Breaking: Osama bin Laden’s son ‘Hamza’ is dead – President Trump confirms

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The United state President, Donald Trump has confirmed the death of Hamza bin Laden, son of former Al Qaeda leader and 9/11 mastermind Osama bin Laden.

Trump disclosed this in a statement released by the White House on Saturday morning. President Trump who is hell bent in fighting terrorism and improving the economy of his country said “Hamza, a high-ranking Al Qaeda member, was killed in a United States counterterrorism operation in the Afghanistan/Pakistan region.”

“The loss of Hamza bin Laden not only deprives Al Qaeda of important leadership skills and the symbolic connection to his father but undermines important operational activities of the group.

“Hamza bin Laden was responsible for planning and dealing with various terrorist groups.”

Recall that the report of Hamza’s death first broke in July, but there has not been any official press statement on it except the White house statement on September 14, 2019.

Recall also that Hamza had vowed to avenge his father’s death, noting that his father cannot be killed like that.

In view of that the 30 year-old Hamza,  planned to succeed his father and become the Al Qaeda leader. He was immediately blacklisted as a terrorist by the United state.

Buhari arrives Burkina Faso for ECOWAS Summit on Counter-Terrorism

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President Muhammadu Buhari has arrived in Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso, to attend the ECOWAS Extraordinary Summit on Counter Terrosism.

A statement from the Media office of the State House, Abuja, said the President was received on arrival at the Ouagadougou International Airport by President Roch Kabore of Burkina Faso, on Saturday.

”Also at the airport to receive the President were the Nigerian Ambassador to Burkina Faso, Ramatu Ahmed, Foreign Affairs Minister, Geoffrey Onyeama, Defence Minister, Bashir Magashi and the National Security Adviser to the President, retired Maj.-Gen. Babagana Monguno.

Others at the airport included the Director General, National Intelligence Agency, Ahmed Rufai Abubakar, Executive Secretary of Lake Chad Basin Commission, Ambassador Nuhu Mamman and members of the Nigerian Community in Burkina Faso. According to the statement, the summit by ECOWAS leaders and leaders from Chad, Cameroon and Mauritania is expected to adopt an action plan to address the spread of terrorism and violent extremism in the region.

The Nigerian leader is expected to address the Summit where he will renew his call for West African leaders “to strive to provide the necessary resources and tools” for regional initiatives such as Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) and the G5 Sahel Joint Force to lead the war on terrorism and trans-border crimes across the region.

President Buhari is expected back in Abuja at the end of the Summit.(NAN)

Why I’m yet to form my cabinet, by Ganduje

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Kano State Governor, Dr Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, has explained the delay in constituting his cabinet four months after his inauguration.

He said he was taking his time to carry along all the different parties and groups that contributed to his second term mandate.

The Nation gathered that the yet-to-be constituted cabinet could be as a result of Ganduje’s magnanimity to compensate all shades of different parties and groups.

In his first term, the governor constituted his cabinet within three weeks.

However, Ganduje explained that the process of nominating Commissioners in his second term is taking a lot longer time, due to the emergence of different forces that supported him during the 2019 election.

In a foreign Hausa Radio, monitored in Kano, the governor promised to unveil the names of the prospective Commissioners soonest.

“Some of my former commissioners will be re-nominated while others will not.

“However, those that are not returning, as commissioners will still be accommodated in the government,” he said.

To this end, it was learnt that political considerations appeared to have made it difficult for the governor to form a cabinet.

In 2015, Ganduje ran for election as a candidate of the Kwankwasiyya group within the APC.

It was therefore easy for the group to agree on commissioner- nominees even before Ganduje took the oath of office.

However in 2019, running as the head of his own Gandujiyya faction, Ganduje needed the support of other political blocs to defeat the Kwankwasiyya candidate after the group decamped to the opposition PDP.

Among the frontline politicians, who threw their weight behind Ganduje’s ambition include former Governor Senator Ibrahim Shekarau; former deputy governor Prof Hafiz Abubakar and a host of some notable Kwankwasiyya and PDP members who left in protest against the alleged high-handedness of the group leader, Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso.

Xenophobic attacks: Returnees relive ordeal, demand revenge against South Africa

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For the 187 Nigerians who returned home from South Africa on Wednesday, it is time to thank God for sparing their lives from the jaws of death impelled by xenophobic attacks in the rainbow country. For many of them it was a tough decision, but one they had to take after their horrendous encounters with militants in the former apartheid enclave, just like their counterparts from other African countries like Zambian, Tanzania and Zimbabwe.

From their testimonies, their plight was a case of search for greener pastures turning sour. Besides the dislocation returning home will cause them, the mental agony of having to count their losses is an eternal torture. The returnees from different parts of the country said they had been running from pillar to post to escape attacks as they made their ways from different parts of South Africa into Johannesburg to be documented for return to their country of birth.

They said they responded to the presidential directive that all Nigerians in South Africa return home, as the Nigerian authorities in Johannesburg had commenced documentation of the affected nationals preparatory to their return home. The process of their return had been accelerated by the gesture of indigenous carrier, Air Peace, which deployed its Boeing 777 aircraft to bring back hundreds of Nigerians who were trapped in the xenophobic conundrum.

