Friday, August 29, 2014

Nigerians outraged at new government issued electronic ID cards branded with Master Card

The new Nigerian National Identity Cards launched Thursday by President Goodluck Jonathan, with branded logo of the American firm, MasterCard, have sparked outrage across the country amid fears of serious security and economic breach, with many Nigerians calling for an immediate stoppage of the deal.

Nigerians expressed shock and fury Thursday at how the Nigerian Government, through the National Identity Management Commission, NIMC, would surrender a symbol of national sovereignty and pride to a foreign commercial organisation by not only sharing the biometrics of 170 million Nigerian to the firm but by also allowing the firm to boldly engrave its insignia on the IDs.

Many Nigerians raised the alarm over the implications of the agreement in an age that has seen intense data surveillance by the National Security Agency of the United States of America, Mastercard’s home country.

One commentator said allowing MasterCard’s emblem on the Nigerian National ID Card could only compare to the trans-Atlantic slave trade abolished in the nineteenth century. “The new ID card with a MasterCard logo does not represent an identity of a Nigerian.

It simply represents a stamped ownership of a Nigerian by an American company,” said Shehu Sani of the Civil Rights Congress. “It is reminiscent of the logo pasted on the bodies of African slaves transported across the Atlantic.” At the launching Thursday, the Nigerian Identity Management Commission said the cards, designed to also allow handlers effect payments and other financial transactions, will be issued to 13 million Nigerians.

At the completion of the pilot phase of the program, 100 million cards would have been issued, the commission said, describing the move as the “broadest financial inclusion program in Africa”. The cards will be issued to Nigerians, 16 years and older, and are expected to serve as voting cards in the 2019 elections.

President Jonathan, who flagged off the rollout, praised the outcome of a partnership between NIMC, MasterCard and Access Bank. “The card is not only a means of certifying your identity, but also a personal database repository and payment card, all in your pocket,” Mr. Jonathan said.

Under the partnership, the NIMC is the project leader, MasterCard provides payments technology, while Unified Payment Services Limited is payments processor. Cryptovision is the Public Key Infrastructure and Trust Services Provider, and the pilot issuing bank is Access Bank Plc.

The Identity Management Commission said it was working with other government agencies to harmonize all identity databases including the Driver’s License, Voter Registration, Health Insurance, Tax, SIM and the National Pension Commission into a single, shared services platform.

For a National ID card project jinxed for decades due to corruption and mismanagement, Nigerians welcomed what seemed like a breakthrough this time, several years after the first attempt at a national Identity Card project ended in fiasco.

But the optimism waned after it became clear Thursday the new ID cards, a key instrument recognised by the federal constitution, will not only bear the Coat of Arms and the Nigerian colours of green white green, but also the logo of MasterCard, a profit-driven private entity. “Nigeria’s colours and coat of arms is what should be there.

It is not an opportunity for advert for promoting companies,” said Eze Onyekpere, Lead Director Centre for Social Justice. “As far as we are concerned it cannot stand. It is not worth it if that’s what they have done.” Beyond national pride, many Nigerians spoke of the dire economic and security implications for Nigeria. “Clearly, there are National Security implication,” said Nasir El-Rufai, a former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory. “All these data go to the American payment platform.” Mr. El-Rufai recalled that Malaysia was the first country to implement a general multipurpose ID card and that the country did so with its own resources and technology to protect its citizens.

Economically, analysts say, the deal also hands over all adult Nigerians as direct and compulsory customers of MasterCard. The US-based firm appeared so elated at the outcome of the contract that by Thursday, it hired a media consultant, African Media Agency, to publicise the landmark deal all over the world. MasterCard could not be reached immediately for comments.

Details of the partnership between the NIMC and MasterCard were unclear as of Friday. A former senior government official, well briefed about the process, said the Nigerian government may have adopted the Public Private Partnership model for the project, with MasterCard underwriting part of the cost of the deal.

Still, the former official, who asked not to be named, said it was unbelievable that Nigeria could not insist on fully funding such a project at any cost, considering its strategic importance to its sovereignty.

“It’s so scandalous that there are countries you present this to and they will be confused,” the official said. “I have never seen this done anywhere in the world.”

The Nigerian Identity Management Commission, NIMC, refused to comment on the concerns.
When contacted by PREMIUM TIMES late Thursday, a spokesperson dismissed the concern raised by our reporter.

“What is wrong with that (displaying MasterCard’s logo on the IDs)?” asked Ben Alofoje, the Assistant Director/Head Research and Strategy, who is the designated media person for the project.

A PREMIUM TIMES reader, Ola Onanugaola, said of the project, “Good idea but bad implementation. Why do we have to brand the e-ID card? Are these people aware of the huge economic and security implications of the branding. “Any country population database/information is too vital to be attached to any non-governmental organisation.”

Premium Times

Related story: Electronic ID cards launched in Nigeria

Nigeria reinstates 16,000 sacked doctors

The Minister of Health, Onyebuchi Chukwu, has announced the reinstatement of the over 16, 000 resident doctors sacked on August 13 .

The spokesperson to the Minister, Dan Nwomeh, in a tweet said the doctors reinstatement became yesterday (Thursday).

The resident doctors make up 70 per cent of the workforce in government’s hospitals.
The doctors were sacked after a month-long strike by the Nigerian Medical Association, NMA, an association of all medical practitioners in Nigeria.

The doctors had been on indefinite strike following the non compliance of their “24 minimum demands ” by the Nigerian government. However, the NMA strike was called off on Sunday.

The NMA on calling off the strike gave the government condition that all sack resident doctors must be reinstated without punitive measures.

Mr. Nwomeh said the Federal Government has lifed the suspension of the Residency Training Programme, RTP in all federal hospitals.

This programme sees the resident doctors through their career in becoming consultants.
Following the lift of the suspension of the RTP all Chief Medical Directors, CMDs and Medical Directors, MDs of training centers have been directed to issue letters of reinstatement to the resident doctors.

Mr. Nwomeh said the letters will enable the doctors resume work. He also quoted the government as urging the reinstated doctors to view the reinstatement as a sign of goodwill by the administration.

He asked them to put greater commitment and dedication to their duties.

Premium Times

Related stories: President Goodluck Jonathan sacks striking doctors

24 reasons why Nigerian doctors are on strike

Electronic ID cards launched in Nigeria

Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan on Thursday launched a national electronic identity card scheme, which backers said would boost access to financial and government services in Africa's most populous nation.

The head of state was issued with his own card, which features a credit card-style chip with personal as well as biometric data and doubles up as a prepaid charge and debit card.

A number of Nigerian government agencies, from the police to the Independent National Electoral Commission, have embarked on their own separate ID card schemes.

But Jonathan said the plan was to eventually include details such as driving licence, health insurance, tax and pension information on the single card.

“The regime of duplication of biometric databases must now have to give way to harmonisation and unification with the e-ID scheme, which shall be the primary database,” he told reporters.

Only 32 percent of Nigeria's adult population are thought to have bank accounts, according to a 2012 study.

Nigeria's central bank has been pushing for a move away from cash to electronic payments and has tested a scheme in the financial capital, Lagos, with the help of private partners.

But the pilot project has not been plain sailing, with retailers and customers often facing frequent power supply and connectivity problems that slowed down transactions.

The cards will be available initially to Nigerians aged 16 and older and all residents in the country for more than two years.

Cardholders will be given a unique national identification number and have to provide fingerprint data, a photo and digital signature to cut the risk of fraud and embezzlement.

The scheme has so far cost about seven billion naira ($42 million), according to the National Identity Management Commission.

Financial services firm MasterCard, the scheme's payment technology provider, said 13 million cards would be available in the first phase, with more than 100 million to be issued in total.

“Nigeria is ready for this,” the firm's head of Sub-Saharan African operations, Daniel Mohin, told AFP.

“Nigeria has been left out of electronic financial payment for decades but now Nigeria is saying we want to take our rightful place in payment. There has not been a project of this magnitude... that's been rolled out at this scale.”

Africa's most populous nation has an unenviable reputation for fraud, particularly involving financial transactions.

But Monehin said the card was “secured with the best form of security that is available”.

Independent Online

Related stories: PayPal signs "tens of thousands" in first week of launch in Nigeria

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Doctor dies of Ebola in Port Harcourt

A doctor in Nigeria's oil industry hub of Port Harcourt has died from Ebola fever, after he was infected by man linked to the first case in Africa's most populous country, the Health Ministry said on Thursday.

Heath Ministry spokesman Dan Nwomeh said on his Twitter feed that the doctor had treated a primary contact of Patrick Sawyer, the Liberian who brought Ebola to Lagos. His death brings the number of Ebola fatalities in Nigeria to 6.

The total number of recorded cases had risen by two to 15, Nwomeh said, the other one being the wife of the doctor who is showing Ebola symptoms and whose test results are awaited.

Port Harcourt lies at the heart of Nigeria's two million barrels per day oil industry, Africa's biggest, and is a hub for expatriate workers in major international oil companies.

Nwomeh said 70 contacts of the doctor were now under surveillance in Port Harcourt.

