection to one another publicly, you often hear “love in Tokyo.”

But we only landed in Tokyo, and took a 30 minutes drive to Yokohama, Japan’s second largest city. That is why instead of Love in Tokyo, the headline of this piece is With Love from Yokohama.

What am I doing in this port city of Japan, with a population of about 3.7 million people? Good question. I am here as part of President Muhammadu Buhari’s delegation to the Seventh Tokyo International Conference on African Development, otherwise known as TICAD7. It holds between August 28 and 30.
If you talk of a long-haul flight, this was one. A number of times, I have been to China. To India. To United States of America. Long flights from Nigeria, no doubt. But Japan now wins the diadem.

Except I have the grace to go to Australia, New Zealand, and some other ends of the world countries in future, Japan is the farthest I’ve now done. About 17 hours in the air. Holy Moses!
From Abuja to Muscat, in Oman, where we made a technical stopover, to refuel and stretch our legs, it was 7 hours and 13 minutes. After about an hour, we were on the way again. Nine hours, 24 minutes, nonstop. You love to sleep? You will sleep till your eyes bulge. You love to read? You will read till you begin to smell of books. Love movies? You will watch, and watch, and watch, till you begin to imagine yourself as Sean Connery or Sylvester Stallone.

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In the air, the time seems to crawl ever so slowly, even when your plane is flying at the speed of sound.

As the screen in the plane gives you an idea of where you are, it also gives a sense of deja vu. Places you had visited in the past. Muscat, in Oman was the same place we had stopped over to refuel in 2016, while returning home from an official visit to China. But this time, the airport was wearing a new look, with an ultra-modern terminal. Oil money at work. That is what a country gets when its resources are not looted blind. Kill corruption, otherwise, it kills your country.

Flying over Middle East, you recall trips to Qatar, Riyadh and Jeddah in Saudi Arabia, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and many others. New Delhi also brought memories of search for Indian talisman during a trip in late 2015. Nearing Japan, when we flew over a place called Osaka, I remembered the young tennis sensation, Naomi Osaka, the first Japanese player to win a Grand Slam singles tournament last year, a feat she has repeated at the Australian Open this year. Serena Williams is her role model, but that did not stop her from sensationally drubbing her idol. Great girl!

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Flying over Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu, brought back poignant memories of visits to those cities.

What can Nigerians expect from Yokohama? Our President is not just footloose, withstanding the rigour of long-haul flights for nothing. It is all about Nigeria, and her development. The conference is under the theme ‘Africa and Yokohama, Sharing Passion for the Future.’ It is the seventh in the series of what began as a once-in-five-years conference in 1993, but now holds every three years. It rotates between Japan and Africa, with the last held in Nairobi, Kenya, in 2016.

In Kenya, Japan had pledged $30 billion investment for the future of Africa, another $10 billion for infrastructure, and $500 million for vocational training of 50,000 Africans. On Wednesday, President Buhari will unfold what Nigeria has gained so far from Japan, and of course, present fresh shopping bills. Yes, we can’t singlehandedly reverse the infrastructure deficit we have in Nigeria. We need help from credible places.

I hope to bring you developments on the sidelines of the conference. Keep a date with Japan File. There may even be a dose of Love in Tokyo, who knows.

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Opinion

Senator Buhari: People’s Mandate, Confirmed By Law. | By Gbenga Ajani

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The National Assembly election petition tribunal sitting in Ibadan, the Oyo state capital on Tuesday, 10th September, 2019 dismissed the petition by former House leader, Hon Mulikat  Adeola of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, challenging the re-election of Senator Abdulfatai Buhari, PhD at the last election in Oyo North Senatorial district.

Senator Buhari is the first Federal lawmaker to break the jinx of second term in the Senatorial district

Hon Mulikat who is also from Ogbomoso, the same community with Senator Fatai Buhari did not err by challenging the people’s mandate and overwhelming support for Senator Fatai Buhari during the last election but she ought to have carried out a proper evaluation of her chances before election and the chances of tribunal granting her request before initiating a war she knew she cannot win.

Her quest to overturn the electoral victory of the people’s Senator base on her alleged “Corrupt Practices” during the election cannot be substantiated probably because she was misinformed by her party men who monitored the election proceedings in some of the affected councils she mentioned in her petition or she overrated her level of acceptability by the people hence leading to dissatisfaction of the outcome of the election.

She is someone many people loved and her boldness to even challenge Buhari in the last election pointed out that she is not a pessimist like many of our women who have limited their roles to the kitchen and the other room. Her involvement and achievements in politics are not only encouraging but acts worthy of emulation by women who are also aspiring to contribute to national development.

