The Presidency on Friday asked Nigerians to rest assured that President Muhammadu Buhari’s political appointments will balance out with time.
Mr. Femi Adesina, Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, stated this when he featured as a guest on Political Platform, a morning radio programme on RayPower FM radio.
He was responding to the barrage of criticisms that the President’s appointments, particularly the ones announced on Thursday, favoured only people from the Northern part of the country.
Adesina noted that while appointments were Buhari’s prerogative, nobody can challenge the fact that the appointments named so far were based on merit.
The presidential spokesman who said President Buhari is not unmindful of the principle of Federal Character, added that by the time more appointments are made in September, there would be balance.
Stating that the President would keep to his promise of appointing the remaining aides and ministers in September, he said, “Nobody can fault the fact that the persons appointed were appointed on merit.
“In terms of the spread, the President has prerogative to appoint and he knows there is federal character. I am sure that there will be balance in the future. These are still early days. At the end of the day, we will have a balance.
“By the time more appointments are made, it will balance out. The President is trying to get the very best of Nigerians. The issue of key positions and no key positions should not be the issue. He gave a deadline of September for the appointment of ministers and he will keep to it.”
Adesina further said it was unfair for anybody to blame the President for some specific positions that needed to be filled because of elections.
He listed some other positions the President had little or no influence on to include appointments made as a result of next in command, like those of the acting Chairman of the Independent Electoral Commission and that of the Chief Justice of Nigeria as well as those in the National Assembly.
Buhari approves Centenary City project
President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday gave his nod to the Centenary City project after he was briefed by the project’s management team that all the original inhabitants of the project site have already been fully compensated.
Buhari who spoke after he was briefed by the Chairman of the company’s board of directors, General Abdulsalami Abubakar (rtd) and members of its management team asked them to be giving regular updates on the Centenary City’s development.
Mallam Garba Shehu, his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, said the President praised the Centenary City’s main development partners from the United Arab Emirates for showing enough confidence in Nigeria by investing about $18.5 billion in the project.
Shehu said Buhari also welcomed the assertion by Gen. Abubakar and his team that the project will create about 250,000 more direct jobs in the Federal Capital Territory and about half a million indirect jobs.
The President, he added, noted that skills, expertise and vast experience that will be brought into the country to build the Centenary City on the Dubai model will also be of immense benefit to Nigeria’s overall development.
The presidential spokesman also quoted Vice President Yemi Osinbajo who was also present at the briefing as saying the issue of the rights of the original inhabitants of the site acquired for the Centenary City had been of concern to the present Administration.
“We are glad that it is being handled,” Osinbajo said, and welcomed the assurance that compensation had been paid to those who will be displaced by the project and that the issue of their relocation was being addressed.
Earlier, former head of state Abubakar and the management of the Centenary City also told President Buhari and Vice President Osinbajo that the project will be totally private sector driven.
The Permanent Secretary of the FCT Administration, Mr. John Chukwu who spoke to journalists after the meeting with the President advised Nigerians to always rely on what was in the public domain instead of listening to unfounded speculations.
“If you have issues with the Centenary City, the best approach is to talk to those who know to give you the information, not speculations,” Chukwu stated.
He was apparently reacting to allegations by National Vice Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for South-South, Dr. Cairo Ojougboh that the immediate SGF, Chief Pius Anyim connived with the sponsors of the project to engage in fraudulent deals.
In a petition to the President, Ojougboh called for a probe of the role played by Anyim in the multi-billion dollar project spanning over 1,500 hectares of land in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja
The Managing Director of Centenary City Plc, Dr. Odenigwe Micheal who also spoke to journalists said they were at the Villa to pay courtesy call on the President following the company’s 10th Board meeting on Thursday.
He said, while Centenary City Plc is owned by 40 Nigerians and international investors, its partner, Eagles Hill is sponsored by the Sovereign Wealth Fund which has over $12m on the management under agreement with the FCDA and other extant agreements.
“We have paid all the interested holders the compensation for the Centenary City site. We are going ahead with their relocation, also being supervised by the FCDA,” he added.