Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Video - Dropping oil prices threaten spending in Nigeria



In Nigeria, the drop in oil prices threatens financing of the country's budget. Global prices have been dropping as a result of increased shale production. The West African country relies heavily on revenue from oil to fund a significant portion of its budget.

Video - Skaters show off skills in Lagos, Nigeria



There is a growing interest in skateboarding and rollerblading in the Nigeria city of Lagos. An organization called Waffles N Cream, is working on making the activities a more recognized sport in the country. Over the weekend it held its first tournament for skaters to show off their skills and thrilling stunts.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Video - Nigeria expects to raise over $1 billion in tax amnesty program



The Nigerian government expects to raise more than 1 billion dollars in a tax amnesty program that encourages individuals and companies to clear unpaid bills by the end of this year. The funds raised will enable the West African country to reduce its borrowing needs, allow investment in vital infrastructure and spur development according to the government. Nigeria plans to increase spending this year by 21% to 22.8 billion dollars. The fiscal plan requires funds to help the oil producer plug a deficit the government expects will amount to about 2.2% of GDP. Tax evaders in the country are subject to imprisonment of up to five years, payment of penalties of up to 100% of tax owed, plus a compound interest rate of 21 percent per year as well as forfeiture of assets.

Video - Nigeria's education sector allotted 10% Of 2017 budget




Nigeria recalls sacked whistleblower

A whistleblower sacked for exposing alleged fraud at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 2016, Ntia Thompson, has been reinstated.

Mr. Thompson, an assistant director in the Servicom Unit of the Directorate of Technical Cooperation in Africa (DTCA), was first suspended on December 19, 2016.

He was later disengaged from service on February 23, 2017, for exposing fraud to the tune of $229,000 and N800,000.

The fraud was alleged to have been committed by Mohammed Kachallah, the Director-General of DTCA.

The move came just two months after the Muhammadu Buhari administration, through the Executive Council of the Federation, approved the whistle-blowing policy, promising full protection and restitution for any informant against harassment, intimidation or victimisation.

The case is currently being investigated by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Earlier in March, two civic groups had called for the reinstatement of the whistleblower.

In an open letter sent to PREMIUM TIMES, one of the groups, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, SERAP, had given the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, a seven-day ultimatum to recall Mr. Thompson who was sacked after exposing the alleged fraud.

But apart from Mr. Thompson, two other whistleblowers, Aaron Kaase of the Police Service Commission (PSC) and Murtala Ibrahim of the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN), are facing similar ordeals.

Mr. Kaase has been on suspension without pay since May 21, 2016, while Mr. Ibrahim, on his part, was dismissed outright, report said.

Reacting to the news of Mr. Thompson’s reinstatement on Monday, the Africa Centre for Media and Information Literacy, AFRICMIL, described Mr. Thompson’s reinstatement as a triumph of good over evil.

A statement signed by the coordinator of the organisation, Chido Onumah, said the way government treats such cases gives Nigerians an idea of how seriously whistleblowing should be taken as an anti-corruption policy of government.

“Ntia’s case is a triumph of good over evil and it gives us hope that we are moving in the right direction on the whistle blower policy,” the statement said.

AFRICMIL, however, reminded the government that in much the same way the whistleblower was persecuted, Messrs. Kaase and Ibrahim are also being persecuted.

The organisation, therefore, called on the relevant agencies of government and the ministers supervising these institutions to urgently take necessary steps to return these workers to their offices and investigate the misconduct they reported. It called on investigating bodies to speed up the process of investigation and ensure that those indicted are made to face the full wrath of the law.

“While it is ethically correct to recall a dismissed whistleblower, it is also morally right that action is taken on the reported wrongdoing in a just manner,” the statement said.

“Only through that way can the confidence of potential whistleblowers be sustained.”

Bomb blasts kill nine in northeast Nigeria

At least nine people were killed and 13 wounded in a series of blasts that took place late Sunday night and early Monday morning in Maiduguri, the capital city of Borno, a northeast Nigerian state. While no group has claimed responsibility for the attacks, they are likely the work of the Islamist militant group Boko Haram, which frequently targets the region. In a signature move for Boko Haram, the majority of the blasts were carried out by female suicide bombers.

The first attack occurred at 10:20 p.m. local time on Sunday when a male suicide bomber killed a security guard at the University of Maiduguri. About an hour later, four female suicide bombers detonated explosives in residential buildings on the outskirts of the city, killing eight people. Finally, at 4:20 a.m. local time on Monday, a third blast at the University of Maiduguri resulted in the deaths of its perpetrators: two female suicide bombers.

All together, 16 people—including the suicide bombers—were killed in the attacks, the Borno police commissioner, Damian Chukwu, announced Monday. Three days earlier, the state security agency said they had thwarted suspected bombings across four cities in northern Nigeria, including Maiduguri. The attacks were scheduled to occur during festivities celebrating the end of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month.

While Boko Haram does not always claim responsibility for its attacks, the group is said to have killed more than 20,000 people since launching a military campaign to overtake northeast Nigeria in 2009. In recent weeks, a series of attacks in and around Borno have killed dozens. On June 19, a pair of attacks at a mosque and nearby residence—likely carried out by Boko Haram—killed 12 people. Both attacks were led by female suicide bombers in a village near Maiduguri. Less than two weeks earlier, on June 7, militant fighters targeted mosques in eastern Maiduguri with explosives and anti-aircraft guns, killing 17 and injuring 34. The raid, if indeed the work of Boko Haram, would be the group’s deadliest this year, according to Amnesty International.

While Boko Haram is concentrated in northeast Nigeria, the group is known to target neighboring countries like Chad, Cameroon, Benin, and Niger. Over the weekend, suspected Boko Haram militants attacked five islands near Lake Chad, killing eight soldiers and wounding 18. Despite these ongoing assaults, Nigeria’s president, Muhammadu Buhari, has insisted that Boko Haram is near defeat. In December, Buhari argued that the militant group was “done for” in the Lake Chad Basin area. A year earlier, Buhari claimed that Nigeria had “technically won the war” against Boko Haram.

According to Buhari, Boko Haram is no longer capable of carrying out “conventional attacks” on communication centers and large groups of people, having resorted instead to guerrilla tactics. Indeed, although the group continues to wage attacks in the region, its threat appears to have weakened. Recent data from the Armed Conflict Location and Event Dataset indicates that the al-Qaida affiliate al-Shabaab overtook Boko Haram as Africa’s deadliest terror group in 2016.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Video - Nigeria's resources take strain as population grows rapidly



Nigeria is by far the most populated country in Africa, but its projected growth is causing real concern. A recent report by the United Nations suggests the its population will surpass that of the United States by 2050. This means Nigeria is on track to becoming one of the most densely populated countries in the world. But can its infrastructure and resources match up? Deji Badmus takes a look at what this rapid growth means for Nigeria's economy.

President Buhari's Eid speech in Hausa criticised

Like many national leaders, Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari wished his country well on the occasion of Eid al-Fitr, the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, this weekend.

In a short message aired on several media outlets, he said he hoped the "lessons of Ramadan" - virtues such as self-denial, and generosity to the poor - would endure, and appealed to his countrymen to live in peace.

It was the first time Mr Buhari's voice has been broadcast since he left the country in early May for medical treatment for an undisclosed ailment, Nigeria's Guardian website reports.

There have been concerns over his health, and the paper says the message should debunk rumours that he has developed a speech impairment.

But the fact that the message was delivered in Hausa, the main language of President Buhari's native northern Nigeria, was not well received by everyone.

Most Nigerians are either Muslims or Christians, and the Muslim community comprises two of the country's biggest ethnic groups - the Hausa and Fulani. Tensions exists between various communities, and feature calls for secession from some in the communities of the oil-rich south.

'An outrage'

Reno Omokri, an aide to former President Goodluck Jonathan, said "Ideally, the President should have spoken in English first."

"How can a national leader address Nigerians in a sectional language?" he asked in a Facebook post. "He is not the president of only those who can speak Hausa! This is an outrage!"

Mr Buhari's message also elicited criticism from others.

A spokesman for the Igbo community accused him of turning the country into a "banana republic", The Daily Post website reported.

Others even questioned the authenticity of the message, saying it should be investigated to ascertain whether it truly was Mr Buhari speaking, the Punch website said.

"Away from Nigeria for almost 50 days, the first message to Nigerians is in Hausa. And you people say Buhari & his handlers are not daft?" asked one scornful commentator on Twitter.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Calls for law against female genital mutilation to be introduced in Nigeria

Preston Development Foundation, a non-governmental organization in Nigeria, on Thursday organized a program in Abuja to campaign against female genital mutilation.

The World Health Organization said Nigeria has the highest prevalence rate of FGM in the world, with about 40 million women said to have undergone the practice in the country, thus indicating about 41 per cent prevalence.

