Monday, November 30, 2015

Former Super Eagle and U23 coach Samson Siasia's mother rescued from kidnappers

The kidnapped mother of Samson Siasia, Nigeria’s Under 23 coach, has regained her freedom.

Madam Beauty Siasia, aged 72, was kidnapped about two weeks ago at her Odoni country home in Sagbama local government area of Bayelsa State by three armed men.

Vanguard gathered that the septuagenarian who was forcibly taken away on a motorcycle exactly twelve days ago was rescued Saturday along the East-West road by men of the Anti-Kidnapping Unit of the Bayelsa State Police command where she was abandoned by her captors.

Spokesman of the state police command, Asinim Butswat confirmed the development.

He said the victim was rescued at about 0130hrs , Saturday, after a hot pursuit by men the Anti-Kidnapping Unit of the Police Command.

His words, “Madam Beauty Siasia, who was abducted on the 16 November, 2015, was abandoned by her abductors along the East West Road, at about 0130hrs, 28 November, 2015, due to hot pursuit by the Anti-Kidnapping Unit of the Police Command.

“She is hale and hearty and has been reunited with her family. The Police has intensified efforts to arrest the fleeing suspects.”

Related story: Former Super Eagle and current head coach of Nigeria's U-23 football team Samon Siasia's mother kidnapped

Seven students die in school dormitory fire in Kano, Nigeria

At least seven female students have died after a fire at a boarding school hostel near the northern Nigerian city of Kano on Sunday night, officials say.

Most of the deaths resulted from a stampede as hundreds of students rushed to escape the blaze through two exits, the Kano state officials said.

Twenty-five others were injured in the fire which broke out as students were sleeping at the government-run girls school in Jogana village, they added.

It is not being treated as suspicious.

Fire-fighters spent seven hours trying to put out the blaze, an eyewitness told the BBC's Hausa service.

The government has closed the boarding school and ordered a full investigation into the fire.


Stocks in Nigeria fall to a 3 year low due to exit of foreigners

Nigeria’s stocks headed for their lowest close in almost three years as foreigners exited the market amid fading hopes that President Muhammadu Buhari’s government can revive an economy growing at its slowest pace this century.

The Nigerian Stock Exchange All Share Index fell 1.2 percent to 27,294.27 at 1:36 p.m. in Lagos, the lowest on a closing basis since Dec. 2012. The gauge has declined on 18 out of 21 trading days in November and is headed for a monthly drop of 6.5 percent.

“The government has not come up with a definitive policy for the economy,” Pabina Yinkere, an analyst at Vetiva Capital Management Ltd., said by phone from Lagos. “The continued lack of clarity is affecting the stock market.”

While Buhari, a 72-year-old former general who came to power in May, has prioritized stamping out corruption in Africa’s biggest economy and oil producer, investors have been irked by a delay of more than five months in forming a cabinet, and his support for the central bank’s currency-trading restrictions that are choking businesses of the dollars they need to pay foreign suppliers.

More than two stocks declined for every one that rose. Nigerian Breweries Plc, the country’s biggest beer-maker that is controlled by Heineken NV, fell 1.7 percent to 118 naira ($0.59). The company, whose stock declined 29 percent this year and which imports about 40 percent of its inputs, said this month it had approached the central bank about the scarcity of foreign-exchange.

Guaranty Trust Bank Plc, the nation’s biggest lender by market capitalization, dropped 2.7 percent to 20 naira ($0.10). The stock is down 20 percent this year. The overall index has plunged 21 percent this year, the most in sub-Saharan Africa after the Zimbabwe Industrial Index.

Specialist African funds including Alquity Investment Management Ltd. and Duet Asset Management Ltd. have lowered their Nigerian exposure because they think central bank Governor Godwin Emefiele will be forced to devalue the naira, which would cause losses on holdings in foreign-currency terms. Last week’s interest rate cut by the central bank, its first in six years, will heap more pressure on the currency, according to David McIlroy, Alquity’s chief investment officer.

The naira was unchanged at 199.05 per dollar and has been all but fixed at 198-199 since early March. Forward prices suggest it will weaken 18 percent to 242.5 in a year.

Pressure on Currency

“The surprise reduction in rates has probably worried international investors even more,” McIlroy said by phone from London. “Given the inflation rate is above the central bank’s target, there’s pressure on the currency and they need to attract foreign capital, you’d expect interest rates to be rising.”

Alquity held about seven Nigerian stocks at the beginning of 2015, including Guaranty Trust Bank and Zenith Bank Plc. It now holds only Dangote Cement Plc. Equity funds are more underweight in Nigeria than any other frontier and emerging markets bar Kuwait and Morocco, analysts at Renaissance Capital Ltd. said in a Nov. 23 note to clients.

“We’ve increased our positions in Egypt and Kenya at the expense of Nigeria,” McIlroy said.

Nigeria is reeling from crude prices that have plunged 57 percent since June 2014. Growth will fall to 3.2 percent this year from 6.3 percent in 2014, according to a Bloomberg survey of economists. That would be the slowest pace since 1999. Annual inflation was 9.3 percent in October, higher than the central bank’s target of 6 to 9 percent.


Friday, November 27, 2015

Boko Haram continues to affect lives in Nigeria

Boko Haram continues to affect the lives of people.

Oil thieves make away with $250m worth of oil from pipeline in Lagos, Nigeria

Thieves have stolen nearly $250m (£165m) of oil from a single pipeline this year, Nigeria's state oil company says.

The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) said half a billion litres were taken from the pipeline that runs north-east from Lagos.

Long queues have formed at petrol stations across Nigeria in recent days.

Governments blame pipeline vandalism and theft in the oil sector for fuel shortages and damaging the economy.

An NNPC subsidiary told a Senate committee that "incessant hacking" of the System 2B pipeline had "made the task of providing seamless flow of petroleum products to retail outlets more burdensome".

The pipeline stretches 250km from the financial hub Lagos to the city of Ilorin.

The company said it was working to resolve the issue.

"We have been pushing 35 million litres every day to the market and there's no reason why there shouldn't be fuel," said Esther Nnamdi Ogbue, managing director of the Pipelines and Product Marketing Company, a subsidiary.

She blamed "sharp practices" such as hoarding in some areas.

Nigeria is Africa's biggest oil exporter, but a lack of refining capacity means drivers rely on imported petrol and there are frequent fuel shortages.

In May the country was brought to a virtual standstill after importers shut depots over subsidy payments.

President Muhammadu Buhari has been urged to scrap the subsidy scheme, which critics say is rife with corruption, but a previous attempt to stop the payments led to violent mass protests in 2012.

However, in August NNPC managing director Emmanuel Kachikwu said the subsidies were an unsustainable drain on the economy, which has suffered as global oil prices have fallen.


Five polish sailors kidnapped off the coast of Nigeria

Five Polish sailors are being held by kidnappers after a cargo ship belonging to a Polish company was attacked off the Nigerian coast, an incident Poland says highlights the need to review safety procedures of vessels operating in the area.

Polish Foreign Minister Witold Waszczykowski told a news conference of Friday that kidnappers had made no demands so far, and that Poland was liaising with Nigerian authorities, but would not get involved directly unless asked to do so.

"This is a responsibility of the sovereign state of Nigeria," Waszczykowski said.

No traces of blood were discovered on the ship, which operates under the Cyprus flag, he said. The kidnapped sailors included the captain and officers.

"The rest of the crew, 11 people, are still on the ship and they are safe... The ship suffered some damage," Waszczykowski said.

The ship is currently anchored around 30 sea miles - roughly 56 kilometers - off the Nigerian coast, with the operator arranging for a new crew to take it back to port.

The area where the kidnapping took place was not traditionally frequented by pirates, Polish Maritime Minister Marek Grobarczyk said.

Grobarczyk said the safety procedures of all Polish companies operating in the area would now be reviewed to ensure sailors' safety.


Thursday, November 26, 2015

Video - Cleaning up the oil industry in Nigeria

Nigeria's oil sector has faced allegations of government corruption for years. Nearly $30bn has been lost over the last three years. President Muhammadu Buhari says tackling graft in the oil sector is a top priority. Nigeria depends on oil for more than 80 percent of its revenues. 

Army says Boko Haram can't be eliminated by December deadline

Nigeria's military cannot meet the president's December deadline to crush Boko Haram's Islamic uprising, and Nigerians must expect suicide bombings to continue, a government spokesman said Thursday.

Air Commodore Yusuf Anas of the Center for Crisis Communication said the deadline "may be unrealistic" and warned Nigerians not to view December as a "sacrosanct date when all suicide bombings will end."

The 6-year-old uprising already has killed 20,000 people and driven 2.3 million from the homes. Millions of dollars worth of property has been destroyed.

"The timeline on when to stop the insurgents from activating sleeper cells and detonating bombs into soft targets in any part of the country, especially in the frontline states, is therefore not tenable."

Forces from Nigeria and neighboring Chad earlier this year drove the extremists out of areas in which they had proclaimed an Islamic caliphate. Recently, the Nigerian Air Force and ground troops have reported destroying numerous Boko Haram camps and freeing more than 1,000 kidnap victims.

