Normalcy restores to Abuja-Kaduna highway as Buhari talks tough
Normalcy has been restored to the”bandit-infected” Abuja-Kaduna highway following President Muhammadu Buhari’s order to deal mercilessly with highway criminals across the country.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that prior to the presidential order, bandits had operated along the Abuja-Kaduna road for four consecutive days where they abducted an unspecified number of travellers on the highway.
Buhari had in the week under review, again directed security agencies to urgently address the resurgence of kidnapping and other crimes on the Abuja-Kaduna Highway and on other roads across the country.
The president, who presided over a meeting of the National Security Council on Nov. 25, assured that Nigerians would soon witness serious security improvement as specific orders had been given to all security agencies to tackle security challenges across the country.
However, following the presidential order, the Nigeria Police Force in collaboration with other security agencies recorded a breakthrough as many bandits including a notorious bandit terrorising Kaduna-Abuja Highway, Yellow Magaji Arusa were neutralised.
A statement signed by the Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Kaduna State Command, ASP Muhammed Jalige on Saturday, confirmed the killing of Magaji alongside some members of his gang.
The police killed Magaji when they raided a facility known as Sir Joe Guest Inn, located at No.8 Sajo Street, Unguwan Maigero Area of Sabon Tasha in Chikun Local Government Area of Kaduna State.
“It is significant to state that the neutralised bandit Yellow Magaji until his demise was among a syndicate of bandits terrorising Kaduna-Abuja highway of recent,” Jalige said.
The security officials were also reported to have ambushed some of the bandits around Kaduna South Local Government Area where the bandits had gone to buy “alcohol and pentazocine; an opioid pain medication’’.
Buhari had earlier declared open the 9th General Assembly of the African First Ladies Peace Mission (AFLPM), on Monday in Abuja where he raised alarm over the activities of insurgents and bandits across the African continent, saying such activities had led to more widespread displacement and poverty.
He said: “It is not in doubt that women and children are the worst affected by the breakdown of peace.
“Therefore, as mothers, I believe, you are in a better position to drive the processes of peace and actions where necessary.
”Indeed, I’m happy to know that your forum has been working towards promoting peaceful coexistence within the continent in so many ways.’’
The Nigerian leader, however, pledged support to the resolutions of the African First Ladies Peace Mission (AFLPM) aimed at promoting peace and development in the continent.
Also on Nov. 22, the president approved February 2022 as the new date for the National Convention of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
The Chairman of Progressive Governors’ Forum, Alhaji Atiku Bagudu, confirmed this development to State House correspondents at the end of a closed-door meeting with Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
NAN reports that the meeting was also attended by the Chairman of APC Caretaker Committee, Mai Mala Buni, who is also the governor of Yobe, as well as Gov. Badaru Abubakar of Jigawa.
Bagudu, who was not specific on the exact date for the convention in February, said the convention was shifted because four states were yet to complete their congresses.
The Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, also met behind closed doors with President Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, on Nov. 22.
Lawan, who spoke to State House correspondents at the end of the meeting, expressed the hope that the president would soon sign the recently-passed Electoral Amendment Bill 2021 into law.
NAN also reports that some governors had expressed their reservation about direct primaries as contained in the Electoral Amendment Bill 2021, urging the president not to sign it into law.
The senate president, however, maintained that the National Assembly had done its job by transmitting the passed bill to the president for him to sign into law.
On Nov. 23, Chief Executive Officer of the Midstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority, Farouk Ahmed, and the newly appointed Chief Executive Officer of the Nigeria Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC), Mr Gbenga Komolafe, were officially presented to Buhari by the Minister of State, Petroleum Resources, Mr Timipre Sylva.
Ahmed and Komolafe, who addressed State House correspondents after the presentation, reassured that there were no plans to increase the official price of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) for now, as being speculated in some quarters.
Ahmed maintained that the marginal queues witnessed last week at filling stations in Abuja and some parts of the country had nothing to do with any supposed plan by the government to hike PMS price.
