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One Year After: President Buhari’s Foreign Trips In Perspective
By Johannes Tobi Wojuola

It is a year since President Muhammadu Buhari assumed office. And within this time frame, he has visited countries in Africa, Asia, Middle East, Europe and North America. About a week back, he returned from London on yet another foreign visit. It is to be recalled that in fact, President Buhari started his first week in office with trips to Niger, Chad and Germany. The travelling President, some may rant.

In recent months, the President’s trips were made the subject of discourse: from the print, to the electronic, to the social media. Some critics have asked why President Buhari cannot spend time at home to deal with the myriad daunting problems that Nigeria is facing. Some are even worried that his frequent travels constitute distractions to him. Yet, there are those who cynically ask what gains the frequent travels have brought to Nigeria.

Convinced of the “negative impact” of the President’s travels, some analysts have gone to the extent of concluding that the trips constitute a serious drain to the nation’s lean purse; arguing on the cost associated with running the Presidential Aircraft, retinue of Presidential staff and other government officials in tow on these trips.

This small, but virulent minority believes and expects that benefits from the President’s external trips must be immediate, quantifiable, visible and commensurate with the financial cost of undertaking them. So vociferous and strident is this view point that the public narrative of President Buhari’s handling of his foreign policy in the last one year has come to be defined in pejorative terms of the President’s disinterest in managing Nigeria's domestic affairs, frivolity, lack of commitment and outright waste of state resources.

Those who hold these views are entitled to their opinion; after all, freedom of expression is a cardinal tenet of democracy. Under Nigeria’s bourgeoning democracy, one should expect no less than an unfettered democratic space for people to vent their feelings as enshrined in the country’s constitution. What is problematic with this unfettered expression of freedom is the fact that critics of the President's foreign policy management want to assume centre stage in their narrative.

At this point in Nigeria’s tough journey – post an administration that ineffectively managed a war against terrorists in the North Eastern parts of the country; allowed an untrammeled stealing of Nigeria’s resources and lived with a monotonic focus on crude oil as the major source of revenue - the President can ill-afford to cocoon himself in the confines of Aso Villa to fix the myriad of problems we currently face; there is no country that can stand alone in this face of challenges. Mutual partnerships and relationships must be forged to tackle these issues that are in truth extra-territorial.

Many people are not aware of the fact that the President’s travels, apart from those that he has undertaken, and rightly so, to attend multi-lateral meetings such as the United Nations, African Union, the Commonwealth and others, every other visit has been at the invitation of the Sovereigns (Heads of State or Government) of the countries he has visited. An Official or State visit of any Head of State to another is a mark of great respect for the visitor. It follows therefore, that when a Head of State does not receive an invitation from a colleague somewhere to visit, it means one of several things: the Head of State does not enjoy the respect of his peers; there are ongoing differences or disputes, or simply the Head of State has some issues with the International community. Fortunately for Nigeria, this is not the case under President Buhari.

By this reasoning, it follows that the invitations extended to President Buhari are indicative of the regard he is held with by his peers. Indeed, Mr. President came into office with a commodity that is in very short supply today and this commodity is called TRUST. His election in 2015 in a free, fair, credible and transparent election attests to the trust that the overwhelming majority in Nigeria has in him. He did not assume office with any legitimacy deficit. On the contrary, he emerged as a leader that Nigerians believed in and trusted to the extent that they gave him the mandate to lead the country.

An undiscerning mind would take for granted that a person’s integrity counts for nothing at the international level. This is a fallacy that must be discarded. In the global arena, persona and perception are two sides of the same coin. Mr. President has received invitations to participate in meetings that were reserved for a select few. It was a matter of pride to hear leaders of the G-7, all of them advanced democracies, where the quality of governance is assured, refer again and again to President Buhari’s integrity. This has resonated every where he has visited. For the avoidance of doubt, integrity is not only in short supply, more especially, with regard to African leaders, but even more so, it cannot be bought off the shelf of shop in a mall.

President Muhammadu Buhari is easily the most powerful leader in Africa. In the West Africa sub region his influence is palpable. Only two weeks ago, President Buhari hosted in Abuja the second Regional Security Summit with the theme, Consolidating Collective Efforts for Regional Peace and Development. Hosting the conference reinforced the primal role Nigeria now plays in regional security affairs. Significantly, in attendance were President Francois Hollande of France, the Heads of State of Niger, Togo, Benin, Senegal, Chad, Cameroon, Central Africa Republic, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, and Ghana, Ministers from United States, United Kingdom, and the People’s Republic of China, and plenipotentiaries of the UN, EU, AU, ECOWAS, World Bank, IMF, and Lake Chad Basin Commission.

In February early this year, politicians in Niger Republic, Nigeria’s neighbours to the North, were seen using President Buhari’s picture side by side with theirs – presenting themselves to have Buhari’s most cherished and rare trait, integrity.

The campaign trucks of the current President who was then seeking a second term displayed President Buhari’s picture beside his. And it was not surprising that grass-root politicians there called themselves “Buharin Niger”.
Leading from the front in the areas most deficient and affecting African countries – anti-corruption and good governance, economic prosperity and security – has earned President Buhari this global adoration.

It was not fluke or casted lot when President Buhari was invited to the Anti-Corruption Summit hosted by Britain’s Prime Minister, David Cameron; he wasn’t just invited to attend, he was also designated the prominence of delivering the Summit’s keynote address: Why We Must Tackle Corruption Together. The summit, a first of its kind sought to galvanise a global response to tackle corruption, a move that President Buhari is already leading in sincerity and action domestically.

President Buhari’s international prowess, respect and acceptance has fetched many benefits for Nigeria in the kitty. The obvious is the refacing of Nigeria’s image abroad. With a leader that brings a rare commodity to the table, the corollary is the renewed opinion now held about Nigeria and Nigerians by foreigners.

Financial benefits, though not immediate as we will all have loved in these times of dwindling earnings, are Nigeria bound. Through investments, repatriated funds from Nigeria’s stolen commonwealth stashed in foreign havens, grants and aids, the fruits of these trips will be felt soonest – especially given the prudent management known of President Muhammadu Buhari.