As the aircraft arrived South Africa in the early hours of Wednesday, more than 320 Nigerians who were set to return home were subjected to security checks by Immigration authorities, who required them to carry out fresh set of biometrics and subjected them to other humiliating experiences, delaying them for 15 hours before they could embark on the six-hour flight to Nigeria.

While it was a sweet-bitter experience to return home, emotions took the greater part of them as they boarded the aircraft. Tears flowed freely down their cheeks because reality of having to return home had dawned on them.

As the aircraft landed at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos, the cabin crew of Air Peace emerged with placards with the inscription ‘Say No to Xenophobia.’ As they disembarked from the Boeing 777-200 which landed at exactly 9.32 at the hajj and cargo section of the Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos, the returnees were in high spirits, praising the airline, the Nigerian government and the Nigerian Consul General for the great efforts made to evacuate them from South Africa.

Horror tales from returnees

Some of the returnees told journalists at the airport that their erstwhile South Africans hosts were fierce in their attacks on Nigerians, going from house to house and from shop to shop, looting and burning whatever they believed belonged to Nigerians.

Juwon Sadiku, an indigene of Oyo State, who said he was a businessman, regretted his long stay in South Africa, saying: “It was a narrow escape from that hell called South Africa. Those people are wicked. They hate Nigerians because of our enterprise and courageous spirit.

“It was terrible, my brother. We barely escaped with our lives. We were all scared. In Pretoria, some of those South African militants were going from house to house, looking for Nigerians to kill.

“The apartheid in South Africa is still there. This time around, it was not a case of whites against blacks but inhumanity from black South Africans to fellow blacks who are foreigners. The people have a poor sense of history. They forgot the role Nigeria, as part of the Frontline States, played in their independence. They are evil. They are just callous.”

He went on: “Even if you are married to their women, they will not spare any foreigner, especially Nigerians. I do not know what we have done to them to warrant this level of hatred. “But I do not blame them. It is time for our government to rise up and defend the interest of Nigerians. They must be forced to pay compensation for the wanton destruction of our property. Our people should also target their business interests and halt them here in Nigeria.”

Another returnee, Olu Bamidele, who hails from Ikorodu in Lagos State, said he had been in South Africa for many years, but had to return home following federal government’s gesture to evacuate Nigerians and save their lives.

Another returnee, a mother of two of South East extraction who declined to give her name, said she would not forget in a hurry how the premises that hosted her business were set ablaze by rampaging South African youths.

She said: “My brother, these are my two children (pointing to them). I am happy that I am alive and back with them to Nigeria.  I was running a beauty shop in Pretoria, but some South Africans came and set the premises where I carried out my business ablaze.  I lost everything.

“How am I going to carry on with my life? I had to join the aircraft provided by Air Peace to return.

“Even the car I was driving, in the wake of the xenophobic attacks, I asked an agent to help me sell it just to get some money to resettle myself, but the place where the car was put up for sale was vandalized and the car burnt. But what can I do but resign to fate? When there is life, there is hope.

“I even have a valid work permit and visa to stay in the country, but that is now history. We have returned. We are looking up to the Nigerian government to see what they will do to assist us.”

Returnee points accusing finger at South African govt

Yet another returnee, an indigene of Anambra State who gave his name as Uche Nwabu, said he had to hide for many days in Pretoria when Zulu militants launched attacks on Nigerians and other foreigners.

He accused the South African police and security agencies of conniving with the irate militants to unleash terror on Nigerians.

He said: “On one of the days, I was returning from work where I served as a tiller. We heard that South African militants were attacking Nigerians. We alerted the South African police that their people were carrying out violent attacks on Nigerians. They ignored us and looked the other way. We had to run for dear lives.

“As I speak to you, a lot of Nigerians are afraid to leave their homes in Pretoria for Johannesburg for fear of attack. Many of our people have been killed and are unaccounted for. But this madness must stop. Our government must stand up to take serious action.

“My brother, if the situation in Nigeria were better, most of us would not have gone to South Africa to risk our lives. If government could provide uninterrupted power supply, create a friendlier business environment, most of us will prefer to stay here and salvage our country.”

He, however, wondered why government had not severed diplomatic ties with South Africa, considering the “evil” their people have done to Nigerians.

He said: “Government should go ahead and cut the flight frequencies of South African Airways and other businesses in Nigeria. That way, their government would call their people to order. ”

Why some Nigerians would not return

Narrating his unsavoury experience, another returnee who identified himself as Roland Chibuzo from Abia State, said some Nigerians were reluctant to return home in spite of the gesture from government because of the investments they have in South Africa.

He said: “I can tell you for free that many of our people are reluctant to come back to Nigeria because they have invested heavily in South Africa. Some or people have houses, hotels and other investments, and they will not like to leave such behind. If they return home, what will they be doing here? Where would they start from? It is a serious dilemma.”

Speaking about their ordeal, one of the returnees, who hails from Osun State and identified himself simply as Saheed, lamented how he was sacked from job by South Africans as well as other inhuman treatments meted out on him.

