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Presidential Villa roundup from Sept. 2 to Sept. 8, 2018

President Buhari began his presidential villa activities for the week with an official working visit to Beijing, China, on Sunday, Sept. 2, where he attended the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) meeting with members of the Nigerian community at the Nigeria Embassy in China.
The President told his countrymen in the Diaspora that he was not afraid of free and fair elections in 2019 because he was a beneficiary of credible polls in 2015.
The President reaffirmed his commitment to ensure that the 2019 polls under his watch would be credible, adding that Nigerians eligible to vote in the next general election would be allowed to freely elect candidates of their choice.
“I have no fear about free and fair elections because that is what brought me to the present position. I know what I went through and very few Nigerians could boast of trying four times.
“Those interested in participating in the elections must get their PVCs and register in their constituencies and elect anybody of their choice across ethnicity and religion.
“The Nigerian police, law enforcement agencies and INEC must respect the wishes of the people,” he said.
The President was also reported to have accused media organisations of bias in reporting conflicts in the country.
He said while security agencies were doing their best to curtail clashes, the Nigerian media should complement the efforts through objective and informed reportage.
“To my disappointment, members of the press in Nigeria do not make enough efforts to study the historical antecedents of issues that are creating national problems for us,” he said.
Earlier, media reports quoted the President’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu, as saying that world leaders were now queuing to meet President Muhammadu Buhari, an experience, he said showed there was something unusual about him.
This is coming on the heels of visits to Abuja by British Prime Minister, Theresa May, and German Chancellor, Angela Merkel.
Answering questions from journalists in Beijing over the accusation by United States President Donald Trump that Buhari was lifeless, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, said the presidency had resolved not to react to the allegation.
On Monday, September 3, the Senior Special Assistant on National Assembly Matters, Senator Ita Enang, was reported as saying that President Muhammadu Buhari withheld assent to the Electoral Act Amendment Bill 2018 because federal legislators failed to effect the earlier observations he asked them to review.
The veto by the President drew the ire of the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), which said it was obvious all along that the President would not sign the bill because some of its provisions would inhibit the capacity of the All Progressives Congress (APC) to compromise the 2019 general elections.
In Beijing China, President Buhari used the occasion of the 7th Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) to invite Chinese investors and tourists to take advantage of the improved business environment in Nigeria and the West African Sub-region to invest in the key sectors of the economy.
Speaking in his capacity as Nigerian leader and chairman of the Economic Community for West African States (ECOWAS), President Buhari said that countries within the ECOWAS region were endowed with enormous tourist potentials that could be tapped into by China aside its interest in infrastructure investments.
On Tuesday, Sept. 4, President Buhari, at a roundtable meeting at the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), said Nigeria’s partnership with China has yielded over $5 billion investments in the last three years.
Buhari made this disclosure at the FOCAC meeting, attended by African leaders and Chinese President Xi Jinping.
A statement by presidential spokesman, Malam Garba Shehu, said Buhari highlighted specific FOCAC projects in Nigeria saying, through the Chinese support, Nigeria has impressively addressed significant challenges in the areas of infrastructure, human capacity development, power, transport, agriculture and humanitarian assistance.
The President also dispelled insinuations about the so-called debt trap by the Chinese government on developing countries, insisting that Nigeria would be able to repay the loans.
President Buhari later met with Chinese President, Xi Jinping, after the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), on Wednesday, Sept. 5.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, said this in a statement from Beijing, China, that President Buhari secured the support of the Chinese leader for the building of the 3,050 megawatts Mambila hydroelectric power project.
Shehu stated that during the meeting between Buhari and Jinping, the Nigerian leader also sought additional Chinese funding for four airport terminals as well as the Abuja light rail project.
Buhari was said to have noted that the Mambilla project remained a key priority to Nigeria.
Furthermore, at the bilateral meeting, the two leaders witnessed the signing of a $328 million agreement for the National Information and Communication Technology Infrastructure Backbone Phase II (NICTIB II) project.
Nigeria and China also signed a memorandum of understanding for One Belt One Road Initiative (OBOR) – an initiative of Jinping, which focuses on improving connectivity and cooperation among multiple countries spread across the continents of Asia, Africa and Europe.
In Abuja, Nigeria Consolidation Ambassadors Network, led by its National Coordinator, Mr. Sanusi Musa, bought the All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential nomination forms for President Muhammadu Buhari for a hefty N45.5 million.
The group presented a symbolic cheque for the huge sum to the National Chairman, Mr. Adams Oshiomhole, at the party’s national secretariat in Abuja and picked up the forms on behalf of the President.
Same day, the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina responded to former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar’s depiction of President Muhammadu Buhari as an “uncompromising” and a “power-drunk” retired general.
In a statement, Adesina said while Buhari, who is on a working visit to China, “is uncompromising against corruption, he is not power-drunk.
Adesina said the former VP was only trying to use Buhari’s name to buoy his bid to get the presidential ticket of the PDP, which he said was still mourning the defeat it suffered in the 2015 election.
Meanwhile, Adesina alerted members of the public that son of the President, Yusuf Buhari, was being impersonated on Instagram by unscrupulous elements.
The presidential aide revealed that Yusuf Buhari was not on any social media platform, and urged the public to disregard all handles and pages in social media bearing his name.
At the weekly, Federal Executive Council presided over by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, the Council approved N6.07 trillion for a thorough and comprehensive revamp of the health sector.
Briefing journalists at the end of the meeting in the State House, the Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole said the amount was approved for the implementation of the second health sector plan earlier approved by the National Health Council meeting on June 21, this year in Kano.
He said the first health sector plan conceived by the last administration was meant to be implemented between 2010 and 2015 with 52 targets, pointing out that of the 52 targets in the plan, only two were achieved at the end of the day.
Also on Wednesday, the Presidency dismissed an editorial from Punch which said the President’s handling of the killings by suspected herdsmen across the country, demonstrates his “cluelessness” and sympathy for criminality perpetuated by a misguided group.
Responding, the Senior Special Assistant to the President (Media & Publicity) described the editorial as not only disrespectful of the President and his office, but reckless, thoughtless, inflammatory and totally irresponsible.
On Thursday, Sept. 6, a statement by the presidential spokesman, Malam Garba Shehu, said President Buhari was given assurances from the joint venture partners handling the 3,050 megawatts Mambilla Hydro-electric power plant that all processes leading to its take-off next year would soon be completed.
According to Shehu, at the meeting in Beijing with the President of CGCC, the construction company, Professor Lyu Ze Xiang, Buhari got a briefing on timelines for the commencement of the project following the success of an earlier meeting with the Chinese President Xi Jinping.
He said Buhari, who likened the Mambilla to China’s Three Gorges Dam, said given the significance of the project to Nigeria’s socio-economic development, there was a need for its speedy completion.
On Thursday night, President Buhari returned to Abuja from China after participating in FOCAC.
On Saturday, Sept. 8, 2018, the Presidency responded to a corruption allegation against the Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari.
A statement by Garba Shehu said: “The Presidency takes strong offense to the improbable and outlandish publication by Punch Newspaper today in a dig at presidential aide Abba Kyari who was alleged to have collected a 29 million naira bribe for the awarding of a contract.
“We wish to state with full authority that the allegation is wrong and the Chief of Staff did not have any private meetings with the person making those allegations.”
Read also: Presidential Villa roundup from Aug. 26 to Sept. 1, 2018
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