By Abba Kabara, Bayo Oladeji, George Agba, Midat Joseph, Sadiq Abdullateef
For inexplicable reasons, the Nigerian embassy in Saudi Arabia this week side-stepped protocol by giving preference to former Vice President Namadi Sambo and his entourage of 15 family members over that of President Muhammadu Buhari when both arrived for the lesser Hajj (Umrah) in Saudi Arabia.
The Umrah is performed by Muslims from all over the world who converge on the holy city of Mecca to observe the ritual, which can be undertaken at any time of the year but mostly observed during Ramadan.
The pilgrims perform a series of worship activities symbolising the lives of Prophet Ibrahim (AS) and his second wife, Hajara.
LEADERSHIP gathered that both families arrived in Saudi Arabia this week for Umrah and while Aisha Buhari and her five children were allotted two-bedroom accommodation, the former vice president was allotted an eight-room apartment.
LEADERSHIP also learnt that while not a single protocol officer and vehicles were posted by the embassy to attend to the president’s family, a protocol officer and vehicles from the embassy were attached to the former vice president and his family.
An embassy source revealed that Buhari’s wife had travelled to Saudi Arabia via Emirate Airline instead of the presidential jet, as was the practice in the previous administrations, and had decided to seek alternative accommodation by herself at her own expense, to accommodate her and her children.
However, it was gathered that the government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia provided an official vehicle to convey the Nigerian president’s family around as it is done for the families of all visiting heads of state.
The source further revealed that the consular-general, Ahmed Umar, still sees himself as being more beholden to the former vice president than anyone else because Sambo it was that was instrumental to his elevation and posting to Saudi Arabia. He still sees himself basically as Sambo’s protege, a staff member of the embassy told LEADERSHIP.
The source added that even the two-bedroom apartment allotted to the president’s family was a result of the efforts of the ambassador, Alhaji Abubakar Bunu, and not the consular-general.
While the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was in power, Buhari and his family were denied any privileges by the Nigerian embassy in Saudi Arabia, even those due to a former head of state because he was in the opposition.
Sambo and his family had last year embarked on a widely publicised Umrah.
Jos, Kano, Zaria Attacks: End Of Boko Haram In Sight – PMB
Irritated by the latest attacks in Jos, Kano, and Zaria by the Boko Haram sect which killed scores of innocent people, President Muhammadu Buhari declared yesterday that the end of the insurgents was already in sight.
In a statement by his senior special assistant on media and publicity, Mallam Shehu Garba, the president also conveyed his condolences to all Nigerians who lost relatives in the attacks.
“The president is convinced that with recent increases in troops deployment, improvements in the supply of arms and equipment to the military, as well as the ongoing effort to mobilize greater international cooperation and support, the end of Boko Haram and terrorism in Nigeria is in sight,” Shehu stated.
“The president urges all Nigerians, however, not to be unduly disheartened by the seeming resurgence of terrorist attacks and atrocities in the country as his administration remains fully committed to overcoming the challenges of insecurity, terrorism and insurgency as quickly as possible.”
On government’s effort to end insurgency, Shehu sad, “Already, the intensified onslaught by the military on terrorists’ strongholds has led to significant seizures of weapons and vehicles, a blockage of their sources of arms and ammunition, and a decimation of their fighting men.”
He said the country’s armed forces and security agencies were ready to contain the frantic resort by the terrorists to attacks on soft targets such as crowds and places of worship.
He called on Nigerians to remain vigilant and report any suspicious persons to security agents, adding that the administration was giving the highest possible priority to eradicating Boko Haram and ensuring greater security of life and property across the country.
Security Agents Arrest Mastermind Of Jos, Zaria Attacks
Security agents have arrested the mastermind of the coordinated bomb and gun attacks that took place last Sunday in Jos and on Monday in Zaria, army authorities have disclosed.
LEADERSHIP recalls that on Sunday July 5, 2015, suspected Boko Haram terrorists carried out coordinated bomb and gun attacks on worshippers at Ýan Taya mosque, Dillimi Street, off Bauchi Road, Jos, where the Ramadan tafsir was being held, and at Shagalinku Restaurant, along Bauchi Road, Jos, the Plateau State capital, which led to the death of over 48 persons, and injuries to several others.