Another returnee, Victor Uwas, an indigene of Delta State, said: “My brother, the situation was terrible. We were all scared because they were going from home to home looking for Nigerians to kill and maim.

“Apartheid is still continuing in South Africa with their wicked policy of segregation. This time, it is not about segregation between the white and the black but segregation between South Africans and the nationals of other African countries. It is about the oppression of other Africans.

“The reason they are attacking Nigerians is that South African youths are lazy. They blame Nigerians for their economic problems, which is very wrong. That why the Nigerian government must cut diplomatic ties with South Africa.

“The whole world is keeping quiet because the evil of xenophobia is black people against black people. If it was against while people, America and Europe would have said something to condemn the evil act.”

He, however, urged President Muhammadu Buhari to say something to send a strong signal to his South African counterpart that the Nigerian government would take every step to protect her people.”

Another returnee from Abia State identified as Onuoha Chizoba said although it was painful, he was happy to return home.

He said: “I would like to advise Nigerians still staying back in South Africa to return home, because from the plans we learnt that those South African have, they will carry out more attacks on foreigners, including Nigerians.”

On his part, an Osun indigene who gave him name as Aliu  Saheed said many Nigerians were refusing to come home because of their investment in South Africa.

He said: “Many people do not want to return home because of the cars and other property and families they have in South Africa. How do you expect such people to come to Nigeria like that without any compensation?

“We who decided to return home have lost everything; that is why we are here. I worked in the protocol department of a South African company for six months. I have been in the country since 2015. In the company where I worked at the airport, they refused to pay my salary.

“I was attending one of their schools, but I was pushed out because I am a foreigner.”

A female returnee, who gave her name as Temide Olakojo, from Oyo State, said: “I registered my company in South Africa. I was selling beauty products with valid papers. I decided to return home because of the massive killings and looting of property of Nigerians by South Africans.”

Another female returnee said she was lucky to have escaped because the car she rode in was stopped and she was asked by the South Africans to introduce herself. She spoke their language,

And they spared her life. She said after the narrow escape, she resolved that it was time to return home.

She said: “I have lived in South Africa since 2012. I had a permit, but based on the bad experience, the search for greener pastures has turned sour.”

Why we volunteered to evacuate Nigerians from South Africa —Air Peace boss

Speaking on the gesture by Air Peace to evacuate stranded Nigerians in the xenophobic attacks, the Chairman of the airline, Allen Onyema, said: “We carried out the evacuation free of charge. It is for our people. We decided to do it because we want to show that it is not all about money; that nobody can go into his grave with his bank account or a fat purse, but that you can go to the grave with the legacies you leave behind.

“So we decided to carry out this evacuation after seeing the gory pictures on the internet. Like I have always done before in this country, it was a duty to lift the lives of my people in trouble.

“It is not the first time. It was a patriotic act to send signals to some foreign countries who want to try Nigeria.

“Yes, as Nigerians, we have our differences. But we are one and the dehumanization should stop to restore the dignity of this country.

“We moved in to restore the pride and resolve of Nigerians to live together, to do this for the harmony of Nigerians to support the government.

“This is to give the returnees a sense of belonging. As we moved into the aircraft, they started singing the national anthem. They felt proud to be Nigerians.

“As they sang the national anthem, it brought drew tears to my cheeks. The motivation is there, and we thank God.

“Air Peace is ready is do as many trips as there is a single Nigerian left in South Africa to be evacuated. We were to move over 320 Nigerians, but the authorities in South Africa frustrated us. We are ready to go back and bring our people.”

Buhari’s new minister: How I rose from office messenger…

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Ovation trailed the introduction of Senator Tayo Alasoadura at the State House, Abuja, during the swearing in of ministers when the presidential spokesperson, Femi Adesina, told the gathering that Alasoadura rose from being a messenger in an accounting firm to a chartered accountant, commissioner, senator and to his present status. President Muhammadu Buhari and all present applauded the transformation. In this interview, Alasoadura, the Minister of State for Labour and Employment, shares his journey from grass to grace, saying he fought poverty to succeed.  

Your introduction as a former messenger attracted applause during the swearing in. How did you rise from that to your present position?

