THE MUHAMMADU BUHARI MOTHER AND CHILD HOSPITAL IN MAKURDI, BENUE STATE

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In continuation of the fulfilment of his campaign promise of affordable healthcare for Nigerians, do you know that a 120-bed Mother and Child Hospital has been built by the Buhari administration in Makurdi the Benue State capital?

The well-furnished and equipped facility, which has been named as Muhammadu Buhari Mother and Child Hospital, will soon be commissioned by the President himself after which it will commence operations.

Very importantly, it is gratifying to know that this new hospital will not only restrict itself to Mothers and Children but will treat other adults with health issues that can be treated there. And it is also remarkable that the administration is building similar hospitals across all the states.

About yesterday…Friday August 2019

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By Malam Ibrahim sheme

Malam Nasiru El-Rufai has shown tremendous leadership values in his intervention in the traffic gridlock yesterday. I said exactly that to my friend who was travelling to Kaduna with me after the governor walked past my car window acknowledging cheers from victims of the gridlock, scores of whom followed him enthusiastically. Even if he did not help clear the jam (but he did!), his presence alone – as the leader of the state – was enough balm on the bruised psyche of the commuters. He boosted our morale, raised our hopes, and assured us about the future. At that material time, that’s all what matters. I immediately saw in him a presidential material, i.e. if they don’t hand it over to Tinubu on a platter of gold!

What amazed me most was the distance the big man (I insist he is not a diminutive person as some insinuate) covered on foot. The beginning of the gridlock and its end were very long, maybe 30km, and Malam covered them all on foot! And his walk was brisk, energetic, jaunty even though he wore a babbar riga, as if he was enjoying it. I wondered how healthy he was physically and emotionally as to do that. Even younger elements like us would have to think thrice before daring to trek that long. He must have been inspired by the passion to bring comfort and solace to us, the stranded citizens. And he did so, selflessly. Some other Excellency would have turned back from the beginning of the gridlock or ordered for a helicopter to come and pick him. Some would even pretend that their tooth was suddenly aching again. But Malam was there from evening to morning, offering sympathy, smilingly reassuring everyone. He must have melted the hearts of many, including those that disagree with him on the political scene.

But then it is his style to be there just when it matters. Malam has always virtually walked into trouble – I mean trouble spots. Any time there is a crisis somewhere in his state, more so the recurring communal type, he will quickly dash there and be physically involved with the effort to solve it. He wouldn’t stay back in his cozy, air-conditioned offices receiving updates from minders. Somehow this works; it helps douse the tension. And it actually did so last night as admirers kept hooting, “Sai Malam! Sai Malam!” I heard several people, in spite of the debilitating situation in which they were caught, saying loudly that after Buhari it should be El-Rufai’s turn to become president. I laughed at the Nigerian’s propensity to mix politics with hardship and still enjoy the admixture.

It is a style other leaders, especially President Buhari, would do well to emulate. I remember that as Zamfara burnt with all those terrorist killings by bandits, the issue of the President needing to be there on ground (or even to go for commiseration) was tops in many people’s analysis of the incident.

Call it populism or whatever. Malam Nasiru is THAT type of leader the people want. He wouldn’t be sipping green tea as his Rome burns!

Kudos to Malam. I doff my hat to him multiple times!
Sheme is a successful journalist and author. Publisher of Fim magazine, Director communication, National open university. Abuja

Press Briefing By South West Peoples Alliance: Don’t Just Probe Obasanjo On Power Sector Malfeasance, Prosecute Him Too

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Date: Friday, 9th August, 2019.

I warmly welcome everyone who has found it necessary to be here with us today. I most especially welcome the esteemed members of the press to this briefing.

Gentlemen of the press, I should start by stating that this conference has become necessary due to the conversation on probing the power sector started by the Young Nigerian Professionals who delivered a Press Conference on Sunday last week in the nation’s capital, Abuja, about the decision of the House of Representatives to probe the power sector spending in the country.

The group had called for unrelenting efforts by the House in that probe, while noting the necessity of accountability as a nation if we were to make any progress.

At their very auspicious conference, the YNP called on Nigerians to monitor the planned probe of all power contracts from 1999 to date, which the House of Representatives is about to kick-start, and ensure that the process is thorough and that all those culpable in the mismanagement of the funds earmarked for power in Nigeria are brought to justice.

Let me start by saying that we agree wholeheartedly with the body of young professionals on this issue. But we will like to take the discussion further by demanding for specific interrogation of key individuals in the whole power mismanagement saga.

It’s our belief that there are known actors that were responsible for overseeing the sleaze that took place in the power sector spending since 1999.

The most prominent, as every Nigerian possibly knows, is former President Olusegun Obasanjo – who is reported to have spent a whopping sum of about 16 Billion Dollars on power, with nothing worthy or credible to show for it.

We would like to commend the House of Representatives for its decision to again re-investigate the power sector spending. It is our belief that what the House is set to do represents justice for the people of Nigeria who have had to bear the burden and pain associated with the poor power situation in the country.

Until this investigation and other related efforts that ensure transparency and openness are undertaken, Nigeria cannot really move forward or record any significant progress.

The unearthing of the sleaze that took place in the power sector is key if we want to start a new footing that ensures proper accountability going forward.

While we are confident that the investigation by the House of Representatives would unmask the fraud that was committed by former President Olusegun Obasanjo and his cronies in the power sector; we demand that the House should, upon the completion of its investigation, endeavor to submit the name of the former President and his conspirators to the country’s anti-corruption agencies, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), for full prosecution.

The ultimate goal is not to undertake a futile ‘name and shame exercise’, rather we want to see a situation where all those involved would face punishment for their crimes against the country.

While he and his co-travelers must be made to return all stolen monies, we demand that Chief Olusegun Obasanjo live up to his avowed commitment to transparency by coming forward to explain his role in the alleged mismanagement of power funds; without directing all those who seek to hold him to account to a self-serving and delusional book whose account has not exonerated him of active involvement in the sleaze.

No doubt, only a comprehensive prosecution that is in tandem with justice will send a strong message to all those who have either managed or still managing our resources that Nigerians will no longer tolerate any corrupt act by anyone, no matter how highly placed. This is the only way we can sanitize the power sector and begin to reset the country.

Thank you.

Signed:
Oseni Owolabi Ajimomuya (Chairman)
Ismael Lanre Oguntoyinbo (Secretary)

Jonathan never won any election, even in Bayelsa — Nabena

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By chibueke obigidi 9/8/2019

The Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Yekini Nabena, has said former President Goodluck Jonathan never contested and won any election even in his home state of Bayelsa.

Yekini said no amount of “falsehood and rigging” of the November 16, governorship election in Bayelsa State could stop PDP’s defeat at the poll, adding that the PDP had become very unpopular and stood rejected in the state.

Addressing a press conference yesterday in Abuja, Nabena cautioned Jonathan to be mindful of making misguided comments so as not to ridicule his personality.

Jonathan was quoted a few days ago as saying during the PDP Elders’ Advisory Council meeting at Government House, Yenagoa, that the APC was not on ground in Bayelsa and could not win the forth coming governorship election.

Jonathan added that the large number of aspirants on PDP’s platform indicated the dominance of the party as the preferred platform for election.

But the deputy image maker of the APC said, “Former President Jonathan has never contested any election and won. Even that of 2015, he contested as a sitting President, he lost woefully. The recent 2019 senatorial election in Bayelsa State, APC defeated Jonathan’s candidate in his senatorial district.

“Jonathan is attempting to rewrite history on presidential elections conducted under his watch in Bayelsa State while he was president. He never won, as votes never counted. Aided by security agents, election results were simply announced by the election body in favour of the PDP.”

