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Nda-Isaiah, Odigie-Oyegun, Tinubu Urge A/Ibom Electorate To Protect Their Votes

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The chairman of All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, LEADERSHIP Founder and APC presidential aspirant, Mr Sam Nda-Isaiah and Senator Ahmed Bola Tinubu, have all urged electorates in Akwa Ibom to protect their votes during the 2015 general elections.

Addressing a mammoth crowd of APC faithful at Assan Ibibio where the party formally accepted the former secretary to the Akwa Ibom State government, Obong Umanah Okon Umanah, into their fold, they pledged that when the party wrests power at the federal level next year, it will govern Nigeria with openness and transparency.

“We want to advise that you should not sell your votes for peanuts as it is the only weapon you will use to remove those who have been deceiving you these past years.

“We will equally call corruption by its name and fight it with all the vehemence it deserves. We will restore the faith of the public in the necessity for leaders to live honestly and lead with vision, competence and compassion,” they stated.

The APC chieftains added that the party will entrench the true practice of democracy when it gets to the centre, by running an all-inclusive government and seeking the views of all segments, including the positive ideas of opposition parties, in the formulation and execution of government policies.

“Do not give the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) that has pretended to have salvaged Nigeria in the last 16 years, an opportunity to finally finish off our dear nation.

“You must vote out the evil party that has brought shame and indolence into our polity. From the evidence available to us, PDP can never deliver on any of its promises it has failed to honour in over a decade,” they stated.

According to the APC chieftains, the 2015 election will be decided by the character and leadership qualities of a Nigerian president, stressing that the Commander-in-Chief should also be “Consoler-in-Chief” who brings comfort and succour to Nigerians in time of grief and distress.

 

« Previous Article David Mark’s 5th Term Bid, Breach Of Zoning Formula – Onoja

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David Mark’s 5th Term Bid, Breach Of Zoning Formula – Onoja

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A senatorial aspirant inthe Benue South senatorial zone, Chief Mike Onoja, has said the need to observe the power sharing formula in Nigeria’s political system as enshrined in the PDP constitution informed his decision to vie for the seat presently occupied by the senate president, David Mark.

The senate president is angling to return to the Senate for the fifth consecutive time after coming to the red chamber of the National Assembly on the return to democracy in 1999.

Chief Onoja told journalists in Abuja that the Benue South senatorial zone comprises of nine local governments and that since the return of democracy in 1999, David Mark has occupied that seat for 16 years, a situation he said was not healthy for the country’s nascent democracy which emphasises the principle of rotation of political office.

According to him, it is for this reason that that the principle of rotation was enshrined in the PDP constitution so that every zone would benefit from the political equation.

Onoja said, “For now, power rotation is necessary in our nascent democracy so that every section will feel the impact of governance. However, there will come a time this won’t be an issue again and one can hold on to power for the rest of his life if voted for; that will be when our democracy has matured to a certain level but at the moment, we are not there yet.”

 

« Previous Article FEPSGA Games: Code Of Conduct In The Offing For Athletes, Officials

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More 45 prisoners out of the 144 that escaped from the Koton Karfi Prisons, Kogi State have been re-arrested.

Nigeria Prison Service (NPS), Public Relations Officers, Mr. Ope Fatinikun told The Nation yesterday.

Suspected terrorists over a month ago attacked the Koto-Karffi Federal Medium Security Prisons in Kogi State.

It would be recalled that in the attack that started at 10pm, the gunmen broke through the prison walls to set free all 145 inmates, vandalized the record office and threw the prison doors ajar.

Twelve of the prisoners were later returned while one died from bullet injuries.

This is the second time in two years that the Koto-Karfi prison was breached to free inmates. In 2012, 119 awaiting trial inmates were also freed by the attackers and many never returned.

Fatinikun disclosed that efforts are on among security operatives to re-arrest the remaining inmates

His words: “About 45 escapees of the Koto-Karfi Prison in Kogi State have been rearrested by security operatives. We have also started effecting the ultimatum given by the Minister of Interior, Comrade Abba Moro to recover all phones within 30 days from all prison formation. Some of the recaptured inmates have been given state pardon.”

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Governor Rabi’u Kwankwaso of Kano State yesterday threw his weight behind Deputy Governor Abdullahi Ganduje to succeed him in office.

Ganduje,an engineer,is the first deputy governor to be so endorsed by his principal,ahead of next year’s election.

The coast is thus clear for Ganduje to fly the flag of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the election.

Kwankwaso,bowing to intense pressure from various interest groups within  and outside the party, urged other governorship aspirants to understand the situation  and support Engr. Ganduje in the interest of the party and people of the state.

Ganduje  picked the expression of interest form from the party secretariat yesterday.

He could not hide his joy  as he  acknowledged cheers from thousands of his supporters who converged on  the party’s secretariat to show their solidarity.

He  described his anointment by Kwankwaso  as a triumph of hope, and promised to continue with the  legacies of Kwankwaso if voted into office.

The PDP is yet to pick its candidate.

But a source in the party  described Ganduje as a formidable opponent.

“You are aware that Ganduje was part of us. He was a foundation member of PDP in Kano and we cannot dismiss the fact the he is popular and well grounded,” the source said.

“Consequently, we’ll  do our  best to pick an equally  formidable candidate that can give Ganduje a good fight.”

Ganduje  had stepped down  for Kwankwaso ahead of the  1999 election following pressure from PDP leaders in the state at the time like former Minister of Labour, Alhaji Musa Gwadabe, current Minister of Foreign affairs, Alhaji Aminu Wali and the late first civilian Governor of Kano state, Alhaji Abubakar Rimi.

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FEPSGA Games: Code Of Conduct In The Offing For Athletes, Officials

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Ahead of the forthcoming annual Federation of Public Service Games tagged “Ondo 2014” in Akure, Ondo State, a code of conduct that would regulate the activities of the participating MDAs and athletes during the event is in the offing.

The code of conduct which is expected to come into effect any moment from now is aimed at stamping out mercenaries from the games. President of the Federation of Public Service Games (FEPSGA), Comrade Hassan Dahiru stated this yesterday in Abuja while addressing a press conference to herald the event. He said the invasion of mercenaries in the games meant for civil servants is the only problem of the body but assured that fresh ideas and methods are being worked out to ensure that the monster is completely eliminated from the games.

“The issue of wiping out mercenaries from FEPSGA is one area we are working on seriously. In fact, it is one sickness we are ready to tackle and eradicate it completely. We are going to have a code of conduct which will be signed between the Exco and all the MDAs team managers and secretaries and anybody found guilty in this regard, the sanction will be outright suspension though the principle of fair hearing will be given to affected persons. I have been the chairman of the rule and disciplinary committee and during my tenure, some MDA were sanctioned. I have emphasised that it is not going to be business as usual.

“This is something we are going to take very seriously because anything contrary would make nonsense of everything we are trying to achieve. This is workers’ games and we cannot fold our hands and watch outsiders hijack the games from us,” he said.

He assured civil servants of the federation of commitment to achieving results and continuous improvement.

About 6,000 civil servants are expected to participate in this year’s FEPSGA games.

 

« Previous Article Flying Eagles Call 30 Players To Camp

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Flying Eagles Call 30 Players To Camp

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The Nigerian U-20 team has called up 30 players as a screening exercise begins in Kaduna from tomorrow in preparation for next year’s African Youth Championship in Senegal.

The 30 players called up are made up of the core of the squad that qualified the team for the 2015 AYC in Senegal from March and several players from the Nigeria Premier League.

Enyimba star, Kingsley Sokari, Tony Edjomariegwe from Nasarawa United as well as Musa Newman of Sunshine Stars are among the fresh call-ups.

Jacob Njoku from Portuguese club FC Porto is the only foreign-based player invited.

According to the Flying Eagles secretary, Ibrahim Auwal Aliyu Ibrahim, the players are to report at the African Continental Hotel on Sokoto Road in Kaduna from tomorrow. The team will train at the Ahmadu Bello Stadium in Kaduna. The invited players are:

Goalkeepers: Joshua Enaholo, Adamu Abubakar, Olorunleke Ojo, Dele Alampasu

Defenders: Musa Muhammed, Ifeanyi Nweke, Mustapha Abdullahi, Zaharadden Bello, Prince Izu Omego, Adebayor Ademuluwa, Wilfred Ndidi, Sirajo Mazadu, Chinedu Chukwura Emmanuel

Midfielders: Bernard Bulbwa, Ifeanyi Matthew, Ifeanyi Ifeanyi, Chizom Eze, Akinjide Idowu, Abdullahi Alfa, Obinna Nwobodo, Kingsley Sokari, Madu Chiamaka

Strikers: Jacob Njoku, Sulaiman Abdullahi, Abubakar Lawal, Wasiu Jimoh, Tony Edjomarigwe, Newman Musa, Usman Hassan, Adamu Muhammed Silo.

 

« Previous Article League Players Shun Siasia’s Screening Camp

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League Players Shun Siasia’s Screening Camp

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Several of Nigeria’s Premier League players may not honour the invitation for trials to the country’s U-23 team ahead of the 2015 All Africa Games qualifiers.

Some of the players said they believe they have done enough to be called to a direct camp and not for screening as they played regularly for their clubs in the just concluded season and their performances ought to have been monitored by the team selectors.

“I am not going to camp at all; many guys who played regularly in the premier league too are not going to be there for screening,” said one of the players.

“I don’t think I and other players who played in the Premier League need to be subjected to screening, especially those of us who played regularly for our teams because I feel the coaches should have seen us during the league and call us to camp directly and not for screening,” he added.

Coach Samson Siasia had earlier called up more than 100 players mostly from the top league for screening in Abuja this week.

They are slated to take on Gabon’s U-23 in February to begin the qualifying tournament for the 2015 All Africa Games to be staged in Congo.

 

« Previous Article Structural Adjustment Programme & The Luxury Goods Syndrome

Next Article » Flying Eagles Call 30 Players To Camp

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The possibility of the reintroduction of Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) in Nigeria shows clearly that despite the overblown Gross Domestic Product (GDP) figure of $510 billion, our economy cannot sustain the persistent reckless government expenditures.

While the minister of finance, Mrs Ngozi Okonjo Iweala, seems to target private jet and luxury car owners, she has forgotten that the biggest drainage pipeline runs directly from the federal treasury to the federal agencies that constantly abuse and waste the country’s fragile resources.

For example, the Presidential Air Fleet (PAF) operates over 10 aircraft, an unnecessary acquisition/expenditure that must be checked and streamlined. If our government is sincere about reducing spending, especially, unrealistic wastage of public funds, the minister should start by telling the President that it is absolutely wasteful to engage over 10 aircraft for the Presidency. There is no developing country with such a large fleet of aircraft for presidential movement. Unfortunately, the expenditure associated with PAF runs into billions annually, with no clear accountability.

The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), in addition to the two helicopters in the fleet, operates two executive aircraft, which are used for commercial charter, and unnecessary complementary flights. If NEMA has become another aircraft charter company in the country, what is its core function in our economy, and why should government spend so much money to acquire luxury aircraft for an organisation that should solely engage in disaster relief?

The Nigerian Police force (NPF), in the past three years has purchased over twelve helicopters, which appropriately, should be utilised for crime control and effective law enforcement services. But, today, all the helicopters are lying in state at the Police Hanger in Abuja without utilisation. Everyone is aware that the NPF has very few pilots in its operation and despite regular advertisement for employment of experienced pilots, the agency has done nothing to ease the chronic shortage of crew to fly the helicopters. Therefore, the reality on ground undermines the reason for such acquisition and wastage.

Since 1985, the federal government has spent over $1 billion in the acquisition of aircraft for air board patrol, but none of the aircraft has been used for the purpose and most of them are left as carcass in the sun at Kaduna military airport.

The GDP is simply the total market value of all final goods and services produced annually within a country’s borders. Therefore, Nigeria, an inherently consumer, import dependent nation,cannot afford to keep wasting its oil dependent resources on luxury goods for government officials without dire future consequences. Who can check our government’s excessive spending?

Whatever indices the ministry of finance/Central Bank of Nigeria used to deduce the new, fantastic, and overblown GDP figure of $510 billion, it is obvious that Nigeria’s economy cannot be said to have grown in the past three years. The level of oil theft, the financial wastage in the system and high level of corruption in the country are clear indicators that sooner or later, there will be serious economic recession.

The big question here is: how do we define luxury goods in an unproductive, consumer-based economy? First class seats on all British Airways flights from Nigeria are always overbooked. Nigerians, whether public officers or private individuals must show that they have “arrived” because what the rest of the world considers as extreme luxury has become commonplace here.

Who should bear the effect of the Structural Adjustment Programme being proposed, government officials or private businessmen?

As long as we deliberately remain ignorant of the level of theft and corruption in the system, mere rhetoric will not stop the high bleeding rate of our national resources.

But what is SAP and how should it work? According to Wikipedia, Structural adjustment programmes (SAPs) consist of loans provided by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank (WB) to countries that experienced economic crises. The two Bretton Woods Institutions require borrowing countries to implement certain policies in order to obtain new loans (or lower interest rates on existing ones). The conditionality clauses attached to the loans have been criticized because of their effects on the social sector.