In June, President Muhammadu Buhari ordered the military to crush the insurgency by December, but the extremists have pushed back with village raids and urban suicide bombings that have killed more than 1,500 people.

Last month, Buhari told the commander of the U.S. Africa Command, Gen. David Rodriguez, that improved training, weapons, logistics and welfare had well-positioned Nigerian forces to break the back of the uprising.

"Structured attacks by the insurgents have reduced and by the end of the year, we should see the final routing of Boko Haram as an organized fighting force," Buhari said.

Boko Haram was named the world's most deadly extremist group in the Global Terrorism Index last week, with 6,644 deaths attributed to it in 2014 — more than any other extremist group.


Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Video - Nigerian engineering students build electric car

A group of Nigerian engineering students have built a track focused, four wheeled electric car using locally sourced materials and purely indigenous technology. Its innovators say the world is running out of fossil fuels, and Nigeria will soon need to move towards hybrids and electric cars.

Schools reopen in Borno state despite fears of Boko Haram attack

Nigeria reopened schools in Borno state for the first time in more than a year Tuesday despite fears of attack by terrorist group Boko Haram.

Xinhua news agency quoted Musa Kubo, commissioner for education in Borno state, as saying campus safety could be guaranteed.

The Nigerian government urged parents to send their children back to classes, which were halted in March 2014 amid growing violence in Borno state, birthplace of Boko Haram.

Security forces have made recent gains against the terrorist group, in October unveiling a new task force specifically placed in Borno state, and earlier this month arresting multiple suspects from a 100 most-wanted list, including one in the state capital.

However, attacks have continued in Nigeria and neighboring countries. A suicide bomber in the Cameroonian village of Nigue killed at least 10 people Saturday morning, and similar attacks against crowded markets in northern Nigeria's Kano and Adamawa states earlier last week killed dozens.

Boko Haram, seeking the formation of an Islamic government, has since 2009 killed more than 17,000 people in a campaign of violence that included the kidnapping of hundreds of schoolgirls from the village of Chibok, in Borno state.

The Institute for Economics and Peace last week released a report tallying more than 7,000 people killed by Boko Haram in 2014, making it the "most deadly terrorist group in the world."

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, who campaigned earlier this year on a promise to get tough on Boko Haram, set a December deadline to defeat the terrorist group.

"We are not there yet but we are gradually getting there," Xinhua quoted Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai, chief of staff of the Nigerian army, as saying Tuesday. "We are making steady progress."


Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Germany increases scholarships to Nigerian students

The new Consul-General of the Consulate-General of Germany in Lagos, Ingo Herbert, on Tuesday announced his government’s decision to increase scholarships for Nigerians and other Africans.

Mr. Herbert said his government had at its recent bilateral meeting decided to increase its annual scholarships from 450 to “a more reasonable number”.

“Before now about 450 Nigerians benefit every year from the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD).

“But from our recent bilateral meeting, the German government has decided to increase its annual scholarships to Nigeria and other countries from 450 to a much more reasonable number,’’ he said.

Mr. Herbert said that the initiative was part of the German’s human development agenda aimed at giving more Africans opportunities to go and study in different German educational institutions.

The envoy also said that it had become imperative to increase the scholarships following the growing interest of Nigerians and other African in studying in Germany.

“We have realized that after the U.S. and U.K., most Nigerians and other foreign students like coming to study in Germany,’’ he said.

The consul-general said that German universities and colleges had started courses in English Language so as to be able to accommodate more Nigerians.

He restated his government’s commitment to encouraging and creating the right learning environment for the would be beneficiaries of the scholarships.

Mr. Herbert also expressed satisfaction with the successes currently being made by some Nigerians that had benefited from the scholarships in the past in their professions.

Premium Times

Video - Nigeria banning importation of electric generator

The Nigerian Government has banned the importation of one of the most popular and affordable electricity generators due to pollution and health concerns. But local businesses say the generators are crucial in keeping operations running amid the nation's chronic power outages.

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Nigerians stranded in Canada due to Nigerian government's failure to pay scholarship bill

Wisdom Eji says he and his fellow Nigerians, here on scholarships for underprivileged students, have been left to fend for themselves after the government-funded program that brought them to Canada has failed to pay.

"We have been abandoned," said Eji, a University of Regina (U of R) engineering student. "We live right now like we don't have sponsors."

Across Canada, 246 Nigerian students, in 14 universities were promised their tuition and living expenses would be covered during their four-year degree program.

However, they haven't received their living allowance for the past 11 months and their tuition is millions of dollars in arrears.

"You just wish you didn't even have the scholarship in the first place," Eji said. "Like things get bad — I just wish I didn't even come here. I just wish I was at home."

Government agency owes millions

Eji is one of 40-50 students enrolled at the U of R under a scholarship paid for by the Rivers State Sustainable Development Agency (RSSDA); an organization owned and funded by the Rivers State government in Nigeria.

The organization sponsors hundreds of poor but academically gifted students to study at universities in 14 countries, including Canada.

The students were promised tuition and a living allowance of $1,100 a month to cover their rent, food and other expenses.

"Before we left Nigeria they are like, 'Don't even work,'" Eji recalled. "''We'll give you everything you need.'"

The RSSDA owes Canadian students about $3 million in living allowance, forcing many like Eji to find jobs. He is working part-time while continuing his full-time studies.

He said he's behind on his rent and other bills, is often hungry, stressed and sleepless. He said as a result his marks have dropped 15-20 percentage points.

Canadian universities owed millions

In addition to what it owes in living allowances, the RSSDA admits it also owes $2.5 million in tuition to 14 Canadian universities. More than half of that, $1.3 million, is owed to the U of R for the 2014/15 academic year, during which 124 RSSDA sponsored students studied at the institution.

Vanessa Ikeogu, an RSSDA student who's studying criminology at the U of R, said she's angered by the behaviour of her government and sponsoring agency.

"Ignorant, reluctant, irresponsible government officials," Ikeogu said. "I just feel like I have been lied to."

However, the acting executive director of the RSSDA, Godwin Poi, said the government-owned agency will keep its promises.

RSSDA promises to pay

"It is absolutely correct to do so. It's a government, and we can't afford government obligations and responsibilities to fail," Poi told CBC's iTeam.

Nigeria has fallen on hard financial times because of the collapse of the price of oil, he said, pleading for patience.

"It is tragic and sad that we're in the situation we are in. To the best of my knowledge all the governments have done their best to fund the situation for them," Poi said. "We have gone through a very very serious phase of funding for the country and the state."

The U of R has admitted more Nigerian students through this program than any other university in Canada. At its peak, during the 2012/13 academic year, there were 155 RSSDA sponsored students at the U of R.

On average, international students pay about $10,000 in tuition per semester for a full load of classes; much higher than what Canadian students pay.

The director of executive reporting services at the U of R, Lamont Stradeski, says the university's relationship with the RSSDA dates back to 2008. And he fully expects the university will be paid.

"I guess the recourse the university has is we can stop students from registering further.," he said. "However, we wouldn't do that unless we had serious concerns that we would not receive payment, which at this point we don't."

Unpaid tuition creating stress

The RSSDA owes more than $250,000 to the University of Manitoba (U of M) and that institution appears to be taking a harder line.

Gift Amadi is sponsored by the agency to pursue a political science degree at the U of M, but his tuition bill is past due, and the university is asking him to pay.

"The school is saying you have just about 30 days left to pay what's left for this term," Amadi said. "If not I won't be able to register for the winter term."

He said the lack of scholarship funding has been "very devastating."

"Right now I'm taking classes and I'm thinking of feeding. I haven't eaten since morning and I'm in class," Amadi told CBC's iTeam, when reached in the evening at the U of M.

The associate VP of Outreach and Engagement at the U of M, Leah Janzen, said she's sympathetic.

"I know some of them have accessed our student food bank," Janzen explained. "It's a very difficult situation."

Payment plans

She said the university is working with the students to develop payment plans and find other funding.

Some RSSDA students have paid their own tuition, borrowing money from friends, family or churches. But for others, time is clearly running out.

For about a dozen students, tuition hasn't been paid for the summer or fall term, putting their stay at the university in jeopardy.

​"Our policy is you can't go into a third term having not been able to pay for the previous two terms in their entirety," Janzen said. "So we don't want to get to that position with these students."

If an international student on a visa is no longer registered at an educational institution, they aren't able to stay in Canada, according to immigration rules.

Recently, 19 RSSDA-sponsored students had to flee the U.K. in order to avoid deportation from that country because their tuition had not been paid by the agency.

Many students in Canada worry they may end up in the same situation.

"Terrified — because you don't know if you're the next," Eji said. "I can't get that money, so if I don't have that money the only option is going back to Nigeria."

Students take action

Amadi says ongoing political instability in Nigeria has made it easy for politicians there to ignore this problem, so he and the other students have decided to take action.

They've formed a committee to mobilize friends, family and the media to pressure the Nigerian government.