The awareness stunt, held at the Federal Ministry of Health car park at the Federal Secretariat, Abuja, required the campaigners to lie on the ground as a sign of advocating against the practice, and to symbolize the harm it does to women, especially during child birth.

According to the WHO, FGM includes all procedures involving the partial or total removal of the external female genitalia for cultural and non-medical reasons.

Zikar Elendu, programme officer, PDF, said the organisation embarked on the awareness campaign because of new cases in the country.

She urged the federal government to take stringent measures to campaign against the practice, especially within the hospital environment.

“Our lying down here symbolizes what happens to many of those cut during child birth. Many of them die during child birth, many of them have difficulty during labour because they have been cut, most of them cannot enjoy the sexual aspect of life and it is wrong”.

Ms. Elendu said women cut were punished for crimes they were yet to commit.

“It is like sending them to jail for a crime they have not committed. Female Genital Mutilation makes girls pay a lifetime price for an “offence” they did not and might never commit.

“Promiscuity which is arguably the major reason for female circumcision in Nigeria has been proven to be more related to poverty, peer influence, poor parental supervision and drug use and not necessarily being uncircumcised. FGM is a violation of the human rights of girls and women”.

She said 40 million women and girls in Nigeria have undergone FGM and urged government to take serious measures to fight the practice.

“At PDF, we believe that FGM is more than a policy. We believe that behind every statistical expression is a victim, a girl child that has paid a lifetime price. We want the layman on the street to know about the dangers of FGM. We want every mother to know that FGM is in no way an empowerment. We want women to know that FGM has never been about the girl’s good or happiness.

“That is why we have organised this awareness stunt and social media campaign to demand action in order to end FGM. We hereby urge urgent action from the government as well as communities to end FGM,” she said.

Ms. Elendu said government passing a law against it would go a long way to reduce the practice and pains women go through during child birth.

Nwando Onuigbo-Chatta, the knowledge management officer of the organisation, said Nigeria might be able to reduce the high rate of maternal mortality if FGM is stopped as it is one of the causes of death during child birth.

“Though there is no statistics in the country to specify how many people lose their lives during child birth due to complications of FGM, it is a known fact that some people die during the process because they have been cut.

“We want more than just words for the government to ban the practices, we want action, as we believe if the government join hand with us to prosecute people who carry out these acts, we will be to discourage people and get an end to it,” she said.

A survey conducted by the United Nations Population Funds, UNFPA, in 2015 showed that the practice was high in the South-West in spite of the geo-political zone’s high literacy and awareness rate.

The report said Osun State still ranked highest in the prevalence of Female Genital Mutilation practice in Nigeria with over 76.3 per cent, followed by Ekiti which had 71.2, Oyo, 69.7; Ebonyi, 55.6; Imo, 48.8; and Lagos, 44.8 per cent.

Video - Nigeria rolls out 1st national social-welfare program



Nigeria is rolling out its first national social-welfare program modeled partly on Brazil's Bolsa Familia. The move is a bid to boost a weak economy and curb poverty by giving cash to its poorest citizens while ensuring their children go to school. Africa's most-populous nation is investing 1.5 billion dollars in the initiative this year and is talking to the World Bank about a 500 million dollar loan. Launched in December, the program is initially targeting about 1 million households starting in eight of Nigeria's 36 states. The government expects that reducing poverty will have a knock-on effect for the rest of the economy.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Video - Nigerians frustrated by current state of the country



Nigerians are becoming increasingly frustrated with the state of the economy. And although the government says it's doing all it can to lift the country out of recession, many are concerned that it may be a while before things change for the better.

Nigeria introduces $2 billion social-welfare plan

Nigeria is rolling out its first national social-welfare program modeled partly on Brazil’s Bolsa Familia in a bid to boost a weak economy and curb poverty by giving cash to its poorest citizens and ensuring their children go to school.

The government of Africa’s most-populous nation is investing 500 billion naira ($1.5 billion) in the initiative this year and is talking to the World Bank about a $500 million loan, Minister of State for Budget and National Planning Zainab Ahmed said in an interview in the capital, Abuja. Launched in December, the program is initially targeting about 1 million households starting in eight of Nigeria’s 36 states. The government expects that reducing poverty will have a knock-on effect for the rest of the economy, she said.

“It increases money in the hands of people,” Ahmed said. “It means they are contributing towards consumption and an increase in consumption is desirable because it now encourages producers to produce more and as producers produce more it means they are able to employ more people.”

As in Brazil, Nigeria’s plan requires cash-transfer beneficiaries to fulfill two conditions: keep their children in school and immunize them. It also includes providing school meals, short-term job training for graduates, loans at below-market rates to 1.6 million potential entrepreneurs, grants for science and technology students and low-cost housing.

The state will use biometric systems to register beneficiaries, and will make transfers into bank accounts that are opened for families’ caregivers, Ahmed said.

President Muhammad Buhari’s administration seems committed to make it a success, said Esili Eigbe, the head of Nigerian equities at Exotix Capital.

“Other administrations tried to do this before, but not with the kind of determination of Buhari’s administration,” Eigbe said by phone from the commercial capital, Lagos. “The enormous political will and a strong partner in the World Bank shows their determination to do it.”

Economic Strain

The program is still in its infancy compared to similar projects in countries such as Brazil, which started Bolsa Familia in 2003 and will probably increase its social-security budget to 83.3 billion reais ($25 billion) this year, according to the Planning and Budget Ministry. South Africa, with a population about a third of Nigeria’s 180 million people, plans to spend about 180 billion rand ($13.8 billion) on social assistance.

Nigeria’s drive to set up a social-welfare program comes at a time of economic strain, and analysts such as Magnus Kpakol, director at Abuja-based consultancy Economic and Business Strategies, doubt whether the country can afford it now.

Tight Money

“I am afraid that a day will come, they will strand these people,” said Kpakol, who a decade ago led a welfare pilot program featuring the nation’s first conditional cash transfers. “They will just raise their hands and surrender and say we don’t have the money.”

The decline in production and price of oil, Nigeria’s biggest export, crippled West Africa’s largest economy, which shrank 1.6 percent in 2016, the first full-year contraction since 1991. Dollar shortages pushed the inflation rate to the highest in more than a decade in January.

The need for such a program is clearly stark. More than 65 percent of Nigerians live on less than $2 a day and as many as 12 million children are malnourished, according to the Budget and Planning Ministry.

The World Bank, which supports 30 sub-Saharan African countries that disburse money to fight extreme poverty, estimated in a May 2016 report that giving Nigeria’s poor households 60,000 naira annually would reduce poverty to 27.6 percent from 33 percent within a year, if 80 percent of the money was spent on consumption.

Nigeria’s target is to reach 5 million cash-transfer beneficiary households in five years from the 27,000 currently receiving 5,000 naira a month. The World Bank credits Brazil’s Bolsa Familia with lifting more than 28 million people out of poverty in a decade, increasing school enrollment and improving children’s health.

“The cash transfers are similar to Brazil’s in conditions and objectives, but it’s still early to tell how the results will compare,” Eigbe said. “The most important thing is making a whole lot of people employable by ensuring children get some education and are healthy.”

Nigeria set to become 3rd most populated country in the world by 2050

Nigeria is projected to be the world’s third most populous country by the year 2050, according to a report released by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs.

The report, titled ‘World Population Prospects: The 2017 Revision’, said with such development, Nigeria would overtake the United States in terms of population just as world population would reach 9.8 billion people.

The report said “by 2050, the third most populous country will be Nigeria, which currently ranks seventh, and which is poised to replace the United States.

“Among the 10 largest countries of the world, one is in Africa (Nigeria). “Amongst these, Nigeria’s population, currently the seventh largest in the world, is growing the most rapidly. “Consequently, the population of Nigeria is projected to surpass that of the United States shortly before 2050, at which point it would become the third largest country in the world. 

“In 2050, the populations in six of the 10 largest countries are expected to exceed 300 million: China, India, Indonesia, Nigeria, Pakistan, and United States of America (in alphabetical order). “Africa, which has the youngest age distribution of any region, is projected to experience a rapid ageing of its population, the report noted. “Although the African population will remain relatively young for several more decades, the percentage of its population aged 60 or over is expected to rise from five per cent in 2017 to around nine per cent in 2050, and then to nearly 20 per cent by the end of the century.” 

In addition, the birth rates in African countries are likely to “at least double” by 2050, according to the report. That trend came in spite of lower fertility rates in nearly all regions of the world, including in Africa, where rates fell from 5.1 births per woman up to 2005 to 4.7 births in the five years following.

In terms of other population trends depicted in the report, the population of India, which currently ranks as the second most populous country with 1.3 billion inhabitants, will surpass China’s 1.4 billion citizens, by 2024. The report noted that the world population, now at least 7.6 billion, was up from 7.4 billion in 2016, adding the concentration of global population growth is in the poorest countries. 