He, however, explained that the queues were caused by the payment logistics in US dollars by depot owners, and the issue had been addressed by relevant authorities.
Also addressing the correspondents, Sylva said the president was happy with the level of implementation of the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) 2021.
According to him, Buhari urged the regulators in the petroleum industry to do what was best for Nigeria.
On the recent increase in the price of cooking gas in the country, the minister said “the president is worried over the situation just like all other Nigerians.”
Sylva said although the price of the essential commodity was not regulated by Nigeria, some steps would be taken internally to provide some relief, ahead of the yuletide season.
The president, on Nov. 24, shortly before the commencement of the virtual meeting of the weekly Federal Executive Council (FEC) in Abuja, led the cabinet members in wishing his Chief of Staff, Prof. Ibrahim Agboola Gambari a happy 77th birthday celebration.
The president congratulated Gambari on the attainment of age 77, and jovially saying “you are still going strong congratulations!”
The ministers present chorused with laughter, expressing their birthday good wishes to Gambari.
Gambari, who joined the government as Chief of Staff following the demise of the former holder of the office, Abba Kyari, is the founder of the Savannah Centre for Diplomacy, Democracy and Development, a non-governmental “think-tank” established in Abuja.
NAN reports that the Council meeting approved April 2022 as the official date for the commencement of the operations of much-awaited Nigeria Air.
The Minister of Aviation, Sen. Hadi Sirika, disclosed this when he along with Ministers of Transportation, and Finance, Budget and National Planning, Rotimi Amaechi and Dr Zainab Ahmed, respectively, briefed State House correspondents on the outcome of the FEC meeting.
According to Sirika, the majority shares of 49 per cent of the Nigeria Air project will be owned by strategic equity partners, 46 per cent by Nigerians, while the Federal Government will own five per cent of the shares.
The minister revealed that the council also approved N1.49 billion for the provision of Automated Civil Aviation Regulatory Equipment to be located at Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport.
Also speaking on the outcome of the meeting, the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Dr Zainab Ahmed, said she presented to council for information and discussion on the third quarter GDP report for 2021.
On his part, the Minister of Transportation, Mr Rotimi Amaechi, also revealed that he presented a memorandum to the cabinet for approval for the award of contract for the provision of training logistics, operational equipment and maintenance support for the government under the Integrated National Surveillance and Waterways Protection Solution Infrastructure in Nigeria.
On Nov. 25, Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo hosted the outgoing UN Resident Coordinator in Nigeria, Mr Edward Kallon, at the Presidential Villa, where he opined that elected leaders should regularly aspire to meet with the electorate.
Osinbajo said that constant engagement with the electorate on justice, peace, security, and the social contract could not be allowed to fall through the cracks as they were critical issues.
“You cannot avoid engaging with the people; there is a need to engage in a way that you are trusted. People should see that you are committed enough about their concerns,’’ he added.
The vice-president had also participated in the 2021 LCCI Presidential Policy Dialogue on Friday in Lagos.
Buhari had on Friday bid farewell to Indian High Commissioner to Nigeria, Mr Abhay Thakur, and his Italian counterpart, Dr Stefano Pontesilli, during the week under review.
He wished the outgoing High Commissioner well, as he assumed higher responsibilities in the Foreign Affairs Ministry of his country.
Also receiving Pontesilli, the president said that having spent nine years in all, in two different capacities in Nigeria, “you know our country very well”.
He wished him a successful tour of duty at his next posting, which is Guinea-Conakry.
NAN reports that Pontesilli was first Consul-General for his country in Lagos for four-and-a-half years and later ambassador for the same length of time.
The president concluded the week with a greeting to former Vice President Atiku Abubakar on his birthday, having attained the age of 75 years.
He said: “Happy birthday and best wishes to Waziri Atiku Abubakar. I wish you good health and long life.”
The president also congratulated the former military Governor of Kano State, retired Col. Sani Bello, who celebrated his 79th birthday on Saturday.