The foreign policy of the Buhari administration leans towards fulfilling the tripod mandate which he campaigned on: To secure Nigeria and her people, to fight corruption and to rejuvenate the economy. He has embarked on trips geared at fostering the needed relationships and supports that would make his roadmap for Nigeria a reality.

Long term and sustainable relationships underpin the goals of each journey. Nigeria is headed towards reclaiming its Big Brother role in Africa. And trip by trip, the giant of Africa itches out of her slumber.

Johannes Tobi Wojuola is a Lawyer, and a Global Shaper at the Abuja Community Hub.
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1ST YEAR FACT SHEET - for May 29, 2016: LANDMARKS OF PRESIDENT BUHARI’S ADMINISTRATION

KEY SECTORS IN VIEW

National Security
Corruption
Economy
Governance
National Image

SECURITY

Fight against insurgency:

•The relocation of the Nigerian Military Command Centre to Maiduguri, since May 2015, contributed to the success in the fight against insurgency in the North Eastern part of the country.
•As at February 2016, the total number of persons rescued by the Nigerian troops during the ongoing operations in the North East came to 11,595
•Since December 2015, the well-motivated and rejuvenated Nigerian Military have regained all Nigerian territories previously under Boko Haram control.
•Prioritized regional cooperation in the fight against Boko Haram insurgency and violent extremism, through the operations of the 8, 500 strong Multi-National Joint Task Force in N’Djamena, the capital of Chad, currently headed by a Nigeria Military general.
•Nigeria has provided $21million USD to the Task Force since June 2015 and is committed to an additional $79 million USD, bringing the total of Nigeria’s commitment to the Task Force to 100 million USD.
•Cohesive international support in the fight against terrorism and assistance to victims and communities affected by terrorism, following President Buhari’s meeting with G7 leaders and other world powers.
•In May 2016, Nigeria hosted a Regional Security Summit to boost military operations against Boko Haram and forge a global support for the rehabilitation of the IDPs and rebuilding of the North East.
•In June 2015, the United States announced a 5-million-dollar Support for the fight against the terrorists in the sub-region.
• In April 2016, during the visit to Ms Samantha Power, the U.S Ambassador to the UN to Nigeria, Cameroon and Chad, the U.S Government further announced an additional $40 million USD for humanitarian assistance in the sub-region
•Recruitment of additional 10,000 persons into the Nigeria Police Force is ongoing. The recruitment will address the manpower gap which currently exists in the Nigeria Police
•Overhaul of the dysfunctional topmost hierarchy of the Nigerian military which resulted in optimal result and degradation of the B.H elements.
•Was able to bring back our hitherto military allies back; which saw the United States and UK governments commit their resources to the fight against the insurgents after previously backing out of negotiations with the previous administration. The Israeli government has also indicated interest in the fight against insurgency.
•Introduction of the motor cycle battalion (This is so that the Army can travel to remote areas that aren’t accessible to cars/trucks)
•Realigned our partnership with regional allies by embarking on foreign visits which resulted in bilateral and multilateral agreements to tackle insecurity back home.
•No more roadblocks and curfews which normally impede free flow of movement, restates the victory of the war.
•The continuous monitoring of activities in the region of war through the use of satellite images and geographical information system is helping in fighting insurgency and strategizing against the enemy.
•The trips to our neighbouring countries shows the resolve of the president to push Boko Haram elements out of existence by going for the jugular of the group, cutting their arms, food supply routes. Support has thus been mobilized through the Multinational Joint Task Force.
•Another major stride is the Trans National Organized Crime (TNOC) where the president got partnership with regional allies in the fight against the proliferation of Small Arms and Light Weapons.
•As part of the refigured military partnership the United States Donation of 24 mine-resistant armoured vehicles (MRAP) which protected the Nigerian troops, especially against the menace of improvised explosives devices and resulted in having less causalities.
• Reached out to the G7 countries and achieved the following: Intelligence sharing; Technical military training; Arms deals/donations

Vandalism and Militancy

Overhauling of NIMASA: A reverse policy of the past where national infrastructural assets were given to militia leaders to protect as against established bodies like the Nigerian Navy has been stopped.
This government has drafted the army to partner with other security agencies in ensuring the security of our national infrastructure and this is already yielding the desired results.
A major ring of pipeline vandals in Lagos state were captured recently in a joint operation by security forces led by the army.
The government has also renewed its fight against oil bunkering
The Navy has made tremendous success lately in apprehending vessels used by oil thieves. This operation has improved security on our water ways and it has also helped improve the revenue of government.
Deployment of sophisticated weapons to ensure vandalism is contained by setting up a pipeline security force in stamping out the menace.
Effective management of the separatist Biafran uprising.

Internal Security:

Improving the technical capacity of NPF; we now have a forensic lab; a GSM tracking device. We now have a more IT integrated Police force.
Restructuring of Nigerian Immigration to stop cross border crimes.
NSCDC has become more proactive in the prevention of pipeline vandalization. There have been the arrests of several pipeline vandals.

Herdsmen Crisis

Joint operations involving various securities in curbing the menace of the herdsmen in the country has been set up. Arrests of suspects ongoing.
The use of surveying and updated mappings across the country is a strategic way in preventing threats among ethnic groups in Nigeria.


CORRUPTION

•Right from the moment he won the Presidential Election in 2015, the impression of the President as no nonsense and incorruptible leader sent a signal to looters of public funds, with many of them returning funds that had been stolen under previous administration.
•To create a frame work for prosecuting the war against corruption and institutionalize probity, President Buhari set up an Advisory Committee on War Against Corruption.
• On assumption of office, the President cut down the number of ministries from 42 to 25 to reduce the cost of governance.
•The President directed that all top government officials must prioritize on foreign travels, and use only business class tickets, instead of the statutory first class tickets.
• The anti-corruption battle is gaining ground with several high profile cases already in the courts. The administration is being guided by the rule of law in the prosecution of corruption cases.
• President Buhari enlisted the support of multilateral institutions like the World Bank and IMF, security agencies, Western countries and other friendly nations to source, locate and repatriate stolen assets.
• At a London summit on anti-corruption, President Buhari announced that Nigeria will begin the full implementation of the principles of the OPEN contracting data standards.
•In the first quarter of 2016, President Buhari embarked on trips to the Middle East to sensitize the governments on the need to repatriate stolen assets and hand over the looters for trial in Nigeria. In January, Nigeria and UAE signed Judicial Agreements on Extradition, Transfer of Sentenced Persons, Mutual Legal Assistance on Criminal Matters.
•In March 2016, the Federal Government and the Swiss Government signed a Letter of Intent On the Restitution of Illegally-Acquired Assets forfeited in Switzerland. Under the agreement, Switzerland will repatriate $ 321 million USD illicitly acquired by the Gen. Sani Abacha family.
•In March 2016, the Presidential Committee set up to probe contracts awarded by the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) from 2011 to 2015 announced the recovery of over N7 billion from indicted companies and individuals.

