Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Atiku Abubakar challenges Nigeria election result

The defeated main opposition candidate in Nigeria’s presidential elections filed a legal challenge on Monday to last month’s vote.

Atiku Abubakar’s petition said that he, the candidate for the People’s Democratic Party, had beaten the All Progressives Congress’s Muhammadu Buhari, who was elected to a second term on Feb. 23.

“We asked that our candidate who won the election massively across the country be declared the winner,” said Emmanuel Enoidem, a legal advisor to Atiku.

The petition asks that the electoral commission overturns the result “on the grounds of irregularities,” Enoidem said.

Buhari’s campaign has rejected Atiku’s allegations, saying the vote was free and fair.

Buhari, the 76-year-old former military ruler, took 56 percent of the vote against 41 percent for Atiku, a businessman and former vice president.


Monday, March 18, 2019

Video - Nine killed in attack in Kaduna, Nigeria

At least nine people have been killed in Nigeria's Northeastern state of Southern Kaduna. The attack happened on Saturday in a small farming community. No group has claimed responsibility for this latest attack in the area; and neither has any arrest been made yet. Southern Kaduna State has seen a resurgence of violence in recent months, leading to the death of over 150 people.

Friday, March 15, 2019

Search called off in school collapse in Nigeria

Search efforts were called off at the site of a school building that collapsed in the Nigerian city of Lagos, as rescuers were trying to find a register of children to work out how many have died.

Workers have reached the foundation of the collapsed three-storey building and don't expect to see any more bodies, IbrahimFarinloye, a National Emergency Management Agency official, told The Associated Press on Thursday.

He declined to give an updated toll of the dead and the rescued.

Officials said late Wednesday that eight people had died and 37 had been pulled out alive. An unknown number remain missing.

Residents said some 100 children had attended the nursery and primary school, and people were searching through the tangle of rubble and metal on Thursday to find any belongings of their loved ones.

A few hundred people watched from nearby as an excavator dug through the remains of the debris.

At the site of the collapse, people searched through the tangle of rubble and metal Thursday to find any belongings of their loved ones. By the afternoon, most of the debris had been cleared away.

"We have been able to pull down the remaining part of the building," said Adebayo Kayende, spokesperson for the Lagos state emergency agency.

"We have moved the debris from the ground to have a clear picture to make sure there are no people under the building."

Kayende said the Lagos state ministry of health was checking with hospitals, and once they had finished counting those dead the details would be made public.

Full investigation

Adesina Tiamiyu, general manager of the Lagos state emergency agency, said the number of children involved was still in question and authorities were trying to find a register of the pupils.

Lagos Gov. Akinwuni Ambode, who visited the site hours after the building collapsed, said the building, which had been marked for demolition, was classified as residential and the school was operating illegally on the top two floors. There will be a full investigation into the incident, he said.

Officials moved through the neighbourhood on Thursday, marking other derelict buildings for demolition.

Obiora Manafa with the Standards Organization of Nigeria told reporters that they would analyze samples of the collapsed building's concrete and steel bars "to ascertain the quality ... and know whether they complied with the national building code."

"It touches one to lose precious lives in any kind of mishap, particularly those so young and tender," Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari said.


Thursday, March 14, 2019

Video - At least 8 killed in Nigeria school building collapse

Rescue and recovery efforts are going on through the night in the Nigerian city of Lagos, where a three-storey building collapsed on Wednesday. It contained apartments, shops, and a primary school.

Related story: Building collapse in Lagos, Nigeria kills 30

Prophet T.B. Joshua under fire for building collapse in Lagos, Nigeria

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Oil region crisis in Nigeria threatens Buhari's economic plans

Fresh from his comfortable re-election, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari faces a huge hurdle to keep his vow to end the economy’s addiction to oil: win a lasting peace in the crude-rich Niger River delta.

The 76-year-old former military ruler will have to score a breakthrough that’s eluded previous governments in an area where armed groups and thieves pose a constant threat to the flow of crude. To carry out his plans to develop a backbone of stable power, roads and rail lines for agricultural expansion and industrialization in Africa’s most-populous nation, Buhari needs all the money he can get from oil, the source of two-thirds of government revenue.