SAPs are created with the goal of reducing the borrowing country’s fiscal imbalances in the short and medium term or in order to adjust the economy to long-term growth. The bank from which a borrowing country receives its loan depends upon the type of necessity. The IMF usually implements stabilisation policies and the World Bank is in charge of adjustment measures.

SAPs are supposed to allow the economies of the developing countries to become more market oriented. This then forces them to concentrate more on trade and production so it can boost their economy. Through conditions, SAPs generally implement “free market” programmes and policy. These programmes include internal changes (notably privatization and deregulation) as well as external ones, especially the reduction of trade barriers. Countries that fail to enact these programmes may be subject to severe fiscal discipline. Critics argue that the financial threats to poor countries amount to blackmail, and that poor nations have no choice but to comply.

According to J.C. Ogugua, like many developing countries, Nigeria was engaged in a structural adjustment programme (SAP): a set of economic reform measures designed to achieve recovery and growth. The availability of foreign aid was often linked to progress in a nation’s SAP. Nigeria embarked on SAP in 1986, emphasizing domestic production over expensive imports, and a lesser dependence on oil revenues. The government was also committed to reduce expenditures and to stop wasteful spending, and the country’s external debt obligations were rescheduled insofar as possible. A balanced budget was sought, and foreign capital investment was pursued.

Obviously, we have learnt nothing from history as importation of foreign made goods and expensive taste for vanity remain very high in our economy. The minister of finance should start by reducing excessive spending of government agencies.

 

 

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BBOG Is An Awareness, Not Opposition Group – Senator Ndume

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Senator Ali Ndume, representing Borno south in the National Assembly, has described the #BringBackOurGirls group as an awareness group that seeks to awaken the conscience of government, saying it should be embraced rather than subjected to accusations of being an opposition to the federal government.

While reacting to allegations that the BBOG is an arm of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Senator Ndume said most people believe in the activities of the BBOG, except a few politicians who feel the group exposes the inadequacies in the current administration.

According to him, “If somebody is criticising objectively, there is need to see the person as partner in progress, but this government has proved several times that it is more interested in praise singers and sycophants.

“BBOG is just trying to create awareness and come out with suggestions as to what government is supposed to do. Such an organisation is supposed to be embraced by the government, just as the whole world has. I seriously believe that the fact that government does not believe in the BBOG is of no consequence, because the government is the minority, while the citizens are the majority and their views matter a lot.”

While offering his view on the fight against insurgency in the northeast, the senator noted, “In order to tackle the insurgency problem, government has to show seriousness. The government should be sincere and show commitment.

“Secondly, the citizens should be involved. We have seen that the youths are willing to sacrifice themselves to secure their lands. We have lots of unemployed youths that can be used. They have formed themselves into the Civilian Joint Task Force. Government should incorporate them to assist the military in the fight against insurgency.

“Also, government should deploy more troops and equip the military. As at now, we have over a hundred thousand Nigerian army personnel and there is no war anywhere except the northeast, why not deploy about 50, 000 there? When you deploy massively, with the equipment you acquire, you go in massively. But as it is now, government has allowed the situation to degenerate and expand and even if they become more serious now, we have a bigger landscape to deal it and it will take longer than when it was only in Sambisa forest.”

Speaking on the whereabouts of the Chibok girls, Senator Ndume insisted that no one has a clue as to where they are because the Boko Haram sect has gone beyond Sambisa forest to capture more territory.

“People believed that the girls were in Sambisa forest, but no one is sure of that anymore. When local hunters mobilised to go after them in the forest, the government refused, saying it was suicidal.

“The Chief of Defence staff later came out to say they know where the girls are, but up till now, you the journalist have not asked them to produce the girls whom they claim to know where they are. After seven months the girls are yet to return. Is he taking care of them? If he knows where the girls are, he should be held responsible if anything happens to them,” Ndume submitted.

 

« Previous Article Bloody Friday In Kano: Multiple Explosions Kill 90 In ‘Emirs’ Mosque

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About 90 people were yesterday feared killed while scores sustained varied degrees of injuries in multiple explosions that rocked the Kano City Central Jumaat Mosque, Kano State.

Though no group had claimed responsibility for the attack which was followed by sporadic gunfire at the time of going to press it bore the mark of Islamist insurgents group, Boko Haram.

As is typical of most crisis situations in the country, there have been conflicting figures of the casualties in yesterday’s attack. While some witnesses put the figure of those who lost their lives at over hundred, others insisted that over 200 people may have been killed in the terror attack which is one of the worst in the history of terror attacks in the commercial city.

Kano city central mosque is the oldest in the entire northern region and was built about 100 years ago. It is the mosque where all the Kano emirs go to observe the five daily prayers and jumaat prayers, including the present Emir, Muhammad Sanusi II.

The bomb attacks widely believed to have been targeted at the Emir of Kano, Muhammad Sanusi, comes on the heels of calls by the emir on citizens to defend themselves against Boko Haram.

Eyewitnesses told LEADERSHIP Weekend that shortly after the commencement of the jumaat prayer, a Toyota caravan drove and parked at the emir’s Palace Road close to the city mosque and about five young boys and a woman alighted from the car before the car exploded with a loud sound.

Confirming the incident, the deputy commissioner of police in the state, Samuel Lemu said 35 people died while 150 others were injured from the attack, a sharp contrast with the figures reported by witnesses and rescue officials.

The police chief who arrived at the scene of the blast an hour after the explosion, told journalists that one of the suicide bombers detonated an explosive while trying to get into the inner part of the mosque, while the other got half way into the mosque before he detonated his explosive. He said that two AK 47 guns were recovered from the scene.

An eyewitness, Idris Bello, 25, said he heard three loud explosions simultaneously before he saw huge smoke coming out of the centre of the mosque.

Idris confirmed to have seen a young boy with a gun shooting sporadically, killing many people and leaving several others with injuries, adding that several more people, especially children, were killed in the stampede that followed the bomb and gun attacks.

Another witness, Mukhtari Mudi told LEADERSHIP Weekend that some angry worshippers got hold of one of the gunmen, lynched and burnt his body.

Our reporter who was at the scene saw three dead bodies on fire at the mosque premises.

Mudi stated that he saw a young boy from a distance on top of one of the mosque’s pillars with a gun, shooting at those who tried to flee from the bombs.

It was a mad house at the Nassarawa Hospital where hundreds of those injured were taken for treatment, when our correspondent visited. The hospital was already over flooded with victims of the blast and those who could not find space were being attended to by doctors and nurses under trees while others were on the bare floor, lying helplessly, waiting for their turn. Some of the victims died while doctors attended to them.

The situation was not different at the Murtala Muhammad Specialist Hospital where dozens of corpses that didn’t find space in the morgue were left lying in the open.

Hospital sources said the death toll could still go up as some victims who lost huge amounts of blood may not survive in view of the fact that the hospitals had run out of blood.

Meanwhile, there was apprehension in the city yesterday, following the attacks as families went in search of their loved ones who had gone to the mosque to pray just as angry youths protested on the streets of the city, in the vicinity of the attack.

Soldiers defuse bomb Maiduguri

Meanwhile, there was heightened tension in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital, as the military defused an explosive found by residents. The explosive was found in the part of the city known as “Customs.” Residents said the bomb was targeted at worshippers at a nearby mosque, in Gamboru market area where a remote controlled device was allegedly found.

The detonation of the bomb was said to have heightened fears among the panic-stricken residents of the city.

After successfully detonating the bomb, soldiers conducted house-to-house searches in some parts of the state capital yesterday morning.

Jonathan orders full-scale investigation

President Goodluck Jonathan has directed the security agencies to launch a full-scale investigation on the bomb explosion at Kano Central Mosque.

A statement issued by presidential spokesman, Dr Reuben Abati last night noted that the president ordered the security agents not to leave any stone unturned “until all agents of terror undermining the right of every citizen to life and dignity, are tracked down and brought to justice”.

Noting that Jonathan expressed his heartfelt condolences to the people and government of Kano State over the attack, Abati said, “he commiserates with all the families who lost their loved ones. The President calls on relief agencies and medical personnel to deploy every possible effort to assist the injured, and the general public to heed the call for the donation of blood by the hospitals where the injured are being treated.

“The President reaffirms that terrorism in all its forms and manifestation is a despicable and unjustifiable threat to our society. He reiterates the determination of the government to continue to take every step to put an end to the reprehensible acts of all groups and persons involved in acts of terrorism,” the statement read in part.

“President Jonathan called on all Nigerians not to despair in this moment of great trial in our nation’s history but to remain united to confront the common enemy,” it added.

The President expressed confidence that no terrorist act against fellow citizens will destroy the Nigerian spirit to remain positive, resolute and united in the quest for lasting peace and security in the country and appealed to all Nigerians to remain vigilant and cooperate actively with our security agencies to win the on-going war against.

Meanwhile, the President also put off a scheduled Nollywood event which was hosted in his honour at Eko Hotels in Lagos yesterday night.

The President had visited Ile Ife in Osun State from where he proceeded to Lagos to attend the event titled “Creativity: Moving Nigeria Forward. An evening with President Jonathan.” He however chose to remain at the State House, Marina to mourn victims of the Kano last while the event went on.

He was represented by Minister of Culture and Tourism, Edem Duke at the event which took place yesterday night.

PDP mourns, postpones House of Assembly primaries In Kano

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has expressed shock over yesterday’s bomb attack that claimed the lives of innocent citizens worshipping at the Kano Central Mosque, describing it as “very painful.”

PDP National Publicity Secretary, Olisa Metuh in a statement said the party was grief-stricken when it received the news of the gruesome attack “especially considering that the victims were harmless Nigerians who were at the mosque to offer prayers and express their allegiance and love for the Almighty God.”

The party, in solidarity with the people of Kano state postponed its state House of Assembly primaries slated for Saturday, November 29, in the state while praying God to comfort the bereaved and bring enduring peace to the nation.

“Indeed, our hearts ache for our brothers and sisters who were slaughtered in this horrible attack. We grieve for the bereaved, especially those who have been widowed and orphaned today. We share in their sorrows and pray that those behind this atrocious act must not escape justice.”

The party lamented that victims of the incessant attacks in the country were productive citizens who were making useful contributions for the growth and development of the nation.

Calling on those behind the attacks to have a rethink and embrace peace, the PDP said the nation would have been a better place if the human and material resources as well as the time and energy wasted as a result of the security challenges were channelled towards national development. It also urged the citizens not to lose faith but continue to remain vigilant and co-operate with the Government and security agencies as they strive to find a lasting solution to the security challenges.

NGF, Tambuwal condemn attack

Northern States Governors Forum (NSGF) Chairman and Governor of Niger state, Dr. Mu’azu Babangida Aliyu has condemned the terror attack on a Mosque in Kano, where Emir Muhammadu Sanusi ll worships regularly on Fridays.

In a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Israel Ebije, expressed sadness at the way and manner security challenges in the Northern States has taken a turn for the worse in recent times saying no one is spared.

Aliyu said the attack on the mosque where Emir Sanusi ll worships is another sombre reminder of how much disregard those behind terror attacks in the North have on the traditional institution and on the sanctity of human lives.

He said the position of Sanusi II on the need to protect communities against those perpetuating violence must remain sacrosanct adding that nobody should be intimidated by evil perpetrators as good will surely triumph over evil.

The chairman of the forum while commiserating with the government and people of Kano state urged them to remain committed in the fight against terror.

He however maintained that the war against terrorism is not an exclusive preserve of security operatives but everybody’s business, adding that it is time to place everybody under high security.

Aliyu who decried the continuous turnover in human and material loss on account of terror attacks said the trend must stop by all means necessary. He insisted that Nigerians are not violent people and as such, the few involved in evil practices must be fished out and punished.

Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, also condemned the multiple blasts and condoled with the government and people of Kano, describing the attacks as despicable and acts of cowardice.

In a statement signed by his special adviser on media and public affairs, Malam Imam Imam, Tambuwal advised citizens to be extra vigilant, adding that the synergy between the security agencies and the larger populace should be strengthened with a view to apprehending trouble makers before they strike.

According to him, efforts to tackle the war on terrorism are only as good as the intelligence gathered and as such, more needs to be done to pre-empt future attacks.

“In that regard, the House of Representatives will continue to play its part to support the security agencies and both the federal and state governments to find lasting solutions to the problem,” the Speaker stated.

While condoling with the government and people of Kano over the attacks, Tambuwal appealed to all citizens to open their hearts and come to the aide of those injured.

North-east: panic as renewed attacks claim over 200

Nine days after the third phase of the state of emergency rule in the three northeast Nigerian states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe came to an end amidst rancorous controversy as to whether it should be extended or be shelved for its apparent failure to remedy the situation that has even worsened, panic among residents in the three states has heightened as at least 210 lives have been claimed in renewed attacks.

While the debate on whether to extend the emergency rule as proposed by the federal government of Nigeria rages, the Boko Haram terrorists have not only sustained hostilities on the beleaguered citizens of the affected states but have become more bestial in their attacks.