The Hard Facts! Ahmadu Bello Sardaunan Sokoto

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Complied by an unknown writer
1. Ahmadu Bello was born on June 12, 1909 in Rabbah, present day, Sokoto State.
2. He was the son of a concubine.
3. His father died when he was 6 years old.
4. He was the only surviving son of his father and mother, Mariyamu.
5. He was a great grand-son of Shehu Uthman dan Fodio, the great Fulani jihadist.
6. He got his Islamic and Arabic education as a teenager from Mallam Garba who was the Imam of Rabbah village.
7. He finished at the age of 16 top of his class.
8. He attended the Teacher’s Training College, Katsina (later Barewa College) where he was a School Prefect and Class Captain.
9. Thereafter, he graduated as a Teacher in 1931 with a credit equivalent Grade III result.
10. He was appointed by the Sultan of Sokoto to work as a teacher at the Sokoto Middle School, where he was once a student and taught from 1931-1934.
11. He was appointed a rural administrator (District Head) at the age 25 in 1934.
12. He gave birth to a daughter after his death (posthumously).
13. He became a candidate for the succession to the throne of the Sultan of Sokoto at the age of 29.
14. He made attempts to become the Sultan of Sokoto but was not successful, losing to Sir Siddiq Abubakar III who reigned for 50 years until his death in 1988.
15. The new Sultan immediately made Sir Ahmadu Bello the Sardauna (Warlord) of Sokoto, a honourary title and promoted him to the Sokoto Native Authority Council, these titles automatically made him the Chief Political Adviser to the Sultan.
16. Later, he was put in charge of the Sokoto Province to oversee 47 districts.
17. In 1943, a drama played out when he was thrown before the Sultan’s court for misappropriating jangali (cattle) tax for the Gusau region where he was the Councillor.
18. He was sentenced to 1 year in prison, but spent 3 months in jail.
19. By 1944, he was back at the Sultan’s Palace to work as the Chief Secretary of the State Native Administration.
20. In 1949, at the age of 40, he was nominated for a seat in the Regional House of Assembly.
21. He spoke impeccable English, and respected many European values.
22. Sir Ahmadu Bello keenly encouraged female education.
23. In 1954, Sir Ahmadu Bello became the first Premier of Northern Nigeria.
24. He never had material accumulation instincts, did not accumulate wealth and gave out whatever came into his possession. He was scrupulous and prudent with public finance but generous with his own money.
25. In 1955, he made his first pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia.
26. The ‘Work and Worship’ motto on the Northern Nigerian crest was adopted by him.
27. He chose to remain the Premier of Northern Nigeria and gave the position of Prime Minister to his hand-picked candidate, the late Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, who was then the Deputy President of the NPC.
28. Sir Ahmadu Bello never sought the leadership of Nigeria.
29. He once stated that he would rather be the Sultan of Sokoto than to be the leader of Nigeria.
30. At various times, he made inflammatory statements about the Ibos as He once referred to them as the ‘Jews of Nigeria’ whose sole purpose is to dominate wherever they find themselves.
31. In 1959, Queen Elizabeth II (b.1926) made him a Knight of the British Empire (KBE), and that explains the ‘’Sir’’ in his title.
32. In 1962, he became Pioneer Chancellor, Ahmadu Bello University, ABU, Zaria.
33. He founded the Bank of the North (now Unity Bank).
34. He founded the Northern Nigerian Development Company.
35. He established the 16,000-seater Ahmadu Bello Stadium, Kaduna.
36. He established the Nigerian Defence Academy, Kaduna (the only military university in Nigeria).
37. He established the University of Northern Nigeria, which stretched from Samaru in Kaduna State to Funtua in Katsina State, on the 4th of October, 1962 now known as Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria.
38. By the beginning of 1966, it was quite clear that the Sardauna was one of the most powerful figures in the country, and many believed that he was actually the most powerful, even much more powerful than the Prime Minister, Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa.
39. His party, Northern People Congress (NPC), held sway over 29 million out of 55 million Nigerians.
40. On his way to Umrah (the Muslim lesser pilgrimage), he received a letter with threats to kill him.
41. The letter was said to have stated: “We have arranged to kill you and the Prime Minister (Alhaji Tafawa Balewa).”
42. As a devout Muslim, the Sardauna believed that giving his life in the service of Northern Nigeria was worth the sacrifice and that death was a certain end.
43. He later said of the threat: “Don’t worry, continue to get useful information. I know what to do.”
44. On the evening of 14th January, 1966, armed soldiers, led by Major Patrick Chukwuma Kaduna Nzeogwu, arrived at his residence at Lugard House, Kaduna, with the message of death.
45. He told his family to stay away in safety but they would have none of that. They all trooped behind him as he came out of the family quarters and in a matter of seconds, he was surrounded by the soldiers led by Nzeogwu who fired at his babban riga . And immediately, blood sputtered from the point of impact through the beard on his face.
46. At that point, his first and eldest wife, Hafsatu, threw herself at him in a final embrace. They were both shot.
47. He was believed to have been killed instantly when a bullet penetrated his spinal cord.
48. Brave till the very end, he had faced the soldiers and introduced himself as the Sardauna of Sokoto and Premier of the Northern Region.
49. He once referred to Nigeria as the ‘mistake of 1914′ but he later worked for and gave his best for the new nation of Nigeria.
50. He died leaving £10 in his bank account. Equivalent of 5,000 naira in tod. May he soul continue to rest in perfect peace. Allahumma Amin Reply Forward

Wamakko Versus Maccido : Tribunal adjourns for Judgment as Counsels adopt final addresses

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The National Assembly Elections Petitions Tribunal sitting in Sokoto on Thursday adjourned to an undisclosed date for Judgemnt in the Petitions filed by the defeated Candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party  ( PDP), Senator Ahmed Mohammed Maccido,  against the winner of the February 23, 2019, Sokoto North Senatorial District Polls , Senator Aliyu Magatakarda Wamakko .

The Chairman of the Tribunal, Justice Peter Akhimie Akhihiero,  said while adjourning the matter , ” the matter has been adjourned for Judgment.  The date will be communictated in due course .”

The Counsels for the Petitioners and the Respondents had earlier adopted all their final written addresses .

The Lead Counsel of the 1st Respondent,  Dr Hassan Liman, SAN, said ,” in accordance with the Rules of the Court and the Electoral Act, the 1st Respondent has filed his written addresses dated 17/7/2019 and filed on the same date .

” We have also filed a reply to the Petitioners’  written address on 1/8/2019 . We hereby adopt the said two addresses as our final argument in this Petition .

” We are urging the Court to dismiss and strike out the Petition for being Statute -Barred as it was filed out of time, as well as lacking in merit. “

Lead Counsel for the 2nd Respondent,  Chief Jacob Ochidi , also stated that , the 2nd Respondent has filed his final written address on 2/7/2019.

Ochidi explained, ” I herebey adopt the written address as the argument of the 2nd Respondent in this Petition.

” I am also urging the Tribunal to strike out the petition for being Statute – Barred , resolving all the issues of the 2nd Respondent.

” To dismiss same petition for lacking in merit and award substantial cost in favour of the 2nd Respondent, against the Petitioners. “

Similarly, Lead Counsel for the 3rd Respondent,  Barrister Henry Eni-Otu, told the Court that,his Client has filed his final written address on 18/7/2019.

He averred ,” I want to adopt it as the argument of the 3rd and urge the Court to strike out the petition for being Statute-Barred .

” I am also praying the Court to dismiss the Petition in its entirety  for being unmeritorious and speculative ..”

The Lead Counsel of the Petitioners,  Dr Ibrahim Abdullahi said the Petitioners have filed their written address on 25/7/2019.

” We respectively adopt the same written address, making particular reliance on legal arguments.

” I am also urging the Court to resolve all the issues against the Respondents, to hold that , the Petition is not Statute-Barred and to grant the reliefs of the Petitioners. “

Responding, Dr Hassan Liman , SAN, commended the Chairman and menbers of the Tribunal for being diligent and working assiduously to ensure smooth proceedings.

Anti-Corruption Fight: ICPC, MasterCard to explore Tech-driven solutions

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The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) and MasterCard, a global multinational financial services corporation, have agreed to explore technology-driven solutions to curb public sector corruption.

At a meeting held at the ICPC Headquarters on Monday, the Regional Manager, Cyber and Intelligence of MasterCard, Mr. Peter Ehizogie, stated that the essence of the visit was to partner with ICPC to help tackle different types of public sector payment frauds.

“What we have tried to do here today is to present ways and means where we could work and partner with ICPC to facilitate that kind of visibility, not just from a technology protection perspective, but also from a financial perspective towards enabling efficiency, security, safety and most especially transparency in the public sector”.

