Sack of service chiefs, launch of e-Naira, Aso Rock’s ups and downs in 2021

A lot of landmark activities have taken place in the seat of power popularly known as Aso Rock Presidential Villa, Abuja, this year.

These activities, which were mostly the outcome of policy decisions, received either knocks or accolades from Nigerians. 

Daily Trust takes a look at some of the events that took place or decisions that emanated from the State House which houses the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic and his deputy this year.

Sack of service chiefs

Twenty-six days into the year, (January 26), President Muhammadu Buhari relieved the service chiefs of their positions and appointed new officers after strident calls by various stakeholders for their ouster over heightening insecurity challenges across the country.

However, one week after the president appointed them as ambassadors.

Buhari flags off Kano-Maradi rail line

On February 9, President Buhari performed the virtual ground breaking ceremony for the Kano-Katsina-Jibiya-Maradi Rail Line.

The president said the project, when completed, would serve in the import and export of goods from Niger Republic and other countries in the sub-region through Nigerian ports. He said the cities of Jibiya and Maradi constitute a significant trading core between Nigeria and Niger Republic.

Bawa appointed EFCC chair

On February 16, President Buhari appointed Abdulrasheed Bawa as substantive Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

His appointment came months after controversy that trailed the suspension of the former acting boss of the anti-graft agency Ibrahim Magu who faced the retired Justice Ayo Salami-led Judicial Commission of Inquiry following petitions by the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), who allegedly accused him of diversion of recovered loot.

Zamfara declared no fly-zone

The president, on March 2, directed that Zamfara State be declared a no-fly-zone and also approved a ban on mining activities in the state to stop rising insecurity.

$1.5bn approved for Port Harcourt Refinery rehab

On March 17, the Federal Executive Council approved the sum of $1.5 billion for the rehabilitation of the largest refining company in the country, Port Harcourt Refinery.

Usman Baba appointed IGP

On Tuesday, April 6, President Buhari approved the appointment of DIG Usman Alkali Baba as the acting Inspector General of Police. The Minister of Police Affairs, Mohammed Maigari Dingyadi, announced this while briefing State House reporters. The appointment was confirmed on June 4 at a meeting of the Police Council presided over by the president.

The decision came as a surprise from the president who had earlier extended the tenure of Mohammed Adamu as the Inspector General of Police (IGP) by three months on February 4.

Hadiza Bala Usman sacked

On May 6, President Buhari approved the recommendation of the Ministry of Transportation under Rotimi Amaechi for the setting up of an Administrative Panel of Inquiry to investigate the management of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA).

A statement issued by a presidential spokesman, Garba Shehu, said the president also approved that the NPA Managing Director, Hadiza Bala Usman, step aside for the investigation.

Made in Nigeria cell phone

The President on y June 9 received the “first made in Nigeria cell phone”, known as ITF Mobile from the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Otunba Adeniyi Adebayo.

Adebayo, who presented the phone to President Buhari before the start of the weekly Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting, said it was one of the 12 produced using locally sourced components by the Electrical/Electronic Technology Department of the Industrial Training Fund’s (ITF) Model Skills Training Centre.

Lagos-Ibadan railway project inaugurated

President Buhari on June 10 inaugurated the commercial operations of the Lagos-Ibadan railway project at the Mobolaji Johnson Railway Station, Ebute Metta, Lagos.

Secrecy oath administered on 42 Villa staff

On July 27, 42 staff of the presidency were administered with the oath of secrecy by Justice Hamza Muazu of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court, at the State House Auditorium, Abuja.

$1.484bn for Kaduna, Warri refineries rehab

The Federal Executive Council on August 4 approved the award of contracts for the rehabilitation of Warri and Kaduna refineries to Messrs Saipem SPA and Saipem Contracting Limited at the total sum of $1.484 billion.

PIB signed

President Buhari on August 16 signed the Petroleum Industry Bill 2021 into law. The president’s action ended a long wait, since the early 2000s, for the Petroleum Industry Act which “provides legal, governance, regulatory and fiscal framework for the Nigerian petroleum industry, the development of host communities and related matters.”

Buhari approves review of grazing reserves in 25 states

On August 19, President Buhari approved the recommendations of a committee to review “with dispatch” 368 grazing sites, across 25 states in the country “to determine the levels of encroachment.”

National Policy for 5G network

The Federal Executive Council on September 8 approved the National Policy on Fifth Generation Networks (5G).

The Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami, who announced this, said the deployment of 5G and the approval of its national policy was done after stakeholders’ inputs were sought and the confirmation that it was not harmful to human health as being insinuated during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown.

Erdogan visits Aso Rock

The president on October 20 received Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

Later in December, President Buhari was in Istanbul, Turkey to attend the third Turkey-Africa Partnership Summit, hosted by President Erdogan.

eNaira launched

On Monday, October 25, President Buhari launched the Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) known as eNaira expected to increase Nigeria’s GDP by $29 billion over the next 10 years.

NDP replaced ERGP

The FEC on Wednesday, November 10, approved the National Development Plan (NDP) 2021-2025 with an investment size of N348.7 trillion.

The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Hajiya Zainab Ahmed, who made the announcement, said the plan replaced the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) which elapsed in December 2021. The formal launch and public presentation of the NDP 2021-2025 were done on Wednesday, December 22.

Buhari hosts US Secretary of State

President Buhari on Thursday, November 18, received in audience Mr Antony Blinken, United States Secretary of State.

During Blinken’s visit, Nigeria and the United States signed an agreement worth $.2.17bn to improve access to quality education, public health and other services.

Nigeria Air

On Wednesday, November 24, the Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, said the country’s national airliner, Nigeria Air, is expected to take off by April 2022 after FEC’s approval.

Ramaphosa in Aso Rock

On Wednesday, December 1, Presidents Buhari and Cyril Ramaphosa addressed a joint press conference at the end of the 10th Session of the Nigeria-South Africa Bi-National Commission (BNC) held in Abuja.

COVID-19 hits Aso Rock

On the eve of Christmas, the news about an outbreak of COVID-19 at Nigeria’s seat of power broke out, with some presidential aides testing positive.

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