This is even as the military authorities have assured that all planned operations in counter terrorism campaigns are ongoing without any hitch.

Direct of defence information, Major Gen Chris Olukolade who stated this yesterday said the tempo of military activities in the north east states had been sustained, adding that political authorities would determine any necessary change.

From last Thursday, November 20 when the emergency rule officially till date, at least 210 persons have been killed by the rampaging terrorists in the affected states – a situation that has left both government and Nigerians petrified on the best approach to adopt to quell the undermining antics of the Boko Haram terrorists.

The above figure represents the visible attacks carried out by the terrorists, even as many others pockets of killings arsons and even sack of villages and hamlets are not being accounted for due to lack of official confirmation.

LEADERSHIP Weekend reports that recent attacks carried out by Boko Haram were done without any reported attempts by the military to go after the attackers or repel same.

On Friday November 21, suspected Boko Haram gunmen invaded a Doron-Baga fishing community in Kukawa local government, Borno state where they displayed the depth of their savagery by rounding up a group of fishermen tired from an all-night fishing expedition, bound all of them and slit their throats one after the other.

It was reported that 48 of the attacked fishermen were killed by the knives of the Boko Haram gunmen who chose not to use their guns in order not to attract the attention of the soldiers of the Multi-National Joint Task Force stationed in Baga. Some eight other victims whose corpses were found floating in the river, were said to have been forcefully drowned because their local charms had defied the Boko Haram knives that kept gliding upon their skins.

“According to the reports we have so far received from our members in Baga, the killed fishermen were returning back from a fishing expedition they set out for on Thursday night,” said Muhammed Abbas Gava, the spokesman of the Nigeria Vigilante Group in Borno state.

The vigilante official who made this confirmation while speaking with journalists on phone in Maiduguri added that, “the gunmen forced them off their boats and at gunpoint, began to slaughter them one after the other and slaughtered 48 of them whose corpses our members found near the river, while corpses of 8 others whose necks had bruises were found floating near the river bank”.

“The bodies that were recovered from the river were of those whom we suspect the Boko Haram terrorists’ knives could not pierce through their skins, so they had to tie their legs and hands with ropes, and then dropped them into the river to die.”

Days after the Doron-Baga incident which had since sent many fishermen and farmers fleeing out of the troubled community, the gunmen visited and attacked yet another border community in northern Borno state, Damasak, where they shot dead at least 50 villagers and injured several others after looting their property and set their homes ablaze.

LEADERSHIP Weekend gathered that the said attackers disguised as traders going to the market in Damasak town but upon getting to the centre of the market, brought out their rifles and shot at helpless traders.

According to Bashir Salihu, a local trader, the deployment of soldiers in Damasak had to take to their heels upon seeing that the Boko Haram gunmen had killed some of their colleagues.

“They may have killed more than 50 people because they attacked a densely populated area of the town where most of the commercial activities do take place. Many houses have been burnt down as well as shops very close to the market area. We all had to run for our lives because even the soldiers that were armed fled before everyone.”

A day after the Damasak attack, Boko Haram went ahead to display their odious and unjustifiable attack on human lives when they used two teenage girls that were configured to function as messengers of death to detonate two separate explosives at a very crowded commercial area of Maiduguri, killing scores and injuring many others.

Though the state government officials and even the security operatives had said that the total casualty figure was 24, members of the Civilian-JTF and the vigilante operatives insisted that 64 persons were killed as a result of the bombings.

The Borno state Coordinator of Civilian-JTF, Abba Aji Kalli, told LEADERSHIP Weekend on phone that, “from what one of the survivors told me while being helped to get to the hospital, the bombers were two girls dressed in full hijab. One of them detonated herself and about three persons all women were killed and minutes after that, when people came round to see what happened, another bomb went off after a girl screamed and many people, over 30 of them got killed. We cannot say the exact figure for now because even before our arrival here, some of the corpses had been taken away, while some including that of the bombers were mangled beyond recognition.”

When casualty figures were later collated, it was gathered that apart from the dead victims, 54 persons were also injured in the suicide attacks.

In the same vein, suspected Boko Haram gunmen were reported to have attacked some communities near Chibok town where 219 schoolgirls were abducted in April this year, and killed at least 20 villagers in the villages of Kau-Natahi and Kalgamari.

Spokesman of the Nigeria Vigilante Group in Borno state, Muhammed Abbas Gava, told LEADERSHIP Weekend that “virtually every house in the two villages were burnt to ashes, while a total of 20 persons were killed in both villages of Kamtahi and Galtimari. And the villages were totally razed down as residents fled for their lives, some with injuries”, he said.

On Thursday, November 27, the gunmen were said to have attempted an attack on Kareto village of Borno state but were met with a fierce resistance from courageous members of the Civilian-JTF and local vigilante personnel who were able to kill about 30 of the terrorists.

Kareto, a northern Borno village located not far away from Niger borders is about 187kms away from Maiduguri, the state capital.

According to sources who witnessed the attack in Kareto, the Gunmen came to the village in trucks and upon motorcycles, all armed with Ak47 rifles, improvised explosive devices and petrol bombs.

Spokesman of the Borno Elders Forum, Bulama Mali Gubio, who spoke in an interview with journalists on Thursday, said, “there was huge success as some 30 members of Boko Haram who attempted to overrun Kareto, Gubio and other surrounding communities were killed by our volunteered youth.

“Already the affected areas are now calm as normal activities have since returned. But I want to call on the security authorities to intensify efforts to crush the menace of terrorists that have been ravaging the socio- economic activities in Borno and other parts of the North East subregion.”

As the National Assembly is expected to deliberate on the request advanced before them by the Presidency on the need to extended the state of emergency in the three states, many Nigerians especially those trapped in the three states look to forward a better government action, especially the one that would bring the spate of killings to a quick end.

Residents flee Gaidam, Yunusari Over Fear Of Attacks

Meanwhile, over 1000 residents of Gaidam and Yunusari local government areas have fled to Damaturu the state capital, Maiduguri in Borno State and neighbouring Niger Republic after threats of an attack by members of the Boko Haram sect.

Gaidam, the home town of Yobe State Governor, Alhaji Ibrahim Gaidam is about 245 kilo-metres from Damaturu.

A resident, Baba Aji Grema, who spoke to LEADERSHIP Weekend in Damaturu yesterday, said thousands of people from Gaidam and Yunusari local government areas had deserted the towns following rumours of an attack by the sect.

Another fleeing resident said that several residents including young and old person, as well as top government officials in the area had fled to the state capital.

“I have three wives and 15 children, both boys and girls but we cannot stay in the village because anything can happen. We heard that two letters informing of planned attacks after the attack on Damasak in Borno state were sent to the local government so we decided to relocate to Damaturu for some time,” the resident who craved anonymity said.

Sources also confirmed to our correspondent that many lorries and buses were seen moving people out of the local governments. loede with people moving out from the areas heading to Damarutu and Maiduguri of Borno state with their goods.

A resident of Gaidam, Musa Gaidam, who spoke with journalists on phone said, “I am speaking to you from Tawa in Niger Republic where we are taking refuge. We are not going back to stay where we come from. There is no security there and Boko Haram they can attack, bomb and kill us any time.”

A primary school teacher who fled from Yunusari local government, Bashir Abdul Kyari, said following the attack on Damasak where similar threats were made; it was unsafe to remain in the village.

Meanwhile, reacting to the ended state of emergency in the three north east states, a member of the House of Assembly representing Potiskum/ Nangere constiteuncy, Hon Ali Yakubu Mainasara, called on for immediate security assessment of the affected areas.

In Adamawa, mixed reactions have continued to trail the debate as to whether the emergency rule should be extended.

Adamawa state Governor, Bala Ngillari is one of those who have called on the National Assembly to approve the extension of the

emergency rule as demanded by President Goodluck Jonathan in order to consolidate on the achievements so far in curbing the insurgency.

A resident of Yola, John Elisha, in a reaction, said, “its a welcome development but the government needs to do more for a better result as we cannot just continue to extend the state of emergency without something positive to show for it.”

On her part, another resident, Maryam Ibrahim also supports the renewal but cautioned that measures that would bring positive results must be put in place to ensure that the state of emergency does not end up like the previous ones.

Lawyers Differ On Emergency Rule Extension

“The emergency rule imposed in some parts of the North-East has not in any way reduced the activities of insurgents in the country; rather, it has escalated it.” That was the view of a prominent lawyer, Malam Abubakar Malami, a senior advocate.

Malami, during a telephone interview told LEADERSHIP Weekend that there is no need for the extension of the emergency rule.

According to him, “imagine that under the emergency rule, the insurgents sacked or took over whole towns. The government should find a new way of tackling the insurgents and do away with the emergency rule because it has not helped in any way.”

Another lawyer, Okechukwu Uju-Azorji, on his part told LEADERSHIP Weekend that despite the expiration of the period for the emergency rule, the soldiers were still needed on the streets of some parts of the north east.

“They are still needed despite the fact that the emergency rule period has expired. With the emergency rule in place, the insurgents will be a bit restrained to unleash terror on civilians in the area. Irrespective of the fact that the emergency rule has not been extended, the soldiers are still needed to maintain peace. Their presence is not an abuse of the law despite that fact that the emergency rule has not been extended,” he added.

Red Cross Launches N480m Emergency Fund For Insurgency Victims

The International Red Cross said it had launched a N480 million emergency fund to support intervention programmes for victims of insurgency in the North East.

The Secretary-General of the Nigeria Red Cross Society, Mr Bello Diram, said this in a news conference in Abuja on Friday.

Diram said the fund was meant to address the serious humanitarian challenges created as a result of the insurgency in parts of the north east.

“The Nigeria Red Cross has been fully involved in the management of internally displaced people from the communities to camps set up by the government. The Nigeria Red Cross will continue to address the identified needs of the affected population in the North East which includes food and non food items, shelter, health water, and sanitation, psychosocial support, livelihood support and restoring family link. The overall objective of the emergency appeal is to assist 150,000 beneficiaries 50,000 people in each of the three targeted states of Adamawa, Borno, and Yobe,” he said.

He said that nearly 12,500 people per local government area in each state would benefit from community-based emergency health, water, sanitation and hygiene promotion, relief, psycho-social and livelihood support.

The secretary-general said the Nigeria Red Cross stood out as the only organisation that has unfettered access to almost everywhere in the north east.

Diram said the organisation had distributed relief materials and food items to victims of insurgency in Maiduguri.

According to him, the society in collaboration with its partners distributed 960 metric tons of items to 51,000 people in Maiduguri and that the organisation would, however, reach more people and communities if the resources were made available.

Diram appealed all Nigerians, international organisations within and outside Nigeria and the entire international community.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the insurgents have created serious humanitarian crisis in the region by the surge in attacks on communities.

 

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Indications have emerged that the planned spending of N9.2 billion by the federal government on procurement of clean cooking stoves for rural women may be extra budgetary.

Checks by LEADERSHIP Weekend through the 2014 approved budget could not find any sub-head representing the National Clean Cooking Scheme under which the funds are to be expended. For instance, the budgetary allocation to Women stands at N4,530,575,191, about N5 billion short of the N9.2billion allocated to purchase of stoves and wonder bags. Also, there is no sub-head listed as National Clean Cooking Scheme in the budgetary allocation to the Ministry of Environment or Health. So how did the FEC come about the N9.2billion for the scheme?

The Federal Executive Council (FEC) on Wednesday approved the purchase of N9.2 billion worth of cooking stoves and ‘wonder bags’ for rural women under the National Clean Cooking Scheme. Supervising minister of Information, Dr. Nurudeen Muhammed, and his counterpart in the environment ministry Mrs. Laurencia Mallam briefed State House correspondents at the end of FEC, which was presided over by Vice President Namadi Sambo. Muhammed said the N9.2 billion, inclusive of Value Added Tax, was approved for the procurement of 750,000 units of clean cooking stoves and 18,000 wonder bags. He said the stoves were expected to be delivered by Messrs Integra Renewable Energy Services Limited within a period of 12 weeks.

However, it is possible there was a trade off for the approval to go through.

Former Minister of Education, Oby Ezekwesili, in one of her tweets on the issue emphasised the possible trade off, saying, “we have severe budget constraints and the demands of the poor are limitless. Which of these did we just trade off for importation of stoves?”

 

Government’s action contradictory

While the FEC said the essence of approving the N9.2 billion is to mitigate the impact of climate change on the one hand, President Goodluck Jonathan has tacitly refused to assent to a Bill seeking to establish a Climate Change Commission in the country. A harmonised version of the Bill was sent to the president since December 2010 but four years after, he is yet to assent to it.

When the president’s action not to assent to Bill is juxtaposed with the speed with which the government has approved the N9.2billion to purchase stoves and wonder bags, it points to perceived ulterior motives. Senator Grace Bent, then Chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment, had promised that President Jonathan would not disappoint Nigerians.

“Climate change is one of the greatest challenges faced by Nigeria today. It is a matter of life and death for millions of Nigerians. The world has acclaimed the work done by the National Assembly in passing the climate commission bill. President Goodluck Jonathan will not fail Nigerians,” she had said at the time.