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With that I still believe, challenging Senator Buhari in a contest is a mission that cannot be accomplished till eternity not because of the gender difference but rather their politicial prowress are miles away from each other

Obviously we are moving into an era when election will be about personality and not party, though party influence plays a significant role in the last election but personality comes first and the kind of images and reputation Senator Buhari has built in Oyo north and other parts of the state which cannot be easily trashed. He is accessible, simple and honest.

In the history of Oyo North senatorial district, Dr Buhari is the first senator that is available in term of physical appearance, qualitative representation at the upper chamber of the National assembly, facilitation of federal government projects to his district. His clamour for the establishment of a University in Oke Ogun, reconstruction of roads and repair of the existing ones and other developmental projects in the entire Oyo north senatorial district are what made people appreciated and rewarded him with their votes during the last election.

If what emboldens ‘Alhaja’ to even dare Buhari in a contest is the “perceived solid PDP structure in Ogbomoso and Oke Ogun and financial muscle to tackle him naira for naira, she missed the point though, there is no harm in trying but Senator Buhari’s political movement is far beyond politics, it is more of humanitarian services rendered to the deserving people with a view of fast tracking the development through qualitative representation at the National level which Hon Mulikat and her aides can also attest to.

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Senator Buhari’s unprecedented achievements in his first term registered his name in the minds of his constituents and that was why it was easy for him to penetrate the nooks and crannies of the senatorial district during the campaign, moving from one community to other. His campaign strategy cannot be matched by any politician in Oyo state, he didn’t wake up just few days to election and start relating with people, he has started the journey into another electoral victory few days after he assumed duties with a sustainable economic empowerment program which changed the life of many of his constituents.

In politics, enemies become friends and friends become enemies, but those who claimed to have left him cannot deny the fact that Senator Buhari is a fine politician who always reward loyalty and appreciate support, to him not everybody will have the opportunity of meeting him personally but every member of his constituents must directly or indirectly benefit from whatever he facilitated and that is why he worked hard to facilitate ICT and CBT centers and blocks of clasrooms to schools and some communities in all the local government areas in Oyo North. With the ICT centres, the next generation will not just have access to computers but also connect them to the global world without necessary moving to the city or nearby towns.

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The silent achiever is not a noise maker but those who are close to him knows how he influence allocation of funds to Ogbomoso-Oyo road, reconstruction of Iseyin-okeho road, and many others even the Iseyin -Oyo road .

With facilitation of over 30 boreholes across the district, the people of Elekokan, Gaa Olosun mining communities in the remote part of Oke Ogun and other beneficiaries will not forget in a hurry how Solar powered boreholes facilitated by Senator Buhari relieved them of acute water scarcity and the only way to reward the man who positively touched their lives is to vote him again and pray for his success .

In conclusion, Senator Buhari’s relection is an act of God, reward by people for his commitment to the development of the district, therefore his re-election is a mandate that cannot be trashed

Ise rere ntesiwaju.

Gbenga Ajani, writes from Ogbomoso

Oyo state

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Opinion

100 Days Giant Strides of  Yobe Governor, Buni | By Abba Dukawa

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Benjamin Franklin once said, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” Abraham Lincoln was even more graphic in underscoring the value of planning when he said, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four hours sharpening the axe.”  

 

As an observer, since Governor Mai Mala Buni
took over the affairs of Yobe State,  he had unveiled his administration’s readiness to partner with North East Development Commission, local and international humanitarian organizations toward implementation of his ambitious Resettlement, Reconstruction and Rehabilitation (R3), for the people affected by insurgency to live a life of honour and dignity.  To accomplish his plan named – R3,  Governor Buni signed an agreement  with Family Homes Funds Ltd,  to construct 2, 600 housing units across the state.

The houses, comprising two-bedroom and three-bedroom bungalows, will be built at the total cost of N10, 830, 339, 654.00 with an envisaged completion period of 18 months.

 

Within one hundred days in office he had made   a giant stride in many infrastructural developments in the state, starting from  Agricultural development in the state, Buni’s administration plans to hold another “Yobe Agricultural Retreat”,  the retreat aimed at assembling relevant stakeholders  to re-position agriculture and move it away from its current subsistence level to a commercial enterprise.

 

For example, Yobe State Governor, Mai Mala Buni directing that a bag of the NPK varieties, which sells for N10, 000.00 in the open market, be sold to farmers at the subsidized rate of N3, 000.00 and also unveiled 103 Mercy Ferguson tractors which will be deployed to the 17 local government areas to be used by farmers’ associations to boost food production in the state.

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On his aspersion towards  improving  educational development in the state, precisely on Wednesday, June 19 this year in Damaturu, the state capital, the stakeholders in primary and secondary education gathered to proffer solutions to the emergency declared on the sector in the state.  The summit birthed a working committee called the ‘Technical Committee to Revitalise Basic and Secondary Education’, which was charged with the responsibility of materialising the lofty recommendations of the education summit.