He added that MasterCard was developing a tech solution that could help ICPC to uncover every detail involved in financial payment fraud saying that “as corruption is going digital, there is a need to use technological driven-approaches to tackling it.”

The ICPC Chairman, Professor Bolaji Owasanoye (SAN), while responding, urged Mastercard to do more adding that the Commission was interested in tech-solutions that would aid its analysis of ethics and integrity scorecards.

“When we do the ethics and integrity compliance scorecards, MDAs give us information on four broad parameters. Right now, we collect that information manually. During the COVID-19 pandemic, we collected the information digitally as it was uploaded and my officers had to do the analysis manually. We don’t have to do that – it should be collectible digitally and analysed as such. That is something I am curious about, if you can deal with that, I will be interested in that possibility” he submitted.

I’m privileged to be Nigeria’s President, says Buhari

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The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), on Friday in New York, United States, told African leaders that fighting corruption was no longer a choice but a necessity for the continent’s prosperity.

Buhari, who stated this at an event co-hosted by the African Union Development Agency-New Partnership for Africa’s Development and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, expressed his gratitude for the opportunity to serve as the AU Champion on anti-corruption since 2018.

He spoke at a high-level side event on ‘Food Security Response: Combating Illicit Financial Flows and Securing Asset Returns for Sustainable Development’, on the margins of the 77th session of the UN General Assembly.

He said, “As you are all aware, this will be my last official participation at the United Nations General Assembly as President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

“I remain honoured and privileged to be the President of Nigeria for two terms and I am grateful to the African Union for making me the continental organisation’s champion on efforts to eliminate corruption nationally and continent-wide.

“This fight is a necessity and not a choice to give our citizens a better life through economic prosperity, social peace and security.”

A statement signed by the Special Adviser, Media and Publicity, to the President, Femi Adesina, titled, ‘At UN, President Buhari rues corrosive effect of corruption in Africa, urges leaders to fight it 24/7’, quoted him as telling fellow African leaders that fighting corruption was no longer a choice, but a necessity for the continent’s prosperity.

Buhari lamented that the continent remained at the far end of the global development index because of the effects of corruption.

He stated, “Over the years, we came to the painful realisation of how deeply embedded corruption has become in our countries and continent, as well as how corrosive it can be.

“Corruption has dwarfed our growth and tainted our nations and continent. Africa remains at the far end of the development index and concerted efforts made in the last few years need to be sustained, deepened by good governance and accountability that are guided by the rule of law.

“I have strong faith that Africa and our national governments can do this with strong resolve and commitment to eliminating illicit financial flows.”

He challenged his counterparts that for the continent to rise to its full potential, ‘’we must work tirelessly to get rid of corruption or by fighting it 24/7.’’

“Our national resources must not find safe-havens around the world. This fight is a necessity and not a choice to give our citizens a better life through economic prosperity, social peace and security,” Buhari added.

Buhari also told his Irish and Grecian counterparts that Nigeria was on the way to overcoming its security challenges.

“In the past few months, with new platforms and boosted morale among the security forces, Nigeria is moving steadily in the direction of overcoming its insecurity. We will continue to partner with nations across the globe, especially in the use of technology, so that Nigeria can learn something useful,” Buhari said during an audience with the Prime Minister of Ireland, Michael Martin.

According to a separate statement by Adesina, the President added that insecurity in Nigeria would soon be a thing of the past seeing the renewed efforts of the military.

Citing the COVID-19 pandemic, Buhari told Martin that the world was better off working together rather than independently.

This, he said, would enhance progress for humanity with the hope that the lessons from the pandemic would impact on other areas so that Nigerians and indeed the world could have sustainable peace.

The President assured his guest that Nigeria would continue to do its best to sustain the relationship with Ireland and improve on it, especially on the level of education, knowing that many Nigerians were doing well in Ireland, schooling and working there.

Iran vows ‘no leniency’ against wave of women-led protests

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Iran’s judiciary chief vowed no leniency Sunday against the wave of unrest that has rocked the country since the death of young Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini in the custody of the morality police.

The warning by the head of the Judiciary, Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejei, came after nine nights of protests and street clashes and echoed earlier comments by ultra-conservative President Ebrahim Raisi.

At least 41 people have died so far, mostly protesters but including members of the Islamic republic’s security forces, according to an official toll, although human rights groups say the real figure is higher.

The judiciary chief “emphasised the need for decisive action without leniency” against the core instigators of the “riots”, the judiciary’s Mizan Online website said.


Hundreds of demonstrators, reformist activists and journalists have been arrested amid the mostly night-time demonstrations that have spread to scores of cities since unrest first broke out after Amini’s death on September 16.

Security forces have fired live rounds and birdshot, rights groups charge, while protesters have hurled rocks, torched police cars, set ablaze state buildings, and shouted: “death to the dictator”.

Iran’s largest protests in almost three years have been led by women and triggered not by classic political or economic grievances but by anger over the Islamic republic’s strictly enforced gender-based dress code.

Amini, whose Kurdish first name was Jhina, was arrested on September 13 for allegedly breaching the rules that mandate tightly-fitted hijab head coverings and which ban, among other things, ripped jeans and brightly coloured clothes.

Some Iranian women protesters have since taken off and burnt their hijabs in the rallies and cut off their hair, some dancing near large bonfires to the applause of crowds that have chanted “zan, zendegi, azadi” or “woman, life, freedom”.

– ‘Outrage and hope‘ –
Iranian Academy Award-winning filmmaker Asghar Farhadi was the latest to add his voice of support for Iran’s “progressive and courageous women leading protests for their human rights alongside men”.

“I saw outrage and hope in their faces and in the way they marched in the streets,” he said in a video message on Instagram. “I deeply respect their struggle for freedom and the right to choose their own destiny despite all the brutality they are subjected to.”

The world has learnt of much of the turmoil and violence through shaky mobile phone footage posted and spread on social media, even as authorities have throttled internet access.

WhatsApp, Instagram and Skype have been blocked and internet access restricted according to web monitor NetBlocks, following older bans on Facebook, Twitter, TikTok and Telegram.

London-based rights group Amnesty International has warned of “the risk of further bloodshed amid a deliberately imposed internet blackout”.

Protests abroad have been held in solidarity with Iranian women in Athens, Berlin, Brussels, Istanbul, Madrid, New York, Paris, Santiago, Stockholm, The Hague, Toronto and Washington, among other cities.

– ‘Foreign plots’ –
Iran — which is ruled by supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, 83, and which has been hit with tough economic sanctions over its nuclear programme — has blamed “foreign plots” for the unrest.

The foreign ministry said Sunday it had summoned Britain’s ambassador over what it described as an “invitation to riots” by Farsi-speaking media based in London and Norway’s envoy over “unconstructive comments” made by the parliament speaker.

Iran has also organised large rallies in defence of the hijab and conservative values, and another pro-government rally was set to be held Sunday in Enghelab (Revolution) Square in central Tehran.

The main reformist group inside Iran, the Union of Islamic Iran People’s Party, has called for the repeal of the mandatory dress code and the winding down of the morality police.

The party — led by former aides to ex-president Mohammad Khatami, who oversaw a 1997-2005 thaw with the West — also called on the government to “authorise peaceful demonstrations” and release those arrested.

Human rights groups based abroad have sought to shine a light on the turmoil rocking Iran, citing their own sources in the country.

Oslo-based group Iran Human Rights has put the death toll at 54, excluding security personnel.

Iranian authorities have yet to state the cause of death of Amini, who activists say died as a result of a blow to the head.

Interior Minister Ahmad Vahidi has said Amini was not beaten and that “we must wait for the final opinion of the medical examiner, which takes time”.

Flooding: Commuters resort to canoes in Lokoja

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Massive flooding on Sunday overran Ajaokuta-Ganaja-Lokoja road in Kogi which links the metropolis to the eastern part of the state.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lokoja reports that the flooding covered the portion of the road at Ganaja village such that only by canoes that the commuters could cross the flooding.

Residents note that the road is strategic to socio-economic activities, linking Kogi to the eastern part of the country which has been made inaccessible now to motorists and commuters by flooding.