For his part, Hon Eziuche Ubani, who headed the House of Representatives Committee on Environment at the time, had pleaded with President Jonathan to do Nigerians a favour by signing the Climate Change Bill into law but that has not happened.

“Climate change represents a clear and present danger to Nigeria’s national interests. By signing the Bill, the president will continue to demonstrate visionary leadership in addressing the climate crisis,” Eziuche had said.

The Climate Change Commission Bill if signed into law would have culminated in the establishment of the Climate Change Commission, which would have coordinated a national strategy on climate change and helped contain greenhouse emission and regulated the carbon market.

Hence, the question begging for an answer is why the presidency decided to approve N9.2billion to purchase stoves and ‘wonder bags’ to stem the impact of climate change when it has refused to assent to a Bill seeking to establish the climate change commission, four years after it was transmitted to it?

 

2015 Elections

A cross-section of analysts points to the forthcoming general elections in 2015 as a key factor for the approval of the N9.2billion stove purchase.

“Why on earth will the government approve such huge amount for importing stoves and wonder bags when we are facing an economic crunch? It does not seem a well thought out plan,” said an analyst who pleaded anonymity.

The FEC said the stoves would be assembled locally which implies that it is going to import the stoves and wonder bags. Even if the FG does not import the stoves, it definitely would import the ‘wonder bags’, which are produced in South Africa. The wonder bag was developed by Sarah Collins, a South Africa entrepreneur in 2008.

“Since 2008, the ‘Wonder bag’ has been Sarah’s passion and purpose. It has taken 5 years of trial, error and dogged determination to get the ‘Wonder bag’ to where it is now,” explained the wonder bag web page. Therefore, the federal government will have to import the wonder bag from South Africa for the usage of rural dwellers in the country.

“With Naira devaluation and continuing volatility of the oil market, reducing our import bill will be a key policy measure. So, stoves import?” Ezekwesili asked in another tweet.

 

Nigerian Economy Bleeding

The Nigerian economy has faced challenges from declining oil prices in the global market. As of two days ago, the Brent had fallen to $71 and it portends grave danger for the economy. The Nigerian government has responded by devaluing the Naira by eight per cent and raising lending rates by 100 basis points.

“In the face of this harsh economy reality, it is unthinkable that a country will be spending a whopping N9.2 billion to import stoves,” said an analyst who pleaded anonymity.

Nigerians kick

Mama Patience Ameh lives in Chikakwere, a suburb of Kubwa, a satellite town in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja. Fondly called Mama P by neighbours and acquaintances, Patience is a rural woman in every sense.

When LEADERSHIP Weekend met Mama P, she was cooking dinner on a small kerosene stove that costs about N5,000 in the local market. When told that the federal government has approved N9.2 billion for the purchase of cooking stoves and wonder bags for rural women of her ilk, she shuddered in disbelief.

“What do you mean by billion,” she asked. The reporter explained that a billion is the equivalent of N100,000 multiplied by 10,000 to which she screamed, “for only stoves?”

“My God this is wicked and disappointing. They would have supplied us kerosene instead which will make more sense,” she said in fluttering pidgin English.

“So, if they supply the stoves how do we buy kerosene that is scarce to power it? Na wa o! This government sometimes acts as if it were living on another planet,” she added.

Another rural woman, Patricia Ifekwuni, who spoke to LEADERSHIP Weekend on phone, described the approved N9.2 billion for the purchase of stoves as an attempt to amass a financial war chest to prosecute the forthcoming elections in the name of poor rural women.

“Nobody cares for you in Nigeria and that is the problem facing the poor. We fetch our own fire wood, buy kerosene and cook our food; we don’t expect government to buy stoves for us because it does not feature in our critical needs,” she said

“We tilled the soil to train my first son in the university, he graduated five years ago but he is not in employment. He is here in the village farming with us. I shed tears every day I see him going to the farm. Government should leave stoves and provide jobs for our youth, that is what we want,” she added.

Reacting to the development, the national coordinator of Democratic Youth Patriots, Ariyo-Dare, Atoye, said every government has its own priority and focuses on what it thinks is necessary for the people, adding that a good number of projects currently being implemented have been accommodated in the budget before now and are definitely due for execution. There is therefore nothing wrong in supplying cooking stoves to rural women free of charge as a social scheme.

Another respondent who preferred to be anonymous said the problem people have with Jonathan’s administration is its inability to discern the right policy for its citizenry.

“If government wants to help women why can’t it reduce kerosene price to N20 per gallon. You talked of austerity measures last week, is this a palliative measure? Could it be another way of taking money out of the already leaking and lean government purse?” He queried.

Also reacting to the government’s plan, Seun Adeosun, manager marketing OANDO said as a company, they commend the government on the initiative.

 

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Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke made history on Thursday by becoming the first female president of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). In this analysis Juliet Alohan, Abuja Lagos examines how the development would impact on Nigeria as well as take a look at the implication of OPECs decision to maintain oil output.

No doubt, the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke is a trailblazer. She, at the 166th General Meeting of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) in Vienna, Austria, emerged the oil cartel’s first female president.

She was also the first female Head of Delegation to OPEC as well as the first female Alternate President of the Organisation. Her recent appointment not only marks a landmark in her career life, but one that has also written Nigeria’s name in gold in the international community.

Alison-Madueke who takes over from Libya’s Vice Prime Minister for Corporation, His Excellency (HE) Abdourhman Atahar Al-Ahirish, would begin to serve her one year tenure from January 2015. Consequently, the conference elected HE Dr Mohammed Bin Saleh Al Sada, Minister of Energy and Industry of Qatar and Head of its delegation as its new Alternate President.

A statement issued Thursday by OPEC reads in part, “the conference elected Minister of Petroleum Resources of Nigeria and Head of its Delegation, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke as president of the conference for one year, with effect from 1st January 2015, and Minister of Energy and Industry of Qatar and Head of its Delegation, Dr. Mohammed Bin Saleh Al Sada, as Alternate President, for the same period.”

However, with the good news of Alison-Madueke’s election as OPEC President comes the bad news of OPEC’s decision to maintain its oil output levels at 30 million barrels per day, a decision that would hurt the economies of some of its members, including Nigeria which is largely dependent on oil revenue.

The minister who admitted this fact while speaking after her election, said Nigeria must now begin to aggressively develop its gas for the domestic market as a way to cushion the effect of sliding oil price, which is even expected to worsen in the months ahead.

Shale oil as game changer for global oil market

Speaking shortly after her election, Alison-Madueke admitted that the US Shale oil and gas is having a huge impact on all major oil and gas producing economies stressing that it is a major game changer for all stakeholders in the energy mix across the globe but noted however that in the months ahead, OPEC would provide a veritable platform for member countries to find a remedy and deal with the issue frontally, while pointing out that there are no quick fixes to the sliding oil prices.

According to the newly elected OPEC president, “the burden of falling oil prices is impacting on both OPEC and non OPEC member countries.”

In view of the recent trend in the global oil market, Alison-Madueke said Nigeria would look very stringently again at the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) which is currently before the National Assembly, “to ensure that the enablers therein are explored to make it more and more competitive in the global energy market.”

On the plans by the Federal Government to prepare for the global fall in oil price, she said, “Nigeria has no recourse at this point in time other than to fully develop her gas infrastructure for domestic use.”

Benchmark Brent oil fell more than $4 to $73.50 a barrel Thursday over fears that the global oversupply will build up in coming months. It was expected that OPEC will cut down on its supply to create scarcity of the product in the global market which is over supplied by the US’ shale gas and crude from the non OPEC market.

But Saudi Arabia-led Gulf oil producers, won the case for keeping OPEC output unchanged, defeating calls from poorer members of OPEC oil exporter group, such as Venezuela, Nigeria and Iran, for output cuts to check a slide in crude prices.

The outcome of Thursday’s decision considered by industry analysts as a major shift in OPEC policies away from its usual drive to defend prices, effectively means a battle for market share between OPEC and non-OPEC countries as a boom in US shale oil production and weaker economic growth in China and Europe have already sent crude prices on a continues downward slide since June. The commodity currently sells at an all-time four years low.

 

Implications for Nigeria

Nigeria with a total of 159 oil fields and 1,481 wells in operation produces an average of 2.2 million barrels of oil per day, making the country the largest oil producer in Africa and currently the 13th largest oil producer in the world.

As Nigeria and other OPEC members which pressed for output cuts to stabilise the market and ease pressure on their budgets failed in their bid, crude oil price is expected to further slide and cause a further strain on the economy of the nation which has already devalued its currency due to falling oil prices.

Speaking with LEADERSHIP Weekend, industry analyst, Dan Kunle, explained that the dynamics of the oil industry have fundamentally changed so much so that OPEC is unsure of whether it can still control oil price and remain relevant in the global oil market.

While commending Alison-Madueke’s election as OPEC President, the expert however, said, its effect on Nigeria would be minimal due to the fact that the dynamics of the global oil trade have already changed and given that Saudi Arabia call the major shots in OPEC, being the largest producer and exporter among the group.

“Madam (Alison-Madueke) would achieve less without the buy in of Saudi Arabia. She will have to get Saudi Arabia on her side to be able to achieve anything. She cannot achieve much if they don’t buy in. Saudi Arabia call the major shots in OPEC,” Kunle said.

According to him, while Saudi Arabia and other gulf oil producers can cope with the sliding price after having over the years developed other sectors of their economies with oil revenue, “Nigeria did not invest and was only paying salaries with oil revenue.”

“We have not diversified our economy, we didn’t invest in Agriculture, coal, gas, we didn’t invest in good refineries and we should have by now turned to export of refined products and de-emphasised crude export. We did none of this, now the reality is here with us.

“Each OPEC member including Nigeria should now change their philosophy and begin to develop other sectors that can bring revenue and makeup for the shortfall of oil revenue because the situation is going to get worse. The US targets becoming the largest exporter of oil by 2017 and with that and output from other non-OPEC members, the market dynamics will become totally different and OPEC will have little or no relevance,” he added.

On what measures Nigeria can adopt in the short term to cope with the shock, Kunle said, “In the short term, we are open to a huge tsunami in the next one to two years. We are open to shock. A serious government should begin now to put measures in place, we should cut down on consumption of foreign goods, we should begin to patronise locally made goods. Duty should be increased by 100 per cent on imported goods which can be produced locally to discourage their patronage if not, soon, Nigeria will become like Ghnana where 1000 cedes was exchanged for $1.”

The expert also advised that hospitals should be fixed to discourage medical tourism while schools should be well equipped to discourage Nigerians from sending their Children to school abroad. He said if not checked; only one per cent of Nigerians would be able to survive the coming inflation while 99 per cent would be badly affected.

OPEC member countries together, account for a third of global oil output. Analysts opine that a price war might make some future US shale oil projects uncompetitive due to high production costs, easing competitive pressures on OPEC in the longer term.

“Why would Saudi cut production in the current environment? Why would they want to support Iran, Russia or US shale producers? So they must have decided to let the market establish the price. Once the market goes to a new equilibrium, prices will go higher,” said Ross an analyst at PIRA Energy.

Also reacting, Olivier Jakob, of Petromatrix consultancy said, “we interpret this as Saudi Arabia selling the idea that oil prices in the short term need to go lower, with a floor set at $60 per barrel, in order to have more stability in years ahead at $80 plus.

 

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BY CHIOMA IGBOKWE AND CHIZOBA IKENWA

On November 1, 2014, Sunday Orochendu, a truck driver re­ceived a distress call from his wife, Ndidi. He was told that their neighbour had assaulted his family members. Determined to play the role of a man who should be known for standing for his family, Orochendu raced home. Unfortunately, what was supposed to be a warning resulted in the death of Mr Ralph Okey Mgbodile who he alleged assaulted his wife.

Saturday Sun gathered that the incident, which occurred at their 30, Mangbesa Street residence in Kirikiri town, Lagos, started when the deceased’s last born defecated at the entrance of Orochenedu’s room. This sparked a hostile reaction and insults from the wife of the suspect.

On getting home, Orochendu in an at­tempt to defend his family went into a fight with the late Mgbodile. They were, howev­er, separated, but Mgbodile did not recover from the beating he got as he slumped and died minutes after the fight.

Policemen attached to Kirikiri police station detained Orochendu while his wife, Ndidi, escaped to an unknown destination. She was later fished out by the policemen attached to the Special Anti Robbery Squad (SARS), of the state police command, Ikeja, who were detailed to find her.

At the police station where she is be­ing detained, Ndidi claimed that it was the thought of being lynched that made her flee the compound when it became obvious that her neighbour, Mgbodile had died. “I was terrified that angry neighbours could kill me. I have five children and cannot afford to die because of an issue that I contributed little or nothing to”, she stated.

She recounted that all she did was to tell her husband to reach out to their neighbours and warn them to respect her. “On Novem­ber 1, 2014, I was cooking in front of our door as that is the only available space in the compound for tenants to cook. Suddenly, Mgbodile instructed his son to stay in front of their door and defecate. I pleaded that I was cooking and that he should be relocated to another place. He told his son to ignore me. He asked me to go and build my house if I wanted some privacy. I felt bad because no person who witnessed a man defecating in front of a place where his food is kept will find that food edible”, she narrated.