He said students are worried they may face retaliation by speaking out about this issue, but added his political science studies have taught him that sometimes it's necessary to take calculated risks.

"It may not be convenient, it may not be comfortable for you, but someone has got to stand to say 'OK, this is the right thing and we can do it if we stand for what is right and we speak up about it.'"

He said it's ironic that his government sent him to Canada on a scholarship to study political science, the knowledge he's now using to pressure that same government to keep its word.


Related story: Video - University in Canada high acceptance rate for Nigerians despite tough immigration

500 Nigerians scheduled to be deported from U.K. today

Nigerians at home are currently bracing for a blazing diplomatic row with Britain as the United Kingdom plans to deport over 500 Nigerians who have been resident in that country today.

For over two weeks now, the affected Nigerians in the UK have been crying out to the Nigerian Government to come their rescue,but it appears their cry for help has fallen on deaf ears.

Some of these Nigerians are married to British nationals, and deporting now will mean that they may never get to see their families and loved ones in the UK again.

Sad enough too, the Nigerian Government has been uncomfortably silent on the allegation of Nigerian High Commission officials in the UK taking £3,000 bribe from UK officials to issue travel certificates to the affected Nigerians.

The families of the affected Nigerians at home here are wondering why the government is not taking any action on the issue, when of course,it is common knowledge that the British Government will never condone its own citizens being treated in the manner Nigerians are being treated in the UK.


Monday, November 23, 2015

8 dead in suicide bombing in Nigeria

Eight people were killed and eight others injured Sunday in a suicide bombing in Nigeria, an army spokesman said.

The bomb detonated among people displaced by Boko Haram violence in the city of Maiduguri in northeastern Nigeria, according to Col. Sani Usman.

The victims, mostly women and children from Dikwa, were undergoing security screening at a military checkpoint.

Nigerian troops liberated Dikwa from Boko Haram ‎in July, allowing people from the town to return home, and residents from nearby villages to move to the town for military protection against deadly raids. But a lack of food and other basic necessities forced people to flee.

Boko Haram, which operates mainly in Nigeria, has become the most deadly terrorist group in the world, according to the Global Terrorism Index 2015, compiled by the Institute for Economics and Peace. The militant Islamist group has pledged allegiance to ISIS.


Friday, November 20, 2015

Report says Boko Haram is world's deadliest terror group

France has yet to recover from the Paris attacks. Everyday news about ISIS beheadings and onslaught are abound. World powers are joining forces conducting airstrikes against the terrorist group. Political rivals like Russia and U.S. are willing to set aside differences in order to fight the ISIS. And yet a more terrifying group than the ISIS has risen.

The world’s deadliest terrorist group is not the ISIS, but the Boko Haram in Nigeria,according to a report released Wednesday by the Institute of Economics and Peace. The Global Terrorism Index, a study of terrorist activity around the world, found that Boko Haram was responsible for 6,664 deaths in 2014 alone – more than any other terrorist group in the world. The ISIS, on the other hand, killed 6,073 people in 2014. Worse, the Boko Haram had pledged allegiance to the ISIS (now known as Daesh) this year. Together, they were responsible for half of all global deaths attributed to terrorism, the report said.

Nigeria has also been battling another terrorist organization aside from the Boko Haram, the Fulani militants. Hence, it has experienced the largest increase in deaths from terrorism in 2014, the report stated. There were 7,512 fatalities in thecountry from terrorist attacks in 2014 alone, an increase of over 300 percent.

On Thursday, another deadly blast killed 11 persons and injured 57 in Kano, Nigeria. According to a report from Vanguard, the blast also killed the two female suicide bombers at a local market. The incident took place just days after 30 persons were killed in a separate blast in Yola, Adamawa state.

Muhammad Katsina, Commissioner of Police, said six suspects rode a Sharon Space Wagon vehicle. They dropped two females at the market. The females then went inside the market and the suspects detonated the bombs.

Boko Haram was responsible for kidnapping as many as 300 girls in 2014. Although the group had freed 200 of these girls, the fates of the others remain unknown today.

Morning News USA

Video - More than 100 Nigerian soldiers go missing after Boko Haram attack

More than a hundred Nigeria soldiers have gone missing following an attack by the ISIL-affiliated Boko Haram militant group. The soldiers apparently came under attack - and the militants made off with military hardware, including a tank.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Video - Nigerian restaurant with waiters on Smart Wheels

A Nigerian restaurant is taking a modern and novel approach to food service in a bid to wow customers. Waiters and waitresses in the restaurant in the city of Ibadan are carrying meals and serving food while riding Smart Balance Wheels.

Nigeria couple living in U.K. face jail time for keeping househelp captive for 24 years

A top doctor and his wife have have been convicted of keeping a man as a slave for nearly a quarter of a century after bringing him to the UK from Nigeria.

Doctor Emmanuel Edet, 61, and his wife Antan, 58, took Ofonime Sunday Edet, now 40, when he was just 12-years-old from his family without their permission in 1989 before he agreed to be their ‘house boy’.

He was held in “invisible handcuffs” from 1989, too terrified to flee the family-of-four’s home where he slaved away as a “houseboy.”

He had agreed to work for them in exchange for money and education - but the couple paid him just £2-a-week and Ofonime was forced to work for a staggering 17 hours every day for 24 years.

The Edets - who worked as a gynecologist and senior nursing sister - controlled what the victim wore and when he could leave the house.

They also ordered him to speak to them in Nigerian and in English to their children while leaving numerous notes detailing the hours he would have to carry out.

He was made to sleep on the floor of their home on a piece of dirty foam - despite their being a spare room in the house.

They also forbade him to enter any of the rooms of the house unless he was cleaning them and set up CCTV cameras in their home to keep an eye on him whenever they went away.

His only treat in his entire time with the family was a trip to Flamingo Land in Scarborough in 1991.

As the family moved about from Caterham to Scarborough, Walsall and then finally west London, Ofonime was kept from others.

They moved to Northolt in 1995 before settling in a rented house in Perivale, west London, in 2001.

The Edets managed to fool people by claiming that the man had been adopted and suffered for years until he saw a report on modern day slavery and contacted the Hope for Justice charity.

Antan and Emmanuel Edet were arrested in March last year and have now been found guilty of holding a person in slavery or servitude, child cruelty and assisting unlawful immigration.

Detective Chief Inspector Phil Brewer, from the Trafficking and Kidnap Unit, said that the victim now has a new life in the UK, with a job and his own home.

He added: “While he will never fully overcome what happened during those 24 years, he is determined to make the most of the rest of his life and today’s conviction will help him feel he can do that. In his own words, he has hope and a future now.”

The Edets are due to be sentenced today.


49 dead within 24 hours of multiple Boko Haram attacks in Nigeria

Multiple attacks less than 24 hours apart left at least 49 dead in Nigeria on Wednesday, a day after Boko Haram was named the world's deadliest terror group.

At least 15 were killed and more than 100 wounded Wednesday in the northern town of Kano after two suicide bombers blew themselves up outside a busy market. Those attacks came less than a day after 34 people were killed and 80 wounded in an explosion at a market in the northeastern city of Yola late Tuesday.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attacks, but the incidents bore the hallmarks of Boko Haram, which is attempting to create an Islamic caliphate, or state, in Nigeria. The group pledged allegiance to the Islamic State earlier this year.

The attacks broke a three-week hiatus in bombings after a series of suicide attacks culminated in twin blasts in mosques in two northeastern cities on Oct. 23, leaving 42 dead and wounding more than 100.

The Global Terrorism Index said Boko Haram was responsible for 6,644 deaths in 2014, a one-year increase of 317%. The Nigerian terror group overtook the Islamic State, which was responsible for the deaths of 6,073 people, according to the report published Tuesday by the Global Peace Institute.

Overall, Boko Haram's 6-year terror campaign has left more than 20,000 dead and forced another 2.3 million to flee.

Nigeria has experienced the largest increase in terror deaths ever recorded by a single nation, the study added. The nation is facing another insurgency by Fulani militants who killed 1,229 last year.

On Wednesday, Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari ordered the arrest of a former government official and others accused of stealing over $2 billion intended to fund the fight against Boko Haram. Sambo Dasuki, the national security adviser to the previous president Goodluck Jonathan, is accused of awarding fictitious contracts to buy four fighter jets, 12 helicopters and ammunition.

Buhari said if the funds had been properly used, "thousands of needless Nigerian deaths would have been avoided." Dasuki, a retired army colonel, denied the accusations.

acebook activated "Safety Check" following Tuesday's blast in Nigeria, marking just the second time the feature was used after a terror attack. It was first used in the wake of Friday's assaults on the French capital, which left 129 people dead.

However, some users claimed the use of the tool in the wake of the Paris attacks made it seem like those killed in acts of terrorism in other parts of the world — like those a day earlier in Beirut, where more than 43 were killed — didn't matter as much.

​"After the Paris attacks last week, we made the decision to use Safety Check for more tragic events like this going forward. We're now working quickly to develop criteria for the new policy and determine when and how this service can be most useful," CEOMark Zuckerberg said in a post late Tuesday on his Facebook page.