Incidentally, so many people have been contacting me, believing that I did something amazing. But I don’t see it as any unbelievable achievement if anyone knows what he is doing and is ready to work very hard. My background makes it very easy for me to do a lot of things because I’m the son of peasant farmers; my mother was a farmer, my father was a farmer. And the best thing they were able to do was to send me to primary school. I managed after so many years of staying at home to pass exam. They were not even able to make deposits for me to go to that school. However, fortunately for me, I went to a school called Ajuwa Grammar School in Akoko, Ondo State. A friend there asked me about the school I was attending, I told him that I wasn’t attending any school. So, he introduced me to the principal of the school. I was taken as a student of that school without any examination or interview. So, I rushed home to tell my parents. And I was not asked to make any deposit. The school session was already on; it wasn’t as if we were just about to resume. The policy of that school was that after three weeks of coming to class, if you were unable to pay, they would ask you to leave and look for your school fees. Knowing that my parents could not afford the school fee which was four pounds per term, I decided to try and practise what I learnt from my parents; farming. So, I looked for a land around the school and decided to plant corn and cocoyam because they were popular in our area. And that was where I was feeding myself. When I was supposed to be in class, I would be there to either work on my farm or to read. I didn’t have textbooks. But I had exercise books. What I used to do was to ask some of my friends who were lucky enough to be able to go to class to lend me their exercise books so that I could copy what they wrote, and when they were in class the following day, I would be reading what they did the previous day; on the farm. That’s where I would have my breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Sometimes, there were occasions when I dozed off, forgot and slept. By the time I would wake up in the night, there would be no way I could get out of the farm because there was no light. I would sleep in the bush. I would wake the following morning, take a bath and start all over again. But glory be to God, we were being allowed to take the examinations even if we were not in class. So, I would go back and take the examinations. Luckily and through the grace of God, I did well. The principal gave me double promotion, saying if I was reading in the bush and performed better than those in class, then he would do that. So, I went from Form 1 to Form 3. Again, in Form 3, I was lucky. An American Peace Corps member saw my plight and took me from the bush to his house.

The American Peace Corps is like our own NYSC. It was an educational aide to developing countries. Four pounds was for feeding and accommodation as a boarder. During our time, you hardly had what you now call day student. Everybody had to be in school. So, he took special permission to take me to his house. I started eating good food. He took custody of two of us. We started eating things like beans, yam, etc. All I ate before were corn and cocoyam. Sometimes, when we were “lucky”, especially those of us who were rascally, when we saw strayed chickens, we tried to take some protein. (Laughter) I was given another double promotion when I was in Form 4. The principal thought I was good enough and he said he knew that my parents would not be able to pay the school fees. He said he would register me in Form 4, which is SS1 now, to appreciate my hard work. He paid and registered me so that I would sit for exams with those in SS2 as his own contribution to my life. He is still alive. Through the grace of God, I took the examinations with my seniors who were in Form 6 when I was in Form 5. I was lucky again to pass. Thereafter, I tried my best to go to university. I had admissions to several universities, including a university in the United States of America, because I had a cousin who was studying there. He assisted me to get admission in a university to read Aeronautical Engineering. Maybe I would have been a pilot. I was offered that admission free tuition, free feeding, and free accommodation. But there was no money to buy the ticket to go to the US.

Was it why you opted for teaching?

Yes, that was how I decided to be a teacher. I was a teacher for 18 months. But I left because I was restless. I couldn’t continue my life without reading or progressing. So, I went to Lagos. Incidentally, I got a job. A new firm was being set up at the time and we were called for interview. Something funny happened which I will never forget. Because I didn’t have any clothe that could match for an interview, my cousin in the US sent me a pair of trousers and a sweater. I wore that sweater to the interview because I didn’t have any good shirt. You know how hot Lagos is for somebody to be wearing sweater. The man who was the chairman of the interview panel asked me why I wore sweater. I said, “Sir, it’s the best clothe that I have and because today is my birthday.” Luckily for me, the same day was the birthday of the chairman of the interview panel. Despite the fact that they wanted only one person who knew anything about accounting, I was taken because my birthday coincided with that of the chairman of the interview panel. I just went for an interview. I didn’t know what they were doing there. I had never had of the word accounting.  So, I was not interviewed in such a way that I would even know what I came for. As soon as the man heard that that day was my birthday, he just decided that I should be employed. But the man who they wanted had already been employed. And he had got to Section Two of Association of Certified Accountants of England (ACCE). I was raw. I never had anything to do with accounting. So, the man told them to engage me. I was engaged. There was no chair and table. So, the firm posted me to one of their clients who was selling iron rods. For the first six months of my employment, I was in that office carrying iron rods to the vehicles – loading and unloading. I had no place to go so I had to do it. It’s not that I wanted it, because that was not my purpose for joining the company. After six months, I returned to the office. A small place had been created for me. I had to supply those doing the work with stationeries, make tea and clean tables and chairs. That was what I did for another six months. One day, fortuitously, I was going to serve the man with who I was engaged same day. He was retained in the office because he knew accounting. He was my senior when it comes to knowledge despite the fact that we were engaged the same day. I saw him filling a form. That form had a lot of Cs. Then, I asked him what the form was meant for with As and Cs.  He explained to me that it was a form expected to be filled by those who had applied to be students of accountancy in England. I then begged him. Fortunately, it was only the first line that he had written his name. I asked him whether he could clear it so that I could make a photocopy of the form because it could be photocopied at that time. That was how he cleaned out his name, photocopied the form for me and I applied to be a student of ACCE. By the grace of God, three and a half years later, I was a qualified accountant because we had to do it from home. I was already used to reading at home. You were sitting for examination set in England. Nobody will come from England to teach you. You had to teach yourself. So, it was easy for me to read individually and pass. I was in a hurry during the first examination that I did because I was in a hurry to make it in life. That was the first time they would allow people to combine two sections. I decided to combine the two sections – Sections One and Two. And I passed. My friend who photocopied the form for me wrote Section Three. I, who was nobody, had one section to catch up with him. That was how I became a chartered accountant and started working for the same firm.