Although she was very angry, Ndidi claimed that she managed to control herself and walked into the room to call her hus­band. “My husband was not in the house at that moment, so I called him on phone. Minutes later, he returned and went straight to confront our neighbour. I was in the room because I do not want to be seen to be in­truding when men are discussing. I was hearing voices as they came out to the pas­sage. It was then that I saw Mgbodile slap my husband, but as a gentleman, he refused to retaliate. The neighbours, who had gath­ered, were able to separate them. Mgbodile moved to his door and was about to pick something from the floor when he slumped. We were shocked when it was confirmed that he is dead.”

Seriously defending her husband, Ndidi said that her husband is not the aggressive type and cannot hurt a fly. “In the history of our marriage, my husband has never raised his hands at me. We have lived for more than 14 years in this compound and neigh­bours can testify to the fact that we do not quarrel. He is a unique trailer driver. I don’t know what actually went wrong with him, that my husband had to pay dearly for.”

Trying to justify why she went into hid­ing when she heard that her husband had been arrested, Ndidi said it was out of fear. “I was warned that the children of the man could kill me. I kept in touch with my in-laws and they told me not to worry. They were the ones that told me that he is now re­manded at Ikoyi prisons. I have even gone there to see him. He told me to be strong, that God will see him through. My husband is innocent, only God knows what killed that man”, she said, wailing.

While Ndidi is hoping and praying that her husband and herself should be released, Mrs Nnenna Mgbodile, whose husband died, is lost on what to do with her five children. “I don’t know what to do? I don’t know where to start. Who will help me to train these children? If life was better for us, we will not be living in this type of house,” Nnenna, who is a petty trader, sobbed.

Still finding it hard to control her tears when Saturday Sun visited their house in Kirikiri, Nnenna said her only wish is that the killer of her husband should not go un­punished. “Our greatest challenge is that we do not have money for the autopsy and the police said that this is the only way the true cause of death can be ascertained.”

At that point, her first daughter, Jennifer took over the narration of the story behind the sudden death of her father. “It started about 12pm, the lady opposite our room by name, Mrs Ndidi Orochendu was cooking at her doorstep while the last born of our house was defecating in a bowl at our side, as there was no other place for him to go to toilet than that place. She was angry, but it was not the first time as that was the place he had been going to toilet since he was a child.

“She started shouting at my dad be­cause he was around and inside at that time. I was sleeping and started hearing noises, listening to the insults that she hurled at my father. According to her, she said that she and her husband could not eat my brother’s feces. The problem is that we don’t have a backyard. My dad called me and sent me to buy toilet roll that I would use to clean up my brother. I did that and hurriedly cleaned him up but she was still shouting, waiting for a reply from us but we did not respond.

“I thought it had ended there, but she started telling people around what had happened. She later stopped for a while. Around 4pm, my dad dressed up and said he was going for a meeting and that he will return late because he would watch a football match from there. I myself went for a choir practice at my church. Getting back at night, my kid sister was the one at home and she told me our dad was outside receiv­ing fresh air as that was his normal practice whenever he comes back from work. My sister called him to eat his food but he said he was coming because he was still dis­cussing ball. That night, she was outside also discussing the issue with a neighbour, Mama Queen. Those who were friends with her were telling her to fight, knowing full well that this man’s family especially the children could not defend themselves.

“She called her husband who was meant to go to work. I don’t know what she told her husband, who came out and con­fronted my father. My dad told him that he would have at least asked him before trying to fight. As my father was still speaking, he punched my father on the stomach. People were around even though they denied it; I don’t know why they did not separate them. Though some people said the man used stick on my dad, some said he slapped my dad. It was then a man came and separated them. He moved away from the scene stag­gering, looking for his slippers and that was when he fell face downwards to the ground and died. This happened around 10:30pm. We did not know he was dead that night till the next morning.”

 

 

 

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Vulvovaginal candidiasis (VVC) is the medical name for the genital yeast infection which occurs mostly in women and may rarely occur in men. VVC occurs as a result of the upset in the natural balance of “good” bacteria and other micro-organisms in the vagina.

According to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, 75 percent of all adult women have had at least one “yeast infection” in their lifetime and as many as 45 percent have had it two times or more.

VVC occurs majorly from an overgrowth of the yeast called Candida. Such an overgrowth of the yeast may be caused by a reduction in the vaginal acidity or a hormonal imbalance. When this happens, symptoms of Candidiasis may appear.

Symptoms

Symptoms in women may include genital itching, burning, and unusual discharge; in men, symptom may be itchy rash on the penis. Some other genital infections may have the same symptom so it is best to see your doctor to know which infection you may be suffering from.

Causes

Other things that may cause Candida overgrowth include high alcohol consumption, taking oral contraceptives and eating foods with high carbohydrate and sugar content, especially in pregnancy.

Prevention

However, because prevention is always better than looking for a cure, the following are practical things you can do to prevent genital yeast infection.

Cut down on your sugar intake: Sugar feeds the yeast. If you are diabetic or prone to it, control your blood sugar levels will significantly reduce your risk of yeast infections. Do not use toilet immediately after you flush: “As you flush, you bring up the contents in the bowl (toilet seat),” says Philip Tierno, MD, director of clinical microbiology and diagnostic immunology at New York University Medical Centre and Mt. Sinai Medical Centre in New York City. “It’s not just your germs; it’s germs from other people.” Some toilets can aerosolise (convert into a gaseous spray) the contents for quite a distance after being flushed – five feet with lower volume flushes or as far as 20 feet. In fact, Tierno recommends that if you are using a toilet without a lid, you should open the door first before you flush so that you can get out of the way of the spray quickly. Imagine what would happen if you sat on a toilet bowl (seat) immediately after you flushed even with clean water. Avoid sexual activities that can transfer germs to your body: During foreplay, fingers can be used to create stimulation and arousal. Avoid contact with overgrown fingernails that may harbour germs which could cause infections especially if your immune system is low. Wear cotton under wears: If you must wear an underwear with synthetic or nylon as a main material, make sure it has a cotton panel at the crotch. This will help absorb the moisture from your body. Avoid wearing panty liners, they get damp and can increase your risk of recurrent vaginal yeast infections. Avoid moist clothing:  After a workout or relaxing swim, change your outfit as soon as you can so that the dampness does not increase the risks. Stay away from douches, scented powders, scented tampons, and feminine deodorant sprays. These contain chemicals and perfumes that can upset the natural balance of “good” bacteria and other micro-organisms in the vagina. Wipe (clean up) correctly. The appropriate way to wipe is from front to back. After using the restroom, wipe correctly so that you do not spread bacteria from the anus to the vagina. Eat healthy and manage stress: Although not confirmed by medical research, some women say that too much sugar, beer, and stress can trigger their yeast infections. Stress weakens the body’s immune system and can make it vulnerable. Instead, exercise regularly, it will boost the immune system and reduce stress. Avoid contraceptive pills, hormone therapy and antibiotics because they can alter the body’s chemistry and encourage candida overgrowth.

In case you are suffering from Candida overgrowth and infection, see a doctor and get it treated. Aside relieving the discomfort, effective treatment can stop the yeast growth and restore the friendly bacteria that keep it in check.

 

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SMS Only: 08033341157 Email: omoajon@yahoo.com  BY OLU OBAFEMI

When this Series opened last week, the intention was to examine the travails and ex­ploits of Aminu Tambuwal, Nigeria’s number four citizen in its pow­er hierarchy and structure as the Speak­er of the House of Representatives. We had established that, given his pedigree, his record of performance in the last four years or so on the driver’s seat of the National Lower House—the unique way in which he ascended the office, as a candidate that smashed the expectation that the party with the majority would supply the Speaker, which, in his partic­ular instance was expected to come from the South West by an unwritten zoning schema, Tambuwal was on his way to the history books of Nigerian greats. True to that expectation, he has shown exem­plary brilliance, exceptional dynamism, charming character, and animal magne­tism, all of which have combined to win him immense popularity in the House.

Tambuwal had continued, with the compulsive industry, to churn out numerous Bills that have been of tremendous value to governance in this nation. Such was his level of competence, forthrightness and objective running of the House that some eminent Nigerians have begun to toss his name up for the highest office in the land— the Presidency. These were some of the landmarks of achievement that brought him to one’s attention as someone cut out for greatness—he may not have greatness thrust upon him, neither was he exactly born with greatness, yet we surmised from his record of performance in that high and coveted office that he can achieve greatness. Aminu Tambuwal was applauded for earnestness of success in his career, and even though success has always been a difficult legacy to manage, especially for young men with limited experience in the wilderness of partisan politics, there is a lot of reason to believe that he was on an assured road to heroism. Added to this fact is the widely held perception of him as a man of rectitude, showing no obvious trait of or tendency for moral turpitude. Not for him the smear of financial impropriety, perfidy and corruption piled against his two successors before they were shown the way out. There has been no known hunt for him, either by the EFCC or by ICPC—two anti-graft agencies that have been seen as the nemesis of public officers who have been found or suspected to be engaged in money-laundering, shady deals, or self-compromise through immoral financial deals. At a time like this, when the powers that be would have silenced him through allegations of sleazy-deals, bribery, kleptomania, money-laundering and so on, there appears that there is no room or no loopholes in his records to exploit to nail him!

It was then clear to us that we could examine the kind of choices he makes and the actions that he takes for maneuvering and meandering through the political landmines that could assail his integrity, sound morality and patriotism that can thwart his chances for heroism. But now, all of those lofty tests and probe- yardsticks have been thrown overboard by the drama of the moment between Tambuwal and the state apparatus. It is no longer the issue the manner of his deflection—of quitting the party through which he came to power at the acme of the Lower national legislature. Not stopping there, the way he has preceded in her search for alternative—higher or lower- political power. The argument of his expedient, well-calculated defection time from the PDP, virtually, on the eve of the conclusion of his service time as Speaker is now a moot point. The fact that he has restrained himself from accepting the temptation placed on his laps by his colleagues from the APC at the House of Representatives—an action which, though neither here nor there—has been massively hurray-ed –may now be banked for future examination of his score-card. The rupture or rumbling that his acceptance of nomination for the Presidential ticket on the platform of the APC might have been averted to his credit, especially by those who believe that he has a fair chance of upsetting the apple cart in the power closet, at the Presidential level of the APC may have been averted in the face of the ‘katakata’ playing itself out at the new ‘battlefield’ called the National Assembly.

The wise option, as some have adjudged it, of his picking the nomination form for the Governorship of Sokoto State, is at the background of the precipitous action or set of actions going on in the contestation, wrangling and tumbling between a faction of the Lower House and a segment of government operatives. Now, it would appear that, realizing that we need a national digression from the warfare between Boko Haram and our government, the National Assembly appears a preferred stage! Note, sadly, of course that the battle at the real theatre in the north east rages unabated. Only last Sunday, Boko Hara struck in a fishing village at Doro Baga in Kukawa Local Government Area and killed at least 45 villagers. Headlines of the dailies o Tuesday ran away with agonizing screams that Boko Haram has overrun Borno border town even though the military is fighting back furiously. Yet, we seem to be find alternative war-fronts! The National Assembly appears to be a convenient arena stage. The dramatis personae then are Tambuwal, the embattled Speaker and hordes of his loyalists from the Lower House, especially from the APC members-camp and the security operatives-the police, other security operatives on the alleged order of the Inspector-General of Police or/and the National Security Adviser.

What are the issues for the deflating bedlam? The Speaker wants to gain entrance to the House. Reason? The most obvious reason advanced is to go and oblige the President who has given an assignment to the National Assembly that they discuss and approve the extension of the Emergency rule in three States in the north-east, namely, Adamawa, Borno and Yobe. The curious question about this scenario is this: why would the President give the National Assembly a responsibility and its own agents would not let the Assembly do the bidding of the President? Why would the Speaker of the House take every action, very risky action, to gain access to his office to perform a function for the President whose agents are forcefully depriving, preventing and resisting him from fulfilling the task set for him/them by the President? I am scared for these Honorable men whose extreme patriotism is driving them at mortal risk to dear life to satisfy a government who is alleged to be endangering the lives of the people whose only approval would grant its wish to extend the emergency rule. Legislators are doing acrobatics meant for teens and adolescents, scaling fences of many feet high amidst tear-gas and other rhapsodic implements of scare. Having gained access, forcibly, against state force, it may appear that the Honorable lost interest in doing the bidding of the President and decided to deny his request. More, they have become palpably disenchanted with the President that they, over a hundred of them, virtually all from the APC, are alleged to have signed impeachment paper against the President. The persuasion of the security operatives is that the Speaker and his supporters have a different agenda that is inimical to the interest of the President and would not give them wiling access. What is the position of Senate President, David Mark in all these? He has also received his own share of tear-gassing and muzzling, by Honorable members who doubt his altruism in talking to the Speaker and would prevent him from doing so. Whereupon, he too won’t receive the Speaker in his office!

The kind of hellish fire engulfing the National Assembly departs considerably from the history of internal combat, fisticuff and Maze seizing that we were used to in years past. Still, Tambuwal is on the threshold of history. So is the entire nation, help!