Previously, Safety Check had only been activated in cases of natural disasters. The tool allows people to inform their friends they are safe and check the status of others.

"Unfortunately, these kinds of events are all too common, so I won't post about all of them. A loss of human life anywhere is a tragedy, and we're committed to doing our part to help people in more of these situations."


Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Fuel shortage crisis hits Nigeria

A severe fuel crisis has hit Nigeria with long queues of angry motorists waiting for hours outside petrol stations in major cities to fill up.

Importers are accused of withholding petrol because of a payment dispute with the government, which they deny.

This is the biggest fuel shortage in Nigeria since President Muhammadu Buhari took office in May.

Nigeria is Africa's main oil exporter but imports most of its petrol because it lacks the capacity to refine it.

The fuel is imported at a subsidised price under a scheme operated by the state-owned Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).

Earlier this month, the government approved the payment of $2.1bn (£1.4bn) to the importers, or wholesale fuel sellers, to settle subsidy claims.

However, payment has been delayed because parliament has not yet approved it.

The BBC's Bashir Sa'ad Abdullahi in the capital, Abuja, says previous governments tended to pay the wholesale fuel sellers without parliamentary approval.

But it seems that President Buhari is trying to stick to the law by refusing to release such a large sum of money without parliamentary scrutiny, he says.

Mr Buhari took office partly on a pledge to curb corruption in the oil sector.

'Huge scam'

One motorist in the main northern city, Kano, told the BBC Hausa Service that he spent the night in his car while waiting in a queue to fill petrol.

"I have been here for more than 12 hours and I don't know if I will get the fuel at all," he said.

Another motorist said he was in the queue for about eight hours and "only people with connections were being allowed to buy the fuel".

The fuel subsidy scheme has become an enormous scam, our correspondent says.

The wholesalers often pretend to bring in a lot more oil than they do and pocket the money they get for the petrol that is not delivered, he says.

In May, the country was brought to a standstill when the importers went on strike following a row over payments with the outgoing government of President Goodluck Jonathan.


Nigerian officials loot $2 billion dollar anti-terrorism fund

Thousands of Nigerians have died needlessly in terrorist attacks as officials looted more than $2-billion (U.S.) in funds intended for weapons to fight the insurgents, Nigerian president Muhammadu Buhari says.

In a statement late on Tuesday night, Mr. Buhari revealed details of “fictitious and phantom” military contracts of stunning scale and cynicism – including $1.7-billion allocated for four jets, 12 helicopters and unspecified amounts of bombs and ammunition. The equipment was never provided and the money disappeared, he said.

The stolen money has made it easier for Boko Haram to kill thousands of people while the Nigerian military lacked the weaponry to defeat it, the statement said.

Mr. Buhari ordered the arrest of all officials “complicit” in the “fraudulent acts,” including the former National Security Advisor, retired lieutenant-colonel Sambo Dasuki.

Boko Haram, a radical Islamist militia in northeastern Nigeria that has sworn allegiance to the so-called Islamic State movement, has now overtaken Islamic State to become the world’s deadliest terrorist organization, according to a new report.

The report by the Institute for Economics and Peace, a global think tank, said Boko Haram was responsible for 6,644 deaths last year, while Islamic State killed 6,073 people last year.

Nigerians have long complained of massive corruption in the Nigerian military and security agencies, and soldiers have often said that they lacked the equipment to fight Boko Haram, but the new investigation is the first to give details and name the alleged mastermind of the looting.

Mr. Buhari, who took office in May after defeating former president Goodluck Jonathan in an election, appointed a 13-person committee to audit Nigeria’s military spending over the past eight years. The committee began work on Aug. 31, but its interim report has already found “illicit and fraudulent financial transactions.”

The statement on Tuesday night said the Nigerian military was in “desperate need” of equipment and ammunition when the funds were stolen.

“Had the funds siphoned to these non-performing companies been properly used for the purpose they were meant for, thousands of needless Nigerian deaths would have been avoided,” said the statement, issued by Mr. Buhari’s spokesman, Femi Adesina, and later tweeted on Mr. Buhari’s official Twitter account.

“It is worrisome and disappointing that those entrusted with the security of this great nation were busy using proxies to siphon the national treasury, while innocent lives were wasted daily,” the statement said.

In addition to the phantom contracts for jets and helicopters, Mr. Dasuki ordered Nigeria’s central bank to transfer more than $130-million to foreign bank accounts “for unascertained purposes, without any contract documents to explain the transactions,” the statement said.

It said it was “disturbing” that the investigation also discovered that other contracts were awarded to companies that had consistently failed to deliver what they were required to supply in previous contracts.

Mr. Dasuki denied the allegations. Speaking to Nigerian media on Wednesday, he said he was “surprised” and “embarrassed” by the allegations.

Mr. Dasuki, one of the most powerful officials in the former Goodluck Jonathan government, has been under house arrest for the past week on accusations of money laundering and illegal arms possession.

The Globe and Mail

Video - 32 dead in market explosion in Nigeria

More than 30 people have been killed in a suicide attack at a market in the northern Nigerian city of Yola, officials say.

The blast, heard across the city, struck a busy vegetable market where traders were closing up on Tuesday.

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari visited Yola on Saturday, declaring that the Islamist militant movement Boko Haram was close to defeat.

Yola has twice been hit by deadly bomb attacks this year.

The city lies in the north-eastern state of Adamawa, one of the worst hit by the Boko Haram insurgency.

More than 80 people have been taken to hospital, some with serious injuries, emergency workers say.


Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Former Super Eagle and current head coach of Nigeria's U-23 football team Samon Siasia's mother kidnapped

News emerging this morning reveals that the mother of current head coach of Nigeria’s U-23 football team, Samson Siasia has been kidnapped. According to reports, gunmen stormed the family residence of the Siasia’s in the early hours of Tuesday morning at Odoni community of Sagama Local Council Area of Bayelsa State and forcefully whisked away Siasia’s mother on a motorcycle.

Bayelsa State Police Command spokesperson, ASP Ansinim Butswat, has confirmed the incident saying that the matter has been reported, but details were still sketchy.

Speaking to the media on the incident, a distraught Siasia has expressed his confusion at the occurrence of the event. Siasia said: “Right now I am confused, from the story I got, three men on motorbike stormed my parents’ house in my village Odoni in Bayelsa State, shot sporadically into the air before taking my old mother away on a bike.

“What do they expect from me? I don’t have money, I am right now on national duty, and need all the time to concentrate on this very important national task. So, I beg them to please release my mother so that I can concentrate on this task of qualifying the U-23 National Team for the men’s football event of the Rio Olympics.”

In a statement released on the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF) website, NFF president, Amaju Pinnick has appealed to the kidnappers to release the 72 year old mother of the coach. “This is quite disturbing. We are just preparing for a crucial 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying match, and the U-23 boys are already in The Gambia for a pre-Cup of Nationstraining camp. Why this?

“All we can do is to appeal to the kidnappers to free Samson Siasia’s aged mother. Samson is on a critical national assignment presently and the last he needs is this kind of distraction,” Said Pinnick. As at the time of this report, it was revealed that the kidnappers are yet to demand ransom from the family.


Video - Nigeria Super Eagles make light fun of Obi Mikel during penalty kicks practice

The Super Eagles tried their legs at penalty kicks ahead of their second leg, second round 2018 World Cup qualifier against Swaziland in Port Harcourt. Players involved in the shootout were Obafemi Martins, Elderson Echiejile, Efe Ambrose, Sylvester Igbonu, Moses Simon and John Obi Mikel against goalkeepers Carl Ikeme and Ikechukwu Ezenwa.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Video - Highlights of the 2015 African Music Awards hosted in Nigeria

The All Africa Music Awards 2015 took place in Nigeria over the weekend. The event which aims to preserve the African music culture saw East africa dethrone Nigeria as the region took more awards this year. Diamond Platinumz from Tanzania stole the night taking home three awards and being crowned the african artist of the year.

Boko Haram bomb making factory discovered in Borno, Nigeria

The Nigerian Army on Monday said it has uncovered a factory in Bama, Borno state, where the extremist Boko Haram sect manufactures rockets and Improvised Explosives Devices.

The spokesperson for the Army, Sani Usman, who make the disclosure in a statement, also said “troops of the Seventh Division Garrison of the Nigerian Army engaged in Operation Lafiya Dole on Sunday made remarkable progress by arresting a Boko Haram terrorist kingpin, John Trankil, at Kasuwar Shanu in Maiduguri metropolis”.

Mr. Usman, a colonel, also said by arresting Mr. Trankil, the troops averted what would have been multiple bombings in Maiduguri, the Borno state capital.

The statement said, “Preliminary investigation revealed that the suspect said that nine of them were sneaked into the Maiduguri armed with AK 47 assault rifle each and a Hilux vehicle laden with 20 Improvised Explosive Devices meant to be detonated at some selected targets in the city.

“The Theatre Commander operation LAFIYA DOLE, Major General Yusha’u Mahmood Abubakar, commended the efforts of the troops and renewed calls for troops and the public to be more vigilant and security conscious particularly at all check points, markets, worship centres, motor parks and schools.