What happened to the people you met at the company?

Most of them left the firm because they believed that the salary we were earning was too low. But I wouldn’t say so because as a messenger and somebody who started examinations, I had to be there to continue with my studies because they would have to take money for textbooks that I used and tuition from my salary. I had little or no money left. I was eating one “boli” (roasted plantain) per day by 06:00pm for two years. And that was when I knew that in front of WAEC at Yaba in Lagos, they had the best boli there. Then, it was at YABATECH that I saw water dispenser for the first time. I would go there, open the tap, rinse my hands and fill my stomach because I knew it was that time the following day that I would eat again. But I had one grace, since I was the one making tea in the office, I bought the biggest cup because I knew that would be my meal in the afternoon. We used to serve tea once in a day. Since I was the brewer, I made my cup very big and took tea.

How much were your salaries as a messenger and as a chartered accountant?

When I started, it was 13 pounds 10 per month. When I became a chartered accountant, it was 72 pounds per month. So, it was a big leap. For my room and parlour accommodation, I was paying 10 pounds. So, I had a lot of money. There’s no way you can spend more than 10 pounds in a month for food. There was one thing I never did. In my office, we used to have the opportunity of buying a car when you become an intermediate officer, maybe a deputy director now. I refused to buy anything. I made a commitment that I would not do that until I became a chartered accountant – that I would not engage myself in any frivolity that would prevent me from studying. So, by the time I finished, I was ready to go. A lot of my mates had left the office because of looking for greener pastures. But I decided to stay to serve the people who gave me the opportunity to qualify as a chartered accountant. I had an obligation to serve them no matter the money being paid outside. Eventually, I started getting promotion. Again, I had triple promotion. I qualified in September 1974. By April 1978, I became a manager in the same firm. I was employed in December, 1968. The firm is called Balogun and Co, an accounting firm. But it’s metamorphosed over the years. Today, it is called BBC.

Recently, you marked your 70th birthday. How has this humble background shaped your personality?

I have always seen myself as poor. And that was why when I was being briefed by the directorate here (ministry), I told them there is nothing extraordinary in being a minister. So, it is better to be yourself, and not claiming to be something else. Just be yourself. I know the pains of being poor. And I believe that anybody who is poor today, if he works hard and is focused, he can make it in life. My only problem with the downtrodden, of which I’m a leader, is that our people nowadays are lazy intellectually and physically. The physical stress that I went though, the mental pain that I went through, I’m sure if it were today’s lads, they’ll start taking hard drugs and engage in other vices. The only time I ever smoked was when I was studying and I taught smoking would prevent me from sleeping, but it galvanised me into sleeping, so I just dropped it. That was the only vice which I tried, and when it didn’t work for what I wanted it to work for, to make me to be able to open my eyes and read for as long as I could, especially at weekends, I dropped it. So, it is just determination, hard work, and belief in yourself that will make you achieve what you want to achieve.

The poverty level is still on the rise; as somebody that metamorphosed from being a pauper and now a minister, how do you think poverty can be addressed in the country?

I’ve said it; everybody must have focus. I could have dropped out of secondary school, but I was determined to read. I kept on pressing, I kept on reading, I did not allow that poverty ravaging my life to take my life over; I fought it. All I did was to fight poverty, if you fight and are determined, I believe you will make it. I ask my heart nowadays, as a politician, there are youths you try to empower; some will come to you, what do you want to do? We have land; venture into agriculture. How much do you need? From my own village, about 10 of them will tell you what they need, you give them the money. You expect them to go and farm, use that money to start building up their lives. But, lo and behold, if you give them money this Saturday and come again the following weekend, they are the first set of people you will see in your house.

How did you find yourself in politics?

It was by accident; in my village then, there used to be only one councillor who represented the town in what we formally called Akure Constituency 3, and my cousin who was a retired headmaster became interested in the position and started aspiring for it but he had no money. Another politician who was my senior in school said since my cousin did not have money to run for the position, we should all support another candidate who he sponsored. It got me angry and I decided to support my cousin with the money I had. So, I came home and started campaigning for him, going from one beer parlour to another buying drinks for people in his name, doing other things to win people’s support and that was how he became victorious and won the position. That was what triggered my interest in politics.

What is your next political ambition?

None; I celebrated my 70th birthday on the 23rd of August and I thank Mr. President for appointing me as a minister. Frankly speaking, I never knew I would be appointed because I did not in any way lobby for it. Even the day my name was read on the floor of the senate, I was unaware and I doubted it because nobody contacted me either from the presidency or the security agencies. It was when I saw my name on the television screen that I believed that I was nominated. So from being a messenger to where I am today, I have no political ambition. The only ambition I have now is serving God and ensuring that younger people are brought up in the way of productivity and improving the system. I will ensure that this portfolio given to me by Mr. President brings about peace. Also, I will support my governor to go for a second tenure so that Ondo State will continue to develop.