Concluded

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BY CHUKWUMA ODIMUKO

Dear Engr. Chinedum Orji (alias Ikuku Abia)

I have the utmost regard for you because I see you as someone who has made it in life in terms of wealth and influence considering your age .

If not for the numerous sycophants around you, who have willfully failed to tell you the truth, you would have been much better than you are now on the area of your name and reputation. Their self-interest-motivated pieces of advice and lip-service all contributed to the negative perception people have about you now. I would not be surprised to learn that the idea of contesting for the House of Assembly seat originated from one of them, but the truth is that this move is the most ill-conceived one you have ever made in your brief period of existence around the corridors of power.

Truthfully, when the rumours of your House of Assembly aspiration started, many people, including me, assumed that it was just the work of some not-so meaningfully-engaged people around you, who were looking for an opportunity to get some cash out of you. Then you went on air to say that you had no such ambition, I felt proud of you, believing that you were wiser that rumour peddlers. But to my utter amazement, not too long after that announcement, I learnt that you had bought and expression of interest form for the same seat you came up on air to deny being interested in. I must say that I felt disappointed in you, disappointed because I felt that you should have known better that the timing for your aspiration was wrong. Not only because of your father’s senatorial ambition, but also because of the obviously known high possibility that most of the returning members from Abia Central would not allow themselves to be bought over by you for you to become the next speaker of Abia State House of Assembly, which everyone already knows is your ultimate goal.

I also gathered that you, your family and your cohorts are conspiring to ensure that no old member returns to the House. Your sinister manipulation and that of your father is not helping our state. Abia State is not your family chessboard. Please sir, think about what I am saying to you now, because this kind of advice can only come from someone who has your interest at heart.

Honestly, I think that the level of influence you command in this state could be put to better use than trying to throw yourself into this mud-water your friendly enemies are preparing for you. You could use the remaining months of your father’s stay in office and your own “stay” in your undefined office to cross the ‘T’s and dot the ‘I’s. You could use this period to solidify your influence as the first son in God’s Own State and become the first governor’s son to create and establish the office of the first son and not the way you are going about it. You could persuade relevant authorities at the state and national levels to make the office of the son of the governor official and constitutional for other states to copy as one of the legacies of your father’s administration in God’s Own State.

Just think about it, even if you succeed in buying yourself into the Abia State House of Assembly, the Ngwawuruotu will defiantly not allow you to act as the Ikuku we know anymore. And once you fail to achieve your political aims those sycophants around you will begin to reveal their true colour to you . These are my suggestions which I sincerely pray that you should give heed to.

Beware of those sycophants around you and question their motives for whatever advice they are giving to you. Be selfless and concentrate your efforts on helping your father secure a senatorial seat, at least for his protection when he leaves office as governor if not for any other thing, even though Abians would prefer that your family stays out from any political office for now.

Your father was a Chief of Staff for 8 years and then a governor for another 8 years, yet he wants to go for Senate while imposing the next governor of the state on the people, not to mention your own bid to be the next Speaker of the House of Assembly. Trust me, you do not want to know what people really think about that .Please sir, I advise that you use the remaining few months to do things that will restore the good will of the people towards your family and please , stop taking back the empowerment vehicles that you gave out to some people simply because they are no longer in your family’s camp. That singular act is seriously damaging the goodwill of the people towards you. Use the influence you have now to create and consolidate your presence in the global market place.

Among all the 36 states of the federation, you are probably the only governor’s son to be contesting for a political position at the same time as your father. Please just think about it for a second time , which other governor’s son is receiving the same amount of negative media attention that you are receiving? How many are constantly being vilified by the few people that they have not succeeded in intimidating? You know, if only everyone will start calling a spade a spade, you would really know what people really think of you and I tell you, it’s not good. This truth might be hurting, but it is true. I am talking now because I have a conscience that is very much alive and kicking even though I can’t reveal my true identity to you for the fear that you might take back the yellow taxi you gave to me for my tireless service to you for these past eight years as you have done to some people who told you the truth when it was necessary.

As the saying goes, “ a word is enough for the wise” and so I hope these words of mine will be enough and where they fail, I can only take solace in the fact that my conscience has been appeased. My brother and friend, please be wise and do the right thing.

Odimuko writes from Umuahia, Abia State

 

 

 

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BELOVED members of the Press Clips Pen­tecostal Church (PCPC), I welcome you this morning into the presence of my Father—He who created the world and made everything celestial in the shape of a football. He who enjoys foot­ball and watches from heaven children of the world as they scream, as they triumph, as they weep and ago­nise over football—the world’s No. 1 game.

A game for the poor and the rich alike. A game for the young and old. A game full of suspense and drama. A game described by the great Pele as the “Beautiful Game.” A game so beautiful yet so cruel and heartbreaking. A game from which life’s vital lessons are learnt. A game that teaches management, leadership, strategy and team-building better than any book. A game that more than any­thing unites and fuels the spirit of patriotism—the love of country and its people. A game like no other.

A game that many preachers love and even use regular­ly in their sermons to the delight of the congregation who all resonate easily with football. A game once described as a religion and the opium of the people. In the name of my Father, the creator of the universe, football will not be your religion in Jesus name. Football will not be your destruction. Football will not be your sorrow. Football will not be your song of lamentation and “had-I-known.”

Why am I preaching about football today? You know why. Our country is clouded with the darkness and sorrow of losing a match we ordinarily should have won. A match we could have won, even if we had featured our home-based teams like Kano Pillars and Enyimba who have the hunger and the passion to win. A match that was ours for the taking. A match that featured what we thought was the best professionals we had selected from all around the world. But right in our very eyes, we watched as victory slipped away from us. Right in our very eyes, we watched as a team we had always subjugated even in their home turf, turning around to humiliate us, to deny us of victory, to throw us out of Africa, a continent we once ruled as champions. A game and competition we took for granted as our birthright. We had deluded ourselves to think that come rain or shine, Nigeria must always qualify for any­thing Africa. Whether we work hard or we lazy around the ball, we have the faith that somehow, we would wobble and fumble our way to qualify. Having beating Congo 2-0 on their own turf, we had deluded ourselves to think that the battle in Uyo had been won even before the match. We allowed our ego to take over. We drifted into the sin and the disease of complacency that killed us, that killed our hopes and dreams, that killed our joy, that killed our spir­its, that killed our football and made us a laughing stock in the eyes of the world.

The message today is titled: “The complacency of fools.” Open your Bible to Proverbs 1:32. It reads: “For the waywardness of the naïve will kill them. And the com­placency of fools will destroy them.”

The word of God says it all. To be complacent is to be a fool. So, what does it mean to be complacent? To be complacent is to be lukewarm, to be overconfident, to take things for granted, to be too optimistic. To be com­placent is to underrate the problem or the enemy confront­ing you. To be complacent is to take yesterday’s statistics and wanting to apply it, thinking it is still applicable today. No, it is not. To be complacent is to rely on past glories, forgetting that in football and in life, you are as good as your present form.

Let’s go into the scriptures to find case studies in com­placency. Of course everybody knows the story of David and Goliath. Goliath was the giant armed to the teeth, who was relying on the fact that Israel was his regular whip­ping boy. Then out of the blues, he was confronted with a new challenge that didn’t even look like a challenge to him. When he saw the young man called David with his sling, coming at him, he laughed and said: “This must be a joke. Am I a dog, that you come at me with sticks? Come here, you small boy, I’ll give your flesh to the birds of the air and the beasts of the field.”

Of course, you know the rest of the story. The big, pompous and complacent Goliath lost to the small David due to apathy, lukewarmness and a false sense of invinci­bility. And the rest is history.

Today, the Super Eagles, the Goliaths of African soc­cer are in the same mess. The South Africa we used to bully on the pitch of soccer have gone back to do their homework. They have reengineered, re-strategized and rebuilt their team to take on the bully, the Goliath that have always stood on their way to victory.

And so shall your story be, my brother, my sister. Whatever Goliath stands on your way shall bow before you today in Jesus name. Whatever mountain, whatever obstacle, whatever is the problem standing before you and your victory, shall crumble today in Jesus mighty name. My brother, my sister, this is the time to smell the coffee, this is the time to shake away the spirit of sleep, the spirit of laziness, the spirit of complacency that has chained you for years. Wake up like South Africa and confront the old enemy in front of you, your old nemesis. Confront it without any more fear or respect. Learn from the Bafana, Bafana, the boys from South Africa who said: “Enough is enough!”

On the day Nigeria was thrown out of the Cup of Na­tions, Coach Stephen Keshi stood there agape, clueless, confused, wondering what had hit him. Here was the man who took Nigeria to South Africa and did what no one thought could be done: win­ning the African Cup of Nations and becoming an instant hero. He became the face of Peak milk and other brands who wanted to as­sociate with his achievements. Now that the table has turned, you know what would happen. Success has many fathers but failure is an orphan. You will not be an orphan. Failure will not be attached to your name. I checked the meaning of Keshi and I learnt from Google that Keshi is a Japanese name for eraser. May your glory and achievements never be erased! I felt sorry for Keshi when he was passing the blame, say­ing the boys were complacent, that they underrated the South Africans. If so, what is the work of a coach? I hate to say that my friend Keshi simply bungled it this time. But that is football for you. On a wrong day, you are made to look like a fool. Even the great Brazil suffered it at the World Cup, when they were embarrassed by Spain right at their home front.

Akpabio

Another man I pitied on the night Nigeria lost was Gov­ernor Godswill Akpabio of Akwa Ibom State as the TV camera captured his frustrated looks and the forlorn anti­climax of defeat. My friend the governor had carved his name on the sands of time by leaving behind a beautiful sporting monument called the “Nest of Champions.” All we were expecting was that the Eagles would come home to roost as champions by feasting on their South African prey. But the Eagles simply had their wings clipped and turned out to be what King Solomon described as “com­placency of fools” that flew themselves like Icarus into destruction. You can’t blame it on Akpabio, can you? Maybe it was not God’s will that the Super Eagles should go to Equatorial Guinea.

***

The issue of complacency has national ramifications. In a complacent country that puts all its eggs and faith in one basket, dependent on a mono-economy, see what price we are paying now! The price of oil has fallen, the naira is devalued, SAP is back, things are falling apart and we are no longer at ease in the old dispensation. We are all complacent fools—from top to bottom. The bad news is that even God hates complacency. The Book of Revela­tions says: “Because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.”

That is the message today from the throne of grace.

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(REASONS WE SUCCEEDED)

It has been proved beyond reasonable doubt, in many instances, that our admin­istration (1999-2007) was a huge success, while that of Governor Theodore Ahame­fule Orji has been an abysmal failure. The recent tour of the state by media influencers and bloggers, which was prearranged by the governor, has further exposed the rot in his administration and brought to the fore the remarkable differences between both administrations. It has also shown how de­ceitful the present administration has been, including the underhand deals that shape it.

Before the expose, the government of Chief Orji had regaled itself, though pretentiously, with achievements it did not merit. It had created the erroneous impression all over the place that he had performed better than all the administrations before his. Curiously, some people swallowed this bait hook, line and sinker.

If you ask me, there was nothing exceptional in what the bloggers and media influencers re­ported after their visit, after all even a blind man in Abia State can see the decay and disillusion­ment that signpost the era of decadence under Governor Orji. All a doubting Thomas should do to be convinced of the veracity of the revela­tions we have made so far is to take a trip to the state and see things for oneself. It does not really matter, which political divide you operate from or the aim you plan to accomplish, just make the trip and in the end you may join the crusade to redeem Abia State.

Unfortunately, what many Abians have sud­denly come to realise, though belatedly, is that our administration was better in many ways than Chief Orji’s government! What we achieved in four years are yet to be equaled in the eight years of Chief Orji. Do a casual assessment of what you can see and you will agree with me that Abia State is worse under Governor Orji’s aegis.

Again, from the report of the media influenc­ers and bloggers it could easily be deduced that that there is nothing on ground to justify the gov­ernor’s eight years in the saddle, yet he makes all the noise in the world about his achievements. Which achievements? The media tourists were in unison in their opinion and rated the current government in the state 25%. You know what 25% in an examination means! There was no sector the fact-finding media team adjudged as a success. From health to education, infrastructure to security, it was the same story of non-perfor­mance.

One then wonders what tangible thing the government had set out to achieve with the me­dia tour. I have read a few reactions from the government-sponsored writers, and have noth­ing more to offer the governor than sympathy. I sympathize with him over his dilemma and des­peration. What had he expected would happen after his eight long years of subjugation and fear? Our people have held their hearts in their mouths all these years, while the governor and his family expropriate the commonwealth of the state for their self-aggrandizement.

It would be the most stupid thing for anybody to think that the governor would go scot-free af­ter it all. He may pretend all is well with him now when inside he is suffering under the weight of his sins.

If he could feel the heat while still in office as governor, then what happens when he is out of it? It was this painful and regrettable path that had I tried in vain to dissuade the governor from towing. Instead of listening to words of wisdom he chose the path of self-destruction. He abused me and anybody else who dared tell him the truth.