The report said in spite of an overall drop in the number of children people have around the globe, the population was spurred by the relatively high levels of fertility in developing countries. “With roughly 83 million people being added to the world’s population every year, the upward trend in population size is expected to continue, even assuming that fertility levels will continue to decline. “At this rate, the world population is expected to reach 8.6 billion in 2030, 9.8 billion in 2050 and surpass 11.2 billion in 2100,” the report further revealed. 

The growth is expected to come, in part, from the 47 least developed countries, where the fertility rate is around 4.3 births per woman, and whose population is expected to reach 1.9 billion people in 2050 from the current estimate of one billion. In contrast, the birth rates in Europe are up to 1.6 births per woman, up from 1.4 births in 2000 to 2005. “During 2010 to 2015, fertility was below the replacement level in 83 countries comprising 46 per cent of the world’s population,” according to the report. 

The lower fertility rates are resulting in an ageing population, with the number of people aged 60 or over expected to more than double by 2050 and triple by 2100, from the current 962 million to 3.1 billion. The UN Department said the population growth presented a challenge as the international community sought to implement the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda seeking to end poverty and preserve the planet. 

The report also noted the impacts of migrants and refugees between countries, in particular noting the impact of the Syrian refugee crisis and the estimated outflow of 4.2 million people. In terms of migration, “although international migration at or around current levels will be insufficient to compensate fully for the expected loss of population tied to low levels of fertility, especially in the European region, the movement of people between countries can help attenuate some of the adverse consequences of population ageing”. 

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Video - Telecoms firm Etisalat Nigeria ordered to transfer 45% stake to loan trustee



Etisalat has been instructed to transfer its 45% stake in Etisalat Nigeria to a loan trustee after debt restructuring talks with lenders failed. Etisalat Nigeria had been in talks to restructure a $1.2 billion loan after missing repayments. The company took the loan to refinance an existing commercial medium-term debt of $650 million and continue its network rollout across the country. On June 15th, a consortium of lenders -- led by Access Bank and other local and foreign banks -- took over the management of Etisalat Nigeria. The takeover followed the collapse of the effort by Emerging Markets Telecommunications Services to reach agreement with the banks on debt restructuring plan.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

America pledges commitment to unity of Nigeria

The U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria, Stuart Symington, has said that his country will continue to work towards the promotion of Nigeria’s unity.

Mr. Symington, who said this in Ibadan, Oyo State on Monday, noted that in Nigeria’s unity lies the strength of the world’s most populous black nation.

The envoy, who led top officials of the embassy on a working visit to the office of the Governor of Oyo State, Abiola Ajimobi, in Ibadan, said that the U.S. recognised the strategic importance of Nigeria in Africa.

A statement by Yomi Layinka, Mr. Ajimobi’s media aide, quoted the envoy as saying that the visit was in the furtherance of his country’s vision and mission to explore new frontiers of partnership for development with African countries, which, he said, informed his decision to tour every part of the country.

Mr. Symington called on the state government to work with the U.S. towards setting a new pace in socio-economic development, adding that Nigeria was loved all over the world, especially in the U.S. because of its unity.

“This visit is not just a courtesy call; it is in continuation of America’s vision and mission. We are looking forward to working with your state to set up a new pace in development,” the envoy said.

“We are happy to be here and I’m telling you that Nigeria as a country is loved by all Americans and even in the world for the sake of the unity the country upholds.”

“The U.S. recognises the strategic importance of Nigeria in Africa. We will continue to work towards the promotion of the unity of Nigeria, because that is where the strength of the country lies. The U.S. loves Nigeria because of its unity.”

Mr. Ajimobi had earlier sought the assistance of the U.S. government in his administration’s efforts at promoting human capital development and technical education in the state.

The governor also identified technical education as the missing link in the Nigeria’s curriculum, which, he said, was necessary for the country’s accelerated development.

The governor said that the state had potential that if put to good use, and with needed support from a developed economy like that of the U.S., could revamp the state’s economy.

“We want more foreign partners to support our industrialisation drive as we have established an industrial park as well as free trade zone, which would be the hub of commerce and source of employment generation for our teeming youth,” the governor said.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Video - Nigeria's headline inflation falls for fourth straight month



Nigeria's headline inflation rate has continued its steady decline. New figures released by the country's Bureau of Statistics put the inflation rate at 16.25 percent for the month of May. It's 0.99 percentage points lower the rate recorded in April, making it the fourth straight month in which the rate has fallen. It's a different story, however, for the food index, which is still trending upwards.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Video - Lagos residents caught up in the race for available land



In Nigeria, the city of Lagos is struggling to provide housing for its rapidly expanding population. Thousands of people arrive daily, looking for work. In addition, tens of thousands are evacuated from a waterside properties to make way for development projects. And many of those displaced have been forced into poorly serviced, overcrowded slums, as Thuli Tshabalala reports.

Nigeria inflation rate falls to lowest in the year

Nigeria’s inflation rate fell for a fourth straight month in May, dropping to the lowest in a year.

Inflation in Nigeria, which vies with South Africa as the continent’s largest economy, slowed to 16.25 percent from 17.2 percent in April, the Abuja-based National Bureau of Statistics said in an emailed report. The median of 15 economists’ estimates in a Bloomberg survey was for 16 percent. Prices rose 1.9 percent in the month.

A rate drop would be “mainly as a result of base effects” from a 67 percent increase in gasoline-price caps in May last year and was “despite elevated consumer prices in May,” FSDH Merchant Bank Ltd. said in an emailed note before the release. Price increases in the month “show inflationary pressure persists in Nigeria.”

Inflation remains above the upper end of the central bank’s target band of 6 percent to 9 percent. The central bank kept its main policy rate at a record high of 14 percent in May to fight price growth and support the naira even as the economy struggles to recover from its first annual contraction in 25 years. It will next review the rate rate on July 25.

Africa’s biggest oil producer has suffered from dollar shortages for most of the period since crude prices crashed in 2014. Investors blamed the central bank for compounding the crisis by tightening capital controls and trying to stop the naira falling, which they said contributed to the economy contracting last year.

Currency Support

In a move to boost investor confidence, the central bank in April introduced a window for portfolio investors to trade foreign currency at a market-determined rate, currently about 375 naira a dollar. Before this, they bought greenbacks from the interbank market at a central bank-maintained rate of about 315 naira per dollar.

The International Monetary Fund forecast Nigeria’s economy will expand by 0.8 percent this year compared with a 1.6 percent contraction in 2016 as output of oil, the nation’s biggest export, increases, and the government boosts spending. The country will raise expenditure by 21 percent to a record 7.4 trillion naira ($23 billion) this year, according to the budget that vice and acting President Yemi Osinbajo signed on Monday.

The one million secret member facebook group for Nigerian women

It is one of Facebook's fastest growing communities and has become such a phenomenon that last week, Mark Zuckerberg asked to meet its founder. But what is Fin?

Female IN or Fin is a "secret" Facebook group that has recently clocked up over a million members, largely from Nigeria.

But it's a secret that founder Lola Omolola wants you to know all about - if you're a woman that is.

Though it has a vaguely romantic air, secret is just Facebook terminology, Ms Omolala says. It means invitation-only - you need to know a member to get in.

"It's a safe place, for a woman who has something to say," Ms Omolola explains.

"You don't have to agree but it is her story, she can say it."

The group is a sort of confessional space, where women share stories that they might be uncomfortable - or even afraid - to tell in person.

It doesn't offer anonymity - members have to post under their real names.

And the stories are stunning, although they remain strictly confidential.

In the few days that I've been a Finster, I've read testimonies on domestic abuse, physical and emotional violence, child abuse and rape.

One woman speaks about the moment she told her parents she was about to have a child as a single girl of 17, another about finally being accepted as a lesbian by her mother after many years.

They are brave and intimate, telling of failed relationships or unconventional sexual preferences.

The posts are brutally honest but many of them are laced with self-deprecating humour.

Like the woman who mortified herself on a first date in front of a banquet hall of people or the lady who stole the keys of a bus driver after he bumped her car and refused to apologise.

Many of the stories speak of a distinctly Nigerian experience.

Until recently the group was called Female In Nigeria, so it's not a surprise that most of its members are just that.

"The Nigerian woman has been the core of this process, because I am a Nigerian woman," says Ms Omolala.

A former journalist, she moved from Nigeria to the US in the early 2000s at the age of 24 and started the group in 2015.

She had had an idea to start something for some time - a forum where Nigerian women could talk openly about the issues that affected them. But it was the kidnap of the Chibok girls that drove her to do it.

"I knew the cause of it," she says.

"When you grow up in a place where a woman's voice is not even valid, everything reinforces that idea that we're not good enough."

It didn't surprise her that a group of men could kidnap and enslave these girls, because they didn't see them as equals.