 

In his efforts toward sustaining the success of the education summit,  the governor has already studied and approved the report, and instructed for specific course of action to be taken, including the recruitment of qualified teachers, establishment of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education schools, and an audit of teachers across the state to ascertain their competencies and determine those who need training, re-training or even deployment to other sectors as appropriate. There is justified hope that education in Yobe State will witness an  outstanding uplift in the coming months and years.

 

On healthcare delivery as the saying goes, health is wealth; Mai Mala’s  administration considers it necessary to upgrade the capacities of health institutions in the State by providing state-of-the-art medical facilities and equipments to provide the best services to the people.

 

Governor Buni  continues to look into the welfare of healthcare providers to enhance healthcare delivery. Mala’s administration set to establish at least one functional primary Health Care Centre in each of the 178 wards of the State. Similarly, General hospitals on the course in the Local Government Headquarters where none exist to ease the burden of travelling long distances to access secondary healthcare services.  His administration   fast – tracked the establishment of the Contributory Health Management Agency and a Drugs and Consumables Management Agency to make the state eligible to access the basic healthcare provision fund.

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The state’s economy is largely dependent on the federal allocation with very low Internally Generated Revenue (IGR). However , Governor Buni had set to change this trend of the state dependency on the monthly federal allocation.  To achieve his administration’s target towards improving  the state Internally Generated Revenue (IGR), Governor Mala Mai Buni has already provided 50 hectares of land in Potiskum for the construction of trailer park under the  Public Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement.

 

The foundation-stone-laying ceremony of the park, which will also house a mechanic village, hotels, fuel stations, among others, and projected to create over 5,000 direct jobs was performed receynty.  In conjunction with the Nigerian Shippers’ Council, Governor Buni is building a Modern Trailer Park in Potiskum, which has the distinction of being home to the highest number of trailer trucks in the whole of the North.

 

The purpose of human life is to serve and to show compassion and the will that will help others. Described by most people as gentle, generous, humble, trustworthy, extremely loyal and down-to-earth, Mai Mala no doubt, displayed high and esteemed leadership qualities which endeared to the people of the state. Indeed, he perfectly fitted into the postulation by John C Maxwell when he said: “Success knows your purpose in life, growing maximum potential and sowing seeds that will benefit others.

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The 100 days in Yobe State have been action-packed and applause-worthy and indicate that the governor has started his journey on a very sound footing. Nevertheless, Governor Buni has gone beyond sharpening the axe in many areas of infrastructural development. He has already chopped down many trees these past 100 days.

 

What should be obvious by now to any perceptive observer is that Buni has devoted a large chunk of his first 100 days in office to plan, strategize and solicit broad experts counsel on government policies, planning and forethought are central to success in governance.

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Opinion

Abiodun  Ladepo Reacts to Makinde’s Reduction of Budget from N285b to N182b

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One thing you have to give the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Oyo State, and particularly the Makinde administration, is the savvy use of propaganda – twisting bad news to “good” news while the media outlets eat it all up.

Take for instance the announcement that the Governor Seyi Makinde  has reduced the 2019 budget, prepared by the Abiola Ajimobi administration from N285b to N182b (a shaving off of N103b) simply because the budget was “unrealistic”.

In that same tweet, Governor Makinde  stated that he increased the budget for education “upward” to 10% of the total budget.

Well, the questions I would ask him if I were still a practicing journalist in the state are:

1. Since a budget is a projection of income (revenues) that can be spent, what makes the governor think the state cannot, realistically, earn N285b?

2. Could the downward review be because the governor has offered so many “freebies” that have eaten into its Internally Generated Revenues (IGRs)?

3. By how much have ANY steps taken by his administration increased the state’s IGR?

4. How much loan has he taken so far and how much does he plan to take in the 2019 fiscal year?

5. How much has he paid back out of the debts owed (cumulatively) by multiple past administrations, and how does he plan to pay back the rest and bring the state to a debt-free status by 2023,

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6. When he said he increased the education budget to 10%, what was the percentage budgeted by Ajimobi…9%, 8%?

7. And what are the naira amounts of the education budget? I ask this because 9% of Ajimobi’s N285b (assuming it was 9%), is significantly higher than 10% of Makinde’s N182b.

So, e ma p’aja l’obo fun wa mo.

It is not enough to just tell the people that the budget had to be reduced because it was not “realistic”. The media must make him explain why it’s not “realistic”.

Governance is not child’s play o. It is a lot of work.

And it is not charity…lol.

We can’t just depend on federal allocations, World Bank grants and loans for execution of capital and recurrent expenditures. Such laziness led to past financial crises when we couldn’t pay salaries and pensions on time because federal allocations dried up as oil sales plummeted .

We must generate our own funds through various kinds of investments and an expanded but fair taxation base.

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