Judiciary

Since the coming of this administration, President Buhari has maintained a clear stance and policy on the rule of law and separation of powers. He has maintained that the rule of law will be followed to the letter throughout his administration; and to consolidate a sustainable infrastructure that will stand the test of time, he has beamed his light on strengthening institutions that will continue with the mandate of ensuring law and order in our society.
Having met an almost decaying and inert EFCC, Police Force, and other justice sector institutions, President Buhari has made it a mandate to revive them to standard; by improving their welfare packages, increasing their strength, giving more powers to them, and changing their leadership.

In the judiciary specifically, President Buhari has insisted that he cannot fight corruption without an arm-in-arm collaboration of the Executive with this sector. He has thus sought the help and partnership of the Chief Justice of Nigeria in reforming this sector that will evidently play a prominent role in his fight against corruption and the strengthening of the principles of the rule of law.
President Buhari has made it clear that independence of the Judiciary will be sacrosanct. Following the principles of Separation of Powers, President Buhari has re-enforced that while all arms of government should work towards fulfilling the common objectives that have been set out in the Constitution for the well-being and good of all Nigerians, they must nonetheless work independently of the control of the other. They must not be influenced by the political or self-motivated moves of the other in fulfilling their constitutional mandate. This is President Buhari’s philosophy on Separation of Powers.

Below are bullet points of activities embarked on by the President
Muhammadu Buhari administration in the Judiciary:

Maintaining the sacrosanct independence of the judiciary
Interaction and hand in hand team work with the Chief Justice of
Nigeria to improve the nation’s judicial administrative system
Appointment of 30 new Federal High Court Justices to improve the hands on deck in the Judiciary
Appointment of the Prof. Itse Sagay Anti-Corruption Committee to provide support to anti-corruption agencies and ensure that the administration of justice is effective and efficient especially in corruption cases. This Committee also has a mandate to develop comprehensive interventions for achieving recommended reforms in the judicial sector.
Suspension of erring judges without politicizing the action
None interference of the President Buhari led Executive in court judgments especially as regards election matters; further advancing the strengthening of the institution of the independent electoral body and the judiciary.

ECONOMY
• Implementation of the Treasury Single Account (TSA) has provided greater visibility of government revenues and cash flows. Between June 2015 and April 2016, the Federal Government TSA collection clocked N3trillion.
•To further instill fiscal discipline, President Buhari directed the closure of all multiple accounts in Ministries, Departments and Agencies of government, thereby plugging loopholes for leakages with new technology.
• The opaque accounting structure of the NNPC has been reconstructed to be more transparent with the closure of more than 40 accounts. As a corporate entity, NNPC is now accountable and more transparent in operations, publishing its monthly financial reports.
• For a nimble, measurable and effective entity, the NNPC is undergoing restructuring. The restructuring of the NNPC leaves more room for competition, predictable revenue generation and compliance with global best practice of operations.
•Initially grounded before the inauguration, Port Harcourt and Warri refineries are back in operation with 60 per cent capacity and producing 7 million litres of PMS daily. The Kaduna refinery also resumed production at the end of the April, 2016.
• The President also resolved the lingering shadowy oil swap deals that had cost the country billions of dollars and left it at the mercy of a few rich Nigerians.
•To alleviate the suffering of Nigerians in September 2015, President Buhari directed the Central Bank of Nigeria to disburse N689.5 billion as bailout to 27 states of the federation to pay salaries.
•To stimulate the economy and reduce poverty, in April, 2016, President Buhari approved deferment in the payment of the bailout as states were still reeling under the burden of the fall in commodity prices.
•Records of more than 34,000 ghost workers draining the nation’s resources were expunged from the Federal Civil Service, saving N2.29 billion monthly.
•In 2015, President Buhari ruled out the appointment of a government delegation for pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia. By this decision, the government saved about one million U.S dollars and N30m of local expenses

Oil and Gas
1. Reorganization/restructuring of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) into a focused, accountable and transparent institution with autonomous Units (Upstream; Downstream, Gas & Power; Refineries; Ventures and lean Group Headquarters)
2. Reduction of operational deficits in NNPC by over 50% as at March 2016 as a result of Increased Transparency and Commercial focus
3. Conduct of NNPC outstanding Annual Audits from 2011 to 2014, and the publication of Monthly Financial and Operations Reports to ensure transparency
4. Introduction of third party financing in order to eliminate direct funding of cash calls by the Federal Government
5. Renegotiation of existing service contracts under Joint Venture and Production sharing contracts (PSC) Operations by about 30% leading to operational efficiency improvements and cost reductions
6. Elimination of the Offshore Processing Agreement (OPA) through the introduction of the Direct Sales and Direct Purchase (DSDP) scheme with reputable off-shore refineries thereby yielding annual savings of US$1 billion
7. Resuscitation of Port Harcourt, Warri and Kaduna Refineries presently producing about 7 million litres of products per/day
8. Repair of products pipe lines and the resuscitation of supply of products from Atlas Cove-Mosimi- Ibadan- Ilorin after a six year lull
9. Repairs of Escravos/ Warri and Bonny/Port Harcourt crude oil pipe lines
10. Introduction of a Price Modulation framework for downstream petroleum product pricing to encourage responsiveness to market dynamics
11. Guided deregulation of the Downstream sector to allow market forces determine product price and eliminate subsidy payments
12. Introduction of the initiative on refinery co-location to increase domestic refining capacity and minimize the drain on scarce foreign exchange for product importation
13. Commenced policy reforms for gas monetization, flare out and infrastructure development, to fast track power supply and economic diversification.

Solid Minerals:
Completion of Ajaokuta Steel Plant
Mining Of non-oil mineral resources to generate revenue for the government, according to the initiative by the Ministry of Solid Minerals.