It was not immediately clear what impact the arrival of Ebola would have on oil operations. The majors operating in Nigeria have historically been comfortable with a fair degree of risk in the oil producing Niger Delta, including attacks on oil installations and rampant kidnapping of expatriates.

The news came two days after Health Minister Onyebuchi Chukwu said authorities had "thus far contained" the Ebola outbreak in Africa's largest economy, with only one case left being treated in an isolation ward in Lagos.

All Nigerian cases have been direct or indirect contacts of Sawyer, who collapsed on arrival at Lagos airport on July 25 and later died but was treated before anyone knew what he had.

The Ebola outbreak in West Africa has taken 1,552 lives out of 3,069 known cases in four countries and "continues to accelerate", the World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Thursday.


Related stories: Nigeria has successfuly contained Ebola

5 have recovered from 12 Ebola cases

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Shell on the verge of selling Nigeria oil fields for $5bn

European oil major Royal Dutch Shell is moving ahead with plans to sell a number of its Nigerian oilfields as it ploughs ahead with planned asset sales.

The Anglo-Dutch firm is leading a consortium that is close to selling a cluster of oilfields that include the Nembe Creek Trunk Line, for around $5bn (£3bn, €3.8bn,) according to the Financial Times newspaper.

The move is the latest attempt by a western oil company to pull out from the restive Delta region and the Nigerian market amid recurring incidents of infrastructure sabotage that have caused billions of dollars' worth of damage.

A deal is expected to be finalised in the next few weeks and the total figure for the sale could still change.

Shell "has signed sales and purchase agreements for some of the oil mining leases but not all that we are seeking to divest", Shell said in a statement. "The assets under consideration are OMLs 18, 24, 25, 29 and the Nembe Creek Trunk Line, but the process has not yet concluded."

Shell has already sold off around $8bn worth of assets this year after it announced plans to sell around $15bn worth of assets through 2015.

Indigenous oil companies have expanded in Nigeria in recent years, capitalising on a government plan to boost domestic control over the oil industry.

Shell has faced long-running criticism from human rights groups over its oil production operations in Nigeria.

The company had not taken effective measures to restore the damaged environment in the Niger Delta after oil production caused contamination of the water there, Amnesty International reported in August.


Related story: Aliko Dangote 'Africa's richest man' plans to acquire Shell assets

Nigeria fines shell $11.3 billion for damages caused in Bonga oil spill

Video - Nigerians react to military allegedly fleeing from Boko Haram battle

Reactions have been trailing the action of some Nigerian soldiers who reportedly fled into Cameroon when confronted in a fierce fire fight with militant Islamist sect Boko Haram. Cameroonian authorities yesterday said about 400 Nigerian soldiers fleeing from Boko Haram crossed over into its territory. But the Nigerian military high command says the action of the soldiers was a tactical maneuver.

Related stories: Some Nigerian soldiers refuse to fight Boko Haram until given new weapons

Wives of Nigerian soldiers protest the lack of resources troops have to combat Boko Haram

Schools in Nigeria to remain closed until October in efforts to insure Ebola containment

All schools in Nigeria have been ordered to remain shut until 13 October as part of measures to prevent the spread of the deadly Ebola virus.

The new academic year was due to start on Monday.

But the education minister ordered the closures to allow staff to be trained on how to handle suspected Ebola cases.

Five people have died of Ebola in Nigeria. The West Africa outbreak has centred on Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, killing more than 1,400 people.

It is the largest ever outbreak and has infected an estimated 2,615 people. About half of those infected have died.

The virus is spread between humans through direct contact with infected bodily fluids.

There is no cure for Ebola but with intensive care treatment and proper hydration, patients have a chance of survival.

It spread to Nigeria - Africa's most populous country - in July, when a person infected with Ebola flew from Liberia to Lagos.

Protective clothing 'shortages'
The Nigerian government says it hopes its efforts to contain the virus are working, as there is only one confirmed case of Ebola remaining.

"All state ministries of education are to immediately organise and ensure that at least two staff in each school, both private and public, are trained by appropriate health workers no later than 15 September 2014 on how to handle any suspected case of Ebola," said Education Minister Ibrahim Shekarau.

"And also embark on immediate sensitisation of all teaching and non-teaching staff in all schools on preventive measures," he said.

Meanwhile, the World Health Organization (WHO) has temporarily shut an Ebola testing laboratory in Kailahun in eastern Sierra Leone after a Senegalese health worker became infected with the virus.

There have been 392 Ebola deaths in Sierra Leone, according to the latest UN figures released on 22 August. Kailahun is one of the worst-affected districts and is currently under blockade.

"It's a temporary measure to take care of the welfare of our remaining workers," a WHO spokesman is quoted by the Reuters news agency as saying.

On Tuesday, the WHO said an "unprecedented" number of doctors and nurses had been infected with Ebola which was further impeding control efforts.

Infections were due to a shortage of protective equipment and staff, it said.

Only one or two doctors are available for 100,000 patients in some of the affected countries.


Related story: Nigeria has successfuly contained Ebola

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Nigeria has successfuly contained Ebola

Nigeria's health minister has insisted the Ebola outbreak has been contained in the country, and said it was working hard with its African neighbors to fight the disease.
Speaking to CNBC on Tuesday, Onyebuchi Chukwu said there was currently only one confirmed case of the disease in the country.

"(Ebola) limited it to one city, Lagos. All the cases so far have occurred in Lagos," Chukwu said. "Nigeria has contained the disease, but that is not to say that we have cured it."
He added that a meeting of the Economic Community Of West African States focused on the Ebola was underway.

In total, the World Health Organization (WHO) has reported 16 cases of Ebola in Nigeria and five deaths since the first case was detected in July. It has previously praised the intensity of Nigeria's search and monitoring efforts of further cases.
Overall, 1,427 people across Nigeria, Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone have died of the viral disease as of August 2014, according to the WHO, while 2,615 cases have been reported in the region.
By comparison, the "Swine" flu pandemic of 2009-10 killed over 16,000 people.

This Sunday, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) confirmed an outbreak of Ebola in the remote village of Boende—about 1,200 kilometers from the country's capital. The DRC's health ministry said this outbreak was unlinked to the one in West Africa and was a different strain of the disease.
There is no known cure for the illness, which in previous epidemics killed around 90 percent of sufferers. The current outbreak has a 53 percent death rate, the WHO said.

Ebola is transmitted to people from wild animals and spreads through human-to-human transmission. Victims often suffer a sudden fever, intense weakness, muscle pain, headache and sore throat. This is followed by vomiting, diarrhea, rash, impaired kidney and liver function, and in some cases, both internal and external bleeding.


Related story: International community applauds Nigeria for Ebola containment efforts

Thousands of Nigerians flee to cameroon after Boko Haram attack

Boko Haram on Monday overran a border town in northeast Nigeria, forcing residents and soldiers to flee in the latest indication of the militants' growing ability to strike at will and unchecked.

The attack on Gamboru Ngala came after the town was almost entirely destroyed in a devastating assault in May that left more than 300 people dead and prompted outrage at the lack of military response.

Many residents sought refuge from the latest strike across the border in the northern Cameroon town of Fotokol, where Cameroonian troop reinforcements were sent, a security service source told AFP.

Nigerian soldiers were said to be among the exodus, according to locals and the Cameroon military, who said "more than 450" had fled their posts on Sunday from elsewhere in Borno state in fear of Boko Haram attacks.

Nigeria's military dismissed the claims and maintained that the troops were "charging through the borders in a tactical manoeuvre" when they found themselves on Cameroonian soil.

Several residents who made it across the frontier said the militants had taken over the town after the assault began at about 5:30 am (0430 GMT), with fierce gunfire throughout the day forcing some frightened residents to lock themselves in their homes.

In Fotokol, residents also reported hearing "intense" fighting.

"Boko Haram is in control of Gamboru Ngala. They have taken over the Harmony (military) camp, the police station and the customs barracks near the border," Idris Gwoni said Monday evening, in an account supported by other locals.

"They encountered stiff resistance from the military, who engaged them in gun battle for several hours, but the soldiers were subdued and forced to flee into Cameroon.

"The insurgents have not touched any civilians and allow residents to stay or leave. I decided to leave because I can't trust Boko Haram."

Cameroon said on August 18 that it had closed its vast border with Nigeria to guard against the spread of Ebola, which has caused five deaths in the country's financial capital, Lagos, in the far southwest.

But few believed that Cameroon had the resources needed to seal all the possible crossing points along the roughly 1,600-kilometre (1,000-mile) frontier.

- Seizing territory -

Boko Haram, which has been blamed for more than 10,000 deaths in a five-year-old uprising, has in recent weeks sought to take over a number of towns in Nigeria's Borno state.

The apparent holding strategy is a shift from its previous hit-and-run tactics, which has increasingly targeted civilians and seen whole towns and villages razed.

The group's leader, Abubakar Shekau, declared in a video obtained by AFP on Sunday that the town of Gwoza, southwest of Gamboru Ngala, was now under an Islamic caliphate.