What is your favourite meal?

I love roasted plantain (boli) a lot, and when I finally settle here in Abuja I will be eating it more often. I also like “pomo” because then when I had no money to buy meat, I went for it, and since then it has been part of my delicacies, but when it comes to real food, frankly speaking, I do not have a favourite.

You are not looking 70, what is the secret?

It is God’s grace because I am not doing anything special. I was reckless when I was younger in some ways, but not in alcohol or drugs, and despite that God still promoted and favoured me. I say it’s God because I had a friend then who never partook in all this recklessness but he died before me and here I am still living and enjoying God’s favour.

Any regret?

Talking about regrets, it is when my junior wife died; I had two wives. One is like my mum; she shepherded me, but hated politics. So, to be successful you have to have a woman who will stand by you, take care of your guests and make sure that you don’t make mistakes. That made me to have another wife who shared my aspiration as a politician. Unfortunately, I lost her three years ago. That has been the greatest regret of my life. Any other thing to me is normal, life is full of ups and downs.

Report: Soldiers take cover in homes as Boko Haram grows stronger — now operates with drones

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Nigerian soldiers fighting Boko Haram in Borno are losing motivation and struggling to match the insurgents’ might, according to the New York Times.

The NYTimes said in a new report that contrary to the claims of the Nigerian government and the military that Boko Haram has been degraded, the insurgents’ power is growing in parts of the north-east.

They are said to operate with more sophisticated weapons including improved drones while soldiers struggle to keep up with “obsolete weapons and ineffectual strategy”.

DEGRADED OR MOTIVATED?

Nigerian authorities have continued to say the war against Boko Haram which has lasted a decade, has been largely successful.

President Muhammadu Buhari restated that claim four days ago when he said the insurgents have been degraded even though he admitted they still have “remnants”.

But the report quoted various sources as saying the military is demoralised and “on the defensive”.

“Some soldiers have complained they haven’t had a home leave in three years. Their weapons and vehicles have fallen into disrepair,” it said.

“(But) Boko Haram militants are still roaming the countryside with impunity. Their fighters now have more sophisticated drones than the military and are well-armed after successful raids on military brigades, according to local politicians and security analysts.”

‘SOLDIERS RUN FOR DEAR LIFE’

Although the military often says Boko Haram is not in control of any major territory, the newspaper said it learnt the insurgents control four of the 10 zones in northern Borno state.

They are also said to be pulling off “almost-daily” attacks in various parts of the north-east particularly in Borno, while the soldiers are often said to run and take cover.

The report said: “Some soldiers have fled in the face of attacks rather than staying to fight, according to accounts from residents.”

“Abubakar, 13, said he was coming home from school in the town of Gubio in late August when he saw several soldiers racing through the village. “Run for your lives,” they were screaming as they fled, he said. Boko Haram is coming!”

“The boy, whom The Times is not identifying for security reasons, said he watched as soldiers stripped off their uniforms and changed into everyday clothes. They parked their army truck under a tree, piled into a civilian car and sped away.”

Another woman from Gubio spoke of how four terrified soldiers “joined her family in hiding, and five more hid in her neighbor’s house”.

“She said they kept silent inside for two days as militants ransacked the town and loudly bragged about how easy it was to seize,” the report said of a particular attack in which three people were reportedly killed.

There are also complaints of the “old and ineffectual strategy” being used by the military to sustain the fight against the insurgents including the operation of “super camps” recently introduced.

“But some officials call the super camps an outright retreat,” the report said, quoting a government official as saying “soldiers were merely barricading themselves inside super camps (while) Boko Haram fighters are raiding the gear the soldiers are leaving behind as they abandon their posts for the camps”.

Sagir Musa, army spokesman, did not immediately respond to TheCable’s enquiry for comments on the report.

But the New York Times quoted A. K. Karma, a major who is among the officials at Bama super camp, as denying claims that Boko Haram has remained motivated.

“We have one or two problem attacks by Boko Haram, but that doesn’t mean they have a grand offensive,” he said.

Diri, Lyon 50 others to contest Bayelsa governor’s seat

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…as Bello, Wada, 50 others also slug it out in Kogi

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressives Congress (APC) have cleared Senator Douye Diri and Chief David Lyon to fly the parties’ flags in the November 16 governorship election in Bayelsa State.

The two will contest the election with 50 other candidates representing different political parties in the state.

In Kogi, the battle will also involve the incumbent governor and candidate of the APC, Yahaya Bello, the PDP candidate, Engr Musa Wada and 50 other candidates of various political parties.

The names of the governorship candidates were contained in the lists displayed at the secretariats of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Yenagoa and Lokoja, the capitals of Bayelsa and Kogi states respectively.

It was also gathered that their nomination forms were sent to the local government offices of INEC for display to enable members of the public see what each party submitted to the commission.

A peep into the forms in Bayelsa State showed that out of the 52 candidates, 46 are males while six are females.

The forms contained the date of primaries for each party, mode of primaries, direct or indirect, winner of the internal poll and their genders as well as number votes polled by the winners.