"Between the ages of three and six I noticed that whenever a girl shows any sign of self-awareness she gets silenced. When I said anything I got a pinch - a real, live pinch."

Those pinches came from aunties, uncles, even her mother but never from her father. And it's him that Ms Omolola traces her early feminism to.

Her father was a part-time businessman and was often at home with the children while her mum worked as full-time haematologist.

"We never felt any gender disparity," she says.

"I realise now how much effort it must have taken. It was not something he was just stumbling into. It was an active choice."

Fin started out as a group where women could discuss women's issues - one of the first blogs was on domestic violence - and Ms Omolola expected it to be an abstract conversation.

But women responded with their own stories.

Almost instantly it became a place where people could share things they had never shared before.

"When we started I used to cry. I stopped sleeping, I stopped eating," she says. "I was not ready for the stories that were coming out."

"There were women who had been abused for 40 years and hadn't told anyone. No-one should live like that."

Now the group gets hundreds of applications for posts every day but they are managed and approved by a group of 28 volunteers. About 40-100 make it on the page.

Fin has strict rules. Above anything else, Finsters are not allowed to judge each other. Any negative comments are removed, as is the member who posts them.

"I noticed that those people who try to shut women up in real life, they came there," says Ms Omolola.

"They are so deeply conditioned to work against their own interest.

"It's the online version of the pinch and the shush."

But the pinchers and shushers were persistent.

In a religiously conservative society like Nigeria, expressions of female sexual freedom were never going to go unchallenged.

Some members tried to get around the ban by commenting with passages from the bible which condemned the woman's actions.

That inspired a second rule - no preaching.

"We prohibit religious-themed advice," it says in the rules. "Fin is not a place of worship."

People have likened Fin and its founder to the devil, they've called the group evil, a corrupter of young women.

Ms Omolola says she has been the subject of concerted attacks by church groups. But she's not worried.

"Most people think that the controversy would kill me," she says. "They don't realise that it's actually empowering me."

After amassing a million-strong membership and a high-profile meeting with Mr Zuckerberg, what is next for Fin?

Ms Omolola has dreams of expanding the group into bricks and mortar, providing centres where women can go to talk about their experiences in a safe space.

But that may be a long way off.

"It needs money and right now I have none," she says. "I can't even pay my rent."

It's something that she discussed with Zuckerberg and though Facebook haven't offered funding yet, she's still in conversation with it on how to move the group forward.

From day one, she says, she had offers from companies who want to advertise on Fin but she has refused to monetise women's stories.

On Mr Zuckerberg's prompt she is now focusing on promoting the message of the site - female empowerment and tolerance.

And she's doing interviews for the first time.

Nigeria to retake position of Africa's largest oil exporter

Nigeria’s crude oil exports are set to reach 1.84 million barrels per day (bpd) in July, PREMIUM TIMES has gathered.

The new figure is slightly higher because of a recovery in Forcados exports, according to the nation’s loading programmes seen Wednesday.

Forcados exports resumed at the end of May after a nearly complete shutdown since February 2016.

Meanwhile, the grade’s operator, Shell’s local subsidiary SPDC, issued an initial June schedule of 197,000 bpd.

It, however, increased the schedule to 252,000 bpd.

By the resumption, Nigeria returns to the status of Africa’s largest oil exporter, a title it lost to Angola in 2016.

The loss followed militant attacks on the nation’s oil infrastructure in the oil-rich Niger Delta region.

Production has since improved, following peaceful negotiations with leaders from the region.

Angola’s July exports are expected to be 1.55 million bpd, Reuters reports.

With a force majeure in place on Bonny Light, and loading delays of as much as 10 days, Nigeria’s export plans for June and July are likely to change.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Lagos and Nigeria have highest crime rates in Nigeria

The National Bureau of Statistics, NBS, said that the FCT and Lagos State reported a total of 58,566 crime cases in 2016.

The NBS stated this in a Crime Statistics: Reported by Type and State in 2016 and posted on the bureau’s website on Tuesday in Abuja.

According to the bureau, the FCT and Lagos State reported highest crime cases while Katsina State and Abia had the lowest percentage share of total cases reported in 2016.

The bureau said that the FCT reported 13,181 crime cases while Lagos State reported 45, 385 crime cases.

The cases were in categories as offence against persons, offence against property, offence against lawful authority and offence against local Acts.

A breakdown of crime cases showed that FCT reported 2,984 cases of offence against persons, 9,350 cases against property, 843 cases lawful authority and only four cases against local Acts.

The report said offence against persons are those offences against human beings such as murder, manslaughter, infanticide, concealment of birth, rape and other physical abuse, etc.

Offences against properties were those offences against human belonging: Properties of any kind like stealing, receiving stolen properties, obtaining property by false pretence, robbery, burglary and house breaking.

Offences against lawful authority, this is any offence committed against any establishment of the law e.g. failure to pay tax to the appropriate authority.

It explained that Local Acts are those laws that we cannot enforce outside Nigeria – e.g. Liquor Act or Firearms Act.

Meanwhile, the bureau said that Lagos State reported 15,426 cases of offence against persons; 22,885 cases of offence against property; 6,768 cases of offence against lawful authority and 306 cases of offence against offence local Acts.

The bureau further stated that a total of 125,790 cases were reported from the 36 states in 2016.

It stated that offence against property had the highest number of cases reported with 65,397 of such cases.

The bureau said that offence against persons recorded 45,554 cases reported while offence against lawful authority and local Acts recorded the least with 12,144 and 2,695 cases recorded respectively.

It stated that Lagos State had the highest percentage share of total cases reported with 36.08 per cent and 45,385 cases recorded.

The bureau stated that FCT Abuja and Delta State followed closely with 10.48 per cent and 13,181 and 6.25 per cent and 7,867 cases recorded respectively.

It stated that Katsina State had the lowest percentage share of total cases reported with 0.10 per cent and 120 cases recorded.

The bureau stated that Abia and Zamfara followed closely with 0.29 per cent and 364 cases and 0.38 per cent and 483 cases recorded respectively.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Video - Nigerian Vice President signs $23.6 billion spending plan into law



Nigeria's acting president has signed the 2017 budget into law, as Abuja plans record spending to pull Africa's biggest economy out of recession. The OPEC member has been in recession since last year, largely due to falling oil prices and militant attacks on the country's Niger Delta energy facilities. Oil sales amount to two-thirds of the government's revenue. Vice President Yemi Osinbajo is standing in for President Muhammadu Buhari, who has been on medical leave in Britain since May 7, his second prolonged absence this year. Buhari's medical condition is unclear. Lawmakers last month passed the record $23.6 billion budget plan, which is bigger than the spending plan submitted by Buhari in December.

Video - Nigerian government needs $1.2 billion for repairs of existing refineries



Nigeria's Petroleum ministry says, it requires $1.2 billion dollars to repair existing refineries as it struggles to end refined fuel imports by 2019. Petroleum minister Ibe Kachikwu says three government owned refineries are due to be leased out to private entities but to make them attractive, government will have to carry out some major repairs.

Nigeria most wanted kidnapper captured

Kidnap for ransom is big business in Nigeria. It has one of the highest abduction rates in the world, with the U.S., U.K. and other governments warning travelers to the West African country that kidnapping is a real possibility.

But Nigerian authorities are hoping that the risk has been significantly decreased after they captured alleged kidnapper Chukwudi Dumem Onuamadkie, also known as Evans, over the weekend.

Evans, 36 and a native of Anambra State in Southern Nigeria, has been described as “most wanted, vicious and highly notorious.” He has been implicated in a series of high-profile kidnappings in the country in recent years, according to an emailed statement from Nigeria’s police; his victims included foreign nationals, traditional chiefs and wealthy businessmen. Evans also has become one of Nigeria’s wealthiest alleged criminals: Police said he owns two mansions in an upmarket district of Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial hub, as well as two properties in Accra, the capital of neighboring Ghana.

According to Nigeria’s police force, Evans would use two separate gangs to conduct kidnappings: one to carry out the abduction and another to transfer the victim to a safe house. The gang leader extracted million-dollar ransoms from the families of his victims, whom he would keep in captivity for months at a time. In one case, Evans’ gang allegedly attempted to double a $1 million ransom because the victim’s family were rude during the negotiation process.

Police raided a Lagos property belonging to Evans on Saturday and engaged in a gun battle with the suspect and his associates. Security forces eventually overpowered them and arrested seven people in the operation, while also seizing 10 guns and more than 1,000 rounds of AK-47 ammunition.

“This is a huge success for the Nigeria Police Force. The Force will build on this success and continue to prevent kidnap cases and criminality generally in the country,” said Jimoh Moshood, police public relations officer at the force’s headquarters in Abuja, the capital of Nigeria.

Moshood said that Evans and his gang members had “confessed to all the kidnappings linked to them” and would be charged following an investigation.