Local officials and residents in Borno say Boko Haram may be in control of a key road that connects Gamboru Ngala to the state capital Maiduguri.

Establishing which parts of the area have in fact fallen into rebels hands is difficult in the remote region, where travel is dangerous and prolonged fighting has hit mobile phone networks.

In Sunday's video, Shekau did not develop his claims about Gwoza being part of the Islamic caliphate.

He has previously voiced his support for the leader of the Islamic State (IS) militants, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who proclaimed himself the "leader of Muslims everywhere" in June. Al-Baghdadi's Sunni Muslim fighters have taken over parts of Iraq and Syria.

Nigeria's military dismissed Shekau's claim as "empty", maintaining that the country's sovereignty remained intact.

But that assertion is in conflict with multiple reports indicating that Boko Haram controls several towns in Borno and at least one in neighbouring Yobe state.

Analysts believe that Boko Haram will attempt to hold more towns in the state in the short to mid-term, with Nigeria's military unable or unwilling to tackle them.

Some Nigerian troops stationed in Maiduguri have refused to deploy to retake Gwoza because of what they say are sub-standard weapons that leave them at the mercy of the better-equipped rebels.

Defence analysts have also argued that Nigeria needs to improve its counter-insurgency strategy and adapt to guerrilla fighting, rather than relying on conventional means.

Others complain of a lack of political will to properly tackle Boko Haram, which wants to establish a hardline Islamic state and whose campaign has targeted schools, churches and government installations.


Monday, August 25, 2014

Nigerian government rejects Boko Harams 'caliphate' claim

The leader of Boko Haram has claimed that the Nigerian armed group will rule a northeastern town as part of an "Islamic caliphate", a claim quickly rejected by the military.

"Thanks be to Allah who gave victory to our brethren in [the town of] Gwoza and made it part of the Islamic caliphate," Abubakar Shekau said in the 52-minute video revealed on Sunday.

The military rejected the claim, saying in a statement that the "sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Nigerian state is still intact".

Reacting to Shekau's video, Nigerian Defence Spokesman Chris Olukolade said: "Any group of terrorists laying claim to any portion of the country will not be allowed to get away with that expression of delusion and crime.

"Operations to secure that area from the activities of the bandits [are] still ongoing."

Earlier this month, heavily armed Boko Haram fighters stormed Gwoza, spraying the town with automatic gunfire, burning houses and overrunning the palace of its traditional ruler, the Emir of Gwoza.

Days later, the military launched strikes to push the Boko Haram fighters out of Gwoza, and the garrison town of Damboa, which Boko Haram sacked a month ago.

In the new video, members of the group can be seen carrying out attacks, with Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau declaring that the armed group has taken over the town.

"We did not do it on our own. Allah used us to captured Gwoza, Allah is going to use Islam to rule Gwoza, Nigeria and the whole world," the Boko Haram leader said.

"Some of these messages are preaches so that people can repent, some of the messages are advises, while in another way the message is a display of the way we use the power of Allah so you can fight him and that is it," he added.

No word of Baghdadi

In a July video, Shekau voiced support for Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State armed group.

In the previous months, the Islamic State group has captured large swaths of in Syria and Iraq and in late June, Baghdad declared himself "the caliph" and "leader of Muslims everywhere".

But there was no indication from Shekau in the latest video that he was associating himself with Baghdadi, whose Sunni Muslim fighters have taken over parts of Iraq and Syria.

As such, it was not clear if Shekau was declaring himself to be a part of Baghdadi's call or if he was referring to a separate Nigerian caliphate.

The military has struggled to stamp out the highly mobile, combat-hardened fighters of Boko Haram, who want to carve an Islamic state out of religiously mixed Nigeria.

The group is seen as the main security threat to Africa's biggest economy and leading energy producer.

The violent five-year-old campaign of Boko Haram has been in the international spotlight since the group kidnapped more than 200 girls from a school in the village of Chibok in April. The girls are still missing.


Related story: Boko Haram claim to have established an 'Islamic state' in Northern Nigeria

Boko Haram claim to have established an 'Islamic state' in Northern Nigeria

Militant group Boko Haram has said it has set up an Islamic state in the towns and villages it has seized in north-eastern Nigeria.

Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau was speaking in a video released to congratulate his fighters for seizing the town of Gwoza earlier this month.

It is not clear if Mr Shekau has pledged allegiance to Islamic State, which controls parts of Iraq and Syria.

Nigeria's army has rejected the claim as "empty".

Thousands of people have been killed in north-eastern Nigeria since 2009, when Boko Haram began its insurgency.

Gwoza, which had 265,000 residents in the last census, is the biggest town under Boko Haram control.

It has raised its flags over the palace of the Emir of Gwoza, the town's traditional ruler, residents say.


Related stories: Boko Haram seize police academy in Northern Nigeria

Video - The state of Nigerian governance and Boko Haram

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Nigeria lose to Germany in FIFA Under 20 Women's World Cup Final

Lena Petermann scored in the eighth minute of extra time to lead Germany to a 1-0 victory over Nigeria to claim the under-20 Women's World Cup at Montreal's Olympic Stadium on Sunday. The game finished tied 0-0 after 90 minutes.

The victory is Germany's third at this competition, after winning the event in 2004 and 2010.

The Nigerians looked to have won the match in the 85th minute of regular time when midfielder Asisat Oshoala headed the ball across the line, but the play was called dead for offside.

Nigeria was the better team for much of the game, as the Falconets pinned the Germans in their own half for lengthy periods of time. Nigeria's shots were dangerous, and its crosses constantly threatened the German defence.

But it was Petermann who broke the deadlock in extra time, firing home from close range past goalkeeper Sandra Chiichii for her third goal of the competition.

Forward Pauline Bremer of Germany got the play going, stripping Nigeria's Gladys Abasi of the ball on the edge of the 18-yard-box. Bremer walked in to the penalty area and squared the ball to Petermann, who scored Germany's 17th goal of the tournament.

The loss was Nigeria's second in the final of the U-20 tournament, after losing 2-0 to Germany in 2010.

Nigeria came closest to opening the score in the first half. Oshoala had a glorious chance in the 22nd minute when she stole the ball from German defender Margarita Gidion, walked in on a breakaway, and sidestepped goalie Meike Kaemper before finding the side netting.

The tournament's leading scorer Oshoala, by far the game's best player, was denied another promising opportunity in the 38th when her teammate Loveth Ayila walked into her shot, deflecting it wide.

The game was 0-0 at halftime, with Nigeria directing nine shots towards target to Germany's four.

But Germany began pulling away as the game wore on. Its best chance in regular time came late when Petermann walked in on the Nigerian net on a partial break in the 78th, but her shot was scooped up by Chiichii.

The Germans finished with 13 shots on target. Nigeria had six.

Germany and Nigeria are familiar foes at the U-20 event.

In 2004, when the tournament was an U-19 format, Germany defeated Nigeria on penalties in the quarter-finals en route to its first championship.

In 2010, Germany's Alexandra Popp scored early in the final to defeat Nigeria's Falconets 2-0 in front of 24,633 in Bielefeld, Germany. Current Germany coach Karen Meinart was in charge of that team, as well.

At a press conference in Montreal on Saturday, Peter Montopoli of the Canadian Soccer Association said he was disappointed by the turnout in Montreal during the U-20 tournament, where an average of 9,000 soccer fans attended games at the Olympic Stadium.

On Sunday, there were 15,822 in attendance at the Big O.

Earlier in the day, France beat North Korea 3-2 in the third-place match. France's centre half Aissatou Tounkara scored the winner in the 79th minute to lead the Bleuettes to their first podium finish at the U-20 Women's World Cup.


Related story: Nigeria plays Germany in women's under 20 World Cup final

Thursday, August 21, 2014

DJ Jimmy Jatt dethrones 2face on iTunes Nigeria chart

Popular DJ, Jimmy Jatt’s The Industry, has displaced Tuface’s Ascension from the number one spot on the iTunes chart for Nigerian albums.

The Industry, which was released August 17 at the Intercontinental Hotel to mark JimmyJatt’s 25th anniversary features over 60 artistes.

It has 26 digital tracks and, according to its producers, is the biggest collaborative album out of Africa.

Jimmy Jatt, real name – Adewale Amu, has being a fixture on the Nigerian entertainment scene since the nineties.

His first ever single Stylee featuring Tu Face Idibia, Mode 9 and Elajoe, was released in 2007 and was off his debut album, The Definition.

Glasses Up is the theme song for his 25th year anniversary. It features TuFace Idibia, Sound Sultan, Burna boy.

Premium Times

Boko Haram seize police academy in Northern Nigeria

Northern Nigeria's riot police training academy has been overrun by Boko Haram Islamist militants, a witness in Borno state has told the BBC.

Shots were heard after the militants arrived in three armoured vehicles and on dozens of motorcycles, he said.

A police spokesman confirmed the attack while a senior security source said it had not been possible to communicate with the academy since Wednesday.

The Liman Kara college is near Gwoza town, seized by Boko Haram this month.