The candidate of the All Progreesives Congress (APC) was identified as David Lyon and was said to have won a direct mode of primaries with 42,138 votes defeating six contestants including Senator Heineken Lokpobiri.

Senator Douye Diri was listed as the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and was said to have won an indirect primaries with 561 votes defeating 21 other aspirants.

The INEC Public Relations Officer in Bayelsa State Wilfred Ifogah said it was not a list but a display of what each party presented to the commission.

Ifogah said the candidates had been cleared by their parties to participate in the election adding that INEC would not hold further screening of the candidates.

In Kogi, INEC released the names of the 59 political parties that held their primaries, ahead of the November 16 governorship election in the state.

A release made public by INEC in Lokoja yesterday revealed that 52 candidates and their deputies will contest the Nov 16 governorship election in Kogi State.

Five of the names cleared as governorship candidates are women. It was also observed that seven women were cleared to contest the election as deputy governors.

Those cleared to contest the election include the incumbent governor, Alhaji Yahaya Bello of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Mr. Musa Wada of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Mrs Justina Abanida of the African Democratic Congress (ADC).

Also given the nod to contest the governorship election are Miss Natadha Akpoti of the SDP, Ibrahim Itodo of ZLP, Idris Abegunde of NNPP, Abu Omogani (UPC), Abdulahi Mohammed (Accord Party), Abdulmalik Mohammed of the HDP, Shaibu Sani Teidi (YDP) and Mr. Dele Bello-Williams of the GDPN.

Others are Umar Zekeri (ABP), Chinga David (YPP), NdakoTanko (ADP), Mr. KabirAbdulwasiu (AAC), Mr. Abdulhamid Yusuf (AAP), Mrs Anne Oluwaseun (DPC), Mr. Danjuma Mohammed, (MRDD), Mr. Mohammed Dangana (NCP), Mr. AlongeMethusela, (Mega Party of Nigeria, Mr. NiyiEjibunu (AGAP), Mr. AbdulrazakEmeje (UDP) and Mr. Godwin Atawodi (DA).

Also included are Mr. Ephraim Medupin (AD), Musa Sadiq (APP), Victor Akubo (UPP), Mrs HariratYakibu (LP), Alfa Oboy (JMPP), AtikuIsah (ANP), AyodeleAjibola (PRP), Sheik Ibrahim Jibril (APGA), Samuel Abolarin (ASD), Okpanachi Nichol (KOWA), Rev. Moses Dridu (PPN), Ikwueje Samuel (PDC), and Mr. Jimoh Yusuf (MAJA).

INEC also cleared Mr. Orugun Emmanuel of the ANRP, Mrs Grace Adepoju, (MMN), Idris Isah (CAP), Sule Daniel (SNG), Mohammed Aliu (NPC), Noah Abiodun (PPA), Obagaye Raphael (BNPP), YisufDantale (APM), Usman Imam (DP), Victor Akubo (GPN), Ukuwonu Joseph (PPN), Elegbe Amos (PDC), Usman Salifu, (ANDP) and Yusuf Nagari of (APA).

Will Wike follow Akpabio to APC?

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New questions as to the intentions of Governor Nyesom Wike came to the fore after three bristling utterances from him between Wednesday and Thursday.

Is the governor about to follow Senator Godswill Akpabio into the All Progressives Congress, APC was a question some asked? That debate reverberated after he sounded his readiness to untie the cord holding the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.

In the first salvo on Wednesday, the governor lambasted some of the most revered figures in the party who had been mandated to solve the crisis arising from the emergence of Ndudi Elumelu as the minority leader of the House of Representatives. Wike accused them of the worst kind of corruption in the history of the party. Wike had wanted a Rivers man, Kingsley Chinda as the minority leader, but didn’t have his way despite the support of the national leadership of the party. Elumelu won after galvanising more members in the House.

Among the elders, Wike accused of corruption were Senators David Mark, Iyorcha Ayu, and Adolphus Wabara, all former presidents of the Senate. Hardly had the ink on that statement dried when the governor shocked everyone with his congratulatory message to President Muhammadu Buhari on his victory at the tribunal.

The following day, the governor justified himself by alluding to claims that he was not pretentious like some of his fellow PDP governors who he claimed regularly meet Buhari in the night. Wike’s assertions against his party is surprising to many.

That is because it is generally known that the governor above anyone else had the greatest influence in the installation of the national leadership of the party with Prince Uche Secondus, the national chairman being his personal appointee.

It is thus surprising that the same Wike would be the one confronting the party. The reason Wike is bristling is apparently because no matter his effort, he has not been able to mould the PDP into his image.

Not even President Obasanjo at the peak of his powers was able to fully mould the party in his image.

That is perhaps one advantage that the PDP now has over the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC where the integrity of the president overshadows the letters of the party’s constitution.

Wike’s failed bid to appoint Chinda as minority leader, to wit, the party’s number two man in the Federal Government after the Senate Minority leader, was especially resisted by many others in the party who felt that after producing the national chairman that Rivers State should not produce the House minority leader.