“In a related development, troops of 21 Brigade Nigerian Army, while on offensive operations on Boko Haram terrorists location, with the support from the Nigerian Airforce discovered and destroyed the terrorists’ Improvised Explosive Device (IED) and Rocket making factory along Bama-Gonin Kurmi within the outskirts of Bama town, Borno State.

“The items recovered includes gas cylinders, welding machine, pipes and poles. Others include locally made rocket shells, large quantity of assorted chemicals, unprimed IEDs and various technical and laboratory equipment suspected to be stolen from schools’ laboratories around Bama before they were dislodged from the area.”

Premium Times

Video - Nigeria sends army to quell protests in oil-rich south-east region

Nigeria is to send more troops into its oil-rich south-east region. That's to step up security, amid widening street protests by a separatist group. 

Nigerian Scholar Dr. Opeyemi Enoch solves 156 year old math problem - wins $1 million prize

A Nigerian scholar and an academic at the Federal University, Oye Ekiti, Ekiti State, Dr. Opeyemi Enoch, has provided proof for the old Riemann Hypothesis, thereby solving a 156-year-old problem that has remained a knotty issue in mathematics. By this feat, Enoch has become the fourth scholar to resolve one of the seven Millennium Problems in Mathematics.

A statement from the university in Ado Ekiti on Sunday said Enoch’s presentation of the solution last Wednesday at the International Conference on Mathematics and Computer Science in Vienna, Austria, became more symbolic coming on the exact day and month 156 years after the problem was brought to light by a German mathematician in 1859.

The Riemann Zeta Hypothesis is one of the seven Millennium Problems set forth by the Clay Mathematics Institute with a million dollar reward for each solved problem for the past 16 years.

According to the statement, “Dr. Enoch first investigated and established the claims by Riemann. He went on to consider and correct the misconceptions that were communicated by mathematicians in past generations, thus paving the way for his solution and proof to be established.

“He also showed how other problems of this kind can be formulated and obtained the matrix that Hilbert and Poly predicted will give these undiscovered solutions. He revealed how these solutions are applicable in cryptography, quantum information science and in quantum computers.”

Three of the problems had been solved and the prizes given to the winners. This makes it the fourth to be solved of the seven problems. The Kogi State-born scholar had previously worked on mathematical models and structures for generating electricity from sound, thunder and oceanic bodies. He also once designed the prototype of a silo for peasant farmers and discovered a scientific technique for detecting and tracking someone on an evil mission.¨In addition, Enoch has succeeded in inventing methods by which oil pipelines can be protected from vandalism and is currently working on mathematical approaches to climate change.

This Day

Deadlline for MTN to pay $5.2 billion fine extended by Nigeria

African telecommunications giant MTN says Nigeria is extending Monday's deadline for it to pay a $5.2 billion fine.

A statement from the South African-based company says the fine will not be paid until negotiations are concluded with the Nigerian Communications Commission.

MTN CEO Sifiso Dabengwa resigned last week over the fine, imposed for failing to meet a deadline to deactivate 5.2 million unregistered SIM cards, a security issue in Nigeria. Authorities say cell phones are used to coordinate attacks by Boko Haram Islamic extremists as well as in rampant kidnappings and armed robberies.

MTN shares have slumped. Nigeria's 60 million-plus MTN subscribers provide about one third of profits for MTN Group, which has 233 million subscribers in Africa, Asia and the Middle East.


Friday, November 13, 2015

Video - China pledges to help Nigeria meet development goals

The Chinese government has assured African countries, especially Nigeria of its commitment to see them meet the Millennium Development Goals as outlined by the United Nations. The pledge was made during the presentation of papers by officials of both governments at the Nineteenth Brain storming Session on the UN Sustainable Development Goals in Nigeria.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Video - FIFA U17 World Cup winners receive heroes welcome in Nigeria

Nigeria's Under-17 team returned home on Wednesday to a rapturous reception after their World Cup success in Chile.

Thousands were at Abuja's international airport to greet the team, who beat Mali 2-0 in Sunday's final.

Fans cheered and hugged the Golden Eaglets players and officials, who also posed for pictures with supporters.

"It gives us great joy to see Nigerians come out in big numbers to celebrate the team's success," coach Emmanuel Amuneke told BBC Sport.

"Football is a powerful force and the win in Chile shows how successful we can be as a nation if we all work together for a common goal.

"We thank everyone for a great welcome and their incredible support during and after the tournament."

Players and officials were driven round the Federal Capital Territory in a motorcade before the convoy arrived at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel.

The squad had dinner with the country's new sports minister Solomon Dalong on Wednesday night at the hotel.

They are expected to reconvene for a presidential reception with president Muhamadu Buhari on a date yet to be announced.

The Golden Eaglets not only successfully defended their crown in Chile, they also took centre stage when it came to the individual honours.

Captain Kelechi Nwakali made his mark on the competition by winning the Golden Ball as the tournament's best player. His three goals and three assists also earned him the bronze boot as the third highest scorer.

With 10 goals - a new tournament record - striker Victor Osimhen won the golden boot as well as the silver ball as the competition's second best player.


Related story: Video - Nigeria defend title and defeat Mali in 2015 FIFA U17 World Cup Final

Nigeria's 36 new ministers pledge to bring change in Nigeria

Some of the 36 new ministers assumed duties few hours after they were inaugurated on Wednesday by President Muhammadu Buhari.

The ministers were at their various ministries where they pledged to bring about ‘change’ promised by the ruling All Progressives Congress.

The new Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Audu Ogbeh, assured the ministry’s officials who received him that he would reduce the $32 billion Nigeria spends in importing food yearly.
Mr. Ogbeh, who was accompanied by the Minister of State, Heineken Lokpobiri, said following the dwindling oil revenue, there is now pressure on the agricultural sector to earn foreign exchange to replace the resource.

He stated that there was an urgent need to intensify research and marketing for food.

“Oil and gas has served Nigeria well. We did not manage the resources well. We can’t blame oil and gas. Now the pressure is on agriculture. How we are going to make it work to ensure yield and harvest is a burden all of us will carry together,” he said.

“We are going to face very serious challenges. We have to earn foreign exchange to replace oil. The demand out there is very high if we can produce the right quantity and quality.

“We have to intensify research, marketing of food. We have to deal with reducing the import burden of food of almost $32bn a year. I don’t know how somebody can explain importing bananas to the country or Irish potatoes from South Africa or vegetables from South Africa into our shores.”

Mr. Ogbeh, a former national chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, assured that during his tenure the problem of high rate of malnutrition in the country would be tackled.

He said that cancer, liver and kidney failure had increased by 25 per cent in the last 25 years due to food poisoning.
“What is even worse, which we will together deal with, is the nutrition problem. Cancer, liver and kidney failure have increased 25 per cent in the last 25 years. A lot of poisoning is getting into our food system simply from packaging,” he said.

In the Ministry of Transport, the new Minister, Chibuike Amaechi, who said he would fully assume duties on November 17, assured that he would complete all the rail projects began by the previous federal administration.

Mr. Amaechi, a former governor of Rivers State, urged parastatals and agencies under the ministry and the aviation sector to cooperate with him to move the sector forward.

He said he would commence work by looking at the ministry’s budget and its level of implementation.

“Rail transport is the easiest thing to achieve if you get capable hands. We are going to work towards completing abandoned rail projects,” he said.

“They will help create employment and ease mass transportation of people. Our mandate is to deliver quality service to the people in accordance with the change agenda.”

On personal principles, Mr. Amaechi added, “If you come to me to gossip about anyone, be rest assured that l will tell the person concerned that this is what you said and you will be there to defend yourself, wrong or right.

“I am not as bad as they say. A lot of names have been given to me but I believe in principles. I don’t like protocols. When I say I hate corruption, I mean it. I don’t give bribe and I don’t take either. If you want to relate with me don’t give me money and don’t ask me for money.

“Just do your job creditably. Don’t see me on the road and run away. I am not as bad as they paint me. I don’t steal and l don’t befriend thieves and don’t put me in a position that l will not be able to call a thief, thief. Let us be friends because l am here to learn.”

The Minister of State for Aviation, Hadi Sirika, said whatever promise that had been made would be fulfilled and that the era of talking tough without acting had come to an end.
He assured that the new federal administration would deliver on its promises because it was aware of the high hope and expectation of Nigerians.
On his part, the new Minister of Labour and Productivity, Chris Ngige, said he would tackle unemployment effectively during his tenure.
“We will be at the forefront of the battle to stop the scourge of unemployment in the country,” Mr. Ngige, a former senator, said while addressing the workers of the ministry.
“We must, as a people, put on our thinking caps so that we can chart the way forward for employment generation.”
Mr. Ngige, a former senator, said although the new federal administration might not provide jobs for all unemployed people, it would provide the enabling environment for all the sectors to thrive.
According to him, efforts were already on to block all leakages so available resources could be committed to development.
He said, “We are the catalyst, the change agent of the change era; if we block leakages in our system, the country will be better for its resources will be made available for economic growth.”
The new Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, who was accompanied by the minister of state, Mustapha Shehuri, said he would bring together processes and activities of all the three ministries under his supervision.