Thousands have been killed across north-eastern Nigeria since Boko Haram launched its violent campaign for an Islamic state in 2009.

The militants have stepped up their attacks after being pushed out of their bases in Maiduguri, the capital of Borno state, and have been targeting towns and villages in deadly raids.

In recent weeks, the militants have been moving from their rural camps and taking over substantial towns.

'Residents fled'
The militants have been in control of Gwoza, which had a population of about 50,000, since the beginning of August.

They apparently retreated about 100km (62 miles) to Gwoza after losing control of Damboa - both large towns in Borno state.

But attempts by the security forces to retake Gwoza have failed - and a group of about 40 soldiers is now refusing to fight, saying they are too poorly equipped to take on the heavily armed insurgents.


Related stories: Some Nigerian soldiers refuse to fight Boko Haram until given new weapons

Video - The state of Nigerian governance and Boko Haram

Nigeria plays Germany in women's under 20 World Cup final

 Asisat Oshoala scored four goals to lift Nigeria to a 6-2 victory over North Korea at the FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup semifinal at Moncton Stadium on Wednesday.

Nigeria will face Germany, which beat France 2-1 in the other semi on Wednesday in Montreal, in the championship match on Sunday (CBC,, 6 p.m. ET).

Oshoala scored in the 24th minute to give Nigeria a 2-0 advantage, and added her other three goals in a 25-minute span in the second half. Courtney Dike and Uchechi Sunday also scored for the winning side.

Jon So Yon, on a penalty kick in the 62nd minute, and Ri Un Sim replied for North Korea. The North Koreans will play France in the third-place match on Sunday.

At Montreal's Olympic Stadium, Lena Petermann's goal in the 81st minute stood up as the winner as Germany edged France in the later semifinal match.

Pauline Bremer scored in the 12th minute to give Germany a 1-0 edge, but Griedge Mbock Bathy replied for France to tie the game in the 45th.


Fire destroys Nigeria Football Federation headquarters in Abuja

A huge fire has ripped through the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) building in the capital Abuja on Wednesday.

Flames were spotted coming out of the building at about 1000 local time and it took fire fighters almost two hours to extinguish the blaze.

Nigerian Fire Service official Eyo Ime said it is suspected an electrical fault caused the fire.
"The fire started from the chief accountant's office as I was told," said NFF general secretary Musa Amadu.

"I just arrived at the office and saw the smoke and was not allowed to go upstairs, obviously, for safety reasons.

"Staffers would have been able to reduce the impact of the damage, but could not gain access into his office and as such could not quell or trace where the smoke was coming out from.
"But we must not engage in blame games and thank God that no life was lost. But this is sad and unfortunate."

The disaster is another blow for the NFF, coming at a time when it is locked in a bitter leadership crisis which has seen president Aminu Maigari sacked and reinstated twice.

The African champions are also without a coach as the football authority continues to negotiate with Stephen Keshi, whose contract ran out in June, over his return to the job.

However, Keshi told BBC Sport he "cannot wait much longer", adding "it should only take the 24 hours or 48 hours to agree a contract; this is taking too much time".


Related story: FIFA gives Nigeria new deadline to reinstate NFF board

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Some Nigerian soldiers refuse to fight Boko Haram until given new weapons

A group of soldiers in north-eastern Nigeria is refusing to fight Islamist Boko Haram militants until they receive better equipment, one of the mutineers has told the BBC.

The soldier, who requested anonymity, said at least 40 of his colleagues would refuse orders to deploy.

A defence ministry spokesman said the incident was being investigated.

A state of emergency that was declared in three north-eastern states last year has failed to curb the insurgency.

Boko Haram is fighting to create an Islamic state in Nigeria - and has stepped up its attacks after being pushed out of its bases in Maiduguri, the capital of Borno state, targeting towns and villages in deadly raids.

'Sacrificing soldiers'
"Soldiers are dying like fowl," the soldier, who said he and his colleagues were just outside Maiduguri, told the BBC Hausa service.

"The Nigerian army is not ready to fight Boko Haram," he said, explaining that soldiers were not being given enough weapons and ammunition to take them on.

"Boko Haram are inside the bush, everywhere," he said "They [senior commanders] are sacrificing soldiers," he said.

Defence ministry spokesman Gen Chris Olukolade told the BBC's Focus on Africa programme that he could not confirm the reports of a mutiny but would investigate.

He denied that soldiers were being "sent to die".

"We may not have all it takes but we are improving on it [equipment] regularly," he said.

Even the vehicles the soldiers were expected to use were old armoured cars that were not up to the job, he added.

A general in the army, who asked not to be named, told the BBC that he was unable to confirm the mutiny, but said "cowardice" was not uncommon in times of war - and any mutineers would be punished.

When the solder was asked if he feared being court-martialled for taking part in the mutiny, he said that a soldier could only be taken to task for refusing to go to war.

"I joined the army to defend my country", but you cannot defend it without being equipped to do so, he said.

In April, Boko Haram caused global outrage by abducting more than 200 girls from a boarding school in the remote town of Chibok in Borno state.

The group has also carried out a wave of bombings and assassinations, including that of moderate Muslim leaders opposed to its ideology.


Related stories: Wives of Nigerian soldiers protest the lack of resources troops have to combat Boko Haram

Boko Haram suspected of kidnapping about 50 men and boys in Northern Nigerian villages

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

International community applauds Nigeria for Ebola containment efforts

In the midst of the gloomy news that Nigeria is often associated with comes a ray of hope that the country can indeed get things right when its officials and people put their hearts to work.

This is the story emerging from the handling of Ebola outbreak in West Africa, where Nigeria’s officials have been able to contain its spread in Africa’s most populous country with over 168 million people.

This response has received huge commendations from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the international community.

Following fear and anxiety the lethality of the Ebola outbreak has generated since it came into the country through late Patrick Sawyer, a Liberian-American, on July 20, 2014, Nigeria is racing to halt Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) from spreading, including tracing individuals known to have had contact with confirmed cases, training health care professionals to identify EVD, and raising public awareness of symptoms.

This cheery news comes as contact tracing in Nigeria has resulted in a range of between 94 percent and 98 percent of contacts of EVD cases being identified and followed up, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

With Nigeria recording 12 confirmed EVD cases, this development comes as a relief and provides a window to wipe out the disease before it gets out of control, as it has in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, claiming 1,066 lives, with 1,963 EVD cases confirmed since the outbreak began in December 2013.

Onyebuchi Chukwu, minister of health, had announced yesterday that four additional confirmed cases of EVD who had been managed successfully and were now disease-free had been discharged.

“The four persons include two male medical doctors and one female nurse. The three participated in the treatment of the index case, while the fourth person was a female patient at the time the index case was on admission,” a statement from the ministry said.

This brings to five the total number of patients diagnosed with EVD who have now been discharged from hospital.

On the Federal Government’s containment efforts, Chukwu told BusinessDay that state governments were urged to institute a communication strategy to ensure mass awareness creation and sensitisation for individuals and communities on EVD in a bid to halt the spread of the disease.

Federal and state ministries of health and the human services secretariat of the FCT administration were also directed to provide adequate incentives to health workers participating in the management of EVD patients, he said.

Chukwu said Nigeria’s partnership with WHO, UNICEF, the United States Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), local authorities and international partners in the area of technical capacity, health facilities for isolation of EVD patients and other containment efforts was aimed at halting EVD spread.

“The Ministry of Health is procuring isolation tents to quicken the pace of providing isolation wards in all states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory. We are also setting up a special team to provide counselling and psychosocial support to patients, identified contacts and their families,” Chukwu explained.

“189 persons are under surveillance in Lagos and six persons under surveillance in Enugu. All the persons under surveillance were secondary contacts. All the patients under treatment have now moved to the new 40-bed capacity isolating ward provided by the Lagos State government. Additional equipment has also been made available to the new isolating ward by the Federal Government,” he said.

Chika Mordi, CEO, National Competitiveness Council of Nigeria, said Nigeria has done creditably well in containing the spread of EVD in the country. While Nigeria is perceived in the international community not to have functional institutions, Mordi said the case management of EVD in Nigeria has proven that the nation has functional institutions.

He said “If you compare the way Nigeria have handled the case of EVD outbreak when compared to other Ebola affected countries within the West-African sub-region, you will agree that we have done an excellent job. We can also improved upon the success.

“You may remember that the outbreak started in Guinea and then spread to neighbouring Sierra Leone and Liberia. Remember that the index case who brought EVD into Nigeria was visibly ill when he stopped over in Togo and yet Togo said they dont have any case of EVD. Ivory Coast which borders Guinea say they dont have EVD cases.

Don’t forget that in the last few months, Nigeria has been on the front burner on CNN and other news channels in the area of insecurity, suggesting that we don’t have functional institutions. The way we have effectively managed EVD in Nigeria suggests that the country has functional systems in place which could be improved upon.”

Another impressed observer of Nigeria’s handling of the Ebola outbreak narrated his experience at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos yesterday. He said, “I was at the airport this morning (yesterday) to see off a relation and as she went in to board, she and other passengers were screened by health officials who not only checked their temperature but asked questions like how they felt, where they had been and it was damn effective. A rare case of us doing the right thing. I was so impressed and it shows how far we can go if we do the right things.