But that was not the origin of the governor’s problems with the party. Many will trace the genesis to last year’s convention when the governor failed in his bid to stop the emergence of Atiku Abubakar as the presidential candidate of the party.

Though the governor had a good candidate in the person of Governor Aminu Tambuwal, the momentum with Atiku, however, took the wind off the sail of the Tambuwal campaign at the last minute.

Adding salt to injury was that Wike hosted the convention! Some say that he has yet to forgive the party, and especially the South East tendency led by Senator Ike Ekweremadu who negotiated apparently a better deal with Atiku before the convention.

Ekweremadu’s problem apparently was his insistence that the South East should take its turn in 2023 and the former Deputy Senate President apparently did not envisage that possibility with Tambuwal. Some, however, are muttering that Wike is taking on his superiors in politics.

Those in that category say that Senator Ayu was president of the Senate when Governor Wike was finishing law school. Atiku, who is also the wrong side of Wike’s politics, was vice-president when the governor was a local government chairman. But Wike has fought where few dare to dread.

He is remembered for holding the battleground for Rotimi Amaechi in the period between February 2007 and October 2007.

So, given his constitutionally guaranteed immunity and the fact that he ordinarily should exit with Buhari in 2023, is there any reason why Wike would want to tear his party because of pressure from the ruling party? Even more, the man who supposedly intimidated Akpabio out of his cocoon has lost favour after being sacked for forging the certificate with which he used in entering the University of Jos to read law.

Other guesses for Wike’s vituperations pointed at the election tribunal. It is claimed that his enemies want to entrap him at the Supreme Court. And that he may well have now panicked.

However, Wike’s infidelity to his party had been an issue.

The governor had ahead of the last convention threatened the PDP that he was not bound to remain in the party.

So, if Wike were to leave the PDP, would he go to the APC where his erstwhile boss and predecessor, Rotimi Amaechi holds sway? Just imagine, who between Amaechi and Wike would be the leader of the party were the governor for one reason to switch over to the APC? It looks preposterous, but who believed just about a year ago that Akpabio would sit together in the same room peacefully with the likes of Senator John James Akpanudoedehe, Nsima Ekere, Don Etiebet and all those that left the PDP because of him?

Press Release: Chief Of Army Staff In Maiduguri Operation Lafiya Dole Urges Nigerians To Stop Glorifying Criminals

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The Chief of Army Staff, Nigerian Army, Lieutenant General Tukur Yusufu Buratai has noted with great concern the increased propaganda and undue publicity given to the remnants of the erstwhile Boko Haram terrorists group by some people. This worrisome development has further boosted the image of the criminal gang thus assuming larger than life status. He made the plea while visiting troops in the North East.

He therefore pointed out that, it is wrong for any person to eulogize or support murderers, bandits and armed robbers that the known Boko Haram terrorists group has turned into. Consequently, referring to such gang of criminals, bandits, insurgents such as Boko Haram Terrorists Group, JAS or ISWAP in Nigeria could amount to supporting or encouraging terrorism.

The Chief of Army Staff said that it is also important to note that the mode of operation of these elements, is pure criminality for personal gains. It is common knowledge that the criminals no longer pretend to be championing any cause other than quest for materialism as manifested in murder and terror on hapless people.

He pleaded that as peace loving people, Nigerians should not be glorifying these criminals by calling them by any name other than “criminals,” “rapists,” “kidnappers”, “armed robbers” and “murderers.”

Unfortunately, many Nigerians are not aware that giving prominence to the criminal activities of the terrorists group through sensational headlines and fake news in both electronic and print media could also amount to tacit support to terrorism which violates the Terrorism Prevention Act 2011.

It is therefore important that all Nigerians to rally round our gallant troops as they fight these criminals. All should know that the support to the efforts of the Armed Forces Of Nigeria in the counter terrorism efforts would boost their morale and it will be highly appreciated. The Nigerian Army is asking for the continued understanding and cooperation of all Nigerians and well meaning people. He further stated that all troops have been enjoined to henceforth go all out to deal decisively with these criminals. They are nothing but bandits and armed robbers. Let’s support our military to ensure a secured Nigeria.

SAGIR MUSA
Colonel
Acting Director Army Public Relations
13 September 2019

Bandits Release Five More Captives

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Five more captives were today, Thursday, September 12, released by the bandits to Governor Aminu Bello Masari of Katsina State, to bring to 21 the number of kidnap victims who have so far regained their freedom.

Among them is a nursing mother, two other women and a male toddler. One of the women is a national of the Republic of Niger.

Speaking after the hand over, Governor Masari expressed gratitude to Allah, and then appealed for more prayers and patience from the public saying that though the process may appear tedious, it is the positive outcome that matters the most.

Basking in the success of the engagement with the bandits, he assured that government would not relent until all those remaining in the captivity of the bandits, which he estimates to be about thirty people, are set free.

On its part, the government is set to release some more bandits who are under detention with various security agencies around the country tomorrow.

“There is no gift more precious than freedom to a captive”, enthused Governor Masari, after one of the freed ladies fell on her knees thanking God and the governor for securing them their freedom.

Abdu Labaran Malumfashi,
DG Media.