According to them, canoe operators have cashed in on the development, charging passengers between N50 and N100 to ferry them across the flooded road.

“We have to charge that high because of the cost of the rigour involved.

“As you can see, it’s not easy to ferry passengers across the flooded road,” one Jimoh, an operator of a canoe, told NAN.

A resident also said that the flooding has so far created fear in the minds of residents of Ganaja village and its environs because it has begun to submerge peoples’ houses within the area.

“Some of the residents have, therefore, relocated to either their relations or friends in safe communities in the state,” the resident said.

The Nigeria Metrological Agency (NiMet) had last week issued a warning of massive surging of flooding in the country, particularly in 13 states including Kogi.

The agency predicted that this would happen within the remaining days in September, following the expected heavy rainfall within the period.

Hydro Power Producing Areas Development Commission (HYPPADEC) had also on Saturday begun the distribution of relief materials to victims of flood in 10 affected local government areas of Kogi.

HYPPADEC Managing Director Abubakar Yelwa warned residents against staying on flood-prone areas.

Yelwa said that the devastating effects of flooding could go beyond anyone’s imagination and the effects should be avoided.

Kogi Commissioner for Environment Victor Omofeye also told NAN by telephone that the state government was aware of the development.

According to him, the government is looking for how best to address the situation, particularly the affected residents.

He appealed for calm and caution on the side of motorists and commuters not to endanger their lives by undermining the flood and attempt crossing the flooded road.

Experts decry performance of Budget 2022 as Buhari presents 2023 budget proposal

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As the two chambers of the National Assembly prepare to receive the proposed budget of the 2023 fiscal year from the President next Month, gaps in the performance of the 2022 budget are being laid bare by experts.

Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed had disclosed that an aggregate expenditure of N19.76t for the 2023 fiscal year is being planned.

Budget deficit for the 2023 fiscal year might be between N11.30t and N12.4t, depending on the choice that would be made by the Federal Government on the issue of fuel subsidy payment.

However, experts have continued to fault the performance of the 2022 budget. The issue of debt service to revenue is of the critical factors identified as being responsible for the poor performance of the 2022 budget.

BudgIT, a civic-tech organisation leading in advocacy for transparency and accountability in Nigeria’s public financial management, said the debt service-to-revenue ratio  reached alarming levels within the first four  months of 2022.

Reports have it that the country’s current debt service, which stood at N1.94t from January to April 2022, is over 100 per cent of the nation’s revenue, which was N1.64t, within the same period.

In 2022’s first quarter, Nigeria’s public debt rose to N41.6t from N39.56t recorded at the end of December 2021, putting enormous pressure on debt servicing. Budget performance reports as studied by The Guardian showed that gross oil and gas revenue for full year 2022 was projected at N9.37t but as at April 30, 2022, only N1.23t was realised out of the prorata projection of N3.12t, representing a mere 39 per cent performance.

The reports showed that oil revenue underperformed due to significant oil production shortfalls such as shut-ins resulting from pipeline vandalism and crude oil theft as well as high petrol subsidy cost due to higher landing costs of imported products.

Non-oil taxes also fell far below targets marginally, with average performance of 92.6 per cent. Experts say budget performance in the last one year has been nothing but sub-optimal.

Their position was informed after x-raying two federal ministries, which included the Ministry of Industry, trade and Investments as well as its counterpart- Ministry of Finance, Budget And National Planning respectively.

In his submission, a Professor of Economics, at the Olabisi Onabaqnjo University, Prof. Sheriffdeen Tella said the  trade and industry sector had not performed better than other sectors, more also that the oil subsector, which normally dominate trade, was unable to perform despite the opportunity, as Nigeria was unable to meet up with the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) crude oil allocations. Tella said the non-oil sector too couldn’t cover the gap due to slow growth the world dem.

25 Million Nigerians Suffering From Hunger – Nutritionist

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At least 25 million Nigerians are suffering from hunger, according to Prof Kola Matthew Anigo, National Coordinator of Academic and Research Network for Scaling up nutrition in Nigeria (ARN-SUNN).

He said this in Abeokuta, Ogun State capital, while delivering his keynote address at the opening ceremony of the 52nd annual general meeting and scientific conference of the Nutrition Society of Nigeria.

Speaking on the theme of the conference, “Bridging the Malnutrition Gap: Nutrition Multi-sectoral Commitments for Sustainable Nutrition in Nigeria”, Anigo lamented prevalence of malnutrition in Nigeria.

He said Nigeria ranked first in Africa and second in the world in the global chart of malnourished children.

Anigo said the insecurity in the country pose a huge threat to Nigeria’s attainment of global nutrition target by 2025.

The expert said, banditry, terrorism and kidnapping have contributed to food insecurity, saying Nigeria may not attain self sufficiency in food production if insecurity is not nip in the bud.

He said, “Nigeria ranked number one in Africa and number two in the world in terms of number of children malnourished.

“25 million people are hungry while 9.3 million people suffer from acute food insecurity.

“There is need to transform agricultural production and food systems as key drivers of the economic growth we need the right system, right environment and right information in line with the magnitude of nutrition problems both at national and sub-national levels”.

The national President of Nutrition Society of Nigeria, Prof. Wasiu Akinloye Afolabi, in his opening remark, called on the Federal government to intensify efforts aimed at increasing food production.

PHOTO NEWS: IBB Hosts Peter Obi, Datti Baba-Ahmed

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The presidential candidate of Labour Party (LP), Peter Obi, and his running mate, Yusuf Datti Baba-Ahmed, have visited former Military President Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida (IBB).

Obi, who disclosed this on social media, said he and his running mate had had insightful conversations with IBB on the state of affairs of the country.

“Today, my running mate, Dr Yusuf Datti Baba-Ahmed and I visited President Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida, GCFR, at his home in Minna. He received us very warmly and we had insightful conversations on the state of affairs in our country,” Obi tweeted.

See the pictures below:

Osinbajo: Today May Seem Bleak, Nigeria’s Future Will Be Great

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Vice President Yemi Osinbajo says the future of Nigeria will be far more glorious and peaceful than her past, and the nation’s lights will shine bright, with opportunities, equity, justice, and righteousness despite its challenges.

Prof. Osinbajo said this on Sunday at the 62nd Independence Day anniversary service, which held at the National Christian Centre, Abuja. The Service was held to mark Nigeria’s October 1 Independence Day.

The interdenominational service was held to mark Nigeria’s October 1 Independence Day.

The Vice President, who brought warm greetings from President Muhammadu Buhari to the congregation, said: “we stand at the gates of a new nation. And we see its lights shining bright. The nation of God’s promises. A nation of opportunities, of equity and justice, a secure and prosperous nation, a nation of laws and righteousness.

“Even if what we see today seems bleak, and dark, we are confident that God who owns the heavens and the earth will fulfill His promises concerning this nation.”

FEDERAL PENSIONS ASSETS GROW TO N14.5 TRILLION UNDER THE BUHARI ADMINISTRATION

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In what can be said to be the reliability of retirements and pensions administration under the Buhari administration, do you know that federal pensions assets have now grown to N14.5 trillion in just the past one year?

This was disclosed by the Director General of the National Pension Commission (PENCOM), Hajiya Aisha Dahiru Umar during a National Assembly meeting on Thursday, September 15, 2022 where she further said the total assets include the Retirement Savings Account (RSA) of all federal government workers.

With a robust asset base like this, and with a transparent management of the assets as shown by the regular disclosure of the amounts in the account, it can be confidently said that the Buhari administration has instituted a credible and reliable post-retirement entitlements for federal civil servants.

Yes, Nigeria is on track!

N10.7bn RELEASED FOR THE COMPLETION OF 10 RICE MILLS IN 10 STATES

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Determined to boost domestic rice production and sustain the tempo of its agricultural revolution, do you know that the Buhari administration has approved and released the sum of N10.7bn for the completion of 10 rice mills in 10 states?

The 10 rice mills have a combined capacity of 320 Metric Tons, and are located in Jigawa, Kano, Adamawa, Niger, Kaduna, Gombe, Ekiti, Ogun, Bayelsa and the Federal Capital Territory. Work on the construction of these mills have reached an advanced stage, and the funds will help to complete them.