Babatunde Fashola, Lagos State governor, said the government was not shying away from its primary purpose of protecting and saving lives, as the state House of Assembly had approved additional expenditure to fund efforts at containing the spread of the disease.

“My view of the fact that we are gaining control is informed by verifiable facts that I receive daily from our health workers that all the cases of those who have either unfortunately died, or those who are sick, and those who are contacts under surveillance are directly traceable to the imported case. This is encouraging news from which our containment strategy can profit greatly; because it means that we do not have any case of unknown origin, which will raise the risk of an epidemic,” Fashola said.

Adebayo Onajole, director of communication and community mobilisation for Ebola in Nigeria, said the country had been able to contain the spread through increased surveillance at the country’s borders (air, land and sea), increased awareness and less of disinformation of the disease in the country.

Onajole, who is also a consultant public health physician, noted that universal health precautions and personal hygiene were currently being encouraged, a situation that would halt the spread of the disease.

“Efforts are currently ongoing to scale up and strengthen all aspects of response, including contact tracking, public information and community mobilisation, case management and infection prevention and control, and coordination,” he said.

“There is now increased disease surveillance system in a bid to monitor, control, and prevent any occurrence of the disease,” he added.

Five committees have been put in place in the country to halt the spread of the disease, BusinessDay investigation reveals. These committees include contact tracing (responsible for tracing contacts of infected person), case management unit (responsible for managing established cases), and point of entry unit, which is charged with the responsibility of examining persons entering Nigeria from various borders.

Besides the Federal Government’s N1.9 billion Ebola Intervention Plan announced by President Goodluck Jonathan, Aliko Dangote, chairman, Dangote Group, announced the donation of over N150 million from Dangote Foundation for the establishment of a National Ebola Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) at Yaba, Lagos.

The EOC is a key part of Nigeria’s response to the outbreak of Ebola on its shores. Headed by Faisal Shuaib, a US-trained public health expert with extensive international experience, the centre serves as the engine room of national response, providing a coordinating mechanism for prevention, surveillance, patient care, tracking, data analysis and containment of the spread of the virus.

It also facilitates coordination of partners, serves as a platform to link to the medical community across the country and also internationally, especially with countries also battling the virus in West Africa.

Public health experts believe EVD can be stopped through maintaining high effective control mechanism and communication within communities on proper hygiene practice.

“We do know how to stop Ebola. Its old-fashioned plain and simple public health: find the patients, make sure they get treated, find their contacts, track them, educate people and do infection control in hospitals,” said Thomas Frieden, director, United States Centre for Disease Control and Prevention.

Business Day

Related stories: 5 have recovered from 12 Ebola cases

Nigeria approves use of experimental Ebola drug

Monday, August 18, 2014

Former Anti-Corruption Chief Nuhu Ribadu defects to ruling party PDP

Nuhu Ribadu, a former Nigerian anti-corruption chief and opposition presidential candidate, defected to the ruling People’s Democratic Party from the All Progressive Congress, its main challenger.

Ribadu registered at the Bako ward of northeastern Adamawa state capital Yola on Aug. 16, Hamidu Aji, the local chairman of the ruling party, known as PDP, said today by phone. “Ribadu was issued a PDP membership card,” he said.

A former head of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Ribadu, 53, ran and lost to President Goodluck Jonathan in 2011 as the candidate of the Action Congress of Nigeria. The party later merged with the Congress for Progressive Change, led by former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari, and other smaller parties to form APC.

“Clearly, no party wants to lose anybody,” Lai Mohammed, spokesman for the APC, as the opposition is known, said today in a telephone interview from Lagos, the commercial capital. “But I can assure you the party is stronger than individuals.”

As head of Nigeria’s anti-corruption agency from 2003 to 2007, Ribadu established a reputation for taking the fight against graft even to those with political influence. He was fired by late President Umaru Yar’Adua and he fled into exile in 2008, returning to the country after Jonathan took office two years later.

While Ribadu has worked with the Jonathan administration since his return from exile, he’s criticized the government for failing to tackle corruption. He said in April that Jonathan’s pardon of his former boss, Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, the ex-governor of the oil-rich Bayelsa state, on graft and money laundering charges “makes a joke of all the war against corruption.”

Ribadu’s defection to the PDP, as the ruling party is also known, is “a blow to the opposition on multiple fronts” Philippe de Pontet, Africa director at New York-based Eurasia Group, said in an e-mailed response to questions. “It is a setback for the APC’s self-promoted brand as a true alternative to the ruling party,” he said.


Related stories: Nuhu Ribadu uncovers large scale oil fraud

Video - Oil theft in Nigeria on the rise

Ribadu's report states government stole N51 billion from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation

Cameroon suspends all flights from Nigeria due to Ebola scare

The government of Cameroon has ordered the closure of its borders and the suspension of all flights to and from Nigeria.

This is to avoid the spread of the deadly Ebola disease into the country.

Cameroon has a border boundary of over 2, 000 kilometres in Borno, Adamawa, Taraba and Cross Rivers states in the South-South sub-region of Nigeria.

Speaking yesterday on a special programme of the Hausa Service of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) in Maiduguri, the spokesman of Cameroon Foreign Affairs, Chiroumma Boukkari said the decision to shut the borders with Nigeria has become imperative, because of the fear of Ebola that is currently threatening the West African region.

According to him, “This decision on border closure and suspension of all flights to and from Nigeria is to protect the lives of Cameroonian citizens living within and outside from contracting Ebola, as Nigeria, our main trading partner in Africa had been facing since July 20, 2014 when Patrick Sawyer sneaked into the country aboard a flight with the deadly virus.”

He however, noted that the border closure and temporary suspension of flights to and from Nigeria will not last longer than a month.

“The border closures with our main trading partner will be lifted as soon as Nigeria contains the spread of the deadly viral disease. We also urge all border security agencies of the two countries to be vigilant by complying with this border closures made yesterday (Saturday) by the foreign office here in Ngaudore,” said Boukkari.

The affected border outposts in Borno state include, Kirawa, Duji, Mallam Fatori, Gamboru, Banki, Damba/Masara, Baga, Danbaure, Sigal and Jilbe, 145 kilometres northeast of Maiduguri, the state capital.

Daily Post

Related stories: 5 have recovered from 12 Ebola cases

Video - Nigeria's challenge to contain ebola

24 reasons why Nigerian doctors are on strike

The Nigerian Medical Association, NMA, an association of all medical doctors in Nigeria on July 1 embarked on a nationwide strike.

With the NMA strike, doctors working in government-owned hospitals have boycotted work, leaving majority of sick Nigerians stranded. In an open letter to the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Pius Anyim, on June 11, the association listed a 24 ‘minimum point’ demand which it expected government to meet before its members would return to work.

The letter was titled “Facing the Challenges in the Health Sector”. However on Thursday, President Goodluck Jonathan ordered the sack of all resident doctors in Nigeria. Mr. Jonathan directed the suspension of all Residency Training Programme and the hiring of part-time medical officers to replace the doctors. The inadequate funding of the Residency Training Programme is one of the reasons the NMA is aggrieved.

Below is a list of the challenges faced by the NMA: 

1. A demand that seven Deputy Chairman Medical Advisory Committee, DCMAC (four for Teaching Hospitals and three for Federal Medical Centers be appointed to assist the Chairman Medical Advisory Committee, CMAC. The association noted that the CMAC is presently saddled with statutory responsibilities that are too heavy for an individual to handle. The DCMACs is expected to have the same qualifications as the CMACs. The NMA also argued that directors in other government establishments are supported by deputies and sees no reason while that of the CMACs should be different.

2. The association opposed the appointment of directors in hospitals. The position, it said, distorts the chain of command and induces anarchy while exposing patients to conflicting treatment and management directives with mostly negative consequences.

3. A demand that grade level 12 (CONMESS 2) in the health sector be skipped for medical and dental practitioners.

4. The association also demand that the title ‘Consultant’ should not be assigned to non-doctor personnel. Arguing that consultant describes the relationship between a specialist medical doctor and his patients, the association said that giving the title to a non-doctor personnel will only lead to anarchy and chaos in the system.

5. The immediate implementation of a January 3, 2014 circular and immediate payment of the arrears for 22 years during which members were short-changed. It also demand an adjustment of doctor’s salary to maintain the relativity as agreed.

6. The acceleration of the passage of the National Health Bill and extension of the Universal Health Coverage to cover 100 per cent of Nigerians rather than 30 per cent as currently prescribed by the National Health Insurance Scheme, NHIS.

7. Appointment of a Surgeon General of the Federation with immediate effect.

8. A correction of entry point of a health officer to CONMESS 1 Step 4 as originally contained in MSS/ MSSS while the Registrar/ Medical officer is moved to CONMESS 3 Step 3.