Nigeria is facing a wide range of security issues. Boko Haram, a jihadi group with ties to the Islamic State militant group (ISIS), continues to launch attacks in the northeast, though it has been substantially weakened by military offensives. Tensions remain high in the oil-producing Niger Delta, where militants slashed oil production in 2016 by blowing up pipelines. And clashes between settled farmers and pastoralists in the country’s Middle Belt resulted in more deaths in 2016 than the Boko Haram insurgency, according to a report by Nigerian consultancy SBM Intelligence.

But Evans’ capture marks the second high-profile advance in tackling the kidnapping problem in recent months. In March, police shot dead an alleged kidnapper and serial killer, Henry Chibueze—popularly known as Vampire for the brutality of his killings—after he escaped detention in January and went on the run.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Video - Nigeria plans quarantine zones in recent bird flu outbreak



Nigeria's Centre for Disease Control and Prevention has detailed plans to quarantine zones affected by a recent bird flu outbreak. Commercial poultry farmers around the country are now calling for government to provide compensation- following a looming ban on poultry products.

Pope Francis threatens to sack Nigerian priests

Pope Francis has laid down an ultimatum to defiant Nigerian priests: lose your job if you don’t obey me and your bishop.

According to a report by Associated Press, Pope Francis met June 8 at the Vatican with a delegation from the Ahiara diocese, south-east Nigeria where priests have been refusing to accept the 2012 appointment by the then pontiff, Benedict XVI, of the local bishop.

The Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, reporting the pope’s unusually harsh order, said on Sunday that Francis was acting “for the good of the people of God” by threatening to suspend the priests from the ministry if they didn’t pledge in a letter, by July 9, “total obedience” to Francis and accept Bishop Peter Okpaleke’s appointment.

Mr. Francis told the visiting delegation he was “very sad” about the priests’ refusal to obey and ruled out tribal loyalties as explaining the refusal.

Africa has been one of the continents where the Catholic church is growing. The faithful and clergy there often imbue their practices with local culture in dynamic contrast to more traditional routines in Europe or North America.

Francis’ move to end disobedience to the Vatican aims at ensuring the growing church there will be loyal to the pontiff.

His remarks to the visiting delegation indicated how dangerous he viewed any rebellion against papal authority.

Those priests opposing Mr. Okpaleke’s taking up of his office “want to destroy the church, which is not permitted,” the pope said in his address to the delegation.

He added: “the pope can’t be indifferent” to the rebellion.

He has often taken a conciliatory tone in resolving disputes, but in this one he was entertaining no diplomacy. He demanded that each priest in the diocese write to him asking forgiveness and “clearly manifest total obedience to the pope.”

They must also accept the bishop chosen by Rome. If, within a month, each priest doesn’t do so, he will be “ispo facto suspended,” such as from the celebration of the sacraments, and “will lose his current office,” Francis warned.

Francis acknowledged that his move “seems very harsh.” He added that he had even considered the extraordinary remedy of suppressing the entire diocese but didn’t, so as not to hurt rank-and-file faithful.

He said he thought the rebellious priests might have been manipulated from outside the diocese or even abroad, but named no culprits.

In 2015, the diocese served around 520,000 Catholics, out of a local population of about 675,000, and had 128 diocesan priests and seven other priests. It wasn’t immediately clear how many of the priests were involved in the rebellion against the bishop’s appointment.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Video - Okadabooks getting Nigerians reading in their thousands



Nigerian e-book distribution startup Okadabooks is giving authors a chance to bypass traditional publishers and publish their stories online. Launched in 2013 by Nigerian entrepreneur Okechukwu Ofili, Okadabooks provides authors with a platform to upload their work and clients to buy and download books online at an affordable fee.

Video - 14 people killed, children wounded in Maiduguri in Boko Haram attack



In Nigeria Jihadist group Boko Haram has also been busy in recent hours. Its fighters launched a series of raids on the northern city of Maiduguri - killing at least 14 people.

Nigeria trying to prevent another civil war

In a brazen move on Tuesday (June 6), a coalition of youth leaders in northern Nigeria handed an ultimatum to all Igbos (the ethnic group from southeast Nigeria) resident in the 19 northern states to “relocate within three months.”

The coalition said a failure to relocate will see it “mobilize” northerners “against” Igbos resident in the north. The coalition defended its ultimatum saying the continued secessionist calls in Nigeria’s southeast have “led to the impediment of other people’s rights.” That claim was a reference to the recent commemoration of the 50th anniversary of Nigeria’s civil war in parts of the southeast. Despite not being a public holiday, a sit-at-home order by the secessionist groups to mark the day was widely observed.

The ultimatum evoked bitter memories from 1966 when Igbo people were forced to flee from northern Nigeria following continued massacres. In response, southeast leaders declared independence from Nigeria in May 1967 to form the Republic of Biafra, claiming the national government had failed to protect Igbos. The attempted secession resulted in a three-year long brutal civil war that claimed the lives of over a million people.

But this time, in a swift response, governors of the 19 northern states have denounced the coalition’s ultimatum. The government of Kaduna state, where the ultimatum was issued, has also ordered the prosecutionof the members of the coalition. For his part, Yemi Osinbajo, Nigeria’s acting president, denounced what he described as “hate speech.”

The swift responses from various sections of government are noteworthy as it appears lessons have been learned from two of the country’s worst security crises over the last 15 years.

The Boko Haram insurgency which has devastated much of the northeast since 2009 is often attributed to the government’s failure in dealing with the group’s potency while at its infancy despite repeated warnings. The government’s eventual intervention resulted in the death of Boko Haram’s erstwhile leader while in police detention, sparking violent reprisals by the group’s new leadership.

Meanwhile, in Nigeria’s volatile oil-rich south, starting in the early-2000s, militant groups frequently carried out rogue operations, kidnapping expats for ransom and carrying out large-scale oil theft. Despite a presidential amnesty program which kicked off in 2009 to resolve the crisis, militancy resumed last year with groups damaging oil installations and hobbling Nigeria’s production capacity. A fragile peace currently holds after the government ceded to the groups’ negotiations demands.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Boko Haram attacks Maiduguri, Nigeria

Suspected Boko Haram fighters attacked the city of Maiduguri in northeast Nigeria on Wednesday, the Islamist militant group's most serious assault on the regional capital in a year and a half.

The raid comes six months President Muhammadu Buhari said Boko Haram had "technically" been defeated by a military campaign that had pushed many jihadists deep into the remote Sambisa forest, near the border with Cameroon.

Aid workers and Reuters witnesses reported explosions and heavy gunfire for at least 45 minutes in the southeastern and southwestern outskirts of the city. Thousands of civilians fled the fighting, according to Reuters witnesses.

Nigeria's military said it had contained the attack.

"The situation in Maiduguri is under control," it said in a statement, urging the city's inhabitants not to panic.

Maiduguri in Borno state has been the epicenter of the eight-year fight against Boko Haram but has been relatively free of violence since the beginning of 2016, barring sporadic suicide bombs on its outskirts.

Fighter jets roared overhead as soldiers and police sped toward the scene, the Reuters witnesses said. Three children were hit by bullets, one witness said.

More than 20,000 people have been killed in Boko Haram's campaign to establish a mediaeval caliphate in the Lake Chad basin. A further 2.7 million have been displaced, creating one of the world's largest humanitarian emergencies.

Despite the military's success in liberating cities and towns, much of Borno remains off-limits, hampering efforts to deliver food aid to nearly 1.5 million people believed to be on the brink of famine.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Video - International African hair summit kicks off in Nigeria



Nigeria holds an International African Hair Summit is catering to the growing retail industry in natural haircare. Vendors are also confronting the health risks associated with many beauty products on the market.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Video - Nigeria introduces new law to ease access to bank loans



Nigeria's acting president Yemi Osinbajo has signed a new law intended to ease access to bank loans for small and medium businesses. The legislation makes it possible for entrepreneurs to use cars and electronic appliances as collateral security for business loans.

Video - Nigerian government has succeeded in diminishing terror threat



In Nigeria, Islamist extremist group Boko Haram was once reputed to be the deadliest terrorist outfit in the world. But the Nigerian military has pushed the insurgents out of virtually all the territories it once controlled in the country's north-east. Presently, a weakened Boko Haram has resorted to sporadic suicide bombings. CGTN's Deji Badmus explains just how the Nigerian government was able to curb an insurgency that used to threaten an entire sub-region.

Nigeria unemployment rate rises to 14.2 percent

Nigeria’s unemployment rate rose to 14.2 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2016, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), has said.

The bureau disclosed that the rate rose from the 13.9 per cent recorded in the preceding quarter of the year under review.

According to the data released Monday by the NBS, the latest unemployment rate is 4.2 per cent higher than the rate recorded at the fourth quarter of 2015.