“We are here to work with you in solving problems on ground as quickly as possible,” he said.

“We want to know if some of those problems are man-made or systemic. We want information on what has been done, what remains to be done, and what are the future plans. We want to continue from there.”

The former governor of Lagos State assured that he would harness the available human resource assets in the ministry and the physical assets, ‘’as all these information will assist us as we hit the ground running. We need to do more so as to regain lost time.”

Mr. Fashola said he would ensure there is improved power supply across the federation.

Mr. Shehuri, on his part, asked for a detailed ministerial briefing document to serve as a guide, adding that it would ensure proper take-off of duties.

The Minister of Environment, Aisha Mohammed, said she would achieve the mandate given to the ministry by Mr. Buhari.

“As the minister of state has reiterated, there is a time frame and within that time frame we have to deliver the dividends of this administration to our people,” she said.

“The one commitment that we can make is that as we read through this brief that you’ve got here, it is about us building on the successes that we have in this ministry and ensuring that the teams that we have are working effectively with the skills that will take it to another level.

“It certainly can’t be business as usual because the President has said it and I hope that the Ministry of Environment will give the support to the Minister of State and myself to make real difference and to be a role model for what we mean by that in the country.

“The country has environmental issues everywhere. There is no part of this country that is devoid of the challenges that we have and what we need to do is to find the resources, those that are within the country and the other two tiers of government, the resources that are outside the borders of Nigeria to make sure that we make a considerable impact with what we have.’’

The Minister of State for Environment, Ibrahim Jubril, appealed to the workers to cooperate with him and the minister.

The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Emmanuel Kachikwu, said the outstanding subsidy payments to oil marketers approved by Mr. Buhari would be paid immediately the government gets the approval of the National Assembly.

He assured of constant fuel supply across the country.

Mr. Kachikwu, who said he would continue in office as Group Managing Director of NNPC, added, “One thing is certain, whatever time I spend here, it is going to be spent with a lot of respect for the dignity of people. I am a very respectful person and I give as much as I expect to have.”

He said he would soon engage the executives of the various parastatals with a view to finding out if they have the capacity and ability to deliver the change mantra.

On the pending Petroleum Industry Bill, the minister said: “Government believes in the bill still. Government wants to see the PIB come through. However, government has indicated that there is a need to look at the PIB as was submitted to the sixth assembly and try and tinker with it.

“There are all kinds of issues. One of them is whether we need to yank out the fiscal terms and develop them into a different law, rely on existing laws, amend them or whether we do that as a separate component of law.”

“We will be at the forefront of the battle to stop the scourge of unemployment in the country. We must as a people put on our thinking caps so that we can chart the way forward for employment generation.”

On her part, the Minister of Finance, Kemi Adesosun, at a meeting with senior officials of her ministry, said the federal government had a clear direction towards returning the nation to the path of growth.

She however said that would depend on the management and staff of the ministry.

Okechukwu Enelamah, the minister of industry, trade and investment, who was accompanied by the minister of state, Aisha Abubakar, to the ministry, pledged to start work immediately.

Mr. Enelamah revealed his excitement over his new assignment and asked for the cooperation and support of the officials of the ministry.

‎The new minister of Solid Minerals, Kayode Fayemi, also assumed duties at the ministry’s headquarters, in Abuja shortly after the inaugural meeting of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) on Wednesday.

Mr. Fayemi who was received by top officials of the ministry, held a meeting with them.

In attendance at the meeting were the Minister of State for Solid Minerals, Abubakar Bwari, the Permanent Secretary of the ministry, and some directors.

Mr. Fayemi told the officials of government’s plan to re-position the ministry as a major contributor to the economic growth of the country, adding that no stone would be left unturned in the bid to achieve the set goals.

Premium Times

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Video - Nigerians turning waste to wealth

As Africa's most populated country, Nigeria produces huge volumes of waste each year, yet the country doesn't have an organised waste management system. There is however a group of savvy entrepreneurs who are managing to turn this waste into wealth.

Related story: Video - Recycling incetive introduced in Lagos, Nigeria

Nigerian political party PDP apologizes for past mistakes

The opposition Peoples Democratic Party has apologised to Nigerians for some of the mistakes the party made while it was in power between 1999 and 2015.

The party’s apologies were conveyed by the Chairman of the planning committee of the PDP National Conference, Raymond Dokpesi while addressing the media Tuesday in Abuja.

“We are aware of the errors of the past 16 years, as human beings, we must have made mistakes and we could not meet the expectations of Nigerians, for that we tender an unreserved apology,” Mr. Dokpesi said.

“Make no mistake, the PDP is aware that there were errors made along the way.

“We admit that at certain times in our past, mistakes have been made, we did not meet the expectations of Nigerians,” he said.

Mr. Dokpesi, who also announced that the party’s national conference would hold at the Thisday Dome in Abuja on Thursday said the PDP had learnt from its mistakes and that the conference was planned to find ways of reviewing issues fundamental to the promotion and sustenance of good governance and democratic ideals in Nigeria.

Mr. Dokpesi identified some of the mistakes made by the PDP to included a deviation from the vision and principles of the founding fathers of the party.

He also said the party’s decision to abandon its zoning formula greatly led to its predicament.

“The first fundamental mistake was made in 2010-2011 by not allowing the North to complete its tenure,” he said.

He also said the decision to block other party members interested in running for the presidency against former President Goodluck Jonathan and the abandonment of internal democracy as well as the inability to ensure that the party was supreme in all matters contributed to the problems of the PDP.

Mr. Dokpesi said the national conference would show Nigerians that the leadership of the PDP “mean business” and “are determined to turn things around”.

He said as a fallout of the matters arising from the last general elections, it had become necessary to bring together the different stakeholders of the PDP in a National Conference that would critically review the current state of affairs in the party and suggest modalities that would allow the party return to power at all levels of governance across the country.


Mr. Dokpesi said the PDP would reinvent itself by transforming into a youth-oriented party.

In that regard, he said over 50 per cent of delegates for Thursday’s national conference were youth selected from the 774 local governments across Nigeria.

“We have decided that 774 youth below the age of 35, who must have a university degree or equivalent, are delegates to the conference,” he said.
He added that another batch of 774 female members who must also fall within the youth age bracket were also invited.

He said the National Working Committee of the party was determined to return the PDP to the ordinary members ahead the next national convention of the party, billed for March 2016.

“The young generation would be the centre of focus for the new PDP,” he said.

Premium Times

Nigeria rejects report stating it has world's worst airport

Unhelpful staff, demands for bribes, lack of seating, broken air-conditioning and a tent for an arrivals hall. Nigeria's Port Harcourt International Airport was recently voted the worst in the world.

The damning verdict came from a travel website,, based on feedback from thousands of travellers on criteria such as terminal services and facilities, cleanliness and comfort.

As well as the dubious global honour, Port Harcourt, Nigeria's oil hub, was described as "the dirtiest and most corrupt airport in Africa".

The capital, Abuja, and financial hub, Lagos, were judged seventh and 10th worst on the continent.

But the country's aviation regulator, the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), disputed the ranking.

FAAN spokesman Yakubu Dati called it "unfounded" as the domestic terminal at Port Harcourt was undergoing renovation and a new international terminal was being built.

Lagos' Murtala Muhammed International Airport has also undergone similar renovation, while Chinese engineers are building a new terminal at the Nnamdi Azikiwe airport in Abuja.

"While we regret any inconvenience experienced at these airports, including Port Harcourt International Airport, due to ongoing construction projects, we promise all airport users that services at these airports will surely get better at the completion of these projects," he told AFP.

Nigeria's aviation industry has evolved since the liquidation of the state-run Nigeria Airways in the early 2000s because of mismanagement and corruption.

With more than 20 functional planes in 1979, the national carrier was left with just two in 1999, prompting the government to throw open the skies to the private sector.

Carriers such as Arik Air, Dana Air, Aero Contractors, Med-View, Kabo and Overland Airways have since emerged as key players.

Arik, which has a partnership for maintenance with Lufthansa, is dominant with a strong presence on domestic and regional routes, as well as longer-haul flights to London, and Johannesburg.

Med-View recently got the nod to fly Lagos-London from November 20.

- Safety fears -

British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, Lufthansa, Air France-KLM, Gulf carriers Emirates and Qatar Airways and African airlines South African and Ethiopian are among international carriers flying to Nigeria.

On domestic routes, fuel shortages regularly lead to flight cancellations while air crashes, such as a Dana Air flight that came down in Lagos in 2012, killing 147, have generated safety fears.

In airports themselves, decaying or non-existent facilities have failed to make good impressions.

In 2012, the government awarded contracts to remodel Nigeria's 22 airports, including the construction of new terminals at four international airports, with the help of a $500 million loan from China's Nexim Bank.

On completion, the projects are expected to help grow passenger traffic to 16 million passengers per year, from 14.1 million in 2012.