9. Call duty allowance for Honorary Consultants should be increased by 90 per cent.

10. An adjustment in the specialist allowance as contained in the 2009 collective bargaining agreement. Also all doctors on CONMESS 3 and above must be paid specialist allowance or its equivalent, not less than 50 per cent higher than what is paid to other health workers.

11. Hazard allowance for medical doctors must be at least N100, 000 per month. The hazard allowance for medical doctors is said to be at N5, 000 per month presently.

12. Immediate release of the circular on rural posting, teaching and other allowances which must include house officers.

13. An immediate withdrawal of a circular by the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN authorizing Medical Laboratory Science Council of Nigeria, MLSCN to approve licenses for importation of In-Vitro Diagnostics, IVDs.

14. Immediate release of the circular for the retirement age for medical doctors as agreed with the Federal Government.

15. The FG through the health ministry should formalize and implement the report of the interagency committee on residency training. The FG is expected to release the uniform template on the appointment of resident doctors in line with earlier agreements. Also a concrete funding framework for residency training must be established while the overseas clinical attachment must be fully restored and properly funded in the interest of the nation.

16. That in the interest of harmony in the Federal Medical Centre, Owerri, the government should pay the salaries of our members in the center as agreed on October 21, 2013.

17. Immediate concrete steps must be put in place for the reintegration of our members back into the IPPIS platform.

18. All attempts to coerce house officers not to join NARD must stop.

19. The orchestrated intimidation, harassment and physical assault of our members in the departments of pathology (Laboratory medicine) by laboratory scientists and tolerated by the Federal Ministry of Health must stop.

20. The endless circle of incomplete salary payment of our members in many hospitals in the name of shortfalls in personnel cost must stop.

21. Universal applicability of all establishment circulars on the renumeration and conditions of service for doctors at all levels of government must be granted.

22. Government should as a matter of urgency set up a health trust fund that will enhance the upgrading of hospitals in Nigeria.

23. The position of the Chief Medical Director/ Medical Director must continue to be occupied by a medical doctor as contained in the Act establishing the tertiary hospitals. This position remains sacrosanct and untouchable.

24. The NMA henceforth shall not accept the continued violation of any of any of the terms of the 2009 Collective Bargaining Agreement. This is exemplified by the payment of the Medical Physicist and Optometrist with OD (who are on CONHESS) call duty allowance using CONMESS circular. Similarly, the phrase, “Ministries, Departments and Agencies”, MDAs in the said agreement should replace “Federal Ministry of Health and other Federal Health Institutions” as contained in the 2009 CONMESS circular.

Premium Times

Related stories: Patients dying as Nigeria's doctors strike continues

President Goodluck Jonathan sacks striking doctors

5 have recovered from 12 Ebola cases

Nigeria has 12 confirmed cases of the Ebola virus, up from 10 at last week's count, of which five have almost fully recovered, the Health Ministry said on Monday.

It said in a statement that 189 people in Lagos and six others in the southeastern city of Enugu were under surveillance. The death toll remains four, it said.

A doctor who had recovered had been discharged from hospital, the ministry said.

The Ebola virus has killed more than 1,000 people in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia since the outbreak began in March, and four people have died in Nigeria since it was brought to Lagos by a Liberian man on July 20.

"Patients under treatment have now been moved to the new 40 bed capacity isolation ward provided by the Lagos state government," the Health Ministry statement said.

It added that experimental drugs were in the process of being cleared for the treatment of Ebola, although one, nano silver, had been rejected because it did not meet requirements.

Fighting the disease in Nigeria is complicated by the fact that doctors are on nationwide strike. The ministry of health sacked 16,000 doctors on Thursday after they refused to end their strike in the midst of an Ebola epidemic.

Health care workers fighting to stop the disease in overcrowded and ill-equipped clinics often succumb to Ebola themselves. The World Health Organization says more than 170 healthcare workers have been infected and at least 81 have died.

The death toll from Ebola is still climbing and the U.N. health agency faces questions over whether it should havedeclared the outbreak a "public health emergency of international concern" before Aug. 8.


Related stories: Nigeria approves use of experimental Ebola drug

Video - Nigeria's challenge to contain Ebola

Friday, August 15, 2014

Boko Haram suspected of kidnapping about 50 men and boys in Northern Nigerian villages

Residents of a Nigerian village on the shore of Lake Chad say at least 50 residents are missing after a raid by suspected Boko Haram militants.

A witness told the BBC that 26 people were also killed during the raid on the village of Doron Baga on Sunday.

The remote region has poor communication links, meaning news of the raid took days to emerge.

Nigeria has been plagued by attacks by the Boko Haram Islamist group in recent years, particularly in the north-east.

In April, Boko Haram caused global outrage by abducting more than 200 girls from their boarding school in the remote down of Chibok in Borno state. Houses burnt

It is unclear exactly how many people were seized during the attack.

Some of the villagers tried to fight the attackers off, but they were unable to stop the raid, a villager elder told the BBC's Hausa service.

The militants then burnt down some houses and rounded up a group of 50 people, he said.

They were mainly women but also included some boys and girls, he added.

Other survivors say young men were also taken possibly to be turned into Boko Haram fighters.

Witnesses from the village told reporters about the attack after reaching the state capital of Maiduguri.

The Nigerian military has not commented on the attack.


Related stories: Wives of Nigerian soldiers protest the lack of resources troops have to combat Boko Haram

Video - Boko Haram release video mocking plea for kidnapped schoolgirls release

Adidas drops Nigeria Football Federation

Nigeria national teams official kitting outfit and partner of the Nigeria Football Federation, Adidas has written to the Nigeria Football Federation notifying them of their decision not to renew the current contract.
The global merchandise outfit signed a new contract with the NFF on March 6, 2010 and did not state specific reason for pulling out.

In a letter addressed to the federation, dated August 12, 2014 and signed by the VP Global Sports Marketing Football, Claus-Peter Mayer and the Marketing Manager Federations and Leagues, Kai-Philipp Stief, the outfit stated that they will continue to fulfill their obligations under the previously communicated agreement.

"Adidas has conducted an analysis of its football partnerships and related businesses. Based on this evaluation and in combination with the recent correspondence between the parties, we regret to inform that adidas has decided not to extend its partnership with the Nigeria Football Federation as per the end of the Agreement (i.e 31 December 2014),” the letter read.

"Adidas will continue to fulfil its obligations under the agreement as previously communicated and respectfully requests the Nigeria Football Federation to do the same for the remainder of the contract period (including the obligation to share any third party offer pursuant to Adidas’ right of first refusal).”

With this, the Nigeria Football Federation will have to search for another global brand for the national teams. Adidas was their partner when Nigeria won the 1994 Africa Cup of Nations and first featured at the Fifa World Cup in 1994.


Related story: Adidas congratulates Nigeria on Nations Cup win

President Goodluck Jonathan sacks striking doctors

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan has fired thousands of doctors who have been taking part in weeks of strikes, amid warnings that West Africa's Ebola outbreak continues to escalate.

Jonathan ordered the dismissal of around 16,000 doctors in an internal memo to the Health Ministry, local newspaper Premium Times reported on Friday.

Health Minister Onyebuchi Chukwu instructed that "letters of termination" be issued immediately to all affected resident doctors in hospitals.

The move allows the Health Ministry to "make internal arrangements to get alternative doctors to cater for patients," said Health Ministry spokesman Isiaka Yusuf.

Doctors and nurses in public hospitals across the country of 169 million people have taken part in work stoppages since July 1 and are refusing to return to work until their working conditions and salaries improve.

The strike is severely hampering efforts to curb the epidemic.

Nigerian authorities on Friday announced a new confirmed Ebola case, raising the overall number in Africa's most populous state to 11.

Three people have died of Ebola in Nigeria, and 169 others are under surveillance, according to the Health Ministry.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has said that a "massive scaling up of the international response" is necessary to get the outbreak under control.

By August 13, 1975 cases and 1069 deaths were reported from Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone.

Sky News

Related stories: Patients dying as Nigeria's doctors strike continues

Video - Nigeria's medical sector goes on strike

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Nigeria ranked third in Africa FIFA rankings

 FIFA monthly Africa national team rankings released Thursday (Africa ranking, world ranking):

Algeria 1 24

Ivory Coast 2 25

Nigeria 3 33

Ghana 4 36

Egypt 5 38

Tunisia 6 42

Sierra Leone 7 50

Cameroon 8 54

Burkina Faso 9 58

Senegal 10 59

Mali 11 60

Libya 12 62

Guinea 13 64

South Africa 14 69

Cape Verde 15 74

Angola 16 75

Benin 17 77

Congo 18 78

Morocco 19 81

Uganda 20 81

Zambia 21 84

Botswana 22 86

Togo 23 87

Zimbabwe 24 90

DR Congo 25 93

Rwanda 26 101

Gabon 27 102

Kenya 28 104

Lesotho 29 105

Malawi 30 106

Mozambique 31 107

Tanzania 32 110

Ethiopia 33 112

Eq. Guinea 34 113

Namibia 35 114

Sudan 36 115

Niger 37 118

Liberia 38 119

C.A.R. 39 120

Guinea-Bissau 40 123

Burundi 41 129

Mauritania 42 133

Chad 43 140

Madagascar 44 143

Gambia 45 148

Swaziland 46 158

Comoros 47 175

Sao Tome 48 177

Seychelles 49 180

S. Sudan 50 185

Mauritius 51 188

Eritrea 52 203

Somalia 53 204

Djibouti 54 205

Next rankings: Sept 18


Related story: FIFA to lift ban on Nigeria participating in international football

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Nigeria approves use of experimental Ebola drug

The National Health Research Ethics Committee, Nigeria, has approved the use of an experimental Ebola drug, Zmapp, for treatment of patients infected with the virus.
The committee, which composed research scientists, is a national body under the Federal Ministry of Health.