The NBS noted that as the number of unemployed people in the economy is growing, the number of underemployed people is also rising.

According to the report, the underemployed rate rose to 21.0 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2016 from 19.7 per cent recorded in the third quarter of the same year.

Analysts said the rise in the unemployment and underemployment rate was due to the negative economic growth recorded by the nation in 2016.

The economically active population or working age population (persons within ages 15 and 64) increased from 108.03 million to 108.59 million, which represents a 0.5 per cent increase over the previous quarter and a 3.4 per cent increase when compared to Q4 2015.

In Q4 2016, the labour force population increased to 81.15 million from 80.67 million in Q3 2016, representing an increase of 0.6 per cent in the labour force during the quarter.

Meanwhile, the total number of persons in full time employment decreased by 977,876 or 1.8 per cent when compared to the previous quarter, and decreased by 1.92 million or 3.5 per cent when compared to fourth quarter of 2015.

The number of underemployed in the labour force (those working but doing menial jobs not commensurate with their qualifications or those not engaged in fulltime work) increased by 1,109,551 or 7.0 per cent, resulting in an increase in the under-employment rate from 19.7 per cent (15.9 million persons) in third quarter 2016 to 21.0 per cent (17.03 million persons) in fourth quarter of 2016.

Similarly, in the fourth quarter of 2016, there were a total of 28.58 million persons in the Nigerian labour force that were either unemployed or under-employed compared to 27.12 million in the third quarter, 26.06 million in second quarter and 24.5 million in first quarter 2016.

The report also revealed that the unemployment and under-employment rates were higher for women than men in the fourth quarter of 2016.

During the quarter, 16.3 per cent of women in the labour force were unemployed, and a further 24.2 per cent of women in the labour force were under-employed.

On the other hand, 12.3 per cent of males were unemployed, while 17.9 per cent of males in the labour force were under-employ.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Video - Nigeria sets new regulations to limit tobacco use



Nigeria has announced a new set of regulations aimed at controlling the sale, distribution and consumption of tobacco in the country.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Video - Nigeria's National Assembly passes bill that will see NNPC disbanded



Nigeria's National assembly has finally passed the long awaited Petroleum industry governance bill that could see the state owned National Petroleum Corporation disbanded. The bill which is seen as essential in entrenching accountability and maximising benefits from the country's petroleum resources, now awaits the president signature before it can be made law.

Closure of Abuja airport cuts Nigeria travel by 28.9%

The closure of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, led to a 28.2 per cent decline in the number of air travellers across Nigerian airports, the National Bureau of Statistics, NBS, had said.

According to the air transport report figures released by the NBS Thursday, the number of air travellers declined by 983,705, due to the six-week closure of the airport.

The Abuja airport was closed by the Nigerian government on March 8 for repair works to be carried out on its runway and taxiways.

The airport was reopened on April 18 following the completion of the repair work.

According to the NBS , the total number of passengers who passed through Nigerian airports in the first quarter of this year at 2,505,612.

The bureau added that 67.3 per cent were domestic passengers, while the rest were international passengers, entering or leaving Nigeria.

The report noted that, “relative to the previous quarter , there were 983,705 fewer passengers , a fall of 28.2 per cent and relative to the first quarter of 2016 there were 1,165 ,482 fewer, or 29 . 4 per cent less.

“This was largely due to the closure of the Abuja airport from March 8,” it explained.

There were 311, 261 fewer domestic passengers to travel through the Abuja airport relative to the previous quarter, it added.

The bureau noted, however, that the effect on the total number will not be limited to a reduction in passengers travelling through Abuja, as each domestic passenger to leave Abuja would have also counted as an arrival at a different domestic airport, and vice versa.

“Therefore , although all airports saw a reduction in domestic passenger numbers, this is still partly explained by the Abuja airport closure,” it said.

The Murtala Muhammed Airport in Lagos, the report said, recorded the most activity as it accounted for 41.4 per cent of domestic passengers, 76.5 per cent of international passengers, 90.3 per cent of cargo movement and 94.9 per cent of mail movement.

But despite the closure, the Abuja airport remained the second largest domestic airport, and accounted for 499,149 passengers, representing 29.6 per cent of the total, the NBS said.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Video - Nigerian government downplays fears for president Buhari's health



Nigeria’s government says fears for President Muhammadu Buhari's health were unfounded. Speaking about the matter during a cabinet meeting, the country's information minister said that Buhari was in competent hands and there was no cause for alarm. President Buhari, 74, has spent a large part of this year in London receiving treatment for an unspecified medical condition. He left Abuja on May 7 for what his office said was a follow-up medical consultation in the British capital. Buhari's wife who left Nigeria for London on Tuesday has previously played down rumours that the president was too ill to rule.

Surgery keeps Victor Moses out of Nigerian squad

NFF Executive Committee member Chris Green has explained that surgery is the reason for Victor Moses's surprise omission from Nigeria's squad to face South Africa in a 2019 African Nations Cup qualifier next month.

The attacker, who helped Chelsea win the Premier League title this season, has been left out of Gernot Rohr's squad as he requires treatment on his toe.

"He has been carrying a toe injury for a while and has surgery scheduled for it," Green told Kwesé ESPN. "The coach has known about it for a while and so have we.

"We decided it was best to let him have his surgery now so he can be ready for the new season."

Without Moses, Trabzonspor midfielder Ogenyi Onazi leads 22 other players named for the matchup against Bafana Bafana.

SC Zamalek defender Maroof Yusuf is a surprise first-time call-up. All invited players are expected in Abuja on Friday 2 June, with the team set to train on Monday 5 June before departing for Uyo on Tuesday.

The Super Eagles play Bafana Bafana at the Godswill Akpabio International Stadium, Uyo in their Group E opener on Saturday 10 June, with the match kicking off at 5pm local time.

Navy officers kill police men in Nigeria

Three Nigerian police officers have reportedly been killed after clashes with members of the navy in the south-eastern city of Calabar.

It is unclear what sparked the clashes but a senior police officer told the BBC that a police station had been set on fire.

One media report says that a policeman had confronted a navy officer for failing to stop at some traffic lights.

The police and the navy have not officially commented on the incident.

Images of burned cars and building were shared on the Nigeria police Facebook page but they have since been removed.

Another media report says that a navy officer who had been involved in a minor accident with a motorised rickshaw had been angered by the policeman's behaviour.

Shortly afterwards, a group of armed naval officers are said to have attacked and burnt down a local police station.

The BBC's Martin Patience in Lagos says the attack highlights the often lawless behaviour of the country's defence forces.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Video - Nigerian women turn to smart agriculture to put food on the table



For decades, farming in Nigeria has been considered a vocation for rural communities that attracted meagre profits. But this perception is changing. More urban-based, professional women are taking up farming as a business, using modern technology to make it more lucrative.

Freed Chibok girls start rehabilitation in Abuja, Nigeria

Nigerian officials say the 82 young women released by Boko Haram extremists this month are now joining those already freed in a special rehabilitation program.

Aisha Alhassan, minister of women's affairs and social development, said Tuesday that the women will attend months of remedial studies. They will have doctors and nurses available to help them heal from the trauma of three years in captivity.

Some have criticized how the freed women have remained in Nigeria's capital instead of rejoining their families. But Alhassan says they are in Abuja "with their full consent."

The young women will not be returning to rural Chibok, where they were abducted from school in 2014. Officials say they will be placed in other schools in September.

Nearly 300 schoolgirls were seized in the mass abduction.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Video - Kids and Play program helping groom top track athletics prospects in Nigeria



A sports program in Nigeria supporting rural youth is producing top track athletic prospects in the country. And as CGTN's Sophia Adengo reports, it is also showcasing their talent on the national stage.

Norway plans to digitize literature from Nigeria

The National Library of Norway said Monday it would digitise literature from Nigeria following a seemingly unprecedented agreement which organisers hope will lead to an “African digital library”.

In the northern Norwegian town of Mo i Rana, at the rim of the Arctic Circle, the National Library of Norway plans to digitise part of its Nigerian counterpart’s collection.

The library’s public division is located in the capital Oslo. “Our goal is for this project to serve as a model for other countries, and that we can help create a fully-fledged African digital library,” the Norwegian library’s director Aslak Sira Myhre said in a statement. 

The agreement, which is to be signed on June 10 in Abuja, will initially cover works written in the Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba languages, the library said. The costs will be shared, with the library in Nigeria responsible for collecting the works and the Norwegian one for carrying out the digitisation, with the transport covered by the Norwegian embassy in Nigeria. 

“The project has not been launched because the National Library wants to provide foreign development aid but because it enables us to enlarge our foreign language library, so this becomes a win-win project for us and Nigeria,” a spokeswoman for the Norwegian library, Nina Braein, told AFP. The National Library of Norway made headlines in 2014 when it announced it was putting virtually all Norwegian literature published before 2001 online and available free of charge, thanks to a pioneering agreement with rightsholders on the thorny issue of royalties. The digitisation of Norwegian works is expected to be completed this year.