Power
Under President Buhari, the Federal Government agreed to a 50 million Euro (about (N11.15 billion) loan agreement with French government for capacity-building and upgrade of power training facilities in Nigeria.
Nigeria signed a $237 million agreement with World Bank to improve power.
President Buhari discussed initiatives to bring solar power price down to five US cents per kilowatt hour, (approximately N10) as against the price of 17 US cents (N34) per KW/h tariff in Nigeria fixed at privatisation by the last government with a solar deployment agreement soon to be signed.
Chinese Solar power manufacturers agreed with the Federal Government to set up solar panel manufacturing business in Nigeria.
President Buhari signed agreement with Chinese president to improve Nigeria’s power infrastructure
Power supply in February peaked at over 5000mw for the first time in the history of the country.

Economic Policies
Treasury Single Account: In plugging identified leakages, the TSA (Treasury Single Account), though not an original idea of this administration, was made a cornerstone of this administration and the result is there for all to see. Over N3 trillion have been saved already and that is huge.
Enforcement of the Bank Verification Number: Also the BVN has ensured that the menace of "ghost workers" are being identified and dealt with, while looters with multiple accounts can no longer hide their loot undetected.
Social Protection: Social Protection, is another cornerstone of the administration populist policy, although it hasn't been fully implemented due to some delay in signing the budget, the groundwork is fully in place as data are being collated by the economic planning office of the VP in conjunction with the World Bank.
Oil and gas: While we have been faced with severe shortage of PMS and at times, aviation fuel, it is undeniable that progress is being made in the downstream sector of oil and gas. Just recently the Kaduna Refinery finally began production while the one in Port Harcourt had begun production after several years of zero production, but for saboteurs and vandals, most of the refineries would have been at over 90% production as at today.

GOVERNANCE
Infrastructural Development and Transportation
Over $6 billion in investments was the fallout of the president's state visit to China. Completion of the Kaduna-Abuja rail line and the construction of the coastal rail line linking major economic centres of the south, south east and south west cities will be executed from the Chinese funding. Contractors have been mobilised to return construction sites, after they abandoned construction of critical roads long before the 2015 election.

Education
Since his assumption of political power in the last eleven months, President Mohammadu Buhari had severally admitted publicly that the standard of education in the country has declined drastically. The recent of this public admission was during the 30th convocation and 40th anniversary of the University of Port Harcourt.
Below are some of the robust plans of the President for Nigerian education.
Provision of adequate security in the nation’s university: The administration believes that no meaningful teaching, learning and research can take place in an atmosphere of insecurity. For this reason, the government has promised to enhance security situation in all the nation universities to ensure conducive learning atmosphere.
Encourage private/Government partnership. With the understanding that government cannot do it alone, Buhari administration has concluded plans to encourage universities to go into partnership through Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) model of provision of students accommodation to ensure that students are not exploited in any way
Through capacity building project, government has improves the capacity of lecturers and teachers across the nation university system. The project which is yielding results has benefited over 12,000 university teachers.
Development of a cash transfer programme which will include the provision of free education for science, technology and education students in tertiary institutions.
Home grown public primary feeding. This project will generate thousands of employment for different categories of Nigerians across the country.
Recruitment, training and deployment of 5,000 unemployed graduates and NCE holders to strengthen basic education, especially in the rural areas.
Inauguration of a committee to look into the management of 10 universities and polytechnics over allegations of abuse of due process, financial mismanagement and sexual harassment from lecturers to students.
Commitment to expansion and improving early childhood care and education to achieving universal basic education.
To provide the political will and commitment to overhaul education sector by stemming the tide of policy somersault and neglect of innovations in the education sector.
To address the problems of infrastructure and gross underfunding of education in the country. This will meet the challenges of decayed infrastructures.

Environment
Presidential approval for the Implementation of United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) report 2010 for the clean-up Ogoniland with regards to oil pollution. Inclusion of stakeholders in the process of implementation.
Revival of the implementation of the Great Green Wall project to fight and contain desertification in Northern Nigeria initiated by past administration.
Appointment of professional as minister who had worked as presidential aide on MDG instead of career politician who have no knowledge on sustainability
The Ogoni Land Clean Up will commence from the 2nd of June.

Sport
Prompt release of fund for the preparation of the Olympic Games after supplementary budget was approved by National Assembly December 2015.
Victory of under-17 National team 2015 as world champion.
Victory of National Basketball team as African Champion in 2015
Victory of a Nigerian as World Chess champion.
Reward of 1985 under 17 National team world champions after 30 years of not fulfilling promises made to them.
Reward of Paralympics athletes this year.

NATIONAL IMAGE
On assumption of office, the president undertook some foreign trips both within and outside Africa to reestablish Nigeria’s position in the global arena and solicit support for Nigeria and Africa. Of course, Nigeria as the most populous black nation is expected to play a leading role in global affairs. Mr. President embarked on strategic visits to France, South Africa, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and also attended the G7 summit which held in Germany. During the trips, he canvassed for the support and understanding of world leaders for the three planks on which his administration came into office. They are fight against corruption, security and economy. The direct result of these foreign trips include the commitment of various countries to assist in the repatriation of stolen funds, war against terrorism and charting a new direction for the country’s economy.
It is well known fact that Africa is the centerpiece of Nigeria’s foreign policy. Mr. President ensured that Nigeria’s foreign policy derives from his domestic objectives already encapsulated above.
In realization of the need to secure Nigeria, and by extension the entire West African sub region, especially those countries like Cameroon and Chad where Boko Haram had been carrying out attacks, President Buhari quickly embarked on shuttle diplomatic trips to Niger, Chad, Cameroun and Benin Republic.
He used the opportunities of those trips to galvanise their support in combating the menace of Boko Haram terrorists. Having rallied them, a multi-national joint task force was established and Nigeria committed funds towards facilitating their operations.
So far, the MNJTF along with the Nigerian Armed Forces have successfully decimated the terrorists. Presently they are unable to occupy territories or roam about killing and destroying communities.
In the global arena, President Buhari has forcefully pushed the agenda for Nigeria’s recognition. At the United Nations, he threw Nigeria’s support for a Palestine State; while in his address at the European Union Parliament he successfully assailed the August body with the great potentials inherent in our country. He also used the opportunity to inform the global community that democracy has come to stay in Nigeria. He gave example of the success of 2015 election in which for the first time an incumbent president was defeated and handed over power to the opposition.
Mr. President has also continued in his global shuttle diplomacy with a trip to Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirate, Kenya and China. During the trips several bilateral agreements aimed at advancing Nigeria’s progress were signed. For example, a mutual legal agreement was signed between Nigeria and UAE on repatriation of looted funds, transfer of prisoners among others. In Saudi Arabia, he met with the Saudi King and canvassed the need for the kingdom to support OPEC policy on reducing oil output to the international market as a way of improving and stabilizing prices. Recently, Mr. President undertook a state visit to China and the inherent multi-dimensional benefits accruable will begin to manifest soon.
It is on record that before he was officially sworn into office, President Buhari had taken the initiative to deploy former Vice President Atiku Abubakar to South Africa as special envoy to lobby President Jacob Zuma and the SADC countries for the emergence of Dr Akinwumi Adesina as President of the Africa Development Bank
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Facts are Sacred by Johannes Tobi Wojuoala