The situation the governor finds himself today was avoidable. He was a part of our ad­ministration from 1999 to 2007 and could tell (if he chooses to tell the truth) that we achieved success for many reasons, which I will advance here. I will also give reasons pari-passu the gov­ernor has failed.

The first reason for our success is God. We built our government on the fear of God and love of our people. In fact, I would not have had any reason to vie for the office of governor if I did not have a genuine conviction to serve our people. By 1999, when I assumed office as governor, I was already very comfortable. But the plight of our people turned my comfort into sadness as they daily grappled with the difficulties of life. I was moved by the bad roads, lack of potable water and quality health care, fallen standard in education, insecurity, poverty, and general disil­lusionment among our people to seek elective office. And so, I had to throw my hat in the ring.

With the vision we had we were able to set out on the journey with courage and convic­tion. We knew that it was not going to be easy, since there were not sufficient funds to tackle the myriads of problems facing us. Our trust in God propelled us; the love of the people motivated us. We leveraged on the useful experience we acquired in the private sector, coupled with the unflinching support we received from the peo­ple, to turn things around.

So, love was the foundation of our success, since God is love. The atmosphere of love that pervaded Abia State at that time had never been witnessed in the history of the state. People moved about freely, had unlimited access to the seat of government, and came from different parts of the state daily to offer advice on the way forward. And we received them with open arms and implemented their advice without bias.

It was the same love that made us run an open administration. We utilized every kobo we made to work for the people. We fought corrup­tion with all the strength and courage we could muster. It is on record that our government was the first in Nigeria to design a framework for the fight against corruption. It was the same template that President Olusegun Obasanjo fine-tuned to come up with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). There was noth­ing we could have achieved if we had not wres­tled and subdued the monster called corruption, which had eaten deep into the life of our state then.

It is important to mention here that for any government policy to succeed the leader must show the way. The fight against corruption was fought vigorously and transparently. There were no sacred cows. I, as the governor, made it clear that the same rules should apply to everybody serving in the administration. That was why even the civil servants keyed into the fight and made enormous sacrifices to make us succeed. I had expected the incumbent governor to sustain the tempo of the fight. Sadly, he faltered.

Corruption has been the albatross of the pre­sent administration in the state. That was one aspect the reports of the media influencers to the state are yet to address. I find myself in quandary to understand why no government official on that media tour could tell, when asked, the cost of any of the projects inspected. During our re­gime we made it a point of duty to always pub­lish quarterly reports on the financial status of government. This aided planning and mitigated undue speculations.

The administration of Governor Orji has not succeeded, because he chose the easy path of life. He did not want the hard, truthful and transparent way. Naturally, what would follow is failure.

I wonder if Governor Orji ever understands who God is and the twist in fate that can be the lot of man. Nothing he had done so far has shown him as a true follower of Christ. If he were a true believer, as he openly professes, why would he bear too much grudge and refuse to reconcile with his traducers? The hallmark of every true child of God is the ability to forgive, even when it is difficult to do so. So, how does he expect God then to forgive him and help him?

For those close to our administration one trend was visible: regular interactions with vital stakeholders such as the media, traditional rulers, the people, the clergy, security agencies, etc. We took them in confidence and collaborated with them in the running of the state. Through this process we were able to receive feedbacks and reach consensus on important issues that pro­moted effective and smooth governance.

Unfortunately, the present administration in Abia State thinks differently. Its idea of vital stakeholders was to assemble some Abuja-based politicians from Abia State and payroll them. It is these politicians, without any tangible electoral worth, that the governor has surrounded himself with in the past eight years. As far as I am con­cerned they are liabilities instead of assets. If I may ask, what is their worth as individuals? Let them point to anything reasonable they have achieved in life that has direct bearing to the wel­fare of the people. Many of them cannot survive without politics. That is why they are always very desperate and hanging around the governor.

I have survived all my life without politics. For me politics is just a passion to offer selfless service to one’s people, not a thing for personal enrichment. It is the inability to really define his reason for accepting to serve in the first place that is responsible for the non-performance of the governor.

It is no hidden truth that Abuja-based Abia politicians did not find our administration easy to penetrate. They did everything humanly pos­sible to thwart our agenda to develop Abia State, but each time their plans failed. I was not moved one bit by their antics, because I was occupied with the task of working for our people. They threatened fire and brimstone, yet they could not do anything.

Chief Orji was desperate to work with them. This accounted for some of his ill-advised ac­tions at the beginning of his tenure, which he blamed on me. I have never been his problem, and can never be. He is the architect of his own failures.

To avoid any misconceptions, let me state that there is nothing wrong working with gen­uine Abuja-based Abia politicians. There are some of them that are amenable to reason. But my position is simple: I refused to compromise my integrity and the wider interest of our state and its people during my tenure as governor. I was totally accountable to God and the people that elected me. Full stop! And I do not have any apology to offer to anybody for taking such a stance.

For any leader to succeed he must be prag­matic. We ensured that all the promises we made to the people during electioneering were fulfilled. Go through my election manifesto and you would see that we made genuine promises and lived them out. What is the need promising what one would not be able to accomplish? This is another liability of the present government in Umuahia. The governor had beautiful and tena­ble plans before he was sworn in. Sadly, he aban­doned these plans chasing the wind. He would have succeeded if he had stuck to the original plans of pursuing life-transforming projects, which was a more difficult path. In his reason­ing, he chose to settle a few politicians thinking they would save him when it mattered most.

The governor, I am sure, forgot that he was dealing with hawks, not genuine politicians, whose major preoccupation is how to line their pockets. They tell him what to do and say. In the process he has burned his fingers. When the chips are down they will dump him and seek ref­uge elsewhere.

Superintending over the affairs of Abia State was a daunting task, but the support of the people was a huge relief. They were there for us when we needed them most. They believed in us and threw their massive support behind us. I recall with nostalgia the period between 2002 and 2003 when there were plots to scuttle our admin­istration. It was the people that stood up against it. They voted massively for us in the 2003 gen­eral elections and again in 2007 when we begged them to vote for the incumbent governor while in prison.

So, the people were our backbone. They were our livewire. But what do we have today in Abia State? It is the government against the people. Almost all government fiscal policies are skewed to favour the powerful and rich, while the masses groan under the weight of over-tax­ation and infrastructural decay. There is nothing physical in Abia State today that is not subjected to crazy tax. Nevertheless, there is nothing abso­lutely wrong in government asking the people to pay taxes. After all, it is their civic duty to do so. But everything is wrong when such policies are draconian and anti-people.

Worst still, the economy of the state, which boomed in our time, has nearly collapsed. The people are suffering, because the money that accrues to the state does not circulate and is not judiciously expended. Go round all the markets in the state and the reality with hit you like a thunderbolt from the blue. Traders sit all through the week without selling anything. Civil serv­ants who are their major patrons are owed for months. Is it not when the civil servants receive their salaries that they spend it?

Nothing seems to be working anymore in Abia State. The era of prosperity has given way to the years of yore. Was it not in our tenure that all the new generation banks opened shop in Abia State? We provided them the enable­ment to set up offices in our state. It was also during our administration that MTN, GLO and ECONET (now Zain) berthed in Abia State? What of Mr. Biggs, Crunches, and other eater­ies that found Abia State an investment haven? These were signs of prosperity. I challenge the governor to point to any new investment he at­tracted to Abia State.

Ask him of one major achievement and he will point to the Dialysis Centre in Umuahia, which, according to them, is a Private Partner­ship Project (PPP). Who are those that form part of the PPP? We need to know. Come to think of it: How many poor Abians can afford the ser­vices of the centre? The project, to best of my knowledge, was established to serve the interest of the governor and his associates. What an av­erage Abian needs today are water, good roads, quality education, functional healthcare system, food, electricity, and security. These were the things we focused on during our tenure that en­deared us to the people and made us succeed.

Without sounding immodest: I know quite well that if we are to come back today and seek fresh mandate from the people they would offer it to us freely and generously.

Can Governor Orji boldly make the same as­sertion? I doubt it.

 

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editorial-29

Are Private Armies Greater Than The Nigerian State?

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While the deadly terrorist group, Boko Haram, is claiming and hoisting its flag in territories hitherto belonging to the Nigerian state, the private army of ex-Niger Delta militant, Government Ekpemupolo (alias Tompolo) is going about its business of creating a lawless state within the Niger Delta region. It appears that it would be appropriate to do away with the “ex-” prefix to Tompolo’s status as a militant warlord.

The events of Sunday, November 16, 2014 which culminated in the kidnapping and torture of 15 individuals and some journalists by Tompolo’s mercenaries, is despicable and barbaric. The kidnapped journalists were travelling from Ogidingben, where President Goodluck Jonathan was billed to commission the EPZ project and as it turned out, the president cancelled the commissioning following threats from the same Tompolo that all hell would break loose if the ceremony went on as planned.

It was gathered that Mr Ekpemupolo, in a bid to prevent President Jonathan from attending the event in Ogidingben, stationed 10 boats loaded with fierce-looking men wielding AK-47 rifles. We hear that in the confusion that ensued, the same man threatened the life of Lagos lawyer and human rights activist, Festus Keyamo, whose two petitions to the inspector general of police, Suleiman Abba, are yet to be responded to. We ask: is Tompolo greater than the state?

Recall that on Thursday, February 2, 2012, after the Jonathan administration concessioned the nation’s coastline security to Global West Vessel Specialist Nigeria Limited (GWVSL), a company whose principal promoter is Tompolo, we argued on this platform that, if anything, empowering an ex-militant in such fashion at the expense of Nigeria’s already fragile security could only inspire defiance against the state. Here we are!

As terrifying and criminal as Tompolo’s actions were, we are more concerned by the loud silence emanating from the Nigerian security and intelligence community. On second thoughts, maybe we shouldn’t be too shocked. After all, spewing fire on sensitive national issues has become the favourite pastime of yet another ex-militant, Mujahid Asari-Dokubo. Our security agencies and, indeed, the presidency seem oblivious of what ignoring the lawlessness of so-called ex-militants portends for the security of Nigeria. When these pockets of violence go unaddressed for so long, monsters are born. Isn’t that how we got into the now seemingly insurmountable Boko Haram disaster?

We call on the inspector general of police and the director of the Department of State Security (DSS) to immediately respond to the petition filed by Keyamo and investigate the circumstances that led to the bedlam of November 16, with a view to punish all guilty parties. Also, the presidency should stop endorsing with their silence the lawlessness of ex-militants; hence the perception in some quarters that President Jonathan is a regional leader is validated.

 

« Previous Article Nigeria: The Grazing Routes To Ethnic Bloodshed

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Political, tribal and cultural influences and practices have continued to fuel the perennial herdsmen/farmer clashes across the country. The situation is typified by a vicious circle of violence and mutual vendetta which has ravaged large swathes of the country’s north. EDEGBE ODEMWINGIE reports on the experiences in the North Central states of Nasarawa, Benue and the nation’s capital, Abuja.

In Alingani, Nasarawa State, the stench from burnt, decaying carcasses – of both human and cattle –was still fresh on a recent visit. Remnants of burnt houses were the only signs of human life in this settlement once inhabited by herdsmen. A reprisal attack by farmers aided by Ombatse, the militia of the dominant Eggon ethnic group of Nasarawa State, sacked the Fulani nomadic settlers in August.

Although ethnic differences are often given as the reasons for similar clashes, access to land is at the root of these confrontations.

Triggered by desperation to protect and advance an ever-shrinking ecological space, characterised by resource-scarcity, population explosion and climate change-induced migration of pastoralists from the far north to the north-central region of Nigeria in search of grazing fields, the country has recorded deaths by the thousands from clashes between predominantly Fulani herdsmen and local farmers.

In communities visited, the feeling of frustration, suspicion and government abandonment were palpable. Our reporter was not spared. He was treated as a potential foe and a possible spy.

The villagers later relaxed and opened up after his identity and intentions were disclosed.

“Komai na Allah ne. ko wonai fili na Allah ne, ba naku ba” (In Hausa, this translates as “Everything belongs to Allah. Every piece of land belongs to Allah and not yours”. These words from a Fulani herdsmen to a farmer were enough to spark renewed fighting between farmers from the Eggon ethnic group and Fulani at Alingani in Lafia local council of Nasarawa state on August 14, 2014.

In one account, a Fulani herdsman, Najid Muhammad Dan-Auta, 27, said crisis broke out at Alingani when an Eggon farmer accused a Fulani herdsmen of grazing his land. At the end of the attacks and reprisals, the death toll stood at 60 according to Police accounts, with over 80 houses and properties destroyed.

11 children between the ages of two and 10, drowned in Guyaka River while trying to flee the violence that began at a farmland in Fadama Bauna, Nasarawa Eggon local government.

Dan-Auta speaking in Hausa language, recounted the reprisal on his herdsmen settlement, “I don’t know what happened. We were just returning from grazing in the evening on Saturday alongside some of our women who had gone to a nearby market to sell things, only to meet our houses burnt down with some of our animals killed or taken away by the attackers. The elderly men and women as well as children were burnt while in their huts. Only the children who went out on grazing with animals survived”.