This was made known by the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Mohammad Abubakar on Thursday, September 15, 2022 during the 45th regular meeting of the National Council on Agriculture and Rural Development in Jos the Plateau State capital. Surely, this will even create thousands of new jobs for Nigerians.

Yes, Nigeria is on track!

Zulum to sponsor training of 100 journalists

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The Governor of Borno State, Babagana Zulum, has announced plans to sponsor 100 journalists for training at the University of Maiduguri.

Zulum disclosed this at the Triennial Delegates Conference of the state council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists on Saturday in Maiduguri.

Represented by his Special Adviser on Communications and Strategy, Malam Isa Gusau, the governor said he requested the university to organise a certificate training programme for the journalists to be funded by the state government.

He urged the council to nominate its members to participate in the programme to enhance their capacities.

While reiterating commitment to run an open door policy, Zulum assured continued support to the journalists to enable them to discharge their duties.

The Commissioner for Information, Alhaji Babakura Abba-Jato, lauded the delegates and contestants for the peaceful conduct of the exercise.

Abba-Jato represented by Baba Shiekh-Lawan, urged the contestants to accept the outcome of the election in the spirit of sportmanship.

Also speaking, the newly elected Chairman of the Council, Mr Dauda Iliya lauded Zulum for the gesture, adding that the training was inline with its capacity building initiative.

He urged the council to nominate its members to participate in the programme to enhance their capacities.

While reiterating commitment to run an open door policy, Zulum assured continued support to the journalists to enable them to discharge their duties.

The Commissioner for Information, Alhaji Babakura Abba-Jato, lauded the delegates and contestants for the peaceful conduct of the exercise.

Abba-Jato represented by Baba Shiekh-Lawan, urged the contestants to accept the outcome of the election in the spirit of sportsmanship.

Also speaking, the newly elected Chairman of the Council, Mr Dauda Iliya lauded Zulum for the gesture, adding that the training was in line with its capacity building initiative.

NAN

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The Governor of Borno State, Babagana Zulum, has announced plans to sponsor 100 journalists for training at the University of Maiduguri.

Zulum disclosed this at the Triennial Delegates Conference of the state council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists on Saturday in Maiduguri.

Represented by his Special Adviser on Communications and Strategy, Malam Isa Gusau, the governor said he requested the university to organise a certificate training programme for the journalists to be funded by the state government.

He urged the council to nominate its members to participate in the programme to enhance their capacities.

While reiterating commitment to run an open door policy, Zulum assured continued support to the journalists to enable them to discharge their duties.

The Commissioner for Information, Alhaji Babakura Abba-Jato, lauded the delegates and contestants for the peaceful conduct of the exercise.

Abba-Jato represented by Baba Shiekh-Lawan, urged the contestants to accept the outcome of the election in the spirit of sportsmanship.

Also speaking, the newly elected Chairman of the Council, Mr Dauda Iliya lauded Zulum for the gesture, adding that the training was inline with its capacity building initiative.

He urged the council to nominate its members to participate in the programme to enhance their capacities.

While reiterating commitment to run an open door policy, Zulum assured continued support to the journalists to enable them to discharge their duties.

White House blasts ‘catastrophic’ Arizona abortion ban ruling

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The White House on Saturday blasted a court ruling in Arizona that imposes a near-complete ban on abortions in the southwestern US state as “catastrophic, dangerous and unacceptable.”

On Friday, a judge in Arizona’s Pima County had ruled that the stricter ban — first imposed in 1864, before Arizona was a state — must be enforced.

“If this decision stands, health care providers would face imprisonment of up to five years for fulfilling their duty of care; survivors of rape and incest would be forced to bear the children of their assaulters; and women with medical conditions would face dire health risks,” spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement.

The Arizona decision sparked outrage from abortion providers and seemed sure to propel the thorny issue further into debate ahead of nationwide midterm elections in November.

The ruling “has the practical and deplorable result of sending Arizonans back nearly 150 years,” Brittany Fonteno, president of Planned Parenthood Arizona, said in a statement. “No archaic law should dictate our reproductive freedom.”

The ruling from Judge Kellie Johnson came in a case filed in Arizona seeking clarification after the US Supreme Court in June overturned the constitutional right to abortion but left it to the states to set new parameters.

The 1864 ban in Arizona, which permits abortions only when a woman’s life is in danger, had been blocked by injunction since 1973, when the US high court first found there was a constitutional right to abortion.

Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich, a Republican who had asked the court to rule on the legality of that injunction, welcomed the Pima County ruling.

“We applaud the court for upholding the will of the legislature and providing clarity and uniformity on this important issue,” he said in a statement, the AZCentral.com news website reported.

Planned Parenthood had argued before Johnson that a number of abortion-related laws passed in Arizona since 1973 effectively created a right to abortion, but the judge disagreed.

AZCentral reported that in the many years the 1864 law was in effect, numerous doctors and amateur abortion providers received jail terms for violating it.

The ruling came a day before a ban on abortions after the 15th week of pregnancy, passed earlier by the Arizona legislature, was to take effect.

In Washington, a prominent Republican senator, Lindsey Graham, has introduced a bill that would ban abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy in all 50 US states.

This year’s decision by the conservative-dominated Supreme Court has been seized on by Democrats, who expect it to anger and mobilize women to vote against Republicans in the fall.

Several special elections held since that ruling have shown significantly higher female participation.

Voices of history: The manipulation of religion in Nigeria

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Dr Yusufu Bala Usman. Remember him? Not many of us dare forget the late radical, leftist scholar, an historian who positively influenced young students in the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. The students were nicknamed “Bala Brought Up” to correctly situate their radical leftist politics.

Usman railed against incompetence in government – be it military or civilian. He was very much aware of our nation’s fault lines. The major and troubling fault lines for him were religion and ethnicity. They have been, and still are, the greatest tools for manipulating the nation and wasting its immense human and natural resources; hence Nigeria remains a potentially great nation because its feet are tied to the millstones of the manipulation of our fault lines. 

The manipulation of these fault lines retards our national progress and hobbles our national cohesion and unity. Their manipulation has become tools for the purposes of securing political and economic advantages in our multi-ethnic and multi-religious nation. These manipulative tools are used to oppress and suppress other ethnic groups and people of different religious faiths. They hold down our national progress. The manipulation creates, worsen our faulty leadership recruitment process. Men who are not fit to lead a village council are manipulated into leadership and crowned our political leaders at national and sub-national levels.

Ethnic and religious fault lines are, if you like, the twin evils of our nation. In each political generation, these fault lines tend to widen to accommodate new twists in their unending manipulation to meet new and refurbished ethnic and religious ambitions and interests. 

Usman saw it coming. He foresaw that our nation would eventually come to this sorry pass at which the manipulation of these fault lines would effectively widen them and scuttle our attempts at national unity and cohesion and arrest our national development. Perhaps, his greater worry was the religious fault line and its crass and shameless manipulation by the denizens of the political power kingdom, not for purposes of gaining heaven but for the more mundane pursuit and acquisition of political power and opportunities and, of course, personal wealth in the individual kingdom here on earth.

In 1987, the repressible scholar published a 166-page book, The Manipulation of Religion in Nigeria, 1977-1987. The book grew out of his lecture on the subject organised by the Students’ Union, Institute of Administration, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, in November 1977. The book itself is made up of his other lectures dealing with national unity and cohesion or lack thereof over a ten-year period. He mocked the NPN slogan of One Nation, One Destiny with his own slogan, No Nation, No Destiny. 

This column is based on his book. I have also borrowed its title for this column. The alarum he sounded some 35 years ago fell on deaf ears. We may ignore it, but we cannot deny that it casts ominous shadow on our nation and its people. In his foreword to the book, Professor Usman A. Tar, points out that “The book echoes the material foundations of power politics in Nigeria with key focus on how religion, region and tribe are bandied as platforms for negotiating access to power and wealth.” 