 “Comments are free, but facts are sacred”

When U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry spoke at a joint press conference with Nigeria’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, he lauded President Buhari’s fight against terrorism and his successful efforts in curbing insurgency in Nigeria. He was speaking from facts.

Over the last ten months since President Buhari was sworn in as President, there has been a palpable change in stories that have emanated from the North Eastern part of our country. From daily bomb-blasts at market places, to attacks on places of worship; from Boko Haram making nervy claims to Nigerian territory and hoisting their disdainful flags to spite our sovereignty, to the kidnap of our young  promising boys and girls; from military commanders wining and dining in the capital city even during the heat of war, to our indefatigable  soldiers in the battlefront complaining of lack of bullets; from mothers and wives of our gallant forces protesting against poor welfare to their sons and husbands, to battalions fleeing at the sight of Boko Haram Hilux Trucks. These facts dominated the media space at some point in time. But they have changed.

A week ago, a soccer match was played in the heart of Borno State between the El Kanemi Warriors against the Shooting Stars of Ibadan. The last time the Warriors stepped out for a game on that turf was three years ago.

Over the past three years, Nigerians were scared to go to places of worship for fear of untimely bomb blasts or for fear of a random shooting from the vile Boko Haram sect. But today that fact has changed. In several communities around the North East, not only have Churches and Mosques been rebuilt, worship of the creator in His sanctuary has returned.

Indeed it became obvious at some point that Nigerians seemed to have lost empathy: the constant news headlines of attacks and bomb blasts, killings, shootings and kidnappings with figure counts in scores and hundreds left many affectionless. The question then was not about who died, but where the attack hit; the casualties were too many; keeping track was a chore; the dead became mere numbers.
But these facts are fast becoming past tense.

Only last weekend, the Army Chief, Lieutenant-General Buratai reopened the Damaturu-Biu Road that had been shut for over three years. This act has sparked a renaissance of socio-economic activities in that area.

In droves, families of the Buni Yadi Community, taking the now opened Damaturu-Biu route joyfully returned to clean up their homes and settle in. Most have begun setting back their businesses up, as economic activities have slowly returned to many other communities in the North East. The IDP Camps that once formed their temporary abodes are emptying. Hope for a return, once a figment, is now a tactile reality.

In the last six months, more than 200 top Boko Haram kingpins have been arrested; including many who matched the faces of those on the 100 Most Wanted Terrorists list released by the military.

Within a span of six weeks, over 11,000 Boko Haram abductees have been freed by the Nigerian Military as they comb and clear the labyrinthine forests and territories once occupied and held by the now degraded sect.

In Borno State, a week ago, the University of Maiduguri held a combined convocation ceremony for over 37,000 students – this grand ceremony, antithetical to the core of what Boko Haram stands for, has certainly left the now enervated sect to realize the change in facts.

Two, three years ago, not only the fear of a monumental attack on such a gathering would have disturbed the minds of the hosts, but the very likely low attendance that would have greeted the ceremony. A clear statement made by hosting the convocation can be gleaned as thus: we have been brought to our knees in the past, but we have risen, and even taller.

President Muhammadu Buhari has prosecuted the war against terrorism with a fierce determination and vigor that has birthed the a priori results we see today.

While, in truth, Boko Haram remain a threat, as also Al Qaeda, ISIS and every other doctrinal manifestation of terrorism, they have as of fact, been severely downgraded and decimated by the Nigerian Military since the coming in of this administration.

Nonetheless, we are only half way gone on this war. A lot, still has, and must be done. Only last week a Nigerian Military Commander suffered an ambush attack. The attack was successfully quelled, but it cost the life of one of our soldiers.

It signifies two things: the sect is still a menace; but, our Military is more powerful than ever to neutralize them. They can no longer launch monumental territory claiming attacks; they cannot assault and destroy municipal institutions and security outfits as they once could; they have now been relegated to the bushes of the Sambisa forest. But therein lies the onerous task our Military must achieve next: completely wiping the sect out from their caves and importantly returning life back to normalcy for the over one million internally displaced Nigerians in that region.

No doubt, Boko Haram – having lost the power to coalesce and pull formidable attack stunts - will now take to soft targets attacks, ambushes, suicide bombs, guerilla strikes and one-man warfare.  The resort to using young female suicide bombers – girls captured by them as their weapons – gives credence to their new survival tactics they have employed in this next phase of battle.

The mop-up and return to normalcy for the people of the North East will be a demanding and daunting one. The radical views of this terrorist group and the socio-economic propellers that fostered their growth are still potent.

The Military must improve on its information gathering and find the terrorists in their caves even before they attack.

The Government as a whole must do all that is needful for the rehabilitation, reconstruction and reconciliation of the people of the North East – a move that has already been set in motion with evaluation and assessment reports underway. Soonest, we must see the fruition of these paperwork.

The minds of our brothers and sisters in this region have been defiled by the horrendous scenes of bloodshed and war. The trauma they now experience will be lifelong and bitter. The least we must do is to be compassionate and do all that is possible to bring them back to normalcy.