A survivor of the prior Fadama Bauna farmland attack, Mr. Mathias Danjuma narrated his ordeal.to LEADERSHIP Weekend. “They (herdsmen) came from nowhere and started shooting guns. That day I managed to escape by the grace of God. I had to run among their scattered cattle which were running in different direction following the shooting”.

Danjuma alleged that police authorities failed to arrest the situation despite formal complaints.

“On the night of the same day, Fulanis mercenaries, armed with automatic weapons invaded the village. They killed many.” Danjuma reported.

According to the Nigeria Social Violence Dataset, which tallies incidents of deadly social violence in Nigeria, since 1998, herdsmen/farmers clashes have resulted in 3732 fatalities on all sides of the conflicts.

The clashes have peaked under the present administration. This year alone, 1075 deaths have been recorded. From 2011 till date, reported deaths from the clashes is put at 2,500. The Nigeria Social Violence Data in a breakdown shows: 2011 (210), 2012 (323), 2013 (892) and 2014 (1075).

Death figures from clashes between herdsmen and farmers now rival those linked with the Boko Haram-led insurgency that has grabbed all the news headlines – local and international.

The clashes, driven mostly by disputes over land use, pits the semi-nomadic, cattle-herding Fulani people against settled communities that practice a mix of farming and cattle rearing. Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Akinwunmi Adesina, says rising livestock population and encroachment on grazing lands are some of the causes of the clashes.

In addition to herds destroying farms in their grazing strides, local communities are also buffeted by large-scale commercial farmers.

There are also religious undertones to these crises. In Plateau State, the clashes have taken on a sectarian character. The indigenous farming communities are largely Christian, while the Fulani are overwhelmingly Muslim. Plateau state, which is ironically celebrated as “The Home of Peace and Tourism,” has been fractured in recent years by Muslim-Christian clashes in the state.

Going by several reports of herdsmen encroaching and grazing their cattle on farmlands and the pattern of attacks on farmer’s settlements and communities, the Fulani appear overwhelming as the aggressors. And there are allegations that the Fulani community is so resolutely committed to fighting their cause that they engage mercenaries, who are sometimes dressed in Nigerian army fatigues and use sophisticated weaponry on hapless local community members. However, there has, so far, not been any evidence of official sponsorship, although Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore, a Fulani rights protection group, regularly rises in defence of the herdsmen.

Again, the inability of the law enforcement agencies to check the proliferation of Small Arm and Light Weapons (SALW) worsens security situations in the Northern part of Nigeria, leading think tanks, research groups, and advocacy organizations have repeatedly reported.

Findings showed that the nomads have benefited heavily from the proliferation of Small Arm and Light Weapons (SALW), which feed mercenaries and transnational criminal networks from Africa’s volatile Sahel region stretching from Mali to neighbouring Niger and Chad.

A top Nigerian security official (not authorised to comment on the development) confirmed that the mercenaries have also been extensively used by the Boko Haram insurgents.

“There are classified intelligence (reports)   that confirm that many of the reported Fulani gunmen are actually mercenaries from Niger and Chad. Apart from their (mercenaries) cross border criminal activities, many of them have prior battle experience in Sudan, Libya and most recently Mali.” the source said.

According to the January 2014 report of the Journal of Educational and Social Research, out of an estimated 640 million Small Arm and Light Weapons (SALW) in circulation world-wide, 100 million are estimated to be in Africa, about 30 million in sub-Saharan Africa and 8 million in West Africa alone.

Futile response

“Our herd is our life because to every nomad, life is worthless without his cattle. What do you expect from us when our source of existence is threatened? The encroachment of grazing fields and routes by farmers is a call to war.” Those were the words of a Fulani herdsman in 2009. They largely capture the mindset of an opposing camp in the second largest security challenge that Nigeria is grappling with at present.

At the other end, the sentiments of those opposed to ceding land to cattle herdsmen are no less extreme. Tordue Salem, a journalist who has covered the conflicts extensively, says host communities see the idea of grazing reserves and routes as “provocative” and “selfish”. He alleges that the move is open to religious and political biases.

“The proposal for citing grazing routes and reserves across the country is selfish and provocative,” he quotes sources as maintaining. “You can’t ask people in an agrarian area like Benue, for example, to cut out areas and designate them as grazing precincts just to avoid incessant conflicts with herdsmen. The proposal is simply provocative.

“Grazing routes would mean less farm lands and farm yields for a people who are predominantly farmers. That would also, go a long way in depleting the agricultural profile of these agrarian states and would adversely hamper food security in Nigeria”.

No one has been able to find a middle ground between these two extremities. And so, the bloodletting continues.

In the absence of a well coordinated national response, states have resorted to their own initiatives to stem the tide of clashes. On October 20, the Major General (rtd) Lawrence Onoja-led committee on the Fulani/Farmers crisis in Benue State recommended a law to prohibit roaming of livestock. The committee also recommended the formation of community volunteer guard.

The committee’s report presented to the Benue Governor, Gabriel Suswam, called for a disarmament programme to check unauthorised use of fire arms by Fulanis.

The geographical location of the state, which provides favourable climatic conditions for all year round livestock grazing among other issues, are the major attraction for the nomads, according to the report.

Compared to the copious attention given to the Boko Haram insurgency by the Nigerian government, there is perceptible government aloofness from the herdsmen/farmers clashes in the country.

Section 14(2)(b) of the 1999 constitution places responsibility on government to ensure the security of lives and property. Yet, past and present administrations have not demonstrated the political will to halt the herdsmen/farmers clashes. The situation has given rise to a sort of pervasive Fulani militancy in central Nigeria.

Without a coherent policy to proactively deal with the phenomenon of herdsmen/farmers clashes, the clashes have escalated in different parts of the country, particularly in the middle belt region, including Benue, Nasarawa, Plateau and Kogi. There have also been clashes in Kaduna, Niger, Jigawa, Sokoto, Yobe, including Nigeria’s capital, Abuja. Down south, states like Ebonyi, Enugu, Edo, Delta and Anambra have recorded incidents.

The government has thrown billions of Naira at the problem with no worthwhile results to show, with efforts concentrated on emergency relief.

For now, the policy of Nigeria’s government is the establishment of nationwide grazing reserves and routes. In 2009, a director in Nigeria’s agriculture ministry, Mr. Jinaidu Maina, stated that; “Nigeria officially has 415 grazing reserves but only one-third is in use; the remaining 270 have been built on or farmed.”

That year, the government began marking out grazing reserves across Katsina and Bauchi states in northern Nigeria, as well as the capital Abuja. The three planned reserves, to serve about 15 million pastoralists, involve demarcating 175,000 hectares of grazing land, building veterinary service centres, and constructing settlements for nomads to use en route, at a cost of $247 million.

The government also began demarcating a 1,400km livestock route from Sokoto State in the northwest to Oyo State in the Southwest; and another 2,000km route from Adamawa State in the northeast to Calabar in the delta region.

Five years after, the state of the country’s grazing reserves has remained unchanged. In April, the agriculture minister, Dr. Adesina Akinwumi said of the current 415 grazing reserves across the country, only 141 have been gazetted with less than 20 equipped with resources for pastoralists.

Although a presidential committee, of which the minister is a member, has been set up and given specific terms of reference aimed at improving existing grazing reserves and designing a new financing regime for them, the committee has been remarkable for its inactivity.

However, the Nigerian government earmarked the sum of N10 billion for the operation of the Great Green Wall Programme (GGWP), in an effort to boost the fight against desert encroachment, a major factor that has driven pastoralists from the far North to the north-central region of Nigeria in search of grazing fields

From 2011-2014, an analysis of the agriculture ministry’s capital budget shows inconsistent allocation to the development of grazing routes and reserves.

In 2011, the agriculture ministry allocated N31, 404,899,584 for capital projects. It channelled N310, 489,185 for its National Grazing Reserves and Pasture Development Programme that year.

Of the ministry’s N45,009,990,000 capital budget for 2012, a total N930,000,000 was allocated to the development of graving reserves, stock routes (1140km) and resting points across Nigeria.

In 2013 and 2014, the ministry allocated N130,582,000 and N100,130,000 respectively from its N50,808,871,428 and N35,151,172,583 capital budgets in the year under review for countrywide grazing reserves development.

The Nigerian government’s response to the violence tends to oscillate between the use of military force and mediation by eminent persons when a crisis erupts. The latter are engaged to hold consultative meetings in conflict situations or appointed into peace commissions of inquiry.

When military forces are deployed to contain particular spikes in the violence, the treatment of the civil population has itself become a critical political and security challenge. Several accounts report excessive use of force, extra-judicial killings and other human rights abuses.

Both efforts have failed as clashes have continued unabated over the years. According to findings, there has not been any political will to implement the reports of the several commissions of inquiry.

Between 2002 and 2010, the federal government appointed four commissions to investigate the violent conflict (largely herdsmen/farmer) around Plateau, Nasarawa, and Benue States.

International attention

The herdsmen /farmers clashes have attracted international attention. To this end, this report was produced with support from Partners for Democratic Change and from the Institute for War & Peace Reporting. It is part of the Access Nigeria/Sierra Leone program funded by the United States Department’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement.

As contained in the Minority Rights Group International (MRGI) report, “The State of the World’s Minorities and Indigenous Peoples 2012″, estimates of casualties vary.

The perennial tensions between herders and farmers over land and water use have become more complicated as the two occupational groups are on opposite sides of the ethno-religious fault lines, MRGI reports.

“Attacks perpetrated by suspected members of the Boko Haram Islamist group, which launched several suicide attacks in Nigeria, including the August bombing of the UN office in Abuja, have increasingly targeted farming communities in dispute with pastoralists. The ethnic and religious dimensions of the conflict appear to be overshadowing the underlying basis, which is competition over natural resources. The government has focused on so-called anti-terrorism campaigns while failing to address resource depletion and ethnic conflict in the country, particularly between minority groups.” the report says.

Shrinking spaces

The spiralling migration of pastoralists from the country’s far north towards the central part of the country has resulted in tense relations between the Fulani herdsmen and the settled native farmers. As a result, there is a desperate and violent struggle for access to and control of scarce ecological space and resources.

According to official figures, in Nigeria, more than 35 per cent of land area of 923,768 square kilometres is threatened by desertification affecting the livelihoods of more than 40 million people.

During the harmattan, the land is dry in most of the country’s far North. With no grasses for cattle to feed their herds and the soil too dry to sustain cropping, the herdsmen have no option than to move down South for greener pasture. The herdsmen leave the far North (an extremist kind across the country’s northern borders from Niger and Chad) during the harmattan season, usually during the end of the year and travels long distance by foot, covering hundreds of kilometres stretching the central to the Southern part of the country in search of grazing lands to feed the herds.

An expedition from Sokoto in the country’s deep north to Oyo state, down south will take four months on foot through the various cattle routes.

The dangers along the grazing routes are typical. Herdsmen are routinely attacked by cattle rustlers and farming communities. But neither the distance nor the dangers that line the route has stopped the nomads from their traditional occupation.

A poisoned dagger is the herdsman’s favourite weapon of choice. As a deterrent, the herdsmen are well armed and move around with sticks, daggers, cutlasses, bows and arrows, swords and other dangerous weapons to protect themselves against any attack. The herdsmen also move around with amulets and charms for protection for themselves and their animals

Traditional beliefs continue to fuel the farmer/herder clashes. Some herdsmen believed that, when their animals feed on fresh crops, they will remain healthy, well fed and be able to resist certain illnesses associated with dry season.

The fractured relationship between herders and farmers is sometimes relaxed for mutual business transactions. In some Northern states, farmers contract herdsmen to stay in their farms with their cattle after the farming season. This is mainly for the manure.

The August 2014 report of a National Conference which discussed Nigeria’s future decided that “in the long term” cattle routes and grazing reserves should be “phased out” to lay emphasis on ranching. It however identified cattle rustling as a disincentive to ranching and called for “better policing”.

“In the meantime”, the report urged states which have large livestock populations to maintain grazing reserves. The Conference decided that government embarks on a contentious “modernisation programme” in which nomadic herdsmen will be integrated into settled communities based on established cattle ranches with fodder development technologies, and including abattoirs, processors and other businesses along the livestock value chain.

Funding for the proposed 5 to 10 years’ programme should be from both federal and state governments in states where such settlements are established, the report decided.

In September, Fulani rights protection group, Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore, appealed to federal and state governments to establish a grazing reserve commission to enable its members own land and be issued with Certification of Occupancy (C of O) all over the country.

The issue of grazing sites have split most segments of the society on divergent lines. Opponents say it would be counter-productive, while the proponents insist grazing reserves and ranching were in line with standard best practice that ensured maximum benefit to nomads.

On renewed clashes between farmers and Fulani herdsmen in Benue and Nasarawa states, former president Olusegun Obasanjo (1999-2007) said on August 30, “The farmers would want their crops to be protected, while the cattleman will also want their cattle to feed. So the government should fashion out peaceful means to end the crisis.”

Going by global standards, nomadic grazing is outdated. The Fulani herdsmen must learn ranching techniques to avoid unnecessary running battles over destroyed farmland, exposure to rustlers all causes of unending murderous rampage.

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