The Biafra secessionist movement in Nigeria

Nnamdi Kanu waves his hand and puffs in frustration: "Nothing seems to be working in Nigeria. There is pain and hardship everywhere. What we're fighting [for] is not self-determination for the sake of it. It's because Nigeria is not functioning and can never function."

The leader of a group demanding the secession of southeastern Nigeria is speaking exclusively to Al Jazeera in the parlour of his father's home in the southeastern city of Umuahia.

It's the first time he has spoken to an international media outlet since he was granted bail on health grounds last month. His bail conditions prohibit him from being in a crowd of more than 10 people, leaving the country and giving media interviews.

But when asked if he is worried that he will get in trouble with the Nigerian authorities for speaking to Al Jazeera he scoffs, "I don't care," and rolls his eyes.

"I can't go outside to call for a press conference. I can't go on Biafra Radio to broadcast. I can't allow large [groups of] people to basically congregate outside to see me … it's like asking me not to breathe," he says.

On the other side of the parlour door, dozens of people are waiting to see Kanu. A throng of young men dressed in black guard the compound. They refer to Kanu as, "our supreme leader" or "his royal highness".

Kanu left Nigeria to study economics and politics at the London Metropolitan University and started Radio Biafra, an obscure, niche, London-based radio station in 2009.

In one broadcast, Kanu said: "We have one thing in common, all of us that believe in Biafra, one thing we have in common, a pathological hatred for Nigeria. I cannot begin to put into words how much I hate Nigeria."

Over the past two years, Kanu's status has risen.

Today, he's a highly visible activist and leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) organisation, and after being imprisoned in the Nigerian capital of Abuja for nearly two years on treasonable felony charges, he has now returned home.

"Kanu is my saviour," says Sopuru Amah, a senior student at one of Nigeria's oldest universities, the University of Nigeria in the southeastern city of Nsukka.

"Just like Jesus was sent to save the world, Kanu was sent by God himself to save the Igbo people."

Nigeria's ethnic politics

With an estimated population of more than 180 million, Nigeria is often called the "giant of Africa". The complexity of Nigeria's population is compounded by its ethnic diversity. Around 250 ethnic groups, each with their own languages, reside in Nigeria. With a myriad of ethnicities dotted across the landscape, three major groups tend to emerge in national dialogue due to their sheer numbers: the Yoruba, from the southwest; the Hausa-Fulani in the north and the Igbo from the southeast.

Pro-Biafrans say the federal Nigerian government is discriminating and marginalising them, the Igbo people.

"I'm not allowed to contest for the presidency of Nigeria because I'm Igbo. I'm not allowed to aspire to become the inspector general of police because I'm Igbo. I'm not allowed to become chief of army staff because I'm Igbo. What sort of stupid country is that?" Kanu asks. "Why would any idiot want me to be in that sort of country?"

In Kanu's mind, Umuahia does not exist in Nigeria. It is in Biafra and he is waiting for the world to acknowledge it.

Since the 1964 appointment of the first indigenous Nigerian as the head of the Nigerian Police Force, known as the inspector general, more than a dozen officers have held the post. Two of them have been Igbo. In a lineup of almost two-dozen chiefs of army staff, the highest-ranking military officer in the Nigerian army, two have come from southeastern Nigeria.

Perceptions of marginalisation

"The southeast feels it has been politically marginalised. There is a point to that. It has been shrunken from being one of the three major regions of the country to now being virtually a minority with the smallest number of states of the six zones in the federation," explains Nnamdi Obasi, a senior analyst at the International Crisis Group.

He says that there has only been one Igbo president and one Igbo vice president since Nigeria declared independence from the UK in 1960.

Pro-Biafrans also complain that the federal government is not funding enough infrastructure development in the region, despite a recent announcement by the federal Minister of Power, Works and Housing that road construction will be completed in the southeast.

The southeastern region of Nigeria has five states, while other regions have more.

"They certainly are at a disadvantaged position now," Obasi says. "The political configuration of the country ensures that less federal allocation gets to the southeast."

Nigeria's national economics is closely tied to its politics. Nigeria is a highly centralised federalism that relies on revenue from oil sales. Money trickles down from the central government and more money flows towards regions that have more state and local governments.

A recent poll conducted by SBM Intelligence, a local research group, found that the pro-Biafra movement is gaining popularity in the southeast and that this growth could be a reaction to the perception that the region is marginalised and economically deprived.

"So the Nigerian government has to be seen clearly as carrying the region along," Cheta Nwanze, a lead researcher at SBM Intelligence, says.

But pro-Biafrans like Amah have written off the Nigerian federal government and, in particular, the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.

"Buhari hates the southeast because we didn't vote for him," says Chukwudi Diru, a taxi driver with a mini Biafran flag taped to the dashboard of his 2003 car.

In his landmark 2015 election victory, Buhari garnered the least amount of votes in the southernmost and southeastern region.

Buhari commented on this during a visit to the United States shortly after his win. During an address at the United States Institute of Peace, Buhari responded to a participant in the audience who asked how he would bring development to the oil-rich Niger Delta region in the south, which has suffered decades of environmental degradation due to oil spills and oil bunkering.

"I hope you have a copy of the election results," Buhari responded to the woman. "Naturally, the constituencies that gave me 97 percent cannot, in all honesty, be treated [in the same way] on some issues with constituencies that gave me five percent. I think this is a political reality."

Buhari's soundbite has been tagged and re-posted across Nigeria's social media spaces.

"To be honest, things like the president's 97 percent and five percent comment only helped add further fuel to the fire that the southeast is being marginalised," Nwanze says.

And that fire is already burning in the southeast. On storefronts along the streets of Umuahia, photos of Nnamdi Kanu and Odumegwu Chukwuemeka Ojukwu, the leader of the short-lived Republic of Biafra (1967-1970) are pasted on wooden doorframes.

At the campus of Amah's university, more students are reading pro-Biafran books and followers of Kanu hold "evangelism" meetings to preach the gospel of pro-Biafra.

At crowded bus stations in town, Kanu's voice booms from loudspeakers. Many people here mark May 30 as Biafra Remembrance Day.

A bloody past

Kanu and leaders of other pro-Biafra groups have called for supporters to stay at home on May 30 to remember those who died during the 1967-1970 Nigerian-Biafran War.

This May 30 will mark 50 years since the 1967 declaration of the Republic of Biafra, by the late Ojukwu.

The declaration of the establishment of the Biafra nation, carved out of southeastern Nigeria, came after failed attempts by the Nigerian government to address the grievances expressed by southeastern Nigerians. In 1966, thousands (PDF) of Igbo civilians were killed, mainly in northern Nigeria.

The 1966 killings began after a group of young army officers - some of whom were Igbo Christians -overthrew Nigeria's democratic government and assassinated several people, including the prime minister and other Muslim northern leaders.

"They came with every dangerous thing, some with arrow, some with gun, some with cutlasses, some with iron. So anything they could handle, they handled it and began to kill Igbo people," says Lawrence Akpu, recalling the day in 1966 when he was in a market in a town in northern Nigeria where he lived with fellow Igbos. "Everybody started running up and down and from there, we left everything we had."

Akpu joined the mass exodus of Igbo people from northern Nigeria to their ancestral homeland in the southeast.

When the war started, he joined a Biafran brigade to fight Nigerian soldiers. He says he fought wearing rubber sandals and t-shirts with holes in them. During a heavy wave of shelling, a piece of shrapnel cut into his spinal cord. Today, he's in a wheelchair.

Three years of war left southeastern Nigeria in ruins. Estimates of the death toll range from one million to six million. After the Nigerian federal military government - supported by the UK - imposed blockades that made it difficult for aid groups to deliver food and relief supplies to Biafra, many children died of kwashiorkor, a severe form of malnutrition characterised by a distended abdomen.

Igwe Christopher Ejiofor, aide-de-camp to Ojukwu throughout the war, remembers carrying nearly dead children as he helped to manage relief services.

"I can't count the number of people I picked [up] who were at the point of starvation and death," he says. "And every time I took them to the hospital, they died and I [would go] back the next day [with more children]." Igwe Ejiofor is the traditional ruler of his community in the southeastern state of Enugu.

When images of Biafran children flooded Western media, the world began to pay attention. Beatles singer-songwriter John Lennon returned his MBE order in protest at the UK's involvement in the Nigerian-Biafran War. Writer Kurt Vonnegut travelled to Biafra and wrote about the war. Steve Jobs, according to Walter Isaacson's 2011 biography of the Apple co-founder, began to question his beliefs about God after he saw a picture of two skeletal Biafran children on the infamous July 12, 1968 cover of Life magazine. In the wake of what unfolded in Biafra, doctors and journalists formed Doctors Without Borders, known by its French initials MSF.