Aviation experts, however, say the extent of works do not correspond to the money spent.

"The remodelling of the airports has been on for four years, but regrettably, not much is on ground in terms of modern facilities," said a former senior official of the Nigeria Airspace Management Agency on condition of anonymity.

The chairman of commercial carrier Arik, Joseph Arumemi-Ikhide, shared a similar view and called on the government to focus on infrastructure, from terminals to luggage conveyor belts.

"With this and good fuel supply the airlines can operate efficiently," he said.

Niyi Akinnaso, a US-based university teacher and newspaper columnist, said familiar Nigerian problems of mismanagement and corruption were holding the sector back.

The $500 million Chinese loan would not have been necessary if there were proper accountability in revenue collection, he argued in a recent article in The Punch newspaper.

He said the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria rakes in more than $2 billion a year from passenger surcharges and other fees, including a $60 surcharge from every international ticket.


Related story: Port Harcourt International airport in Nigeria voted world's worst airport

President Muhammadu Buhari swears in new cabinet members

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari swore 36 ministers into his cabinet on Wednesday, nearly six months after he was sworn in.

Until now, although the senate had approved all 36 nominees, no one knew which portfolio each of the ministers would be assigned.

Buhari won March elections after vowing to crack down on corruption in Africa's biggest economy and top oil producer. He has been criticized for waiting until September to name his ministers at a time when the economy has been hammered by the fall in oil prices.

Buhari's cabinet is smaller than that of his predecessor, Goodluck Jonathan, who had 42 ministers. Under the constitution, the president must include a member from each of the country's 36 states.

Lengthy process

Garba Shehu, senior special assistant to the president on media and publicity, told VOA last month the selection process had taken this long because President Buhari, unlike previous presidents, has high expectations of his cabinet.

Professor Kabiru Mato, director of the political science department of the University Abuja, said Nigerians are anxious to know who will occupy some of the key cabinet posts, including the finance and foreign ministries, and especially whether Buhari will make good on his plan to take over the oil ministry, which accounts for nearly 70 percent of all Nigerian government revenue but which had been plagued in the past by corruption.

“After the swearing-in, the president will now allocate responsibilities or assign each of these 36 ministers to the various ministries and departments of government that they are supposed to serve. And after the portfolios are assigned, then the president said he’s going to have his first federal executive council meeting,” he said.

Mato said Nigerians do not know which ministers are going to occupy which departments because Buhari did not submit the nominees with their assigned portfolios at their senate confirmation hearing.

As a result, Mato said, much of what Nigerians know about the portfolios has been based on speculation. Some said the cabinet is made up of many familiar faces who helped elect Buhari.

Key ministries

Among the candidates for the key ministry of finance is Okechukwu Enyinna Enelamah, a former Goldman Sachs banker who heads Nigeria's biggest private equity firm, African Capital Alliance.

Mato said the new cabinet ministers will carry big responsibilities.

“Whoever the president nominated and confirmed by the senate, it is assumed that that person is going to be an agent of change. He’s also going to play a credible role that Nigeria is no longer going to be run with business as usual where people who are appointed to lofty cabinet positions are only to serve their aggrandizement as against providing their skills and entrepreneurship and expertise in moving the nation forward,” he said.

Mato said he hopes President Buhari will make good on his suggestion that he will to take over the oil ministry.

“The president’s body language seems to suggest that he’s going to appoint a minister of state for petroleum while he sits in as overall supervisor of the petroleum sector. I think that would be a very wise decision based on the fact that he desires to put some very tight control measures in the way and manner that national resources from the sale of oil, which of course constitutes more than 80 percent of the total income of the country,” Mato said.


Tuesday, November 10, 2015

President Muhammadu Buhari sacks anti-corruption chief

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has sacked the head of the country's anti-corruption agency.

No reason was given for the removal of Ibrahim Lamorde, the chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

In August, Mr Lamorde denied allegations that $5bn (£3.3bn) had gone missing at the commission.

Mr Buhari won Nigeria's presidential elections in March, promising to fight corruption in the country.

In August, a Senate committee said it was investigating charges that assets and cash recovered by the EFCC had been diverted.

At the time, Mr Lamorde told the BBC the charges were a smear campaign.

He led the EFCC for four years until his dismissal on Monday.

President Buhari's spokesman Garba Shehu said later on Monday that assistant Police Commissioner Ibrahim Mustafa Magu had been appointed as the EFCC acting commissioner.

President Buhari - the former army general known for his authoritarian style - was elected in March on a platform of cleaning up Nigerian politics, the BBC's Martin Patience in Lagos reports.

More than five months after he came to power his new cabinet is finally expected to be sworn in later this week. The reason for the extraordinary delay is that President Buhari wants to try to ensure that new ministers will not use their offices for personal gain, our correspondent says.

He adds that this has won Mr Buhari widespread support in Nigeria where many are tired of the corruption, which they believe is preventing the country from realising its full economic potential.


Monday, November 9, 2015

Video - MTN CEO resigns due to $5.2 billion fine imposed by Nigeria

MTN Group Ltd. Chief Executive Officer Sifiso Dabengwa unexpectedly resigned from Africa’s biggest mobile-phone operator to take responsibility for a $5.2 billion fine in Nigeria that’s wiped almost a fifth off the market value of the company.

Dabengwa will be replaced by former CEO and Chairman Phuthuma Nhleko, 55, for as many as six months while the company searches for a permanent successor, Johannesburg-based MTN said in a statement on Monday. Nhleko, who led MTN for almost nine years until 2011 and increased subscriber numbers 30-fold through rapid international expansion, said he will deal with the Nigerian Communications Commission personally about the penalty. Talks are at an advanced stage, according to people familiar with the matter, who asked not to be identified as discussions are private.

Nhleko said he will “pro-actively deal with the Nigerian regulator and will continue to work with them in addressing the issues.” MTN shares traded 1.8 percent higher at 160.35 rand as of 11:43 a.m. in Johannesburg.

Dabengwa, 57, resigned over the weekend after consultation with the board and his financial compensation hasn’t been decided, spokesman Chris Maroleng said by phone, describing the move as an “honorable gesture.” The company has until Nov. 16 to pay the Nigerian fine, which was imposed for missing a deadline to disconnect 5.1 million unregistered subscribers and is based on a charge of 200,000 naira ($1,008) for each unregistered customer.

“We’ve been anticipating this but not the timing,” Arthur Goldstuck, an analyst at World Wide Worx, said by phone. “One can only assume his role in the negotiations was not effective.”

MTN shares have declined about 16 percent since the Nigeria penalty was made public two weeks, valuing the company at 289 billion rand ($20.4 billion).

“The departure of Sifiso Dabengwa is the beginning of a clearing out that is necessary to regain the confidence of investors,” Goldstuck said.

MTN expanded into markets such as Iraq and Syria under Nhleko and now has more than 230 million customers in 22 countries. Nigeria is the company’s biggest market with more than 62 million subscribers, or almost a quarter of the total. The NCC last week approved the renewal and extension of MTN’s license for another five years until 2021 pending the payment of $94.2 million.

“Due to the most unfortunate prevailing circumstances occurring at MTN Nigeria, I, in the interest of the company and its shareholders, have tendered my resignation with immediate effect,” Dabengwa said in the statement. He didn’t answer calls to his mobile-phone seeking further comment.

“Sifiso leaving is a loss to the industry,” Shameel Joosob, CEO of MTN competitor Vodacom Group Ltd., said by phone. “I see this issue as a bump in the road. They will probably negotiate a settlement on the fine.”


Nigeria wins World Scrabble Championship

Nigerians have been congratulating countryman Wellington Jighere, who has become the first African to win the English-language World Scrabble Championship.

The 32-year-old beat Englishman Lewis MacKay 4-0 in the final in Australia.

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari was among those to congratulate him, saying he has "done the country proud".

Mr Jighere said on his Facebook page that he felt he was playing with the "whole continent" behind him.

He added that it "still baffles" him that he managed to win, given how tired he felt as he had "not slept well in about a week".

Wellington Jighere put down:
Dacoit - a member of a class of robbers in India and Burma
Yow - Australian slang for keeping a look-out
Katti - an alternative spelling for a weight used in China
Aah - an expression of surprise

Lewis MacKay put down:
Jomo - an alternative spelling for zhomo, an animal bred from a yak and a cow
Yex - an Old English word for sobbing
Guiro - a musical instrument made from a gourd
Wemb - an obsolete alternative spelling of womb
Onely - an obsolete alternative spelling of only

He told the Guardian newspaper that he had training to deal with the fatigue from the jet lag, but also had to cope with 32 rounds of matches in four days before getting to the final in Perth.

Mr Jighere and the five other members of the Nigerian team only arrived in Australia the day before the tournament started, so had little chance to get over the 20-hour flight or the seven-hour time difference.

President Buhari phoned him in Perth to "rejoice" with him over the performance and pass on his congratulations to all the players, who finished the competition as the best team.

According to the president's spokesman, Mr Jighere "pledged to bring more glory to his fatherland".