The endorsement is contained in a statement issued to newsmen by Prof. Clement Adebamowo, Chairman of the committee on Wednesday in Abuja.

The decision by the committee is coming on the heels of Tuesday’s approval by the World Health Organisation (WHO) on the use of Zmapp for treatment of Ebola patients.

“It is ethical to use these treatments in the current situation without first submitting an application to National, State or Institutional Health Research Ethics Committee for prior review and approval.

“In addition, the Committee waives the current requirement that international shipment of any biological samples out of Nigeria should be preceded by the establishment of a Materials Transfer Agreement.

“ This waiver is to promote rapid international response to this global emergency,’’ the statement said.

In the statement, the Nigerian National Code for Health Research Ethics emphasised that all innovative and non-validated treatments should be carefully and adequately documented.

According to the statement, the documentation can form the basis for clinical trials of the efficacy and side effects of the treatment according to established scientific principles.

In the statement, the ethics committee enjoined all agencies, development partners and research scientists to follow the guideline for the rapid resolution of the current emergency.

“The guideline will contribute to preparedness in case of future occurrences and contribution to scientific knowledge.

“It must be noted that all Phase O and Phase I Clinical Trials that may subsequently be designed for treatment of this infection can be approved only by the National Health Research Ethics Committee,’’ it said.


Related stories: Third Ebola death confirmed in Nigeria

Video - Nigeria's challenge to contain ebola

Third Ebola death confirmed in Nigeria

A member of the West African regional body Ecowas has become the third person in Nigeria to die of Ebola fever, Ecowas said on Wednesday.

Jatto Asihu Abdulqudir, 36, a protocol assistant, was travelling to an Ecowas function with Liberian Patrick Sawyer, the man who brought Ebola to Nigeria last month. Abdulqudir had been under quarantine. The country has reported eight cases of Ebola since Sawyer arrived on July 20.

"The Commission wishes to reassure staff of all Community institutions all over the entire region that it is taking all necessary steps to guarantee their health and safety," Ecowas said in a statement.


Related stories: 2nd ebola case confirmed in Nigeria

Video - Nigeria's challenge to contain ebola

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Video - Nigeria's challenge to contain ebola

Nigeria may be Africa's biggest economy. But Ebola is certainly proving a challenge to its public health service.

Related stories: Nigeria confirms 10 cases of ebola

Nigerian government declares ebola outbreak a 'national emergency'

Former Newcastle great Shola Ameobi signs one-year deal with 2nd division Turkish club

Former Newcastle and Eagles striker Shola Ameobi has signed a one-year contract with second-division Turkish club Gaziantep Buyuksehir Belediyespor.

The Nigeria international, 32, was a free agent following his departure from St James' Park, where, after graduating from the academy, he had been a first-team player for 14 years.

"We want to establish an ambitious team in the league this season, and a strong team continues to strengthen by adding players," said a statement on Gaziantep's official website.

"We have therefore tied Nigerian striker Shola Ameobi - from one of the strongest teams in England, Newcastle United - to us for one year."

Ameobi made 312 appearances for the Magpies, scoring 53 goals, but much of his career on Tyneside was plagued by injury and inconsistent form. He scored Champions League goals against Barcelona in 2002 and against Bayer Leverkusen the following year, while his best return in the Premier League saw him score nine goals in 2005-06.

Ameobi's 11 goals in 21 appearances helped Newcastle win promotion from the Championship in 2010 but he steadily became a fringe player as boss Alan Pardew re-established the club in the top flight.

Gaziantep, who are currently managed by Suat Kaya, finished in 14th place in the TFF First League - the league below the Turkish Super Lig - last season.


Related stories: NFF threaten to petition FIFA for Newcastle and Millwall to release Amoebi and Shittu

Shola Ameobi excited to play for Nigeria

Monday, August 11, 2014

WAEC results show mass failure of students in 2014 exam

Again, candidates performance in the West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) has continued to decline as West African Examinations Council (WAEC) yesterday announced the release of the May/June 2014 result.

Addressing reporters yesterday, Head of WAEC National office in Lagos, Mr Charles Eguridu disclosed that a total number of 1,705,976 candidates registered for the examination, out of which 1,692,435 candidates, consisting of 929,075 male and 763,360 female candidates sat for the test.

According to him, out of 1,692,435 candidates who sat for the examination, about 529,425of them , representing 31.28 per cent obtained credits in five subjects and above, including English Language and Mathematics.

“This figure, when compared to the 2012 and 2013 May/June WASSCE diets, shows a marginal decline in the performance of candidates. In May/June 2012 WASSCE, 38.81 per cent of candidates obtained five credits and above including English language and Mathematics. In 2013, the percentage declined to 36.57 per cent; and this year, we have 31.28 per cent.”

He hinted that 1,605,613 candidates, representing 94.87percent have their results fully released, while 86,822 candidates, representing 5.13percent have a few of their subjects still being processed due to some errors, mainly traceable to laxity on the part of the candidates and the schools in the course of registration or writing the examination.

“Such errors are being corrected by the Council to enable the affected candidates get their results fully processed and released as soon as they are ready.”

Eguridu said the results of 145,795 candidates, representing 8.61 per cent, are being withheld in connection with various types of examination malpractice, which were reported both during the conduct and marking of the May/June 2014 WASSCE.

“The cases are being investigated and the reports of the investigations will be presented in November to the Nigeria Examinations Committee (NEC), the highest decision-making organ of the Council on examination-related matters in Nigeria for consideration. The Committee’s decisions will, thereafter, be communicated to the affected candidates through their schools.”

He said, the Council has decided to extend the normal registration period for the November/December 2014 WASSCE, to Sunday August 17, 2014, so as to enable candidates who sat the last May/June examination, and who may have any deficiencies, to register for the November/December examination diet, if they so wish.

He advised candidates who sat for the May/June 2014 WASSCE to check the details of their performance on the Council’s results website within the next 24 hours.


Related stories: Mass failure in 2012 WAEC exams - 62.3 don't make grade

70 percent of students fail WAEC exam

Wives of Nigerian soldiers protest the lack of resources troops have to combat Boko Haram

The wives of Nigerian soldiers have protested against their husbands being sent to fight militant Islamist group Boko Haram, a demonstrator has said.

The protest at the main military barracks in north-eastern Maiduguri city came as the government vowed to retake Gwoza town from the militants.

Hundreds of people were killed when Boko Haram seized Gwoza last week, the area's senator, Ali Ndume, said.

Boko Haram is fighting to create an Islamic state in Nigeria.

The BBC's Abdullahi Kaura in the capital, Abuja, says he understands that about 100 women protested at the Giwa barracks in Maiduguri, the capital of Borno state.

'Throat slit'
It is the latest sign of growing dissatisfaction with the military top brass, he says.

Soldiers have repeatedly complained Boko Haram has superior firepower and they are in position to confront the militants.

In May, some soldiers opened fire on their commander, Maj-Gen Ahmed Mohammed, at Maiduguri's Maimalari barracks, blaming him for the killing of their colleagues by Boko Haram fighters.

A wife of a soldier, who spoke to the BBC on condition of anonymity, said they were opposed to their husbands going into battle.

When their husbands were sent to the front line on 13 March, Boko Haram launched an assault on the barracks the next day, she said.

Her home was burnt, and her neighbour's four children were killed, the woman added.

"Now [the army] want to send our husbands to Gwoza and we said 'no'," she told the BBC.

"Our husbands have been fighting Boko Haram for six years now. If they get killed or injured, they [the army] will not take care for us."


Related stories: 11 parents of some of the kidnapped schoolgirls now dead

Boko Haram attacks the same town it kidnapped the schoolgirls from

Nigeria confirms 10 cases of ebola

Nigeria now has 10 confirmed cases of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) with 177 persons under surveillance, the Minister of Health, Prof. Onyebuchi Chuwku, said on Monday in Abuja.

Chukwu made the disclosure while updating newsmen on the efforts by the government to contain the disease.

It has been 22 days since EVD first landed in Nigeria. As at today, 177 primary and secondary contacts of the index case have been placed under surveillance or isolation.

The 10th case actually was one of the nurses who also had contact with our index case; when she got ill we brought her into isolation, we just tested her over the weekend and she tested positive.

That is what made it 10 cases since the last conference on Friday, Between Friday and today, we have one additional case that brings it to 10.