This, I think, is actually the crux of the manipulation of both religion and ethnicity in our country. When we cannot get access to power and wealth in the context of the distribution of our national resources, we cry marginalisation. The manipulation of religion has had a deleterious effect on the unity of a country desperate for unity. It has made it impossible for our leaders at all levels to effectively manage our ethnic and religious diversities. Inherent in the manipulation of ethnicity and religion is the unwritten code enforced to fence out other tribes and people of different religious faith from the national feeding trough. 

Before the students invited Usman to deliver the lecture on this sensitive subject, he had watched for years and seen how the manipulation of religion had manipulated the nation and its citizens. He saw how every political decision in the country was coloured by ethnicity and religion; and perhaps more importantly, how, for the sole of purpose of manipulating religion, every political development was seen through the religious prism. 
Usman was prescient. Consider this: “The meaning and significance of the increasingly violent political campaigns built around differences in this country today, can only be understood when seen within the larger context of what has been happening to Nigeria, to Nigerians…” 

He wrote that some 35 years ago. Nothing, as you can see, has changed in our country. Take that back. Almost everything has gone from bad to worse. It may not be the change we crave but it is the change we have. The manipulation of religion has become an article of faith among those who seek to dominate the political space, not for the sake of Nigeria and the Nigerians, but for the sake of access to power and wealth at the expense of the nation and its people. We are poised for other people’s jugular.

Usman cites three instances of the pattern of the manipulation of religion, namely, the assassination of General Murtala Muhammed in a failed coup led by Lt-Col Buka Suka Dimka; a lecture by Professor Chike Obi, which he described as “… an example of a well-tuned act of manipulating religion in Nigeria today;” the third was the sharia debate in the constituent assembly which “… provided an excuse for the publication of provocative and scurrilous articles purporting to support or oppose the sharia in newspapers.”

According to him, some serious, if diabolical, attempts were made to present the assassination of General Muhammed in stark religious terms of Christians versus Muslims. Attempts were made locally and internationally “to present Murtala as a Muslim martyr and his assassins as Christian villains.” The attempt might have failed but it left a residue of its cynical mark on the nation’s conscience by creating the impression that there is a silent war between the two major religions, each of which is in search of its own champions. 

More importantly, it continues to define political contest or elections in terms of us versus them and thus makes nonsense of political pluralism and the freedom of choice inherent in a democracy. The manipulation of religion is intended to drive a wedge between the two dominant religions in the country. We are not just navigating tortuous political and economic landmines; we also have to navigate religious and ethnic sensitivities.

The current controversy over the Muslim-Muslim presidential ticket of APC throws up the challenge of navigating the religious sensitivities for purposes of capturing power. We are not electing religious leaders; we are electing secular political leaders, men who offer themselves to serve the nation at the highest level because they believe they have the capacity to turn the misfortunes of our nation into fortunes. But because we have dragged religion into the political decision-making process, our political leaders give pride of place to religion to endorse their political decisions. They need the religious imprimatur.

Thus did the presidential candidate of APC, Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu feel he needed to tell the world that his choice of a running mate was endorsed by Christian clerics. His handlers made a crude, tendentious and desperate show of it. They recruited men from the motor park in Abuja, dressed them in borrowed robes of Catholic bishops and transported them to the venue where Senator Shettima was unveiled as Tinubu’s running mate last month. The manipulation of religion takes many forms but serves only one purpose, to wit, to use religion as a prop for personal and group or sectional ambitions and interests. The presence of the fake bishops was not winner. Fake bishops do not win elections. It was a needless attempt to do right by the Christian community.
 
Why has religion become important in this purely civic and secular duty performed by Nigerians to have a say in who governs them? The answer lies in the fact that having invited religion as an arbiter in the political decision-making process, the politicians must accord it the place in deserves in their political calculations both as crude manipulation and as a winning strategy. The assumption is that like the Israelites, the Muslims and the Christians would each go to their tent and vote for the party whose candidates are of the same faith with them. This is a dangerous assumption. But it has assumed a centre stage in our political discourse, including the proper management of our diversities.

It does serious injuries to our democracy and confuses our patriotism. It denies the electorate the right to make rational choices of their preferred candidates based on what they think of each man’s antecedents, integrity, competence, and ability rather than the deity he worships. It forces the electorate to vote on sentiment; consequently, it foists on the nation mediocre, incompetent, and indifferent leadership. We choose because he is our own; not because he has a proven track record of competence and qualitative leadership. Yep, Richard Dworkins is right: religion poisons everything.

In his conclusion to the 1977 lecture, Usman said: “The real basis of the manipulation of religion in Nigeria today is the need to obscure from the people of Nigeria a fundamental aspect of our reality: that is the domination of our political economy by a class of intermediaries who are being increasingly exposed. And this is to enable this class to cover themselves with religious and ethnic disguises in order to further entrench division among our people, slow down their awakening, at any cost; even the unity of our country, for which so much has been sacrificed.”

ASUU Strike: Between court ruling and search for amicable resolution

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The National Industrial Court of Nigeria (NICN) has ordered the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) to suspend its seven months strike and return to the classroom, but the lecturers swiftly rejected the ruling and are planning to file an appeal, dashing the hope that the university students will soon return to the campuses to continue learning, CHIJIOKE IREMEKA writes.

Three days ago, the National Industrial Court of Nigeria ordered the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) to suspend its seven months of nationwide strike and return to classrooms in the interest of the students, but the union rejected the ruling, indicating that the end is not yet in sight for the face-off between the lecturers and the Federal Government.

The presiding judge, Polycarp Hamman, gave the order on Wednesday in a ruling on the Federal Government’s application for an interlocutory injunction against the ASUU strike.

The government’s counsel, James Igwe (SAN), had filed the application seeking a restraining order to stop ASUU from continuing the strike pending the determination of the suit initiated through a referral by the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, against ASUU.

In line with the suit, the judge dismissed ASUU’s objection filed by the union’s lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN), where he prayed the court to discharge the government’s application and instead grant an accelerated hearing of the main suit.

But the judge held the same position as the government that irreparable damage was being done to the lives of students who have been rendered idle by the strike, adding that granting the union’s prayer would only cause additional damage to the ambitions of the young Nigerians.

According to the judge, the Trade Dispute Act prohibits parties from engaging in an industrial action when the dispute has been referred to the industrial court, the Industrial Arbitration Panel (IAP) or when a conciliator has been appointed.

ASUU’s lawyer had argued that the affidavit filed by Ikechukwu Wamba, a legal officer in the Ministry of Labour and Employment in support of the application should not be admitted as the deponent was neither a member of the university community nor part of any meeting held with the union. But the judge also disagreed with him, explaining that Wamba as a legal officer and a member of management at the labour ministry has access to the official documents of the negotiations and is in a position to offer legal advice to the minister.

The judge also disagreed with Falana’s submission that the government has not made necessary moves to curtail the strike since it commenced on February 14, 2022, saying that pieces of evidence from meetings with the government, which began days after the strike and lasted till September 1, proved that negotiations had been ongoing. He, therefore, hence ruled against the union.

But ASUU rejected the ruling on Thursday and said its lawyer was already filing an appeal and stay of execution of the judgment. The union sued for calmness among its members.

In a statement signed by its Lagos Zonal Coordinator, Dr. Adelaja Odukoya, ASUU quoted the National President, Prof. Emmanuel Osodeke, as saying: “Our lawyer is filing an appeal and stay of execution of the judgment.”

Earlier, at a parley with the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila in Abuja on Tuesday, Osodeke, who was accompanied by ASUU executives, had said that the court could not compel them to back down.

Osodeke likened the action of compelling the union to call off the strike to a scenario where a court order would compel a medical doctor to treat a patient, expressing dissatisfaction with the conduct of the Mallam Adamu Adamu-led Ministry of Education.

He described the seven-month strike as symptomatic of the level of decay in the university system. He claimed that the ministry never invited ASUU for a meeting on how to end the strike, instead, the union was threatened with a provocative ‘no-work-no-pay’ policy.

Osodeke, who maintained that ASUU remains blameless over the closure of the public universities, warned that the institutions, which account for over 95 per cent intake of students, face the risk of depreciating to the level of public primary schools within the next couple of years.