Mr Jighere will be coming home with a $10,000 (£6,600) prize but now has to find a job.

He recently finished his national service following his graduation from university, but took a few months off from looking for work in order to prepare for the championship.

President of Nigeria's Scrabble federation Sulaiman Gora told the BBC on the telephone from Nigeria that Mr Jighere is a quiet person whose "greatest strength is humility".

Mr Gora, who also heads the Pan-African Scrabble federation, said that the "whole country and the whole of Africa is celebrating this success".

In 2008, Ivorian Elisee Poka won the French-language Scrabble World Championship and this year Schelick Ilagou Rekawe from Gabon reached the final of that competition. He lost to New Zealander Nigel Richards, who does not speak French.


Video - Nigeria defend title and defeat Mali in 2015 FIFA U17 World Cup Final

A very good Final at the FIFA U-17 World Cup Chile 2015 between the Nigerians and Malians was a worthy end to a fantastic event.

Friday, November 6, 2015

South African government concerned about $5.2 billion imposed by Nigeria on MTN

The South African government has expressed concerns about the $5.2 billion fine imposed on MTN by the Nigerian communications regulator.

Video - President Muhammadu Buhari warns Nigeria's cabinet against corruption

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has warned his incoming cabinet ministers against committing any acts of corruption while in office.. Earlier in the year, President Buhari campaigned on a pledge to stamp out endemic graft in Africa's largest economy.

Britain plans to deport 29,000 Nigerians

Britain is working with the Federal Government on the planned deportation of 29,000 Nigerians from the United Kingdom, an exercise that is expected to commence soon after fulfillment of all legal obligations.

The UK stated that it would continue to maintain dialogue with the FG “on this important and sensitive matter which is of vital importance to our relations.”

The UK High Commission in Nigeria told our correspondent in Abuja that the removal of persons who did not have a right to remain in the UK is carried out in conjunction with relevant Nigerian authorities including the Nigeria High Commission in London.

The acting Nigeria High Commissioner in London, Olukunle Bamgbose, had informed Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, during his visit to London in October, 2015, that the UK government had placed deportation tag on 29,000 Nigerians.

He expressed worries over the removal policy of the UK government, noting that the migration policy came as a result of the migration crisis created by the troubled regions in the world.

“I think about 29,000 Nigerians have been designated to be deported. We are insisting that due process must be followed before Nigerians are really removed from the UK to Nigeria,” Bamgbose had said.

But responding to inquiries by our correspondent, the Press and Public Affairs Officer, UK High Commission, Joe Abuku, said the UK had always worked with FG to facilitate visas for large numbers of travellers between the two countries and “to ensure the return of the small minority who choose not to return when their visa expired.”

He did not confirm the number of Nigerians that would be affected by the deportation exercise, but stressed that those concerned would be removed “after we have determined nationality.”


Video - Nigeria beat Mexico to make it to the FIFA U17 World Cup Final

The Nigerians and Mexicans lived up to all the hype and attacking promise in a thrilling last four at Chile 2015.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Nigeria cancels oil swap bidding

Nigeria's NNPC said on Tuesday it had cancelled bidding for new crude oil swap agreements and will instead directly sell crude oil to refiners, and purchase refined oil products from them.

State oil company NNPC said in a statement that the move was "designed to enshrine transparency and eliminate the activities of middlemen" in the swap scheme.

NNPC had shortlisted 44 companies for the swap agreements for 2016, also called "offshore processing arrangements" (OPAs), but said most of them did not directly operate refineries.

Getting oil products from such companies, NNPC said, would "constitute a significant value loss" for the country.

"Only bona fide owners of refineries identified in the ongoing OPA tender evaluation process will be further engaged," NNPC said in the statement.

Oil-rich Nigeria is reliant on imported gasoline, kerosene and other petroleum products. In addition to the swap arrangement, it also relies on an import subsidy scheme that is itself fraud-ridden and expensive.

Efforts to revamp its own long-neglected refineries this year have met with limited success.

NNPC is currently relying on interim swap agreements made in September after it cancelled the original 2015 deals because they were "skewed in favour of the companies."

The current swap agreement partners are NNPC trading subsidiary Duke Oil, an NNPC joint-venture called Calson, which is with Swiss trader Vitol, and another called Napoil, which is with commodities trader Trafigura.

Sources told Reuters that a non-incorporated joint venture between oil major BP and Nigermed Ltd was involved in such a deal and that Duke Oil's agreement would be done through Sahara Group.

Of these, Vitol, through Varo Energy, and BP directly operate refineries.

Other companies that put in bids for OPA agreements and have direct links to refineries include Litasco, Eni, Cepsa, Totsa, Essar, Saras and Eneos.


Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Video - Farmers in Nigeria seek more incentives

Nigeria's President, Muhammadu Buhari says he plans to boost agriculture to create jobs and reduce the country's reliance on costly food imports.

Boko Haram post pictures of their rocket making factory

Islamist militant group Boko Haram has released photos apparently showing a rocket-making factory in north-eastern Nigeria.

The group has used rocket-propelled grenades in the past and many Nigerians have been asking where the weapons have been coming from.

The photos seem to indicate that members of the group have the technical know-how to manufacture weapons.

The pictures are believed to have been taken in a college in Borno state.

They were sent as a Whatsapp messages to the BBC Hausa service using a telephone number from Cameroon, and have also been published on sites linked to so-called Islamic State, which Boko Haram has joined.

Analysts say it looks as though the machinery is from Bama, a town in north-eastern Nigeria recently recaptured from Boko Haram.

An inscription on one of the machines shows the abbreviation of Government Technical College Bama (GTCB).

The equipment appears to have been donated to the college by the Educational Trust Fund (ETF) in 2005.

It is not clear when the pictures were taken, or whether the equipment has been moved from Bama.

The army has recaptured most of the towns previously under Boko Haram control but the group still carries out frequent attacks, especially in Borno State, where Bama is located.


Nigerian fraudsters posing as anti-fraud bankers

Nigeria's central bank has warned that fraudsters are taking advantage of a major crackdown on fake bank accounts.

Customers had until the end of October to register their fingerprints and photographs at their local bank.

The bank says messages claiming to help reactivate registration are fraudulent and actually trying to get people's personal information.

Huge sums are allegedly stolen from Nigerian banks as a result of forgery and illegal withdrawals.

Customers who registered were given a Bank Verification Number (BVN) to use at cash machines, and for online and mobile transactions.

Banks are using the verification number along with customers' biometric information to check they are genuine.

Potentially millions of people could now be blocked from these services as less than half of Nigeria's 52 million bank account holders had registered on Friday, according to Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) spokesman Ibrahim Mu'azu.

On Monday, he released a statement saying that "unscrupulous individuals" are trying to get people to reveal their personal details to use to defraud them.

He wrote that an example message says: "Dear customer, due to the new BVN policy by the CBN your account has been deactivated and to reactivate, call……".

He reminded customers that "neither the Central Bank of Nigeria and deposit money banks nor their employees or agents would ever call bank customers or send e-mail/text messages requesting for passwords, card details or personal identification number (PIN)".


Half of the banks accounts in Nigeria risking closure for failing verification process

Nearly 20 months ago, Nigeria’s Central Bank called for the country’s 52 million bank account holders to undergo a registration process to obtain a unique Bank Verification Number (BVN ) which would serve as the first national numeric identifier.

The Central Bank hopes giving everyone a unique number, similar to the U.S.’ social security number, could help reduce banking fraud such as identify theft and help improve security in the country’s financial systems overall.

But despite calls to action and an extensive media campaign to get Nigerians to register, the Central Bank says it has failed to achieve a registration target of 50% and as such, more than 26 million account holders may be losing access to their accounts.

The problem seems to be that the process of registering for the Bank Verification Number was not as smooth as advertised. The Central Bank sold it as a simple process which could be completed within 24 hours but several days after registering, many were still waiting to have their own unique number generated.

The registration process involves the collection of biometric data and a photograph after which account holders are issued unique Bank Verification Numbers which, in addition to biometric data, will be used to authenticate and confirm transactions.

Launched in February last year, the Central Bank announced that the registration process would end by June 30, 2015. However, with Nigerians largely unresponsive, the Central Bank was forced to move the deadline for registration to October 31 after which it has insisted no further extension will be granted. The penalty for failing to register for the Bank Verification Number is a loss of access to the bank account.

Long queues and confusion were a recurring theme throughout the account verification process as banks often seemed unprepared for the mass exercise. Taking the Nigerian diaspora into consideration, the Central Bank ensured that the verification process could be undertaken in Nigerian embassies but the process seemed to lack organization and in London, the embassy was forced to call in the police to quell the disorder after huge crowds showed up.

The Central Bank has now extended the deadline for those in the diaspora to January 31, 2016.


Monday, November 2, 2015

Video - Nigeria launching identity datatbase

Nigeria is trying to launch a new national identity database and card for the fourth time after three failed previous attempts. The government says it will help improve national planning, access to public services, and security. Al Jazeera's Yvonne Ndege reports from Abuja.