President Muhammadu Buhari re-awakened Nigerians on the huge potential of exploiting gas resources to turn around Nigeria’s economy in a week he departed Abuja for London for his routine medical checkup.
Buhari, looking smart in his trademark caftan and a cap to match, bid an emotional farewell to his countrymen before leaving the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja for London.
He is expected back in about a fortnight.
Buhari had earlier on March 29, participated virtually in the 2021 Nigeria International Petroleum Summit Pre-Summit Conference and official launch of the Decade of Gas.
The president re-assured that his administration would utilise the huge gas resources in Nigeria to uplift the country’s economy and drive industrialisation in Africa’s most populous nation.
Oil-rich Nigeria, which is also Africa’s top economy has one of the largest gas reserves in the world.
Buhari said that given Nigeria’s reserve of about 600 trillion cubic feet of gas, the commodity had enormous potential to diversify Nigeria’s economy.
‘‘The rising global demand for cleaner energy sources has offered Nigeria an opportunity to exploit gas resources for the good of the country.
“We intend to seize this opportunity,’’ he stated.
The president also told participants at the conference that his administration had prioritised gas development and recorded remarkable progress.
“It is well known that Nigeria is a gas nation with a little oil but the country has focused on oil over the years.’’
‘‘That is the paradox which this administration decided to confront when we declared the year 2020 as “The Year of Gas” in Nigeria.
‘‘Our major objective for the gas sector is to transform Nigeria into an industrialised nation with gas playing a major role.
‘‘We also kick-started other policies and projects like the National Gas Expansion Programme, Autogas Policy and the construction of the 614 km Ajaokuta-Kaduna-Kano Gas Pipeline Project,’’ he said.
Also on March 29, Buhari counselled that Nigerians were better together, in spite of intermittent inter-ethnic tensions in the country.
He also spoke virtually during the 12th Asiwaju Bola Tinubu Colloquium, held in Kano.
“Despite occasional inter-ethnic tensions in our national history, it seems to me that we have all agreed on one point that notwithstanding our diversity of ethnicity, culture, language and religion, Nigerians are better together; even stronger together.’
“We all have a stake in the Nigeria project and while playing our respective parts in its unity, peace and progress, we must constantly keep faith with the promise of a greater Nigeria.’’
On March 29, Buhari met behind closed doors with the Chairman, Nigerian Governors Forum and Governor of Ekiti, Dr Kayode Fayemi, where issues of security dominated their discussion.
Fayemi, while addressing State House Correspondents shortly after the meeting, commended the Buhari administration for securing funds to purchase weapons for security agencies to end insurgency and criminal activities.
According to him, the security agencies are being equipped with modern gadgets and weapons to enable them to provide adequate security for citizens, including farmers, to avoid food crisis in the country.
On March 30, the president also met behind closed doors with the leadership of the National Assembly, including Senate President Ahmed Lawan and House Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila over supplementary budget for security and COVID-19.
Speaking to reporters at the end of the meeting, Lawan said that they deliberated on crucial national issues with the president.
Also on March 30, Buhari ordered security forces to identify and crush bandits, kidnappers and their collaborators to restore confidence in society.
The president gave the order when he met security chiefs shortly before he travelled out of the country for his medical checkup.
The president’s spokesman, Mr Femi Adesina, said in a statement that that the president “is due back in Nigeria in the second week of April, 2021.”
On March 31, Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo on his part, presided over a virtual meeting of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) at the State House.
A minute silence was observed in honour of two former ministers, Sen. Bode Olowoporoku and Alhaji Umaru Baba.
Baba, 81, died on March 26.
Olowoporoku, who was a one-time Minister of Science and Technology while Baba was at different times, Minister of State for Petroleum Resources and Minister of State for Defence.
He died on March 24 at 76, having served as Senator, representing Ekiti South Senatorial District at the Senate and also as Minister of Science and Technology in the Second Republic.
The virtual FEC meeting had the Chief of Staff to the President, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari and the National Security Adviser, retired Maj.-Gen. Babagana Monguno and seven ministers in attendance.
Also while in London on March 31, Buhari made a telephone call to the out-going leader of Niger Republic, Mahamadou Issoufou, where the Nigerian leader condemned the attempted coup in Niger Republic.
According to a presidential statement, Buhari was quoted as saying that “any illegal effort to depose a democratically elected government is not only despicable but unacceptable to democratic governments around the world.”
On March 31, Osinbajo presided over a tripartite committee meeting, comprising the executive, legislative and leadership of the APC party at the State House.
Those in attendance were Lawan, Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege and Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha.
On April 1, the Presidential Communication Media Team, organised a media briefing with the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Pantami as resource person.
At the briefing, Pantami announced that the Federal Government had so far enrolled 51million citizens in the National Identification Number scheme as at March 31.
He also revealed that 189 million subscribers of the Identification Module had been registered nationwide.
According to the minister, only 150 million out of the 189 million have successfully completed their registration while the remaining have had problems of improper registration.
Also on April 1, Buhari rejoiced with Christians on the occasion of this year’s Easter celebration.
He recalled that “in most of our major cities, our celebrations were subdued as Nigeria battled the effects of the deadly coronavirus pandemic a year ago’’.
The president has also condoled with the family, friends and acquaintances of Mr Yinka Odumakin, Spokesman of the Yoruba socio-political group, Afenifere on the passing of the activist.
Odumakin was Buhari’s spokesman when Buhari ran for president on the platform of the defunct Congress for Progressive Change.
The president described Odumakin as dutiful and a man of conviction.
He expressed sorrow at Odumakin’s demise, especially at a time when he had a lot more to contribute to the society and the nation at large.
On April 3, Buhari condemned the attack in three communities in the Íshíelu Local Government Area of Ebonyi. The attack in which 22 people were reportedly killed took place in Egedege, Obegu and Amuzu communities.
While directing law enforcement agencies to fish out the attackers and make them face justice, Buhari stressed that the perpetrators of the “heinous attack” would not be spared.
He extended his deepest sympathies to families and friends who had lost loved ones during the attack and to every member of the communities.
Similarly, the president also sent a message of sympathy to a former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria and a member of the Presidential Economic Advisory Council, Prof. Chukwuma Soludo, who survived an attack by gunmen in his town in Aguata in Anambra.
Soludo was at a political meeting on his bid to contest for governorship in the upcoming elections in Anambra, slated for Nov. 6.