Similarly, the terrorists carried out another bomb attack on workers undergoing a staff audit at Sabon Gari Local Government Secretariat, Zaria, Kaduna State, which resulted in the death of over 25 people including a two-year-old child.
“Consequently, security cordon was established in the general areas especially along Bauchi, Gombe and the North Eastern part of the country by troops of 3 Division and Special Task Force, as well as the Department of State Services.
“This culminated in the successful arrest of the mastermind of the heinous terrorist acts and two of his accomplices at a checkpoint in Dadin Kowa, Gombe State. The terrorist kingpin and his colleagues, who disguised in a trailer while trying to evade checks, were fished out by troops of Nigerian Army”, the army disclosed in a press statement issued and signed by its acting director of Information and Public Relations, Col Shehu Usman, yesterday in Abuja.
According to him, the arrested terrorists are currently being processed for further action and would soon face the full wrath of the law.
The statement advised the general public “to be more vigilant, security conscious and report any suspicious persons, movements, and facilities to the security agencies.”
Boko Haram: State, Federal Government Must Work Together – UK Envoy
The outgoing British high commissioner to Nigeria, Sir Andrew Pocock, has given a clue on how to advance the battle against Boko Haram in the North East.
He said there has to be a different kind of politics in the North East where state and federal government work together and agree on a common agenda about how to reverse the decades of poor governance in the North East.
The British envoy, who made the remarks while briefing selected journalists in Kaduna, said government must properly equip its military, come up with a well-articulated security network and develop a sound economic agenda for the people of the troubled region and other affected areas.
Pocock, who attributed the increasing bombings in the North East to the lack of cohesion among security agencies and other stakeholders, said that the only way to defeat the insurgents was to make Nigeria’s security forces more resilient.
According to him, with the huge amount earmarked for the defence sector in its annual budget, Nigeria should be capable of providing adequate weapons for its military rather than waiting for help from outside.
He explained that rather than assisting Nigeria with weapons or troops in the ongoing war against terror, Britain can only offer support by way of training and retraining military personnel to make more effective in the field.
“There has to be three different things: the first is a properly articulated security efforts; the second is that there has to be a different kind of politics in the North East, where state and federal government work together instead of against each other and where there is a much more common and agreed agenda about what needs to be done to correct many years of mis-governance and of poor policy in the North East.
“The third dimension has to be a developmental and economic uplift agenda. Too many, particularly young people, are not only without employment in the North East but, because of the insurgency, are without any economic prospect whatsoever. No one can live without hope and, indeed, if the economic and the developmental aspect of these are not addressed, the opportunities for radicalisation are much greater. So, those three things have to work in tandem – the security instrument, politics and development/economic approach.”
He, however, noted that with the new government of President Muhammadu Buhari, people are looking forward to an end of the security situation in the North East, adding that, overall, there is greater chance of stability and economic recovery than before the election.
Pocock remarked that although the army had made some successes in 2013, those efforts were not followed up, allowing Boko Haram to come surging back in 2014, and overran most of the North East, especially Borno Adamawa and Yobe.
My Meeting With Obama Will Strengthen Nigeria, US Ties – PMB
buhari AND obama
President Muhammadu Buhari has expressed hope that his forthcoming meeting with President Barack Obama will further strengthen bilateral ties between Nigeria and the United States of America.
A statement by White House chief press secretary last month had noted that the president was billed to travel to Washington this month on a state visit to that country where he will meet with Obama.
At a meeting the United States deputy secretary of state, Mr. Anthony J. Blinken yesterday, President Buhari noted that his talks with President Obama will also give a much needed impetus to his administration’s efforts to overcome the challenge of terrorism.
According to presidential spokesman, Mr. Femi Adesina, the president told Blinken that Nigeria also looks forward to greater support from the United States for the Multinational Joint Task Force being mobilised against Boko Haram.
“President Buhari said that Nigeria and other Gulf of Guinea nations will also welcome more cooperation from the United States to enhance maritime security in the Gulf and curb crude oil theft,” he noted.
Adesina added that, on behalf of Obama, Mr. Blinken commiserated with President Buhari and all Nigerians over the recent loss of lives in terrorist attacks.
The US envoy said that he was convinced that President Buhari’s election will further expand the frontiers of the existing relationship between Nigeria and the United States.
He assured Buhari that the US government will be ready to discuss all matters put forward by the Nigerian government during his visit to Washington DC.
Culled from LEADERSHIP