Even as the Nigerian Military soar in their feats; and the facts of history laud their efforts and victory, we must brace up for another phase of this journey: the total recovery of the people of the North East back to the status quo ante and even better.

Nevertheless, the facts as we knew them have changed. A lot of calm, life and sanity has returned to most parts of the North East. This we must applaud. And give ALL Glory to God.
 
Johannes Tobi Wojuola is a Lawyer
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Speed is Good, but Order is Better

 “Grain by grain, a loaf; stone by stone a castle”, says a Yugoslavian proverb.

Haile Gebrselassie is one of the word’s legends in marathon racing. Usain Bolt is the King of the legends of sprint racing – 100m and 200m dashes. Haile is good at sprint, so also Usain can make a good attempt at long distance running. But neither can be king in the other’s forte.

Why? Because marathon and sprint are two different kinds of races with different requirements for excelling in either. The short and quick trip of a sprint requires expending more energy and swift speed than the long, onerous and systematic race of a marathon.

Winning a sprint is about the velocity of the start and your reaction time. This is not the same for a marathon. Winning a marathon requires a systematic consistency in expending speed in pace and endurance through the long 20 kilometer plus race. You do not run the whole marathon; you strategically begin at a slower pace, to a fast pace – maintained and sustained over a period of time – and finally, win with a sprint.

Nigeria’s journey through change is a marathon and not a sprint.

In the third paragraph to the last of President Buhari’s October 1st address to Nigerians are pithy wise words that convey the secret to the marathoner's success: “Impatience is not a virtue. Order is more vital than speed.”

Getting Nigeria back on track – revitalizing a moribund economy perfidiously left in shambles; securing Nigerians from insurgents and common criminals; uprooting corruption from the many nooks and crannies it has made home – will not be achieved in the wink of an eye.

Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka says, and aptly so: “The economic condition of the nation of the people does not deteriorate overnight … A prolonged and unchecked process of attrition which was neglected in the past is now knocking on the door.”

Fixing the mare’s nest that resulted from this prolonged attrition of our economy cannot be achieved in one fell swoop; hasty climbers have sudden falls mirrors Robert Greene.

President Buhari began his tenure in a cautious, careful and calculated fashion. Proving to understand the architecture of achieving sustainable development; through strategic fixes geared towards a common long term goal for the Nigerian project. His decisions and actions have clearly not been for the show and optics, but for first and foremost the betterment of the Nigerian people – in the long run.

One minute of patience, ten years of peace resonates a Greek proverb.

Mr. Buhari has since resumption of office picked pace, step by step; starting systematically with the revival of the EFCC for his anti-graft fight. Thus setting the foundation for any work he will seek to achieve in office. It resonates with the indispensable fact that corruption cannot subsist with any development agenda that any government may seek to put in place.

The full implementation of the Treasury Single Account (TSA) set the ball rolling for all round accountability, consolidation of government revenue and in effect curbing the systemic corruption of government agencies in remitting revenue back to government purse.

The rejuvenation of our institutions bespeaks the reality of a system responding to the gradual process of change: all of a sudden, the EFCC sat up, so did the NCC and the CBN; the Custom Service had a revenue boost in its short period of changed leadership. As gradual and tardy as this change may seem, it is taking shape, form and setting the ground for soon coming results.

Even the Holy Book of the Bible notes in Isaiah 66 verse 8: “Shall a land be born in one day? Shall a nation be brought forth at once? For as soon as Zion travailed, she brought forth her children.” Nigeria, like Zion, will indeed experience difficult times in the birthing of change, but it will be worth it at the end.

The moral imperative of patience must be summoned for the months to come.

Beyond the rhetoric and exuberance of transient hashtags reflecting an understandable desire from Nigerians for quick results and magic-wand change, President Buhari is laying a solid foundation for a robust, sustainable and revolutionary change agenda.

Diversification of the economy - through exploiting the potentials of the agriculture, power, mining, technology and manufacturing sectors - is President Buhari’s economic roadmap to solving our current economic downturn, occasioned by our fixated over-reliance on oil which forms over 80% of our earnings that has now dropped to a record low of below $40 per barrel.

Investments in these sectors will come from around the world. President Buhari’s trips to strategic events, countries and power states are well schemed to seeking critical assistance for this times.

Has every tactical move, piece by piece produced results? My answer is a resounding Yes!

The obvious, broad yet coherent foreign policy strategy bespoken of President Buhari’s travels have been geared towards: rebuilding rusted and cracking bridges; showing the new perspective of accountable, serious, virtuous and focused leadership Nigeria now has; boosting confidence and trust in foreign investors; and getting assistance to fulfill his agenda of fighting corruption, resuscitating the economy and securing the nation.

Evidently, each of his trips has sought to build relationships that foster partnerships for solutions to Nigeria’s current myriad of problems.

The foremost principle of international diplomacy is that no country should exist as an island on its own. It is more necessary than ever for Nigeria – in our dire and dicey mire – to hold hands even more tightly with our brothers in the international community as we seek their help to bringing solutions to the problems we face.

So far so good: Pledges of assistance secured; agreements signed; donations of military equipment received; intelligence shared; and moral support given are only a tip of the iceberg of the fruits of these trips in the offing.

For Nigeria: globalization and strengthened international relations at this time has the potentials for increased flow of trade, investment and technology – and that means, more jobs and improved living standards.

Let us look two, three steps ahead of every action of Mr. President – beyond sentiments; beyond the political divisions we share; beyond the ephemeral bite of the economy – to the sustainable long term solutions these moves will bring for the betterment of the Nigerian people.

An oak is not felled at one stroke; so too, the job of fixing Nigeria is not going to happen at one legerdemain stroke.

President Buhari’s policies show one thing clear: that we are in the right direction. And their fruits will be borne in due time.

On our part, we as Nigerians must be patriotic, undeterredly hardworking, and patient. The wait will not be forever. The common denominator of all human activity that has produced sustainable and effective results is patience.

As we run this marathon of change with the fortitude typical of the Nigerian people, let us hold on to the wisdom of these words: You get the chicken by hatching the egg, not by smashing it.