“Oil revenue is still what dictates government spending and they will need to keep production going,” said Jubril Kareem, a Lagos-based analyst at Ecobank Energy Research. “Buhari has to be very smart in handling the situation because any disruptions will impact government revenue.”

While armed assaults in the region have eased, sabotage, protests and crude theft for local refining and sale to rogue vessels offshore are undermining Africa’s biggest oil industry.

Exports still haven’t recovered from militant attacks in 2016 that at one point slashed by as much as half the West African nation’s exports and combined with lower oil prices to push the economy into its first contraction in 25 years.

‘Rogue Economy’

Improving oil flows will require dismantling what Ledum Mitee, a minority rights activist in the delta, calls a “rogue economy” in the area. And Buhari is operating in hostile political terrain. In the presidential elections, he lost in the region to Atiku Abubakar, who’d promised to relinquish some federal control over oil resources if elected.

“While the militancy went down, there was an increase in artisanal refining and crude theft,” Mitee said. “At last count, that industry was employing about half a million youths in the Niger delta.”

Today Royal Dutch Shell Plc’s Nigerian unit and other operators of onshore pipelines face frequent breaches, with the key terminals of Bonny and Forcados often unable to meet export commitments.

The government has failed to meet its revenue targets in the past three years mainly due to lower-than-expected crude volumes, with only about 52 percent of expected income for 2018 realized by August, according to Finance Minister Zainab Ahmed.

Budget Pressure

In response, the Buhari administration has increased borrowing in local and international markets to pay the bills. The petroleum industry provides 90 percent of Nigeria’s foreign income.

If things don’t improve, the government will have to cut spending and will struggle to service its existing debts, Ahmed said in October. Oil production averaged 1.7 million barrels a day in the first nine months of 2018, according to data compiled by Bloomberg, 600,000 barrels short of the 2.3 million barrels per day on which the budget was based.

The Nigerian National Petroleum Corp. operates joint ventures with Shell, Exxon Mobil Corp., Chevron Corp., Total SA and Eni SpA that pump most of the nation’s oil.

Successive governments have failed for decades to deal with the Niger delta problem since ethnic minorities in the area began protesting against environmental damage and its impact on their fishing and farming livelihoods. The domination of the main ethnic groups -- Hausas of the north, the Yorubas of the southwest and the Igbos of the southeast -- and their grip on the oil riches, has fueled the resentment.

After the military government in 1995 executed nine Ogoni activists, including the writer Ken Saro-Wiwa, regional unrest spiraled into full-blown armed militancy in the past 15 years.

Amnesty Program

With Nigeria’s oil exports close to being crippled in 2008 by militant attacks, the then government of President Umaru Yar’adua cut a deal: stop the raids in return for amnesty and a rehabilitation plan for fighters, and a commitment to address the region’s demands for more local control of oil.

More than 20,000 former fighters signed on, receiving skills training and monthly stipends, while several former militant commanders received pipeline-protection contracts. Relative peace returned and oil output increased, reaching 2.2 million barrels a day by the time Buhari was elected in 2015.

When Buhari started to cancel the deals, attacks resumed and oil production plunged.

Buhari’s Choice

While he eventually resumed the payments, nothing has been done to address a 16-point set of demands for more local control of oil resources and investment in infrastructure to achieve peace presented to Buhari by the Pan-Niger Delta Elders Forum in December 2016.

More than two years later, the discussions haven’t advanced, according to Edwin Clark, the 93-year-old leader of the forum.

Buhari now faces the choice of resolving the delta problem or kicking the can down the road as most of his predecessors did, according to Mitee, the rights activist who led the government panel that initiated the amnesty plan in 2008.

“If the government wants to just play along and do some appeasement during the four years and carry over the fundamental problems, then it will just be business as usual,” he said. “In this case, we are transferring the doomsday to the future.”

By Dulue Mbachu and Elisha Bala-Gbogbo