The Speaker, who expressed concern over the impact of the strike on students, urged the aggrieved lecturers to shift grounds in the interest of the country’s educational sector, assuring them that the House would interface with President Muhammadu Buhari to find short-term and long-term solutions to the challenges besetting the sector.

“We have to see how we can close this chapter. We all know the issues. But we are here for solutions and the way forward. We will do all we can constitutionally. We are all on the same page. Our students need to go back to school. The question is how do we get this done? There has to be shifting of grounds and moving closer to the centre. It’s about to give and take,” he quipped.

The Guardian learnt that Gbajabiamila’s intervention led to the suspension of the protest over the ASUU strike by the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), which paralysed socio-economic activities around Murtala Muhammad International Airport in Lagos.

The suspension of the strike, which would have continued the next day (Tuesday) saved the day as the protest had already subjected travellers and motorists to hardship as traffic gridlock was experienced in different parts of the state. Multiple flights were rescheduled, while some passengers missed their flights due to the blockage of the road leading to the airport by the protesting students.

Also, the students had earlier vowed to continue the protest after Monday in Lagos and even extend it to the seaports to demand an end to the seven-month ASUU strike.

Gbajabiamila promised to meet with the Minister of Education, the leadership of ASUU and other stakeholders over the lingering strike, while the students awaited the outcome of the meeting before deciding on their next line of action.

This also means Nigerians have appealed to the striking lecturers to reconsider renegotiation with the Federal Government to end the strike in the interest of the students who are currently wasting away on the streets and engaging in all manner of social vices as a result of idleness.

The Guardian also learnt that already, many of the protesting students have lost at least one academic year in the course of the ASUU strike.

Some stakeholders said that while the Federal Government should respect its agreement with ASUU, the striking lecturers should reconsider their position and renegotiate based on what the government would be able to shoulder, as the country has been running budget deficits for some years.

As they decried the way the Federal Government is handling the crisis rocking the tertiary education sector, especially seeking a court order to strangulate ASUU over the industrial action, the stakeholders appealed to the university teachers to renegotiate based on the government’s ability to pay.

The leadership of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) and the Education Rights Campaign (ERC) also rejected the judgement of the industrial court, describing it as a ‘black market’ judgment the Federal Government got against ASUU.

According to NANS National Public Relations Officer, Giwa Temitope, “the judgment betrayed equity, the government shouldn’t have dragged ASUU before the industrial court in the first place.”

He said the only solution to the lingering strike was for the government to meet the demands of the union, which it willingly entered into.

“As an association, NANS is disturbed to read the news of the judgment because we believe that it is not right. Ordinarily, the Federal Government should not have dragged ASUU to court. We want to state categorically that the court cannot force ASUU back to the classroom.

“As it stands today, we maintain that the court has not resolved the problem and we reject the ruling in its entirety. The court could have directed the FG to pay rather than directing lecturers to go back to classrooms,” Temitope said.

Also, the Southwest Coordinator of the association, Emmanuel Olatunji Adegboye, said: “The fact that they had to drag ASUU to court is a signal that this government cannot handle crisis. And we want to state categorically that the court cannot force members of ASUU back to lecture theatres.”

National Coordinator of ERC, Hassan Soweto, described the court verdict as unfair and shameful, saying it is a confirmation of his belief that the judiciary is simply an arm of the apparatus of the capitalist state, just as the police and the army.

He called on the leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC) to declare a 48-hour nationwide warning strike in reaction to the court order.

“At this stage, all we can say is that our solidarity with ASUU on its resolve to fight for adequate funding of public universities remains unshaken despite the court order.”

In a recent editorial, The Guardian declared that on the lingering strike, which might have arisen from egoistic power-play between two divisions of the elite that undermines the common good and from the lack of political will to manage trade disputes, the weight of culpability rests more on the Federal Government.

“The two instances give substance to the blame – One is the arrogant and somewhat punitive invocation of the ‘No work, no pay’ rule on striking workers as well as the threat to proscribe ASUU. The other is the encouragement given to hirelings within the academic unit to pen and disseminate derisive missives against their fold.”

Legal experts said the government couldn’t ban ASUU or any trade union for that matter.

“To attempt this, the government will have to amend the relevant chapter of the constitution, which in Section 40 guarantees the right to form or belong to a political party or trade union. The government will also have to withdraw its ratification of the African Charter on Human and People’s right as well as the International Labour Organisation (ILO) convention that guarantees the freedom of association and the right to organise.

“Even if the union can be proscribed, it is ill-advised to do so because it will neither result in the resumption of academic activities nor solve the problem of incessant strikes.

“Furthermore, by invoking the tactless ‘No work, no pay’ principle, the government seems oblivious of the costly socio-economic and political implication of such an action. It would mean that academics would cancel the backlog of responsibilities of the preceding session and start on a clean slate.

“It would suggest abandonment of duties hitherto waiting to be undertaken. Undoubtedly, that would be calling for a fresh crisis from students. Moreover, the staff of research institutes, who are themselves academics in their own right, have been on strike for over a year and are still earning their salaries.

“So, it raises the question of the moral and legal justification in applying the ‘No work, no pay’ rule for a category of government workers and denying others,” the editorial reads in part.

On the ills of the prolonged ASUU strike, Sunny Awazie from Umuahia, Abia State, said a responsible government must prioritise the development of the educational sector and ensure that her citizens acquire quality education to speed up rapid development, economic growth and technological advancement.

Regrettably, he noted, public universities have assumed solitary status due to the sine die strike by ASUU.

“On February 14, 2022, university dons across the country down tools due to non-payment of financial entitlements, imposition of Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) and inadequate funding of universities, among other demands.

“While ASUU on one hand holds the government responsible for the prolonged strike due to its inability to sign renegotiated agreements to end the strike, the government on the other hand views ASUU’s demands as a tempest in a teapot. The back-and-forth posture adopted by the government over the strike further portends its insincerity of purpose and action to resolve and end the protracted strike.

“The consequences of incessant ASUU strikes are enormous and a clog on the wheels of quality education. First, graduates produced may not compete favourably with those from the sane academic climes at the global pedestal. The students could constitute a nuisance as ready tools for social vices and conduits to deviant behaviours such as drug addiction, thuggery, robbery, cultism and illicit sex.

“Academic Calendar is prolonged hence students do not graduate in good time. Sadly, government officials saddled with the responsibility to ensure adequate funding, and seamless academic programmes in citadels of academic have not been resolute.

“While Nigerian students continuously wallow in abject academic decadence, the wards of our governors, minister and other political officers study abroad at the expense of taxpayers’ money. This is worrisome and must be nipped in the bud.

“Conversely, the series of a parley between government and ASUU had ended in a logjam. Going forward, the government should show the sincerity of purpose to meet their demands. As a step in the right direction, the government should pay the backlog of six months salaries owed to the lecturers while negotiation continues.

“ASUU, on their part, should sheathe their sword and shift grounds for the sake of the students now at home for over seven months,” Awazie said.

Phil Salami, said: “Why is it difficult for the government to genuinely negotiate with ASUU. Three times government has negotiated with ASUU and three times they have repudiated the draft agreement. Why should anyone blame ASUU if it refuses to waste precious time and resources negotiating with this unserious government?

“I think this is what decency demands. Not signing some mutually deception-laden agreement like the government did under Goodluck Jonathan’s watch in 2009 and never did anything about it till he left in 2015. If ASUU really wants to bargain for something much better, they should make Nigeria’s academia a productive one.”

The Federal Government earlier said it would not sign any other agreement it cannot implement. Minister of Education, Adamu revealed this position in Abuja during a meeting of pro-chancellors and vice chancellors of federal universities held at the National Universities Commission (NUC). 

Adamu said President Buhari warned the government’s team involved in the negotiation with ASUU against signing an agreement that government would not be able to fulfil.

ASUU has been on strike for nearly seven months, since February 14, over the alleged unfulfilled deals. Among the lecturers’ demands are better funding and equipping of public universities and an increase in remunerations. But Adamu said the Federal Government could only afford a “23.5 per cent salary increase for all categories of the workforce in federal universities, except for the professorial cadre which will enjoy a 35 per cent upward review.”