Biafra today

The war ended in January 1970 with the surrender of the Republic of Biafra, which dissolved and was reincorporated into Nigeria. The federal government' s "no victor, no vanquished policy" was promoted to foster national unity.

But today, the pro-Biafra movement is back and louder than ever.

Dozens of pro-Biafra activists were arrested last week in cities across southeastern Nigeria.

Last year's May 30 Biafra Remembrance Day ended in what Amnesty International described as part of a "chilling crackdown" that left at least 60 peaceful pro-Biafran activists dead at the hands of Nigerian security forces. An investigation by the organisation revealed that more than 150 pro-Biafrans were killed from August 2015 to August 2016.

"The night before the rally, the security forces raided homes and a church where IPOB members were sleeping," the report reads.

Amnesty International has released a statement recommending that the Nigerian security forces not repress today's Biafra Remembrance Day activities.

Nigerian federal government officials say the country must remain united.

"They say that secession is the answer to the charges of marginalisation," said Acting President Yemi Osinbajo during a Biafra civil forum last week in Abuja. "Brothers and sisters, permit me to differ and to suggest that we're greater together than apart."

But people like Amah and Kanu no longer identify as Nigerians. They say Nigeria has failed them. They are Biafrans.

And with that Kanu stands up and goes outside to meet the people who have waited hours to see him.

Written by Chika Oduah

Monday, May 29, 2017

President Buhari marks two years in office

In 2015, when Nigerians went to the polls, hopes were high in the country that Buhari would improve on the security situation especially in the northeast of the country, end rampant corruption and revamp the economy. Buhari had inherited a broken system from his predecessor Goodluck Jonathan, whose party the People's Democratic Party, (PDP), had run the country for the last sixteen years but virtually failed to embrace good governance principles.

Two years down the road, despite his bad health, Buhari has been able to improve on the security situation in northern Nigeria that had been run down by Boko Haram Islamists. Nigeria's minister of information and government spokesperson, Lai Mohammed, is full of praise for President Buhari.

"When the President was sworn in May 2015 at the Eagle Square, about 20 local governments out of 27 in Borno state were under the control of Boko Haram. Four local governments in Adamawa and three in Yobe state respectively. As we speak today there is no single territory under the control or command of Boko Haram and that is not a mean feat," Lai Mohammed told DW.

"Again, the president promised that he will do everything possible to ensure that the abducted Chibok girls were released."

"In less than two years we were able to secure the release of over 100 of these girls. When you look at the phenomenon of insurgency and hostage taking all over the world you see that this is a very remarkable achievement," he stressed.

Beyond the issue of restoring peace in north eastern Nigeria, the current government also boasts of fighting corruption in the country, with several corruption cases being heard in various courts within the country.

Not all is a bed of roses

The plethora of achievements as articulated by the information minister, however, seem not to impress some Nigerians who say that the government needs to buckle up and improve on their livelihood.

"People cannot pay house rent and are struggling to pay school fees. We cannot properly feed our families," Juliana Obolonye said.

Chesa Chesa, a resident of Abuja, also told DW that inflation was high in the country, and because of the economic recession, prices of food stuffs were on the rise. But he also reserved some praise for Buhari.

"On the security front he has considerably performed well except for the frequent attacks between herdsmen and farmers in the plateau region. So security-wise, I can say kudos," Chesa said.

Buhari's record in fighting corruption is what endeared Peter Inalegwu to his government. "We had no idea how corruption had wrecked our country until when he decided to clampdown on corruption," Inalegwu said.

Despite the achievements that have been attributed to President Buhari, he has been away for most of the time in London seeking medical treatment. In his absence his deputy Yemi Osinbajo won himself admirers as the true hero behind these achievements.

Dr. Garba Umar Kari, a political analyst and lecturer at the University of Abuja, thinks the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo did a commendable job in the abscence of his boss, Muhammadu Buhari.

"He has been able to ensure that government programmes run smoothly, and to a large extent they [programmes] have not been adversely affected, "Umar Kari said.

For now, Nigerians will have to wait for another two more years to decide whether or not Buhari carries on the mantle of leadership albeit health concerns.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Video - Nigeria's military spokesperson denies coup plot rumours



In Nigeria, the military has dismissed a rumour about a possible coup. A spokesperson insists the armed forces remain loyal to President Muhammadu Buhari.

Nigeria working on prisoner transfer agreement with China

The Federal Government is working out a prisoners’ transfer agreement with China, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Geoffrey Onyeama, announced in Abuja on Thursday.

Onyeama made the announcement at a news conference on the achievements of the current administration since it came into power in the past two years.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that thousands of Nigerians are being held behind bars in China for various offences, including those attracting death sentence.

Human rights groups in Nigeria have, however, been drawing the attention of the Federal Government to the plights of the Nigerian prisoners.

A group, the Black African Re-orientation and Development Organisation, recently told the government to secure the release of no fewer than 6,000 Nigerians in Chinese prisons.

Onyeama said the release of the prisoners could not be facilitated because there was no existing agreement between Nigeria and China on the transfer of prisoners.

“The issue of Nigerians in prisons in China is something we are dealing with and the prisoner transfer agreement is something we have to have an agreement on with China.

“We are working to have one in place. We have taken that on board and we are trying to get our prisoners to serve the rest of their terms here.”

The minister disclosed that government had stepped in to plead for commutation of prisoners on death row in the Asian nation.

“The Federal Government has on several occasions reiterated that it would be impossible to get Nigerians on death row in different countries repatriated.

“This is because they do not fall within the prisoner transfer or exchange agreements.’’

Six children kidnapped from their school in Lagos, Nigeria

Nigerian police are searching for six children abducted from their school on the outskirts of the main city, Lagos.

The abductors freed four other children after "profiling" their parents, police said, apparently referring to the fact that they were not regarded as wealthy.

The men came through a swampy forest bordering the state-run Model College school, and cut a hole in the fence to enter, police said.

Schools in Lagos have been hit by several kidnappings for ransom.

Four children were abducted from the same school in October 2016, and three from another school in Lagos in March this year. They were later freed.

Lagos police spokesman Olarinde Famous-Cole condemned the abductions as "dastardly" and said an operation was under way to rescue the girls and apprehend the kidnappers.

May 29 to become public holiday in Nigeria to celebrate Democracy Day

The Federal Government has declared Monday, May 29, as Public Holiday to celebrate the 2017 Democracy Day.

The Minister of Interior, Abdulrahman Dambazau, made the ‎ declaration in a statement on Thursday in Abuja.

The minister‎ congratulated Nigerians for witnessing yet another Democracy Day, marking the second year anniversary of the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government.

‎Mr. Dambazau assured Nigerians of the government’s continued efforts at achieving its three main targets of guaranteeing security, revitalising the economy and tackling corruption.

“While a lot has been achieved in the areas of security, particularly in the North-East, and in tackling corruption, recent statistics released by the National Bureau of Statistics have shown tremendous improvement of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

“‎No doubt, the nation is closer to getting out of recession, particularly with the recently inaugurated Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP), which seeks to revitalise the nation’s economy soonest.

“Following the recently signed Executive Orders on Ease of Doing Business, we have opened our doors wider for both domestic and foreign investors,’’ said Mr. Dambazau. ‎

He wished all Nigerians a happy Democracy Day celebration and enjoined them to join hands with the government in building a peaceful and enduring democratic legacy.

Nigeria to shut down five emabassies

The Federal Government has approved the closure of five foreign missions and embassies, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama said.

Mr. Onyeama told journalists in Abuja on Thursday that the process for closure was underway and was also subject to the approval of the president.

He did not name the affected embassies or missions.

“We do not want to indicate the embassies that will be closed yet because we are in the process of submitting the proposals, the cost analysis and also the political analysis we did to the president.

“When he sees that, he may or may not want to close some, so we have not yet reached the stage of closing some,” he said.

The minister said closing missions abroad was “extremely expensive”.

“The expense, costs of closing embassies is so high and prohibitive but in the long run it will more economical.”

The minister, on April 10, told NAN the closure of Nigerian missions abroad is inevitable.

Mr. Onyeama said the reduction of Nigeria’s foreign missions remains on the agenda of the Muhammadu Buhari administration.

Mr. Buhari had said at the inception of his administration that the Federal Government would reduce the number of missions to save cost.

Nigeria currently has 119 foreign missions.

Mr. Onyeama said: “The government is following up on that and we have sort of pre­pared the roadmap; we have started the implementation of that and made also recom­mendations in that context.

“Paradoxically, closing missions is extremely expensive. At first sight it seems ob­vious that you close it you are saving cost but you will actually find that the cost of closing is almost prohibitive.

“But in the long run it will be cheaper, but in the imme­diate and short term it is ex­pensive but we have started the process,” he said.