Nine people developed EVD, bringing the total number of cases in Nigeria to 10; of these 10, two have died -- the Liberian American and the Nigerian nurse -- while eight are alive and currently on treatment,’’ he said.

Chukwu disclosed that Nigeria was the first and only African country to have donated 3.5 million dollars for humanitarian aid and capacity building to the three Ebola affected countries of Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone.

He recalled that President Goodluck Jonathan had declared a national emergency on Ebola and approved N1.9 billion intervention fund to combat the outbreak of the Virus.

The minister reiterated the government's commitment to continue to discharge its responsibilities in confronting and stopping the outbreak of Ebola.

On the strike by the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA), he said government had consistently appealed to the association to call off the strike.

We are still discussing with the NMA, we are still pleading with the association to ask its members to return to work, while we are still doing that we have not gone to bed, we are not sleeping.

There are doctors who are not part of the strike and they have been taking part in the management of these patients, we are still recruiting more volunteers because we need more people to come into the fight against Ebola.

Not only doctors because it includes health workers, nurses, environmental officers, sanitary officers, laboratory scientists, pharmacists and the likes,’’ he said.

The minister urged the public to adhere to the self-precautionary measures of hand washing and avoiding unnecessary contact to control the spread of the disease.


Related story: Nigerian government declares ebola outbreak a 'national emergency'

Friday, August 8, 2014

Gay Activist confronts Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan on Homophobic Law

Nigerian gay activist Michael Ighodaro confronted the nation’s president at a formal dinner in Washington, D.C., Wednesday, challenging him regarding Nigeria’s antigay laws and climate.

President Goodluck Jonathan was guest of honor at a $200-a-plate dinner hosted by the Corporate Council on Africa and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, timed to coincide with this week’s U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit. Ighodaro exchanged words with the president about Nigeria’s Anti-Same-Sex Marriage Act, which Jonathan signed into law in January.

The act provides for up to 14 years in prison for people who enter into a same-sex marriage and also criminalizes other declarations of gay relationships, advocacy for LGBT rights, and gatherings in LGBT clubs. Ighodaro, who has lived in the U.S. since 2012, expressed concern to Jonathan about reports of increasing violence against LGBT Nigerians since the law’s enactment.

Ighodaro said that Jonathan replied, “The situation of homosexuals in Nigeria is delicate, but during this week the topic has come up a lot, and it is something we will continue to look into, especially the attacks. If you think the law is unconstitutional, you have the right to go to court and fight [to strike] it down.”

That was most likely a reference to the recent Uganda Constitutional Court ruling invalidating that nation’s Anti-Homosexuality Act. The court’s objection to the law was based on the manner in which it was adopted, not its content.

Ighodaro has firsthand experience with antigay violence. He fled Nigeria in 2012 after an attack that he believes was motivated by homophobia. The beating left him with several broken bones, and the day after it occurred, he received numerous death threats by phone and email. He is now a fellow at the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission in New York.

Jonathan made a vague reference to the situation of LGBT people in Nigeria toward the end of his speech at the dinner, saying many discussions during the summit have focused on “the issue of sexuality” in his nation. He also mentioned the activities of Boko Haram, the radical Islamic group that abducted hundreds of female students from a boarding school in April and has carried out attacks in northeastern Nigeria for several years. Dozens were killed in its raid on the town of Gwoza Wednesday.


Related stories: US Senators want Nigeria sanctioned for anti-gay law

Video - Nigeria's anti-gay law denounced

U.S. to seize loot of half a billion dollars from deceased Nigeria President Sani Abacha

The U.S. has won the right to seize and redistribute nearly half a billion dollars hidden in bank accounts around the world by Gen. Sani Abacha, the former military dictator of Nigeria, the Department of Justice said Thursday.

Officials said the forfeiture of $480 million, which was authorized by a federal judge in Washington, D.C., Wednesday, sets a record for so-called "kleptocracy" actions. The U.S. froze the assets in March.

“Rather than serve his county, General Abacha used his public office in Nigeria to loot millions of dollars, engaging in brazen acts of kleptocracy,” said Assistant Attorney General Leslie Caldwell. “With this judgment, we have forfeited $480 million in corruption proceeds that can be used for the benefit of the Nigerian people."

The forfeited assets, from banks in France, Ireland, the U.K. and the Channel Islands, represent the proceeds of corruption during and after the military regime of Gen. Abacha, who became president via military coup on Nov. 17, 1993, and held power until his death on June 8, 1998. According to a Justice Department press release, "The ultimate disposition of the funds will follow the execution of the judgment in each of these jurisdictions."


Related stories: Liechtenstein returning loot from dead Nigerian President Sani Abacha worth €167m

Switzerland returns Sani Abacha's loot

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Nigeria's electricity problem

The NEPA people came the other day. Actually, their official name has changed, but NEPA — an acronym for the utility formally known as the National Electric Power Authority — is easier to say and jibes so well with our expectations: Never Expect Power Always.

Though the organization is now called the Power Holding Company of Nigeria, the new name doesn’t work as an acronym, though its initials, P.H.C.N., are popularly agreed to stand for: Problem Has Changed Name.

I had been expecting them. They come about once a month, a van containing a crew of four or five guys, going from house to house, ready to cut off your power if you lack proof that your payments are up to date — and turn it back on for an $8 reconnection fee, or any reasonable under-the-table amount. Alas, I was in arrears.

I owed several months for the electricity they had barely been providing. Even though about 85 percent of Nigeria’s urban areas and 30 percent of rural areas are on the power grid — the result of years of government monopoly and its attendant corruption — the supply is intermittent at best. I’ve been getting about three hours a day, if lucky, and even then rarely at a stretch. Sometimes you don’t get any power for three or four days. Like many people here, I rely on a private generator to bridge the gaps.

Things were supposed to get better since the government announced with great fanfare (almost a year ago now) that it had privatized the power-distribution network. But one didn’t need to be an engineer to understand that decades of neglect, in this as in other areas of national life, can hardly be fixed in a few months.

It’s difficult for nonprofessionals to work out the complicated structures involved, but generally speaking the government now generates electricity and private companies distribute it. These companies tend to be much more aggressive than the government had been because they need to repay bank loans and recoup other start-up costs. Their employees, like all workers in Nigeria, are paid very poorly. It is therefore understood that a man must augment his income any way he can.

The affable crew boss who confronted me was sincerely understanding as I explained to him how my problem had begun six months ago, when my monthly bill jumped from $30 to nearly $185. But arguing was pointless. After my power was cut, pending payment of past bills and the reconnection fee, he suggested that perhaps it would be best for me to go state my case at my local P.H.C.N. office. I should have known better.

The official I was directed to wait for was calm, considering the confusion and mass irritation swirling around him. When my turn finally came, he looked over my latest bill, frowned, and began to tap away on his keyboard. Finally, he looked up at me and explained that my previous bills had been too low; they had been adjusted upward based upon estimates of my power consumption.

In any case, he added, my meter was obsolete. I tried to explain that my meter still functioned, but he cut me short, demanding to know why I hadn’t applied for one of the new prepayment cards, which deduct money automatically as electricity is used. I explained I had been told that none were available — to put my name on a waiting list. (Payment cards may be more efficient, but they offer less opportunity for the state to collect cash payments, or impose fines.) He shrugged and called the next customer.

I decided to take my case up a notch. But the senior manager I appealed to at the head office the next day shook his head. There was nothing he could do but demand payment in full. However, he added, I was in luck. The card meter was now available. For “just” $275, and they could fix one for me — after I had settled the outstanding bill.

So now I was looking at fees of around $525. I went home and discussed the problem with my wife, but in truth there was nothing to discuss and we both knew it. We already paid $215 a month to run our generator, which is not powerful enough to draw water from the well I had dug when the state water authority, equally comatose, finally stopped supplying us many years ago.

To say that this couldn’t have happened at a worse time assumes that there is ever a good time to be hit with an outrageous bill. We had just embarked on major renovations, and a newspaper that had hired me to write a weekly column suddenly and without explanation stopped paying.

Then there was always “the Nigerian factor,” which is to say the uncertainties of life in a country where even the power of the government itself is something of a fiction. This is most obviously demonstrated by the fact that none of the more than 200 schoolgirls who were abducted over three months ago by Boko Haram terrorists have been rescued (although a few of them managed to escape).

So time passed, the next monthly bill appeared, and hard on its heels came the men with their ladders to disconnect defaulters.

This time I fudged the truth, explaining that I had met with the senior manager, and that we had worked out a payment plan. No use. They cut the power line to my house.

I went to my local office and paid something on account, and got a stern warning to settle up once and for all as quickly as possible — or else.

And yet, even as I write this, I’m not as perturbed as perhaps I should be. Cutting corners has become a way of life for all Nigerians, great and small. We don’t expect anything better, which is why we are so quiescent under conditions that should ordinarily make people rise up and say, enough is enough.

But power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely, and, in their own small way, so do power shortages.

Written by Adewale Maja-Pearce

New York Times

Related stories: Video - Aljazeera covers Nigeria's steps to improve its poor electricity supply

Video - Nigerian economy growing despite epileptic power supply