 

Johannes Tobi Wojuola, Lawyer, Writer and Dispute Resolution Specialist, writes from Abuja
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Buhari's Anti-Graft Campaign and the Jurisprudence of Anti-corruption

By Johannes Tobi Wojuola

 

Oliver Wendel Holmes Jnr. is my most revered jurisprudential personage.  This sentiment may be founded on a filial judicial heritage or on my experiential understanding – yet a vestige of my filial heritage - that law is not law until it has been interpreted by the courts: a summarized reflection of the Realist School of Jurisprudence.

 

This school of thought propounds that there is no law, indeed, until it has been tested and subjected to the regurgitation of judicial processes and consequently molded into case law. It holds the position that while the legislature may make laws – as constitutionally they are empowered to do so – the onus of breathing life into these laws lie with the interpretative powers of the judiciary.

 

Indeed, the arduous task of defining what the law is – constitutional, criminal, civil, industrial and what have you – has been bestowed on the courts.

 

Oliver Wendel Holmes Jnr. thus expressed: “The prophecies of what the courts will do, in fact, and nothing more pretentious is what I mean by the law.” In other non-argotic words: the exegesis of the courts to matters brought before it is what, in fact, entails the law.

 

The core objective of law, through the judicial, legislative and executive corollary processes is justice. Justice is what is sought for when the common and even ‘un-common’ man come to drink of the waters from its fountains. It draws from the equitable maxim: that where there is a wrong, there must be a remedy.

 

And logically: where there is corruption, there must be a corresponding elixir. Insofar as Nigeria remains a country founded on the pillars of the rule of law – not self-help, jungle justice or the rule of man – the recourse to salvaging the morass disfiguration of our moral entity from corruption is housed in the courts.

 

The fight against corruption lays a heavy burden on the judiciary. And the courts are the linchpin of hope in this fight.

Undeniably, Nigerians watch on TV, and read on blogs and newspapers, the almost daily arrests and prosecution of persons who have been alleged to have milked dry our resources and committed heinous corrupt acts; but the question is, how far will these go?

One of the reasons President Buhari was elected into office was for his promise to fight corruption hinged on the goodwill of his personal characters of integrity, asceticism, and uprightness. And having been elected as Head of the Executive, and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, he has chosen to lead from the front by imbuing as the philosophy of the Executive: That we will fight corruption till its extinction.

 

The Police Force, the EFCC, the ICPC and other prosecuting bodies have gotten the message clear and blunt. They have palpably known that the fight against corruption is not mere rhetoric or campaign chants. But a credo that they all must live by, and fulfill its mandate.

 

Notwithstanding, the bellwether of this fight cannot do it alone. Neither can he win it by a lone-wolf fight. The system of government evident in the mechanized checks and balances and separation of powers of the three branches of government must, arm in arm fight this fight as one.

 

There must be a consensus of philosophy of the three arms of government to fight corruption. Whereas the legislature, saddled with the onus of law-making, strives to play its part – even though I feel we have laws in abundance, both moribund and flourishing – more is in the hands of its two brothers for the day to day fight against corruption.

 

The 2015 enacted Administration of Criminal Justice Act easily sets the ball rolling for a more efficient criminal justice system; faster dispensation of justice and stronger protection of rights of actors in the criminal justice system. Pooled to the common target of achieving better access and dispensation of justice.

 

But the judiciary whose mandate to apply these laws to cases before them must not fulfill same as a mere exercise of semantics – in the words of Professor Ben Nwabueze – but must be guided by the responsibility it has to society.

 

Lord Mansfield, a judge, a politician and one of the most erudite and powerful jurists in Britain of the 18th century noted that our courts are the “custos morum” – the guardians of our morals – and must protect society against offences “contra bonos mores” – that is offences that are harmful to society’s moral fabric.

 

The fulfillment of this responsibility will not come without a deliberate consciousness of an interpretative attitude and mindset towards the prosecution and punishment of moral wrongs such as corrupt practices.

 

This mindset must be formed on a pattern – like the convention the courts have shown in their inadvertent disinclination towards granting bail to armed robbery suspects – that sends a limpid message to Nigerians that there will be no Caesars’ wife anymore, and a definite sense of equity and remedy for wrong. Take for example, a practice direction that seeks to set a harsher sentencing policy on matters relating to corruption and criminal breach of trust.

 

The courts are the servants of the Legislature, the Executive, and most importantly, the Nigerian people. And this service must be geared towards restoring a trust in government, sanity of governance, reliability of the system, access to justice, and a resonance of the consequences of our actions.

One may ask; would the desire for this sort of team-work between the three arms of government not be a call for a perversion of the principles of separation of powers as enshrined in the constitution? Absolutely not. The anticipation of the separation of powers is such that each organ of government is independent of the coercion and influence of the other; this however does not preclude the fact that they must cooperate to achieve the common goal of fulfilling the purpose for the constitution. And that is to create a just (equitable and fair) society.

 

It is not in any way the anticipation of the Constitution that each organ of government would exist in water-tight compartments.

President Buhari’s fight against corruption – a determined, dogged, and fearless one – will be mere bark and prick if the judiciary does not give chase and bite to it.

 

Justice being the end objective of these processes rests in the oars of the judiciary. Its mindset and consequent decisions will reflect this. And importantly, the mindset revolution of the Nigerian people – in mores, attitudes and values – will be sparked by its decisions on corruption cases.

 

These decisions will set in the minds of Nigerians a sense of justice that will be the threshold for the moral revolution President Buhari’s change brings. This sense of justice can only be made tangible when Nigerians see that anyone who commits wrong is punished accordingly – and even in chastening manner – irrespective of class, background, political affiliation or whatever status; not only must justice be done, but it must be manifestly and undoubtedly be seen to be done.

 

These are not the times of putsch. I reckon, if it were, the justice system will be set in flash motions by crude decrees that fail the indispensable and democratic test of our legislative and adversarial judicial processes.

 

Nonetheless, our entrenched system of separation of powers, as an alternative to the junta, in this moment in Nigeria’s epoch – that requires a re-evaluation and re-work of our moral compass – will require a consensus viewpoint of the three arms of government in the fight against corruption.

This consensus is the collective mandate to revive our national values of integrity, honesty, accountability and transparency.

Through the end product of justice that will be pronounced by the courts, all the branches of government will be heard to speak in unison: we will fight corruption with all the powers that the constitution has bestowed on us.