He also said N150 billion would be provided in next year’s budget for the refurbishment of the federal universities, with another N50 billion for the payment of outstanding academic staff allowances.

The minister said the meeting of the heads of universities, convened at the instance of NUC, became necessary and urgent due to certain misconceptions and misinformation in the public domain regarding the ongoing strike by ASUU.

Adamu told the pro-chancellors and vice chancellors: “Not only is our interaction today (September 6) necessary, it is also urgent to clarify the misrepresentations and draw your attention to the facts, which you, as managers of our universities, ought to know by virtue of your assigned duties.

“It is, indeed, one of your statutory duties to negotiate with your workers on matters of their welfare and conditions of service. Current industrial action in our public universities started on February 14, 2022, when ASUU commenced a two-week warning strike over the non-implementation of agreements reached between the government and the union.

“In all, we have been doing, our guide has been the directive of Mr President, that while the unions should be persuaded to return to work, the government should not repeat the past mistakes of accepting to sign an agreement it will be unable to implement.”

The Guardian observed that just like other public institutions and infrastructure, tertiary education is gradually slipping into the all-too-familiar neglect and decadence, thus suggesting that the consistent stalemate is a calculated attempt to run tertiary education aground. Yet, addressing the problem must transcend lamentation.

While the government, academics, students and parents are urged to contemplate long-term solutions to crises in the tertiary educational system, concerted efforts must be made to end the strike and bring back students to the campuses. In this regard, Nigerians should be conversant with the bone of contention.

Contrary to news circulating, ASUU’s grouse transcends salaries, it is also about honouring agreements and demonstrating capacity for leadership. To this end, the Federal Government should sign and implement the Nimi Briggs Committee re-negotiated agreement. Additionally, it should deploy the University Transparency and Accountability Solution (UTAS) as the payment platform in the university system in line with the directives of the president.

On its part, the stakeholders urged ASUU not to prolong the strike further so as not to diminish the public image of Nigeria’s education system for which they seek improvement.

As reports have indicated, the toll on the country’s human capital is very huge, with both younger academics and students from middle-class families leaving the country in droves.

“ASUU should be innovative about expressing its position. Notwithstanding its elitist nature, it should deploy popular public relations techniques that would enable the average citizen to understand its situation and aspirations. Its audience is too insular and its outreach too limited.

“Besides, both parties must come to the negotiating table with the intention of solving problems and not winning arguments. The government’s party must come down from its high horse and recognise that government is a service platform and not the patrimony of any group of persons,” The Guardian’s editorial of September 13, 2022, read.

Flood Killed 134, Destroyed N1.5trn Property In Jigawa – Govt

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The Jigawa State government has said at least 134 persons have died while property worth over N1.5 trillion have been lost to the recurring flooding in the state.

The Deputy Governor, who is also the acting governor of the state, Alhaji Umar Namadi, stated this when he hosted the United Nations Children Emergency Fund (UNICEF) chief of the field office of Kano, Katsina, and Jigawa states, Rahman Rihub Mahmud Fara, on Saturday.

He said the water is going towards the east of the state saying two local governments, Kirikasamma and Birniwa, are on the danger list.

Namadi said the flood affected 272,189 people and 76,887 lost their houses, adding that one village was completely  destroyed and a local government totally cut away from the rest of the state by road.

In terms of government property, Namadi said 22 roads and 11 bridges were washed away by the water.

He advised that dams should be maintained, lamenting that they had been blocked by sand which needs to be evacuated.

He appealed to the federal government and other development partners, including UNICEF to come to the aid of the state.

On his part, Fara, said his team came to assess the situation and to see what can be done to alleviate the suffering of the affected communities.

He then emphasized the need for both the Jigawa State and UNICEF to work together when it comes to emergency preparedness, and response planning in the years ahead, as flooding has become perennial in the state.

Insecurity Will End Before 2023, Says Buhari

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Insecurity will be brought to an end before the end of the year, President Muhammadu Buhari assured in Ile-Ife, Osun, on Saturday.

The country is currently battling insecurity on many fronts, ranging from the activities of the Islamic State’s West Africa Province (ISWAP), Boko Haram terrorists and bandits in the North to separatists group in the East, oil thieves in the South to kidnapping in the West.

The government have been so overwhelmed that the terrorists made efforts to destabilise the government in the Centre with attacks in the Federal Capital Territory recently.

However, the military has recorded landmark victories recently against the non-state actors.

And Buhari gave an assurance at the grand finale of the 2022 Olojo Festival that the insecurity in the country would soon be over.

The Olojo Festival is an ancient festival celebrated annually in Ile-Ife.

It was once described by Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi as a festival that celebrates the Black race all over the world.

In a message sent through the Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, the president said, however, that all Nigerians must be part of the war to end insecurity.

He noted that the war against insecurity could not be left to only the security agencies to handle.

“All of us must be concerned about security. The government will play its part; we must work together with security agencies to overcome the challenges of insecurity,’’ he said.

Buhari commended Oba Ogunwusi for contributing immensely to the fight against insecurity.

Earlier, Osun State Governor, Adegboyega Oyetola, commended the Ooni for his will and capacity to sustain the rich heritage of his forebears.

Oyetola, who was represented by his deputy, Mr Benedict Alabi, said the annual Olojo Festival is phenomenal in the history of Ile-Ife and that of Yoruba race. (NAN)

Bandits Break Into Zamfara Mosque, Gun Down Worshippers

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Bandits on Friday killed at least 13 worshippers in an attack on a mosque in Ruwan Jema community, Bukkuyum Local Government Area of Zamfara State, during Juma’at service.

The attack came barely three weeks after 44 worshippers were abducted at a mosque in Zugu community in the same local government area.

The armed men later released the worshippers days later after payment of N5 million ransom.

Ruwan Jema, a community situated 15 kilometres east of Bukkuyum town, the headquarters of the local government had suffered a number of horrific attacks in the past. The residents of the community had also paid millions of naira to bandits as levies.

A resident, Usman Lawal, said, “When they laid siege, the armed criminals stormed the mosque when the worshippers were observing Juma’at prayer. We were observing the last Rakaat when suddenly they started firing. Pandemonium broke out as every one was running for dear life.

“They opened fire on the worshippers, killing at least 13 people on the spot. Dozens of others were also injured in a stampede. The armed criminals also killed a number of residents they found in the surrounding bushes. The remains of the residents are being picked from the farms and their funeral prayer was slated for evening today. Bodies are still being picked from forest. Some of the injured victims are responding to treatments in medical facilities in Zamfara and neighbouring Sokoto state.”

The spokesman for the state police command, SP Muhammad Shehu, had not responded to our correspondent’s calls to his mobile as of the time of filing this report.

THE GREATER ABUJA WATER SUPPLY PROJECT IS SET FOR COMPLETION

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To satisfy the potable water needs of the increasingly expanding population of the Federal Capital Territory, do you know that the Buhari administration has been constructing the Greater Abuja Water Supply Scheme, which is even near completion?

This was disclosed on Thursday, September 22, 2022 by the Director of Information and Communications of the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA), Mallam Muhammad Hamzat Sule who explained that the project will supply water to about 50 new estates within the phases III and IV of Abuja city.

This is remarkably commendable, as it demonstrates the willingness and readiness of the Buhari administration to respond to the welfare needs of Nigerians. And of added significance to this is the fact that the Greater Abuja Water Supply Scheme will be a source of new jobs in the city.

Yes, Nigeria is on track!

BORNO YOUTHS TRAINED ON AGRIC-PRENEURSHIP

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To bolster the creation of new jobs in the agricultural value chain, do you know that the Buhari administration has just concluded the training of youths in Borno State on agricultural enterprises?

The one week training, which took place in Maiduguri from Monday, September 19 – Friday, September 23, 2022, was organized by the National Directorate of Employment (NDE) under its Rural Employment Promotion Scheme. And the benefitting youths were drawn from all the LGAs of the State.

At the commencement of the training, the Director General of the NDE, Alhaji Abubakar Nuhu Fikpo said the youths will be trained on how to establish, grow and expand the agric enterprise of their choice on a sustainable basis. This is commendable, as it is another step in curbing unemployment and growing the economy.

Yes, Nigeria is on track!