Johannes Tobi Wojuola, lawyer and writer, writes from Abuja
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Corruption will fight back

By Johannes Tobi Wojuola

 Nigeria’s former EFCC Chairman, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu is renowned for his anti-corruption stance and fight. Though some may argue that his fight was one-sided or prejudiced, the a posteriori facts point clearly at the reality that indeed corruption was fought by the former Chairman – whether lopsided or not.
Mallam Ribadu stepped on a lot of toes – very big toes I mean; like those of the former Governor of Delta State, Chief James Ibori, Mohammed Babangida, son of former Head of State, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida, to mention a few. It was thus not a jaw-dropper when he was removed from office two weeks after the arrest of former Governor Chief James Ibori.

For a fact, Nuhu Ribadu best tells the tale of the fight against corruption, especially that he was once in the forefront of the battle. Experientially, he is known to have made this pithy quote: “When you fight corruption, it fights back.”

Corruption today has become animated in the lives of many Nigerians: It has become the norm and the accepted way of doing things. It has lost its pariah status. In its various manners and forms, it has eaten very deeply into the fabric of our nation: It has torpedoed our economy, made frail our morality, rendered inert our legislative houses, stung our judiciary and ridiculed our socio-political environment. But despite all these damage and desecration done, those who foster and benefit fatly from it have sworn to protect their sources of livelihood till gaol do they part - Corruption will surely fight back.

Nigerian institutions became the funnels for milking the resources from our Nation’s treasury and then were left to lean and suffer malnutrition, consequently: Dilapidated roads, caustic poverty, moth-eaten hospitals, run-down educational institutions, an enervated civil service, tumbledown airports, a weakened military – name it, rot, rot, rot, here and there! All mothered by the monstrous corruption and fed to size by the misrule of the erstwhile administration of the People’s Democratic Party.

The majority of Nigerians voted President Buhari to fix these; with the mantra of CHANGE hinged on his tripod message to fight corruption, to secure the nation and to rescue the economy. It is noteworthy that securing the nation and rescuing the economy are organic corollaries of the fight against corruption.

President Buhari in his perspicacity understood that to win the war against Boko Haram, the battle must be fought concomitantly with the fight against corruption. The #DasukiGate revelations buttress further this truism; if weapons and ammunitions for the Nigerian Military were indeed purchased as at when they should have with the funds that were appropriated for same, many a family in the North Eastern parts of Nigeria would still be one and at home today. But, corruption had its way. And disaster was served cold to innocent Nigerians and the gallant troops of our Army.

Contrast that with the status quo today, where the Nigerian Army has been able to decimate all known camps of the insurgents in the North Eastern parts; reclaim all towns that were under the control of the insurgents and continue to win day after day the war against Boko Haram. What makes the difference? Sanitization of Defence procurements; weapons and ammunition now made available to the soldiers; rejuvenation of their morale; and a determined leadership founded on integrity at the helm of affairs.

The monumental sleaze committed by the past administration is what President Buhari is fixing – nut by nut; screw by screw.

But the Gordian knot of corruption has begun to wriggle and to bark sham propaganda and telltale lies.

Without an iota of remorse or restitution, the PDP mouthpieces have not thought it wise to rinse the foul stench of sulfurous slime that oozes when they make their failed-on-delivery attempt to put a dent to President Buhari’s war on corruption.

Corruption will fight back.

One would have expected that after losing an election for the first time on the national scale due mostly to the highhanded corruption of its administration, the PDP would have taken a moral cleansing and purgation; welcoming the lens, sponge and soap of the new administration to search and cleanse the country of this cancer. But no, it chooses rather to throw darts of propaganda, sponsor interviews that were never held, and pay jackpot lobbyists to promote puerile lies in defiance.

Corruption will fight back.

One would have also expected a sincere apology from the PDP for their atrocities in government, gross mismanagement of the country and the consequent loss of the lives of thousands of Nigerians in the North Eastern parts. But rather they choose to jubilate at the faintest sounds of gunshots in Maiduguri: “Pres. Buhari is failing, we told you so.”

Dr. Dipo Awojide in a Tweet said: “A war declared on corruption is not a war declared on the PDP.” Fair and fact this is. An addendum is that the anti-graft campaign cannot be dissociated from the handlers of the past administration, which single-handedly institutionalized the looting of our nation’s treasury. Looting was their source of livelihood, their culture, their attitude, their attraction and no doubt, their policy.

The fight against corruption will indeed be a tough one. Bulls once tagged sacred are being gored. The perpetrators of the heinous pillage of our nation’s resources are desperate not to go down without a fight. And this is not unexpected.

But President Buhari is up to the task and will surely have no stone unturned as he restores sanity back to our system. The war to rid our nation off corruption must be won; for the betterment of all.

My sincere prayer is that the God that rescued Nigeria from the infamy of the past administration will save us from its vestigial arms of corruption.

Be you apolitical, APC, APGA, PDP or KOWA, please say Amen. Amen.

 

Johannes Tobi Wojuola is a  lawyer and writes from Abuja
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Lawyer, Google Ambassador, Dispute Resolution Specialist, Writer, TV Producer.
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  • LOL! Magazine / LOL! TV
    Editor in Chief / Executive Producer, 2011 - present
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Lawyer. Writer. [Social] Media Enthusiast. Google. Thinker. Listener. Speaker. Advocate.
Introduction
Johannes Tobi Wojuola is the Editor-in-Chief of LOL! Magazine; he is an effervescent Lawyer; a trained Dispute Resolution Specialist; former Google Student Ambassador; a fun lover; a workaholic; a believer in the Bible and its teachings; and a writer. He is a member of the Nigerian President, President Muhammadu Buhari's Media Team.

Johannes enjoys the company of positive people and loves to have interesting chats with new pals in his leisure time.  He is an I.T. and Social Media Enthusiast and served as the Director of Online Media at the Sam for Nigeria Presidential Campaign Organisation till the APC Presidential Primaries that produced General Muhammadu Buhari as its candidate. He is a media adviser to Mr. Sam Nda-Isaiah and was a member of the erstwhile All Progressives Congress' Presidential Campaign Organisation (APCPCO); Directorate of Media and Communications.

Johannes Wojuola is a Capitalfield Human Rights' Ambassador and a member of the Abuja Global Shapers.
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  • Nigerian Law School
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  • University of Abuja
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